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GEORGE WARRINGTON DIES, FORMER HEAD OF AMTRAK: Former Amtrak and New Jersey Transit CEO George Warrington, age 55, died Dec. 24 following an eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer. From 1994 to 2002, Warrington was president of Amtrak, leaving to become CEO of NJT. He resigned in January 2007 to help form a consulting and lobbying business. [United Transportation Union, 12-24-07]

LEAVENWORTH, WASHINGTON, TO GET AMTRAK STOP: This Bavarian-themed village in central Washington will be a new Amtrak stop beginning next November. The project to add a passenger train stop on the route between Seattle and Chicago now has enough money to move forward after a nearly $300,000 congressional appropriation. Leavenworth, about 20 miles west of Wenatchee, has raised more than $700,000 in local, state and federal funds to build the Icicle Station train stop. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-24-07, from Associated Press report]

INVESTOR PARTNERS TO NOMINATE FIVE TO CSX BOARD: CSX Corp. shareholders 3G Capital Partners Ltd. and The Children's Investment Fund Management LLP said they have partnered to jointly nominate a minority slate of five directors to the railroad operator's board. The slate will be up for election at the company's 2008 annual shareholders meeting. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-21-07, from Associated Press report]

PACHEO PASS CHOSEN FOR CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED LINE: High-speed trains - if they ever run in California - should zip in and out of the Bay Area over the Pacheco Pass on their way to and from Southern California, the California High Speed Rail Authority decided Dec.19. The authority ended a four-hour hearing, and more than a decade of debate, by choosing Pacheco Pass over a route that would have taken the trains through Altamont Pass. The Pacheco route would link the Bay Area to a 700-mile, statewide, high-speed rail system, with trains traveling at speeds in excess of 200 mph from Sacramento to San Diego. [United Transportation Union, 12-20-07, from San Francisco Chronicle report]

SCORES KILLED AS TRAIN DERAILS IN PAKISTAN: An express train crowded with holiday travelers derailed in southern Pakistan Dec.19, killing at least 58 people and leaving hundreds of terrified survivors to claw their way out of the wreckage in total darkness. The train, which derailed at about 2 a.m., was loaded with an estimated 900 passengers, many of them heading home for the Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Adha. The train was traveling from Karachi toward Lahore when about 12 of its 16 cars came off the rails near Mehrabpur, about 250 miles north of Karachi. It was unclear what caused the accident. [United Transportation Union, 12-19-07, from Associated Press report]

FREIGHTCAR AMERICA TO CLOSE PLANT IN JOHNSTOWN, PA.: FreightCar America Inc. said Dec.18 it will close its manufacturing facility in Johnstown, Pa., which employs roughly 390 people. The Chicago-based maker of railroad freight cars expects the manufacturing capacity at its other two existing plants, in Danville, Ill., and Roanoke, Va., to be 'sufficient to meet its requirements for the next several years. [United Transportation Union, 12-19-07, from Thomson Financial report]

MONTREAL ORDERS 160 MULTILEVEL CARS: Agence Metropolitaine de Transport (AMT), Montreal, has awarded Bombardier Transportation a contract valued at approximately $381 million for 160 multilevel commuter railcars. The contract includes a base order of 30 cars and options for 130 additional cars, which the Government of Quebec has elected to exercise. [RailwayAge.com, 12-18-07]

ENGINE OF AMTRAK TRAIN DERAILS IN NEBRASKA: Officials say a passenger train carrying 154 people has derailed about 20 miles west of Omaha near Gretna, but no injuries are reported. Amtrak spokeswoman Tracy Connell says the lead engine of the train derailed at about 11 a.m., but was going slowly enough so that the rest of the train remained on the tracks. The train was heading east toward Chicago. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-16-07, from Associated Press report]

BALTIMORE & CSX MEET TO DISCUSS SAFETY CONCERNS: Three recent train derailments near homes and M&T Bank Stadium alarmed Baltimore City and state leaders. They met Dec.12 with CSX about the hazardous freight rolling through the heart of Baltimore. The meeting is one of a series. CSX and the city declined to comment on what progress they made, but the mayor wants to know just what's in those trains after some close calls. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-13-07, from WJZ.com report]

MARC TO ADD THREE TRAINS TO PENN LINE: Maryland officials have approved a plan to add trains to the rail link between Baltimore and Washington. The Board of Public Works voted to add three trips to the MARC Penn Line each weekday evening by mid-February. Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari, who presented the plan to the board, said the first train will leave Washington's Union Station in the early evening rush hour to help alleviate some of the extreme crowding on the Penn Line. He also told the board that the Maryland Transit Administration will also add one late-night trip in each direction. The first will leave Baltimore's Penn Station at 10:30 p.m., enabling the MTA to offer train service to Washington for late-arriving passengers. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-13-07, from Baltimore Sun website report]

N.Y. STATE & AMTRAK RESOLVE TURBOLINER ISSUE: New York state and Amtrak have resolved a contract dispute and federal litigation over a so-far unsuccessful program to develop high-speed passenger rail service between New York City and the Albany area. The plan for "Turboliner" modernization ultimately ran years behind schedule and over budget. Under the terms of the settlement announced Dec.12, Amtrak will pay New York state $20-million. New York and Amtrak will jointly invest $10-million in infrastructure improvement projects on the Albany-New York City Empire Corridor. The New York State Senate High-Speed Rail Task Force will oversee those projects. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-12-07, from Associated Press report]

VIA RAIL TO REFURBISH 53 LOCOMOTIVES: Via Rail has signed a $101.5-million deal to overhaul its fleet of aging F40 locomotives and transform them into efficient workhorses for its passenger service. Via announced Dec.11 that 53 F40s - about 70 per cent of its fleet - will be refurbished by CAD Railway Services Ltd., which is wholly owned by Global Railway Industries Ltd. The retrofit will be conducted at CAD's Montreal factory and aims to extend the life of the 20-year-old F40s while also making them more environmentally friendly. Financing for the project will come from the $691.9-million the federal government set aside this fall to improve the sustainability and reliability of passenger-rail service in the country. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-12-07, from Canadian Press report]

AMTRAK DEPOT IN OSCEOLA, IOWA, TO BE RESTORED: Osceola's century-old passenger train depot, which serves Iowa's busiest Amtrak stop, is finally on track for a historic restoration. After years of efforts, the city acquired ownership of the brown brick depot in October from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, said Osceola Mayor Fred Diehl. The building, constructed in 1907, hosts nearly 16,000 passengers annually. [United Transportation Union, 12-11-07, from Des Moines Register report]

VERMONT DROPS PLAN TO PURCHASE DMU'S FOR AMTRAK SERVICE: The State of Vermont has dropped its plan to purchase five diesel multiple-unit (DMU) cars to upgrade Amtrak's Vermonter service. Vermont's Agency of Transportation said on Dec.7 it had decided not to make the $17.5-million purchase, because carbuilder Colorado Railcar Manufacturing and Amtrak could not provide sufficient guarantees to buy back the cars or resell them at 90 percent of the purchase price after three years of service. [RailwayAge.com, 12-10-07]

THREE CSX TRAINS DERAIL IN BALTIMORE IN TWO WEEKS: For the third time in two weeks we are reporting on a train derailment in the heart of Baltimore. A CSX spokesman says three cars derailed in the freight yard off Pulaski Highway in East Baltimore. Two of the cars were carrying ethanol, which could have been hazardous if it leaked out. The third car was empty. Mayor Sheila Dixon says she's seen enough and she's calling for change. On Dec.7, a tank car derailed in Locust Point. It was part of a CSX train. And two weeks ago, 12 CSX cars near M&T Bank Stadium went off the tracks. They were carrying hazardous materials, but nothing leaked out. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-9-07, from ABC-2 News website report]

U.S. RAIL CARLOAD TRAFFIC UP IN NOVEMBER: Carload freight was up on U.S. railroads during November, but intermodal volume was off slightly, the Association of American Railroads has reported. U.S. railroads originated 1,322,861 carloads of freight during the month, up 37,167 carloads (2.9 percent) from November 2006. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-6-07]

RETRACTABLE CROSSING BARRICADES BEING TESTED IN MICHIGAN: Van Buren Township, Mich., is now home to the first grade crossing to feature retractable barricades designed to prevent motorists from driving around lowered gates when a train is approaching. The barricades, known as delineators, are part of a federal crossing safety test sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration and Norfolk Southern Railway. In cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, the parties will test and monitor the barricades for 17 months at a crossing on NS' line. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 12-5-07]

SUPREME COURT RULING MAY LOWER R.R. TAXES: The Supreme Court has handed down a rulng that could help railroads lower their state property taxes by challenging tax assessments as discriminatory. In a case brought by CSX Transportation against the State of Georgia, the court ruled that a railroad may challenge the methods a state uses to fix the value of railroad property for tax purposes. Reversing a U. S. of Appeals ruling, the Supreme Court found that that railroads may challenge a property assessment under a federal law that prohibits states from taxing railroad property more heavily than other commercial property, the Associated Press reported. CSX had claimed that a new method of calculating assessments in Georgia increased its property tax bill nearly 50 percent in a single year. [RailwayAge.com, 12-5-07]

NTSB INVESTIGATING AMTRAK COLLISON IN CHICAGO: An Amtrak train traveling about 40 m.p.h. applied its brakes for nine seconds and skidded 400 to 500 feet before hitting a stopped freight train Nov.30, transportation officials said. The South Side crash injured 60 people and heavily damaged the trains and tracks. Federal investigators provided new details of the crash from information retrieved from the Amtrak train's "event recorder" which measures speed, brake application and acceleration. NTSB Vice Chairman Robert Sumwalt said officials were on a "fact-finding" mission to determine why the Amtrak train from Grand Rapids, Mich. - minutes from its Union Station destination - rear-ended the 20-car Norfolk Southern freight train that had stopped on the same tracks. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-2-07, from Chicago Tribune report]

AMTRAK TRAIN REAR-ENDS FREIGHT TRAIN IN CHICAGO: Amtrak Pere Marquette train 371 rear-ended a Norfolk Southern freight train on the South Side of Chicago this morning [Nov.30].  The engine telescoped onto the rear well of a single-stack container car, while the three Superliner coaches remained on the track.  Amtrak has reported 30 injuries, including five crew members who were seriously injured.  Most of the 187 passengers and the other crew member left the train on their own power, and those who were injured suffered only minor injuries.  Amtrak train service between Chicago and Michigan has been suspended, at least for the rest of the day. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-30-07]

FLORIDA TO BUY 61 MILES OF LINE FROM CSX: CSX has agreed to sell 61 miles of track to the State of Florida just in time to qualify the Central Florida commuter rail project for $180-million in federal funding.  Florida plans to improve the railroad it now owns between DeLand, Orlando, and Poinciana.  The first phase between DeBary and Sand Lake Road (in the southern part of Orlando) should be operational by 2010, with the full DeLand-Poinciana system up and running by 2013.  Seventeen stations are expected.  CSX and Amtrak will continue to operate over the state-owned trackage. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-30-07]

PROPOSED EJ&E SALE PUT ON HOLD: The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has put the brakes on the proposed sale of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad to Canadian National Railway Co. The agency said that it will conduct a full environmental impact study as it reviews CN's plan to buy the U.S. Steel-owned EJ&E for $300-million. Without the environmental impact study, a decision on the business aspects of the sale could have come by April. But it could take 18 months to several years, according to the STB. CN wants to buy the EJ&E so it can re-route traffic around congested tracks in Chicago. [United Transportation Union, 11-29-07, from Herald News report]

EMERGENCY BOARD ESTABLISHED FOR AMTRAK DISPUTE: Effective December 1, 2007, President Bush has established Emergency Board 242 to investigate collective bargaining disputes between National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) and certain of its employees represented by certain labor organizations. The Emergency Board will conduct a hearing and make a recommendation for settlement within 30 days of the President's creation of the Emergency Board. No work stoppages are permissible following the creation of the Emergency Board and for the 30 days following the date the Emergency Board has made its report to the President. [National Mediation Board, 11-28-07]

NEW TANK CAR STANDARDS TO BE DELAYED THREE MONTHS: The freight railroad industry has agreed to delay implementation of new design specifications for tank cars carrying chlorine and anhydrous ammonia until April 1, 2008. The standard, which would have required heavier, thicker steel shells and extra padding, was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2008, for newly purchased tankers. The Association of American Railroads agreed to the delay at the request of the Federal Railroad Administration, which plans to propose new federal design standards for hazardous material tank cars during the first quarter of the new year. The government's plan will target rail shipments of toxic inhalation hazards. [United Transportation Union, 11-28-07, from Chemical & Engineering News website report]

BOMBARDIER GETS BELGIAN LOCOMOTIVE ORDER: Bombardier Inc. has won a $260-million contract to supply an additional 35 freight locomotives for Belgian National Railway and maintain its fleet for 10 years. The order for the Traxx locomotives is an option from an initial order with pan-European leasing company Angel Trains for five locomotives dating back to March 2005. Angel leases the locomotives to Belgian National Railway's freight operating unit, B-Cargo. The railway has signed a 10-year agreement to maintain the 40 Traxx locomotives. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-27-07, from Canadian Press report]

MILWAUKEE DEDICATES REMODELED AMTRAK STATION: Milwaukee Intermodal Station was officially dedicated Nov.26 by numerous Wisconsin officials following the remodeling of the station. The station now serves Greyhound buses in addition to Amtrak's Hiawatha services to and from Chicago and Amtrak's Empire Builder. Local area business interests, in conjunction with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority, are seeking to add commuter rail services to the region's transportation mix, using the new station as an intermodal hub. [RailwayAge.com, 11-26-07]

