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UNION PACIFIC TO OPEN NEW UTAH TERMINAL: Union Pacific Railroad over the coming weekend is set to open a bigger transportation terminal in Salt Lake City capable of handling almost three times as much cargo as the existing facility. The terminal, called the Salt Lake City Intermodal Facility, was set to open January 1, said Mark Davis, a UP spokesman. UP trains arriving at the 240-acre facility from the Midwest and West Coast will load and unload cargo containers transported to and from the site by trucks. The new facility replaces an outmoded 30-acre terminal. More than 1,300 containers can be parked at the new facility, compared to just 470 containers at the older terminal. [United Transportation Union, 12-30-05, from Journal of Commerce Online report]

COAL COMPANY WANTS TO REOPEN N.S. RAIL LINE IN TENNESSEE: A Knoxville-based coal company is in late-stage talks with Norfolk Southern to buy and reopen a 42-mile railroad branch line to haul coal. National Coal wants to acquire the branch line that runs from Oneida in Scott County through a small portion of Campbell County to Devonia in Anderson County. Along with serving as a conduit for hauling coal, the reopened rail line could also be used for sightseeing excursions, National Coal Senior Vice President Charles Kite said. The line cuts through a rugged, isolated area. Discussions have been held with Friends of the Big South Fork about possible scenic rail trips, Kite said. National Coal has one active coal mine in the region and hauls 40,000 tons of coal a month by trucks from a coal preparation plant at Smoky Junction, just inside Scott County. Three appraisal firms have examined the branch line and found it in "fairly decent shape," Kite said. [United Transportation Union, 12-28-05, from Knoxville News Sentinel report by Bob Fowler]

TACOMA RAIL IMPROVEMENTS ON TRACK: By next fall, trains should be able to move in and out of Tacoma's Tideflats a little faster thanks to a series of rail improvements approved by the Port of Tacoma Commission. The $9.8-million project combines improvements on Chilcote and Bullfrog junctions, the Tideflats' two main rail junctions where trains enter and leave the port or its terminals. Jeannie Beckett, the port's senior director of inland transportation, said the improvements have been on the drawing board for years as the port waited to move forward until the project was needed. And that time is now, the port says. [United Transportation Union, 12-27-05, from News Tribune report]

MASS BAY BEGINS OPERATING NEW BILEVEL PASSENGER CARS: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) recently added 19 bi-level coach cars to its system to replace single-level coaches. To be operated on the Worcester/Framingham commuter-rail line, the bi-level cars provide seating for 180 passengers. MBTA will transfer the single-level coaches to other lines and use them to extend train lengths. Between January and March, the authority will add another 14 bi-level coaches to the system. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 12-22-05]

B&O RAILROAD MUSEUM TO MANAGE ELLICOTT CITY STATION MUSEUM: Over the course of the last year, the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore has been in negotiations with the Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks and County Executive James Robey to assume the management of the historic Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station in Ellicott City, Md. The museum's proposal was accepted by the Howard County Council on Dec.5, 2005. MORE... [B&O Railroad Museum, 12-05]

NEBRASKA GROUP BUYS U.P. RAIL LINE FOR TRAIL: The Nebraska Trail Foundation Inc.has announced that it has purchased the 8.5-mile Union Pacific rail line from Marietta to Marysville and plans to build a public hiking/biking trail and conservation corridor, according to this report published by the Marysville Advocate. The purchase of the abandoned Union Pacific line completes an important section of the trail that is between Marysville and Lincoln, Jerry Hoffman, president of the foundation, said. The Marysville extension will link up with work already under way in Nebraska. [United Transportation Union, 12-22-05, from Maysville Advocate report]

DOUGLAS BUTTREY NAMED TO CHAIR S.T.B.: The Surface Transportation Board announced Dec.21 that the Board has voted unanimously to elect Board Member W. Douglas Buttrey to serve as the agency's chairman, until President George W. Bush designates a chairman for the agency, effective upon current Chairman Roger Nober's departure from the Board. Chairman Nober has previously announced that he is resigning and plans to leave the Board on January 3, 2006. The Board also voted unanimously to elect Board Member Francis P. Mulvey to serve as vice chairman, effective upon Chairman Nober's departure from the Board. [Surface Transportation Board, 12-21-05]

NYC TRANSIT SYSTEM SHUTS DOWN AFTER TALKS BREAK OFF: New York's transit union shut down the city's public transportation system today for the first time in 25 years, forcing 7 million daily bus and subway riders to seek other options, after failing to reach a new contract agreement with the state Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The strike threatened to paralyze the city five days before Christmas, the height of the holiday shopping season, at a cost to the city's economy the mayor estimated at $400-million a day. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-20-05, from Bloomberg News report]

TRAINS COLLIDE NEAR ROME, ABOUT 30 INJURED: Officials said a passenger train rammed into another that was stopped at a station south of Rome Dec.20 injuring about 30 people and leaving some trapped inside the wreckage, according to this Associated Press report. A train traveling from Rome to Cassino had stopped at the station in Roccasecca, about 80 miles south of the capital, when another train coming from Rome on the same track slammed into it from behind, said Luigi Irdi, spokesman for Italy's state railway, Trenitalia. Irdi said at least 30 people were injured, four of them seriously. A hospital said it admitted about six critically injured people. Police in nearby Frosinone said no one had been killed. [United Transportation Union, 12-20-05, from Associated Press report]

CSX TRAIN DERAILS, BRIDGE COLLAPSES IN OHIO: Eight CSX rail cars filled with coal derailed outside Marietta ,Ohio, early this morning (Dec. 19), sending several of them crashing down from the Virginia Street train bridge which also collapsed onto the roadway below. No one was reported injured in the incident that occurred around 2 a.m. The CSX line, which runs through Marietta's Harmar neighborhood, is a main supplier of coal for the American Electric Power-Muskingum power plant at Beverly. Local law enforcement officials were unsure about how the wreck occurred. [United Transportation Union, 12-19-05, from Marietta Times report by Justin McIntosh]

BNSF GRANTS TEMPORARY TRACKAGE RIGHTS IN SOUTH DAKOTA: The Surface Transportation Board indicated that the BNSF Railway has agreed to grant temporary trackage rights to the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corporation (DM&E); and the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad Corporation (IC&E). The company has also agreed to grant overhead trackage rights to the Mitchell-Rapid City Regional Railroad Authority. Also, according to the Federal Register, BNSF has agreed to grant 159.2 miles of limited overhead trackage rights to D&I Railroad Company between Sioux Falls, S.D., at milepost 74.1 (MP 74.1 is just north of West Junction, S.D.), and Wolsey, S.D., at MP 707.0 (MP 707.0 is north of the diamond crossing of the DM&E at Wolsey). Finally, BNSF also filed a verified notice of exemption to acquire operate approximately 368 route miles of railroad lines that are owned by the State of South Dakota. [United Transportation Union, 12-19-05, from Grainnet.com report]

UNION PACIFIC ROLLS OUT SECOND HIGH-TECH TRACK INSPECTION VEHICLE: On Dec.16, Union Pacific Railroad unveiled the EC-5, an $8.5-million state-of-the-art track inspection vehicle - the company's second self-propelled unit that can electronically inspect track at speeds up to 70 mph. A three-person crew will operate the EC-5 six days a week. Built by Plasser & Theurer Corp. at its Austrian plant, the 90-foot-long vehicle features 11 computer systems that gather real-time data on track surface, rail wear and tunnel size from laser measuring devices. Onboard computers use Global Positioning System technology to pinpoint defects and data variances. In addition to the two high-tech units, UP operates a fleet of 22 ultrasonic rail-flaw detection vehicles. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 12-19-05]

MAJOR RAILROADS ASK RELEASE FROM TALKS WITH UNIONS: The four largest U.S. railroads asked federal mediators to release them from talks with unions representing 85,000 workers, moving the two sides a step closer to a potential strike or lockout. The negotiating committee for Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp. - the four biggest U.S. railroads - said Dec.16 that there had been no progress toward agreements. The National Mediation Board under U.S. rail-labor law decides, without a time limit, whether to release the sides from talks. If a release is granted, no work stoppage can take place for 60 days, and more talks can be held. A presidential emergency board also can be set up to propose solutions. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-17-05, from Bloomberg News article]

VIRGINIA AWARDS RAIL GRANTS: The first grants from Virginia's Rail Enhancement Fund have been awarded. Among the projects approved are an overhaul of the south end of Acca Yard's interlocking (improving speeds of trains traveling to Newport News), construction of a connection in Charlottesville to permit the Cardinal to leave and enter the Norfolk Southern mainline in Charlottesville rather than Orange (saving 15-20 minutes and avoiding an ever-deteriorating stretch of track) and the first phase of project work for a layover facility and wye near Richmond Airport (which will permit extension of trains terminating in Richmond to serve Main Street Station). [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-16-05]

AMTRAK TAKING STEPS TO CUT DINING CAR LOSSES: A mandate to reduce food service and sleeping car losses is in the new appropriations law. Unless the DOT Inspector General can certify by July 1, 2006, that Amtrak has achieved 'operational savings,' federal funds would not be available after that date to underwrite on-board food and sleeping-car service. Some early steps to achieve such savings began December 7. The Texas Eagle and City of New Orleans began serving pre-plated meals in the dining car (with reduced crew sizes). Silverware and cloth napkins remain. Amtrak says food will be similar to what diners have been offering. However, food will be pre-plated before it gets to the train. Individual items will be pre-cooked so that when heated in on-board convection ovens (not microwave), everything will become ready-to-serve at the same time. This type of service will be expanded to the Capitol Limited and Sunset Limited next month. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-16-05]

STREETCARS RETURN TO NEW ORLEANS: Streecars will return to New Orleans on Dec.18. It will be a hybrid restoration of sorts: the Canal Street and part of the Riverfront line will reopen, using cars from the St. Charles Line. The newer Canal and Riverfront Lines cars suffered heavy damage in the storm, while the St. Charles carbarn was relatively undamaged. The same cannot be said for the St. Charles Line; the infrastructure was virtually destroyed. The new service will operate free of charge through March. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-16-05]

KCS TRIES TO HALT MEXICO RAIL DEAL: U.S. rail operator Kansas City Southern asked Mexico's anti-trust body on Friday to stop Grupo Mexico merging its Ferromex rail operations with those of recently purchased Ferrosur. In a statement, Kansas City Southern's Mexican unit said the merger of Ferromex and Ferrosur, which was bought from Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim's Grupo Carso last month, would limit competition. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-16-05, from Reuters report]

RAIL INTERMODAL SETS ANNUAL RECORD: With three reporting weeks yet to go, intermodal traffic on U.S. railroads has already set an annual record in 2005. Intermodal volume reached 11,058,012 trailers or containers during week 49 (the week ended December 10), breaking the record established last year when railroads moved 10,993,662 units over 52 weeks. This year's volume was also 6.0 percent over the 49 week total for last year. During just the week ended December 10, intermodal volume totaled 237,801 trailers or containers, 0.9 percent above the comparable week last year. Carload freight, which doesn't include the intermodal data, totaled 314,719 cars for the week, down 7.2 percent from the comparable week last year. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-15-05]

SAN DIEGO TROLLEY TO RESTORE TWO VINTAGE PCC CARS: This week, two Presidential Conference Committee (PCC) vintage trolley cars arrived in San Diego from Lake Tahoe, Nevada. By 2008, San Diego Trolley Inc. plans to finish restoring and begin operating the cars on its downtown loop. Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Transit System approved a plan to create a non-profit subsidiary to acquire the trolleys, which are similar to cars that operated in San Diego between 1936 and 1949. San Diego Vintage Trolley Inc. will restore the cars to their original operating condition and paint them in the same style as the cars from the 1930s and 1940s. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 12-15-05]

STB CHAIR ROGER NOBER TO STEP DOWN: Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Roger Nober has announced that he will leave the board on Jan. 3, 2006. Nober informed President George W. Bush and Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta of his plans by letter earlier this week. Nober, from Maryland, was sworn in as the board's sixth member and designated as its second chairman on Nov. 26, 2002. He served as the board's only member for 54 weeks in 2003 and 2004. Prior to his service on the board, he was counselor to Deputy Secretary of Transportation Michael Jackson and chief counsel of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. [U.S. Surface Transportation Board, 12-15-05]

CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR STRIKES TRUCK IN UTAH, DERAILS: An Amtrak train collided with a semitrailer on Dec.14 in southeastern Utah, killing the truck driver and injuring several Amtrak passengers, authorities said. The California Zephyr was carrying 119 passengers from Emeryville, Calif., to Chicago when it hit the truck at a train crossing just south of Interstate 70, about 46 miles east of Green River, said Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham. The crossing only has warning signs, Graham said. It appeared the truck, which was hauling trash, tried to cross the tracks in front of the approaching train, said sheriff's Chief Deputy Curt Brewer. The train pushed the truck about a half mile before coming to a stop with the front wheel of the lead engine off the track, he said. Brewer said five people on the train were hurt, and one was sent to a hospital for evaluation. The Federal Railroad Administration will investigate, said spokesman Steve Kulm. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-14-05, from Associated Press report]

CSX HANDS OVER OPERATION OF NORTHERN MICHIGAN RAIL LINES: A sign taped to the door of the North Yard building in Muskegon is all there is to suggest that Mid-Michigan Railroad Inc. has replaced CSX Transportation Inc. in this western Michigan city. But the rail industry giant recently turned over operation of its 48-mile Holland-to-Fremont line with a lease to the Greenville-based Mid-Michigan. It also has turned over operation of its two other northern Michigan branches to short-line railroads. Mid-Michigan also operates Muskegon's six-mile Michigan Shore Railroad. It now controls virtually all rail traffic in Muskegon County, marking the first time in 90 years that there is no large-scale railroad company in western Michigan. While CSX still owns the branches, leasing the northern Michigan lines is part of the company's effort to streamline the rail system, spokeswoman Kim Skorniak told The Muskegon Chronicle for a Sunday story. She said CSX plans to shed 1,000 miles of branch lines by year's end. Besides the Mid-Michigan lease, CSX has turned over 129 miles, running from Grand Rapids to Ludington-Manistee, to Marquette Rail LLC of Dallas. And a 65-mile branch, running from Flint to Bay City and Midland, was turned over to Saginaw Bay Southern Railway Co. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-12-05, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK GETS N.Y. STATE FUNDING FOR ADIRONDACK: New York State taxpayers will subsidize Amtrak's passenger service through the Adirondacks to the tune of $8.6-million, acccording to this report published by the North Country Gazette. The governor's office has announced that a new rail construction fund will be used to continue Amtrak service from New York City to Montreal through at least March 2007. The state is expected to pay $4.2-million this year and $4.4-million in 2006 to subsidize the service which serves approximately 100,000 passengers annually. The rail construction fund is part of the state's $17.9 billion five-year transportation capital plan approved by voters. The Adirondack run from New York to Montreal includes stops in Plattsburgh, Westport, Port Kent, Port Henry and Ticonderoga. [United Transportation Union, 12-12-05, from North Country Gazette report]

