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MARYLAND TO CUT SOME MARC SERVICE: The Maryland Transit Administration has approved service reductions on some of its MARC commuter runs. A fare increase will keep trains running in West Virginia. Commuter train riders from West Virginia's three stations will pay $2 more per one-way ticket. Starting Jan.12, MARC will reduce service on holidays, cut some daily trains and end a 10-ride ticket. The changes are expected to save $10 million annually. [United Transportation Union, 12-30-08, from Associated Press report]

COLORADO RAILCAR CEASES OPERATIONS: Colorado Railcar Manufacturing LLC will release all its employees Dec.31, after having "ceased its business operations" on Dec.23. The company had been seen by some as a potential leader in rejuvenating U.S. passenger railcar manufacturing, as it sought to extend its initial manufacturing capabilities in producing luxury rail passenger equipment for specialty markets. [RailwayAge.com, 12-29-08]

CANADIAN NATIONAL GETS APPROVAL TO ACQUIRE EJ&E LINE: Canadian National Railway Co. has won U.S. approval for a $300-million acquisition of a Chicago-area line from U.S. Steel Corp. to bypass congestion in the city. The purchase of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. can be completed subject to certain conditions, including payment for school- and pedestrian-safety measures, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-24-08, from Bloomberg News report]

FUND ESTABLISHED TO MOVE GRASSELLI TOWER: The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, North Judson, Indiana, has a fundraising goal of $50,000 to move Grasselli Tower from East Chicago. The Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad decommissioned the tower during the later part of 2007 and promptly offered it to the museum, on the condition that it be moved off site. Grasselli is one of the last remaining railroad towers in Northern Indiana. Once the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum gets Grasselli Tower moved to North Judson, the museum intends to make it into a working tower. For further information go to www.grassellitower.com.

LUXURY TRAIN TO ROLL FROM CHICAGO TO INAUGURATION: You can witness history in the lap of luxury, all for the price of $2,599. American Rail Excursions is selling tickets from Chicago to see Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. Drinks, meals and lodging are included. In cars with names such as the Henry Hudson and the Silver Quail, riders will be treated to a personal chef, tuxedoed wait staff and private bedrooms with enclosed bathrooms. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-23-08, from Southtown Star website report]

TUCSON STREETCAR PLAN MOVES AHEAD: Tucson, Arizona, is proceeding with plans for a $100-million, four-mile streetcar line, set to begin operation in 2011. Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup said Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters phoned him this week with a federal endorsement of the proposed streetcar line, giving the city the opportunity to seek federal matching funds. Walkup said the city would begin engineering and final design shortly. [RailwayAge.com, 12-23-08]

DISABLED SWISS TRAIN BLOCKS LONGEST TUNNEL: Officials say a train with a technical failure has stopped in the world's longest overland tunnel and has been evacuated. A spokesman for Switzerland's Loetschberg Base Tunnel says the train halted inside the 21-mile rail link under the Alps. All passengers have been ferried out on a substitute train. Traffic through the tunnel remain blocked as of midday Dec.22. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-22-08, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK TRAIN MAROONED BY BLIZZARD IN MICHIGAN: Weather conditions stranded dozens of passengers aboard an Amtrak train heading to Grand Rapids, Mich. The train left Chicago around 4:45 p.m. Dec.21 and got stuck in Holland. It was to arrive in Grand Rapids around 10:30 p.m. Fifteen hours after the train departed, passengers were still stranded and told they could not exit the train. Ottawa County Central Dispatch says CSX is waiting for weather conditions to improve so they can clear the tracks. [United Transportation Union, 12-22-08, from WZZM-13 website report]

DOT, KCS REACH BORDER ACCORD: Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters has announced the Department of Transportation has reached agreement with Kansas City Southern Railway to advance the East Loop Bypass project, which includes a new rail bridge east of Laredo, Texas, designed to expedite cross-border freight rail traffic between the U.S. and Mexico. The new railroad bridge and East Loop Bypass project also would enhance safety by eliminating numerous highway-rail grade crossings. [RailwayAge.com, 12-22-08]

JAMES BRUNKENHOEFER DIES, U.T.U. NATIONAL DIRECTOR: UTU National Legislative Director James Brunkenhoefer died Dec.19, at age 61 after suffering a stroke two days earlier. Affectionately known as 'Brokenrail,' he was serving his fifth term as the UTU's chief lobbyist and was one of the mostly widely recognized individuals on Capitol Hill. [United Transportation Union, 12-19-08]

CANADIAN NATIONAL ORDERS 40 EMD LOCOMOTIVES: CN has announced it has ordered 40 additional high-horsepower locomotives from Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. (EMD) and secured an option for 50 more. CN will acquire 40 EMD SD70M-2 locomotives in early 2010, with an option for 50 more of the 4,300 horsepower locomotives by 2011. [Canadian National, 12-19-08]

ITALY INAUGURATES NEW HIGH-SPEED TRAIN: Italy has inaugurated faster high-speed rail service with the launch of Trenitalia's Red Arrow on the route between Milan and Rome. Reaching speeds of 186 mph, the new trains reduce travel times on the 300-mile route by an hour, to three-and-a-half hours. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-19-08]

AMTRAK'S CRESCENT TO TURN AT ATLANTA CERTAIN DATES: Amtrak's Crescent will turn at Atlanta due to Norfolk Southern track work on the following dates: January 26-29, and February 2-5, 9-12, and 16-19.  No alternate transportation will be provided between Atlanta and New Orleans. This affects westbound trains departing New York the day before. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-19-08]

PENNSYLVANIA TO BUY 10 MILES OF TRACK FROM NORFOLK SOUTHERN: The Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority will purchase 10.6 miles of mainline track owned by Norfolk Southern, including a section between East Stroudsburg and the Delaware Water Gap, for $4.5-million. This purchase will also ensure the continuation of the Steamtown passenger trains which use this track for excursions from Scranton to the Delaware Water Gap and Dansbury Depot in East Stroudsburg. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-19-08, from Pocono Record website report]

CALTRAIN COMPLETES PALO ALTO STATION IMPROVEMENTS: On Dec.22, Caltrain will open the northern end of the new boarding platforms and a new pedestrian underpass at Palo Alto Station, officially marking the completion of a $15-million station upgrade project. The pedestrian underpass replaces a grade crossing and the new, longer platforms replace older, uneven ones. The renovations are part of a larger program aimed at improving both of Caltrain's Palo Alto stations. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 12-19-08]

RAY LAHOOD SELECTED AS TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: President-elect Obama has selected seven-term Republican Congressman Ray LaHood to become Secretary of Transportation. The 63-year-old representative, who decided not to run for reelection this year, has become known for his bi-partisan views. [RailwayAge.com, 12-18-08]

PAUL WEYRICH DIES, PASSENGER RAIL ADVOCATE: Paul M. Weyrich, one of the early founders of the Heritage Foundation in 1973, a voice of American conservativism, and an ardent pro-passenger rail advocate, died Dec.17. He was 66. Weyrich served on the Amtrak Board of Directors for six years, and was a member of the Amtrak Reform Council, which explored funding options for the national rail passenger carrier. [RailwayAge.com, 12-18-08]

SOUTHWEST GULF R.R. TO BUILD 7-MILE LINE IN TEXAS: The Surface Transportation Board has announced that it has issued a decision granting final approval for Southwest Gulf Railroad Company (SGR) to construct and operate a rail line in Medina County, Texas, subject to environmental mitigation conditions. The Board identified three environmentally acceptable routing alternatives, any one of which SGR may now build. [U.S. Surface Transportation Board, 12-18-08]

BNSF AGREES TO SELL 18-MILES OF TRACK TO PORT OF VANCOUVER: BNSF Railway has agreed to sell about 18 miles of track to the Port of Vancouver, Washington, for $3.1-million. Under the deal, the port would get 17 acres currently owned by BNSF, along with the rail, switches, ties and ballast. The deal would clear the way for the port to go forward with $137-million in freight access improvements. [United Transportation Union, 12-18-08, from Vancouver Columbian report]

FREIGHT TRAINS COLLIDE IN MINNESOTA: Two freight trains collided early Dec.17, derailing 26 cars and plunging a locomotive into the Mississippi River, authorities said. No one was seriously hurt. The trains crashed about 5:30 a.m. near Dresbach in southeastern Minnesota. The derailment disrupted Amtrak service to hundreds of passengers, said Bob Kamrowski, station manager in La Crosse, Wisconsin. [United Transportation Union, 12-17-08, from Associated Press report]

TWO SHOT IN MOCK SANTA TRAIN ROBBERY: Authorities say two people were injured with shotgun pellets during a mock train robbery involving Santa Claus in Random Lake, Wisconsin. A gun mistakenly loaded with bird shot, rather than blanks, injured two people. The shooting occurred when actors pretended to rob a restored 1913 steam train carrying Santa. An estimated 800 people witnessed the mock shoot-out, though many were unaware anything had gone wrong. [United Transportation Union, 12-17-08, from United Press International report]

CSX SHAREHOLDER SUIT SETTLED: Two hedge funds have agreed to pay CSX a total of $11-million in settlement of a shareholder lawsuit alleging violations of securities laws. TCI, which manages The Children's Master Investment Fund, will pay $10-million and 3G Capital Partners will pay $1-million. MORE.. [RailwayAge.com 12-17-08]

GATX BUYS 3,560-CAR FLEET: Alco Finance Ltd. has sold a diversified fleet of 3,650 freight cars with an average age of two years to GATX Corp. The $217-million purchase price consists of approximately $30-million in cash and the assumption of $187-million in non-recourse debt. The new cars will be added to a GATX fleet that totaled 110,000 cars on Sept. 1. [RailwayAge.com 12-17-08]

FORT WORTH MAPS STREETCAR SYSTEM: Officials in Fort Worth, Texas, have unveiled a plan for a 12-mile streetcar system, including options to generate $250-million to fund at least part of the system. The plan recommends starting with a loop in downtown Fort Worth, a route along along W. 7th Street to the Will Rogers Center and the University of North Texas campus, another route down South Main Street with a spur to Evans Avenue and Rosedale Street, and a connection to the medical district along Magnolia and 8th avenues. [RailwayAge.com 12-17-08]

FEDS SEEK TO BUILD NEW N.E. CORRIDOR HIGH-SPEED LINE: Federal transportation leaders have announced that the government is seeking contractors to build a $30-billion to $40-billion high-speed rail line between Washington and New York. The new line would carry passengers between Washington and New York in no more than two hours. However, engineers face significant obstacles, such as figuring out where to put the rail line when urban development and natural barriers lie in its path. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-16-08, from Washington Times website report]

IOWA INTERSTATE TO PURCHASE 12 LOCOMOTIVES: The Iowa Interstate will purchase 12 new locomotives with a $31-million RRIF loan it has received from the Federal Railroad Administration. FRA said the new power will allow the regional railroad to increase train lengths, tonnage, and operating speeds, and provide for increased rail service to newly built ethanol plans. [RailwayAge.com, 12-15-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN PLANS LAYOFFS: Norfolk Southern Corp. plans to lay off an undisclosed number of employees as part of an effort to cut costs, company spokesman Robin Chapman has confirmed. The railroad also will reduce the number of trains in operation and park some rail cars, he said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-13-08, from Virginian-Pilot website report]

RAILS FEEL PAIN FROM AUTO INDUSTRY DECLINE: According to Credit Suisse, motor vehicles shipments via rails sank 39 percent in the first week of December on a year-over-year basis, creating a big headwind for the rail sector, which saw carloads decline 8 percent in the period. It marked the fifth consecutive week, CS said, in which carloads dropped by as much as 8 percent. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-12-08, from Barrons website report]

BERKSHIRE INCREASES STAKE IN BNSF: Warren Buffett's company bought another 3.26 million shares of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. stock, increasing its stake to 67.9 million shares. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. now controls nearly 20 percent of the nation's second-largest railroad. Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Dec.10 show Berkshire completed its latest purchases on Dec.8 and 9. Buffett has said railroads have good long-term prospects and are healthier today than in past years. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-10-08, from Associated Press report]

BOARDMAN SUPPORTS AMTRAK NETWORK: Amtrak's new president and CEO Joseph Boardman wrote a message to Amtrak employees this week. In it, he calls himself a 'straight shooter,' and explained that he supports the national system. He does not favor splitting off the Northeast corridor. MORE..

PENNSYLVANIA GRANTS $10-M FOR N.S. YARD RELOCATION: Pennsylvania will provide $10-million for the $46-million second phase of the Northwest Gateway Project, which calls for relocating a portion of NS' yard in Dillerville to Manheim Township. The portion of the yard situated on the northern edge of Franklin & Marshall College's campus will be relocated and the remainder will be remodeled. The project will free up land, enabling the college and Lancaster General Hospital to expand. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 12-9-08]

AMTRAK TRAIN HITS TRACTOR-TRAILER IN ILLINOIS, DERAILS, NINE INJURED: Nine people were injured after an Amtrak train slammed into a tractor-trailer Dec.8 north of Brighton, Illinois. Amtrak said the injuries were not serious. Four of the cars derailed after although none of them toppled over. The crash happened about 11:15 a.m. on an Amtrak passenger train heading to St. Louis from Chicago. The rest of the passengers were put aboard a chartered bus to finish the trip to Alton and St. Louis. [United Transportation Union, 12-8-08, from St.Louis Post-Dispatch report]

AMTRAK SHAREHOLDER SUIT HEADS TO ARBITRATOR: A federal lawsuit filed by American Financial Group against Amtrak has been put on hold, pending a ruling by an arbitration panel, reports the Cincinnati Business Courier. U.S. Senior District Judge Arthur Spiegel ruled Dec. 3 that an arbitrator has to decide whether the dispute is subject to a mandatory arbitration provision of a 1971 contract. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 12-8-08, from Cincinnati Business Courier report]

U.S. COAL EXPORT BOOM MAY BE OVER FOR NOW: The boom in U.S. coal exports appears over for now, tamed by the world economic slowdown, a stronger dollar and renewed competition from cheaper supply elsewhere. Tom Hiemstra, president of the Coal Trading Association, said that the U.S. is no longer competitive compared the rest of the world in terms of exporting steam coal. Coal prices have slid for weeks after tripling between mid 2007 and mid 2008 to an unheard of $150 per short ton for premium steam coal. [United Transportation Union, 12-8-08, from Reuters report]

AMTRAK DROPS OBJECTION TO EJ&E SALE: The Canadian National Railway overcame a big objection to its proposed purchase of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway. Amtrak had opposed the sale over concerns it would increase its maintenance costs on an old rail segment in downtown Chicago. One of the biggest benefits to CN and Chicago in the proposed sale is that it allows CN to move traffic off the St. Charles Air Line. However, Amtrak agreed to drop its opposition to the purchase as part of an agreement that freezes maintenance costs to current levels and guarantees that it would have continued access to the line. [United Transportation Union, 12-4-08, from Chicago Sun-Times report]

F.T.A. APPROVES RAIL LINK TO DULLES AIRPORT: Reversing its opposition of nearly a year ago, the Federal Transit Administration has given approval to extending Washington's Metrorail system to Tysons Corner and Dulles International Airport. Approval from the Secretary of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget is still required, but is expected. The 23-mile Silver Line would stretch from the current Metrorail Orange Line station at Falls Church past Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County, Va. [RailwyAge.com, 12-4-08]

SEATTLE CONSIDERS MORE STREETCARS: Buoyed by the success of the modest 1.3-mile South Lake Union Streetcar which began revenue operations almost one year ago, the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee is recommending streetcar operations be expanded to other parts of the city. The committee has voted to support a proposed $685-million streetcar expansion, with lines running up First Hill (Hospital Hill), down 1st Avenue, and up to the University District, among other locations. [RailwayAge.com, 12-4-08]

PORT OF COOS BAY TO BUY CLOSED RAIL LINE: The Oregon International Port of Coos Bay has agreed to buy a rail line that has been closed for safety reasons since September 2007. The federal Surface Transportation Board set a $16.6-million price tag for the 111-mile line that runs between Eugene and Coquille. [United Transportation Union, 12-4-08, from Associated Press report]

CLIFF EBY NAMED ACTING F.R.A. ADMINISTRATOR: With former FRA Administrator Joseph Boardman now handling the reins at Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration needs its own new leader. A new administrator likely won't be appointed until after President-Elect Barack Obama takes office in late January. In the meantime, Cliff Eby has been installed as acting administrator. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 12-4-08]

CSX'S WINTER HAVEN TERMINAL GETS STATE OK: With no appeals made by the Florida Department of Community Affairs, the CSX Integrated Logistics Center for Winter Haven is good to go. DCA Secretary Thomas Pelham has signed off on the development order and agreement for the truck-rail freight center. The development agreement includes conditions related to design standards, signs, landscaping and site plan review requirements. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-4-08, from NewsChief.com report]

BOARDMAN CHARTS NEW COURSE AT AMTRAK: Joseph Boardman's second day on the job was Thanksgiving, and he visited the crew base for Amtrak workers at Union Station in Washington. Boardman pointed out the Amtrak reauthorization legislation approved in October also includes a change in the stated mission for the railroad. The previous mission statement said Amtrak was to provide "safe and reliable intercity rail passenger service in an economically sound manner that exceeds customer expectation." The new statement says the railroad is to provide "efficient and effective intercity passenger rail mobility consisting of high-quality service that is trip-time competitive with other intercity travel options." Boardman zeroed in on the term mobility. "The mobility piece is going to become much more important," he said. [United Transportation Union, 12-2-08, from Albany Times Union report]

NEW FEDERAL LAW SHOULD CUT AMTRAK DELAYS: A new law is expected to improve the on-time record of Amtrak passenger trains nationwide. President Bush has signed into law a bill giving federal authorities the power to investigate freight railroads when Amtrak's on-time record falls below 80 percent. Fines could be levied if freight lines fail to give preference to Amtrak. Freight traffic is supposed to give preference to Amtrak trains on tracks owned by the railroads. But a recent federal report found that some railroads' dispatching practices violate those rights. [United Transportation Union, 12-1-08, from Associated Press report]

GALESBURG PLANS AMTRAK STATION EXPANSION: Galesburg, Illinois, officials are hoping to net $120,000 in federal and state funds for a planned expansion of its Amtrak Depot. The City Council has approved the plan, in which the city will apply for the funds to cover architect and engineering fees to design an expansion, which would provide additional space for an intercity bus passenger ticket counter and waiting area. Half of the money will be used to pay for improvements to the parking lot, with the city hoping to add space for an intercity bus loading and unloading area. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-1-08, from Register-Mail website report]

VIA RAIL TO SLOW TRANSCONTINENTAL SCHEDULE BY 13 HOURS: It takes three days and three nights to travel from Toronto to Vancouver by train, but starting Dec.2 that is going to change. What Via Rail calls on its website "the ultimate Canada train trip," its Canadian is going to last 13 hours longer. The transcontinental train trip, which used to take 74 hours, is now going to take 87. The change should also mean better connections with trains between Toronto and the East Coast. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-1-08, from CBC News report]

RAIL ACCIDENTS DOWN, FATALITIES UP IN NINE MONTHS: With 716 large and small U.S. railroads reporting, total accidents and incidents in this year's first nine months were down 10.3 percent to 9,232 compared with the corresponding period last year, according to the Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety Analysis. Fatalities were up fractionally in the period, to 637 from 633. These included 370 trespasser fatalities, an increase of 6.9 percent. [RailwayAge.com, 12-1-08]

U.P. TO OPEN NEW SAN ANTONIO TERMINAL: When the $120-million Union Pacific rail yard opens Dec.15, it will divert truck traffic that has for years trekked through old inner-city neighborhoods to pick up containers from the East Side and South Side terminals of the railroad. The rail yard is strategic in that the north end of the property intersects the Long Beach, Calif., to New Orleans line. The south end of the property intersects the Laredo to Chicago line. [United Transportation Union, 11-29-08, from Express-News report]

THREE KILLED IN COLLISION WITH AMTRAK TRAIN IN FLORIDA: Two men and one woman died Nov.28 after the car they were riding in bypassed crossing gates and flashing lights and was hit by a passenger train in south Orange County, Florida. The sedan was crossing the tracks eastbound on Lancaster road when a northbound Amtrak train, No.92, carrying roughly 170 passengers crashed into it. The car went airborne, landing hundreds of feet away near a warehouse parking lot. [United Transportation Union, 11-29-08, from Orlando Sentinel report]

CANADIAN PACIFIC, CSX TOP ANALYST'S LIST OF R.R. BUYS: The years of railroads posting stellar earnings growth are over, according to UBS analyst Rick Paterson, who issued a warning Nov.27 to those with a vested interest in the rails. The current economic downturn and the volatility in commodity pricing is wreaking havoc on North American rail volumes. Despite the negative outlook, he has a "buy" rating on Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., CSX Corp., Union Pacific Corp., Norfolk Southern Corp., Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. and Canadian National Railway Co. CP and CSX offer the largest potential upside based on his price targets. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-28-08, from Financial Post website report]

C.N. & C.P. LOSE GRAIN CASE APPEAL: Canadian National and Canadian Pacific say an adverse court ruling on grain rates and on the cost of maintaining a fleet of government owned grain cars will cost each of them $18.7-million in revenue from the 2007-08 crop year. And CN says the ruling could affect its future investments in infrastructure and equipment related to hauling grain. Also rejected was CP's claim that the regulators improperly used CN's data in determining the cost to both railroads of maintaining their share of the grain car fleet. [RailwayAge.com, 11-26-08]