CSX FREIGHT TRAIN DERAILS IN BALTIMORE: Investigators are trying to determine why 12 cars of a CSX freight train jumped the track yesterday morning [Nov.24] near M&T Bank Stadium, just blocks from the site of the 2001 derailment and subsequent Howard Street Tunnel fire. Nobody was hurt in the incident, which tied up traffic in the Camden Yards area for hours. Like the July 2001 accident, it involved a CSX train carrying hazardous materials through the century-old downtown tunnel. But this time there was no spill or fire. Three of the cars that overturned or derailed shortly before 8 a.m. carried chemicals, but there was no leakage. The front part of the 131-car train had pulled into the Howard Street Tunnel when railroad cars 29 through 40 derailed a few blocks away under the Ostend Street bridge. A pile of toppled cars was strewn across the tracks. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-25-07, from Baltimore Sun website report]

OUTGOING CHAIRMAN SAYS AMTRAK BACK ON TRACK: Amtrak has restored its credibility and is not the financial basket case it was five years ago, the national passenger railroad's outgoing chairman said. But David Laney, whom President Bush did not nominate for another term on the board, told the Associated Press that there are probably some in the White House who would have preferred to see Amtrak eliminated. Laney's five-year term as a member of the board of directors expires at the end of November. At its Nov.8 meeting, the board chose Donna McLean, a transportation consultant and a board member since July 2006, to replace him. His one regret, he said, was Amtrak's failure to resolve a protracted labor dispute. Most Amtrak workers have been without a contract since the end of 1999. Amtrak's biggest critics say long-distance passenger rail - particularly trips that take more than a day - is an anachronism and that shorter trips could be run more effectively by the private sector. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-20-07, from Associated Press report]

OLD N.J. TRANSIT LOCOMOTIVES TO BE REBUILT: Electric locomotives almost two decades old have run up 1 million to 1.5 million miles. Now NJ Transit officials have decided it's time to rebuild them. The board of trustees has hired Interfleet Technology of Philadelphia for $2-million to inspect them and recommend technical upgrades. The overhaul is estimated at $48-million. NJ Transit Executive Director Richard Sarles said it is cheaper to keep the locomotives than to buy new ones. The locomotive rebuilding is one to 1-1/2 years away, Sarles said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-20-07, from Asbury Park Press website report]

DENVER REVISES UNION STATION PLANS: A year after being selected to redevelop Denver's historic Union Station and the surrounding property into a mixed-use transit hub, Union Station Neighborhood Co. has altered its plan. The biggest changes include building the commuter- and heavy-rail tracks above ground and realigning the connection at 18th Street into the underground regional bus facility. Technology for the FasTracks system's Gold Line changed from light to commuter rail, making it necessary to add more tracks to that portion of the plan. Additionally, the Federal Railroad Administration indicated it would be unlikely to approve putting Amtrak tracks underground. While it deviates from the proposal the developers unveiled to the public more than a year ago, the new plan gives the transit components more capacity - eight tracks instead of six - and the ability to expand. Construction could start by next summer. The initial plan called for the depot to be renovated and the light rail built by 2009. [United Transportation Union, 11-19-07, from Denver Post report]

CSX BOARD DEFENDS PERFORMANCE: The board of CSX Corp. in a letter to activist shareholder Children's Investment Fund, defended the company's management and financial performance. The shareholder, known as TCI, wrote to the railroad's board in October urging a number of corporate governance and business changes and complaining that CSX trails its peers "on virtually every major metric of operational and financial performance." London-based TCI owns about a 4.1 percent stake in CSX. TCI had proposed several ideas, including a leveraged buyout with management, taking on more debt to fund more share buybacks and doubling prices over the next 10 years. CSX, Jacksonville, Fla., disputed TCI's statements in its letter, saying the stock price has increased nearly 150 percent since current management took control in 2004. It noted that operating income for CSX Surface Transportation has nearly doubled in that time, while productivity and revenue initiatives have improved the operating ratio to its best level in a decade. The board also said safety and customer service levels have improved dramatically, cutting personal injuries by 50 percent and train accidents by 45 percent in the past three years. [United Transportation Union, 11-16-07, from Dow Jones Newswire report]

DONNA MCLEAN NAMED AMTRAK CHAIR: Amtrak recently named Donna McLean chairman to succeed David Laney, who will remain a board member until his term expires later this month. Appointed to the national intercity passenger railroad's board by President Bush and approved by the Senate in July 2006, McLean previously served as the board's vice chairman. She owns Donna McLean Associates L.L.C., a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm specializing in transportation policy. McLean previously served as chief financial officer and assistant secretary for budget and programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation. She also held posts as assistant administrator for financial services for the Federal Aviation Administration and professional staff member for the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 11-16-07]

GERMAN RAIL STRIKE DISRUPTS TRAVEL: A bitter strike by train personnel in Germany has tied up freight traffic, shut down an auto factory and stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers in what has become the German state rail system's largest work stoppage. Since November 15, when the three-day strike spread from freight trains to commuter and long-distance service, Germans have gotten a taste of the chaos in France, where the railroads are also paralyzed. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen. 11-16-07, from New York Times website report]

U.P. HIKES DIVIDEND: Union Pacific Corp. said it raised its quarterly dividend by 25.7 percent, or 9 cents, to 44 cents per share. The company paid a dividend of 35 cents in the prior quarter. Union Pacific has increased its quarterly dividend payment by 46.7 percent this year. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-16-07, from Associated Press report]

N.S. BEGINS TUNNEL CLEARANCE PROJECT: Construction has begun on the first of 28 tunnels along Norfolk Southern Corp.'s Heartland Corridor. Raising overhead clearances in 28 tunnels will allow double-stacked container trains to carry cargo on a more direct route from the Port of Virginia to the Midwest. The corridor will cut 200 miles and a day off travel time between Hampton Roads and Midwestern markets. The entire project is expected to take three years. [United Transportation Union, 11-15-07, from VirginiaBusiness.com report]

CSX SLATED TO BEGIN LIFTING DERAILED COAL HOPPERS FROM ANACOSTIA RIVER: Officials with CSX Transportation said workers could begin pulling seven derailed coal cars from the Anacostia River on Wednesday [Nov.14]. The workers have been trying to lower impermeable curtains into the water to contain silt that might be stirred up from the riverbed when the cars are moved. [United Transportation Union, 11-14-07, from ABC-7 News website report]

F.R.A. OFFERS LEGISLATION FOR R.R. POLICE: The Federal Railroad Administration recently sent legislation to the nation's governors that aims to protect state authorities against "scam" railroad police personnel. If enacted by states, the legislation would ensure that "only individuals employed by actual railroad carriers, as defined by federal rail safety laws and confirmed in writing by the FRA administrator, are commissioned by state authorities to serve as railroad police officers," according to the FRA. In addition, the "model" state law would set minimum railroad police officer qualifications, such as passing a criminal background check and clearing a FBI fingerprint analysis. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 11-13-07]

TOM CARPER NOMINATED TO AMTRAK BOARD: Former Macomb, Illinois, Mayor Tom Carper has been nominated by President Bush to serve on the Amtrak board of directors. Carper, who lives in Macomb, is director of the West Central region for Opportunity Returns. His nomination must now be considered by the Senate Commerce Committee and the full Senate. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-12-07, from Peoria Jounal-Star website report]

CSX COAL TRAIN DERAILS IN WASHINGTON: A CSX coal train dumped about seven loaded coal cars into the Anacostia River Friday afternoon, Nov.8, 2007. The Washington Post reported the derailment took place at the end of a rail bridge. There were no injuries, according to the D.C. Fire Department. A CSX spokesperson said no hazmat was involved, but a D.C. Fire Department emergency responder called coal in the river a hazardous material, and hazmat crews were on the scene. The derailment was the lead story on 6 p.m. newscasts of all four major news networks in Washington, and CNN provided live coverage. [United Transportation Union, 11-9-07]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC DOWN IN OCTOBER: U.S. railroads originated 1,686,928 carloads of freight in October 2007, down 5,109 carloads (0.3 percent) from October 2006. U.S. railroads also originated 1,210,127 intermodal units in October 2007, a decrease of 46,775 trailers and containers (3.7 percent) from October 2006, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported Nov. 9. Six of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw U.S. carload increases in October 2007 compared to October 2006. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-9-07]

ALBUQUERQUE TO BUY SANTA FE RAIL YARD: A bill passed by the Albuquerque City Council clears the way to rebuild the long-dormant rail yard in Barelas. The bill authorizes the city to buy the 27-acre rail yard property for $9.4-million before the option expires Dec.28, 2007. The property - which includes about 25 buildings from the old rail yard, including one that's 166,000 square feet - would be used in part to house a long-awaited Wheels Museum and at least 30 affordable housing units, as dictated by the legislation. [United Transportation Union, 11-7-07, from Albuquerque Tribune report]

BNSF COMPLETES TRIPLE-TRACKING OF POWDER RIVER BASIN LINE: All 103 miles of the Powder River Basin Joint Line in Wyoming now has a third track. In a service advisory today, BNSF said the 12-mile final segment of third main track between Caballa Junction and Coal Creek Junction was opened on Oct. 24. Crossover and signal work continues between Cabllo Junction and Reno Junction and completion later this year will provide full benefits from the additional capacity, said BNSF. [RailwayAge.com, 11-2-07]

F.R.A. FINDS NO FAULT IN W.M. SCENIC R.R. ACCIDENT: The Federal Railroad Administration said it found no fault with the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad in connection with an accident last week near Frostburg that left 11 passengers with minor injuries. Spokesman Warren Flatau said wet leaves on the tracks caused the steam locomotive to slide backward down a hill and slam into passenger cars from which it had decoupled. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-1-07, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK AND UNIONS ENTER COOLING-OFF PERIOD: The National Mediation Board confirms that, pursuant to the Railway Labor Act, AMTRAK and the eight unions were released by the National Mediation Board from statutory Mediation on October 31, 2007, and a 30-day cooling-off period commenced on November 1, 2007. Absent agreements or the establishment of a Presidential Emergency Board , the parties could exercise Self Help as of 12:01 a.m. on December 1, 2007. In an effort to assist the parties further in reaching agreements, the NMB has scheduled public interest meetings commencing November 5, 2007. [National Mediation Board, 11-1-07]

MILL HALL, PA., TRAIN STATION MOVING TO LOCK HAVEN: It's moving day for a landmark in Clinton County, Pa. Crews are moving the historic Mill Hall train station to a new location behind Lock Haven City Hall. The roof was removed from the building on Oct.29, 2007, so it would be low enough to pass under signs and utility lines. The station had to be moved because Rightnour Manufacturing Co. in Mill Hall is expanding and needed the space where the station sat. [United Transportation Union, 10-30-07, from Associated Press report]

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN REPORTS HIGHER 3-Q EARNINGS: Kansas City Southern (KCS) recorded third-quarter 2007 revenues of $444.1-million, a 6.8 percent increase over third-quarter 2006. Revenue gains were primarily attributable to volume growth in select commodity areas and a continued favorable pricing environment. Net income available to common shareholders in the third quarter 2007 increased by 58 percent to $41.8-million or $0.48 per diluted share, compared with $26.4-million or $0.32 per diluted share in the third quarter 2006. [Kansas City Southern, 10-25-07]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN QUARTERLY PROFIT FALLS: Railroad company Norfolk Southern Corp said Oct.24 quarterly net profit fell due to slower U.S. economic growth and a tax charge. The company reported third-quarter net income of $386-million or 97 cents a share, compared with $416-million or $1.02 a share a year earlier. Excluding a pre-announced charge of five cents per share related to new tax legislation in Illinois, earnings were $1.02 per share. [United Transportation Union, 10-24-07, from Reuters report]

TALGO TRAINSETS RETURNED TO CASCADES SERVICE: All Spanish-made rail cars that were withdrawn from Amtrak Cascades passenger service between Seattle and Eugene, Ore., in August have been repaired and are back in use. Cascades trains returned to normal fall-winter schedules Oct.21 with restoration of all amenities, including business class, checked baggage and feature movies. [United Transportation Union, 10-24-07, from Seattle Post-Intelligencer report]

GENESEE & WYOMING TO BUY MARYLAND MIDLAND: Maryland Midland Railway Inc., a 70-mile short-line railroad that primarily serves Lehigh Cement Co. in Carroll County, is being sold for about $29.1-million to Greenwich, Conn.-based Genesee & Wyoming Inc., operator of close to 50 short-line and regional freight railroads worldwide. Situated near the York Railway that Genesee & Wyoming already owns, Maryland Midland could eventually link up with that southeastern Pennsylvania line, executives from Maryland Midland and Lehigh, its biggest shareholder, have said. The Union Bridge cement operation, which will keep its 12.6 percent stake in the railroad, hopes the Genesee acquisition will eventually give it access to more competitive rail transfer rates. Headquartered near the Lehigh plant in Union Bridge, Maryland Midland's tracks run from Taneytown south to Walkersville, and from Highfield across Carroll and Frederick counties to Baltimore County. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-23-07, from Baltimore Sun website report]

AMTRAK RIDERSHIP REACHES NEW RECORD: A record 25.8 million passengers took Amtrak in the last fiscal year, an increase of 1.5 million over fiscal 2006,. Ridership for the year ended Sept.30 surpassed the previous record of 25.03 million set in 2004, before Amtrak transferred some services to a commuter rail operator. Ticket revenue increased 11 percent to $1.5-billion from $1.37-billion in 2006. [United Transportation Union, 10-23-07, from Associated Press report]