RAIL FREIGHT AND PASSENGER RAIL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM BEGINS IN N.Y. STATE: New York State has begun a Rail Freight and Passenger Rail Assistance Program to "help New York railroads make infrastructure and capacity improvements, which will modernize the State's rail network and keep it competitive." Funding will be $20-million per year for five years. The funds will also be used to cover the State's payments to Amtrak for the Adirondack. CSX, NS, CP Rail, Metro North, and numerous short lines received grants in the first round of awards announced earlier this week. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-9-05]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ANNOUNCES 2006 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT BUDGET: Norfolk Southern Corp. said Dec.9 that it plans to spend nearly $1.2-billion in 2006 for capital improvements to its railroad operations, according to this report published by the Virginian Pilot. That capital spending projection is up 22 percent from its announced 2005 capital spending plan of $938-million. The 2006 spending plan includes $735-million for rail track and infrastructure projects. About $358-million will go to finance railway freight equipment. Among the equipment, NS will purchase 138 new six-axle high horsepower locomotives for its fleet. NS will invest about $103-million in business development initiatives - some for its network of intermodal terminals. [United Transportation Union, 12-9-05, from Virginian Pilot report]

PETITION CHALLENGES CSX EMERGENCY CONSTRUCTION PERMIT: Pensacola Gulf Coastkeepers Inc. is asking regulators to reconsider an emergency permit issued in July to CSX Transportation for construction of a new railroad trestle at the mouth of Bayou Texar and 17th Avenue, according to the Pensacola News Journal. Coastkeepers objects to the permit because it allows CSX to leave the old creosote-treated pilings in the bayou, shaved to one foot below the mud line. They said leaving the pilings would impede future dredging and widening of the bayou's mouth. Coastkeepers asked the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to either revoke the permit or modify it to require CSX to remove the old pilings when it replaces the timber trestle, Coastkeepers also takes issue with the DEP issuing an emergency permit 10 months after Hurricane Ivan, without notifying the public, according to the petition. [United Transportation Union, 12-9-05, from Pensacola News Journal report]

BNSF MERGER SPECULATION SWIRLS: The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway's healthy financial position is fuelling speculation in the trade media that it may be considering new merger opportunities to significantly increase both its service profile in the US, Mexico, and Canada. Last week, several Canadian industry publications quoted an international rail consultant as saying that the rail carrier - one of the two major railroads serving California - may again attempt a merger with the Canadian National Railway, which operates the former Illinois Central, Grand Trunk Western, and Wisconsin Central railroads. An article in a transportation law publication last month speculates that BNSF may also make a grab for the Kansas City Southern (KCS), which also controls the Tex-Mex and Mexico's TFM railroad. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-8-05, from CalTradeReport.com]

PADUCAH & LOUISVILLE TO LAUNCH NEW SHORT LINE: On Dec.30, the Paducah & Louisville Railway Inc. (PAL) plans to start up the Evansville Western Railway Inc. (EVWR), a new short line that will operate CSX Transportation's 124.5-mile line between Evansville, Ind., and Okawville, Ill., according to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association's newsletter. EVWR will move 55,000 to 60,000 carloads a year, said PAL President and Chief Executive Officer Tony Reck in the newsletter. The Evansville-to-Okawville route was attractive because PAL is trying to expand and the traffic base is similar to the regional's, he said. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 12-8-05]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO DEPLOY NEW TRAIN TECHNOLOGY: Norfolk Southern says is teaming up with another company to start deploying a locomotive computer system to improve fuel efficiency and safe handling of trains, according to the Associated Press. The system known as LEADER (Locomotive Engineer Assist Display and Event Recorder) is developed by New York Air Brake. It provides engineers with real-time information about a train's operation conditions. The on-board computer calculates and displays optimum speed based on a variety of conditions. Norfolk Southern tested the system in a 2003 pilot program. The two-year program involved 15 locomotives running coal trains between Winston-Salem, N,C., and Roanoke, Va. The company will be begin installing the systems in 2006. [United Transportation Union, 12-6-05, from Associated Press report]

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN RENAMES MEXICAN SUBSIDIARY, RESTRUCTURES MANAGEMENT: Eight months after acquiring full ownership of TFM S.A. de C.V., Kansas City Southern has renamed the railroad Kansas City Southern de Mexico S.A. de C.V. (KCSM) to reflect its U.S. and Mexican ties, and common ownership under the KCS brand. And there are more changes in store for the Mexican road, as well as the Kansas City Southern Railway Co. (KCSR), KCS' U.S. operation. KCS is combining marketing and support services functions for both railroads, and implementing management changes at KCSM. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 12-6-05]

DAVID GUNN ACCEPTS POSITION WITH PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION: Recently terminated Amtrak President David L. Gunn has accepted a position as an adjunct scholar with the conservative Free Congress Foundation, Chairman Paul M. Weyrich announced Dec.5, according to a press release. The Foundation is one of the few conservative public policy institutes that favors public transportation, especially rail. Weyrich is a former member of Amtrak's Board of Directors and also of the Amtrak Reform Council. As a Free Congress adjunct scholar, Mr. Gunn will contribute to the Foundation's ongoing series of monographs on conservatives and public transportation. [United Transportation Union, 12-5-05, from a press release]

SOUND TRANSIT BEGINS TO BUILD CENTRAL LINK GUIDEWAY: Last week, PCL Construction Services Inc. crews finished constructing the first span of elevated light-rail guideway for Sound Transit's Central Link project. To be constructed between now and 2007, the elevated tracks - comprising about two hundred 120-foot spans - will run five miles through Tukwila, Wash. In late 2003, Sound Transit began building the 14-mile Seattle-to-Tukwila Central Link light-rail line, which is scheduled to be complete in mid-2009. Last summer, the agency approved extending the line to Sea-Tac International Airport. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 12-5-05]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN MUSEUM OPENS IN NORFOLK: The new Norfolk Southern Museum opened its doors in Norfolk, Va., Dec.5, marking the 175th anniversary of a railway system that traces its beginnings to 1830. The museum occupies 1,600 square feet at Norfolk Southern's corporate headquarters. It displays such artifacts as early rail, clothing, tools, locomotive parts, signage, photographs, and advertisements. A replica of the Best Friend of Charleston locomotive will visit the Norfolk Southern museum Dec.15-16 on loan from the city of Charleston, S.C. The Best Friend pulled the first regularly scheduled steam passenger train in America on South Carolina Canal and Railroad Co. tracks on Christmas Day 1830. The replica will be on display on Wall Street Dec. 12, when NS representatives will ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange. [RailwayAge.com, 12-5-05]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN, KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN TO FORM JOINT VENTURE OF MEREDIAN SPEEDWAY: Kansas City Southern Railway and Norfolk Southern on Dec. 2 announced a joint venture involving track and operations over Kansas City Southern's so-called Meredian Speedway beween Meredian, Miss., and Shreveport, La. The object is to take more trucks off the highway and boost intermodal loadings of the two railroads. KCS said it will contribute to the joint venture its 320 miles of track, while NS will supply $300-million in cash over four years to increase capacity and make other improvements. KCS will then own 70 percent of that joint venture and operate the line, while NS will hold a 30 percent share of the joint venture. The plan must be approved by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. [United Transportation Union, 12-2-05]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN SELLS FIVE-MILE LINE TO CITY OF NORFOLK: The city of Norfolk, Va., has reached an agreement with Norfolk Southern Corp. to buy a five-mile segment of unused freight track for a proposed starter light rail line, according to the Virginian Pilot. The purchase is the last of several tasks the Federal Transit Administration required of the city and Hampton Roads Transit, clearing the way for possible federal funding to build the 7.5-mile rail system. The route would go from Eastern Virginia Medical Center through downtown to Newtown and Kempsville roads. About 12,000 daily riders are projected. Construction would start in late 2007, and the line would begin carrying passengers in 2009. [United Transportation Union, 12-2-05, from Virginian Pilot article]

PRESIDENT APPROVES $1.3-BILLION FOR AMTRAK: After vowing to eliminate all subsidies for Amtrak, President Bush signed legislation that will provide the financially ailing passenger railroad with $1.3 billion in federal aid for next year. The Amtrak appropriation is part of a $137.6-billion transportation funding bill. The White House, intent on breaking up Amtrak, shifting some of its rail costs to the states and potentially selling off portions of the passenger line to private interests, had proposed zero funding for fiscal 2006, in part to spur financial reforms. Both the House and Senate rejected the administration plan to end subsidies, coming up with a compromise $1.3-billion package that represents a $108-million increase over current funding. The measure includes $495-million for operating subsidies and more than $780-million to maintain and repair capital infrastructure, of which $280-million could be used for debt-service obligations. The agreement requires Amtrak to achieve savings by increasing its operational efficiency, including changes to food and beverage services and first class service. It also requires submission within 60 days of an approved comprehensive business plan to Congress to curb continual operating losses. Separate legislation to provide a long-term financing solution and mandate specific reforms for Amtrak is pending in Congress. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-1-05, from Newark Star-Ledger website article by Robert Cohen]

UNION PACIFIC TO INSTALL VIDEO SURVEILLANCE ON LOCOMOTIVES: Union Pacific Railroad recently contracted March Networks Corp. and Wabtec Railway Electronics Ltd. to provide a mobile digital video surveillance system for locomotives. The railroad will install VideoTrax - a digital video recorder the suppliers co-developed and introduced in July - on more than 7,000 locomotives. The device is designed to record video images of tracks in front of a train and surrounding rights of way, as well as record audio and log locomotive data, such as brake and throttle usage. VideoTrax offers multiple camera and audio options, data analysis functions and playback tools. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 12-1-05]

UNION PACIFIC REVAMPING CALIFORNIA LOCOMOTIVE REPAIR FACILITY: The Union Pacific Railroad is spending $30-million to upgrade its West Colton, Calif., locomotive-repair facility, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Some of the upgrade has already been completed, although the project won't be finished until late March 2006, said Joe McCrow, director of the railroad's shops in the Los Angeles district. With the expanded work scope, employment at the locomotive repair area has increased from 175 to 215 in recent weeks. When the project is finished, the railroad will need as many as 85 more, McCrow said. The completed project will include five heavy-lift cranes to assist in replacement of generator units, turbo assemblies and engine blocks. Previously this heavy work was done in Little Rock, Ark., meaning locomotives were out of service for a long time. Areas still under construction include a 10,000-square-foot parts warehouse, office space and a building to shelter work on 10 locomotives. This structure will contain five tracks, each capable of accommodating two locomotives. [United Transportation Union, 12-1-05, from Inland Valley Daily Bulletin article]

TWO TRAIN STATIONS PLANNED FOR PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA: Station stops for a North Bay commuter train in east Petaluma and the downtown would serve 557 riders a day in 2025, according to a report on the proposal issued recently, the Argus Courier reports. The $340-million project, which would depend on passage of a quarter-cent sales tax increase in Marin and Sonoma counties, could lead to increases in traffic around station stops and noise from train horns, and could be susceptible to "severe groundshaking" during earthquakes, according to the report's major findings. But it is also expected to relieve traffic congestion on Highway 101 and lead to more walking and biking opportunities through the creation of a trackside path and future transit-oriented homes and businesses, the report found. According to the report, the train would stop at the east Petaluma station 12 times per day. At the downtown station, the train would make 14 stops. By 2025, a total of 362 people would board on the east side and 195 downtown, and free shuttles would be available at both sites to take riders to still-undetermined destinations nearby. Traveling an average of 46 mph, the train would take riders from downtown Petaluma to downtown Santa Rosa in 20 minutes. It would take 34 minutes to get from downtown Petaluma to the end of the line in Larkspur, the report found. Petaluma would also need a new, modernized railroad bridge over the Petaluma River south of the city. The historic wooden Haystack Bridge now in place should be offered to preservation groups, the report said. [United Transportation Union, 12-1-05, from Petaluma Argus-Courier article]

U.S. STUDY RECOMMENDS OVERHAUL OF BALTIMORE RAIL LINES: A U.S. study commissioned after the 2001 Howard Street Tunnel fire recommends an overhaul of the city's convoluted passenger and freight systems, saying it is the only way to fix a network vital to the country's transportation grid. The $1-million study was conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration at the request of Congress after the train derailment in which a CSX freight train partially derailed in the Howard Street Tunnel. MORE... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-30-05, from Associated Press article]

SUBWAY RESTAURANT ENDS TRIAL PROGRAM WITH AMTRAK: The trial was to have lasted four months. But Subway food service on Amtrak trains between Rensselaer and New York City was gone in less than a week, according to the Albany Times Union. Amtrak officials on Nov.28 confirmed that Subway "has temporarily suspended its participation" in a pilot program that restored food service on trains running exclusively between Rensselaer and New York City. But a spokesman for the passenger rail company added that "Amtrak is committed to continuing the food service pilot in order to enhance overall customer service." Amtrak officials wouldn't comment on the reasons for the sudden termination, and Subway officials could not be reached for comment. The service started Nov.17 and ended Nov.23, said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black. Amtrak ended its own food service aboard the trains in July, estimating it would save $1-million a year. [United Transportation Union, 11-29-05, from Albany Times-Union report]

BNSF TO SELL RAIL LINE TO NEW MEXICO: The BNSF Railway Co. unit of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. said on Nov.28 it reached an agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation to sell a 300-mile rail line to the state for $76-million to create a commuter rail line. The sale of the line between Belen, N.M., and Trinidad, Colorado, will be closed in segments, and BNSF will keep on-going freight easement rights on the line, the railroad said. The state also will acquire part of BNSF's Albuquerque rail yard property. The sale and start of commuter rail service depends on the completion of other agreements expected by early next year, BNSF said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-28-05, from Reuters report]

MONORAIL TRAINS SIDESWIPE IN SEATTLE: Two monorail trains clipped each other on a curve in the tracks Saturday evening [Nov.26] in the heart of Seattle. Two people with minor injuries were taken to hospitals, a fire official told the Associated Press. Seattle firefighters helped 84 passengers off the only two trains on the one-mile, 43-year-old elevated line between downtown and the Seattle Center, said Helen Fitzpatrick, fire department spokeswoman. The crash occurred over streets where the Seattle Marathon was scheduled to be run on Sunday. The monorail was built for the Seattle World's Fair in 1962 and has been popular with tourists, drawing as many as 23,000 riders a day. But a years-long fight to expand the system met with sound rejection this month. [United Transportation Union, 11-27-05, from Associated Press article]

N.J. TRANSIT RIVER LINE RIDERSHIP RISES 24 PERCENT: The light-rail service from Trenton to Camden is becoming more popular with age, according to this Associated Press report published by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Year-to-date ridership is up roughly 24 percent over the same period last year, said Dan Stessel, a spokesman for NJ Transit, which operates the River Line. The line began operating in March 2004 and cost $1.1-billion to build. Trains run every 15 minutes during peak hours, and a new transit policy allows customers with monthly or weekly commuter rail passes to ride the River Line at no extra charge. The line has connecting services to Philadelphia and the Northeast Corridor in New Jersey, and has improved connections with Capital Connection buses in Trenton. [United Transportation Union, 11-26-05, from Associated Press article published by Philadelphia Inquirer]