JOSEPH BOARDMAN CHOSEN TO HEAD AMTRAK: The National Railroad Passenger Corporation Board of Directors has announced that it has chosen Joseph Boardman to become president and chief executive officer of the company effective November 26. Boardman offers nearly 34 years of experience in the surface transportation industry at city, county, state, and federal government levels, most recently as the administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration. He fills the position following the departure of Alex Kummant earlier this month. Chief Operating Officer William Crosbie served as acting CEO in the interim. [Amtrak, 11-25-08]

F.R.A. ISSUES FINAL RULES FOR RAIL HAZMAT ROUTING: The Federal Railroad Administration, with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, has issued final rules superseding the April 2008 Interim Final Rule requiring railroads to perform comprehensive safety and security risk analyses to determine the routes posing the least overall safety and security risks for the movement of the most toxic and dangerous hazardous materials. The rules stipulate Sep.1, 2009, as the date by which a railroad must implement its route selection using a minimum of 27 risk factors and based on analysis of six-month data from July to December 2008. [RailwayAge.com, 11-25-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN INSTALLS 2ND WIND TURBINE: Norfolk Southern has installed a 50kW wind turbine at its yard in North Kansas City, Mo., to power a wastewater treatment plant. With three 24-foot rotor blades mounted on a 100-foot tower, the wind turbine can generate more than 10,000 kilowatt hours annually. Integrity Wind Systems of Boulder, Colo., which supplied both systems to Norfolk Southern, says each wind turbine can produce at least enough power to offset the electricity consumed by the pumps and controls of the wastewater treatment plants. [RailwayAge.com, 11-24-08]

AMTRAK POLICE SIGN JOINT-ENFOREMENT AGREEMENT WITH WILMINGTON, DELAWARE: Amtrak Police have entered into an agreement with Wilmington, Delaware, Police for joint law enforcement and patrols in the Wilmington station area. The joint policing agreement applies to a three-block radius around the station and will be in effect for one year. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-21-08]

MOROCCO, FRANCE IN JOINT HIGH-SPEED VENTURE: The governments of Morocco and France announced a joint venture last week for the French to partially finance the construction of a $2-billion TGV high-speed line between Casablanca and Tangier, about 310 miles.  France is contributing a $792-million loan for rolling stock and infrastructure. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-21-08]

AUTO TRAIN TO RESUME SERVICE ON SATURDAY: Travelers on Amtrak's Auto Train will resume service on Nov.22, officials told the Associated Press. The Auto Train, which carries passengers and their cars between Sanford and Lorton, Va., was canceled Nov.18 after inspectors found cracks in one of the carriers. [United Transportation Union, 11-21-08, from Associated Press report]

METROLINK TRAIN COLLIDES WITH FREIGHT TRAIN IN CALIFORNIA: For the second time in less than three months, a Metrolink train and a freight train heading in opposite directions collided Nov.20. The Rialto, California, crash was far less serious than the head-on collision in September between a Metrolink train and a freight train in Chatsworth that killed 25. Thursday's accident occurred about 11:30 a.m. when an eastbound Metrolink train hit the end of a westbound BNSF train that was pulling onto a siding from the main track just west of the Rialto station. Five passengers aboard the Metrolink train were sent to area hospitals. Thursday's crash, like the one in September, happened on a stretch of track owned, maintained and dispatched by Metrolink. [United Transportation Union, 11-21-08, from Los Angeles Times report]

V.R.E. COMPLETES MAINTENANCE FACILITY: Virginia Railway Express recently completed a service and inspection building at Crossroads Yard, which serves the commuter-rail agency's Fredericksburg line. Since launching service in 1992, VRE has relied on Amtrak to provide fleet maintenance services. However, the agency's maintenance needs have grown to include more rigorous and labor-intensive work, VRE said. The new facility will enable the agency to handle maintenance duties on-site without disrupting service. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 11-21-08]

VIA RAIL LAUNCHES CONTEST FOR NEW UNIFORMS: One lucky Canadian designer could be on the fast-track to style stardom with the launch of a contest to create a new look for Via Rail Canada employees. The national passenger rail service is teaming up with the Fashion Design Council of Canada to present the Via Rail redesign challenge. The winning design will be announced and revealed during Fashion Week in Toronto next March. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-20-08, from Canadian Press report]

AMTRAK BEGINS USING GATEWAY CENTER IN ST.LOUIS: Amtrak trains have begun using the new Gateway Transportation Center in downtown St. Louis. The new glass-and-steel center on South 15th Street, near the Scottrade Center, also serves as a depot for Greyhound buses. It has four train platforms and 10 bus bays. Greyhound and Amtrak passengers will share the lobby and a deli, and fast-food restaurants will be opening in the future. [United Transportation Union, 11-20-08, from St.Louis Post-Dispatch report]

CONSTRUCTION ON CSX YARD IN OHIO TO BEGIN IN JANUARY: Construction of the CSX rail yard in North Baltimore, Ohio, is scheduled to begin in January. The Wood County Commissioners have approved a joint Economic Development District contract between the village and Henry Township. The move allows the district to take 1-percent of the labor tax for construction. Funds collected may also go to infrastructure improvements at the site. [United Transportation Union, 11-20-08, from WFIN-TV website report]

RAIL SHIPMENTS DECREASE ACROSS COUNTRY: U.S. rail shipments are dropping, according to the Associated Press. The Association of American Railroads said Nov.20 that freight carried on the tracks for the week ending Nov. 15 totaled 309,099 carloads - 9.1 percent lower than a year ago. Volume fell 6.5 percent in the West, where cargo is primarily carried by Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Volumes sank 12.8 percent in the East, where freight is mostly hauled by CSX and Norfolk Southern. [United Transportation Union, 11-20-08, from Associated Press report]

BALTIMORE POLICE ARREST MARC PASSENGER CARRYING A RIFLE: Baltimore police arrested a man carrying a semiautomatic rifle aboard a train yesterday morning [Nov.19] after a cabdriver flagged down officers and said the man was headed to Washington. Police said the man mentioned the White House but made no specific threats, though police notified the Secret Service as a precaution. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-20-08, from Baltimore Sun website report]

AMTRAK EYES RESTART OF SUNSET LIMITED TO FLORIDA: An Amtrak route that goes through Jacksonville on the way to New Orleans might return next year. The Sunset Limited Route from Orlando to New Orleans was abandoned after Hurricane Katrina damaged CSX train tracks in 2005. Those damaged tracks have been repaired, and CSX says it has no objections to starting the route again. Amtrak has been reluctant to restart the route, though, because of low ridership before Katrina hit. But with Amtrak given money to look into the issue, the hope is to find a way to bring the service back, said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. [United Transportation Union, 11-17-08, from Times-Union report]

ALEX KUMMANT RESIGNS AS HEAD OF AMTRAK: The National Railroad Passenger Corporation has announced the resignation of its President and CEO, Alex Kummant. After record ridership and revenue in FY08, a downturn in the economy and new legislative requirements present challenges as well as opportunities. In the coming years, Amtrak will need leadership to maximize its potential and utility to the traveling public, while increasing the efficiency of the whole operation. The Board is confident that this transition will be seamless, with William Crosbie, Amtrak's Chief Operating Officer, as Acting President and CEO for an interim period. [Amtrak, 11-14-08]

RAILWAY AGE NAMES MICHAEL WARD 'RAILROADER OF THE YEAR': Michael Ward is Railway Age's 46th Railroader of the Year. Modern Railroads magazine founded the award, one of the most prestigious in the railroad industry, in 1964 as the "Man of the Year." Railway Age acquired Modern Railroads in 1991 and has presented the award annually since then. Ward will be honored on March 17, 2009, at Chicago's Union League Club. He is the first CSX recipient since 1984, when Hays T. Watkins was honored. [RailwayAge.com, 11-14-08]

BART LIGHT-RAIL LINK TO OAKLAND AIRPORT STALLED: BART's $386-million plan to link its rail network to Oakland International Airport with a 3.2-mile light rail link has stalled, due in part to the inability to attract private partners to help fund the project. The light rail line would have connected with BART at its Coliseum station. [RailwayAge.com, 11-13-08]

COURT DECLINES DEADLINE ON C.N. PURCHASE OF EJ&E: A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., has declined to put a timeline on the government's approval of Canadian National Railway's purchase of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway. Canadian National had brought suit against the Surface Transportation Board asking the court to impose a Dec.1 deadline on its decision. Canadian National faces a Dec.31 expiration date for its $300-million purchase agreement of the EJ&E from U.S. Steel. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-12-08, from Associated Press report]

LACKAWANNA R.R. STATION 100 YEARS OLD: It has been 100 years since the Lackawanna Railroad Station was dedicated in Scranton, and the station, now the Lackawanna Radisson Station Hotel, is celebrating its centennial anniversary. In 1908, the station was the new hub of a bustling city - then, the nation's 20th largest city. A birthday bash Nov.11 marked what many call Scranton's return to glory. People gathered under the Tiffany glass of the station's marble-lined atrium, some boarded a train behind the station. The Lackawanna Railroad station closed in the early 1970s. It reopened as a hotel in 1983. [United Transportation Union, 11-12-08, from Associated Press report]

DEDICATED INTERMODAL SERVICE ANNOUNCED FOR STATEN ISLAND R.R.: New York City Economic Development Corporation, along with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and CSX have announced introduction of dedicated intermodal train service on the Staten Island Railroad to and from the New York Container Terminal. The Staten Island Railroad was reactivated in 2007 after the completion of a $75-million dollar rehabilitation project jointly funded by NYCEDC and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. [N.Y. City Economic Development Corp. report, 11-11-08]

STEAM LOCOMOTIVE IN KANSAS RUNS FOR FIRST TIME IN MORE THAN 50 YEARS: For the first time in more than 50 years, Abilene's famed steam engine made history once again. On Nov.8, volunteers at the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad Association got the 1919 Baldwin locomotive running on its own for a short trip. The Abilene and Smoky Valley Roadroad Association has plans to operate the steam engine as part of its excursion train operation. [United Transportation Union, 11-11-08, from Reflector-Chronicle report]

FRENCH POLICE ARREST EIGHT IN SABOTAGE ATTEMPTS: French anti-terrorist police have arrested eight people linked to far-left political groups for allegedly sabotaging power cables on high-speed TGV train lines. Severe delays were caused in the weekend when power was cut by metal bars hooked onto several overhead electric cables on TGV lines in the area around Paris. The government and management of France's national rail operator SNCF said that the stunts, which did not threaten the safety of passengers, appear to have been coordinated acts of sabotage and could only have been done by someone familiar with working with high-tension power cables. [Railway-Technology.com, 11-11-08, from Reuters report]

SINKHOLE REVEALS POSSIBLE FRAGMENTS FROM ORIGINAL TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD: Railroad historians believe a sinkhole at a construction site in Old Sacramento has led them to fragments of a trestle from the first railroad line to span North America. "We're about 80 to 90 percent sure that this is a piece of the transcontinental railroad of the Central Pacific," said Kyle Wyatt, curator of history and technology at the California State Railroad Museum. The find's location matches old maps. [United Transportation Union, 11-10-08, from Sacramento Bee report]

MASSACHUSETTS TO SPEND $50M TO INCREASE CSX RAIL CLEARANCES: In exchange for increased commuter rail service to Worcester, the state of Massachusetts is spending $50-million to raise a series of bridges so double-decker freight cars can travel underneath them. Raising the bridges to 21 feet will double the carrying capacity for CSX Corp.'s freight trains. This task could be just the first installment in the state's efforts to expand passenger rail service to Worcester. [United Transportation Union, 11-10-08, from Telegram and Gazette report]

TRANSIT WORKER GETS THREE YEARS FOR STEALING FARE MONEY: A former Calgary Transit employee who stole more than $375,000 in coins over seven years is going to prison. The culprit used the cash to support mistresses, go on vacations, buy vehicles, homes and appliances. A provincial court judge sentenced David John Hamilton, 56, to three years in jail. Hamilton, who worked for Calgary Transit for about 20 years, pleaded guilty earlier this year to a count of theft. The prosecutor told the court that Hamilton was responsible for sorting and counting fares. [United Transportation Union, 11-10-08, from Calgary Herald report]

AMTRAK TRAIN DERAILS IN CHICAGO, NO INJURIES: Amtrak train City of New Orleans experienced a "very minor" derailment on the Near South Side this morning [Nov.9], officials said. There were no injuries. Two cars of Amtrak train No. 58 from New Orleans to Chicago derailed around 8:30 a.m., according to Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Romero. She said the train was carrying 90 passengers and was about a mile south of its final stop at Union Station. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-9-08, from Chicago Tribune website report]

BNSF OPENS CAJON PASS THIRD TRACK: BNSF Railway announced Nov.6 that it has completed construction of a third main track through Cajon Pass in Southern California. BNSF ran its first train Nov.3 over the third and final segment of the $90-million triple-tracking project, which adds almost 16 miles of third main to the railroad's route into the Los Angeles basin. Between 75 and 100 trains operate over this route daily. This is the first additional main track through Cajon Pass since the second track was built in 1913. [RailwayAge.com, 11-6-08]

STRIKE DISRUPTS FRENCH RAIL TRAFFIC: French rail traffic was disrupted on Nov.6 due to a strike by two train drivers' unions. The SNCF rail operator said 39 percent of train drivers were on strike, causing disruption to high-speed train lines and Paris regional train services. International traffic was running as normal. [Railway-Technology.com, 11-6-08, from Reuters report]

CALIFORNIA VOTERS APPROVE $10-BILLION BOND FOR HIGH-SPEED RAIL: California voters have narrowly approved a $10-billion bond to start building a bullet train system throughout the state. The rail line would carry passengers at 200 mph to Anaheim, Los Angeles, Fresno and San Francisco. Planners eventually want an 800-mile system that would also include Sacramento, San Diego and Oakland. The measure won even as California voters rejected most other initiatives with large price tags. It had been on the ballot twice before but was removed both times by the Legislature. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-5-08, from Associated Press report]

CANADIAN NATIONAL TO REPURCHASE THREE RAIL LINES: Canadian National Railway Co. will pay C$50-million for three Eastern Canadian rail lines it sold in the 1990s, echoing repurchases it has made in Western Canada, the company said. The three lines are the Ottawa Central Railway, New Brunswick East Coast Railway and Chemin de fer de la Matapedia et du Golfe. The lines are also used by Via Rail for passenger service. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-3-08, from Reuters report]

CANADIAN PACIFIC ASSUMES OPERATIONAL CONTROL OF DM&E: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited today celebrated the first day of operational control of recently acquired Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corporation and its subsidiaries: Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad and Cedar American Rail Holdings. The DM&E is the largest regional railroad in the U.S. and the only Class II railroad that connects and interchanges traffic with all seven Class I railroads, connecting with Canadian Pacific at Minneapolis, Winona, MN and Chicago. [Canadian Pacific, 10-30-08]

WINTER HAVEN APPROVES CSX DEVELOPMENT: The Winter Haven, Florida, City Commission unanimously approved the development of the CSX Transportation Intermodal Logistics Center. The next step is to send the approved development order and development agreement for the freight terminal project to the state Department of Community Affairs for approval. The proposed ILC will be located on 318 acres of the city's former sewer spray field southwest of the CSX railroad right of way. [United Transportation Union, 10-30-08, from NewsChief website report]

BERKSHIRE BUYS MORE BNSF SHARES: Warren Buffett's company has added 825,000 shares to its already sizable stake in Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., the nation's second-largest railroad. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. now owns 18.9 percent, or 64.6 million shares, of the railroad. The latest filing says Berkshire paid $79.65 each for the BNSF shares. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-30-08, from Business Week website report]

K.C.S. REPORTS 3-Q RESULTS: Railroad operator Kansas City Southern has reported a 17 percent increase in third-quarter profit, but earnings and revenue both missed Wall Street expectations due to the impact of Gulf Coast hurricanes Gustav and Ike. For the three months ended Sept. 30, net income after paying preferred dividends rose to $48.9-million or 52 cents a share, from $41.8-million or 48 cents a share a year earlier. Operating expenses jumped 10 percent to $380.5-million. [United Transportation Union, 10-28-08, from Forbes website report]

S.T.B. DENIES A.A.R. RULEMAKING PETITION ON REVENUE ADEQUACY: The Surface Transportation Board has denied a proposed rulemaking petition from the Association of American Railroads to shift to a replacement cost methodology for purposes of calculating the rail regulatory returns on capital. The decision in essence declares that "the railroads are now revenue-adequate, or becoming so, whereas had the Petition been granted, the four railroads would have needed another $17 billion/year before being considered revenue-adequate." [RailwayAge.com, 10-27-08]

CSX CHIEF SAYS COAL IS UNDER ATTACK: The head of CSX Corp. said the country is headed toward an energy policy that would exclude coal. "I think where our country is headed with energy policy is abysmal," Michael Ward said Oct.23 during a keynote speech at a fundraiser for Concord University. "There's a move afoot among the environmentalists to block the usage of coal," Ward said. "We're already somewhat challenged competing in the world," Ward said. "There are advocates of wind and solar. If we put in a big effort there, we might generate five to 10 percent of what we need at a much higher price but we'll never meet our needs. We need to build coal-fired plants and some nuclear plants as well." [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-26-08, from Charleston Daily Mail website report]

BNSF REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation has reported quarterly earnings of $2.00 per diluted share, compared with third-quarter 2007 earnings of $1.48 per diluted share. Freight revenues increased $818-million or 21 percent to $4.77-billion compared with the third quarter of 2007, and included higher fuel surcharges of approximately $570-million. Operating income of $1.21-billion increased $206-million or 21 percent compared with the same 2007 period. [Burlington Northern Santa Fe, 10-23-08]

U.P. REPORTS 38 PERCENT EARNINGS GROWTH: Union Pacific Corporation has reported 2008 third-quarter net income of $703-million or $1.38 per diluted share, compared to $532-million or $1.00 per diluted share for the third quarter of 2007. Diluted earnings per share increased 38 percent. Operating revenue totaled $4.8-billion, up 16 percent. Operating income grew 21 percent to $1.2 billion. Net income increased 32 percent to $703-million. [Union Pacific, 10-23-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 3-Q RESULTS: Norfolk Southern Corporation reported third-quarter 2008 net income of $520-million or $1.37 per diluted share, compared with $386-million or $0.97 per diluted share, for the same period of 2007. Third-quarter income from railway operations increased 31 percent to a record $894-million. [Norfolk Southern, 10-21-08]

CANADIAN NATIONAL REPORTS 3-Q RESULTS: CN has reported its financial and operating results for the third quarter and nine months ended Sept. 30, 2008. Diluted earnings per share increased 21 per cent to C$1.16. Net income increased 14 per cent to C$552-million. Revenues increased 12 per cent to C$2,257-million. Operating income increased 10 per cent to C$844-million, with the Company's operating ratio rising by six-tenths of one point to 62.6 per cent. CN said third-quarter 2008 net income was C$1.16 per diluted share, compared with net income of C$485-million or C$0.96 per diluted share, for the comparable period of 2007. [Canadian National, 10-21-08]

AMTRAK CASCADES TRAINS TO STOP IN STANWOOD, WASHINGTON: Construction of Stanwood's new $5-million state-funded Amtrak platform and siding is expected to begin in January and be completed by June. A siding extension also is scheduled to be done by June. Extending the siding will allow Amtrak trains to stop at the station without disrupting freight service. [United Transportation Union, 10-20-08, from Enterprise Newspapers website report]

AMTRAK SERVICE RESTARTS IN MEMPHIS: Friday morning, October 17, 2008, Amtrak resumed service to Memphis. Local leaders and Amtrak officials welcomed the Amtrak City of New Orleans train at Memphis Central Station. A huge sinkhole on city property just south of the station resulted in detours by the train and the closure of the station's parking lot from April 23, 2008, until this week. [United Transportation Union, 10-17-08, from ABC24 website report]

F.R.A. TO FUND MAGLEV PLANNING: Beginning October 20, the Federal Railroad Administration will accept applications from states or state designated authorities for $45-million in grant funding for proposed magnetic levitation (maglev) projects located east of the Mississippi River. The SAFETEA-LU Technical Corrections Act of 2008 limits the eligible projects to those in or between: Pittsburgh, Baltimore-Washington, and Atlanta-Chattanooga. FRA may award one or more grants which can be used for preconstruction planning activities and the capital costs of the fixed guideway infrastructure. [Federal Railroad Administration, 10-17-08]

PRESIDENT SIGNS RAILROAD SAFETY BILL: President Bush signed a sweeping railroad safety bill Oct.16 mandating measures that could have prevented the Sep.12 collision that killed 25 people in Los Angeles. The law will require more rest for workers and technology that can stop a train in its tracks if it's headed for collision. This so-called 'positive train control' technology would have prevented the Los Angeles crash, federal officials have said. The law requires the installation of positive train control technology on all passenger lines by 2015. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-16-08, from Associated Press report]

BUFFALO & PITTSBURGH R.R. SEEKS TO ABANDON 28-MILE LINE: The Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad plans to abandon an unused, 28-mile stretch of track that runs from Orchard Park to West Valley, N.Y. The railroad could begin pulling up the track for salvage as early as next month, if the abandonment is approved by federal regulators. The railroad is a unit of Genesee & Wyoming Inc. The move is a boon for advocates of turning the route into a public trail. The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has filed a rail-to-trail request, to keep the corridor from being split up and returned to private ownership. [United Transportation Union, 10-16-08, from Buffalo News report]