BNSF REPORTS RECORD 3-Q EARNINGS: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation has reported all-time record quarterly earnings. Quarterly earnings were $1.48 per diluted share, or 11 percent higher than third-quarter 2006 earnings of $1.33 per diluted share. Freight revenues increased $133-million, or 4 percent, to $3.95-billion compared with the third quarter of 2006. Operating income of $1-billion increased $80 million, or 9 percent, compared to the same 2006 period. [BNSF, 10-23-07]

U.P. PROFIT RISES: Union Pacific Corp posted a better-than-expected jump in quarterly profit due to higher freight volumes and strong pricing. But the railroad warned that in the short-term it was cautious about the shape of the U.S. economy and challenges posed by higher fuel prices. The company reported third-quarter net income of $532-million or $2.00 per share, compared with $420-million or $1.54 per share a year earlier. Revenue in all the railroad's freight commodity classes was up except for industrial products, where revenue fell four percent. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-18-07, from Reuters report]

CSX REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corporation reported third quarter 2007 net earnings of $407-million or 91 cents per share, including 24 cents per share from discontinued operations. In the same quarter last year, the company reported earnings of $328-million or 71 cents per share, including 17 cents per share from insurance gains and the resolution of certain tax matters. On a comparable basis, excluding these items, earnings per share from continuing operations increased 24 percent on a year-over-year basis. [CSX, 10-17-07]

C.N. OPENS NEW RAIL TERMINAL IN PRINCE RUPERT: A bit more than two weeks before the first ship is scheduled to arrive at the Fairview container terminal in Prince Rupert, CN Rail opened its $20-million intermodal and distribution centre terminal for business in Prince George Oct.15. Company spokeswoman Kelli Svendsen said the announcement means the facility is now ready to accept customers who want to use the service to export their goods to Asia. The first container ship, operated by Shanghai-based Cosco Container Lines Americas Inc., the world's sixth-largest shipping company, is expected to arrive in Prince Rupert on Oct. 31. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-16-07, from Prince George Citizen website report]

TWO FIRED IN RUNAWAY V.R.E. LOCOMOTIVE INCIDENT: A Virginia Railway Express locomotive that rolled through the Fredericksburg area two weeks ago was unlike any other. The unoccupied, 118-ton engine was under repair in Spotsylvania County when it took off for a six-mile run on the CSX main line before it was stopped in southern Stafford County. It reached a top speed of 40 mph. No one was injured when the runaway locomotive left the VRE storage and maintenance yard off the U.S. 17 bypass on the evening of Sept.26. But the incident resulted in the dismissal of two Amtrak-contract employees who repair VRE trains. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-10-07, from Fredericksburg.com report by Kelly Hannon]

S.T.B. APPROVES 130-MILE RAIL LINE FOR MONTANA COAL COUNTRY: Federal officials on Oct.9, 2007, announced approval of the final stretch of a long-delayed $341-million rail line that could open southeastern Montana's vast but largely untapped coal fields to more intensive development. The Tongue River Railroad, first proposed in 1983, would run 130 miles from Miles City to Decker - into the heart of the coal-rich Powder River Basin along the Montana-Wyoming border. Permits from state and federal agencies are still needed, and rights of way through private and public property must be secured before the line can be built. [United Transportation Union, 10-10-07, from Billings Gazette report]

TRAIN & BUS COLLIDE IN CUBA, AT LEAST 28 KILLED: State television said late Oct.6 that a bus collided with a train in eastern Cuba, killing at least 28 people and injuring another 73, including 15 reported to be in critical condition. The collision occurred in a small town in the province of Granma at a railroad crossing, and the train dragged the bus before the bus fell below a bridge. [United Transportation Union, 10-7-07, from Chicago Tribune report]

ST.CHARLES STREETCAR LINE TO RESUME SERVICE IN NOVEMBER: The famed St. Charles Avenue streetcar line in New Orleans will return to service in November after being severely damaged in Hurricane Katrina.  New Orleans Regional Transit Authority has announced plans to open the downtown portion of the line by November, and the rest of it in the first quarter of 2008. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-5-07]

AT LEAST 13 KILLED IN TRAIN STATION STAMPEDE IN INDIA: Officials said at least 13 elderly women traveling to a Hindu festival were trampled to death and 42 others were injured Wednesday (Oct. 3) in a northern Indian railway station when two trains arrived on adjacent platforms. The stampede occurred at the station in Mughalsarai, about 215 miles southeast of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. The 13 dead women had tripped in the crowd and "people just trampled over them," said a police official. [United Transportation Union, 10-4-07, from Associated Press report]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC DOWN IN SEPTEMBER: U.S. railroads originated 1,340,285 carloads of freight in September 2007, down 11,536 carloads (0.9 percent) from September 2006, says the Association of American Railroads. U.S. railroads also originated 963,278 intermodal units in September 2007, a decrease of 24,625 trailers and containers (2.5 percent) over September 2006. Five of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw U.S. carload increases in September 2007 compared to September 2006. U.S. intermodal traffic is not included in carload figures. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-4-07]

U.P. MOVES RECORD VOLUME POWDER RIVER COALUnion Pacific set an all-time coal loading record in the Southern Powder River Basin in September 2007, moving an average of 37.1 trains a day for a total of 1,114 trains loaded in a 30-day month. UP also set a seven-day record in the last week of the month, with 278 trains loaded, a daily average of 39.7. [RailwayAge.com, 10-3-07]

CSX BUYS LAND FOR FLORIDA TERMINAL: CSX Corp. has acquired 318 acres from the City of Winter Haven for a state-of-the-art intermodal and automotive terminal. Evansville Western Railway, Inc., a CSX affiliate company, acquired the property. CSX made the move in part to reroute some freight operations in central Florida to accommodate planned commuter rail operations in a four-county area, with Orlando as the hub. [RailwayAge.com, 10-1-07]

C.N. TO CLOSE STEVENS POINT DISPATCHING CENTER: Canadian National Railway Co. will close its dispatch operations in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, by the middle of next year. A spokesman for the railroad said the decision was made to 'consolidate' the dispatch operations out of Chicago. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-27-07, from Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers report]

MARC PLANS SERVICE EXPANSION: The Maryland Transit Administration is planning a sweeping expansion of its popular MARC commuter train service, including weekend runs and additional weekday trains by next year and a tripling of the system's capacity by 2035. The detailed blueprint, outlined in a briefing by MTA Administrator Paul Wiedefeld, envisions a system that eventually would stretch from Virginia to Delaware and have the capacity to carry more than 100,000 riders a day. The plan, the cost of which would amount to billions of dollars over the next 28 years, would add tracks in areas that are bottlenecks and would increase the frequency of train arrivals. It would bring new interconnections with existing and future transit lines and create a new transportation hub at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. MTA's near-term plans include additional trains on the Penn Line, some of which would operate on weekends, and a midday train on the Camden Line. [United Transportation Union, 9-24-07, from Baltimore Sun report]

HANCOCK INTERLOCKING TOWER CLOSES: Known as 'HO' Tower, located in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, this historic sentinel to railroading had soldiered on for about a century. It was one of the last mechanical interlockings remaining in the country. Built for the B&O Railroad (now CSX), the tower closed on September 18, 2007, one day following a signal cutover that removed its function as an interlocker.

F.E.C. LINE SALE GETS HUGE BIKE TRAIL PLAN ROLLING: The longest and most expensive rails-to-trails project in Florida history will clear its last hurdle if the Florida Cabinet approves $16-million to buy 52 miles of old rail bed connecting Brevard and Volusia counties. The deal marks a milestone in a 14-year effort to turn the abandoned tracks into trails for hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and other nonmotorized modes of transportation. The East Central Regional Rail-Trail will be the longest abandoned corridor acquired in the Southeast and one of the last great long corridors available in Florida. [United Transportation Union, 9-19-07, from Orlando Sentinel report]

FOSTORIA, OHIO, RAILFAN PARK GETS FEDERAL GRANT: Federal transportation enhancement funds will provide more than $800,000 toward converting an abandoned factory site in Fostoria into a park where train enthusiasts may watch the 100 or more trains that traverse the city on an average day, the Ohio Department of Transportation has announced. The announcement gives Fostoria a green light to plan for a viewing platform, restrooms, parking lots, and landscaping on the five-acre site bound primarily by three main railroad lines that pass through, and intersect in, the city, Mayor John Davoli said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-7-07, from Toledo Blade website report]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC DOWN IN AUGUST: U.S. railroads originated 1,685,238 carloads of freight in August 2007, down 17,008 carloads (1.0 percent) from August 2006, according to the Association of American Railroads. U.S. railroads also originated 1,195,390 intermodal trailers and containers in August 2007, a decrease of 52,263 units (4.2 percent) from August 2006, the AAR said. [Assn. of American Railroads, 9-6-07]

CP RAIL PLANS TO BUY DM&E: Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. plans to acquire Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp. for $1.48-billion to benefit from rising demand for moving coal and other commodities. The price may rise by as much as $1-billion, depending on construction costs for a project in Wyoming and future payments related to coal deliveries, Calgary-based Canadian Pacific said in a statement. The company expects to complete the purchase of closely held Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern within two months. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-5-07, from Bloomberg News report]

HUDSON, N.Y., AMTRAK STATION TO GET $6-M UPGRADE: As part of a $22-million commitment signed this week to create high-speed rail service and revitalize rail service in the New York State, Sen. Steve Saland (R-41) has announced $6-million for improvements at the Hudson Rail Station. The new funding will pay for an overhead walkway, a platform on the river side and an elevator. [United Transportation Union, 9-5-07, from Hillsdale Independent report]

RUNAWAY CHLORINE TANK CAR ROLLS THROUGH LAS VEGAS: Officials are investigating how a runaway chlorine tank car rolled for 20 miles through Las Vegas before train crews stopped it. A Union Pacific Railroad official says no one was hurt, there was no damage and there was no leak in the mishap about 9 a.m. Aug.29. Authorities think it was an accident. The tanker rolled from a siding several miles south of Las Vegas to a site several miles north of North Las Vegas. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-30-07, from Associated Press report]

WARREN BUFFETT BOOSTS HOLDINGS IN BNSF: Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has boosted its stake in Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., the second-largest U.S. railroad, by 24 percent. Berkshire bought 10.1 million more shares of the Ft. Worth-based railroad, in which it was already the biggest shareholder, the Omaha-based company said in a regulatory filing. The most recent investments, valued at more than $806-million, increase Berkshire's stake in the railroad company to 14.8 percent. [United Transportation Union, 8-28-07, from Chicago Tribune report]

COST ESTIMATES FOR PARADISE TRAIN STATION INCREASE FOUR-FOLD: Cost estimates for an Amtrak Keystone station in Paradise, Pennsylvania, have increased by 400 percent after original plans were deemed by the Federal Railroad Administration to be not in compliance with new Americans with Disabilities Act guidance.  The $2.4-million plans would have to be scrapped in favor of a $10-million station, possibly placing the entire project in jeopardy. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-24-07]

RHODE ISLAND AIRPORT TRAIN STATION PLAN REVIVED: A long-stalled plan to build a transportation hub at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I., is again moving forward. State Department of Transportation officials have reached a preliminary agreement with Amtrak to allow MBTA commuter trains to connect Warwick to Boston. The provisional deal clears the way for construction on the $222.5-million facility, scheduled to start "any day now," according to the state Airport Corporation. The facility will straddle the train tracks and connect to the T.F. Green terminal by a 1,250-foot elevated sky bridge that will wind over Post Road. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-22-07, from Providence Journal website report]

POUGHKEEPSIE BRIDGE GETS ENGINEERING & DESIGN GRANT: The Dyson Foundation announced August 21 it will spend $1.5-million toward the engineering, inspection and design phase of the planned construction for public access of the Walkway Over the Hudson. The walkway, utilizing the historic 6700-foot Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, will connect Poughkeepsie with Highland offering a panoramic vista of the Hudson River. The bridge has been unused by trains since a fire occurred on the bridge in 1974, and then was abandoned. The project is expected to be complete with a pedestrian walkway atop the bridge in 2009 to serve as a focal point for the 400th anniversary celebration of Henry Hudson's first exploration of the Hudson River.

NEW SECTION OF HERITAGE RAIL TRAIL OPENS: York County, Pennsylvania, officially opened a one and one-half mile section of a new portion of the Heritage Rail Trail with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at John Rudy Park north of York August 20. MORE..