SOUTH DAKOTA TO SELL RAIL LINE TO BNSF: A rail line that the state rescued from abandonment 25 years ago to preserve train service in South Dakota will be sold to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The deal not only provides the state with $40.3-million, but it also improves short-line railroad access to BNSF tracks, Gov. Mike Rounds said. Company officials and Rounds announced in April that they had reached a tentative agreement in which BNSF would buy the 368-mile, state-owned core rail line, but the final terms were not settled. The state rescued the line in 1980 after it was deserted by the bankrupt Milwaukee Road. It runs from Aberdeen to Mitchell, Canton, and Sioux Falls and from Mitchell to Sioux City, Iowa. Burlington Northern has operated trains on the tracks since mid-1981 in an agreement with the state. The sales agreement requires BNSF to build sidings on the core line at Alpena, Redfield and North Sioux City. [Brtherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-24-05, from Associated Press article]

METRA TRAIN SLAMS INTO CARS AT CROSSING, 16 INJURED: A Chicago Metra commuter train hit five vehicles at a highway-rail grade crossing at Elmwood Park, Illinois, Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. central time, Nov. 23. Sixteen were reported injured - three critically, according to the Chicago Sun Times. Three of the injured were said to be among the almost 500 passengers on the commuter train. There were no reports regarding train-crew injuries. The accident site is some 14 miles northwest of Chicago's Loop. A Metra spokesperson said the gates were working properly and were down at the time of the accident. The Metra train reportedly hit five vehicles in the crossing and a chain reaction resulted in 10 more vehicles being hit, according to news reports. [United Transportation Union, 11-23-05, from Chicago Sun Times]

G.M. PLANT CLOSINGS TO AFFECT RAIL JOBS: Some railroads and rail employees will suffer a significant blow from the closing of 12 General Motors plants in the U.S. and Canada. Those plant closings could begin as early as 2006 and stretch into 2008. CSX, Canadian National and Union Pacific stand to be big losers because of the GM plant closings. NS will lose slightly. BNSF will suffer the least negative impact. The impact of GM plant closings could be quite severe on some railroads and specific rail routes, as well as on affected train & engine service pools. Other railroads - including some losing GM traffic - could wind up with increased auto business from GM competitors, but likely via other routes. [United Transportation Union, 11-23-05]

CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR TO GET ENHANCEMENTS: It was reported in the November issue of Amtrak Ink (Amtrak's internal newsletter) that Amtrak plans to expand its long-distance train enhancement program to the California Zephyr during this fiscal year after the successful relaunch of the Empire Builder last fiscal year. The Southwest Chief is slated for upgrades during Fiscal 2007. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-23-05]

RAILROADS BUCKLING UNDER RECORD TRAFFIC: Amid rising fuel prices, more companies are turning to railroads as a cheaper way to transport goods, according to Inc. magazine. In fact, U.S. intermodal traffic, which includes loading trailers and containers on flatbed railroad cars, is on pace to break records in 2005. The tracks are expected to remain congested through the fall, given that Hurricane Katrina disrupted water and road transportation in the Gulf region. In all, the total volume of rail freight is expected to top 11 million containers this year, up from eight million a decade ago, and studies predict that volume will soar by 70 percent between now and 2025. [United Transportation Union, 11-23-05, from November Inc.Magazine article]

PROVIDENCE & WORCESTER PRESIDENT DIES: Providence and Worcester Railroad Company said its president, Orville R. Harrold, died Nov.22. Robert H. Eder, P&W's chairman and C.E.O., is assuming Harrold's duties pending an election of a president by the company's board of directors. [Providence & Worcester R.R., 11-22-05]

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN LEASES MISSISSIPPI BRANCH TO SHORT LINE: Kansas City Southern Railway Co. (KCSR) announced Nov.21 it leased the 21.5-mile Redwood Branch in Mississippi to The Watco Cos. Inc. On Jan.8, 2006, new Watco short line the Vicksburg Southern Railroad Inc. will begin operating the line between Ballground Yard and north of Vicksburg Yard; and between points near Cedars, Miss. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 11-22-05]

CHINA TO ORDER 60 JAPANESE BULLET TRAINS: A Japanese news report Nov.21 indicates China plans to place an order for 60 Japanese high-speed Shinkansen "bullet" trains to upgrade the country's railway system, according to this Associated Press report published by The New York Times. The trains are modeled on East Japan Railway Co's high-speed "Hayate" trains, which travel at up to 170 mph, Kyodo News agency reported, citing unidentified industry sources. The orders will be placed with Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., one of six companies that won contracts last year with China's Railway Ministry to improve key railway lines, the report said. Other companies involved in this railway project include Alstom SA of France and Bombadier Inc. of Canada. Under the plan, China aims to double the speed of trains on five railway lines to 125 miles per hour, using Japan's bullet train technology. [United Transportation Union, 11-21-05, from Associated Press report was published by the New York Times]

MILLER TOWER RECONSTRUCTED: November 20, 2005, was the day in which Miller Tower got reassembled at its new home just west of the Martinsburg, West Virginia, Roundhouse complex. On that day, a Sunday, the second floor was placed atop the first floor, its switch machine was put back in place, and the roof reattached atop the second floor. MORE...

DOWNEASTER TO ADD FIFTH ROUND-TRIP: A fifth Amtrak Downeaster Boston-Portland round-trip will soon be added after the State of New Hampshire's transportation committee voted to use $1.6-million in federal funds to finance an additional siding on the Guilford tracks near Dover, NH. Maine will contribute $400,000 (and had paid the lion's share of previous capital improvements). [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-18-05]

RESTORATION OF FRESNO DEPOT COMPLETED: Amtrak and the California Department of Transportation (DOT) will open a restored Fresno Santa Fe Depot Nov.19. The rehabilitated station features a larger and more comfortable waiting area, improved ticketing facility, Quik-Trak ticketing, checked baggage service, business offices and adjacent retail space. The $6-million project also included adding parking spaces, and improving access to the facility for buses, taxis and pedestrians. Opened in 1899, the historic facility has been restored to maintain its Mission-style design and other architectural features, such as the station clock and clock tower. The station is served by 12 daily Amtrak San Joaquin passenger trains, which are operated in partnership with the California DOT. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 11-18-05]

FIRST TRAINS TO ROLL THROUGH RENO TRENCH: Sometime Nov.18 the first train is expected to rumble through the 2.2-mile-long concrete canyon designed to separate downtown Reno's train traffic from its busy surface streets. The last train expected to use the temporary "shoefly" rail line installed to divert train traffic during the trench's construction will be a westbound Amtrak passenger train between 9:30 and 11 a.m., said Reno spokeswoman Terri Hardy. Once that train is on its way, crews will dismantle the shoefly line and connect the main rail line running through the trench. The $282-million project consists of a U-shaped channel that will separate tracks from 11 street-level vehicle and pedestrian crossings. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-18-05, from Reno Gazette-Journal website article by Jeff DeLong]

UNION PACIFIC ELECTS JAMES YOUNG PRESIDENT, CEO: Union Pacific Corporation has announced that James R. Young has been elected chief executive officer and president of the Corporation effective January 1, 2006. Dick Davidson, the company's current chairman, chief executive and president, will remain as chairman of the board. Young will also remain president of Union Pacific Railroad. Young, 53, joined Union Pacific in 1978 in the Finance Department and has held a number of positions at both the Railroad and the Corporation during his career. He became executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Corporation in 1999 and was elected president and chief operating officer of the Railroad in January 2004. He was elected a director of Union Pacific in February 2005. [Union Pacific, 11-17-05]

AMTRAK CHAIRMAN DEFENDS DISMISSAL OF DAVID GUNN: Amtrak's board of directors "had no choice" but to fire the president of the government-subsidized passenger railroad, Chairman David Laney told lawmakers Nov.15. Laney defended David Gunn's Nov.9 dismissal in a hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Railroads Subcommittee. MORE... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-17-05, from GovExec.com article by Beth Dickey]

NEW YORK CITY TAKES TITLE TO HIGH LINE: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement Nov.16 that CSX, the railroad that held the title to the High Line, the elevated rail viaduct that stretches through Chelsea, transferred it to the city this month, according to this report by Michelle O'Donnell published by The New York Times. The transfer allows the city to continue its plan to transform the abandoned line into a public recreation space. Work is to begin in 2006 and is expected to be completed in 2008. MORE... [United Transportation Union, 11-17-05, from New York Times report by Michelle O'Donnell]

L.I.R.R. EYES MORE TRAINS IN 2006 BUDGET: The proposed Long Island Rail Road 2006 budget presented Nov.16 indicates commuters can expect a handful of additional trains and some cleaner ones too, according to this report by Joie Tyrrell published by Newsday. Citing a surplus that has grown past a billion dollars, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is looking at adding service enhancements as well as paying down some unfunded liabilities in next year's budget. The railroad's proposal, in its more than $1.1-billion budget, calls for boosting weekend service on the Huntington and Port Washington lines as well as adding late service on the Montauk branch in response to increased customer demand. The MTA board will vote on the 2006 final proposed budget next month, including the LIRR's financial plan. The budget also calls for adding cleaning positions and reducing the interval of heavy-duty cleaning from 90 to 60 days. Railroad officials are aiming for better performance too - increasing its measure of on-time trains from the current status of 92.4 percent to 94.3 percent. [United Transportation Union, 11-17-05, from Newsday report by Joie Tyrrell]

C.N. MAY BE INVOLVED IN RAIL INDUSTRY CONSOLIDATION, CONSULTANT SAYS: A veteran railway consultant believes Canadian National Railway Co. may be involved in consolidation in the North American industry. Charles Banks said the industry has evolved since the U.S. Surface Transportation Board shut down the attempted mega-merger of CN and Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 2000. "I personally believe there will be at least one and perhaps even two more rounds of mergers in the North American railroad field, which would of course include CN," Mr. Banks, president of R.L. Banks & Associates Inc. in Washington, said in an interview Nov.16. "The regulatory climate in the United States most recently has not been particularly friendly to mergers but there's certainly going to be a push for it, and my guess is that it will be sooner than people expect." Paul Tellier, who was at CN's throttle when CN and Burlington Northern attempted to form the continent's biggest railway, says the failed union, followed by an 18-month moratorium on mergers, cooled the ardour for further consolidation. He said the dynamics have since changed, as CN has become the lowest-cost operator among the six major railways based on its operating ratio, a measure of costs per revenues. Mr. Banks said any new mergers among the six railways would be driven by cost advantages, and said the most logical partner for CN would still be Burlington Northern, based in Fort Worth, Tex. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-17-05, from Canadian Press article by Allan Swift]

NEW STRUCTURE FOR AMTRAK BOARD PROPOSED IN HOUSE: Congressman Mike Castle (R-DE) is unveiling legislation that would restructure the Amtrak board, according to this Associated Press report. Castle said Nov.16 at a House subcommittee hearing that the current set-up makes the board a tool of the administration in power. He wants to replace the seven-member board with a nine-member board that would include the Transportation Secretary, the Amtrak president, and seven others with transportation and business qualifications. Vacancies would have to be filled within four months and members would be chosen for geographic and partisan balance. [United Transportation Union, 11-16-05, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK CHAIRMAN ADMITS SECRET TALKS TO SELL ASSETS: The chairman of the board that oversees Amtrak told a House subcommittee Nov.15 that the board is not scheming to sell off Northeast Corridor assets, though he acknowledged conducting secret meetings with people interested in buying them. David Laney, the Amtrak chairman, told the House railroads subcommittee that he has had closed-door discussions with private parties interested in purchasing 500 miles of track and other assets along the Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston. "I've had conversations, listening to the concept" of selling off the infrastructure, Laney said. Pressed by Rep. Robert Menendez (D-13thDist.NJ), Laney said he couldn't recall whom he had spoken to about the idea, but promised to provide the committee with answers later. Amtrak's backers have long feared that the administration wants to dismantle the nation's passenger rail service and sell off its assets, including the Northeast Corridor. In addition to Amtrak trains, the track carries commuter rail lines including NJ Transit, and freight traffic. In September, the board voted to begin the process of separating the Northeast Corridor from the rest of the system, a step that Amtrak backers saw as a prelude to a sale. Last week the board voted to fire Amtrak president and CEO David Gunn, who opposed the Northeast Corridor plans and differed with the board on other issues. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-16-05, from Newark Star-Ledger website report by J. Scott Orr]

CSX TO TRANSFER SOME TRAIN DISPATCHERS FROM JACKSONVILLE: CSX plans to move about 10 percent of its train dispatcher positions from Jacksonville, Florida, to other system locations beginning in January 2006. According to news reports, currently there are about 340 dispatchers assigned to positions in Jacksonville. In January 2006, 15 positions are slated to be transferred to Chicago, and then 15 others will be transferred to Indianapolis. In addition, five positions are slated to be abolished, with those affected being absorbed into other functions within the company. CSX has four dispatching centers - Jacksonville, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Albany. According to news reports, there are currently 25 dispatchers working in Chicago, 65 in Indianapolis, and 80 in Albany.