PENNSYLVANIA RAIL AUTHORITY APPLIES TO BUY N.S. LINE: The Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority (PNRRA) has filed a docket with the Surface Transportation Board seeking to purchase a 10.6-mile line from Norfolk Southern Railway. The line, which is located in Monroe and Northampton counties, will continue to be operated by the Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad Co. Inc. The line purchase is subject to NS retaining overhead trackage rights. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 10-16-08]

CSX REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corporation has reported third-quarter 2008 earnings from continuing operations of $382-million or 94 cents per share. This represents a 40 percent increase from the same period last year. In 2007, CSX reported third quarter earnings of $297-million from continuing operations or 67 cents per share. [CSX, 10-14-08]

NEW PLATFORM SLATED FOR AMTRAK STOP AT NEW BUFFALO, MICHIGAN: In about seven months, New Buffalo will be hearing the whistles of an Amtrak train. Officials say construction will begin at the end of October for a train platform at Whittaker Street and Oselka Drive. As soon as the platform is done, there will be four stops daily, with two trains arriving from Chicago and two trains heading towards the windy city. [United Transportation Union, 10-14-08, from WNDU website report]

FOUR MAJOR RAILROADS AGREE ON POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL STANDARDS: With the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 just a presidential signature away from becoming law, four Class I railroads already are taking action to comply with the legislation's positive train control (PTC) mandates. The four -BNSF Railway Co., CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Corp. and Union Pacific Railroad - reached an agreement on PTC interoperability standards while two of them announced plans to begin implementing the technology in the Los Angeles area. One of the major obstacles facing Class I's as they work to meet the mandate is the interoperability of various PTC systems among various large roads and passenger railroads that share tracks. [United Transportation Union, 10-13-08, from Progressive Railroading report]

PANEL NAMED TO STUDY METROLINK SAFETY: In the wake of the devastating Chatsworth train crash last month, Metrolink's board has appointed an 11-member panel of industry experts to take a comprehensive look at the commuter rail's safety and operating procedures. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 10-11-08, from Los Angeles Times report]

AMTRAK REPORTS RECORD RIDERSHIP: Amtrak set a ridership record for the year ended September 30 with 28.7 million passengers, and that revenue on its flagship line rose more than 14 percent. Trips on the rail service's high-speed line, the Acela Express between Boston, New York and Washington, were up 6.5 percent. Overall revenue growth was strongest in the Northeast, Amtrak's busiest region, rising 14.6 percent over last year to $863.4-million. Total revenue at Amtrak was $1.7-billion, up 14 percent over 2007. Ridership was also up at the railroad's Chicago hub and on its West Coast routes. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-10-08, from Reuters report]

C.N. TO UPGRADE IRON ORE CAR FLEET: CN is acquiring 232 rapid-discharge ore cars from National Steel Car and is refurbishing 500 existing ore cars as part of a long-term plan to upgrade the company's car fleet for transporting pelletized iron ore produced in the Upper Midwest. Delivery of the new ore cars will start in January 2009, permitting the retirement of the same number of older cars. [RailwayAge.com, 10-10-08]

U.P. TO SWITCH DOMESTIC CONTAINER BUSINESS FROM SEATTLE TO TACOMA: A new $3-million deal between the Port of Tacoma and the Union Pacific Railroad will bring additional business to the port's underused South Intermodal Rail Yard. The shift of Union Pacific's domestic container traffic to Tacoma will allow Union Pacific in Seattle to accept more international container traffic for rail transport to the Midwest and the East Coast. At its new Tacoma location, the railroad will have additional capacity to handle domestic containers beyond what it had handled in Seattle. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-8-08, from News Tribune website report]

KEVIN SCHIEFFER OUT AS PRESIDENT OF DM&E: Richard Hamlin, Trustee for CP's acquisition of the DM&E, advised CP of changes to DM&E's senior management team. Effective immediately, Kevin Schieffer, President and CEO, has left the company. Ed Terbell, Chief Operating Officer, and Kurt Feaster, Chief Financial Officer, will manage the day to day operations of the railway while the DM&E remains in trust. On September 30, CP received regulatory approval from the US Surface Transportation Board to acquire control of the DM&E Railroad and its subsidiaries. The STB denied all requests for conditions other than those agreed to voluntarily by CP. Following a 30-day review period, CP expects to assume control of the DM&E October 30. [Canadian Pacific, 10-7-08]

THREE WITNESSES SAY METROLINK SIGNAL WAS GREEN PRIOR TO CRASH: Three observers who say they were at the Chatsworth Metrolink station before last month's deadly train crash have asserted in interviews that a final, crucial railroad signal was green as the commuter line's engineer headed toward the collision point. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-4-08, from Los Angeles Times website report]

GENESEE & WYOMING ACQUIRES GEORGIA SOUTWESTERN R.R.: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. said it has acquired the Georgia Southwestern Railroad, Inc., for cash consideration of approximately $16.5-million and the assumption of $5.4-million in debt, subject to adjustment for final working capital. Headquartered in Dawson, Ga., the Georgia Southwestern operates over 220 miles of track between White Oak, Ala., and Smithville, Ga.; Cuthbert, Ga., and Bainbridge, Ga. and in and around Columbus, Ga. The Georgia Southwestern connects to GWI's Chattahoochee Industrial Railroad in Saffold, Ga., via trackage rights. [Genesee & Wyoming, 10-2-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ISSUES SUSTAINABILITY REPORT: Railroad operator Norfolk Southern has issued its first corporate sustainability report. Norfolk Southern says the report issued Oct.1 describes its commitment to responsible economic, environmental and social performance. Chief Executive Wick Moorman's letter introducing the report says the company wants to become a leader in fuel conservation, emissions reduction and efficient energy use, among other things. [United Transportion Union, 10-2-08, from Associated Press report]

METROLINK ENGINEER SENT TEXT MESSAGE 22 SECONDS BEFORE THE CRASH, NTSB SAYS: The National Transportation Safety Board said Oct.1 that the Metrolink engineer involved in the Sept.12 train accident in Los Angeles had sent a cell phone text message 22 seconds before his commuter train crashed head-on into a freight train. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 10-1-08]

GENESEE & WYOMING COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF OHIO CENTRAL: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. announced Oct.1 that it has completed its acquisition of 10 short line railroads known as the Ohio Central Railroad System (OCR) for $234.3-million in cash, subject to adjustment for final working capital. The cash purchase price includes $7.5-million of contingent consideration that GWI has placed into escrow, which will be paid to the seller upon satisfaction of certain conditions. OCR has more than 170 employees, operates over 445 miles of track and owns 64 locomotives. The railroads handle approximately 140,000 annual carloads, primarily in the coal, steel and solid waste industries. [United Transportation Union, 10-1-08, from PR Newswire report]

D.O.T. SECRETARY ANNOUNCES FUNDING TO IMPROVE INTERCITY PASSENGER RAIL: As Americans continue a historic cut back on driving and turn to other forms of transportation like rail and transit, a new approach to funding intercity passenger rail projects will lead to improved service and better on-time performance across the country, announced U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters today [Sep.30]. As part of the new plan to improve intercity passenger rail service nationwide, the Secretary announced the Department is providing $30-million to match local investments in 15 rail capacity projects across the country. These federal-state partnerships will support projects designed to cut delays and expand capacity on existing intercity passenger rail routes and help provide new services where none exist today. MORE... [U.S. Department of Transportation, 9-30-08]

DM&E SALE WON'T MEAN LAYOFFS, EXEC SAYS: Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad President Kevin Schieffer says the Surface Transportation Board approval of the DM&E's sale to the Canadian Pacific Railway clears the way for the CP to become involved in day-to-day operations. Schieffer says he doesn't expect the merger will result in any layoffs of the 1,000-plus employees of DM&E and its subsidiary, the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad Corporation. There's a 30-day appeal period, but Schieffer says he doesn't think that will change anything.. MORE... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-30-08, from Associated Press report]

STB APPROVES CP RAIL ACQUISITION OF DM&E: The Surface Transportation Board has announced that it has approved the proposed acquisition of control by the Canadian Pacific Railway Corporation and its indirect subsidiary Soo Line Holding Company of the Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corporation and its wholly owned railroad subsidiary the Iowa Chicago & Eastern Railroad Corporation.. MORE... [U.S. Surface Transportation Board, 9-30-08]

LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER FACES JAIL FOR TRAIN DERAILMENT: The engineer of a train that went out of control on a downhill grade, derailed and polluted a northwest Pennsylvania trout stream is facing jail time. Michael Seifert pleaded guilty in McKean County Court to charges of causing a catastrophe and improperly disposing of hazardous waste in the June 2006 derailment. Thousands of fish were killed when sodium hydroxide spilled into the stream near Gardeau, 135 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Norfolk Southern last year pleaded no contest to pollution charges, and agreed to pay $7.5-million to settle civil cases. Seifert is sentenced to 1-2 years in jail. [United Transportation Union, 9-30-08, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK PLANS TO DEMOLISH UNUSED INTERLOCKING TOWERS: Amtrak is proposing to demolish the towers in Groton, Hartford, Westerly, Pawtucket, R.I., Central Falls, R.I. and Attleboro, Massachusetts, built between 1909 and 1930. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-29-08, from The Day website report by Katie Warchut]

F.R.A., NORFOLK SOUTHERN PARTNER TO MONITOR ECP BRAKES: The Federal Railroad Administration is awarding a $200,000 grant to Norfolk Southern Railway to monitor the performance of electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brake systems. Norfolk Southern is contributing $250,000 to this project. The system will permit collection and comparison of maintenance-related data in order to determine the business benefits of ECP technology. ECP brakes simultaneously apply the brakes on all rail cars leading to improved train handling, shorter stopping distances, fuel savings and a lower risk of derailments as compared to conventional air brake systems. [United Transportation Union, 9-29-08]

RAIL BILL MAY ALLOW ONE-PERSON CREWS: U.S. railroads may be able to boost profits by trimming locomotive crews to one person from two under rail-safety legislation moving through Congress, a Morgan Stanley analyst said. The measure, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today called a top priority, would require technology that may allow railroads to get approval for one-person crews, said William Greene, the New York-based analyst, in a report yesterday. The technology, called positive train control, would automatically apply brakes when engineers miss signals. Other provisions in the legislation, including limits on the number of hours train operators are allowed to work, may reduce profit, Greene said, adding that rail productivity gains might offset any losses. The bill's proposed limit of 276 work hours a month for train operators led the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen to stay neutral on the bill, union Vice President John Tolman said. The union lobbied for some of its safety provisions. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-29-08, from Bloomberg News report]

METROLINK ADDING AN ASSISTANT ENGINEER TO SOME TRAINS: Under new pressure to swiftly increase safety measures, Metrolink will begin adding a second engineer to some of its commuter trains in the first visible reform since a deadly crash in Chatsworth, California. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 9-27-08, from Lost Angeles Times report]

KING STREET STATION RESTORATION BEGINS: The City of Seattle has begun restoration of King Street Station.  The city purchased the station from BNSF earlier this year, which allowed construction to finally proceed.  Roof replacement currently underway will conclude by March 2009. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-26-08]

U.P. REJECTS STATE GRANT TO IMPROVE DONNER PASS LINE: Union Pacific recently rejected a $43-million grant from California to improve its Sacramento-Reno line over Donner Pass, currently used by Amtrak's California Zehpyr.  UP objected to state requirements that its contribution to half the project cost be tied to access for additional passenger trains. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-26-08]

CSX FINALIZES BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION: After waging a long, bitter fight against dissident investors led by two activist hedge funds, CSX has concluded its June 25 shareholders election that put four minority directors on its 12-person board. MORE..[Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-25-08, from Traffic World website report]

G.E. UNVEILS NEW FREIGHT LOCOMOTIVE FOR EUROPEAN MARKETS: GE Transportation's latest adaptation is on view this week in Berlin for more than 75,000 people attending InnoTrans, the world's largest rail exhibition. The Erie-based division of the General Electric Co. has unveiled its new 16-cylinder, 3,700-hp engine that's being built in Grove City to power the new PowerHaul locomotive, designed specifically for European applications. The first of these new engines to hit the market will be installed in 30 new locomotives ordered in November by Freightliner Group Ltd. [United Transportation Union, 9-25-08, from Times-News report]

C.N. FOUND IN BREACH OF SERVICE TO FOUR GRAIN SHIPPERS: Canadian National Railway, Canada's largest railway, breached its service obligations to four small grain shippers last year, the Canadian Transportation Agency said. The transportation regulator said the railway failed to provide enough rail cars in a timely fashion to Paterson Grain, Parrish and Heimbecker Ltd, North East Terminal Ltd and North West Terminal Ltd during the year ended July 31, 2008. In the future, the CTA said CN Rail would have to meet prescribed performance standards for the four shippers. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-25-08, from Reuters report]

HOUSE PASSES RAIL SAFETY BILL: The U.S. House voted to require rail-safety technology that may have prevented a Sept.12 crash in Los Angeles that was the deadliest for a passenger train in 15 years. The voice vote would require more use of so-called positive train control equipment, which automatically applies brakes when engineers miss signals. The gear would be installed on passenger and commuter routes and on some freight lines, based on risk, by 2016. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-24-08, from Bloomberg News report]

U.P. OUTLINES 2009 CAPITAL NEEDS: James R. Young, Union Pacific chairman, president and chief executive, told the federal Surface Transportation Board in a peak season update letter that it expects to spend about $3-billion on rail system infrastructure and to expand capacity next year. That would be in the same range as the $3.1-billion capital plan for 2008 that UP first announced last February. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trinmen, 9-22-09 from Shipping Digest website report]

AMTRAK REVIVES DOUBLE-POINTS PROMOTION: For the third year in a row, Amtrak is offering double points for Amtrak Guest Rewards on qualifying train travel booked and completed by Dec.12. Applicants must be a member of the Amtrak Guest Rewards program to qualify, but the program is open to all. Amtrak points can be redeemed toward train travel, hotel stays, car rentals, gift cards at a variety of retailers and other items. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-22-08, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK EXPANDING LONG-DISTANCE DINING-CAR MENUS: Amtrak will debut expanded long-distance dining car menus on October 1. The menus will include rotating specials for all three meal periods, route-specific dinner specials, and more variety in each item category. Meanwhile, effective today [Sep.19], Amtrak has replaced the dining car on the Capitol Limited with the Cross-Country Cafe (Diner-Lounge) due to a shortage of traditional Superliner diners.  However, the Capitol will retain both the full Diner menu and a staffed Sightseer Lounge car. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-19-08]

BLADENSBURG, MD, CSX OVERPASS OPENS: After 12 years of campaigning, planning and building, the CSX railroad overpass in Bladensburg, Maryland, opened Sep.14, relieving drivers accustomed to sitting in traffic on Route 450 as trains cross the road. SHA spokesman Chuck Gischlar said the new overpass will not only eliminate traffic delays for drivers, but also for emergency personnel. Although the overpass is one part of the $74-million project, it is the cornerstone and will have the biggest impact on motorists, Gischlar said. The 1.2-mile project, slated for completion by fall 2009, includes two new bridges to carry trains over Upshur Street in Bladensburg and an Anacostia River tributary. [United Transportation Union, 9-18-08, from The Gazette report]

DEFUNCT LUXURY TRAIN OPERATOR SELLING RAIL CARS: Luxury train operator GrandLuxe Rail Journeys is selling 31 rail cars after announcing three weeks ago it was shutting down. GrandLuxe, based in Evergreen, Colorado, said that 20 of the cars are fully operational and 11 are not in service. GrandLuxe formerly was known as American Orient Express. [United Transportation Union, 9-18-08, from Rocky Mountain News report]

METROLINK ENGINEER SAID TO TEXT WHILE ON DUTY: Federal investigators said Sep.17 that records from Metrolink engineer Robert M. Sanchez's cell phone show that he sent and received text messages while on duty last Friday, the day he was involved in a catastrophic collision in Chatsworth, the Times reports. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 9-17-08, from Los Angeles Times report]

METROLINK ENGINEER DID NOT APPLY BRAKES BEFORE CRASH, N.T.S.B. SAYS: The engineer of a commuter train that slammed into a freight train on Friday, killing 25 people, never applied the brakes even after he bypassed a red signal and closed in on certain disaster, a federal investigator said. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-16-08, from New York Times website report]

APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS RULING ON CSX SHARE VOTES: A federal appeals court has backed a lower court's decision not to bar two hedge funds locked in a legal battle with CSX Corp. from voting their shares in the railroad at the company's annual meeting in June. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 9-15-08, from Reuters report]

SIGNALS WERE WORKING OK, OFFICIALS SAY: Three signals that should have warned a Metrolink engineer to stop before hitting a freight train appear to have been working and visible prior to last week's catastrophic collision, federal safety investigators said. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 9-15-08, from Los Angeles Times report]

METROLINK SPOKESWOMAN RESIGNS OVER ACCIDENT STATEMENT: Three days after a commuter train crash killed 25 people, the spokeswoman for rail agency Metrolink resigned after being criticized for public statements she made over the weekend indicating that the agency was responsible for the accident. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-15-08, from Wall Street Journal website report]

U.S. TO SUBPOENA METROLINK ENGINEER'S CELL PHONE RECORDS: Investigators will subpoena cell-phone records of the commuter train engineer in Friday's fatal collision with a freight train near Los Angeles. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 9-15-08, from UPI report]

OFFICIALS INVESTIGATING METROLINK CRASH: Federal officials investigating Friday's fatal Metrolink train crash focused on whether a signal that should have alerted the engineer to stop the train was working properly, and whether it went unheeded. National Transportation Safety Board member Kitty Higgins said a computer reading indicated the last signal before the collision site was displaying a red light. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-15-08, from Los Angeles Times website report]

METROLINK CRASH KILLS 25: As the death toll in the Sep.12 commuter-train crash near Los Angeles climbed to at least 25, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that a Metrolink spokesperson is blaming the commuter-train engineer for the crash. More than 220 passengers were aboard the commuter train, and scores are injured, many critically. The Metrolink spokesperson says the Metrolink engineer, allegedly ignored a red light, causing the head-on crash with a Union Pacific freight train. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 9-13-08, from Los Angeles Times report]

CSX TO PAY D.C. $650,000 FOR 2007 COAL TRAIN DERAILMENT: CSX has agreed to pay the D.C. government more than $650,000 in response to a train derailment in November that sent six freight cars loaded with 100 tons of coal each into the Anacostia River. A consent decree signed Sep.4 calls for CSX to pay the District $50,000 in civil penalties, $60,561.79 to reimburse the city for its emergency response, $50,000 to restore the natural resources damaged by the derailment and $500,000 toward an environmental project "to benefit the Anacostia River ecosystem." The Nov.9 incident occurred after a CSX employee failed to properly secure the brakes on an 89-car freight train being moved within the Benning Road rail yard. The train coasted more than a quarter mile to the Anacostia bridge, which had been closed a year for structural problems. The bridge collapsed under the weight of the train. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-12-08, from D.C. Examiner website report]

RUINS OF 130-YEAR-OLD TRAIN DEPOT FOUND IN L.A.: Archeologists uncovered the ruins of the 130-year-old Southern Pacific's Railroad River Station in downtown Los Angeles. A lot has happened historically along a 32-acre parcel between downtown and the river. It is a place where Indians camped; the Spanish dug an irrigation canal called the Zanja Madre and planted crops; and then in the 1880s something really big happened. Remnants of the River Station, as it was called, include the redwood foundation for its historic round house. The brick foundations for shops and grease pits were also found below the ground. As L.A. boomed, it quickly outgrew the River Station. So, the buildings were carted across the river. The old one was covered and then turned into a rail yard. Archeologists can't uncover everything that lies beneath the park. However, they say what they've found will be left intact. When state officials unveil final plans for the park's development, the items will be open for all to see. [United Transportation Union, 9-10-08, from KABC website report]

TWO RAIL OFFICIALS ACCUSED OF STEALING SCRAP: Two Metro-North Railroad officials were accused of stealing scrap metal from the Harmon train yards and selling it for $1,700. James Wiley, 50, a superintendent of stations; and John Berlingeri, 41, a supervisor of structures, were arrested Sep.9 at the railroad's Manhattan offices and charged with third-degree grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, felonies. They were arraigned in Croton Village Court, released on $1,000 bond and ordered to return to court Oct. 1. The two allegedly sold the station materials as scrap earlier this month, said Marjorie Anderson, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the parent agency to Metro-North. [United Transportation Union, 9-10-08, from Poughkeepsie Journal report]

ANALYST SEES SHORT-TERM LEAP FOR TWO RAIL STOCKS: A UBS analyst said Sep.10 that a strong rally in shares of the two largest railroads is likely over the next three months, suggesting that low fuel prices and better-than-expected third-quarter results will drive the stocks. Analyst Rick Paterson put "Short-term Buy" ratings on the stocks of Union Pacific Corp. and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. He also upgraded his 12-month rating on Burlington Northern to "Buy" from "Neutral." He suggested shares of both companies could be poised for a bounce of greater than 10 percent in the near future, as lower fuel prices are expected to push third-quarter earnings up past current expectations. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-10-08, from Associated Press report]