SPRINGFIELD, MA, UNION STATION MAY BE RESTORED: Springfield, MA, may see its Union Station revived after the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority received seven proposals this week to move forward with a $350,000 study to examine the feasibility of restoring multimodal passenger service to the long-vacant building (Amtrak has a modest station at track level).  If restored, Union Station would be a hub for PVTA, Amtrak, Greyhound and Peter Pan Bus Lines, and future commuter rail service to Connecticut. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-10-07]

CASCADES SERVICE RESTORED WITH MODIFIED SCHEDULES: Amtrak has restored Cascades service to normal frequencies effective Aug.9 on a modified schedule utilizing Amfleet and Horizon equipment as well as substitute motorcoach service. This modified service will continue until issues with cracks in the suspension systems of the Talgo trainsets can be resolved.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-10-07]

WALTER RICH DIES, N.Y.S.W. OWNER: Walter Rich, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Delaware Otsego Corp., and owner and head of the firm's New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway Corp. (NYSW) subsidiary, died Aug.9, 2007, after an eight-month battle with cancer. He was 61. Rich had served holding company Delaware Otsego since 1971 and was chief executive officer of NYSW since 1980. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 8-10-07]

N.J. TRANSIT ADDING MORE MULTILEVEL CARS TO SERVICE: NJ Transit will begin running its new multi-level rail cars on seven new Northeast Corridor trains starting Aug.13. The new six-car set of the multi-level trains will replace an eight single-level cars on trains that leave Trenton for New York at 5:10 a.m., 8:51 a.m. and 2:38 p.m. and trains that leave New York for Trenton at 6:31 a.m. , 11:01 a.m., 4:28 p.m. and 8:07 p.m., NJ Transit spokesman Dan Stessel said. The new trips will bring to 13 the number of daily Northeast Corridor trains on which the multi-level cars are in service. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-9-07, from Jersey Journal report]

BALTIMORE CITY RAISES CONCERN OVER FIVE CSX BRIDGES: Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) and city and state lawmakers demanded Aug.8 that railroad conglomerate CSX fix its crumbling bridges in Baltimore before it's too late. Dixon called the condition of the Fort Avenue Bridge a "top priority," while state lawmakers appealed to the governor and Maryland's transportation secretary to throw their weight into the effort. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-8-07, from Baltimore Sun website report]

TALGO EQUIPMENT SHOPPED DUE TO CRACKS: Amtrak removed all Cascades Talgo trainsets from operation Aug.2, 2007, after cracks were found in the suspension system of some Talgo cars. Nearly all Cascades trains have been annulled through Sunday, Aug.5, with no alternate transportation provided. However, trains 510 and 517 (the Seattle-Vancouver, BC, Canada round-trip), which operate with Superliner equipment, will continue to operate as usual, as will the Coast Starlight and Cascades Thruway motorcoaches. [National Assn. of R.R. Passengers, 8-3-07]

TRAIN DERAILS IN CONGO, KILLING ABOUT 100: Officials said Aug.2 that a passenger train derailed in central Congo and eight cars tumbled off the tracks, killing about 100 people and trapping some passengers in the wreckage. The accident occurred after the brakes failed as the train traveled between the city of Ilebo and the provincial capital of Kananga. [United Transportation Union, 8-2-07, from Associated Press report]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC DOWN IN JULY: Freight traffic on U.S. railroads was off again during July, according to the Association of American Railroads. U.S. railroads originated 1,250,961 carloads of freight in July, down 39,196 carloads (3.0 percent) from July 2006. They also originated 913,590 intermodal trailers and containers during the month, down of 24,570 units (2.6 percent) from July 2006. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-2-07]

TRAIN COLLIDES WITH VAN IN RAIL YARD, KILLING DRIVER: A Union Pacific train struck a van as it crossed tracks inside a Nebraska rail yard July 28, killing one and injuring two others. Scotts Bluff County officials said Gilbert Weidner, 76, of Mitchell, died after the train struck the van he was driving shortly before 3 a.m. One of Weidner's passengers suffered a broken jaw; the other passenger only suffered minor injuries. The collision happened on a private road Union Pacific owns within the rail yard. [United Transportation Union, 7-30-07, from KETV website report]

U.T.U. LOCAL OFFICIAL SENTENCED IN EMBEZZLEMENT: A federal judge in Baltimore ruled July 27 in Baltimore that a former United Transportation Union local treasurer will spend six months in prison and six months on home confinement after pleading guilty to embezzling $45,000 from the organization. From 1999 through 2004, Walter Fisher served as the secretary-treasurer of the United Transportation Union Local 1949. The local had about 250 members during that time who were yardmasters with CSX, Norfolk Southern, Amtrak, and Conrail in New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. [United Transportation Union, 7-28-07, from Baltimore Sun report]

ALBANY & EASTERN R.R. SOLD: The Albany & Eastern Railroad Company will have new owners effective August 1. Rick and Bernice Franklin have purchased the privately owned rail line from Mike Root, who has operated the Lebanon (Oregon)-based shortline system since 1998. The railroad carries lumber and plywood, grain, grass seed and wood pellets, among other items, to and from mid-valley businesses. The railroad operates on 67 miles of track, from Albany to Lebanon where it splits and goes from Lebanon to Mill City or Lebanon to Foster. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-26-07, from Albany Democrat-Herald website report]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: For the second quarter of 2007, Norfolk Southern Corporation reported net income of $394-million or $0.98 per diluted share, compared with $375-million or $0.89 per diluted share for the same period of 2006. Income from railway operations increased two percent to $690-million and set a second-quarter record. The railway operating ratio improved from 71.7 to 71.0 percent. [Norfolk Southern, 7-25-07]

BNSF REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation has reported quarterly earnings of $1.20 per diluted share, compared with second-quarter 2006 earnings of $1.27 per diluted share (which included a $0.04 benefit from lower income tax rates). Freight revenues were $3.74-billion for the second quarter and were four percent, or $144-million higher compared with the second quarter of 2006. Operating income was $841-million, compared to second-quarter 2006 operating income of $864-million. [BNSF, 7-24-07]

BNSF INCREASES ITS DIVIDEND: Directors of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation voted July 19 to increase BNSF's next quarterly dividend by 28 percent or 7 cents per share, to 32 cents per share on outstanding common stock. This represents an annualized $1.28 per share dividend. [BNSF, 7-19-07]

AMTRAK TRAIN STRIKES AUTO IN FLORIDA, KILLING FOUR: Four people were killed when a car was struck by Amtrak train the Silver Star on tracks in West Lakeland, Florida, July 16. There were no injuries on the train, police spokesman Jack Gillen said. CSX spokesman Gary Sease said a video taken from a nearby business showed the car going around another vehicle that was stopped and waiting for the train at the crossing and then going around the crossing gate and into the path of the train. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-16-07, from Lakeland Ledger website report]

BOLIVIA PLANS TO NATIONALIZE ITS RAILROADS: President Evo Morales announced plans to nationalize Bolivia's railroads, continuing his administration's campaign to extend greater state control over key sectors of the Andean nation's economy. Morales said he intends to recover control of former state rail company Empresa Nacional de Ferrocarriles, or ENFE, privatized in 1996. [United Transportation Union, 7-15-07, from Associated Press report]

MICHIGAN CENTRAL TO BEGIN FREIGHT SERVICE IN 2008: The Michigan Central Railway will begin freight service using 384 miles of rail in Michigan and Indiana in 2008.  The new Michigan Central Railroad will operate over these segments: Jackson-Lansing; Grand Rapids-Elkhart, IN; and the Ypsilanti-Kalamazoo part of the Chicago-Detroit line Amtrak uses.  The Michigan Central also will acquire Norfolk Southern's trackage rights on the Amtrak-owned line between Kalamazoo and the Michigan/Indiana state line. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-13-07]

TENNESSEE SOUTHERN ACQUIRES TEN GP10 LOCOMOTIVESPatriot Rail subsidiary Tennessee Southern has taken delivery of six refurbished GP10 locomotives from National Railway Equipment Co. Newly painted in TS's red, white, and blue color scheme, the locomotives have been upgraded with the N-Force wheel slip system that gives 1,700-h.p. locomotives the traction effort of 2,300-h.p. units. The GP-10s will replace older locomotives in TS's fleet. [RailwayAge.com, 7-13-07]

TOWER OPERATORS KEEP RAIL TRAFFIC ON TRACK: High up and out of sight, three men in a brick tower push the levers that move trains through a crucial, high-speed junction of the Northeast Corridor - the line that carries more railroad passengers than any other in the country. At this tower in Rahway, men operating levers, gears and switches still do work that has become a point-and-click exercise almost everywhere else. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 7-9-07, from Herald News feature]

FLORIDA FAULTS CSX BILLING: A recent audit from the Florida Department of Transportation's inspector general says CSX railroad billed south Florida's transportation agency for nearly $290,000 of "unreasonable and unallowable" costs. The auditors found, in part, that the company applied overtime pay rates to regular hours. It also charged for workdays exceeding 24 hours. A series of stories in The Tampa Tribune has found similar problems in government road projects involving CSX Transportation in the Tampa Bay area. In several cases, there were discrepancies between CSX labor charges and contractor time sheets, a problem auditors noted in the South Florida project. The South Florida audit raised so many questions that the auditors plan to examine the rail company's charges on projects elsewhere, audit director Joe Maleszewski said. [United Transportation Union, 7-7-07, from Tampa Tribune report]

HISTORICAL MARKER TO HONOR MONON R.R.: Stretching 525 miles, the Monon Railroad's size wasn't a good measure of how much it benefited Indiana. The railroad that began in 1847 in New Albany and eventually connected the Ohio River to Lake Michigan helped farmers get produce to markets that otherwise were nearly impossible to reach during that time, historians said. On July 14, the railroad - originally the New Albany and Salem Railroad - will be recognized, with a state historical marker being placed where it started. The railroad started when area farmers could trade only within their communities and needed a way to reach other cities. So James Brooks and other businessmen from New Albany and Salem built the railroad. By 1854, it connected New Albany and Michigan City. [United Transportation Union, 7-6-07, from Courier-Journal report]

LOCOMOTIVE RESTORATION GAINS STEAM: Heber Valley Railroad is raising money to restore its 100-year-old steam locomotive, No. 618. It is one of three steam and two diesel engines the railroad operates for special events and regularly scheduled excursions. No. 618 was built in 1907 by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. It carried freight in Utah, Idaho and Montana until 1957, when Union Pacific donated it to Utah and it was put on display at the state fairgrounds. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-6-07, from Salt Lake Tribune website report]

U.S. RAIL TRAFFIC DOWN IN JUNE: U.S. freight railroad carload traffic fell 2.7 percent in June 2007 compared with June 2006, while intermodal traffic fell 1.8 percent compared with the same month last year, the Association of American Railroads has reported. Overall, U.S. railroads originated 1,344,296 carloads of freight in June 2007, down 37,679 carloads (2.7 percent) from June 2006. U.S. railroads also originated 961,545 intermodal units in June 2007, a decrease of 17,956 trailers and containers (1.8 percent) from June 2006. [Assn. of American Railroads, 7-5-07]

CSX TO MOVE DISPATCHING POSITIONS FROM JACKSONVILLE: CSX Corp. plans to idle up to 300 local jobs as it shunts the majority of its train dispatch operations outside Florida. The Jacksonville work will, over the next two years, be moved to existing offices in Baltimore; Nashville; Huntington, W. Va.; Cincinnati; Florence, S.C.; and Atlanta. Once the transfer of work is completed in August 2009, the Jacksonville operation will employ about 54 train dispatchers. CSX has four dispatch centers, located in the Midwest and East Coast, responsible for routing trains along its tracks. Most dispatchers have been concentrated in Jacksonville since 1988. The relocation will improve the productivity and efficiency of train dispatching operations, CSX spokesman Gary Sease said. [United Transportation Union, 6-30-07, from Florida Times-Union report]

SIX UNIONS OK PACT WITH RAILROADS: Six of seven unions representing workers at major U.S. railroads have agreed to a contract that includes a 17 percent general wage increase over five years, labor groups said. The contract includes a cap on health-care contribution costs and at least a temporary halt to rail companies' efforts to reduce train crews to one person, union officials said. Negotiations on the contract concluded in May after more than two years of bargaining. The unions submitted the tentative agreement to their members for ratification, and final results were received June 25. The contract will remain effective until Dec. 31, 2009. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-26-07, from Omaha World-Herald website report]

GENESEE & WYOMING TO LIQUIDATE MEXICAN OPERATIONS: Railroad operator Genesee & Wyoming Inc. said it started liquidating its Mexican operations as the business was not financially viable without the reconstruction of hurricane-damaged Chiapas rail line. The company's unit expects to wind down operations and discontinue rail service over the next four weeks, apart from ending a 30-year concession from the Mexican government. The company expects charges of about $12-million, or 30 cents a share, in 2007, majority of which will be recorded in the second quarter. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-25-07, from Reuters report]

C.N. ORDERS 65 NEW LOCOMOTIVES: Canadian National Railway Company said it will acquire 65 new high-horsepower locomotives in 2007 and 2008, in addition to 65 locomotives already on order for delivery this year. CN's latest orders are for 40 ES44DC locomotives from GE Transportation Rail, a unit of General Electric Company, and 25 SD70M-2 locomotives from Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. [Canadian National, 6-21-07]

SWITZERLAND OPENS WORLD'S LONGEST RAIL TUNNEL: Switzerland opened the 21.5-mile Lotschberg Tunnel beneath the Alps, the world's longest railway land tunnel and part of the country's plan to shift freight traffic off the roads and speed up passenger transportation. It joins Frutigen near the capital, Bern, in the north with Raron in the Rhône Valley to the south, cutting travel time for trains crossing from Germany to Italy by about 90 minutes and bringing skiers to resorts like Zermatt more quickly. [United Transportation Union, 6-16-07, from Bloomberg News report]

N.J. TRANSIT TO BUY 45 MORE MULTILEVEL CARS: NJ Transit will buy 45 new multilevel rail cars rather than spend millions overhauling single-level cars that have been in service since 1990. The agency's board voted June 13 to exercise an option in a contract with Bombardier Transportation to buy the additional cars for $67.3-million. The order brings to 279 the number of multilevel cars Bombardier will deliver to NJ Transit by the middle of 2009. [United Transportation Union, 6-14-07, from Star-Ledger report]

AMTRAK TO ADD SECOND CASCADES TRAIN INTO B.C.: An agreement between Washington State, British Columbia, BNSF Railway Company and Amtrak to make infrastructure improvements will permit a second daily Amtrak Cascades train between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. The Province of British Columbia, Amtrak, and BNSF are funding the $7-million project. The new passenger rail service could begin operating in summer 2008. Construction is scheduled to begin next month. [Amtrak, 6-13-07]