U.S. FAULTS CSX'S LACK OF RAIL SAFETY TRAINING IN N.Y. STATE CROSSING ACCIDENT: CSX Railroad's failure to train workers on the use of devices that can override crossing warning signals and vague instructions placed on the equipment contributed to a crash that killed a 38-year-old motorist when her car was struck by a train in Fonda, N.Y., federal investigators have concluded, according to the Albany Times Union. Victoria Doyle of Johnstown died on Feb. 11 when her car, which was traveling south on Broadway, was struck by a westbound CSX freight train. Investigators with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department determined in March that the conductor from an eastbound CSX train overrode the safety system at the crossing because he didn't want his stopped train to hold up automobile traffic. It appears that the conductor, who had 39 years of experience with the railroad but was a virtual novice in the territory east of Buffalo, accidentally pressed two buttons on the control box for the crossing warning devices. Pressing more than one button on the control panel can impair the proper operation of the warning gates and signals, according to the FRA. Yet, "there appears to have been no instructions posted to warn railroad users of this potential effect," the federal investigation found, and the instructions that were mounted in the control box were "vague in nature." There was no warning against pushing more than one button, the investigators found, and CSX conducted no training for its staff on the operation of the devices. The railroad's operating rules also do not address the proper use of the devices, nor are there any other written instructions or bulletins on their use, according to the FRA. [United Transportation Union, 11-16-05, from Albany Times-Union report]

RAILROAD OPERATING CREW EMPLOYMENT RISES: With traffic at record levels, the number of train and engine crew members employed by Class I railroads rose to 68,799 in September, a 5.19 percent increase over September 2004, according to the Surface Transportation board. Total employment rose by 3.62 percent to 163,748 this September. The category of executives, officials, and staff assistants showed the largest percentage increase, with employment up more than 9 percent to 9,504. [RailwayAge.com, 11-16-05]

SUPPORTERS WANT AMTRAK PRESIDENT REINSTATED: Amtrak supporters in Congress on Nov.15 questioned whether the railroad's board had the authority to fire David Gunn as president last week and said he should be reinstated. "I hope the board will reinstate Mr. Gunn until all the legal issues are resolved," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who testified before the House railroad subcommittee. "There is no legal consensus that the board had the power to fire Mr. Gunn." MORE... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-15-05, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK TO OFFER SUBWAY RESTAURANTS FOOD ON EMPIRE CORRIDOR: Amtrak is turning to Subway Restaurants to bring back food service on the dozen or so trains that lost it last summer in a cost-cutting move. The new arrangement is a four-month trial that will begin Nov.17 with one daily train each way, expanding over time to all trains that run exclusively between Albany-Rensselaer and New York City. Subway workers will operate from the train's cafe car and also will walk through the train offering at-seat order-taking and delivery. Food items include Subway's sandwiches plus breakfast items, soups, pizza, salads and beverages. Subway won't be on board those trains that operate beyond Albany and already have Amtrak food service cars. Subway will pay Amtrak a portion of gross receipts, the railroad said. If all goes well, Amtrak said it may seek competitive bids next year to make the service permanent. [United Transportation Union, 11-15-05, from Albany Times-Union item]

POWER FAILURE DISRUPTS QUEENS SUBWAYS: Subway service on the E, F, R and V lines in Queens was interrupted for more than two hours Nov.11, trapping some passengers on trains in tunnels for more than an hour, after an unexplained power failure occurred at a signal room near the Woodhaven Boulevard station, according to this report published by The New York Times. The power failure, at 2:28 p.m., cut off service on the four lines between the Roosevelt Avenue-Jackson Heights station and the 71st Street-Continental Avenue station in Forest Hills. The shutdown affected the signals that guide train movements, but did not affect the third rail, which powers the trains. Ten trains were stuck in tunnels between stations; the last to be moved released its passengers at 3:46 p.m. Regular service was restored at 4:45 p.m. [United Transportation Union, 11-12-05, from New York Times report]

CSX CITES OVERHEATED JOURNAL IN AMSTERDAM, N.Y., DERAILMENT OCT.12: An overheated axle part on one car triggered the derailment of a CSX freight train in Amsterdam on Oct.12, the freight railroad announced on Nov.11. The problem was with a part known as a journal, which acts like an axle bearing, said Meg Scheu, a CSX spokeswoman in Jacksonville, Fla. When the journal failed, 18 cars derailed before the train was brought to a stop, she said. A separate investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration into the cause of the accident continues, said administration spokesman Steve Kulm, who said he could not comment on the railroad's findings because the federal probe is not complete. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-12-05, from Albany Times-Union website article by Cathy Woodruff]

HOUSE EXPLORES ACTIONS OF AMTRAK BOARD: The vote by the Amtrak board of directors to fire the railroad's president, David L. Gunn, has created intense interest in Congress in the board itself, which some legal experts say has been operating for years using untested legal principles. The concerns come as the board faces new questions about its future. MORE... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-11-05, from New York Times website article by Matthew L. Wald]

BILL TO REFORM AMTRAK'S INEFFICIENT LINES INTRODUCED IN HOUSE: Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) introduced H.R.4214, the 'Reforming Amtrak's Inefficient Lines Act of 2005.' This anti-Amtrak legislation cites inaccurate cost figures and calls for, within a year, the discontinuance of the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Silver Star, and Southwest Chief. It also requires the end to all food and beverage service that does not break even, plus all sleeper, diner, lounge, checked baggage, and onboard entertainment services; essentially, de-facto destruction of the national Amtrak system. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-11-05]

GENESSEE & WYOMING REPORTS MIXED PICTURE: Railroad operator Genesee & Wyoming Inc. said Nov.11 that traffic in North America rose 21.4 pct in October over last year, while traffic in Australia fell 3.8 pct, according to this Associated Press report. Total North American carloads were 66,418, compared with 54,700 in October 2004. Excluding traffic from Tazewell & Peoria Railroad, which Genesee & Wyoming began operating on Nov. 1, 2004, North American traffic was down 2.4 pct, due to to discontinued rail service for sugar cane in Louisiana. Australian carloads slipped to 78,318, down from 81,410 last year, when there was a record grain harvest. [United Transportation Union, 11-11-05, from Associated Press report]

DAVID GUNN RELEASED AS AMTRAK PRESIDENT: Amtrak's Board of Directors Nov.9 released its President, David Gunn, saying that the passenger rail service needed to intensify the pace and broaden the scope of its reforms. Amtrak said that David Hughes, Chief Engineer, has been named Acting President and CEO, and that its Board of Directors has launched a national search to find the railroad's next leader. MORE... [Amtrak, 11-9-05]

DM&E PROJECT MAY BRING BIG CHANGES IN S.D.: Traffic at the 'S' curve on Sioux avenue in Pierre, S.D., will never look the same once the street is changed to accommodate increased traffic by Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad. DME is applying for a $2.5-billion federal loan to rebuild and renovate its track through Minnesota and South Dakota as well as build new track to the Powder River basin in Wyoming. One plan to ease the flow of traffic through the 'S' curve is to build an overpass that will allow vehicles to drive over the tracks. The effects of Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad's plan to send 100-car trains through Pierre 37 times a day might lead to some major transportation changes. DME is applying for a $2.5-billion loan from the federal government. The feds have 90 days, once the application is received, to decide. Kevin Schieffer, executive director of the railroad, said that if the loan is approved, construction could begin as soon as next year and be completed within three years. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-9-05, from Capital Journal website article by Leta Nolan Childers]

CANADIAN PACIFIC TO SELL 92-MILE LINE TO INDIANA RAIL ROAD: Canadian Pacific Railway announced Nov.8 it has executed an agreement to sell its 92.3-mile track from Fayette, which is near Terre Haute, to Bedford, Ind., to Indiana Rail Road Co., according to a joint press release. The sale of the Latta Subdivision is expected to close in the first half of 2006, pending approval of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. The sale includes trackage rights over CSX from Chicago to Terre Haute and from Bedford to Louisville, Ky. Terms were not disclosed, but the sale will generate a modest gain for CPR and is part of the company's continuing efforts to streamline operations and drive efficiency. The sale will not have a material effect on earnings. Indiana Rail Road is an Indianapolis-based regional freight carrier operating a 155-mile railroad between Indianapolis and Newton, Ill., over former Illinois Central track. [Joint press release, 11-9-05]

VOTERS APPROVE N.Y. STATE TRANSIT BONDS: By a fair margin, a $2.9-billion bond act that will finance transportation projects statewide, including part of the Second Avenue subway and a link between the Long Island Rail Road and Grand Central Terminal, was approved by New York State voters Nov.8, according to this report by Sewell Chan published by The New York Times. Supporters said the new borrowing, which will be repaid over decades from the state's general revenues, was essential to acquire, build or repair subways, trains, buses, highways and bridges. Opponents said it would push the state's already high debt burden to dangerous levels and saddle future generations with the bill. [United Tansportation Union, 11-9-05, from New York Times article by Sewell Chan]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN OUTLOOK NOW POSITIVE, FITCH RATINGS SAYS: Fitch Ratings on Tuesday revised the rating outlook on Norfolk Southern Corp. to positive from stable, citing the company's strong operating performance and cash flow potential. An outlook revision to positive indicates the railroad operator's ratings may be raised over the next one to two years. At the same time Fitch affirmed NSC's "BBB" ratings, which are two notches above junk status. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-9-05, from Reuters report]

PLAN FOR HUDSON RIVER TUNNELS ROLLING: NJ Transit expects to hear from federal officials soon on two milestones that will allow the agency to move ahead with plans for the proposed Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel, according to this report by Michael Lavitt published by the Trenton Times. NJ Transit hand-delivered an application to start preliminary engineering to the Federal Transit Administration in New York on Oct. 21, meeting a requirement imposed by a federal transportation appropriations bill that is providing engineering funds for the project. NJ Transit spokesman Dan Stessel said submission of the application, about as thick as the Manhattan phone book, is a major milestone in the agency's effort to secure the funding. The second document is a early version of the draft environmental impact statement for the project that is also being reviewed by the FTA. After the federal agency finishes its review of the environmental document, hearings will be scheduled, Stessel said. That should happen in a few months, although there is no firm timetable. The Tunnel, the newest name for the project, would do a lot to ease the delays that seem to get more common every month while allowing a one-seat ride to Manhattan for the Raritan Valley Line and some other North Jersey rail lines that now end in Hoboken. The problem now is that NJ Transit and Amtrak are running so many trains through the two century-old tunnels that any delays ripple through the system. The project also includes building new platforms, lengthening existing ones and other improvements in New York's Penn Station. [United Transportation Union, 11-8-05, from Trenton Times report by Michael Lavitt]

FEDS TO TIGHTEN OVERSIGHT OF AMTRAK: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta Nov.7 announced the Dept. of Transportation would implement recommendations to strengthen its oversight of Amtrak in light of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found widespread managerial problems within the company. Secretary Mineta, who said he agreed with the GAO's findings, also called on Amtrak to take quick steps to address the recommendations made in the Nov.3 GAO report that require Board or management action. "For the past several years, I have been urging Amtrak to clean up its act and become more accountable to taxpayers and the traveling public," said Secretary Mineta. "I hope this report will be a turning point for Amtrak. There simply is too much at stake to let the company deteriorate any further." Mineta directed the Department's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to require Amtrak to submit its plans to improve financial reporting and management practices. The agency will monitor progress on the plans and issue a new annual report to Congress on how well Amtrak is improving its financial practices, Mineta added. The Secretary said Amtrak also would be required to demonstrate how it will improve its acquisition practices before receiving federal taxpayer grants. The FRA will award grants to Amtrak once it demonstrates that it has reformed its acquisitions practices. Amtrak also will be required to develop and share with the Department clear measures of overall corporate performance. [U.S. Department of Transportation, 11-8-05]

RAIL CAR DELAY MEANS HUGE GRAIN PILES IN NORTH DAKOTA: Elevators across North Dakota are storing grain on the ground at record levels - and the Public Service Commission says rail car delays are a big reason, according to the Associated Press. Commissioner Susan Wefald says shipping delays are becoming a chronic worry in the state. Elevator managers say a big harvest is also contributing to the problem - but they also say rail car delays are a reason. BNSF Railway is the dominant grain shipper in North Dakota. Spokesman Gus Melonas says the railroad has added two-thousand cars to its fleet - and will add another thousand by year's end. He says BNSF also will add 285 locomotives to its fleet by the end of the year, and will have made $28-million in track upgrades across North Dakota. [United Transportation Union, 11-8-05, from Associated Press report]

U.S. REPORTS DECLINE IN TRAIN ACCIDENT RATES: New government statistics show significant gains for railroad safety in 2005, building on an industry safety record that has improved dramatically over the past two decades. Data released by the Federal Railroad Administration shows an 11.6 percent increase in overall rail safety, as measured by the train accident rate, for the first eight months of 2005 compared with the same period last year. Employee injury rates were down 16.1 percent from the same time period in 2004, the safest year ever for employees in the industry's history. Freight rail is by far the safest way to move goods and products across the country. Over the past 24 years, the rail industry has reduced accident rates by 63 percent and employee injury rates by 77 percent. [BNSF Today, 11-8-05]

GREATER CLEVELAND R.T.A. OPENS RED LINE STATION IN FAIRFAX: Last week, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority opened a $1.3-million Red Line station at East 105th Street and Quincy Avenue in the Fairfax neighborhood. The station features a concrete platform, steel and masonry stair tower, improved lighting, security cameras and emergency phones. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 11-7-05]

DM&E APPLIES FOR $2.5-BILLION LOAN FOR POWDER RIVER EXTENSION: Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern CEO Kevin V. Schieffer announced Nov.7 that DM&E would seek a $2.5-billion federal loan to finance a 1,300-mile rail construction and renewal program, including a 262-mile extension into the Powder River Basin coalfields of Wyoming. The new transportation bill enacted last summer - SAFETEA-LU - authorizes $35-billion in Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loans, with a minimum of $7-billion set aside for smaller roads. South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune authored an amendment to SAFETEA-LU containing language making loans attractive to projects like that of DM&E. A loan could be repaid, for example, with earnings from the financed project. There's a 90-day time limit for processing loan applications. DM&E has been trying to join BNSF Railway and Union Pacific in the PRB since 1998, when it first applied to the Surface Transportation Board for access. [RailwayAge.com, 11-7-05]

SEPTA STRIKE AVERTED: Negotiators for the region's transit agency and striking union workers reached a tentative agreement Nov.7 on a four-year contract, ending a weeklong walkout, according to reports. Gov. Ed Rendell, flanked by union and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) officials, announced the agreement that would put buses, subways and trolleys back in operation after negotiators finished an all-night bargaining session, according to an Associated Press report by Ron Todt. The deal must still be ratified by both sides, but officials said workers should be back on the job for the afternoon rush hour. The strike - the first by unionized transit workers since 1998 - began Oct.31. It shut down nearly all bus, subway and trolley service in Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania suburbs and has inconvenienced about 400,000 daily riders, including 27,000 public school students who receive free or subsidized transit tokens. SEPTA's Regional Rail lines continue to operate but have been packed to capacity since the walkout began. [United Transportation Union, 11-7-05, quoting various news reports]

RIDERSHIP UP ON AMTRAK'S CRESCENT: Despite service disruptions caused by Katrina and other hurricanes, ridership on the Amtrak Crescent, which serves Gainesville twice-a-day, increased more than two percent during the last fiscal year, according to this report published by Access North Georgia. The Crescent carried 263,080 riders (about 360 passengers per train), up 2.5 percent from fiscal 2004. The picture was not, however, quite as positive in eastern Georgia. Patronage on Amtrak's east coast trains, which serve Savannah and Jesup, suffered as a result of Amtrak's decision one year ago to cut the New York-Miami Palmetto back to a New York-Savannah run. Palmetto ridership plunged 41.9 percent this year, to 134,669. Amtrak's remaining New York-Miami runs, the Silver Meteor and the Silver Star, picked up much, but not all of the slack. [United Transportation Union, 11-7-05, from Access North Georgia article]

CSX SELLS SAGINAW LINE: CSX Transportation Inc. has quietly chugged out of Saginaw, taking most of its jobs with it and selling its area operations to Saginaw Bay Southern Railway Co., according to this report by Barrie Barber published by The Saginaw News. Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX spokesman Gary T. Sease said most of the roughly 90 union workers in Saginaw accepted positions elsewhere within the company. Saginaw Bay Southern of Tawas, a small regional railroad affiliated with Tawas-based Lake State Railway Co., bought CSX's area operations and 80 miles of railroad track Oct. 29. Neither company would reveal the price. The regional rail line also assumed control of the sprawling central railyard at 750 N. Washington and hired 24 employees, seven from CSX, said James George, president and chief executive officer of both Lake State and Saginaw Bay Southern. The railroad has 35 workers in Saginaw and a total of 75 in the company. CSX is selling off smaller parts of its 22,000 miles of track across the nation to focus its resources in high-growth areas, Sease said. [United Transportation Union, 11-4-05, from Saginaw News report by Barrie Barber]