HISTORIC TRAIN DEPOT BEING DEMOLISHED IN WEST VIRGINIA: Rainelle, W.Va., officials say the city had no choice but to tear down a historic train depot. City recorder Pete Adams says that while the city owned the building, it didn't own the property it sat on. The property owner recently sent a letter to the city asking that the building be removed, and Adams says the city couldn't afford to move it. As of Sep.5, one section of the old depot had already been demolished. Adams says the structure was made completely of pine, and will be burned after it's torn down. The depot was at least 80 years old and was one of the last remnants linking Rainelle to the peak of the Meadow River Lumber Co. operations. The city bought the building from CSX about two years ago. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-8-08, from Associated Press report]

NINE-MILE RAIL LINE TO BE BUILT IN MINNESOTA: The Surface Transportation Board has announced a decision permitting the Itasca County, Minnesota, Regional Rail Authority to build a nine-mile rail line from a Class I rail connection at Taconite to the site of a new steel mill to be constructed by Minnesota Steel Industries at Nashwauk. An existing short line will operate the new line under contract. The Class I connection is a line between Grand Rapids and Forbes, Minn., that is owned in part by BNSF Railway and in part by Canadian National. The application for the new Iron Range line was filed with the STB in March 2007. [RailwayAge.com, 9-8-08]

ABANDONED KATY DRAWBRIDGE COULD BE USED FOR TRAIL, COALITION SAYS: The U.S. Coast Guard has scheduled a public meeting for later this month in Boonville, Missouri, to review plans to remove a drawbridge that spans the Missouri River. The bridge has not been used for rail traffic since 1986, and the Coast Guard considers any unused bridge an obstruction. Over the years, the Coast Guard has not pressed hard for removal because of the possibility the bridge could be used for bike and pedestrian traffic. [United Transportation Union, 9-8-08, from Associated Press report]

FUNDS ALLOCATED FOR TORONTO SUBWAY EXTENSION: The Canadian government will provide up to $622-million for the Toronto Transit Commission's Toronto-York Spadina subway extension under the Building Canada infrastructure fund. The government already has committed $75-million for the project under the Public Transit Capital Trust. The 5.3-mile extension will expand subway service to York University and the Vaughan Corporate Center. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 9-8-08]

DENMARK TO ADD 10 CONTESSA TRAINSETS: Bombardier has announced that it has received an order from Danish State Railways for 10 three-car, inter-regional Contessa commuter trains valued $118-million, with an option for 30 additional trains. The 110-mph trains are capable of operating over a line that bridges the Oresund Strait between Denmark and Sweden, despite differences in the signaling and power systems of the two countries. [RailwayAge.com, 9-5-08]

TRAIN TRAVEL SURGES OVER LABOR DAY WEEKEND: Amtrak recorded a 10 percent increase in passengers as usage of other modes declined over the Labor Day weekend as compared to 2007. The Air Transport Association estimated a decline in air travel of 6.5 percent, while AAA estimated road travel of distances greater than 50 miles to have declined one percent for the weekend. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-5-08]

CPR FILES TO ABANDON 61-MILE LINE IN NORTH DAKOTA: Soo Line Railroad Company - d/b/a Canadian Pacific Railway Company - has filed to abandon an approximately 61-mile line of railroad between Kramer and Bisbee, in Bottineau, Rolette, and Towner counties, N.D. The line traverses Postal Service Zip Codes 58748, 58384, 58366, 58353, and 58317. CPR has certified that no local traffic has moved over the line for at least two years, and all overhead traffic can and has been rerouted over other lines. [Surface Transportation Board, 9-5-08]

GRANDLUXE RAIL TOUR OPERATOR DECLARES BANKRUPTCY: GrandLuxe Rail Journeys Inc., originally American Orient Express, has ceased operations and will shut down. GrandLuxe service was provided on certain Amtrak long-distance trains. [RailwayAge.com, 9-4-08]

U.S. RAIL TRAFFIC DOWN SLIGHTLY IN AUGUST: Both carload and intermodal freight were down slightly during August on U.S. railroads, in comparison with the same month last year. U.S. railroads originated 1,340,387 carloads of freight during the month, down 6,125 carloads (0.5 percent) from August 2007. U.S. railroads also originated 941,500 intermodal trailers and containers in August 2008, 16,040 units (1.7 percent) fewer than August 2007. [Assn. of American Railroads, 9-4-08]

ANGRY COMMUTERS BURN TRAIN IN ARGENTINA: Furious commuters in Buenos Aires set fire to a train Sep.4 over delays during the morning rush hour, incidents the government later blamed on leftist activists. Television images showed black smoke and flames engulfing the train at the station of Merlo, in the western suburbs of the capital. At nearby Castelar, passengers hurled stones at the ticket office and blocked the rails. A justice minister said the faulty train's brakes had been sabotaged and leftist political activists took rocks and flares from their backpacks to incite violence and set the train aflame. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-4-08, from Reuters report]

CSX ASSESSES IMPACT OF HURRICANE GUSTAV: CSX said Sep.3 it had completed an initial inspection of track and terminals in the Gulf Coast region impacted by Hurricane Gustav. No significant damage occurred to any of CSX's bridges or terminals, but the company did find at least 21 miles of damaged track, beginning about 10 miles east of New Orleans, which will take at least two weeks to repair. During that period, a daily average of 7-to-10 trains will continue to be rerouted through alternative gateways at Memphis, Tenn., Birmingham, Ala., and East St. Louis, Ill., CSX said. [RailwayAge.com, 9-3-08]

REHAB OF CHICAGO LOOP TRACKS BEGINS: Replacement of decades-old track, rail ties and signals on the CTA's elevated structure in the Loop begins Sept.3 and will run until Thanksgiving. The $24.3-million project will lead to faster, more reliable service around the two miles of track in the Loop that dates to the 1880s, CTA President Ron Huberman said. The majority of the work to reduce Loop slow zones will take place on the Lake Street and Wabash Avenue tracks on weekends, starting Friday night. [United Transportation Union, 9-3-08, from Chicago Tribune report]

SPRINGFIELD TERMINAL ACCUSED OF FRAUD: A federal district court has been asked by Greenbrier, a supplier of rail cars, to put Springfield Terminal Railway and Boston & Maine Corp., alternatively known as Guilford Transportation and Pan Am Railways, under control of a court-appointed receiver in order that the rail carrier, privately held and controlled by Timothy Mellon, pay its bills. Greenbrier told the federal district court that the conduct by Springfield Terminal of "knowingly and fraudulently entering into contracts with creditors in a dilatory effort to resist payment of a valid debt is the very same type of conduct that the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act was enacted to stop." [United Transportation Union, 9-3-08]

U.P. PLANS INTERMODAL FACILITY IN NEW MEXICO: When all is said and done, about $300-million will be spent on Union Pacific Railroad infrastructure facilities to be built near Santa Teresa, N.M. It will include a fueling and freight-shipping center and eventually an intermodal facility where freight can be shifted between trucks and trains. Construction on the intermodal facility is set for 2014, but there is the chance that it could begin sooner. [United Transportation Union, 9-3-08, from Las Cruces Sun-News report]

AMTRAK BRINGING 1,024 NEW ORLEANS EVACUEES TO MEMPHIS: On Saturday morning [Aug.30], an Amtrak train carrying 1,024 people headed north from New Orleans for Memphis. Others sat on dozens of buses bound for Baton Rouge and Alexandria, La. No one knew where their bus or train would go until the moment they stepped aboard. In all, more than 30,000 people are expected to receive evacuation assistance that will take them to cities north of what could be a devastating storm surge and winds well over 125 mph on the Louisiana coast. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-30-08, from Memphis Commercial Appeal website report]

STORM DISRUPTS NEW ORLEANS AMTRAK SERVICE: Amtrak said Aug.29 it was temporarily suspending rail service to and from New Orleans because of approaching severe weather and an emergency declaration. Gustav regained hurricane strength Friday afternoon as it moved from Jamaica to the Caymans. Amtrak said it would make train equipment already in New Orleans available to federal and state authorities for use in evacuation of New Orleans. The action is in keeping with Amtrak's role as a national transportation asset under terms of its contract with the Federal Emergency Management Administration, which is preparing for the evacuation of New Orleans. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-29-08, from UPI report]

TWO CREW MEMBERS KILLED AFTER U.P. TRAIN HITS PROPANE TRUCK IN OKLAHOMA: Two people were killed and another critically injured Friday morning [Aug.29] when a freight train hit a propane tanker truck south of Medford, Oklahoma, triggering a massive explosion. The two who died were crew members on the Union Pacific train. The injured truck driver was airlifted to a hospital in Kansas in critical condition. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-29-08, from Enid News & Eagle website report]

ACTION NEEDED TO PREVENT RAIL GRIDLOCK, RESEARCH GROUP SAYS: A nonprofit-research group says more government action is needed to prevent future gridlock on U.S. railways, as freight volumes are expected to double in the next 30 years. Rand suggests a solution to this "crisis," resulting from factors such as soaring U.S. exports, should balance the private interests of shippers and railroads with the cost to the public. The total costs are expected to be massive - at least $148-billion over the next three decades - to expand rail lines. According to the Association of American Railroads, the seven major U.S. railroad companies say they could fund about two-thirds of the cost, leaving the rest for tax incentives, public-private partnerships or other sources. As more shipments shift from truck to rail because of high fuel prices and road congestion, analysts say solutions are becoming more critical. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-28-08, from Seattle Times website report]

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, VA., FIGHTS N.S. INTERMODAL SITE: Virginia's Montgomery County board of supervisors says it will fight the state's plan to help Norfolk Southern Railway build a new Roanoke Region Intermodal Facility there. Reports say the state plans to spend about $40 million from its Rail Enhancement Fund on the rail-truck transfer facility, mainly to build a highway link to nearby Interstate 81 and its heavy north-south truck traffic. The terminal would be a key link in the railroad's Heartland Corridor. The county is still drawing up its suit to challenge such taxpayer spending under the state constitution for a private facility, and NS officials declined to comment pending its filing. [United Transportation Union, 8-28-08, from Traffic World Magazine report]

GROUND ZERO TRANSIT HUB DESIGN MAY BE SIMPLIFIED: With the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey seeking significant savings in the budget and the timetable of the trade center reconstruction, a key element of the - a vast underground mezzanine free of columns - may be in jeopardy. Estimates vary on how much the projected cost of the transportation hub currently exceeds its $2.5-billion budget, but it could be at least several hundred million dollars. Two alternatives under consideration call for standard column-and-beam construction instead of the long spans and cantilevers proposed by Mr. Calatrava. No version would eliminate the ribbed and winged roof over the hub's arrival hall, east of Greenwich Street, which Mr. Calatrava has likened to a bird in flight. It is the underground mezzanine, west of Greenwich Street, that will be the functional heart of the hub, occupying the level between the arrival hall and the PATH platforms. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-28-08, from New York Times website report]

MEXICO PLANS HUGE BAJA PORT FOR U.S. TRADE: Mexico's government is setting sail with the largest infrastructure project in the nation's history, a $4-billion seaport that it hopes will one day rival those of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Plans call for the construction of a massive port in the tiny coastal village of Punta Colonet, about 150 miles south of Tijuana, along with new rail lines to whisk Asian-made goods north to the United States. Mexico's aim is to snatch some Pacific cargo traffic from Southern California's ports, whose growth is constrained by urban development and environmental concerns. Punta Colonet is expected to have a capacity of two million shipping containers annually when it opens in 2014, Mexico's transportation secretariat said. But officials envision it ultimately handling five times that amount. Last year, the ports of L.A. and Long Beach handled 15.7 million containers combined. [United Transportation Union, 8-28-08, from Los Angeles Times report]

MISCOMMUNICATION BLAMED IN CALGARY TRAIN CRASH: A communication mixup is blamed for the collision of a light-rail train and an overhead construction crane in Calgary Aug.27 that sent six people to the hospital. Authorities say the accident occurred when the boom arm of the construction crane crashed through the front window of the operator's seat of the train. The impact of the crash caused the train to derail, injuring the passengers. [United Transportation Union, 8-28-08, from Canadian Press report]

ACELA TRAINS MAY EXPAND TO MEET DEMAND: Amtrak may add cars to its Acela and raise fares as riders fill coaches on the Washington-to-Boston route, chief executive officer Alexander Kummant said. Demand for the high-speed service also may spur Amtrak to levy a surcharge to help buy additional equipment, Kummant said in an interview at the Washington headquarters of the national passenger railroad. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-27-08, from Bloomberg News report]

METRA GETTING RID OF SALOON CARS: Saloon cars, a long-time fixture on the commuter trains operating between downtown Chicago and its suburbs, are being phased out by the Metra commuter rail system. Aug.29 will be the last call for the passengers who regularly ride the 10 trains with bar cars. Metra officials say the cars aren't worth the revenue they produce. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-27-08, from Associated Press report]

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR SIGNS BULLET-TRAIN MEASURE: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Aug.26 signed a measure for a statewide bullet train system. The high-speed rail legislation will replace a $10-billion bond measure on the November ballot with a revised version of the proposal that makes the bullet train system more appealing to voters statewide. [United Transportation Union, 8-27-08, from San Francisco Chronicle report]

TORONTO RESUMES STREETCAR PROCUREMENT EFFORT: Toronto Transit Commission staff will seek approval from TTC commissioners to launch a multi-phase bid process with three railcar builders for an order of 204 low-floor streetcars. TTC has previously signaled its eagerness to solicit bids. In preliminary discussions, each vendor has stated it could meet the technical requirements established in the original Request For Proposals. [RailwayAge.com, 8-26-08]

SEPTA EXPANDING LOCAL SERVICES: Beginning the end of August, the SEPTA rail line that extends from Philadelphia to the Paoli/Malvern area will offer increased late-night trips. Similar additions are planned on the R6 Norristown and R7 Trenton lines. A SEPTA spokesman did not rule out the eventual addition of service on Lansdale's section of the R5 line. [United Transportation Union, 8-25-08, from Times Herald website report]

TEXAS COUNTY OK'S FUNDS FOR LIGHT-RAIL LINE: The Denton County, Tex., Regional Transportation Council has approved $191-million to fully fund the county Transportation Authority's 21-mile diesel light rail transit route. The funding would allow final design and construction to commence early next year. The line would include five stations and link Denton with Carrollton, Tex., with transfer connectings to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light rail system. Revenue service is targeted to begin in December 2010. [RailwayAge.com, 8-25-08]

GRAND ISLAND VIEWING PLATFORM WORK BEGINS: A groundbreaking for a Union Pacific-BNSF railroad viewing platform in Grand Island, Nebraska, took place Aug.21. As members of the Great Plains chapter of the National Railway Historical Society foresee it, a viewing platform will be constructed there around a caboose. The chapter is busy planning the facility in addition to the caboose, and there is to be a station-style covered platform adjacent to the caboose, parking and many other amenities. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-23-08, from Grand Island Independent website report]

MARC TO ACQUIRE 13 CARS FROM VRE: Maryland's MARC Commuter Rail has agreed to purchase 13 cars from Virginia Railway Express. The cars are identical to MARC's "MARC III" Kawasaki bi-levels already in service.  VRE has deemed the cars surplus as they have acquired a fleet of new gallery-style cars for their service; the sale permits VRE to standardize their fleet.  MARC should have the cars in service by November. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-22-08]

PORTLAND APPROVES LOCAL FUNDS FOR STREETCAR LOOP: Portland, Oregon's, City Council has approved $6.3-million for design and engineering of a 3.3-mile, $147-million project to extend streetcar service, dubbed the Eastsde Streetcar Loop, across the Broadway Bridge to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. [RailwayAge.com, 8-22-08]

SANFORD AUTO TRAIN DEPOT TO GET RENOVATED: New renovations will soon be underway at the Amtrak Auto Train station in Sanford, Florida, the train's southern terminus, which was torn apart by the 2004 hurricanes. The refurbishment is expected to improve the flow of cars and improve accessibility. [United Transportation Union, 8-20-08, from WFTV website report]

EARLY R.R. TUNNEL UNEARTHED IN SCHENECTADY: A wall of one of the nation's first railroad tunnels has been excavated in Schenectady. Workers uncovered part of the tunnel's western wall. The 1,500-foot-long tunnel was built in 1832. Horses pulled trains through the tunnel because they were considered too much of a fire hazard to travel through city streets. The tunnel was filled in six years after opening. The tunnel wall was found seven feet below ground. [United Transportation Union, 8-14-08, from Associated Press report]

SEPTA, N.J.T. ENTER JOINT TICKETING AGREEMENT: NJ Transit and SEPTA will sell tickets to all of each other's stations, as part of a joint ticketing operation. Tickets to SEPTA and NJ Transit destinations are now available at NJ Transit vending machines, at rail ticket windows at the Trenton station, and at SEPTA ticket windows at Suburban and Market East stations. Fares will not be affected. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-14-08, from Philadelphia Enquirer website report]

AMTRAK RIDERSHIP SETS ALL-TIME MONTHLY RECORD: For the month of July, Amtrak ridership increased to 2,750,278, nearly a 14 percent increase, marking the most passengers carried in any single month in Amtrak's 37 year history. Among the trains on the Amtrak national network, the Coast Starlight - which operates between Seattle and Los Angeles - was the most popular overnight train in the month of July with more than 47,000 passengers, a 27.7 percent increase. [Amtrak 8-14-08]

N.J.T. TO PURCHASE 50 ADDITIONAL MULTILEVEL CARS: New Jersey Transit has approved the purchase of 50 additional multilevel railcars to help meet current and anticipated ridership demand. The option increases NJT's overall multilevel order to 329; 170 multilevels already have delivered by Bombardier Transportation. Gov. Jon Corzine, in a statement, praised the multilevels as a "near-term solution" to capacity issues faced by the state, particularly concerning access on the Northeast Corridor to New York. [RailwayAge.com, 8-13-08]

PLANNING COUNCIL APPROVES CSX TERMINAL PROPOSAL IN WINTER HAVEN: The Central Florida Regional Planning Council has approved a proposed 218-acre rail terminal site in southern Winter Haven. The approval, with 61 conditions on traffic, the environment and other factors, has been forwarded to the city of Winter Haven. The vote to approve the development by a CSX subsidiary, Evansville Western Railway, was 10-1. The Winter Haven Planning Commission will hear the development proposal on Sept.24 and the City Commission is scheduled to take action Oct.29. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-13-08, from Lakeland Ledger website report]

NYS&W FILES TO DISCONTINUE 41 MILES OF TRACK IN BINGHAMTON AREA: New York Susquehanna and Western Railway has filed legal notices announcing its intention to formally discontinue 41 miles of track between Chenango Forks and Sherburne, N.Y. The notice said the railroad will seek an exemption from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board relieving the railroad of its obligation to provide service along the line which has not been in use since 2006. [United Transportation Union, 8-11-08, from Bingham Press report]

DOMESTIC INTERMODAL GROWS AT HIGHEST RATE IN FOUR YEARS: Intermodal Association of North America reports that during the second quarter of 2008, domestic intermodal volume grew at its highest rate since the second quarter of 2004. During the 2008 quarter, volume was 5.4 percent higher than in the comparable 2007 quarter, said IANA in its Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report. [RailwayAge.com, 8-8-08]

CALIFORNIA COUNTY TO BUY 32-MILE U.P. LINE: Santa Cruz County transportation leaders have agreed to pay $14.2-million for the 32-mile Union Pacific rail line that runs along the coast from Davenport to Watsonville. The goal is to turn the scenic rail line into a hiking and biking trail with passenger train service, though construction of such a project is several years away. Union Pacific will continue running trains on the tracks through Santa Cruz County - about three times a week - until the purchase is finalized. [United Transportation Union, 8-8-08, from Santa Cruz Sentinel report]

U.S. RAIL CARLOADINGS UP IN JULY: U.S. railroads originated 1,606,877 carloads of freight in July 2008, up 1.1 percent from July 2007. U.S. railroads also originated 1,125,795 intermodal trailers and containers in July 2008, a decrease of 2.2 from July 2007. Commodities showing carload gains in July 2008 included coal (up 4.3 percent); grain (up 7.2 percent); and chemicals (up 4.1 percent). Seven of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw U.S. carload increases in July 2008 compared to July 2007. For the first seven months of 2008, total U.S. rail carloads were up 36,575 carloads (0.4 percent) to 10,058,613 carloads. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-7-08]

N.S. DONATES MORE THAN 12,000 ACRES OF LAND IN S.C.: Norfolk Southern Corp. has given up its development rights on 12,488 acres of ecologically important forest and wilderness in South Carolina, a donation described as the largest of its kind in that state's history. The property, located about 35 miles northwest of Charleston and called Brosnan Forest, includes more than 6,000 acres of rare longleaf pine trees and is prime habitat for the red-cockaded woodpecker, an endangered species. In granting the easement, N.S. retains ownership of the property but agrees to keep it pristine forever. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-5-08, from Virginian-Pilot website report]

GENESEE & WYOMING AGREES TO ACQUIRE OHIO CENTRAL: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. announced Aug.4 that it has signed an agreement to acquire nine short line railroads known as the Ohio Central Railroad System (OCR), for $219.0-million in cash. In addition, GWI has agreed to pay contingent consideration of approximately $25-million upon satisfaction of certain conditions. [United Transportation Union, 8-4-08, from PR Newswire report]

K.C.S. REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Kansas City Southern reported record second quarter revenues of $486.2 million, a 13.8 percent increase over second quarter 2007. The revenue growth was attributable to a continued strong pricing environment, significant growth in certain business units and an increase in fuel surcharges. [Kansas City Southern, 7-31-08]