N.S. PROPOSES $2-BILLION RAIL CORRIDOR: Norfolk Southern Corp. is proposing a $2-billion-plus rail corridor stretching from Louisiana to New Jersey to capture more cargo being moved by trucks on highways. The project, called the I-81 Crescent Corridor, would speed cargo shipments while reducing congestion on such highways as Interstate 81 in western Virginia, the railroad said. The plan involves upgrading and expanding existing rail lines to accommodate more, faster trains; purchasing new locomotives and railcars; and building new terminals in Maryland and Tennessee and improving others. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-7-07, from Virginian-Pilot website report]

CSX HIRING IN MARYLAND: CSX Transportation is recruiting 34 conductors in the Frederick County, Md., area, the Frederick News-Post reports. The employees are needed because of increased demand for rail freight transportation, CSX spokeswoman Meg Saks said. Brunswick's CSX location is 100 S. Maple Ave. [United Transportation Union, 6-6-07, from Frederick News-Post report]

TRUCK STRIKES TRAIN IN AUSTRALIA, 11 KILLED: At least 11 people were killed and dozens injured in Australia's worst rail crash in 30 years June 6 when a huge truck ploughed into a passenger train at a level crossing, police said. Witnesses reported the fully-laden truck slammed at high speed into the train, made up of an engine and three carriages, leaving 'a big gaping hole' in the side of one carriage and almost derailing the others. About 24 people were hurt, five seriously, when the semi-trailer cut the train in two as it crossed the Murray Valley Highway on its way to Melbourne, police said. A Victoria Police spokesman said the death toll rose to 11 after nightfall and could rise further as rescuers searched the wreckage of the train under floodlights for missing passengers on the manifest. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-5-07, from Thompson Financial report]

AMTRAK DEAL BRINGS BACK THE LUXURY OF TRAIN TRAVEL: In an attempt to increase ridership, Amtrak is reaching back to the luxurious train journeys of the past. Beginning this fall, travelers with an extra few days and money to spare will be able to climb aboard seven richly equipped vintage Pullman cars attached to Amtrak trains on three routes. The promotion is a test of a partnership between Amtrak and GrandLuxe Rail Journeys, an Evergreen, Colo., company formerly known as the American Orient Express. Both Amtrak and GrandLuxe expect to profit from the partnership by expanding their market reach, company officials said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-31-07, from Cox News Service report by Brittany Levine]

JOHN SYTSMA DIES, FORMER BLE PRESIDENT: John Frederick Sytsma, former international president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, died May 29. He was 85. Funeral services will be held in Salt Lake City June 2. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-31-07]

USDOT SELECTS CSX LINE 'TRANSPORTATION CORRIDOR OF THE FUTURE': The U.S. Department of Transportation recently chose CSX Transportation's I-95 corridor as one of 14 finalists for a 'Corridor of the Future' program. A component of the USDOT's transportation congestion reduction strategy formulated in May 2006, the program aims to identify key transportation corridors. The agency will select up to five Corridors of the Future in summer. CSXT has established a long-term plan to address increasing passenger and freight traffic on the 1,200-mile I-95 corridor between Washington, D.C., and Miami. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 5-31-07]

CHINA SUSPENDS MAGLEV PROJECT OVER RADIATION CONCERNS: China has suspended a planned magnetic levitation rail route linking Shanghai and Hangzhou, partly because of residents' concerns that the trains would emit radiation. Shanghai's talks with German suppliers, including Siemens, to extend the high-speed line to neighboring Hangzhou were already complicated by recent accidents involving maglev trains and by cost concerns. The project was designed to span 100 miles, and trains on the track would run at a maximum speed of about 280 miles per hour. [United Transportation Union, 5-27-07, from New York Times report]

AMTRAK TRAINS LOSING RAILFONES: Railfones will be removed from Amtrak trains that still have them effective June 1. The proliferation of personalized cell phones has rendered the service not cost effective.  Phone service on board trains could be found as early as the 1920's (by physically connecting a cord to the train at longer station stops), but it was the original Pennsylvania Railroad/Penn Central Metroliners of the 1960's that helped pioneer what we now know as cell phone technology. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-25-07]

BNSF GETS NEW-DESIGN BALLAST CARS: FreightCar America, Inc. has announced delivery of 162 electrically operated all-steel ballast cars to BNSF Railway from its railcar production facility in Johnstown, Pa. These are the first ballast cars BNSF has acquired in over 20 years. They have higher capacity at 110 tons and feature a new technology operating system for the discharge doors. The cars are designed with a new electric, solar-powered activation system, whereby ballast can be dumped remotely by radio control. [FreightCar America, 5-25-07]

G.E. UNVEILS FIRST HYBRID ROAD LOCOMOTIVE: GE has announced the debut of its one-of-a-kind hybrid road locomotive at its Ecomagination event in Los Angeles. GE's Evolution Hybrid locomotive will be unveiled May 24 at LA's historic Union Station to demonstrate the progress that GE's Transportation business is making in developing a freight hybrid locomotive that is capable of recycling thermal energy as stored power in on-board batteries. [GE, 5-23-07]

SPIRIT OF WASHINGTON DINNER TRAIN SEEKS NEW ROUTE: The popular Spirit of Washington Dinner Train's 15-year run between Renton and Woodinville's Columbia Winery must end July 31. A widening of Interstate 405 through Bellevue will sever the tracks by wiping out the Wilburton Tunnel, which carries southbound freeway traffic beneath the railway. Insiders are optimistic that ongoing talks between the Dinner Train operator and BNSF Railway will yield a new route between Woodinville and Snohomish. If all goes well, the train and its 100,000 yearly riders could be heading into the historic riverside city by fall. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-23-07, from Seattle Times website report]

METRO-NORTH STATION TO SERVE YANKEE STADIUM: MTA Metro-North Railroad and New York City are close to finalizing agreements for a new commuter-rail station to be built on the Hudson Line near Yankee Stadium. Scheduled to open in second-quarter 2009, the station will feature two 10-car island platforms with four staircases and two elevators that connect the platforms to a 10,000-square-foot covered mezzanine. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 5-22-07]

MASSACHUSETTS ADVANCES SOUTH COAST RAIL PROJECT: The state of Massachusetts is moving forward with plans to provide commuter-rail service between Boston and the state's south coast by 2016. The 18-month study, which will analyze employment opportunities and new housing potential along the line, will be conducted by a working group comprising representatives from the governor's administration, regional planning agencies and community groups. The study team will be co-chaired by Egan and Bob Mitchell, special assistant for planning initiatives for the Massachusetts Permit Regulatory Office. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 5-21-07]

AMTRAK RIDERSHIP UP: Amtrak's Fiscal year-to-date ridership is up 5 percent versus last year. President and CEO Alex Kummant said, "Amtrak has seen record ridership increases for each of the past three years, and these mid-year numbers suggest that they will continue." [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-18-07]

TOWER BEING BUILT FOR VIEW OF NEBRASKA RAIL YARD: Ground was broken May 17 for Nebraska's latest tourist attraction. There are lots of train enthusiasts eager for a bird's-eye view of North Platte's Bailey Yards from atop the $4.5-million Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center. [United Transportation Union, 5-17-07, from Omaha World-Herald report by Paul Hammel]

NORTHERN CENTRAL RAILROAD TRAIL DEDICATED TO ENVIRONMENTALIST: Torrey C. Brown, retired physician and one-time secretary to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, was honored on May 16 as the Northern Central Railroad Trail was dedicated in his honor. At ceremonies attended by about 150 people at a trail parking lot near Ashland, Dr. Brown was praised by John Griffin, current secretary of Natural Resources, and by others, for his role in spearheading the development of the 20-mile trail during his tenure with the department in the 1980's, and for his leadership in environmental issues. The trail, which uses the former roadbed of the one-time Northern Central Railway, connects Ashland with the Pennsylvania State Line where the trail continues northward as the Heritage Rail Trail to York, Pennsylvania.

TWO SEPTA TRAINS CRASH IN TUNNEL, 35 HURT: Two SEPTA Regional Rail trains crashed during last night's [May 14, 2007] rush hour in the tunnel shortly after leaving Market East Station, resulting in dozens of people reporting injuries and delays in train service. "There were approximately 35 minor injuries," said SEPTA spokesman Gary Fairfax. After the crash, SEPTA ordered the trains to continue to the next stop - Temple University Station, near Berks and Ninth Streets in North Philadelphia - so the injured would be closer to medical care and the passengers would not have to evacuate the trains in the tunnel, Fairfax said. Both northbound trains were on the same track. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-15-07, from Philadelphia Inquirer website report]

SIX KILLED IN CROSSING ACCIDENT IN CALIFORNIA: An Amtrak train collided with a compact sports utility vehicle May 8 near Modesto, killing a woman and all five children inside the car. None of the 70 passengers or crew members aboard the Oakland-bound train was injured. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-8-07, from Associated Press report]

FORTRESS INVESTMENT GROUP AGREES TO BUY FLORIDA EAST COAST: Fortress Investment Group LLC, the first U.S. manager of private equity and hedge funds to go public, agreed to buy real estate developer and railroad operator Florida East Coast Industries Inc. for $3.5-billion. The $84-a-share offer represents a 13 percent premium over yesterday's [May 7] $74.13 closing price for Florida East Coast, the company said. Investors pushed up the shares to one percent more than the proposal from Fortress, suggesting another bidder may emerge. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-8-07, from Bloomberg News report]

USED RAIL COACHES RELIEVE CROWDING IN CONNECTICUT: The Connecticut Department of Transportation says it is repairing used rail cars from Virginia for use on Metro-North Railroad and Shore Line East Commuter Rail, but it is still short of adding the 2,000 seats promised for the New Haven Line. The state agreed to purchase 33 used rail cars from Virginia Railway Express three years ago as part of an initiative to add seats to the overcrowded New Haven Line before new rail cars arrive in 2009. [United Transportation Union, 5-7-07, from Stamford Advocate report]

PATRIOT RAIL CORP. BUYS MONTANA SHORT LINE: Patriot Rail Corp., a freight railroad holding company, has announced the purchase of Rarus Railway Corp., a short line railroad headquartered in Anaconda, Mont.. Rarus provides freight service over 26 miles of main line track between Anaconda and Butte, Mont. In addition, it operates 40 miles of rail line located in four switching yards and numerous passing sidings along the route. The acquisition includes the Copper King Express, a popular excursion train that last year carried approximately 10,000 round-trip passengers between Anaconda and Butte. [Patriot Rail Corp., 5-1-07]

U.P., N.S. TO IMPROVE EASTBOUND TRANSCON SERVICE: Union Pacific Railroad and Norfolk Southern Railway will significantly improve eastbound domestic transcontinental service from Los Angeles to the Southeast on May 21, 2007. This new route, combining Union Pacific's Sunset Route between Los Angeles and Texas with Norfolk Southern's and Kansas City Southern's joint venture line between Shreveport and Meridian, Miss., is nearly 150 miles shorter than the current route, making it the shortest, fastest and most reliable intermodal route between Los Angeles and the Southeast. [Joint NS/UP press release, 4-30-07]

R.R. MUSEUM IN MEDINA, N.Y., GETS PAIR OF E-8 LOCOMOTIVES: A pair of E-8 Heritage locomotives are coming to the Medina Railroad Museum, having been retired from their posts on the Central route. The machines will be unveiled April 29 in nearby Lockport, Niagara County, before moving to the museum in June. The locomotives have their original numbers - 4068 and 4080 - and original paint schemes, said railroad museum president Jim Dickinson. The E-8 locomotives have not run for two or three years and need some sprucing up, Dickinson said. [United Transportation Union, 4-29-07, from Rochester Democrat & Chronicle report]

NEW LUXURY TRAIN ON TRANS-SIBERIAN ROUTE: The 5,800-mile Trans-Siberian Railway, from Moscow to Vladivostok, is about to have a new train on its tracks. On May 6, 2007, the Golden Eagle, a luxury private train with 21 cars, including two restaurants and a bar car, will make its inaugural 14-night journey on that route. The gold-class fare on the Golden Eagle is $11,995 a person, double occupancy, each way, while silver class is $9,995 a person, double. Fares include meals on board and excursions in Kazan, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal and Khabarovsk, among other stops. [United Transportation Union, 4-29-07, from New York Times report by Jennifer Conlin]

SEPTA TO BUY 16 ADDITIONAL SILVERLINERS: At its regular monthly board meeting April 26 the SEPTA Board approved a staff proposal to add an additional 16 Silverliner V regional rail cars to its initial purchase of 104. An option for the purchase of the additional cars was included in the original contract with United Transit Systems, LLC (a Consortium of Sojitz Corporation of America and Rotem Company) for the purchase of the railroad cars which was initially approved by the Board in March 2006. [SEPTA. 4-26-07]

N.S. REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern Corp. said April 25 its first-quarter profit fell seven percent, despite the railroad's efforts to trim operating costs with fewer automakers and home builders shipping parts and building materials. Quarterly earnings dropped to $285-million or 71 cents per share in the quarter ending March 31, from $305-million or 72 cents per share during the same period last year. Revenue declined two percent to $2.25-billion from $2.3-billion. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-25-07, from Associated Press report]

BNSF REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation has reported quarterly earnings of $0.96 per diluted share, which included a $0.14 charge for additional environmental expenses and a technology system write-off, compared with first-quarter 2006 earnings of $1.09 per diluted share, which included a $0.04 per share line sale gain, according to this release issued by the company. [BNSF, 4-24-07]