F.R.A. CALLS FOR MORE TRACK INSPECTIONS: The Federal Railroad Administration has called for more detailed inspections of some railroad tracks in response to deadly train derailments in 2002 and 2004. The agency said Nov.4 that it will require railroads to inspect certain types of tracks frequently for visible or detectable cracks, loose or missing bolts and other damage. The National Transportation Safety Board has said that inadequate track maintenance and inspections were the cause of three serious train accidents, including a January 2002 derailment in Minot, N.D. That accident sent a cloud of anhydrous ammonia over the town, killing one and injuring hundreds. Trains also derailed near Flora, Miss., and Pico Rivera, Calif., in 2004. One passenger on an Amtrak train died in the Mississippi accident. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said the new standards should boost detailed inspections by at least 11 percent per year. The rule applies to 90,000 miles of railroads made from continuous welded rail. The NTSB said that failure of those types of tracks is the probable cause of all three train derailments. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-4-05, from Associated Press report by Mary Clare Jalonick]

BNSF COMPLETES PROJECTS ON POWER RIVER BASIN LINE: BNSF this week completed major track maintenance and improvement projects that will speed the flow of coal train traffic on the Joint Line in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. At Shawnee Junction, where BNSF and Union Pacific Railroad lines split at the south end of the Joint Line, BNSF completed realignment of tracks, replacement and removal of turnouts and signal system upgrades that will allow both railroads' trains to move through the junction at 50 mph, double the previous speed limit of 25 mph. The Shawnee Junction project was completed Nov.3. That same day, BNSF crews finished an intensive 11-day project to reduce the number of rail joints in the area. [BNSF Today, 11-4-05]

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN RESTRUCTURES LOCOMOTIVE OWNERSHIP: Kansas City Southern Railway Company and an undisclosed Mexican affiliate have purchased 75 SD70MAC locomotives from General Motors equipment leasing affiliate El-Mo-Mex, Inc., for $32.625-million plus the assumption of approximately $95.9-million in debt and accrued interest. KCSR intends to sell all of the locomotives to an unaffiliated third party and enter into a long-term, leveraged lease of the units. The 75 SD70MACs were originally acquired by TFM from Electro-Motive Diesel when EMD was a GM subsidiary. At the same time, which was soon after TFM's start-up, TFM acquired 75 AC4400 locomotives from GE Transportation Systems. [RailwayAge.com, 11-3-05]

OHIO RAIL STUDY GETS STATE FUNDING: A pair of studies during the next year will move the region one step closer to having a high-speed rail line, local and state officials said Nov.2. The state's Controlling Board released $500,000 last week for an economic impact study of the Ohio Hub plan, which would create a network of high-speed railways crisscrossing the state. And a separate feasibility study is being completed that would include a line connecting Pittsburgh to Chicago, as well as one connecting Columbus to Detroit, said Stu Nicholson, public information officer for the Ohio Rail Development Commission. The Ohio Hub includes potential rail lines connecting Chicago to Toledo and Cleveland, and connecting Cleveland to Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. The feasibility study is expected to take four to six months, while the economic impact study will take eight months to a year to complete, Nicholson said. [United Transportation Union, 11-2-05, from Lima News article by Jim Sabin]

CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL REPORT APPROVED: California's high-speed rail board approved an environmental impact report Nov.2 for the 700-mile project, moving it a step closer to reality. The 6-0 vote clears the way for more detailed environmental reviews regarding specific routes and allows the board to begin buying rights of way if it gets funding, said Mehdi Morshed, the board's executive director. The California High-Speed Rail Authority is planning a system that would link Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego with trains running at speeds of up to 220mph. A $9.9-billion bond measure on the ballot next November would provide money to help pay for the first leg of the project, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The environmental impact report approved Nov.2 outlines the broad environmental effects created by the trains and how the board proposes to address them. It also touts high-speed rail as less costly, more energy efficient and less environmentally damaging than expanding highways and increasing air travel. The route proposed by the board would run through the Central Valley from Sacramento to Bakersfield, then cut through the Tehachapi Mountains to Palmdale before heading to Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego. There also would be lines running from Los Angeles to Irvine and from the San Francisco area to the Central Valley. The board still is considering where the San Francisco route would cut through the coastal mountains. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-2-05, from Associated Press report]

GE TO BUILD 300 LOCOMOTIVES FOR CHINA: Yesterday [Nov.1], GE Transportation-Rail announced it won a more than $450-million contract from the Chinese Ministry of Railways (MOR) to supply three hundred 6,000-horsepower locomotives in cooperation with Qishuyan Locomotive and Rolling Stock Works. From 2007 through 2009, GE plans to deliver the locomotives, which will feature 16-cylinder engines based on the company's Evolution Series engine platform. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 11-2-05]

AMTRAK HIKES FARES FOR LAST-MINUTE PURCHASES: Amtrak is following the example of the airlines and has started charging its passengers extra for last-minute seats, according to this Associated Press report. Tickets purchased close to departure times are now running 15 to 25 percent higher than tickets bought weeks in advance. The change came early last month. The Washington Post reports Amtrak's new price structure is based on the amount of sales before departure. On more popular routes such as the Northeast Corridor Metroliner or Acela Express on Friday afternoons, last-minute ticket fares will be higher. Amtrak began raising fares across the board last month to cover higher fuel costs and other expenses. [United Transportation Union, 11-1-05, from Associated Press report]

CANADIAN NATIONAL TO KEEP NATCHEZ-TO-BROOKHAVEN LINE OPEN: Canadian National, parent of Illinois Central Railroad, has dropped plans to abandon a rail line between Natchez and Brookhaven, according to this Associated Press report published by The Sun Herald. Gov. Haley Barbour said that CN will keep the line open for at least one year. In June, CN announced it was considering possible abandonment of the line within three years. [United Transportation Union, 11-1-05, from Sun Herald article]

FRED GREEN NAMED PRESIDENT OF CPR: Canadian Pacific Railway Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Fred Green has been appointed President of the railroad. He retains the position of Chief Operating Officer. Rob Ritchie continues as Chief Executive Officer. Green's appointment took effect Nov.1. In other management appointments, Jane O'Hagan has been named Vice President-Strategy, Research, and New Market Development. Tracy Robinson was appointed Vice President and Treasurer. [RailwayAge.com, 11-1-05]

LACKAWANNA STATION HOTEL SOLD: Scranton's Lackawanna Station Hotel, part of the Radisson chain, was sold during early October for $7-million to Calvin Investments of El Centro, California. In an article in the Scranton Times-Tribune, Nick Patel, president of the company, outlined some $1.5-million in improvements he wishes to make to the hotel. A new marketing plan will be developed to surround the 100th anniversary of the hotel, built in 1908. The Lackawanna station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. [Philadelphia Chapter NRHS Cinders, 11-05]

NEWTOWN SQUARE RAILROAD MUSEUM OPENS: The Newtown Square, Pa., Railroad Museum officially opened in October. It is located on West Chester Pike a mile west of Newtown Square, and features the restored 1894 ex-PRR station moved out of that Delaware County community, as well as a small steam engine, a wooden boxcar and an ex-PRR caboose. [Philadelphia Chapter NRHS Cinders, 11-05]

DERAILMENT IN INDIA KILLS AT LEAST 111: Officials said naval boats searched for bodies Sunday [Oct. 30] as rescuers gave up on finding more survivors from a train that plunged into a rain-swollen river in southern India, killing at least 111 people, according to a report published by the Chicago Tribune. The accident occurred early Saturday in Veligonda, a town in Andhra Pradesh state, after flash floods washed away a portion of the track. By Sunday afternoon, rescuers had removed all the survivors and the dead from seven cars that derailed along with the train's engine, said J.P. Batra, chairman of the railway board. At least 11 bodies were found downstream overnight, raising the death toll to 111. [United Transportation Union, 10-31-05, from Associated Press report by Omer Farooq published in Chicago Tribune]

CSX JOBS IN RACELAND, KY, SAFE FOR NOW: As CSX looks to sell its Raceland, Ky., railcar repair facility, at least 175 employees will retain their jobs should the proposed sale take place, a union leader said Friday [Oct.28]. A CSX official confirmed on Thursday that the company may sell the 76-year-old railcar shop in Raceland but would not say who the potential buyers would be or the likelihood of the sale. CSX issued a letter of intent this week to sell the Raceland facility to Alabama-based Progress Rail by Dec. 27, said Woody Lane, district chairman of the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen Local 6344, which employs 175 of the approximately 200 employees at the facility. CSX informed the union that the members of the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen at the plant will continue working with the new company should the sale happen, Lane said. If the sale does not take place, Lane said the future of the facility beyond next year remains uncertain. The facility has work scheduled through the end of 2006, he said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-31-05, from Huntington Herald-Dispatch website article]

PLAN FOR COMMUTER RAIL FROM BATON ROUGE TO NEW ORLEANS MOVES AHEAD: Commuter rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans may be in the works. According to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, a preliminary agreement has already been forged between Amtrak and Kansas City Southern Railway. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development hopes to secure a $25-million initial operating grant, either from FEMA or other federal sources, to operate the line for three years and fulfill what is seen as an emergency need. However, such monies would not finance capital upgrades or other expenditures, such as intermediate stations. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-28-05]

AMTRAK'S COAST STARLIGHT MAKES DETOUR VIA TEHACHAPI PASS: Amtrak's southbound Coast Starlight train 11 made a historic detour on October 23 between Sacramento and Los Angeles via Tehachapi Pass. The train was carrying Amtrak President and CEO David Gunn and the Beech Grove business car. Mr. Gunn needed to get himself and the car to Los Angeles for the Southwest Division presentation of the President's Safety and Service Awards. That would not have been possible on the normal route due to scheduled Union Pacific trackwork between Fremont and San Jose. Train 11 took the San Joaquin route between Sacramento and Bakersfield, stopped once in Bakersfield to change crews and get a UP pilot, and continued to Palmdale on the UP, then to Los Angeles on Metrolink tracks. The train arrived at Los Angeles before 5:30 pm, over three and a half hours early, even after having departed Sacramento about an hour late. It was the first time since 1974 that Amtrak operated over Tehachapi. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-28-05]

PATH UNVEILS REDESIGNED RAIL CARS: Designs for 340 new rail cars to replace aging PATH trains dating back to the 1960s, '70s and '80s, were unveiled Oct.27 by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials, who said the first cars will be rolling by mid-2008, according to the Asbury Park Press. Banished from the new rail cars are the hated narrow orange bucket seats, to be replaced by long blue bench seats. Artists' renderings of rail cars with a blue front end and styling similar to the current fleet - some of which have been running since the mid-1960s - were unveiled at a press conference at the Exchange Place PATH station. Officials surveyed passengers about new rail cars and they listed safety and security, reliability, communication and comfort as top priorities, said Michael DePallo, PATH director/general manager. The new cars will ride quieter, have better heating, air conditioning and lighting systems, feature automatic announcements and flat panel video screens, which will be used to show announcements, news and advertisements, DePallo said. A $499-million contract to build the rail cars was awarded to Kawasaki Rail Car Inc., of Yonkers, N.Y., which also built the most recent fleet of new New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway cars. [United Transportation Union, 10-28-05, from Asbury Park Press article]

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS INCREASED 3Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific Corporation today [Oct.27] reported 2005 third-quarter net income of $369-million or $1.38 per diluted share. This quarter's results include the $118-million after-tax, or $.44 per diluted share, non-cash income tax expense reduction that the company announced on October 7, 2005. Excluding the tax item, net income would have been $251-million or $.94 per diluted share. This compares to net income of $202-million or $.77 per diluted share in the third quarter of 2004. "Our quarterly earnings of $.94 per share represents a solid 22 percent improvement versus last year," said Dick Davidson, chairman and chief executive officer. Two of the Railroad's three key operating metrics, as reported to the Association of American Railroads, improved in the third-quarter of 2005 versus the third quarter of 2004. Higher train speeds, lower terminal dwell times and smaller rail car inventories would all be indicators of better system fluidity. [Union Pacific, 10-27-05]

CSX SPENDING $250-MILLION TO REPAIR TRACKS, BRIDGES ALONG GULF COAST: Coast residents accustomed to hearing the rumble of trains on the CSX tracks will have a few more rumble-free months, the Sun Herald reports. Trains that rolled across tracks in South Mississippi heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina have been rerouted until repairs can be made. CSX Transportation officials said the reconstruction is expected to be completed in March or April. Until then, rail traffic will use CSX's western gateways including East St. Louis, Ill., Memphis, and Montgomery. CSX also is accommodating businesses that use rail service by trucking their materials to accessible rail locations when possible. It will cost $250-million to make repairs on the 100-mile route between New Orleans and Pascagoula, which includes six major bridges and about 40 miles of track that was completely removed from the road bed, said CSX spokesman Gary Sease. The rail company hired Texas-based Railroad Controls Limited to rebuild signal systems along that route. [United Transportation Union, 10-27-05, from Sun Herald article]

GATX RAIL REPORTS 3Q EARNINGS: GATX Rail, which has 108,000 cars in its North American fleet, reported third-quarter net income of $20.7-million, compared with $13.2-million in the 2004 quarter. Fleet utilization has been at the 98 percent level since last year. The company said that during this year's third-quarter, lease renewal pricing on its most common car types increased approximately 11 percent over expiring lease rates. [RailwayAge.com, 10-27-05]

CSX REPORTS HIGHER 3Q EARNINGS: Freight railroad operator CSX Corp. reported Oct.26 that its third-quarter profit jumped 33 percent as higher coal shipments helped boost revenue, according to this Associated Press report. The company's earnings grew to $164-million, or 72 cents per share, for the July-September period from $123-million, or 55 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue from the company's rail and multimode transport businesses rose 9 percent to $2.13-billion from $1.94-billion, driven by increased revenue from coal, coke and iron ore. Coal alone posted 16 percent sales growth to $491-million, as utility shipments rose 6 percent at 37 million tons. Merchandise shipment revenue rose 8 percent to $1.05-billion. Separately, CSX hiked its quarterly dividend by 30 percent to 13 cents a share. The dividend will be paid on Dec.15 to shareholders of record from Nov.25. [United Transportation Union, 10-26-05, from Associated Press report]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN PROFIT RISES FIVE PERCENT: Rail operator Norfolk Southern Corp. on Oct.26 said profit rose five percent on brisk demand from retailers and manufacturers ahead of the holiday season, while expenses increased because of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, according to this Reuters report. The railroad reported net earnings of $301-million, or 73 cents per share, compared with $288-million, or 72 cents per share, a year earlier, when it booked a $53-million gain from the reorganization of a unit. Operating revenue rose 16 percent to $2.16-billion. Operating ratio, a measure of operating efficiency, came in at 75.5 percent, slightly worse than the year-earlier ratio of 74.7 percent. [United Transportation Union, 10-26-05, from Reuters report]