U.P. HIKES QUARTERLY DIVIDEND: Union Pacific Corp., the nation's largest freight railroad operator, has raised its quarterly dividend by 5 cents, to 27 cents per share. The company said the increased dividend would be payable Oct. 1 to stockholders of record on Aug. 29. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-31-08, from Associated Press report]

BORING MACHINE COMPLETES G.C.T. RAIL TUBE: A huge, granite-eating machine that spent the past eight months chewing a mile-long tunnel beneath a busy Manhattan office district has completed its journey to the city's Grand Central Terminal. The 200-ton tunnel-boring rig is one of two that have been carving a pair of new rail tubes that will eventually allow commuter trains from suburban Long Island to connect with Grand Central for the first time. The massive device, imported from Italy, began chewing through Manhattan bedrock in November 2007. Work on the rail project is expected to continue until 2015. In total, the job is expected to cost $7.2-billion. [United Transportation Union, 7-31-08, from Associated Press report]

CHINA SET TO OPEN HIGH-SPEED RAIL LINE: Presaging the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games by one week, China is set to open the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway Aug.1. The new service, linking two Olympic Games city venues, will more than halve travel time on the 75-mile route from 70 minutes to about 30 minutes. [RailwayAge.com, 7-31-08]

ENOLA BRANCH PROPERTY TRANSFERRED TO SIX PENNSYLVANIA TOWNSHIPS: One of the state's longest-running rail-trail disputes might be nearing an end. Norfolk Southern transferred ownership of 23 miles of abandoned rail line known as the Enola Branch to six townships in southern Lancaster County July 28 along with money to demolish rail bridges. A volunteer group, Friends of the Atglen-Susquehanna Trail, was poised in 1998 to convert the line into a rail trail, but the townships objected. James Cowley, executive director of the Lancaster County Planning Commission, said he hasn't given up hope for a rail trail, but acknowledged that opposition still exists. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 7-29-08, from Patriot News report]

BNSF EXPANDING MEMPHIS FREIGHT CENTER: BNSF Railway is spending more than $100-million to upgrade its freight center. BNSF will load and unload trains 7,500 feet long at the 185-acre center, using five nine-story cranes prominently. The facility provides the opportunity to move freight from the West coast into the Southeast, within a 250-mile radius of Memphis. [United Transportation Union, 7-27-08, from Associated Press report]

CSX SEATS TWO DISSIDENTS TO BOARD: CSX Corp. announced July 25 that it will immediately seat two nominees of a dissident shareholder group to its board of directors. But two other candidates will have to wait. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-26-08, from The Florida Times-Union website report]

S.T.B. ISSUES REPORT IN EJ&E DEAL: A federal report has raised the specter of frustrated motorists facing lengthy delays at 15 rail crossings in a dozen communities, but concluded that passenger service would not be impaired if a railroad that winds through Chicago's suburbs is sold. The report prepared by Surface Transportation Board staff also identifies 10 communities where a tripling or quadrupling of freight traffic would severely hamper police, fire and emergency medical response. The EJ&E railroad rings the suburbs in a 198-mile arc. The purchase is touted by CN and some experts as a potential boon to the transportation industry and economy. Chicago officials strongly support the deal because of the economic impact and prospect of reduced freight traffic. But fearing more freight trains in their backyards and outlying suburban downtowns, vocal opponents have rallied in recent months to fight the plan. While viewed as an important step in the process, the 3,500-page document is subject to another round of public comments starting in August. The final version will be considered by the three-member board that will approve or deny the sale, a decision expected in early 2009. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-26-08, from Chicago Tribune website report]

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP) reported record 2008 second quarter net income of $531 million, or $1.02 per diluted share, compared to $446 million, or $.82 per diluted share in the second quarter of 2007. [Union Pacific, 7-24-08]

CP RAIL REPORTS LOWERED 2-Q RESULTS: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (TSX/NYSE: CP) announced its second-quarter results today. Net income in the second quarter was $155 million, a decrease of 40 percent from $257 million in 2007, and diluted earnings per share was $1.00, a decrease from $1.64 in the second quarter of 2007. [Canadian Pacific Railway, 7-22-08]

AMTRAK'S DOWNEASTER RIDERSHIP GAINS 28 PERCENT: Rail officials say high gas prices played a role in a 28 percent gain in ridership for Amtrak's Downeaster during the latest fiscal year. Executive Director Patricia Quinn of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority says the gain was the biggest of any Amtrak train in the period ending June 30. On average an additional 947 passengers rode the Downeaster every day, and ticket revenue was up by 33 percent for the year. Quinn credits increased frequency and a better schedule, in addition to rising fuel costs, for the growth of the Portland-to-Boston rail service. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-21-08, from Associated Press report]

CN REPORTS 2-Q RESULTS: CN has reported its financial and operating results for the second quarter and first half ended June 30, 2008. Diluted earnings per share declined six per cent to C$0.95. Net income declined 11 per cent to C$459 million. Revenues increased four per cent to C$2,098 million. Operating income declined 13 per cent to C$707 million, with the Company's operating ratio rising by 6.3 points to 66.3 per cent. [Canadian National, 7-21-08]

COGENERATION LOCOMOTIVE BEING TESTED AT HAGERSTOWN ON CSX: Following a three-month test in Roanoke, Va., with Norfolk Southern, Brookville Equipment Corp.'s BMEX 259 CoGeneration triple-engine genset switcher locomotive has begun its second Class I demonstration at CSX Transportation's Hagerstown, Md.., Yard. BMEX 259 has been scheduled for short demonstrations on other railroads and transit properties in the next few months, and will begin making its way west after completing its test with CSXT. [RailwayAge.com, 7-17-08]

HEDGE FUND CANDIDATES WIN FOUR SEATS ON CSX BOARD: CSX Corp. says preliminary results of the railroad's contentious board vote show that four out of five directors nominated by activist hedge fund shareholders TCI and 3G Capital have been elected to its board. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-16-08, from Associated Press report]

N.S. OPERATION LIFESAVER TRAIN INVOLVED IN FATAL ACCIDENT: A Norfolk Southern train struck and killed a man Tuesday night [July 15] in Roanoke. Ironically, the train is the same one Norfolk Southern uses to promote rail safety. The man was hit by the Operation Lifesaver train as it pulled into Roanoke for an educational trip to Lynchburg. The death is exactly what Norfolk Southern is trying to prevent. Five people were killed along Virginia tracks last year. Operation Lifesavers says railroad deaths have dropped dramatically since the program started in 1972. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-16-08, from WDBJ7 website report]

TRAIN COLLISION IN EGYPT KILLS 40: A train plowed into three vehicles in a northern Egyptian town July 16, killing at least 40 people and injuring 50, a police official said. The collision occurred after a large truck slammed into the three vehicles, pushing them onto the tracks, he said. The train en route from Matruh to Alexandria crushed the cars as it reached the intersection. Thirty-five people were declared dead at the scene, while five died in a hospital. [United Transportation Union, 7-16-08, from Associated Press report]

COMPOSITE BRIDGE TESTED AT R.R. TEST TRACK: HC Bridge Co. LLC, a firm specializing in the development of hybrid-composite structural alternatives to satisfy accelerated bridge construction requirements, reports that a locomotive pulling 26 heavy axle load coal cars traversed the first composite railroad bridge in the world. The live load test was conducted on the 2.7-mile loop at the Transportation Technology Center near Pueblo, Colorado. According to John Hillman, senior associate with Teng & Associates in Chicago, the bridge supporting the locomotive is a 30-foot span comprised of eight hybrid-composite beams. In its simplest embodiment, the bridge is composed of three main sub-components: shell, compression reinforcement and tension reinforcement. The compression reinforcement consists of self-consolidated concrete that is pumped into a profiled conduit within the beam shell. The tension reinforcement consists of Hardwire steel reinforcing fabrics that run along the bottom flanges of the beams. A consortium of Class 1 railroads shouldered the substantial cost of the live test. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-14-08, from Rocky Mountain Construction website report]

PETER CANNITO, METRO-NORTH PRESIDENT, RETIRING: Peyter Cannito, Metro-North's longest-serving president, retires July 15. His retirement caps a 40-year career in the rail industry. Meeting an exploding demand for rail service will be the chief challenge facing the incoming president, Howard Permut, commuter advocates say. [United Transportation Union, 7-14-08, from Stamford Advocate report]

AUSTRALIA OPENS WORLD'S HEAVIEST-HAUL RAILWAY: A remarkable iron ore railway has been built across the Pilbara region of Australia. The railway is built for 40 ton axleloads, making it the heaviest haul railway in the world. For comparison, the other Pilbara railways operate with axleloads of 35 ton and 37.5 ton, while the trans-Australian main line was recently upgraded to operate at just 21 ton. In full operation, the line will run 2.5-km long trains of up to 240 cars hauled by two GE Dash 9-4400CW diesel locomotives. Setting a new benchmark in heavy haul railways, the cars have a tare weight of 23 ton and can carry up to 137 ton of ore. Each trainload will consist of about 30,000 ton. [United Transportation Union, 7-14-08, from Railway Gazette report]

MEMPHIS DEPOT SINKHOLE TO BE REPAIRED: The City of Memphis and Canadian National Railway have announced a $1-million agreement to split the costs of repairing the sinkhole that has plagued Memphis Central Station and forced Amtrak to detour and provide substitute motorcoach service since April. Amtrak says that, if repairs progress significantly this month, City of New Orleans service could be restored in Memphis by next month. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-11-08]

SAN BERNARDINO TRAIN STATION OPENS WITH VOLUNTEERS: The San Bernardino Historical and Railroad Museum opens July 12 in the baggage portion of the Amtrak/Metrolink (former Santa Fe) San Bernardino station.  Volunteers from the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society will staff the museum and act as station hosts in the main waiting room when the Southwest Chief pulls through.  Amtrak left the station unstaffed since it was closed for a $15.6 million restoration and reopened in 2004.  SBRHS eventually hopes to permanently house operating steam locomotive Santa Fe 3751 near the station. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-11-08]

F.R.A. RULES ON RAIL RELOCATION & IMPROVEMENT GRANT PROGRAM: The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a Final Rule detailing the eligibility requirements and selection criteria for capital grants under the Rail Line Relocation and Improvement program created in the SAFETEA-LU legislation. In order to be eligible for grant funding, a project must mitigate the adverse effects of rail traffic on safety, motor vehicle traffic flow, community quality of life or involve a lateral or vertical relocation of any portion of the rail line. Under the law, half of all grant funds are reserved for projects costing no more than $20 million each. A state or other eligible entity will be required to pay at least 10 percent of the shared costs of the project. [Federal Railroad Administration, 7-11-08]

BOARD APPROVES CALIFORNIA BULLET TRAIN ROUTE: The California High Speed Rail Authority's board has approved a siting plan for the main route of a bullet train they envision for the state should voters in November back a $9.95-billion bond to launch the $40-billion system. San Francisco would mark the northern terminus, and Anaheim would be its last Southern California stop, said Rod Diridon, a member of the authority's board and executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute. The route would link San Francisco to nearby San Jose and then cross into the Central Valley, including a tunnel, to connect with Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield. Additional tunnels would be needed in mountains near the Los Angeles area. The route would stop in Los Angeles at its downtown Union Station before proceeding to Anaheim. If voters approve the general obligation bond measure in November to initially fund the high-speed rail system, its authority will still require additional funding. The system is expected to take about a decade to build. [United Transportation Union, 7-10-08, from Reuters report]

RAILROAD LOGISTICS CENTER TO BE BUILT IN N.Y. STATE: A $40-million logistics center and terminal will be built through the towns of Halfmoon, Mechanicville and Stillwater, N.Y., anchoring the western end of Pan Am Railways and linking the Capital Region with Boston. State and local officials gathered at the now defunct Norfolk Southern railyard July 8 to announce the project, slated to be launched early next year and completed by April 2010. The high-speed freight rail will transport consumer products - primarily automobiles - across the region, alleviating highway travel by trucking companies. The joint project, called Pan Am Southern, will serve as the primary distribution center for the company's Patriot Corridor, including a 155-mile main line and 280 secondary and branch lines in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-8-08, frtom Gazette website report]

NEVADA LOSES BID TO DELAY NUCLEAR-WASTE RAIL LINE: The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has turned down a motion by Nevada to reject as incomplete an application by the of U. S. Department of Energy for authority to build a 300-mile line in the state to transport spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste to a repository at Yucca Mountain. DOE says the line, which would connect with Union Pacific at Caliente, is also intended to provide common carrier service to on-line communities. In a decision handed down June 27, STB found DOE's request to be "sufficiently complete" at this stage of the proceeding. The decision permitted the state to amend its filing, refused to extend the procedural schedule to include an oral hearing on Nevada's objections. [RailwayAge.com, 6-30-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN BEGINS VIRGINIA EXPANSION PROJECT: Norfolk Southern has begun its project to expand 15 miles of tracks in Warren County, Va. The company has started grading work and clearing trees along the proposed expansion route in the first phase of the project. It hopes to widen 15 miles of existing tracks by 20 feet to allow two trains to pass at once, and has already acquired the right of way for the project. The company also wants to expand its siding, tracks that allow a train to pull off to let another pass. The project is part of an overall effort by the company to expand a rail corridor from the Northeast into the South. The line under consideration would run from Culpeper County, through Rappahannock County, and link up with existing tracks in Warren County to the Inland Port. [United Transportation Union, 6-27-08, from Northern Virginia Daily report]

VIRGINIA CONSIDERS NEW PASSENGER TRAIN ROUTING NORTH OF RICHMOND: Officials in Virginia are considering how best to improve the Washington-Richmond corridor. Specifically, the Commonwealth is considering rerouting passenger trains from Doswell (just north of Ashland) to Richmond by way of the Chesapeake and Ohio's former passenger mainline, now operated by the Buckingham Branch Railroad. This would end passenger rail service to Ashland, and require construction of a new suburban Richmond passenger station, but segregate passenger and freight operations that are currently now a bottleneck in Richmond. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 6-27-08]

CSX SHAREHOLDER VOTE LEFT IN LIMBO: A battle over the future of one of the nation's largest railroads was joined June 26 in a rail yard on the outskirts of New Orleans. After the shareholders cast their votes, the funds, which together control at least 8.7 percent of CSX, claimed four of five contested seats and said that CSX had held the voting open in the hope of wrangling a few more votes. But CSX said that the vote was too close to call. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-26-08, from New York Times website report]

RAILROAD BRIDGE COLLAPSES INTO IOWA RIVER: A railroad bridge collapsed into the flooded Iowa River, dropping a locomotive and two tanker cars into the water, authorities told the Associated Press. Three employees of the Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad were on the train and one of them was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries, company spokesman Herb Jones said. The Louisa County sheriff's office said the railroad called late June 24 to report the collapse near Columbus Junction in southeastern Iowa. [United Transportation Union, 6-26-08, from Associated Press report]

CSX INCREASES DIVIDEND: On June 24, 2008, the Board of Directors of CSX Corporation approved a 22 percent increase in the quarterly dividend on the company's common stock to 22 cents per share. The dividend is payable on September 15, 2008 to shareholders of record at the close of business on September 1, 2008. [CSX, 6-24-08]

RUSSIA PLANS RAILROAD LINK TO JAPAN: Russia is poised to begin one of its biggest-ever investment projects to link Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East with the mainland. The ambitious plans could one day result in a direct link between Russia and Japan, RussiaToday reports. Sakhalin is rich in natural resources and has vast potential for economic growth. The idea of building a fixed link here is about 80 years old, and in the 1940s a failed attempt was made to connect the island via a tunnel under the sea. Now the government and Russian Railways are reviving the ambitious project, considering either a tunnel, a railway bridge or a seawall 6.5 kilometers long. But whatever option they go for, huge finance will be needed. [United Transportation Union, 6-23-08, from RussiaToday website report]

COAL OUTLOOK REMAINS GOOD, N.S. CHIEF SAYS: Norfolk Southern Corp. expects its coal exports to increase more than 50 percent this year over 2007, said Wick Moorman, the Norfolk-based railroad's chairman and chief executive. The bulk of those exports, 20 million tons, is projected to move via its Lamberts Point Coal Terminal in Norfolk. Another five million tons probably will ship through the port of Baltimore, said Moorman, speaking at the Merrill Lynch Global Transportation Conference in New York June 19. Driving the export surge are the weak U.S. dollar, tight coal supplies worldwide and higher costs for shipping coal from Australia, a major coal exporting country, Moorman said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-20-08, from Virginian-Pilot website report]

UNIFORMED MILITARY GET PREFERENCE IN AMTRAK TICKET LINES: Amtrak has instituted a new policy that allows uniformed military personnel to go to the front of the line at all Amtrak ticket windows. The policy is in place permanently and for all staffed stations nationwide. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 6-13-08]

FIVE KILLED WHEN TRUCK HITS TRAIN IN FLORIDA: Authorities say five people were killed when the truck they were in slammed into a stopped freight train in Sanford. The Florida Highway Patrol says the driver of the Chevy Avalanche was likely speeding when the truck crashed late Tuesday night [June 10] between two train cars. The crossing arms were down and the lights had been flashing at the railroad crossing. It took six hours to remove four bodies from the smashed truck. The fifth person died at the hospital early Wednesday morning. [United Transportation Union, 6-11-08, from Associated Press report]

LOUISIANA & NORTH WEST R.R. BOUGHT BY PATRIOT RAIL: Patriot Rail Corp. said it has bought Louisiana & North West Railroad, a short line freight railroad based in Homer, La. This transaction marks the fifth railroad acquisition by the Boca Raton-based short line and regional freight railroad holding company since its inception in November 2006. Patriot now operates a total of 321 miles of rail line in seven states. Incorporated in 1889, the LNW operates 68 miles of track from Gibsland, La., to McNeil, Ark. [United Transportation Union, 6-11-08, from South Florida Business Journal report]

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN ANNOUNCES NEW PRESIDENT: Kansas City Southern has announced that David L. Starling is the company's new president and chief operating officer. Starling, who begins his new role July 1, has been president and director of the Panama Canal Railway Co., a joint venture of Kansas City Southern and Mi-Jack Products. Starling takes the place of Art Shoener, who has resigned. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-10-08, from Kansas City Star website report]

NTSB ISSUES REPORT ON 2005 METRA CRASH: The National Transportation Safety Board has issued its final report on the Metra accident in Elmwood Park in November 2005 that injured 16 people. The train was travelling at up to 70 miles an hour when it smashed into several cars, destroying six and damaging a dozen more. The NTSB cited a number of factors that caused the crash. They say this is an unusually wide-grade crossing with an acute angle where vehicles pass. And even alert drivers can easily get caught between lowered crossing gates. It was Thanksgiving eve, and traffic was heavy at the Grand Avenue crossing. The board watched a presentation that included a picture of a school bus trapped between lowered crossing gates. A study identified the Elmwood Park crossing as the most dangerous in the state. But NTSB staffers defended the state, saying it would cost $100-million to separate the crossing from traffic. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-10-08, from abc7chicago website report]

METRO TRAIN DERAILS IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA: A Metro train derailed June 9 in Northern Virginia, and about 400 people had to be rescued from a tunnel, officials said. No injuries were reported. The third car of a six-car train derailed about 2:45 p.m. between the Rosslyn and Court House stations, Metro spokeswoman Emily Heppen said. The cause was under investigation. There were no injuries, but Metro General Manager John Catoe said a pregnant woman who described "a strange feeling in her stomach" was taken to a hospital as a precaution. The derailment occurred when one wheel of the third car came off the track, Catoe said. Most of the 400 people on board chose to continue traveling to their destinations on a rescue train that linked up to the derailed train. [United Transportation Union, 6-9-08, from Baltimore Sun report]

NORTH CAROLINA TO EXPAND AMTRAK SERVICE: The N.C. Department of Transportation will add a third train between Raleigh and Charlotte to the Amtrak services to meet growing demand and ridership increases. The new train will run midday and stop in Greensboro, Burlington and High Point, as do the other two trains. Officials estimate it will take six months to a year to make the third run operational. Rail cars and locomotives will need to be refurbished for the service. The estimated cost to operate the additional route is $3-million a year. The federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program will provide the money for the first three years. [United Transportation Union, 6-6-08, from News Record report]

AMTRAK TRAIN INVOLVED IN TWO CROSSING ACCIDENTS, TWO KILLED: Southbound train City of New Orleans struck a car Wednesday afternoon (June 4) in McComb, Miss., injuring the driver, and later hit another car 40 miles away in Independence, La., killing two people, the Clarion Ledger reports. The driver of the car in the McComb accident did not appear to be seriously injured but was taken to a Jackson hospital, police said. McComb police said McEwen attempted to go over the tracks at the Nehi Circle crossing despite its flashing lights. Killed in the Louisiana crash were Beverly Barnett, 48, and Draymond Vinning, 53, both of Independence, said the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Department. [United Transportation Union, 6-5-08, from Clarion Ledger report]

UNION PACIFIC BLOCKS CALIFORNIA BULLET-TRAIN PLAN: Five months before voters decide whether to approve bonds for a 200-mph bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the $30-billion project has hit an obstacle. The Union Pacific railroad is declining to share its right-of-way. Officials at the railroad recently told the California High Speed Rail Authority that they have safety and operational concerns about running a bullet train close to lumbering freight trains. High-speed rail promoters say the freight hauler's hard-line stand may simply be a bargaining ploy, and could be overcome in any case by buying adjacent land. [United Transportation Union, 6-5-08, from Los Angeles Times report]