N.S. TO PURCHASE FUEL-EFFICIENT YARD ENGINES: Railpower Technologies Corp., has announced that Norfolk Southern Railway purchased two Railpower RP-series multi-engine, low-emission, fuel-efficient kits to build yard locomotives, for delivery in 2007. The purchase order includes an option for Norfolk Southern to purchase additional units in the future. [Railpower Technologies, 4-20-07]

U.P. PROFITS UP IN 1ST QUARTER: Union Pacific Corp. has reported a 24 percent jump in net income in its first quarter, driven by improved pricing and increased efficiency. Net income for the three months ended March 31 was $386-million or $1.41 per share, compared with $311-million or $1.15 per share in the same quarter last year. The results beat projections the Omaha-based railroad made in January, when it forecast first-quarter earnings per share of $1.25 to $1.35. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-19-07, from Omaha World-Herald website report]

RAILAMERICA REORGANIZES WITH FIVE OPERATING REGIONS: RailAmerica Inc. continues to make operational and personnel changes since Fortess Investment Group L.L.C. acquired the firm in February. The owner of 42 regionals and short lines in the United States and Canada announced plans to reorganize from three business units into five operating regions led by regional vice presidents. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 4-19-07]

CSX REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corporation has reported first quarter 2007 earnings of $240-million or 52 cents per share, including insurance recoveries of $18-million or 2 cents per share. Last year the company reported first quarter earnings of $245-million or 53 cents per share. [CSX, 4-17-07]

CSX GETS OK TO BUILD INTERMODAL YARD IN PENNSYLVANIA: CSX has a green light in Guilford Township, Pa., to begin constructing a rail-truck yard expected to add about $1-billion to the regional economy within 10 years, the Chambersburg Public Opinion reports. Guilford Township Supervisors approved final plans for a 114-acre yard where tractor-trailer-sized containers will be unloaded from trains onto trucks. The yard initially will employ 35 people, but by 2017 will be responsible for 1,500 to 5,000 additional jobs along the Interstate 81 corridor. [United Transportation Union, 4-10-07, from Chambersburg Public Opinion report]

WARREN BUFFETT'S FIRM ACQUIRES 10.9 PERCENT STAKE IN BNSF: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. bought a 10.9 percent stake in Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. to become its largest shareholder at a time when rail stocks were hovering close to their all-time highs. Berkshire had accumulated 39 million shares of the second-largest U.S. railroad as of April 5, paying between $81.18 and $81.80 for the final 1.6 million, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-9-07, from Bloomberg News report]

FRENCH TRAIN REACHES 357 MPH IN TEST RUN: A double-decker train raced through the French countryside at a record 357 mph April 3. Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, said she was the only American on board when a train operated by the French high-speed rail system surpassed the previous mark for conventional rail of 320.2 mph, which was set in 1990 by another French train. A magnetically levitated Japanese train holds the ultimate speed record of 361 mph. [United Transportation Union, 4-4-07, from Associated Press report]

RICHARD SARLES NAMED N.J. TRANSIT DIRECTOR: The board of New Jersey Transit has named as its new executive director an employee who has shepherded a massive $7.5-billion tunnel the state is building with New York. Richard Sarles, 62, has worked at the transit agency for five years overseeing all capital programs. Sarles takes over for George D. Warrington, who left last month after five years in the job. [United Transportation Union, 4-2-07, from Associated Press report]

CN RAIL SEES 1ST-Q PROFIT DECLINE: Canadian National Railway Co. said on March 29 it expects its first-quarter profit to decline five to 10 percent from year-earlier results because of bad weather and a strike. CN said it expects diluted earnings to fall five to 10 percent below the 2006 first-quarter figure of 66 Canadian cents a share. Severe weather and landslides in western Canada, and a strike by train conductors in February have hampered the railway's plans to get operations back on track, it said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-29-07, from Reuters report]

FRA FINDS VIOLATIONS BY CSX: Federal railroad officials said March 27, 2007, that an investigation found more than 3,500 problems with CSX railroad properties in 23 states, a probe started in response to a series of accidents involving the company's trains. The Federal Railroad Administration's inspection, conducted over four days in January after a derailment on Jan 16 in East Rochester, N.Y., recommended that CSX be fined for 199 violations, including failure to replace defective rails, failure to make repairs and improper handling of hazardous materials. Joseph Boardman, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, said in a prepared statement that CSX "is still not doing enough to make safety a top priority." The agency's inspectors, he said, "identified problems in every area of the company's safety performance, including track, hazardous materials and on-track equipment." CSX, in a prepared statement, said it would "continue to work closely and promptly" with federal railroad officials to solve the issues identified. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-28-07, from Associated Press report]

END OF LINE FOR RAIL TOWER: The structure called the Elvas Tower in Sacramento is no longer needed, having been replaced by computers. Plans to move the little tower, which in its heyday was manned 24 hours a day, never materialized. A Union Pacific spokesman said he did not know when the shell of the building would be torn down. MORE... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-26-07, from Sacramento Bee report]

BROKEN RAIL MAY HAVE CAUSED ONEIDA EXPLOSION: Federal investigators have discovered possible internal defects in a section of broken rail where a freight train left the tracks and several tank cars exploded in Oneida March 12. The National Transportation Safety Board found "pieces of rail at the accident site that were broken ... and showed signs of internal defects near the point of derailment," according to an NTSB memo written March 22. [United Transportation Union, 3-25-07, from Post-Standard report by Mark Weiner]

1ST GENERATION JAPANESE BULLET TRAINS RETIRING: When they first appeared they promised to rocket Japan into the future, but now the first generation of Shinkansen bullet trains is set to retire. The 0 series, the world's first commercial train that clocked a speed of more than 200 kph, earned the moniker, "dream super express." JR West, which will introduce the latest-generation N700 series in July, plans to draw the curtain on the aging 0 series cars. [United Transportation Union, 3-21-07, from Asahi Shimbun report by Tetsuji Hamada]

CREW ERROR BLAMED IN 2005 MISSISSIPPI HEAD-ON COLLISION: By failing to stop at a signal, a northbound CN train may have caused the fatal, head-on collision with another CN freight train traveling south near Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 2005, according to documents in a federal investigation. That crash in Anding on July 10, 2005, killed four crew members who were operating the trains and touched off a massive fire fueled by 24,000 gallons of spilled diesel. About 50 residents were evacuated from Anding as a precaution. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-21-07, from Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger website report]

N.S. TO ENLARGE TUNNELS ON HEARTLAND CORRIDOR: Norfolk Southern Railroad officials are working on a major project that will enlarge train tunnels along the Heartland Corridor. Joe Maynard, assistant superintendent of Norfolk Southern's Pocahontas Division, and Jim Carter, chief engineer of bridges and construction for the railroad company, explained the project. Carter explained that tunnels from Walton, Va., to Columbus, Ohio, will be enlarged to accommodate the need for double stack clearance. He explained that cargo trains are now stacking cars two-high and the existing tunnels must be altered to allow passage by the trains. [United Transportion Union, 3-21-07, from Appalachian News-Express report by Leigh Ann Wells]

LORAM BUYS TANGENT RAIL-GRINDING DIVISION: Pittsburgh-based Tangent Rail Corp. announced that it has sold its rail grinding division to Loram Maintenance of Way, Inc., of Hamel, Minnesota. Loram acquired Tangent Rail's rail grinding fleet and hired most of the personnel associated with its operation, said an announcement. Tangent Rail said it would now focus on its core business of supplying the railroad industry with treated wood products and preservatives, switching and track maintenance services, and tie pickup and disposal. [RailwayAge.com, 3-21-07]

FEDERAL AGENCY TO INSPECT CSX TRACKS IN UPSTATE N.Y.: The Federal Railroad Administration said March 19, 2007, that it was speeding up inspection of 1,300 miles of track in New York operated by CSX Transportation after several derailments upstate in recent months. The agency, which enforces rail safety regulations nationwide, took the step less than a week after a CSX train with several cars carrying liquid propane derailed in Oneida and burst into flames, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents and the closing of a stretch of the New York Thruway. After tracks in New York are examined, the agency will inspect the rest of the 21,000 miles of track that CSX operates in 23 states around the country, as well as networks operated by other freight rail companies. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-20-07, from New York Times website report by Ken Belson]

KCS INTRODUCES NEW LOCOMOTIVE PAINT SCHEME: KCSM 4650, the first locomotive to be painted with the Kansas City Southern's new, heritage paint scheme, made an appearance at an event on March 16 in San Luis Potosi. The new locomotive's presence at the event accentuated the company's commitment to investing in Mexico, while illustrating KCS and its subsidiaries' bright future and reverence for its rich and colorful history. A formal unveiling event and photo opportunity will take place in Kansas City in April. As part of an aggressive capital investment program in the U.S. and Mexico, the KCS subsidiaries have committed to purchase 30 Electro Motive Diesel SD70ACe locomotives and 30 General Electric Transportation System (GETS) ES44AC locomotives. The first 30 ES44ACs were delivered to Kansas City Southern de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V. (KCSM) in primer in December 2006 and January 2007. KCS' subsidiaries have signed letters of intent to purchase an additional 70 locomotives from Electro Motive Diesel and an additional 80 locomotives from GETS, all of which would receive the heritage paint scheme. [Kansas City Southern, 3-20-07]

BLET, CSXT REACH TENTATIVE 'SINGLE-SYSTEM' AGREEMENT: The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and CSX Transportation reached a tentative on-property, single system agreement in late February 2007. Contract information and ballots were mailed to more than 5,500 BLET members on February 28, and tabulation of the ballots will begin after the April 15 due date. It is called a single system agreement because it would unify work rules and pay across three of the four BLET general committees at CSX. BLET President Hahs said the time-consuming negotiating process took more than two years to complete. BLET negotiators opted for a Performance Bonus Program instead of traditional general wage increases. While engineers will receive a 3 percent wage increase and a $2,500 signing bonus, future pay increases are tied to company performance. If CSX Corp. reaches its financial goals, then engineers will receive a 6 percent bonus of their 2007 earnings, an 8 percent bonus of their 2008 earnings, and a 10 percent bonus of their 2009 earnings. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-14-07]

CSX FREIGHT TRAIN DERAILS, EXPLODES IN N.Y. STATE: A CSX freight train carrying liquid propane derailed March 12, 2007, in a rural section of central New York State, and the accident was accompanied by a thunderous explosion and a fierce fire that forced the evacuation of homes, schools and a jail in the area, halted passenger train service and temporarily shut a section of the New York State Thruway. There were no deaths or injuries as a result of the explosion in Oneida shortly after 7 a.m., State Police said, and the conductor and an engineer both walked away. More than 25 of the 79 rail cars derailed as the train, traveling from Buffalo to Selkirk, just south of Albany, reached the northern edge of Oneida, about halfway between Syracuse and Utica. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-13-07, from New York Times website report]

RAIL INTERMODAL TRAFFIC UP IN FEBRUARY 2007: U.S. railroads originated 924,904 units of intermodal traffic in February, a 4.1 percent increase over February 2006, reversing an early-year trend. But carload freight was down 4.2 percent to 1,261,167 cars. For the first two months of 2007, intermodal was up 0.9 percent and carload freight down 5.6 percent. Weather continued to be a factor. "The U.S. freight railroad 'factory floor' is outdoors and about 141,000 miles long, and during February a lot of those miles were under snow and ice," said AAR Vice President Craig F. Rockey. [RailwayAge.com, 3-12-07]

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EXPANDS ON BNSF: Economic development efforts of BNSF people were instrumental in the location of 107 new or expanded facilities during 2006 in the areas served by the railway. These facilities involved investments of $1 billion and the creation of about 4,000 jobs. From 2004 through 2006, BNSF's economic development efforts resulted in $3.54 billion in facility investments and created 14,300 jobs. The facilities last year included ethanol plants in California and Minnesota; produce distribution centers in California, Illinois, Kansas and Texas; and lumber yards in California, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington. Other companies located along BNSF lines in 2006 included facilities for building products, fertilizers, plastics and aggregates. [BNSF Today, 3-12-07]

CSX HIRING WORKERS IN MARYLAND: With a significant proportion of its work force approaching retirement age, CSX Transportation has announced it will hire 60 new conductors for its Baltimore division, which encompasses Maryland and parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania. CSX is hiring to keep up with attrition rates and to keep up with the increased demand for freight traffic. A conductor is considered an entry-level job where workers receive hands-on training and learn the rules and regulations of railroad freight transportation. [United Transportation Union, 3-9-07, from Associated Press report]

U.P. ENGINE STRIKES METRA TRAIN: Metra was forced to cancel a train scheduled to head into Chicago the morning of March 8 after seven people suffered minor injuries when a freight train engine backed into a passenger train just south of downtown. The collision occurred about 9:50 p.m. in the 1800 block of South Canal Street, shortly after Metra Southwest Service train No. 839 left Union Station. A Union Pacific engineer was backing a tandem engine through the switching yard when his engine struck the front of the Metra train, which was carrying about 55 passengers, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said. "The impact derailed the freight engine and the front passenger car of the Metra train," but neither car tipped over," Langford said. The Metra train was standing on the tracks at the time of the collision, he said. The freight engineer and six Metra passengers were taken to area hospitals with minor bumps and bruises, Langford said. Firefighters and police were on hand to help the remaining passengers off the train. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-8-07, from Chicago Tribune website report]