FUEL PRICES FORCE CUTS AT V.R.E.: High fuel prices are forcing Virginia Railway Express to scale back train service running to the nation's capital and cut other services, officials with the commuter rail service said Oct.25. VRE ridership has grown by about 50,000 passengers over the past year, according to figures from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, but VRE planned to cut service for a train that had a consistently low number of riders. Service was scheduled to end Nov. 28 for Manassas Line train 334, which arrives at Union Station each day at 11:30 a.m. The late morning train service typically only carries about 60 people at most due to limited parking by that time of day at train stations, VRE spokesman Mark Roeber said. Extra cars likely would be added to other trains to make up for the loss, Roeber said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-26-05, from Associated Press article by Brett Zongker]

BNSF REPORTS 3Q RESULTS: Railroad operator Burlington Northern Santa Fe said Oct.25 its third-quarter earnings jumped as demand rose for shipping consumer goods, autos, commodities and coal, according to MarketWatch. BNSF said net income rose to $414-million, or $1.09 a share, compared with $2-million, or 1 cents a share in the year-earlier period, when the company recorded a $288-million tax charge. The company said revenue in the three months ended Sept. 30 rose 19 percent to $3.32-billion from $2.79-billion. Revenues from shipping consumer products increased $234-million or 21 percent; industrial products revenue rose $109-million or 17 percent; and agricultural products revenue gained $104-million or 25 percent, largely because of strong exports through the Gulf and Pacific Northwest ports. Coal revenues rose by $33-million or 6 percent. [United Transportation Union, 10-25-05, from MarketWatch Inc. report]

N.J. TRANSIT TO LAUNCH LIGHT-RAIL TO PORT IMPERIAL: NJ Transit will begin running light rail trains to its new Port Imperial Station in Weehawken this Saturday (Oct. 29), officials told the Star-Ledger. But the agency will not start regular weekday service to that stop or to its new stations at Bergenline Avenue in Union City and Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen until January. Those stations will complete the first two phases of the light rail line, a $2.2-billion project that winds its way for 19.1 miles through the state's most densely populated county. Officials want to expand the line, with an extra station at 5th Street in Bayonne and a link to the Meadowlands complex, but the state has not yet set aside the money for the extra work. Weekend service at Port Imperial will run every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m., officials said. [United Transportation Union, 10-25-05, from Star-Ledger article]

CP RAIL 3Q PROFIT JUMPS 15 PERCENT: Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. said Oct.25 third-quarter profit grew 15 percent because of higher demand for its services. The company said its net profit rose to C$203.6-million, or C$1.27 per share, in the quarter ended September 30. That's up from C$176.5-million, or C$1.11 per share, in the same period a year earlier. CP Rail said it expects its revenue to grow by 12 percent to 14 percent in 2005. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-25-05, from Reuters report]

METROLINK TRAIN SLAMS INTO TRACTOR-TRAILER: A Metrolink commuter train slammed into a tractor-trailer rig Monday night [Oct.24], injuring at least seven people, officials said. Four passengers on the train and the truck driver suffered minor injuries, said Denise Tyrrell, a Metrolink spokeswoman. Two people in a car next to the truck also received minor injuries from flying debris, she said. The train was heading from Lancaster to downtown Los Angeles' Union Station when it rammed into the rear of the truck's trailer shortly before 8 p.m in suburban Glendale, Tyrrell said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-25-05, from Associated Press report]

CANADA TO PROVIDE $500-MILLION FOR RAIL, PORT PROJECTS: On Oct.21 Canadian Transport Minister Jean Lapierre announced the federal government plans to provide $500-million to fund infrastructure improvements in western Canada as part of the Pacific Gateway Strategy. The funds would help fast-track rail and port infrastructure projects in British Columbia and along a trade route east of Vancouver, Class I and Railway Association of Canada officials said in separate statements. The projects would enable more containerized and bulk commodities traffic to move via rail between central Canada, the Prairies and West Coast ports, and Canada to double trade with China to $60-billion annually during the next five years. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 10-24-05]

CANADIAN NATIONAL TO DISCONTINUE SEVEN SASKATCHEWAN BRANCH LINES: CN announced Oct.24 plans to discontinue seven Saskatchewan branch lines, according to this release issued by the carrier. None of the rail lines has carried any grain or other traffic for at least the past three years. As required by federal law, CN classified the seven lines as discontinuance candidates in its three-year network plan. After the lines have been listed for 12 months, CN is required by the Canada Transportation Act to offer these lines to third parties for continued operation. If there are no commercial purchasers or governments prepared to acquire them, the lines can be discontinued. The entire process can take almost two years. The seven Saskatchewan lines identified for discontinuance total 329 miles in length. [Canadian National, 10-24-05]

AMTRAK LOCOMOTIVE CATCHES FIRE IN IOWA: One of two locomotives on an Amtrak train traveling from California to Chicago caught fire Saturday afternoon [Oct.22] in Lockridge in southeast Iowa. Lockridge is 11 miles west of Mount Pleasant, where the train had a scheduled stop. There were 164 passengers and crew of about 12 on the eastbound California Zephyr and no one was hurt, Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said. He said the second locomotive, a diesel engine, caught fire shortly before 5 p.m. CDT. Black said the cause of the fire appears to be fuel-related. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-23-05, from Associated Press article]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TRAINS COLLIDE IN TOLEDO: A 40-car eastbound train en route to Morrisville, Pa., was on the same track as a 56-car westbound train headed for Chicago when they collided about 2:45 p.m., said Rudy Husband, public relations director for Norfolk Southern. While the front ends of the locomotives seemed only to be touching with no apparent damage, some of the rail cars behind each of them either derailed or sustained extensive damage. Mr. Husband said no hazardous materials were involved in the accident, which occurred near Main and Cherry streets in the center of the village. The derailment was the second in three days and the third in about a month involving a Norfolk Southern train. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-22-05, from Toledo Blade website article by Erika Ray]

NYS&W SUED OVER MEADOWLANDS WASTE STATIONS: Two environmental advocacy groups are suing New York Susquehanna & Western Railway Corp. and several hauling companies, claiming that the railroad's five waste transfer stations in the Meadowlands are open-air dumps that violate federal environmental law, according to this report by Zinnia Faruque published by The Herald News. Both groups say the waste transfer stations are violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which prohibits any solid waste management facility from putting waste in open-air stations without an enclosed building and collection systems to prevent discharges. Meanwhile, NYS&W officials said the federal law does not apply to the railroad because there is no disposal of waste at the five sites. Andrew Wilner, executive director of NY/NJ Baykeeper, and Bill Sheehan, executive director of Hackensack Riverkeeper, said the railway continues to transfer waste and dumps it on exposed ground or asphalt pads. The lawsuit was filed this month in U.S. District Court in Newark, about three months after the environmental groups had given the railroad a 90-day notice to shut down or clean up the sites. Since the original notice, the railroad and the groups have met once but have not had any "substantive dialogue," Wilner said. [United Transportation Union, 10-22-05, from Herald News report by Zinnia Faruque]

SENATE APPROVES $1.45-BILLION FOR AMTRAK: The U.S. Senate approved $1.45 billion for Amtrak in FY2006 last night [Oct.20] as it passed H.R.3058, the Transportation/ Treasury/HUD bill. The Senate also unanimously approved an amendment that deleted the damaging, micro-managing language about dining and sleeping car service. The bill will now move to House-Senate conference to reconcile the $1.17-billion House level and the $1.45-billion Senate level. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-21-05]

AMTRAK ENDING '200 CLUB' PRIVATE CAR FOR COMMUTERS: Amtrak's decision to halt Clocker service between New York and Philadelphia next week ends an exclusive, more than 50-year arrangement that let commuters in the "200 Club" pay extra to ride in a private car. The club, named after train number 200 to New York, has about 75 members from New Jersey's Princeton Junction station who pay a premium over the $301 monthly ticket for a reserved seat and less-hectic commute. The group leases a private car attached to Amtrak's "Clocker" trains from Philadelphia in the morning and Manhattan during the evening rush hour. New Jersey Transit will replace the "Clocker" service, which features large individual seats and a faster ride, with its own express trains that will also bypass all the stations between Princeton and Newark, N.J. The club was established by commuters who leased a car from the old Pennsylvania Railroad. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-21-05, from Bloomberg News article]

SACRAMENTO OPENS GOLD LINE LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION: Sacramento Regional Transit's light rail extension from Sunrise to Folsom opened on October 15. The new 7.4-mile Gold Line brings the system to 37.1 miles. Under construction is the next expansion, a 0.55-mile spur from St.Rose of Lima Park to the Amtrak station. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-21-05]

NS DERAILMENT IN SOUTH TOLEDO DISRUPTS AMTRAK SERVICE: A Norfolk Southern train derailment snarled Toledo train traffic throughout the day yesterday [Oct.19], delaying several Amtrak passenger trains for hours. No one was hurt and no hazardous materials were involved in the 4:15 a.m. derailment of a Chicago-bound train loaded with truck trailers and shipping containers, said Rudy Husband, a railroad spokesman. Two Chicago-bound Amtrak trains were caught in the congestion; each was delayed by about five hours. The New York-bound Lake Shore Limited was in the Toledo station when the freight derailed, and it lost 6 hours and 25 minutes. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-20-05, from Toledo Blade website article]

NEW FUNDING MODEL NEEDED FOR INTERCITY PASSENGER RAIL, COALITION SAYS: Intercity passenger-rail service should be funded in the same manner as roads and airlines to strengthen and expand the U.S. rail system, States for Passenger Rail Coalition members say. The coalition is continuing to lobby for legislation that would provide passenger railroads the same 80/20 federal/state match offered for highway, aviation and airport projects. The funds would help passenger-rail agencies pay for track and signal improvements, and obtain equipment and rolling stock, said coalition chair and Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi in a prepared statement. The funding model would support Amtrak and help create high-speed corridors. Coalition members also support increased funding for freight-rail track maintenance. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 10-20-05]

FRA TARGETS MISALIGNED SWITCHES, SETS FINES: An emergency safety order targeting hand-operated main-track switches in non-signaled (dark) territory was issued Oct.19 by the Federal Railroad Administration. Railroads have until Nov. 22 to comply. Any railroad, supervisor or employee who violates the emergency safety order is liable for a civil penalty up to $27,000. The emergency safety order mandates that railroads retrain and periodically test employees on switch operating procedures and increase communication among crew members regarding the position of the switch. Specifically, employees must be briefed on the use of switches and provide written documentation every time a switch is moved. In addition, locomotive engineers must acknowledge that switches are properly set before trains can be operated. FRA's emergency safety order follows what the FRA termed "nine serious train crashes, 10 fatalities, and injuries to more than 600 people" since January 2005 as a result of "track switches left in the wrong position." The FRA said the accidents occurred "when employees working in areas not equipped with remote electronic signal monitors failed to follow track-switching procedures. In every case," the agency said, "the failure to reset the hand-operated switches has led to trains running onto the wrong tracks and derailing or colliding with locomotives or rail cars or both." Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said, "Railroads must put an end to these avoidable, deadly mistakes." FRA Administrator Joseph Boardman, in signing the emergency safety order, said, "There is absolutely no excuse for a switch to be left in the wrong position. This dangerous, preventable and increasingly frequent situation must stop, starting now." [Federal Railroad Administration, 10-19-05]

UNION PACIFIC UNVEILS PRESIDENTIAL LOCOMOTIVE: The nation's 41st president now has a high-tech, custom-painted locomotive named for him and painted in his honor: the Union Pacific 4141. The locomotive, painted to mirror the features and color of Air Force One, was revealed to George H.W. Bush Tuesday afternoon [Oct.18] near College Station, Texas, home of his presidential library and museum. Following the event, Union Pacific Chairman and Chief Executive Dick Davidson presented the William Waldo Cameron Forum on Public Affairs lecture in the museum's Annenberg Presidential Conference Center. The locomotive's unveiling and Davidson's lecture were planned in conjunction with the museum's railroad exhibit "Trains: Tracks of the Iron Horse" set to open Nov.7. The UP 4141 marks only the sixth time that the Omaha-based Union Pacific has painted a locomotive in colors other than its traditional "Armour Yellow." A design team studied photos of President Bush's Air Force One to recreate the scheme. Elements from Air Force One's wings and tail, including an American flag, were placed on No. 4141's rear panel, with the sweeping lines of forward motion representing progress. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-19-05, from Omaha World-Herald website article by Stacie Hamel]

AMTRAK RIDERSHIP GAINS FOR THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR: Amtrak ridership increased in FY 2005 to 25,374,998, marking the third straight year of passenger gains for the national intercity passenger railroad, despite service disruptions that included major hurricanes in the south and five months without full Acela Express service in the northeast. This total, for the period Oct. 2004-Sept. 2005, topped the 25,053,564 for the previous 12 months. "This is a respectable achievement given the suspension of Acela Express in April and through most of the summer," said David L. Gunn, Amtrak President & CEO. "Hurricanes Katrina and Rita also meant a loss of ridership for us. "We have recovered well from the Acela troubles (its on-time performance for September was 89 percent), the hurricanes that suspended our service to the Gulf Coast and many other challenges," Gunn wrote in a letter to Amtrak co-workers. [Amtrak, 10-19-05]

FRA FINDS 'SERIOUS SAFETY PROBLEMS' ON DM&E: The Federal Railroad Administration has announced that it has entered into a safety compliance agreement with the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern to deal with "serious safety problems with track maintenance, employee training, bridge inspections, and highway-rail grade crossing warning systems." Among other remedial actions, the agreement requires the railroad "to develop and implement a detailed three-year track maintenance plan to address track defects, including fixing broken joint bars," improve inspection practices, retrain managers on its operating rules, and test employees in areas where FRA found "the most serious noncompliance, such as ensuring proper alignment of track switches and protecting the movement of railcars from one train to another in rail yards." [RailwayAge.com, 10-19-05]

CANADIAN NATIONAL REPORTS RECORD THIRD-QUARTER EARNINGS: The Canadian National Railway Company (CN) reported Oct.18 its financial and operating results for the third quarter and nine-month period ended Sept.30, 2005, according to this release issued by CN. Third-quarter financial highlights include diluted earnings per share of $1.47, up 24 per cent; record net income of $411-million, an increase of 19 per cent; operating income of $665-million, an increase of 13 per cent. Financial results are reported in Canadian dollars. [Canadian National, 10-18-05]

ARKANSAS ACCIDENT RAISES SAFETY CONCERNS: Hundreds of residents were evacuated from their homes in Texarkana, Ark., after an explosive railroad accident on October 15. A Union Pacific rail car carrying a tank of highly flammable propylene gas exploded after colliding with another train. "We will attempt to find out the facts that may have caused this accident," said Don Hahs, President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. MORE... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-17-05]