SECURITIES & EXCHANGE COMMISSION REJECTS CSX'S ARGUMENTS IN TCI LAWSUIT: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has weighed in on a legal dispute between CSX Corp. and two money managers trying to wage a proxy fight at the company. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-5-08, from Reuters report]

U.S. RAIL CARLOADS UP, INTERMODAL DOWN IN MAY: Carload freight was up but intermodal volume was down on U.S. railroads during May in comparison with May 2007, the Association of American Railroads has reported. Carloads of freight originated on U.S. railroads rose to 1,315,354 in May 2008, a 0.5 percent (7,061 carloads) increase compared to last year. U.S. railroads also originated 901,380 intermodal units in May 2008, a decline of 0.9 percent (8,577 trailers and containers) from May 2007. Nine of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw U.S. carload increases in May 2008 compared to May 2007. [Assn. of American Railroads, 6-5-08]

NEW LIFE FOR A GP9 LOCOMOTIVE: Fifty-four years after it first saw Canadian Pacific rails, one of the railroad's GP9s has been given new life by Electro-Motive Diesel and has returned to service on CPR as a 710ECO Repower. GP22ECO No. 7102, rebuilt and repowered with a U.S. EPA Tier 2-compliant, 8-710G3A-T2, 2,150-hp, single-turbocharged eight-cylinder diesel, "allows railroads to leverage their fleet investment by updating older yard and road switchers with the latest microprocessor-controlled locomotive engine technology, for lower emissions, increased fuel economy, greater reliability, easier serviceability, and predictable maintenance costs," according to EMD Product Manager Kevin Bahnline. [RailwayAge.com, 6-5-08]

AMENITIES ENCHANCED ON COAST STARLIGHT: Amtrak unveils a new look on the Coast Starlight just in time for the busy summer travel season. This legendary train (operating daily between Los Angeles and Seattle) features refurbished Parlour Cars, new Arcade rooms and enhanced amenities. The new features and amenities include at seat meal options for Coach passengers and new arcade rooms equipped with arcade-style video games and board games. Sleeping Car passengers will experience a refurbished Parlour Car with enhanced services such as alternative dining, daily wine tasting with regional wines, a specialty coffee bar and a newly redesigned theater with 50-inch plasma HD monitors. [Amtrak, 6-3-08]

GENESEE & WYOMING BUYS CAGY INDUSTRIES: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. has completed its acquisition of CAGY Industries, Inc. for approximately $78.4-million in cash, to be adjusted for final working capital. In addition, GWI has agreed to pay contingent consideration of up to $18.6-million upon satisfaction of certain conditions over the next two years, it said. CAGY is the parent company of Columbus & Greenville Railway in Mississippi; Chattooga & Chickamauga Railway in Georgia and Tennessee; and Luxapalila Valley Railroad in Mississippi and Alabama. [Genesee & Wyoming, 6-2-08]

RENOVATION SLATED FOR AMTRAK'S WILMINGTON, DELAWARE, STATION: Amtrak will undertake a $30-million renovation of its Wilmington, Delaware, station on the Northeast Corridor. Built in 1907, the station has already been stripped of many historical features and will feature more modern fixtures by the time Amtrak completes the makeover in 2011. Amtrak is categorizing the work in Wilmington as being for State of Good Repair and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-30-08]

AMTRAK TO RELAUNCH ITS 'REGIONAL' SERVICE ON N.E.C.: Amtrak is in the process of 'relaunching' its Regional Service in the Northeast Corridor, a process that is expected to be publicized in June. Already, changes have included standardization of the food service car to recently refurbished all-table dinettes, positioned in the middle of the consist.  A new cafe menu has been rolled out. Amtrak plans to overhaul more Amfleet coaches, make further modifications to food service cars, increase the available fleet, and make variable consist sizes a standard practice to meet demand. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-30-08]

COMMUTER TRAIN COLLIDES INTO ANOTHER IN MASSACHUSETTS, KILLING ONE: Federal investigators arrived May 29 at the tracks outside Bostonwhere two commuter trains collided and derailed during rush hour a day earlier, trapping and killing a train operator and injuring more than a dozen passengers. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board were trying to determine what caused Wednesday's above-ground crash, which killed 24-year-old Terrese Edmonds near a station in suburban Newton, said Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The two-car train Edmonds was operating struck the back of another two-car train approaching Woodland Station during the evening rush hour, Pesaturo said. The trains had about 200 passengers combined. [United Transportation Union, 5-29-08, from Associated Press report]

CHICAGO ELEVATED TRAIN DERAILS, 24 INJURED: Multiple injuries have been reported in a train derailment on the Chicago Transit Authority's Green Line May 28. The crash happened in the South Side Washington Park neighborhood. A total of 24 people were reported to be injured, Fire Media Affairs Asst. Director Eve Rodriguez said. Four were reported in fair to serious condition and 20 people were reported in good to fair condition, Rodriguez said. [United Transportation Union, 5-28-08, from WMAQ-TV website report]

AT LEAST SEVEN HURT AS AMTRAK TRAIN STRIKES TRUCK IN MISSISSIPPI: An Amtrak passenger train, the southbound City of New Orleans, collided with a garbage truck on a rural stretch of central Mississippi track May 27, injuring at least seven people, authorities said. The train's final car, which was empty, left the track in Copiah County, south of Jackson. Amtrak said there were 96 passengers aboard the train and 11 Amtrak employees. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-28-08, from Associated Press report]

USA RAIL PASS IS NOW AVAILABLE DOMESTICALLY: Amtrak has removed the purchasing restrictions on its USA Rail Passes. U.S. citizens may now purchase the passes, which were formerly available only to international visitors. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-23-08]

WILLISTON, N.D., TO IMPROVE ITS AMTRAK DEPOT: Williston, North Dakota, has approved a plan to improve its Amtrak station, served daily by the Empire Builder. The first phase will cost $108,000, while the second phase will cost $109,000. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-23-08]

RAILROADS FOUR TIMES MORE FUEL EFFICIENT THAN TRUCKS, AAR SAYS: For every 27 gallons of diesel consumed by trucks to haul one ton of freight, railroads burn seven gallons to reach a similar distance, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). As part of its "Freight Railroads Go the Distance" campaign, the association notes that U.S. railroads last year moved a ton of freight an average of 436 miles per each gallon of fuel, a 3.1 percent improvement vs. 2006 and "astonishing" 85.5 percent improvement vs. 1980, the AAR said. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 5-22-08]

AMTRAK TO UPGRADE N.E.C. TRAFFIC CONTROL: Amtrak has awarded a contract to ARINC to develop a centralized electrification and traffic control (CETC) system for the Northeast travel corridor that runs from Washington through Baltimore; Wilmington, Del.; Philadelphia; Trenton and Newark, N.J.; New York; New Haven, Conn.; Providence, R.I.; and Boston. The system will be based on ARINC's Advanced Information Management (AIM) platform, which the company has deployed for several transit agencies in the Northeast travel corridor, including the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority; New Jersey Transit; and the Metro North, Long Island and Mass Bay Commuter railroads. The project is expected to run for approximately three years. [United Transportation Union, 5-21-08, from gcn.com report by Dan Campbell]

BNSF OPENS QUADRUPLE TRACK IN POWDER RIVER BASIN: Last week, BNSF Railway Co. marked history in Wyoming. The railroad placed into service 21 miles of fourth mainline in the Powder River Basin (PRB) - the world's longest stretch of quadruple mainline devoted exclusively to freight service, BNSF believes. On May 14, the company placed the track into service under the "super highway" concept, which calls for completing mainline track first and adding universal crossovers later to make the new trackage available sooner. This section of the PRB line - a portion of which BNSF shares with Union Pacific Railroad - averages from 132 trains to 150 trains daily during peak periods. The addition of the fourth track will boost capacity to about 200 trains per day, BNSF said. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 5-21-08]

CSX PLANS NEW FREIGHT TERMINAL IN PITTSBURGH: CSX plans to build a freight terminal in the Pittsburgh area and make its corridor through the region able to accommodate double-stacked trains as part of a $700-million project to connect Mid-Atlantic ports with the Midwest. CSX's so-called National Gateway project will make improvements along three of its corridors, including the Interstate 76/Interstate 70 corridor between Washington, D.C., and the Pittsburgh area and continuing to northwest Ohio. To provide ample clearance for double-stacked trains along the corridors, Sullivan said, there are about 80 areas where tracks will have to be lowered, overpasses raised or tunnels redone. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-20-08, from Beaver County Times website report]

HISTORIC CABOOSE FINDS NEW HOME AT WESTERN PACIFIC R.R. MUSEUM: The Feather River Rail Society welcomed the latest addition to its collection of historic railroad equipment at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum at Portola on May 17 with the arrival of Central California Traction Company (CCT) caboose #24. CCT 24 was built in 1927 for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, where its original road number was ATSF 1547. It was acquired by CCT in 1967 and was the last caboose used by their railroad, finally retiring from regular service in 1998. It was acquired by the Feather River Rail Society through an equipment trade with CCT in 2007. Its last journey over what once were the rails of the Western Pacific saw it arriving at its new home in Portola on May 16, 2008. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-20-08, from Reno Gazette-Journal website report]

NEW BUFFALO, MICHIGAN, GETTING NEW AMTRAK STATION: New Buffalo, Michigan, will soon break ground on its new Amtrak station following an official announcement from Amtrak and Mayor Bob Westergren.  The station will be a significant improvement from the current platform.  The central location will allow Blue Water and Wolverine trains to serve the city. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-16-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN WINS 19TH STRAIGHT HARRIMAN GOLD SAFETY AWARD: Norfolk Southern Corp. has been awarded the rail industry's top honor for employee safety for the 19th consecutive year. The railroad received the gold E.H. Harriman Memorial Safety Award for its performance last year against other big U.S. railroads. The award was given by the E.H. Harriman Memorial Awards Institute, whose directors include representatives from the Association of American Railroads and the National Transportation Safety Board. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-15-08, from Virginian-Pilot report]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN, GUILFORD IN JOINT CORRIDOR RAIL DEAL: Norfolk Southern and Guilford Transportation (also known as Pan Am Railways) will share costs in creating a joint subsidiary, Pan Am Southern Railway, that will include an upgraded rail route between Albany, N.Y., and the greater Boston, Mass., area, to be called the Patriot Corridor. Guilford's Springfield Terminal Railway will operate the joint venture, which will require approval by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. [Joint press release, 5-15-08]

MUNI TO TAP SOLAR POWER FOR OPERATIONS: San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission has authorized a 5-megawatt solar power project that, among other items, will provide power to the city's MUNI light rail system. The facility will be placed on the roofs of the newly retrofitted Sunset Reservoir, and on Pier 96, which houses a recycling center. The PUC expects the project to generate enough electricity for both buildings, and for other buildings including San Francisco General Hospital, as well as for MUNI. [RailwayAge.com, 5-15-08]

SIEMENS WINS $2-B BELGIAN TRAIN ORDER: Siemens has announced that its Mobility Division has received an order from Belgian National Railways (SNCB) for 305 multiple-unit trains valued at more than $2-billion. It's the largest rolling stock order Siemens has ever received. Scheduled for use in Belgium's regional service,the trains will be built to the Desiro ML design. Each will accommodate 280 passengers and will have a top speed of 100 mph. [RailwayAge.com, 5-15-08]

FEDS BLAME NORFOLK SOUTHERN FOR FIERY 2006 CRASH IN PENNSYLVANIA: Federal investigators have pinned the blame for the 2006 derailment of a Norfolk Southern Corp. ethanol train in New Brighton, Pa., on an "inadequate" rail inspection and maintenance program. That substandard rail program at the Norfolk-based railroad caused a section of rail to fracture, the National Transportation Safety Board said. The Federal Railroad Administration's lack of oversight of the rail inspection process and its insufficient requirements for rail inspection also contributed to the accident, the board concluded. About 20 of the 23 derailed tank cars released ethanol, causing a huge fire that burned for two days and forced roughly 100 residents to be evacuated. Several of the rail cars fell into the Beaver River, as the derailment occurred on a bridge near Pittsburgh. There were no injuries or fatalities in the Oct. 20, 2006, incident. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-14-08, from Virginian-Pilot website report]

PORT OF SEATTLE BUYS SNOHOMISH LINE FROM BNSF: BNSF and the Port of Seattle have signed an agreement allowing the port to acquire a 42-mile rail route between Renton and Snohomish, Washington, for $107-million. King County is contributing $2-million toward the purchase, and has been granted the right for a future trail along the southern 32 miles of the right-of-way. Rail freight service is envisioned for much of the route, as is potential commuter rail service. [RailwayAge.com, 5-13-08]

COMPANY SEEKS TO REOPEN RAIL LINE IN PENNSYLVANIA: The R.J. Corman Railroad plans to file a request with the Surface Transportation Board to reactivate 20 miles of rail line that could serve a landfill and industrial park another company wants to build in Rush Township, Pennsylvania. The proposed rail line would cover about 20 miles from Wallaceton in Clearfield County through Rush Township to the Gorton area in Snow Shoe Township. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-13-08, from Centre Daily Times website report]

CANADIAN NATIONAL INTRODUCES NEW INTERMODAL SERVICE: CN has announced that it is introducing intermodal service connecting the Eastern Quebec region with Toronto and western Canada. CN said the new service will appeal to forest products producers and other shippers of heavy products "who can load 66,000 pounds in a 40-foot container, which has the equivalent of a 53-foot truck trailer." CN will offer Quebec City shippers daily service to Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver. [RailwayAge.com, 5-12-08]

CSX TO BUILD $80-MILLION HUB IN OHIO: In just a few years southern Wood County, Ohio, will be home to a major transportation hub, a rail line and trucking hub for the Village of North Baltimore. CSX Corporation met with Wood County leaders in Bowling Green May 7 to brief them on the national gateway project. CSX says it will be a significant part of a complex transportation network bringing double-stacked rail cars into Wood County, and then back out to destinations all over the country. [United Transportation Union, 5-8-08, from MyFoxToledo website report]

U.S. RAIL TRAFFIC MIXED IN APRIL: U.S. railroads reported mixed results in April, with carload freight up and intermodal traffic down, the Association of American Railroads has reported. A total of 1,668,255 carloads of freight were originated during the month, up 14,883 carloads (0.9 percent) from April 2007. U.S. railroads also originated 1,117,511 intermodal units in April 2008, a decline of 24,323 trailers and containers (2.1 percent) from April 2007. Seven of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw U.S. carload increases in April 2008 compared to April 2007. [Assn. of American Railroads, 5-8-08]

CASA GRANDE TO GET DEPOT FROM UNION PACIFIC: Casa Grande, Arizona, has approved its part of a $35-million, four-government agreement that provides help from Union Pacific Railroad with new crossings needed for double-tracking between Yuma and Tucson. In return for not opposing the railroad's double-tracking during hearings by the Arizona Corporation Commission, Casa Grande will receive money toward improvements, including encasing its water pipes near Anderson Road, and will be given the old railroad depot building on Main Street. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-8-08, from Casa Grande Valley Newspaper website report]

AMTRAK'S MINOT DEPOT GETTING FACELIFT: The Amtrak depot in Minot, N.D., will get a new roof and new brick exterior this year. There will be a ribbon cutting May 10, National Train Day, with refreshments and an exhibit showing how the new depot will look. The restoration of Minot's depot also has historical overtones. The reconstruction will restore the building to its original condition. The exterior will be the same old-style brick from North Dakota's Hebron Brick Co. as existed on the original building. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-7-08, from Minot Daily News website report]

UNION PACIFIC'S OREGON RAIL REPAIRS DONE: After 105 days and 19 million cubic feet of mud, Union Pacific has completed the herculean task of restoring all rail service through the Cascade Mountains in Oregon. The mudslide occurred on Jan. 19, 2008, eight miles southeast of Oakridge, Ore., and wiped out 3,000 feet of track in three different areas. Union Pacific employees and contractors worked around the clock to remove logs and unsuitable material from the site, and bring in rock to rebuild the mountain. Crews will be working on clean-up efforts for the next month. A slide fence, which activates a warning if there is a subsequent slide, will also be constructed on the mountain. Until the fence is complete in early June, the area will be continuously monitored to ensure the tracks are safe for rail traffic. [Union Pacific, 5-6-08]

CALIFORNIA NORTHERN R.R. ENDS SERVICE: California Northern Railroad is no longer running trains into Vallejo, a company spokesman said. After nearly 140 years of freight and passenger rail service in Vallejo, an era has ended. The final rail cars serving Vallejo delivered steel beams and other goods and equipment to four Mare Island companies. Rail service stopped on March 31 on tracks between American Canyon and Vallejo due to the steep $11-million costs of meeting California Public Utilities Commission standards. [United Transportation Union, 5-5-08, from Times Herald report]

FLORIDA SENATE AXES CSX LEGAL PROTECTIONS DEAL: Senate leaders have announced they were stripping a transportation bill of the legal protections CSX Corp. says it needs to pave the way for Central Florida's commuter rail deal. Claiming the huge bill loaded with projects for other regions like South Florida was being weighted down by the controversial rail deal, Senate Transportation Chairman Carey Baker, R-Eustis, said he would gut the CSX legal protections and framwork for the deal to buy the 61-mile line. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-2-08, from Orlando Sentinel website report]

COAST STARLIGHT TO RETURN TO FULL SERVICE: Full service will resume next week on Amtrak's Coast Starlight, which has operated on a truncated route since a mudslide buried a stretch of tracks in Oregon on Jan.19. An enormous slide on Coyote Mountain, north of Chemult, Ore., deposited mud and rocks as deep as 200 feet atop the U.P. rails used by the Coast Starlight. It's taken crews three and a half months to remove the debris and replace the tracks. [United Transportation Union, 5-1-08, from San Francisco Chronicle report]

BIRMINGHAM SEEKS BIDS FOR STREETCAR SYSTEM: The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority in Alabama says it seeks proposals for the design and construction of its planned $33-million, 2.5-mile streetcar system. The proposed route would begin at the intermodal facility on Morris Avenue and wind through the city, passing cultural hotspots. City and transit authority officials may travel to Milan, Italy, to view Peter Witt-style heritage streetcars in operation there; Birmingham is mulling use of such cars for its project. [RailwayAge.com, 5-1-08]

U.P. APPROVES 2-1 STOCK SPLIT: Union Pacific Corp.'s board has approved a plan to split the railroad company's stock later this month. The railroad's board approved the plan May 1 before the company's annual shareholder meeting in Salt Lake City. All Union Pacific investors who own stock on May 12 will receive one additional share of stock for every share they own. The company's board also approved a plan to repurchase 20 million shares of its stock by April 2011. [United Transportation Union, 5-1-08, from Associated Press report]

GENESEE & WYOMING REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: Shortline railroad operator Genesee & Wyoming has reported its first-quarter profit tumbled 27.3 percent to $10.4-million or 29 cents per share, from $14.3 million or 34 cents per share in the prior year. Income from continuing operations fell to $11.2-million or 31 cents per share, from $16.1 million or 38 cents per share. [United Transportation Union, 4-30-08, from forbes.com report]

EXCESSIVE SPEED CAUSED TRAIN CRASH IN CHINA, INVESTIGATORS SAY: Investigators blamed speeding for China's worst train accident in a decade, a disaster that killed at least 70 people and injured more than 400. The finding came just a little more than 24 hours after the two passenger trains collided in Shandong province in eastern China. The investigation found one of the trains was traveling at 81 miles per hour before the accident, far over the section's speed limit of 50 mph. The government has already sacked two railway officials over the accident. Seventy of the 416 people injured in the crash were in critical condition in hospitals. [United Transportation Union, 4-29-08, from Associated Press report]

BNSF'S 1-Q INCOME RISES 30 PERCENT: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp.'s first-quarter net income rose 30 percent. The gain came even as the company spent more than $1-billion on fuel, up 55 percent from a year earlier. The company, however, was able to collect an additional $280 million in fuel surcharges from its customers. BNSF reported net income of $455-million or $1.30 a share, compared with $349-million or 96 cents a share a year earlier. Revenue rose 17 percent. [United Transportation Union, 4-29-08, from Dow Jones Newswires website report]

CONTRACT AWARDED FOR WORLD'S LONGEST RAILROAD TUNNEL: A $1.64-billion contract to install infrastructure for the world's longest rail tunnel - the Gothard Base Tunnel in Switzerland - has been awarded to the Transtec Gothard Consortium. The consortium is responsible for completing the infrastructure for two single-track tunnels 35.3 miles in length as well as nearly seven miles of surface track north and south to connect the new tunnel with the existing ail network. The tunnel is scheduled to be ready for commercial operation in 2017. [RailwayAge.com, 4-29-08]

TRAINS COLLIDE IN CHINA, AT LEAST 66 DEAD: A predawn collision between two passenger trains in Eastern China has killed at least 66 people and injured 247, according to Xinhua, the state news agency, making it one of the deadliest rail accidents in recent years. The two trains, one heading from Beijing to Qingdao and the other traveling between Yantai and Xuzhou, collided at 4:40 a.m. in the town of Zibo, Shandong Province. Witnesses said one train derailed at a bend and then struck the other, throwing at least ten cars into a ditch. [United Transportation Union, 4-28-08, from New York Times report]