UNIONS PUSH 6-POINT AMTRAK PLAN: The AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, working with the UTU and other federation-member unions, have developed a six-point Amtrak reform plan to address chronic under-funding, unmet safety and security needs, a history of poor management decisions, and a rogue board of directors. Other nations around the world invest billions in passenger rail because they know that a robust economy is dependent on a strong transportation system and infrastructure. Meanwhile, Amtrak juggles deferred maintenance, unmet security needs, outdated cars and equipment, and fails to compensate its employees fairly. Highlights of the plan include: (1) Congress must pass a long-term authorization bill that provides at least $2-billion per year, to be fully funded by appropriators. (2) Labor/ management relations must be reformed. (3) A new Amtrak board of directors should be created with members ­ including a voice for employees ­ who actually believe in maintaining and strengthening a national Amtrak system. (4) After 30 years of under-funding, Amtrak has taken on substantial debt that should be paid down with federal assistance. (5) The way Amtrak security costs are paid must be reformed. Specific expenses associated with the defense against terrorism should be borne by the Department of Homeland Security. (6) To ensure independent oversight, the Inspector General of Amtrak should be separated from the company. It should not work as an extension of Amtrak management as it does today. [United Transportation Union, 3-7-07]

UNION PACIFIC, BNSF GET TEXAS GRANTS: Freight railroads Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. have been awarded more than one-fourth of all the dollars granted from a state fund to pay for improving the Texas environment. Union Pacific was awarded $94.6-million and Burlington Northern was awarded $39.6-million through Jan.26, according to information from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Both railroads got grants to buy locomotives that produce significantly less diesel exhaust and nitrogen oxide emissions than older models. BNSF officials say they ordered 14 low-emission locomotives, and the state fund will pay 80 percent of the cost. The company plans to buy another 50 locomotives beginning later this year, for which the fund will pay half the cost, officials say. Other railroads also received money from the fund. But Union Pacific and Burlington Northern accounted for the bulk of the fund's $155.3 million in grants for locomotives. [United Transportation Union, 3-6-07, from KLTV website report]

E.P.A. PROPOSES RULE TO REDUCE LOCOMOTIVE EMISSIONS: On March 2 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule aimed at significantly reducing air emissions from locomotive and marine diesel engines. The Clean Air Locomotive and Marine Diesel Rule would set stringent emission standards and require the use of advanced technologies to reduce air pollutants - as much as 90 percent of particulate matter and 80 percent of nitrogen oxides emissions. For line-haul and passenger locomotive engines, the rule would tighten emission standards when locomotives are remanufactured, and set long-term regulations requiring the use of emission-reducing technologies and provisions to reduce locomotive idling. [ProgressiveRalroading.com, 3-5-07]

RAILROADS, SEVEN UNIONS REACH LABOR ACCORD: U.S. railroads reached a tentative agreement on wages and benefits Febr.28 with seven unions representing 66,000 workers, the National Carriers Conference Committee said. The accord with the unions' Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition is the first agreement in talks that began in November 2004, the railroad group said. Details weren't released. More than 30 railroads are bargaining with 13 rail unions over wages and benefits, the carriers' committee said. The committee is an arm of the National Railway Labor Conference and is made up of labor relations officers for carriers such as Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. and CSX Corp. The agreement may set a pattern for resolving negotiations with the remaining unions, including the United Transportation Union, which has called for re-regulation of the rail industry. Federal regulation of the railroads was partly lifted in 1980. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-1-07, from Bloomberg News report]

PHILADELPHIA EL TURNS 100: The Market Street subway-elevated line turns 100 years old on March 4, 2007. The birth of the Market Street Line, which allowed passengers to travel easily from 69th Street to the Delaware River, linked Center City to burgeoning new development in West Philadelphia. And it helped spawn more growth west of the Schuylkill. Philadelphia's oldest high-speed line - which has since grown into the Market-Frankford Subway-Elevated - emerged at the dawn of intraurban rail travel, coming just a decade after the last horse-drawn car finally left the streets. New York, Chicago and Boston already had built elevated rail lines to whisk riders above congested streets, and Philadelphia had been contemplating one since the 1890s. Just over six miles long, the route had 18 stations, and it cost the city $18-million to build. The line was operated by the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Co., which had just taken over the myriad trolley companies operating in the city and nearby suburbs. [United Transportation Union, 3-1-07, from Philadelphia Inquirer report by Paul Nussbaum]

U.S. DENIES DM&E LOAN FOR POWDER RIVER PROJECT: The U.S. government denied a $2.3-billion loan to the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern (DM&E) freight railroad Febr.26, saying it posed an unacceptably high risk to taxpayers. The railroad hoped to combine the low interest federal loan with private financing for a $6-billion project to extend its operations to the coal fields of Wyoming's Powder River Basin. Joseph Boardman, the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, said the funding proposal met some of the government's criteria for approval but there remained too many questions about the company's ability to repay such a huge loan. Boardman is concerned about the railroad's "highly leveraged financial position," the size of the loan, and the possibility that the company would not be able to generate enough revenue to pay off the debt. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-26-07, from Reuters report]

ROUTE CHOSEN FOR RAIL RUNNER EXTENSION TO SANTA FE: New Mexico Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught has announced the Interstate 25 median as the preferred route for the Rail Runner Express commuter-rail line's second phase. Scheduled to open at 2008's end, the 50-mile line will extend from Bernalillo to Santa Fe. The I-25 median was selected over another proposal to build the line along the east side of the interstate because the median route will have the least impact on communities while serving the most residents, according to a prepared statement. The New Mexico Mid-Region Council of Governments currently operates Rail Runner service between Bernalillo and Belen. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 2-23-07]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN UNVEILS NEW COAL CARS: FreightCar America formally launched a first-of-its-kind railcar and the production line that builds it Febr.20 in Roanoke, as city officials talked about the economic effect the company delivers. John Carroll, FreightCar's president, said the company will build "the first hybrid coal car ever made," delivering 1,200 of them to Norfolk Southern this year. The cars combine conventional steel, stainless steel and aluminum to produce a vehicle than can hold more coal than the fleet NS is replacing. The cars were developed by NS and FreightCar so they can be heated to thaw frozen coal before it's dumped at the railroad's pier in Norfolk. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-21-07, from Roanoke Times website report by Ray Reed]

ATLANTIC CITY CASINOS BACK NEW TRAIN SERVICE: New Jersey's gambling center will soon be more easily accessible by rail. The two and 1/2 -hour express train service from New York to Atlantic City, scheduled to begin late this year or in early 2008, has no planned stops in the Garden State until it arrives at its final destination. Details are being finalized for the new service, dubbed "ACES" for Atlantic City Express Service. But in the current scenario, the trains would run nonstop on the Northeast Corridor tracks from New York to just north of Philadelphia, then head east and continue nonstop to Atlantic City. Four trains would leave Saturdays from each destination and three would depart Atlantic City on Sundays. [United Transportation Union, 2-20-07, from Baltimore Sun report]

TEST TRAIN IN FRANCE REACHES 334 MPH: France's high-speed train, the TGV, broke its own record in a test this week in which it reached 334 miles an hour, the newspaper Le Parisien reported. The test, before an official attempt to set a new rail record scheduled for April, was run on a stretch of line connecting Paris and Strasbourg. The previous record, set in 1990, was 320 m.p.h. The average speed for passenger-carrying TGVs is 186 m.p.h. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-15-07, from Agenc France-Presse report]

NTSB CHAIR ASKS CONGRESS TO GIVE FRA HOURS OF SERVICE AUTHORITY: National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark V. Rosenker has asked Congress to give the Federal Railroad Administration the statutory authority to revise hours of service rules for railroad workers, noting that current rules are not based on science related to fatigue. Testifying before the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials of the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Chairman Rosenker said that over the past 23 years the NTSB has investigated 16 major railroad accidents in which it established that the probable cause was crewmember fatigue. Operator fatigue has been on the Board's Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements since 1990. [National Transportation Safety Board, 2-14-07]

CSX INCREASES ITS QUARTERLY DIVIDEND: Railroad operator CSX Corp. has announced it boosted its quarterly dividend by 20 percent to 12 cents. The company will pay the dividend on March 15 to shareholders of record March 1. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-14-07, from Associated Press report]

FORTRESS INVESTMENT GROUP ACQUIRES RAILAMERICA: RailAmerica, Inc. and Fortress Investment Group LLC have announced the completion of the merger in which RailAmerica has been acquired by certain private equity funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group LLC. Under the terms of the agreement, RailAmerica shareholders are entitled to receive $16.35 in cash for each share of RailAmerica common stock held. RailAmerica will apply to delist its shares from trading on the New York Stock Exchange and will file a notice of termination of registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Fortress Investment Group LLC (NYSE: FIG) is a leading global alternative asset manager with over $30-billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2006. Fortress raises, invests and manages private equity funds, hedge funds and publicly traded alternative investment vehicles. Fortress was founded in 1998. [RailAmerica and Fortress Investment Group joint release, 2-14-07]

RICHARD KILROY DIES, FORMER TCU PRESIDENT: Richard Ignatius Kilroy Sr., international president of Transportation Communications International Union from 1981 to 1991, died of congestive heart failure at home on February 10. He was 79. Kilroy was born in Texas, Maryland. He served in the U.S. Army from 1945-48, then in 1951 he was hired as a block operator for the Pennsylvania Railroad in Baltimore. There, as a member of the Order of Telegraphers, his commitment to the labor movement and to championing the causes of working Americans took root. He became local chairman of his lodge in 1956 and was elected to progressively more responsible offices including, in 1967, general chairman of ORT Pennsylvania System Division 17. He was elected in 1964 as a member of the union's Board of Directors and in 1968 he became a vice president of the union. Following the death of International President Fred J. Kroll in 1981, Kilroy was elected the TCU's president where he served in the union's top leadership post for a decade. [TCU, 2-10-07]

CSX TO DOUBLE CAPACITY OF CHARLOTTE TERMINAL: CSX Intermodal plans to invest almost $8-million on an expansion that will double the capacity of its terminal in Charlotte, N.C. The expansion will include an extra 10,000 feet of track within the terminal, additional loading and unloading equipment, expanded parking for trailers and improvements to the rail route into Charlotte. The expansion will increase the annual capacity at the terminal from 80,000 to 160,000 lifts, which is the movement of a container on to or off of a train. CSXI has terminal expansions planned or underway in Buffalo, N.Y., Tampa and Chicago, and a new facility scheduled to open in Pennsylvania in September. [United Transportation Union, 2-8-07, from Jacksonville Business Journal report]

L.A. METRO GOLD LINE EXTENSION GETS FUNDING: President Bush's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2008 includes funding for key transportation projects in Los Angeles County, including the Metro Gold Line Light Rail Extension and new Metro Rapid lines. The new budget calls for $80-million for the continued construction of the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension from downtown Los Angeles to East Los Angeles. The six-mile extension has eight planned stops before it reaches the heavily transit-dependent area of East L.A. and is scheduled to open in late 2009. The funding is consistent with the funding outlined in that project's Full Funding Grant Agreement. [Los Angeles Metro, 2-7-07]

K.C.S. REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: U.S. railroad Kansas City Southern said that its quarterly net profit rose sharply, beating estimates, as revenues climbed 14 percent on transportation of coal, chemical and petroleum products. The company reported fourth-quarter net income available to common shareholders of $35.7-million or 41 cents a share compared with $2.3-million or three cents a share a year earlier. Revenues rose 14 percent to $442.4-million on higher volumes and strong pricing. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-6-07, from Reuters report]

BOMBARDIER WINS $1.6-BILLION GERMAN ORDER: The German Railway (Deutsche Bahn) has selected Berin-based Bombardier Transportation to supply a fleet of 321 two-car regional diesel multiple-unit trains of the TALENT family at an estimated cost of $1.6-billion. The new trains, designated TALENT 2, will be developed and manufactured at Bombardier sites in Germany for delivery starting in 2009. [RailwayAge.com, 2-5-07]

COAST STARLIGHT DERAILS, NOBODY HURT: The Amtrak Coast Starlight heading north to Seattle Friday night [Febr.2] was moving to a siding at Atascadero, California, to allow southbound Amtrak train No. 11 to pass, said Cliff Cole, an Amtrak spokesman. That's when the northbound train had a mechanical problem and derailed. None of the 134 passengers on the Coast Starlight or the 95 passengers on train No. 11 were hurt. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-3-07, from San Luis Obispo Tribune website report]

PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF TO DESIGN NORFOLK LIGHT-RAIL LINE: Hampton Roads Transit recently contracted Parsons Brinckerhoff to serve as general engineering consultant for a new light-rail system in Norfolk, Va. Parsons Brinckerhoff will manage planning and design, and the environmental and permitting processes for the 7.4-mile, double-tracked line. Featuring 11 stations, the line will connect Eastern Virginia Medical Center, Tidewater Community College, City Hall, Harbor Park Baseball Stadium and Norfolk State University. Light-rail vehicles will operate over 2.8 miles of new embedded track in Norfolk's central business district and 4.6 miles of former Norfolk Southern Railway right of way. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer; revenue service is projected to begin in 2010. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 1-31-07]

UNION PACIFIC NAMES JAMES YOUNG AS NEW CHAIRMAN: Union Pacific Corp., the country's biggest railroad operator, said Jan.30 it elected President and Chief Executive James R. Young as chairman, effective Febr.1. Current Chairman Dick Davidson is retiring effective Jan.31, the company said. Young has served as president and chief executive since Jan. 1, 2006. He has served as president and chief operating officer of Union Pacific Railroad since 2004. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-30-07, from Associated Press report]