EASTERN FLOODS HALT SOME AMTRAK SERVICE: After nine straight days of rain that made this the wettest October on record in Connecticut, the sun finally emerged on Saturday (Oct. 15), according to this report published by the Record Journal. But much of the damage had already been done. By then, major rivers and streams had overflowed their banks, roads and bridges were washed out and flash flooding was blamed for one fatality in the state. Amtrak canceled service in parts of the Northeast Corridor because of high water on the tracks. Amtrak canceled Shoreline East service from New Haven to Providence and Boston because of water on the tracks near Providence, spokesman Marc Magliari said. Service between New Haven and Springfield, Mass., was also canceled because of high water north of New Haven. Magliari said repairs were expected to be completed Saturday night and normal service would resume today. Amtrak officials tried to find charter buses to shuttle passengers between the cities, but they were unable to because of a large gathering elsewhere in the region. [United Transportation Union, 10-17-05, from Record Journal article]

FIRST TRACKS LAID IN RENO TRAIN TRENCH: There's something new in Reno's train trench.... Railroad tracks. A small Union Pacific Railroad crew laid the first tracks Sunday (Oct. 16) in the U-shaped channel of the train trench. The milestone occurred just west of the Keystone Avenue bridge. Historically, train tracks, and frequently long trains, have bisected Reno. The train corridor will be mostly below street level in the central portion of Reno, with a center depth of about 33 feet, for 2.2 miles between West Second and Sutro streets. The $282-million project was designed to separate the tracks from eleven pedestrian and vehicle crossings at street level. [United Transportation Union, 10-17-05, from Associated Press report]

ENGINEER IN FATAL METRA CRASH ATTEMPTS SUICIDE: The engineer involved in a fatal train derailment in Chicago is getting medical treatment after a suicide attempt, according to the Associated Press. Mike Smith says last month's crash wasn't his fault. Last Wednesday, he e-mailed fellow workers and co-workers and said he planned to take his own life. Colleagues called police in the Chicago suburb of Crest Hill, who found Smith at his apartment. All authorities will say is that the man is receiving care for self-inflicted injuries. Smith was piloting a Metra commuter train that left tracks on Chicago's South Side on September 17th. Two women on the train were killed. [United Transportation Union, 10-7-05, from Associated Press report]

PLAN FOR AMTRAK'S NORTHEAST CORRIDOR RAISES QUESTIONS: A preliminary step toward spinning off Amtrak's Northeast Corridor train service was touted as a crucial move forward by the rail agency's chairman yesterday [Oct.13], but it was greeted with questions and outright opposition from politicians, rail advocates and regional planners, according to the Boston Globe. Amtrak's chairman, David M. Laney, said that splitting off the Boston-to-Washington, D.C., corridor - the system's most heavily traveled leg - under joint federal/state management is the only way to revitalize U.S. passenger rail service. Under a plan being proposed by the board, Amtrak would create a Northeast Corridor subsidiary run by a consortium made up of the federal government and the state governments the rail lines serve. Members of the consortium would share maintenance costs, while Amtrak would operate the trains. Reaction along the corridor to the plan was mixed. Some politicians and planners said that increased state participation and input could result in better service - as long as the federal government still shoulders most of the financial burden. Others saw it as a move by some conservatives in the Bush administration to break up, and eventually kill, the troubled passenger rail service. Some state officials even said they had been taken by surprise by recent news of the board's Sept.22 vote to authorize the creation of the spinoff entity. "For Amtrak to take even an initial step towards breaking up the railroad without consulting with the governors in the Northeast Corridor calls into question their commitment to a partnership for better rail service in the future," said Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, a Democrat. Some analysts said the states were being given damaged goods, perhaps as if they were getting keys to a car with bald tires and an engine that has gone 30,000 miles without an oil change. Congress would have to agree to transfer control of the Northeast Corridor. Several rail advocates, including James P. RePass, president and chief executive officer of the National Corridors Initiative, a Rhode Island nonprofit that advocates rail travel, and former governor and Amtrak board member Michael S. Dukakis, said they believed there is enough opposition to block the plan. MORE... [United Transportation Union, 10-14-05, from Boston Globe article]

UNION PACIFIC BUYS 98 LOCOMOTIVES FROM RAILPOWER: In a multimillion-dollar deal, RailPower Technologies Corp. has sold 98 low-pollution, road-switcher locomotives to Union Pacific Railroad for use in Texas operations, according to this Canadian Press report. Vancouver-based RailPower said that Union Pacific will use $81 million US it was awarded recently by the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan "towards the purchase" of the energy-efficient vehicles. The RP20 series of switchers was designed to reduce high fuel usage in road and branchline switching operations where locomotives use up to three times the amount consumed by yard switchers. [United Transportation Union, 10-14-05, from Canadian Press article]

SOME CHANGES TO THE AMTRAK TIMETABLE ANNOUNCED: The westbound Capitol Limited will resume station stops at Elyria and Sandusky, Ohio, effective with the October 31 schedule change. Other highlights of the new schedule include an added stop for the Silver Star at Cary, NC, (suburban Raleigh stop already served by the Carolinian and Piedmont), and adjustments to Pacific Surfliner schedules north of Los Angeles. The new timetable was published before the resumption of service to New Orleans; passengers seeking those trains' schedules should watch for panel cards for the individual routes. Vermont Transit is once again canceling its St. Albans-Montreal route, severing the Montreal connection to and from the Amtrak Vermonter. This is effective with the October 31 schedule change. Passengers already ticketed to Montreal on that date or beyond will be offered refunds or a reroute via New York on the Adirondack. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-14-05]

RESTROOM FIRE ERUPTS ON AMTRAK TRAIN AT ALBUQUERQUE: Amtrak's eastbound Southwest Chief train 4 had a fire in one of the coach restrooms on October 9. Amtrak and Albuquerque police suspect the culprit was a passenger smoking (either tobacco or an illegal drug). Initial reports given to first responders said a botched methamphetamine lab might have caused the blaze. Amtrak spokeswoman Marcie Golgoski said the fire started in trash receptacle. The passenger in question was taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque to be treated for burns, and was released to the police. The coach was cut from the train in Albuquerque to be retained as a crime scene, and train 4 proceeded to Chicago. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-14-05]

N.J. TRANSIT AWARDS CONTRACTS FOR HOBOKEN TERMINAL PROJECTS: New Jersey Transit recently contracted LCOR Inc. to create a transit-oriented development plan for the 65-acre Hoboken Terminal and Yard. LCOR will serve as master planner and developer for the site, a multi-modal transit center that links commuter- and light-rail, bus, Port Authority Trans-Hudson and ferry services. NJ Transit officials want to improve efficiency between modes, and create a more customer-friendly layout to provide seamless passenger and pedestrian flow. The agency's board also awarded a $53.9-million contract to New Jersey's Hall Construction Co. Inc. to complete the second phase of the Hoboken Terminal rehabilitation project. Work includes rehabilitating a portion of the terminal to its original design, restoring permanent ferry service and creating a new ferry waiting area. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 10-14-05]

CSX TRAIN DERAILS IN AMSTERDAM, N.Y., DISRUPTING AMTRAK SERVICE: A CSX freight train derailed in Amsterdam's downtown Wednesday morning, Oct.12, sending 18 cars off the tracks including one that landed partially in the Mohawk River, authorities said. The 84-car train mangled east- and westbound tracks when it jumped the rails at 8:20 a.m., sending boxcars slamming into each other and forcing suspension of all freight and passenger rail traffic between Albany and Syracuse. Several of the cars narrowly missed a warehouse owned by Terleckey Brothers, a local trucking and tire firm. The cars that derailed were from the middle of the train, which originated in Cincinnati, and the two-member crew was unharmed. The train was bound for the Selkirk yard just south of Albany. A data recorder was retrieved from the train and investigators will use it to try to determine what caused the wreck. "That information will be downloaded very soon," CSX spokesman Maurice O'Connell said. Amtrak suspended most upstate service and bused 917 passengers whose trains were stranded on either side of the derailment. The effort was intended to allow the passengers to connect with trains in Syracuse and Rensselaer, said James Turngren, Amtrak's district superintendent for the Empire Corridor. The derailment also affected some service between Rensselaer and Albany on Wednesday because cars and engines that normally would have made up those trains were trapped on the other side of the state, Turngren explained. Turngren said Amtrak hopes to resume all regular service by Saturday [Oct.15]. The derailment occurred in an industrialized section of Amsterdam, just east of the Route 30 bridge that connects Amsterdam to Interstate 90. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-13-05, from Albany Times-Union website article by Mike Goodwin and Cathy Woodruff]

F.R.A. SEES A DECLINE IN HIGHWAY-RAIL CROSSING FATALITIES, TRAIN ACCIDENTS: The safety performance of the nation's railroads improved during the first half of 2005 as the overall number of rail-related accidents and incidents declined by 12 percent, according to preliminary data issued by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Statistics compiled over the first six months of 2005 show that, when compared with the first half of 2004, train accidents have declined by 10.1 percent, highway-rail grade crossing incidents are down 9.1 percent, and the number of people killed as a result of train-vehicle collisions at grade crossings has dropped by 11.7 percent. In addition, railroad employee injuries fell by 16.3 percent. However, the number of trespassers struck and killed by trains increased by 13 percent during the same six-month comparison period. [BNSF Today, 10-13-05]

SCOTT BELDEN DIES, CHIEF OF STAFF FOR U.T.U.: Galen Scott Belden, 62, chief of staff for UTU's national legislative office here, died Oct.12 following a battle with cancer. Belden, who also served as Utah state legislative director, was a member of UTU Local 1366 in Salt Lake City. His wife, Charlie, was elected UTU Auxiliary national legislative director in September 2002 and also elected to its scholarship board. Charlie is a member of the auxiliary's Skyline Lodge 960. "Scott was the heart and soul of this office," said UTU National Legislative Director James Brunkenhoefer. "He was the person who held us all together. As important as his family was to him, I hope he knew how important he was to us. Many of us regarded Scott as a mentor. Many of us are better people today for having known him." He was born Dec. 23, 1942, and hired out on the Union Pacific in October 1964, as a switchman/brakeman, joining UTU predecessor union Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (Lodge 941). He earned an undergraduate degree in political science from Westminster College in Salt Lake City. He was elected Utah state legislative director in 1980. [United Transport ion Union, 10-12-05]

AMTRAK BOARD BACKS PLAN FOR NORTHEAST CORRIDOR: The Amtrak board has approved an essential step in the Bush administration plan to break up the railroad, voting to carve out the Northeast Corridor, the tracks between Boston and Washington, as a separate division. The board, made up entirely of Mr. Bush's appointees, voted in a meeting on Sept. 22 to create a new subsidiary to own and manage the corridor, which includes nearly all the track that Amtrak owns. The vote was not announced. It was reported on Oct.12 in the newsletter of the United Rail Passenger Alliance of Jacksonville, Fla., an organization that has been highly critical of Amtrak management. The plan, which would require action by Congress, is to transfer the corridor to a consortium including the federal government and the governments of the states in the region that would share the costs to maintain it. That would relieve Amtrak from spending billions of dollars to build and rebuild bridges, rails and electrical systems, but still let the company run its trains. The plan would also remove Amtrak from control of that sector, a condition that the railroad's senior executives say would doom high-speed long-distance service. Managers say they have to be able to give their trains priority over local traffic if they have any hope of keeping their schedules. A large majority of trains in the corridor are shorter-distance commuter trains operated by state agencies in metropolitan regions, although Amtrak trains accrue a majority of the miles traveled. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-12-05, from New York Times website article by Matthew L. Wald]

FIRMS TO PAY TO SETTLEMENT FOR INFLATING CHARGES TO AMTRAK: Foreign and US companies will pay the government $24.75-million to settle allegations they inflated claims on Amtrak projects to electrify part of the Northeast Corridor, the Justice Department said Oct.11.The engineering and construction companies were accused of overcharging Amtrak for the installation of an overhead system to deliver electricity to locomotives between New Haven and Boston. The companies included Balfour Beatty Construction based in London; Massachusetts Electric Construction Co. in Boston; and BBC-MEC, the two companies' joint venture. Also involved were J.F. White Contracting Co. in Boston and Northeast Corridor Foundations, a joint venture between J.F. White and BBC-MEC. The case was settled after a lengthy investigation by the Justice Department, along with the FBI and Amtrak's Office of Inspector General. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-12-05, from Associated Press article]

IDAHO FIRM SELLS WOOD FROM GREAT SALT LAKE RAILROAD TRESTLE: More than a century after Southern Pacific Railroad's 12-mile Lucin Cutoff wooden trestle conquered the Great Salt Lake, and more than a decade after it was dismantled, it continues to live on. Since 1993, Trestlewood, a Blackfoot, Idaho, lumber company, has been selling the salvaged wood from the 1904 structure valued not only for its beauty but also for its strength to people who want a piece of history in their homes or businesses. In all, Trestlewood reclaimed about 30 million board feet, about 10 million of which was above water. The company has 7 million board feet of Douglas fir and redwood left. Wood sold from the historic trestle comes with a certificate verifying its origin, which many homeowners cherish as much as the look of the salt-stained timber, said Bob Cannon, Trestlewood's vice president of sales. Although the trestle was designated as a historic landmark, historians didn't oppose its demise for salvage. Storms routinely knocked off pieces of the trestle, and Trestlewood donated material, including seven of the poles, to a railroad museum. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-12-05, from Associated Press article]

N.J. TRANSIT EYES HOBOKEN TERMINAL MAKEOVER: For decades, the exterior of the nearly century-old Hoboken Terminal has continued to deteriorate, leaving an eyesore amid the New Jersey waterfront's mix of new commercial, residential and recreational development, according to the Star Ledger. But today, NJ Transit officials are expected to authorize a massive study to renovate the historic structure to add retail and restaurant complexes, while improving access for travelers shuttling between the station's trains, light rail, ferries, buses and taxis. Transit officials envision a terminal with the type of upscale shops and eateries that have turned carefully restored rail stations like Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan and Union Station in Washington, D.C., into bustling tourist attractions, as well as reinvigorated transportation hubs. Much of the retail and restaurant space likely would be located near the old ferry slip portion of the terminal that has superb views and a long, second-floor grand concourse that offers a promising setting. The study also will explore whether additional development above the tracks is feasible or if residential and commercial space can be built on a roughly 10-acre tract along Observer Highway west of the terminal. The defunct Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad constructed the Hoboken Terminal in 1907, with ferries serving as the key transportation link between New Jersey and Manhattan. [United Transportation Union, 10-12-05, from Star Ledger article]