TRUCK DRIVER CHARGED IN CSX DERAILMENT, 4 WORKERS HURT: Four CSX employees were rushed to the hospital after their train derailed in Arlington, Tennessee, around 3:30 p.m. April 25th. A spokesperson with the Shelby County Sheriff's Department says the accident happened when the train slammed into a tractor-trailer that was crossing the tracks along Jetway Avenue near Highway 70. The truck driver, 33 year-old Marlin Liggins, was not injured and faces charges in the incident. Sheriff's deputies charged the driver with disregarding a railroad signal. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-26-08, from My EyeWitnessNews website report]

F.R.A. SAYS CSX HARASSED WORKERS: Federal rail regulators, in a stinging report on safety practices at CSX Transportation, say the officials at the railroad created a "chilling" atmosphere discouraging workers from reporting injuries and that actions by CSX officials likely have violated the law. The Federal Railroad Administration said the alleged violations "cannot be treated as proven." But the report said the agency's Office of Safety is recommending 30 civil penalty violation assessments against the railroad and a single assessment of individual liability against a CSX officer. The FRA said it is issuing warning letters to CSX officials, including warning letters from the FRA's Office of Chief Counsel. CSX, in a letter by Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tony Ingram sent to the FRA last October and included in the report, said it has undertaken "remedial actions" in response to the incidents that were investigated and "to prevent such conduct from occurring." A spokesman for the railroad said the railroad "does not tolerate harassment and intimidation of employees" and "we have taken appropriate action where we have identified isolated instances of that behavior." [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-25-08, from Traffic World website report]

MAINE SENATE PASSES FUNDING TO EXTEND DOWNEASTER: Maine's Senate has passed additional transportation funding that will include capital funds to extend Amtrak's Downeaster from Portland to Brunswick, which could happen within two years. Once Brunswick is reached, the plan is to expand Brunswick-Bath-Wiscasset-Rockland service from seasonal to year-round. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 4-25-08]

AMTRAK TO MOVE SOME POSITIONS FROM BEECH GROVE: Amtrak will shift 80 maintenance positions away from its Beech Grove shops by the summer as the company implements a new maintenance program called Life Cycle Preventive Maintenance that involves phasing overhaul requirements so they are met when the units would normally be out of service anyway.  Twenty-seven positions specializing in wheels will go to the shops in Chicago while 53 locomotive maintenance positions will move to Wilmington, Delaware. Amtrak said 475 workers will remain at Beech Grove. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 4-25-08]

U.P. REPORTS INCREASED EARNINGS: Union Pacific Co.'s first-quarter net income increased 15 percent to $443-million or $1.70 a share, from $386-million or $1.41 a share, a year ago, due in part to record revenue from all six of the company's business groups. Total operating revenue increased 11 percent to $4.27-billion from $3.85-billion the year before. The company said it expects a "record" year, despite a soft economy and high fuel prices expected in the second quarter and beyond. [United Transportation Union, 4-24-08, from money.cnn.com report]

CINCINNATI OK'S STREETCAR PLAN: By a 6-2 vote, Cincinnati's City Council has approved a proposed streetcar plan linking the city's downtown, Over-the-Rhine, and Uptown. The proposal authorizes the city manager to seek private contributions for the project. Private-sector funds must be guaranteed before any project work begins. But the addition of Uptown to the proposal adds $35-million to the project's original $102-million estimate, or $137-million, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. [RailwayAge.com, 4-23-08]

CSX UNVEILS $40-MILLION JACKSONVILLE TRACK EXPANSION PLAN: CSX Corp. has announced a $40-million plan that it hopes will untangle truck congestion along Jacksonville's Heckscher Drive as the region braces for a shipping boom. The company plans to upgrade tracks and build a link through Nassau County to connect the rails along U.S. 17 to the main line running north toward Waycross, Ga. The idea is to divert cargo containers from the road while also avoiding rail congestion downtown. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-22-08, from Florida Times-Union website report]

IOWA INTERSTATE BUYS 12 EVOLUTION SERIES LOCOMOTIVES: Regional carrier Iowa Interstate Railroad, Ltd. (IAIS) has announced a $26.4-million purchase of 12 new General Electric Evolution Series locomotives; the cost includes tooling and warranties, IAIS Chairman Dennis H. Miller said. The locomotives will be manufactured at GE's Erie, Pennsylvania plant and we expect them to be delivered by October 1 of this year. Miller said the locomotives will help IAIS, a subsidiary of Railroad Development Corp., cope with traffic growth spurred by "five new ethanol plants starting up over the next year." The railroad expects traffic to grow 25%-to-30% as a result. [RailwayAg.com, 4-22-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN POSTS HIGHER 1-Q PROFIT: Norfolk Southern Corp. said its first-quarter profit rose two percent as higher revenue per shipment offset an overall decline in traffic and soaring fuel prices. N.S. said it earned $291-million, or 76 cents per share, in the three months ended March 31. The company earned $285-million, or 71 cents per share, in the same period of 2007. Revenue increased 11 percent to $2.5-billion, compared with $2.25-billion in first-quarter 2007. Railroad operating expenses, however, rose 12 percent to $1.9-billion, compared with first-quarter 2007. The company blamed a $156-million, or 63 percent, jump in fuel prices for much of the increase. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-22-08, from Associated Press report]

BART USING RECYCLED PLASTIC FOR R.R. TIES: Bay Area Rapid Transit officials showed how plastic bags and bottles can strengthen the train tracks and help the environment by replacing wooden train-track products with recycled ones. BART needs to replace about 14,000 ties, and instead of using traditionally wooden ones, the agency is using compacted bottles and bags. The new ties are compiled of about 2,800 plastic bags and about 600 bottles, which last up to three times longer, according to BART. [United Transportation Union, 4-21-08, from KPIX-TV website report]

ALASKA R.R.'s MOODY TUNNEL BLASTED INTO HISTORY: The historic Moody Railroad Tunnel is gone, blasted to smithereens April 17 by a carefully controlled explosion that left a pile of rubble on the mountainside above the Nenana River. Moody Tunnel was the last of the 1921 Alaska Railroad Tunnels, and the last of three tunnels along this section of track. One of the tunnels, at Mile 354.7 was abandoned in the 1940s after it caved in. The Garner Tunnel, at Mile 356.2, was 'daylighted' after years of maintenance problems. [United Transportation Union, 4-17-08, from News-Miner report]

U.S. ADOPTS ROUTING REGULATIONS FOR HAZMAT TANK CARS: Federal transportation officials have announced regulations Wednesday that require railroads to use the "safest and most secure route" for shipments of deadly chemicals like chlorine and ammonia. "The goal of this rule is not to prohibit the movement of these hazardous materials," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters during a conference call with the media. "Moving commodities such as chlorine and anhydrous ammonia by rail is absolutely vital to our national economy." The new rules call for railroads on June 1 to begin evaluating all routes used to ship "highly hazardous" substances, which include a variety of breathable gases, explosives and radioactive materials. By September 2009, the railroads must adopt safe routes based on a list of 27 criteria, such as population density, quality of tracks and proximity of iconic targets. The rules call for railroads to cooperate with local communities in doing their analysis. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-16-08, from Inside Bay Area website report]

CSX REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corporation has reported first-quarter earnings of $351-million or 85 cents per share, versus $240-million or 52 cents per share last year. This represents a 63 percent improvement in earnings per share over last year. [CSX, 4-15-08]

SILVER SPRING MARC TICKET OFFICE TO CLOSE JUNE 6: With the start of construction of the new Silver Spring Transit Center, MARC will be closing the MARC ticket office on Friday, June 6, 2008.  There will no longer be a ticket agent available after this date.  However, MARC riders will still be able to board their train at this location. One way fares can be purchased onboard with cash without a penalty, after June 6th. [Maryland Transit Administration, 4-11-08]

CSX TO EXPAND TERMINAL AT ERWIN, TENNESSEE: CSX has announced facility expansions and enhancements at its Erwin, Tenn., facility. Erwin is the former headquarters of the Clinchfield Railroad. Approximately $6-million in track and structure work will be performed at the Erwin terminal during 2008. This work will accommodate a growing volume of coal and some grain trains that will be using distributed power at the rear of those trains. In addition, about $3 million will be spent on communications and technology upgrades in the region to support distributed power, and eight additional employees will join the Erwin locomotive team. The locomotive servicing facility also will receive upgrades. [CSX, 4-10-08]

MARC TO ACQUIRE 26 LOCOMOTIVES: The Maryland Board of Public Works has approved the purchase 26 GPS 40, 3600 horsepower, remanufactured diesel locomotives from the Utah Transportation Authority. The locomotives will be completely overhauled with all new equipment. When overhauled, they will provide additional power enabling them to pull longer trains and come equipped with electronic fuel injection making them more fuel efficient. [Maryland Transit Administration, 4-9-08]

EUROTUNNEL NOTCHES FIRST EVER ANNUAL PROFIT: Fourteen years after establishing rail passenger and freight service between Great Britain and the European continent, Eurotunnel has reported its first annual net profit ever, $1.6-million, for the year 2007. The profit is attributed to Eurotunnel's debt restructuring program, following a revised agreement in 2007 with the company's creditors. The agreement cut Eurotunnel's debt levels from 9.2-billion euros to 4.2-billion euros, as shareholders swapped older shares for shares in a new company called Groupe Eurotunnel. [RailwayAge.com, 4-9-08]

ELLISTON, VA., CHOSEN FOR SITE OF NORFOLK SOUTHERN CARGO TERMINAL: The best location for Norfolk Southern Corp. to build its proposed Roanoke-area cargo terminal is Elliston, a village just west of Roanoke, state officials said Monday in a long-awaited decision. The railroad wants to build an $18-million facility in that area to switch cargo containers between trucks and trains. It would be part of the roughly $260-million Heartland Corridor, a project Norfolk Southern is building to speed container trains between the port of Hampton Roads and the Midwest. In 2006, Norfolk Southern identified Elliston as its preferred location for a terminal. However, strong community opposition resulted, prompting the state to step into the dispute. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-7-08, from Virginian-Pilot website report]

CHILDREN'S INVESTMENT FUND ALLEGES INSIDER TRADING AT CSX: The hedge fund pursuing strategic reform at CSX Corp. has leveled allegations of insider trading against the chairman and board members of the U.S. railroad operator. The Children's Investment Fund made the allegations in a 62-page federal court filing. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-4-08, from Dow Jones report]

K.C.S. TO BUILD DISTRIBUTION CENTER IN SOUTHEAST TEXAS: Kansas City Southern plans to build a distribution center and railroad facility in Fort Bend County, Texas, that could create up to 2,000 jobs in the region. An official with the railroad said the development plan includes a 636-acre industrial park and an intermodal facility with up to 7.5 million square feet of industrial warehouse space for storing rail and truck containers. Construction is set to begin immediately, and the first phase could be complete as early as May, officials said. The railroad is also spending about $120-million to rebuild a rail line between Rosenberg and Victoria that has been out of operation for decades. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-2-08, from Associated Press report]

CSX TO OPEN WEST VIRGINIA DISPATCHING CENTER IN AUGUST: CSX Transportation is establishing a new dispatching center at Huntington W.Va., with approximately 80 train dispatcher and related positions being relocated there. CSXT is spending about $4.5-million to create the dispatching center at the railroad's Huntington Division headquarters. Construction is scheduled for completion in late May and the center is scheduled to begin operation in August. [CSX, 4-1-08]

F.R.A. PROPOSES NEW HAZMAT SAFETY RULE: The Federal Railroad Administration is proposing a "sweeping and revolutionary" new rule to improve the safety of railroad tank cars hauling the most dangerous hazardous materials. US DOT Secretary Mary E. Peters said a proposed performance-based standard would increase by 500 percent, on average, the amount of energy the tank car must absorb during a train accident before a catastrophic failure may occur. As described by the FRA: "The proposed rule requires tank cars carrying poison Inhalation Hazard commodities such as chlorine and anhydrous ammonia to be equipped with puncture-resistance protection strong enough to prevent penetration at speeds of 25 mph for side impacts and 30 mph for head-on collisions - more than double the speed for existing tank cars. The proposal allows flexibility in reaching that goal, but it is expected the outer tank car shell and both head ends will be strengthened, the inner tank holding the hazmat cargo will be better shielded, and the space between the two will be designed with more energy absorption and protection capabilities." [RailwayAge.com, 4-1-08]

LANCASTER STATION GETS FUNDING FOR RENOVATION: Lancaster, Pa., County Commissioners have approved $400,000 to match federal and state funds for a $12-million renovation of the Lancaster Amtrak station.  Work will begin this fall and should wrap up by 2010. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-28-08]

HELL GATE BRIDGE REPAIRS BEGIN: Amtrak began $10-million in repairs to the Hell Gate Bridge in New York March 25.  The project had been delayed since 2006 due to contract procurement issues. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-28-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN BOOSTS SPENDING BUDGET BY $64-MILLION: Norfolk Southern Corp boost its 2008 capital expenditures budget by $64-million to speed up the purchase of new coal cars and take advantage of a tax deduction, the company said in a regulatory filing. The purchase of 750 new coal cars is part of on an ongoing program to replace its coal fleet, Norfolk Southern said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-28-08, from Reuters report]

PORT DIGS UP OLD PESTICIDE-FILLED TANK CAR: Port of Galveston officials may never know who buried an entire railroad tank car filled with thousands of gallons of liquid, including a degraded form of the pesticide DDT. Port staffers looked on early March 27 as crews used a crane and chains to resurrect the railcar - about 40 feet long and 10 feet in diameter - that workers nearly two months ago found when they were removing track to install a storm drain for a parking lot. The port will spend about $55,000 to remove the car and dispose of its contents. [United Transportation Union, 3-28-08, from Galveston County Daily News report]

DELHI METRO AWARDS $137-MILLION ORDER TO BOMBARDIER: India's Delhi Metro Railcorp. has exercised an option to purchase an additional 84 MOVIA railcars from Bombardier Transportation at a cost of approximately $137-million. This bring Bombardier's total contract to 424 cars. The cars are to be used on Delhi Metro's Phase II, 37-mile expansion, carrying a projected four million passengers a day in the East-West and North-South corridors of the city. The cars will be built at a new Bombardier facility in India. [RailwayAge.com, 3-28-08]

FIVE RAILROADS ACCUSED IN PRICE-FIXING LAWSUIT: Agricultural firm Archer Daniels Midland has filed a federal antitrust lawsuit accusing the five largest U.S. railroads of a price-fixing conspiracy. ADM named BNSF Railway Co.; Union Pacific Railroad Co.; CSX Transportation; Norfolk Southern Railway Co.; and Kansas City Southern Railway Co. According to ADM's lawsuit, the railroads got together through their membership in the Association of American Railroads and agreed to a scheme that fixed fuel surcharges. The surcharges are supposed to help railroads recover unanticipated costs when fuel prices spike. But ADM alleges that the railroads used them to extract profits from shippers. ADM joins a growing chorus of companies that have filed such claims against the railroads since last year. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-27-08, from Minneapolis Star Tribune website report]

GERMANY SCRAPS MUNICH MAGLEV LINE: German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee says a planned Transrapid maglev line linking Munich and its airport has "collapsed because costs have nearly doubled to an estimated $5.37-billion." German industry, led by Siemens, has developed 300-mph magnetic levitation technology during the last several decades, but so far only one commercial Transrapid line has been built: a mid-city to airport connector in Shanghai. [RailwayAge.com, 3-27-08]

METRO-NORTH ADDING 67 TRAINS TO WEEKLY LINEUP: Metro-North Railroad has announced that as of April 6, it will add 67 more trains each week to its Hudson Valley service. The Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines will all see additional trains. Metro-North ridership has steadily grown in recent years with riders not only using the trains to commute south for work, but to travel between Hudson Valley points for employment, reverse commuting, and even for leisure travel. [United Transportation Union, 3-25-08, from Mid-Hudson News Network report]

DON HAHS REMOVED AS PRESIDENT OF BLET: By order of Teamsters International President James M. Hoffa, Don H. Hahs has been removed as president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, fined $43,963.97, and suspended from membership in the BLET and the teamsters for one year, during which BLET members are "cautioned" against having any contact with him. The BLET announced that Ed Rodzwicz, first vice president, assumed the duties of president on March 20. "Brother Hahs has appealed the decision," said BLET. Hoffa's decision must be reviewed by the union's Independent Review Board and by the federal court. Removal of Hahs was recommended by a hearing panel that BLET said "was unwilling to conclude that Brother Hahs committed embezzlement; however, it determined Hahs violated his fiduciary duties to the BLET and its members with the use and control of Cleveland Cavaliers basketball tickets purchased with union funds, travel expenses for his wife, and other personal expenses, thereby bringing reproach on the IBT [International Brotherhood of Teamsters] in violation of the IBT constitution." [RailwayAge.com, 3-24-08]

CSX COAL TRAIN DERAILS IN CHICAGO, IGNITES FIRE: Flames of up to 15 feet high shot out of tons of coal after a train in the Chicago South Side's Englewood neighborhood derailed Sunday morning [March 23], rupturing an underground gas line. The train derailed at 73rd Street and Bell Avenue about 10:45 a.m., according to Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford. Four cars of the train carrying coal derailed, resulting in a ruptured underground gas line, which, in turn, ignited the tons of coal, he said. Flames of up to 15 feet high shot from the underground gas line which ignited the coal from the train. There were no injuries, and no evacuations. [United Transportation Union, 3-23-08, from Chicago Sun Times report]

FIRED PRESIDENT OF GREENBRIER RESORT SUES CSX: Paul Ratchford. the former president of The Greenbrier, has filed a $50-million lawsuit against railroad giant CSX Corp. - the resort's parent company - alleging he was fired by CSX President Michael J. Ward for uncovering and trying to stop the "unethical" and unaccounted for practices of "fringe benefits" by "current and retired CSX executives," which included "free medical examinations at the resort's clinic, free rooms and meals, excessive discounts from the food and beverage outlets and greatly discounted merchandise from (retail) shops." CSX spokesman Gary Sease told The Register-Herald Friday that "the allegations are without merit and the company will defend its position vigorously in court." Ratchford also alleges past and present CSX officials were benefiting from the luxurious lifestyle offered by The Greenbrier, despite the fact the resort was losing "approximately $15 million per year." In all, the 15-page lawsuit charges the defendants with seven separate counts of wrongdoing, including fraud, breach of contract, wrongful discharge, violation of California labor laws, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of the West Virginia wage and payment act. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-21-08, from Beckley Register-Herald website report]

CANADIAN NATIONAL TO SPEND $1.5-BILLION ON CAPITAL PROGRAMS THIS YEAR: CN Rail will spend $1.5-billion in its North American capital program, the railway announced March 18. The railway didn't announce specific project details, but in a news release it said $450-million to be spent in Western Canada was to "maintain a safe railway and improve the productivity and fluidity of its network." CN will be spending money on "basic maintenance" including replacement and upgrades to bridges, rails and ties, switching yards and extending sidings - notably in support of the new container terminal at Prince Rupert. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-19-08, from Vancouver Sun website report]

CSX BOOSTS QUARTERLY DIVIDEND: CSX has increased its quarterly dividend to $0.18 per share from $0.15 per share. The company is also targeting a $3-billion share repurchase plan to be completed by the end of 2009, worth approximately 15 percent of the company's current market capitalization. [United Transportation Union, 3-17-08, from news.briefing.com report]

CSX FILES SUIT AGAINST TCI AND 3G HEDGE FUNDS: CSX Corporation has filed a lawsuit against The Children's Investment Fund ("TCI") and 3G Capital Partners ("3G"). CSX filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging violations of federal securities laws, including violations of Section 13(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. MORE.. [CSX, 3-17-08]

JOHN REED DIES, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF SANTA FE: John Shedd Reed, former chairman and chief executive officer of Santa Fe Industries, and Railway Age's 1970 Railroader of the Year, died March 16 at his home in Lake Forest, Ill. He was 90. After Amtrak took over operation of U.S. long-distance passenger trains, Reed revoked Amtrak's use of the name of the Santa Fe's Super Chief, its legendary luxury streamliner, declaring, "It is no longer super." [RailwayAge.com, 3-17-08]

E.P.A. INTRODUCES NEW LOCOMOTIVE EMISSION STANDARDS: Federal air emission standards for locomotive engines will be stricter in less than four years. On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled new Tier 3 and 4 emission regulations governing locomotive and marine engines that begin taking effect in 2012. When fully implemented in 2015, the regulations will require the engines to reduce particulate matter by 90 percent and nitrogen oxides by 80 percent. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 3-17-08]

RAILAMERICA, FLORIDA EAST COAST SEEK APPROVAL TO MERGE: Fortress Investment Group L.L.C. is seeking Surface Transportation Board approval to merge RailAmerica Inc. and Florida East Coast Railway. Under an "Exemption for a Transaction Within a Corporate Family" filing submitted to the STB on March 3, Fortress proposes to combine its two holdings and make FECR a wholly owned subsidiary of RailAmerica. Fortress acquired RailAmerica - which owns and operates 41 U.S. and Canadian regionals and short lines - in February 2007 and obtained STB approval in September 2007 to control the 351-mile FECR per an acquisition agreement with Florida East Coast Industries Inc. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 3-13-08]