UNION PACIFIC RAISES DIVIDEND 17 PERCENT: Union Pacific Corp., the nation's largest railroad operator, said Jan.30 its board of directors approved a 17 percent increase in the company's quarterly dividend. The company said it will pay a dividend of 35 cents per share April 2 to stockholders of record Feb. 28. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-30-07, from Associated Press report]

PASSENGERS ATOP TRAIN IN PAKISTAN STRIKE POWER LINE, 11 DIE: Dozens of people sitting on the roof of a crowded passenger train were hit by an overhead power line Sunday (Jan. 28) in southern Pakistan. Up to 11 people were killed and scores injured. The victims were either electrocuted or tossed from the moving train after they hit the high-voltage line, said Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Pakistan's railway minister. [United Transportation Union, 1-29-07, from Chicago Tribune report]

DUFFIELDS, W.VA., TRAIN STATION BOUGHT BY GROUP: A Duffields, W. Va., nonprofit organization recently acquired the rights to the second oldest surviving train station in the United States, with the hope of turning it into a museum. Duffields Station Inc. finalized the sale on Jan.19, after securing the station's purchase with the help of Arcadia Building Co. The station was purchased from the previous owners for $25,000, and then it was donated by Don Miller of Arcadia to the Duffields nonprofit agency. Jack Snyder, president of Duffields Station Inc., and others interested in railroads, particularly those interested in Duffields Station, formed the nonprofit group in July 2003 with the purpose of purchasing the station and converting it into a museum. Snyder said railroad technology was vital to America when Duffields Station was constructed in 1839. Union troops of the 10th Maine unit were garrisoned at Duffields as early as February 1862. This garrison was assigned to the station because it was an important resupply point for Union forces, Snyder said. [United Transportation Union, 1-25-07, from Martinsburg Journal report]

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific Corporation today reported 2006 fourth quarter net income of $485-million, or $1.78 per diluted share, compared to $296-million, or $1.10 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2005. "Our key accomplishments for the fourth quarter were the nearly six-point improvement in operating ratio and best-ever operating income," said Jim Young, President and Chief Executive Officer. [Union Pacific, 1-25-07]

N.J. TRANSIT'S UPPER MONTCLAIR STATION TO BE REBUILT: Nearly one year after a two-alarm fire blazed through the historic Upper Montclair Train Station, its future has been unveiled. NJ Transit and the Montclair municipal government announced this week that they are advancing plans to rebuild the structure with a design inspired by its former historic style. NJ Transit leases the station to Montclair, which then subleases it out, most recently to the Round Trip Fare Restaurant, which occupied the facility when the fire occurred. The train station, constructed in 1892, was placed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places in March 1984. Three months later, the station was included in the National Register of Historic Places. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-24-07, from Montclair Times website report]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern Corporation reported Jan.24 record fourth-quarter 2006 net income of $385-million, an increase of six percent compared with $362-million for fourth-quarter 2005. Earnings per diluted share were a record $0.95, up nine percent compared with the $0.87 per diluted share earned in the fourth quarter of 2005. [Norfolk Southern, 1-24-07]

BNSF REPORTS RECORD EARNINGS: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation has reported record quarterly earnings of $1.42 per diluted share, a 26-percent increase over fourth-quarter 2005 earnings of $1.13 per diluted share. Fourth-quarter 2006 freight revenues increased $323-million or 9 percent, to $3.77-billion compared with $3.45-billion in the prior year. Revenue for the fourth quarter of 2006 included fuel surcharges of approximately $450-million compared with approximately $400-million for the fourth quarter of 2005. [BNSF, 1-23-07]

BNSF ANNOUNCES 2007 CAPITAL COMMITMENT PROGRAM: BNSF announced Jan.23 its planned $2.75-billion capital commitment program for 2007. BNSF anticipates investing more than $750-million in track and facilities to expand capacity - for customers in coal, agricultural products, industrial products and intermodal - to meet unprecedented demand for consistent freight rail service. Matt Rose, BNSF chairman, president and chief executive officer, pointed out that, "We are able to sustain increases in our capital commitment program to meet both the current demand for freight rail transportation as well as forecasted future volume growth because of continuous improvement in our returns." [BNSF Today, 1-23-07]

TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY TAKES CONTROL OF RENSSELAER, N.Y., TRAIN STATION: A little over four years after opening the $53.1-million Rensselaer Rail Station, the Capital District Transportation Authority has taken direct command of station management and completed a round of station improvements worth more than $320,000. Recent upgrades include canopies over the station entrances, where temporary scaffolding and plywood structures temporarily protected patrons from ice and snow that slid from the roof in winter; more durable tile flooring to replace carpeting in waiting areas inside the building; and additional lighting. [United Transportation Union, 1-23-07, from Albany Times-Union report by Cathy Woodruff]

UNION PACIFIC, NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO EXPAND INTERMODAL SERVICE: Union Pacific Railroad and Norfolk Southern Railway have announced that on Febr.19 they will launch a new intermodal train service between Los Angeles and the Southeast. This new sixth-morning product between Los Angeles and Atlanta will complement existing BlueStreak service, which offers the fastest fifth-morning intermodal delivery in this rapidly growing market. UP and NS also announced a significant reduction in transit time for their BlueStreak intermodal service between Los Angeles and Atlanta. In addition, UP and NS will begin shifting domestic and international traffic to a new, shorter route over the Shreveport, La., gateway as early as third-quarter 2007. [Joint Norfolk Southern & Union Pacific press release, 1-22-07]

CSX REPORTS 4TH QUARTER EARNINGS: Railroad operator CSX Corp. says it's expecting a double-digit increase in earnings this year after reporting its fourth-quarter profit rose 46 percent, due in part to pricing power and strength in shipments of coal and agricultural freight. The Jacksonville-based company said that its strength in coal and agriculture-related freight offset weakness in housing and automotive shipments. The company also reported an eight percent yield improvement. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-22-07, from Associated Press report]

BANK OF AMERICA TO DROP AMTRAK GUEST AWARDS PROGRAM: Amtrak and Bank of America have agreed to discontinue the existing Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card program.  Existing cardholders will continue to earn Amtrak Guest Rewards points on their Amtrak Guest Reward credit card from Bank of America for all purchases that are posted prior to the closing date of the May 2007 Bank of America statement.  Any points earned through the credit card will remain in the cardholder's Amtrak Guest Rewards account, governed by the rules affecting any other program points. Amtrak Guest Rewards will be offering a new credit card. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-19-07]

UNION PACIFIC TESTING MODIFIED LOCOMOTIVE TO REDUCE EMISSIONS: Union Pacific Railroad has begun a year-long field test in the Los Angeles area of a long-haul diesel electric-locomotive modified with aftermarket technology designed to reduce air emissions. The company installed an oxidation catalyst filtering canister inside a 17-year-old locomotive's diesel engine exhaust manifold. The special catalytic material can chemically reduce the amount of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter generated by a diesel engine. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 1-18-07]

AMTRAK PRESIDENT WANTS TO SUSTAIN LONG-DISTANCE RUNS: Amtrak can operate more efficiently and maintain its long distance service, but success of the U.S. national rail system is going to depend heavily on state investment, Amtrak's president said on Jan.16. Alexander Kummant told reporters at Union Station, where senators unveiled a rail investment proposal, he has no plans to undo the financially weak but politically backed network of trains that operate outside the flagship Northeast line. Kummant said his view is to sustain the long-distance service but not preserve the business practices that have led to huge annual losses on trains that sprawl across the West, Midwest and South on tracks owned by freight railroads. Ten to 15 years in the future, Kummant hopes Amtrak service throughout the country would be underpinned by billions of dollars in state capital invested in short-haul corridors that connect cities but also stop in smaller locales. He believes that highway and air congestion, coupled with high fuel costs, will drive rail development. [United Transportation Union, 1-17-07, from Reuters report]

NEW DESIGN TANK CARS SCHEDULED FOR PRODUCTION IN 2009: Union Tank Car, Union Pacific, and Dow Chemical Company - principals in the Next Generation Rail Tank Car project - have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Railroad Administration to move forward on design and production of a new hazmat tank car for carrying chlorine, anhydrous ammonia, and other TIH (toxic inhalation) chemicals. Development of this new car is tied into the FRA's intent to issue a Notice of Proposed Rule making on federal tank car design standards by May 2007, with a final rule issued in January 2008. Union Tank Car says a prototype of the new car should be ready to roll by 2008 and in production in 2009. [RailwayAge.com, 1-16-07]

BNSF GETS APPROVAL FOR POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL: BNSF Railway is the first railroad to receive approval from the Federal Railroad Administration to install a satellite-based Positive Train Control system on its locomotives.  The approval covers planned installations by BNSF on 37 route segments in 17 states.  The system will monitor train performance and apply the brakes when an engineer does not comply with any type of restrictive signal.  The National Transportation Safety Board and safety advocates have long called for the installation of Positive Train Control to avoid what are otherwise preventable accidents. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-12-07]

GEORGE WARRINGTON LEAVING N.J. TRANSIT: New Jersey Transit Executive Director George Warrington is leaving the agency effective at the end of March. No reason was given for his departure other than the fact that the decision was his and that he is leaving "to pursue other opportunities." Warrington has been at the helm of New Jersey Transit since 2002, when he left a four year presidency of Amtrak. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-12-07]

TWO KILLED WHEN COMMUTER TRAIN HITS TRACK CREW: Transportation officials are investigating why an inbound commuter train was not switched to an alternate track before it slammed into a track maintenance crew on Jan.9, killing two workers and seriously injuring two others. The afternoon train was headed from Lowell to Boston with 43 passengers about 2 p.m. when it struck a piece of track repair equipment head-on near the Anderson station in Woburn, Massachusetts. One worker was on the equipment and five others were nearby, said Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-10-07, from Associated Press report]

WASHINGTON METRO TRAIN DERAILS, 20 HURT: The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating what caused a subway train to derail near downtown Washington as it approached the underground Mount Vernon Square station Jan.7, sending 20 people to the hospital. The accident on the city's Metro happened at about 3:45 p.m., Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato said. There were about 150 people on the train. One person had a serious but not life-threatening injury, Asato said. The other injuries were mostly "bumps and bruises," and one of those with minor injuries was pregnant. Service on the two lines was halted in both directions around the station, and Asato said a shuttle bus would take passengers around the accident scene. [United Transportation Union, 1-8-07, from Associated Press report by Sarah Karush]

SACRAMENTO TO BUY ITS TRAIN STATION: Union Pacific and the City of Sacramento have come to an agreement regarding the Sacramento train station.  The deal calls for the City to purchase the station itself, platforms and parking lot (about 14 acres) with the remainder of the 240 acre site purchased by a private developer.  The most immediate impact of the city purchase will be that free parking will be offered to daily commuters.  A full renovation of the property is set to begin by the end of 2007 and will include all-new, longer platforms and refurbishment of the building. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-5-07]

U.S. FREIGHT RAILROADS COMPLETE ANOTHER RECORD-BREAKING YEAR: U.S. freight railroads completed a record-breaking year by originating 1,267,054 carloads of freight in December 2006 and an additional 889,172 intermodal trailers and containers, the Association of American Railroads has reported. Full-year 2006 U.S. carloads totaled 17,380,102, up 1.2 percent (213,751 carloads) over 2005. Full-year 2006 U.S. intermodal loadings were 12,282,221 units, up 5.0 percent (588,709 trailers and containers) over 2005's 11,693,512 units, which had been the previous highest annual total ever. Also setting a record in 2006 was total freight volume, which was estimated at 1.74 trillion ton-miles, up 2.5 percent from the previous record which was set in 2005. December 2006 carloads on U.S. railroads were up 2.4 percent (29,608 carloads) over December 2005, while intermodal loadings were up 1.8 percent (15,871 units) for the month. For the fourth quarter of 2006, U.S. rail carloadings were up 0.9 percent (37,768 carloads) to 4,243,899 carloads, while intermodal traffic was up 1.4 percent (42,770 units) to 3,078,746 trailers and containers. [Assn. of American Railroads, 1-4-07]

M.B.T.A. TO BUY NEW RAIL EQUIPMENT: MBTA officials said Jan.4 they plan to buy 38 commuter rail locomotives and 75 double-decker coaches in a major step to improve reliability and cut overcrowding on the aging system. The T has budgeted $190-million for the coaches and $120-million for the locomotives. T officials expect a portion will be funded by federal grants. The bid for locomotives and coaches could be awarded in the fall, with delivery over a period of three to five years, officials said. [United Transportation Union, 1-4-07, from Boston Globe report]

BNSF LOGISTICS ACQUIRES PRO-AM TRANSPORTATION SERVICES: BNSF Logistics, LLC, announced Jan. 2 that it has acquired Pro-Am Transportation Services, Inc. (Pro-Am), of Jamestown, ND. Pro-Am is a third-party logistics company which reached approximately $25-million in revenue last year. The newly acquired company will operate within the Transportation Execution Services unit of BNSF Logistics. [BNSF Today, 1-2-07]

FOUR SAN JOSE LIGHT-RAIL STATIONS GETTING RENOVATED: On Jan.2 the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will close the Santa Clara light-rail station in downtown San Jose, Calif., for five months to complete renovations. The station is one of four in downtown San Jose that VTA is renovating. The project calls for raising passenger loading platforms to the same high as light-rail vehicle floors, and upgrading benches and lighting. Last year, the authority completed similar work at the Paseo de San Antonio and St. James stations. In mid-January, VTA plans to open a renovated Convention Center Station. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 1-2-07]