AMTRAK'S CLOCKERS TO MAKE LAST RUNS OCTOBER 28: Amtrak's Clocker trains will be riding into history at the end of this month, marking the end of a service that started in the heyday of the Pennsylvania Railroad, according to this report by Michael Lavitt published by The Times of Trenton. The Clockers, which offered wider, more comfortable seats than NJ Transit in rail cars that were designed for intercity rather than local rail service, will make their last run on Oct.28. "NJ Transit will be adding four express trains beginning with the Oct. 30 schedule change to replace the discontinued Amtrak trains," said NJ Transit spokeswoman Penny Bassett Hackett. A number of other schedule changes will be announced later in the week. Amtrak and NJ Transit had agreed previously that the national passenger railroad would stop operating the Clockers by next June 30, but the change was moved up. [United Transportation Union, 10-11-05, from Times of Trenton article by Michael Lavitt]

NEW SHORT LINE COMES TO LIFE IN ARKANSAS, OKLAHOMA: Startup short line Arkansas Southern Railroad, a wholly owned subsidiary of Watco Companies, Inc., began revenue service on Sunday, Oct. 9. The ARS consists of approximately 65 miles on two former Kansas City Southern branches - a northern branch running east from Heavener, Okla., to Waldron, Ark., and a southern branch running northeast from Ashdown to Nashville, Ark. The railroad interchanges with KCS at Ashdown and Heavener and with the UP at Nashville. The ARS ships agricultural products including corn and soybeans, and industrial products. [RailwayAge.com, 10-11-05]

UNION PACIFIC, BNSF PROPOSE TRACK SWAP: Union Pacific railroad has alleviated some fears Scott County, Missouri, officials had about a proposed track swap, according to the Southeast Missourian. Railroad representatives met with the Scott County Commission last week, announcing plans to improve several railroad crossings in the area. The railroad filed with the federal Surface Transportation Board in March for a track swap with Burlington Northern Santa Fe. The proposal would trade UP track in Colorado to BNSF in exchange for track in Scott County, leading to an increase of about 10 trains a day locally. The proposed track swap is currently under review by the transportation board and might not be finalized until March, with the traffic increase beginning at the end of 2006. But county officials expressed concern earlier this year about the increase in traffic and its safety ramifications. [United Transportation Union, 10-11-05, from Southeast Missourian article]

MAN SHOT TRYING TO HIJACK A TRAIN: Authorities said a man armed with a bow and arrow who commandeered a Union Pacific freight train stopped in Montclair, Claif., on Sunday night (Oct. 9) was shot and wounded by police, according to this report by Susannah Rosenblatt published by the Los Angeles Times. Juventino Vallejo-Camerena, 43, of Pomona climbed onto one of the train's two locomotives about 10:45 p.m. and threatened the two crew members with a bow and arrow, Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said. The engineer and conductor fled the train, which was stopped at a signal, and cut off fuel to the engine with an emergency button outside the cab. They were not harmed, Davis said. Alone in the cab, Vallejo-Camerena refused to drop his bow and arrow after Montclair police officers ordered him to do so, said Capt. Keith Jones, spokesman for the department. He nocked and pointed the arrow at officers on the scene, near Monte Vista Avenue in western San Bernardino County, and threatened to take over the train, Jones said. Police then shot Vallejo-Camerena in the wrist and upper arm, according to a Montclair Police report. Vallejo-Camerena was arrested on suspicion of train robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest, and was treated for non-life-threatening wounds at Chino Valley Medical Center. He is in custody at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Jones said. [United Transportation Union, 10-11-05, from Los Angeles Times article by Susannah Rosenblatt]

SMITH BARNEY/CITIGROUP REPORTS 3-Q TRAIN SPEED METRICS: The Class Is' third-quarter service-metric report cards are in and six of the large roads receive a failing grade for average train speed. Only Canadian National Railway Co. increased average velocity during the quarter compared with the same 2004 period, raising train speed 3.8 percent to 26.2 mph, according to Smith Barney/Citigroup's latest ground transportation research report. "CN made similar progress with respect to average terminal dwell time, as third-quarter average time decreased by 10.1 percent to 12.8 hours," said Smith Barney/Citigroup Managing Director and Progressive Railroading columnist Scott Flower in the report. "CN continues to reap benefits from the Intermodal Excellence program, which requires shippers to make reservations for spots on trains, while day-of-the-week pricing encourages the traffic to shift to off-peak days." For the other Class I's, average train speed stood at 23.2 mph for Kansas City Southern, down 11.8 percent; 23.6 mph for BNSF Railway Co., down 6.4 percent; 22.0 mph for Norfolk Southern Corp., down 4.1 percent; 19.4 mph for CSX Transportation, down 4.0 percent; 21.4 mph for Union Pacific Railroad, down 1.7 percent; and 24.4 mph for Canadian Pacific Railway, down 1.3 percent compared with 2004's first 39 weeks. "Performance measures at CSXT deteriorated in the third quarter - average train speed decreased by 2.8 percent to 19.7 mph and average terminal time increased by 0.9 percent," said Flower. "We believe the ONE Plan has not improved the operational metrics at CSXT, but merely stabilized velocity and terminal dwell time from further deterioration." [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 10-10-05]

BNSF CREWS TACKLE MISSISSIPPI RIVER BRIDGE WORK: Rail and highway traffic are both moving smoothly along the newly revamped Fort Madison, Iowa, swing-span bridge, says Patrick Senf, foreman, Structures, Fort Madison. The double-decker bridge, which is about a mile long and has a swing span of 525 feet, is also the largest of its kind in the world and one of the busiest bridges on BNSF's system. Public highway traffic travels across the upper deck, while more than 70 trains a day travel across the lower deck. In July, the west end of the structure underwent routine maintenance, including a partial replacement of its deck - the job was no small task. The swing span (both sets of tracks) had to be closed, and barge traffic was initially suspended for eight hours and then intermittently until the work was completed. The barge-traffic closure took months of advanced planning and coordination with the United States Coast Guard. About 60 BNSF employees, including track maintenance crews, welders, signalmen and virtually every member of BNSF's Chicago Division Bridge department, worked around the clock for more than four days to get the job done. But the project is not over; early next year the team will complete the second phase when maintenance on the bridge's east end begins. [BNSF Today, 10-10-05]

CSX SELLING 'SAGINAW CLUSTER': Up to 100 mid-Michigan railroad workers are facing uncertainty over the planned sale of CSX Corp.'s "Saginaw Cluster" line later this month, company officials said. Saginaw Bay Southern, an affiliate of Lakes State Railroad, will operate the 65 miles of track between Flint and Saginaw, said Kim Skorniak, a CSX spokeswoman based in Chicago. The transportation employees of CSX will have the option of relocating to other lines across the country or interviewing with the new short line, CSX said this morning. The company was not disclosing the sale price. The deal is expected to close Friday, Oct. 28, she said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-7-05, from Saginaw News website report]

U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC UP IN SEPTEMBER: Despite hurricane-related disruptions to their operations, U.S. freight railroad carload traffic rose 2.5 percent (32,733 carloads) and U.S. intermodal traffic rose 6.9 percent (60,413 trailers and containers) in September 2005 compared to September 2004, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported. In September 2005, U.S. freight railroads reporting to the AAR originated 1,351,237 carloads (up from 1,318,504 in September 2004) and 937,360 intermodal units (up from 876,947 in September 2004). For the third quarter of 2005, U.S. rail carloadings of 4,309,292 were 1.0 percent higher (42,520 carloads) than the third quarter of 2004, while intermodal traffic of 2,991,479 units was 6.5 percent higher (181,618 units) than the same period in 2004. For the first nine months of 2005, U.S. railroads originated 12,996,735 carloads, up 1.4 percent (185,016 carloads) from 2004, and 8,657,536 intermodal units, up 6.3 percent (512,596 units) from 2004. Total volume was estimated at 1.25 trillion ton-miles, up 2.3 percent from the first 39 weeks of 2004. In September 2005, 13 of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw carload increases. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-6-05]

KANSAS STORMS DISRUPT UNION PACIFIC SERVICE TO POWDER RIVER: Severe thunderstorms near Topeka last weekend forced Union Pacific to close four rail lines that normally carry coal from Wyoming's Powder River Basin. Storms dumped 10 to 12 inches of rain on the area Oct.1, and the runoff damaged bridges on the lines, executive vice president Jack Koraleski said in a letter to customers posted on the railroad's website. The rains in Kansas also caused erosion damage and washouts in places along the rail lines which normally carry all the traffic between the western United States and Kansas City and St. Louis. Koraleski said the railroad's repair crews have been working around the clock since the storms hit, but it will take at least seven days to complete repairs and resume normal traffic. On Oct.3, the railroad was able to reopen one line with limited service. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-6-05, from Associated Press report]

UTAH TRANSIT AUTHORITY OPENS NEW LIGHT-RAIL STATION: The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) recently put the finishing touches on the 900 South TRAX light-rail station. Funded by the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency, the $1.2-million facility is the first new station to be built along the line since it opened in 1999. The 900 South Station also is the first UTA station to be located in a primarily residential neighborhood. The authority expects the new station to draw 130,000 passengers annually. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 10-6-05]

UNION PACIFIC COMPLETES $16-MILLION CROSSING SIGN PROJECT: Union Pacific Railroad has completed a four-year, $16-million project to install new, high reflective crossbuck warning signs at more than 18,000 railroad crossings across Union Pacific's 23-state system. Union Pacific also installed emergency notification signs at these crossings. Each crossing has a unique Department of Transportation number that's included on the sign, along with the toll-free number for UP's Response Management Communication Center (RMCC). The crossbuck and emergency notification signs were installed at public at-grade crossings without flashing lights or gates. The safety initiative also included private crossings which are those that cross the railroad tracks but are not a public street or road. Private crossing, stop and emergency notification signs were installed at all locations except crossings that allow agriculture producers to go from one field to another. [Union Pacific, 10-6-05]

F.R.A. URGES TIME-SENSITIVE HAZMAT SHIPMENT CHANGES: Railroads, manufacturers, refiners, and businesses that ship or receive hazardous materials by rail should immediately improve procedures for tracking the movement of time-sensitive shipments, according to a Safety Advisory distributed by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Oct.5. The safety advisory requests that all railroads conform to a recently updated railroad industry standard that identifies a list of 20-day and 30-day time-sensitive hazardous materials, and requires specific actions to speed up movement of such cars if they are delayed in transit. The advisory also emphasizes that all railroad employees who handle such shipments be aware of, and clearly understand, the procedures. In addition, hazardous materials shippers and end users should closely monitor the products they order and/or transport by increasing communication between one another and the railroad as shipments are in-transit to ensure all parties are aware of their location and expected delivery date, the FRA said. [Federal Railroad Administration, 10-5-05]

ALASKA R.R. TO BUILD NEW FACILITY IN CANTWELL: Alaska Railroad workers won't have to start heavy equipment outside during winter's deep cold anymore, thanks to a new building being constructed in Cantwell by the Alaska Railroad. The warehouse, designed to save wear and tear on much of the railroad's equipment, will also include some employee amenities like rest rooms and an office. The warehouse will be constructed on railroad property, against the rail line, near the Reindeer Lodge in Cantwell. [United Transportation Union, 10-5-05, from Fairbanks News Miner report]

BNSF SELLS TRACK SEGMENT IN N.D.: BNSF Railway has sold a 72-mile stretch of track in northeastern North Dakota that has been plagued with flooding and an unstable rail bed. Fordville-based Northern Plains Railroad will take over the line between Lakota and Sarles this month, President Gregg Haug said Oct.4. Haug said the purchase is slated to be finalized on Oct.16, with grain trains running a week or so later. He said his railroad would feed rail traffic to BNSF at Ardoch, where a connecting line will be built. He said future repairs along the line may include heavier track to stabilize the rail bed. BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said the railroad stopped service along the line in mid-July "due to weather-related problems." He said the railroad had provided once-weekly service along the line in the past. Northern Plains Railroad started in 1997, with 388 miles of leased Canadian Pacific track, most of which is in North Dakota. Haug said the Lakota to Sarles line is the third purchased from BNSF since 1998. The railroad now leases or owns just under 500 miles track in North Dakota. The railroad has 21 locomotives and 25 employees. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-5-05, from Associated Press article by James MacPherson]

BRONX TRUCK ACCIDENT DISRUPTS ACELA SERVICE: Acela Express service between New York and Boston was suspended following a tanker truck accident in the Bronx. Workers are trying to repair Amtrak wires that were damaged when the fuel truck overturned Tuesday afternoon [Oct.4] and burst into flames. The truck driver was killed in the crash, which occurred underneath the Bruckner Expressway. According to Amtrak, regional train service between Boston and Washington was expected to be running Wednesday morning [Oct.5], but with delays. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-5-05, from Associated Press report]

GO TRANSIT ORDERS 26 LOCOMOTIVES: Toronto's GO Transit recently awarded a $112-million contract to Wabtec Corp. subsidiary MotivePower Inc. to build 27 locomotives. The contract includes an option for 26 additional locomotives, which would increase the contract total to $217-million. The locomotives will replace GO Transit's existing fleet and feature higher-horsepower engines, greater fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and microprocessor controls. The locomotives also will meet the American Public Transportation Association's new crashworthiness and safety standards. To be built at MotivePower's Boise, Idaho, facility, the locomotives are scheduled to be delivered between 2007 and 2008. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 10-5-05]

TRAIN IN INDIA DERAILS, 16 KILLED: The railroad minister said at least 16 people were killed and dozens injured when six cars of a speeding passenger train derailed Oct.3 in central India. The train, which was traveling from the north Indian city of Varanasi to the central city of Gwalior, derailed near the town of Datia, Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav told reporters. Six cars and the engine derailed. At least 36 people were injured and several others were trapped in badly mangled coaches, said Caroline Khongwar, Datia's top official. Yadav said the train apparently derailed because it was speeding. According to preliminary reports, the train was running at 55 mph as it approached the Datia station. The speed limit along that stretch of track is 9 mph. [United Transportation Union, 10-3-05, from Associated Press report]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REOPENS NEW ORLEANS INTERMODAL TERMINAL: Norfolk Southern Corp. on Oct.3 said it reopened its New Orleans intermodal terminal for train-truck transfer to accept inbound and outbound shipments, according to this Reuters report. The terminal had been closed since Aug.29 due to Hurricane Katrina, and its reopening will aid in bringing consumer goods into the New Orleans area, said Norfolk Southern spokeswoman Susan Terpay. Norfolk Southern also reopened a second, smaller yard which serves local industries and the Port of New Orleans. [United Transportation Union, 10-3-05, from Reuters report]

RAILAMERICA ACQUIRES SHORT LINES FROM ALCOA: RailAmerica Inc. announced Oct.3 the completion of its acquisition of four short line railroads from Alcoa for a purchase price of $77.5-million in cash. The cash purchase price is based on RailAmerica assuming a targeted working capital deficit. RailAmerica funded substantially all of the cash purchase price through a $75-million increase in the term loan portion of its existing senior secured credit facility. The four railroads acquired serve Alcoa aluminum manufacturing operations in Texas and New York and a former Alcoa owned specialty chemicals facility in Arkansas. [RailAmerica, 10-3-05]