CHINA PLANS LUXURY TRAIN SERVICE: China will launch 'the most luxurious train in the world' to ply the route from Beijing to Tibet's capital Lhasa, state media reported March 9. A ride on the train, which will begin operations on September 1, will be about 20 times more expensive than the ordinary fare of about $280, Xinhua news agency said. "The interior of the train will be decorated according to the standards of a five-star hotel," said Zhu Mingrui, general manager of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Corp. There will be three trains, which will head from Beijing to Lhasa every eight days. The journey will take five days. Each train will have 12 passenger cars, two dining cars and a sightseeing car. [United Transportation Union, 3-10-08, from AFP media report]

BILEVEL CARS ORDERED FOR NORTHSTAR SERVICE: The Metropolitan Council of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn., has awarded Bombardier Transportation a $44-million contract for 17 BiLevel railcars for the Northstar 40-mile commuter service. The contract includes options for up to 64 additional cars. Delivery is expected to take place between May and August 2009. Northstar, expected to begin service in late 2009, extends northwest from downtown Minneapolis along one of the region's most congested traffic corridors. Over 900 Bombardier BiLevels are in operation or on order with transit authorities in 13 cities across Canada and the U.S. [RailwayAge.com, 3-10-08]

CITY BUYS SEATTLE'S KING STREET STATION: The City of Seattle has purchased the historic King Street Station from BNSF for the sum of $10, Mayor Greg Nickels (D) announced on March 6.  Amtrak and Washington DOT have already restored certain elements of the 1906 structure, which was architecturally marred by "modernizations" such as false ceilings and plastic chairs ahead of the 1962 World's Fair.  But further restoration (including seismic retrofitting) should be completed within the next three years.  $10-million in city funds will match $16.5-million in federal and state monies to fund the improvements. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-7-08]

SAN BERNARDINO DEPOT OPENS: The historic ATSF station in San Bernardino, California, is open to passengers once again after Amtrak reached an agreement with the city to partially fund a Station Host volunteer program.  Amtrak removed agents from the station while it was being rehabilitated, and did not return them when the building renovation was completed a few years ago.  Under terms of an agreement with the city, Amtrak will pay $500 per month for the next 20 years; $400 will go towards building a museum in the lobby, while $100 will go to San Bernardino Associated Governments to coordinate the Station Hosts. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-7-08]

METRO-NORTH PRESIDENT TO RETIRE: MTA Metro-North President Peter A. Cannito has announced his intention to retire in July. Cannito, Metro-North's third president, has served in this post since June 1999. [RailwayAge.com, 3-7-08]

K.C.S. REALIGNS ITS THREE DIVISIONS: The Kansas City Southern Railway Company (KCSR), has realigned the territories of its three transportation divisions, named new managers of those divisions, and made three senior management changes. The Midwest Division now covers East St. Louis, Ill., west to Kansas City and south to Shreveport, La. The Southeast Division covers Dallas, Tex., east to Shreveport, including Shreveport terminal, east to Meridian, Miss., and north to Counce, Tenn., as well as the line from Hattiesburg to Gulfport, Miss. The Texas Division covers Laredo, Texas, north to Shreveport and from Shreveport south to New Orleans, La. [RailwayAge.com, 3-7-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN OPENS INTERMODAL TERMINAL IN OHIO: Norfolk Southern on March 3 opened the Rickenbacker Intermodal Terminal near Columbus, Ohio. The $68.5-million facility allows Norfolk Southern to significantly expand its intermodal business in central Ohio by providing customers with improved service and increased capacity. The terminal is part of the Rickenbacker Global Logistics Park, one of the largest integrated logistics complexes in the U.S. The Rickenbacker Intermodal Terminal in its initial phase occupies approximately 175 acres and has the capacity to handle more than 250,000 containers and trailers annually. The terminal was designed with significant expansion capability as traffic volumes grow, and also has adjacent property potentially available for ancillary operations such as container yards. [Norfolk Southern, 3-3-08]

F.R.A. ISSUES RAIL PLATFORM SAFETY GUIDELINES: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a guidance document to help minimize accidents due to gaps between the edge of a passenger station platform and the threshold of a passenger train door. FRA Approach to Managing Gap Safety addresses the use of engineering evaluation and analysis to establish gap standards and the application of strategies to prevent and reduce gap accidents. FRA believes the most effective way to address the potential risks is for railroads to develop and adopt a comprehensive program to manage gap hazards, and establish and maintain uniform gap and boarding conditions. [Federal Railroad Administration, 2-29-08]

EJ&E TESTS ULTRA-LOW EMISSIONS LOCOMOTIVE: The Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway has completed a successful one-week operational test of a three-engine 2100 HP (3GS-21B) N-ViroMotive GenSet locomotive at its switch yard in Gary, Inc., according to National Railway Equipment Co. The unit is EPA certified and CARB recognized as an ultra-low emitting GenSet locomotive, NREC says, adding that the locomotives offer an 80-plue percent reduction in nitrous oxide (NOx) and particulate matter emissions, 50 to 65 percent improved tractive effort adhesion efficiency, and fuel savings of more than 50 percent in switching and road switching service, among other benefits. [RailwayAge.com, 2-28-08]

AMTRAK TO REPLACE CONCRETE TIES ON N.E. CORRIDOR: Amtrak says it must spend tens of millions of dollars to replace defective railroad ties on the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor. The concrete ties were purchased beginning in the 1990s and have already begun to crack, said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black. Concrete ties normally last about 50 years. The ties are manufactured by Rocla Concrete Tie Inc. in Bear, Delaware. Amtrak said that under the terms of the contract, the supplier must replace the defective ties for free, but won't reimburse the railroad for the labor. "Amtrak and Rocla are working together to ensure that the replacement ties that they are providing us are top quality," Black said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-27-08, from Associated Press report]

M-8 MOCKUP UNVEILED IN CONNECTICUT: MTA Metro-North Railroad and the Connecticut Department of Transportation have spent the past several months working with Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. to finalize design of the new M-8 rail cars ordered in 2006. Last week, the parties unveiled a mock-up of the cars, which will run on the New Haven Line. The design incorporates input from Metro-North customers. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 2-27-08]

N.J. TRANSIT EXPANDING ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE FLEET: New Jersey Transit's fleet of 29 ALP-46 electric locomotives will grow to as many as 89 units following a contract award to Bombardier Transportation for 27 more, plus options for an additional 33. The initial order of 27 units, designated ALP-46A, is worth $229-million. The ALP-46A procurement is one of several NJ Transit locomotive programs. The agency, the nation's third largest, is also in the midst of a joint procurement with Montreal's AMT for dual-power (a.c.-catenary/diesel-electric) locomotives and will also be performing an overhaul on 20 of its older ALP-44 electrics. [RailwayAge.com, 2-22-08]

ICELAND PONDERS PASSENGER RAIL PROJECTS: Twelve members of Iceland's Parliament have co-sponsored a resolution urging the transportation minister to explore two rail projects to serve the nation's capital, Reykjavik. One rail service would link Keflavík International Airport and Reykjavik, while a light rail transit line would operate within the capital region, according to the Iceland Review. The parliamentary resolution was submitted following a competition for the best idea on urban development in the Vatnsmyrin neighborhood in Reykjavik. [RailwayAge.com, 2-20-08]

CANADIAN PACIFIC HAS PROBLEMS WITH 40 NEW LOCOMOTIVES: Troublesome new locomotives are among the problems that have made life difficult for Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. in the first quarter. It has had problems with 40 locomotives it recently bought from General Electric in a bid to improve the reliability of its engine fleet, chief operating officer Kathryn McQuade said. The locomotive problems have caused "choppiness in the network in the first quarter," but the railway and GE were working on the issue, she said. [United Transportation Union, 2-22-08, from Reuters report]

CARL ICAHN BOOSTS STAKE IN CSX: Investor Carl Icahn got U.S. approval to boost his stake in CSX Corp., the nation's third-largest railroad, to as much as 8.5 percent. The Federal Trade Commission granted Icahn early termination of an antitrust review, which CSX said would let him and his companies purchase as much as $1.6-billion of its stock. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 2-21-08, from Bloomberg News Service report]

NEW FEDERAL GRANT PROGRAM OFFERS FUNDS FOR IMPROVED INTERCITY PASSENGER RAIL: For the first time ever, states will now be directly eligible for federal funding to support intercity passenger rail service under a new grant program, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters has announced. Peters explained that the $30-million capital grant program is designed to support state efforts to improve intercity passenger rail service and requires a 50-50 funding match like most other transportation investments. [Federal Railroad Administration, 2-19-08]

G.E. TO BUILD EVOLUTION SERIES LOCOMOTIVES IN KAZAKHSTAN: General Electric Co. and the Kazakh state railway, Tenir Zholy, expect to complete a new plant by mid-2008 for the manufacture of GE Evolution Series locomotives. The plant is reported to cost $125-million plus $600-million for production equipment. The venture will provide modern motive power to replace a Soviet-era locomotive fleet as Kazakhstan builds a modern rail corridor to speed commerce between Asia and Europe and to support its oil economy. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 2-19-08]

AMTRAK TO IMPLEMENT NEW SECURITY MEASURES: Amtrak will start randomly screening passengers' carry-on bags this week in a new security push that includes officers with automatic weapons and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling platforms and trains. Amtrak officials insist their new procedures won't hold up the flow of passengers and will not require passengers to arrive at stations far in advance. Passengers who are selected randomly for the screening will be delayed no more than a couple of minutes, Amtrak chief executive Alex Kummant said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-18-08, from Associated Press report]

K.C.S. ANNOUNCES CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM: Kansas City Southern plans to pump about $565-million into railroad-system improvements this year. Cash capital expenditures of $500-million will go toward railroad maintenance and meeting anticipated future demand, the Kansas City-based company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. KC Southern also plans to spend about $65-million to buy 30 new locomotives for U.S. operations through a leveraged lease arrangement. [United Transportation Union, 2-18-08, from Kansas City Business Journal report]

PANAMA CANAL RAILWAY BOOSTS CAPACITY FOR INTERMODAL & PASSENGER BUSINESS: The Panama Canal Railway has told the Latin American news media that it has invested US $25-million to increase capacity to handle more intermodal and passenger business. For intermodal traffic, PCRC has added seven locomotives and support equipment. It has also extended the Atlantic and Pacific intermodal terminals from seven double stack car lengths to 10 double stack car lengths and added 16 additional double stack cars. To increase passenger capacity, seating inside the cars has been re-configured. [Kansas City Southern News, 2-15-08]

NORTH PLATTE DESIGNATED 'RAIL TOWN USA': The Nebraska Secretary of State has registered "Rail Town USA" as North Platte's service mark. North Platte is home of Union Pacific Bailey Yard, the world's largest switching yard and the world's busiest railroad tracks in the world. [United Transportation Union, 2-13-08, from North Platte Telegraph report]

F.R.A. ADOPTS NEW RULE ADDRESSING 'HUMAN FACTOR' ACCIDENTS: The Federal Railroad Administration has adopted a new rule that it hopes will reduce "common mistakes that result in nearly half of all humn factor-caused train accidents." The agency said the need for the regulation was indicated by an increase in such accidents in recent years. The new rule tackles "several commonplace errors that can lead to serious train accidents," said U.S. DOT Secretary Mary E. Peters. FRA Administrator Joseph H. Boardman said the rule defines three levels of responsibility and accountability: railroad managers for implementing programs to test employee proficiency; supervisors for properly administering such tests; and employees for complying with the rules. [RailwayAge.com, 2-14-08]

UTU, AMTRAK REACH ACCORD: United Transportation Union negotiators have reached a tentative settlement with Amtrak. The agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2000, and extends through Dec. 31, 2009. The tentative agreement, which provides for retroactive and future general wage increases through July 31, 2009, affects some 2,300 UTU conductors and assistant conductors, and is being mailed for ratification vote to those affected. The UTU agreement provides for no work-rule givebacks in addition to protection of the assistant conductor position. [United Transportation Union, 2-13-08]

VIA RAIL TO UPGRADE 98 LRC CARS: Via Rail is forging ahead with Phase 2 of its $692-million federally funded modernization program by seeking tenders for the upgrade of its 98 LRC-type passenger cars used mainly in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. The LRC cars are 25 years old and make up almost 25 per cent of Via's total fleet of 430 cars. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-12-08, from Montreal Gazette website report]

APACHE RAILWAY BEING SOLD: The Apache Railway Co. is changing hands again. Catalyst Paper Corp. recently reached an agreement to acquire AbitibiBowater's Snowflake, Ariz., recycled newsprint mill, the 38-mile short line and other assets for $161-million in cash. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter. Incorporated in 1917, Apache Railway provided passenger-rail service until the 1950s. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 2-12-08]

S.T.B. STUDIES ALASKA RAIL EXTENSION: The Surface Transportation Board will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Alaska Railroad's proposed construction and operation of an extension of 30 to 45 miles to Port MacKenzie from its mainline between Wasilla and a point north of Willow. STB said "significant environmental impacts" could result from the proposal. The railroad plans to operate two trains a day, one in each direction. [RailwayAge.com, 2-12-08]

INDONESIA TO SPRAY TRAIN-ROOF RIDERS: Indonesian commuters riding on the roofs of trains will be sprayed with colored liquid so that security officers can identify and arrest them, Reuters reports. Electric trains linking the Indonesian capital and its neighboring towns are packed with passengers during rush hours, with many sitting on the roofs due to a lack of space inside or to avoid paying. Although illegal, roof riding is rampant due to a lack of efficient and affordable means of transport for commuters in the greater Jakarta area. [United Transportation Union, 2-11-08, from Reuters report]

WASHINGTON UNION STATION COLLISION INJURES 12: Twelve MARC Maryland commuter passengers suffered minor injuries Febr.7 in a collision between a MARC locomotive and Penn Line train 419, which had just arrived into Washington Union Station. Seven passengers were hospitalized.  The HHP-8 engine was supposed to couple to the AEM-7 locomotive of the trainset to ferry it to the Ivy City yards for midday maintenance, but approached at too fast a speed. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 2-8-08]

MASS BAY ORDERS 75 BILEVEL COMMUTER CARS: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has awarded a $190.2-million contract to Rotem USA Corp. of Philadelphia for 75 new bi-level commuter rail coaches to replace single level railcars that are nearing their useful life. Deliveries will begin at the end of 2010 and are to be completed by 2012. The new cars will bring MBTA's bi-level fleet to 215 units. [RailwayAge.com, 2-8-08]

FRANCE UNVEILS SUPER-FAST TRAIN: French engineering company Alstom unveiled a new super-fast train Febr.5 which it claims will be quicker, cleaner and bigger than its Japanese and German rivals. President Nicolas Sarkozy helped cut the ribbon on the AGV, which stands for Automotrice Grande Vitesse, or High-Speed Railcar - a bullet-train with a cruise speed of up to 210 mph. The firm will be bidding later this year for the AGV to replace 300 to 400 of the oldest French TGVs, a mammoth SNCF contract that would see the trains go into service on home soil in 2014. [United Transportation Union, 2-6-08, from afp.google.com report]

U.S. OK'S $75-MILLION FOR BOSTON COMMUTER RAIL: The federal government has announced $75-million in funding for improvements to the commuter rail line between Fitchburg and Boston that are expected to speed up service and add trains when the project is finished in 2012. The federal money would cover approximately half of the project's cost, with a matching $75-million to come from a state transportation bond. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-6-08, from Telegram & Gazette website report]

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Kansas City Southern reported record fourth-quarter 2007 revenues of $460.3-million, a four percent increase over the corresponding 2006 period. Revenue growth was primarily the result of a continued strong pricing environment as well as volume growth in some key commodity segments. Operating income for the fourth-quarter was a record $108.7-million compared with $88.2-million last year, [Kansas City Southern, 2-5-08]

AMTRAK TRAINS FREED FROM CALIFORNIA MOUNTAINS: An Amtrak train stuck overnight in the Northern California mountains resumed its journey Febr.2 after a snow plow that was blocking the tracks was removed. Two Amtrak trains with about 400 passengers were initially stranded after the accident Febr.1. One train was pulled back to Reno and its 165 passengers were put up in a hotel. The other train, which was headed from Emeryville to Chicago, remained in the mountains until the tracks were cleared. About 60 passengers from the second train were taken by bus back to the San Francisco Bay area overnight, while 155 stayed on board to wait for the line to reopen. [United Transportation Union, 2-2-08, from Associated Press report]

CSX TO SHARE SECURITY DATA WITH STATE OF MARYLAND: Spurred by a Nov.24 derailment near Baltimore's Camden Yards, Maryland and CSX Transportation completed have an agreement under which security officials will be given real-time access to information about hazardous cargoes moving through the state on freight trains. The agreement "will allow Maryland security and law enforcement officials to independently track the location and contents of rail cars being handled by trains across the state," said a railroad spokesman. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-1-08, from Baltimore Sun website report]

F.R.A. ISSUES NEW PASSENGER RAIL GUIDELINES: Commuter and intercity passenger rail equipment will be safer under a new federal rule that ensures improved emergency window exit availability, specifies additional emergency rescue features, and requires two-way communication systems, announced Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph H. Boardman. MORE.. [Federal Railroad Administration, 1-31-08]

AMTRAK STUDIES EXPANDING VIRGINIA SERVICES: In a study requested by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit, Amtrak has identified Washington-Lynchburg and Washington-Newport News as the two most promising routes for expanded passenger train service in Virginia. Amtrak said one round-trip service a day along the U. S. 29 corridor from Washington through Charlottesville to Lynchburg could be added for a $1.3-million annual state subsidy, plus undetermined capital costs. [RailwayAge.com, 1-30-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN DROPS PLAN FOR WIND TURBINE AT ENOLA YARD: Norfolk Southern Corp. has crossed the Enola freight yards in East Pennsboro Twp. off its list of potential sites for a wind turbine. The reason has a lot to do with nearby Wade Island in the Susquehanna River, a legally protected bird sanctuary for great egrets. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-29-08, from Patriot-News website report]

FORT MADISON AMTRAK STOP MAY MOVE DOWNTOWN: Plans to move Fort Madison's Amtrak stop from its current location to the historical downtown anta Fe Railway Depot may be back on track. With a possible end to confusion about the regulations dictating the size of the platform the city has to build, Mayor Steve Ireland said he hopes to see final engineering of the project begin in the summer, construction in the fall and for Amtrak to be in the depot by spring of 2009. [United Transportation Union, 1-29-08, from The Hawk Eye report by Nicholas Bergin]

AMTRAK'S CHICAGO-MILWAUKEE ROUTE SETS RIDERSHIP RECORD: Amtrak says nearly 618,000 passengers rode the Hiawatha route last year, about five percent more than the year before, the first time ridership has surpassed the 600,000 mark. More than 59,000 passengers used the route in December. That's up 16 percent over the previous year and the most passengers Amtrak has ever carried on the route in December. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-29-08, from Fox28 website report]

BNSF REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation has reported quarterly earnings of $1.46 per diluted share, compared with fourth-quarter 2006 earnings of $1.42 per share. Freight revenues increased $352-million, or 9 percent, to $4.12 billion compared with $3.77-billion in the fourth quarter of 2006, principally due to strong yields and an increase in fuel surcharges of approximately $120 million. Operating income was $950-million, compared to $943-million in the fourth quarter of 2006. [BNSF, 1-29-08]

BNSF ANNOUNCES 2008 CAPITAL PROGRAM: BNSF Railway Company, on Jan. 29, announced its planned $2.45-billion capital commitment program for 2008. BNSF anticipates leasing 200 locomotives with a cost of about $400-million and investing over $200-million in track and facilities to expand capacity to continue to meet demand for consistent freight rail service. The 2008 capacity expansion program is expected to be approximately $350-million lower than 2007. [United Transportation Union, 1-29-08, from money.cnn.com report]

TRAIN IN CHINA KILLS 18 RAILROAD WORKERS: China's Ministry of Railway said 18 railroad workers were killed and nine injured by a high-speed train that barreled into their work site. The ministry's Office of Publicity said the train ran into the Anqiu City work site the evening of Jan.23 while workers were relocating the tracks. The incident occurred 20 minutes before the time trains had been asked to slow their speed while passing through the work area, but the workers began early. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-25-08, from United Press International report]

AMTRAK MOVES INTO ALBUQUERQUE'S ALVARADO CENTER: Amtrak has relocated its Albuquerque NM station to the Alvarado Transportation Center next door to the existing station.  The old station will become a crew base.  Alvarado originally opened in 2002, and now consolidates into one facility Amtrak, Greyhound and subsidiaries, ABQ Ride Transit, and New Mexico Rail Runner commuter rail. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-25-08]

BNSF RUNS TRAIN WITH 'ECP' BRAKES: The Federal Railroad Administration announced that BNSF has launched its first revenue service train fully equipped with state-of-the-art electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes. BNSF becomes the second Class I railroad to employ ECP, following Norfolk Southern, which began operating an ECP-equipped coal train in Pennsylvania last October. ECP technology applies the brakes uniformly and instantaneously on every railcar in a train. [RailwayAge.com, 1-25-08]

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 4TH QUARTER EARNINGS: Union Pacific Corporation today reported 2007 fourth quarter net income of $491-million or $1.86 per diluted share, compared to $485-million or $1.78 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2006. [Union Pacific, 1-24-08]

UTU, CARRIERS REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENT: After a long and bitter standoff, the United Transportation Union (UTU) and the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents U.S. Class I carriers and several smaller railroads, have reached a tentative agreement on wages, work rules, and working conditions. The agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2005, and will continue in force through Dec. 31, 2009. It must now be ratified by about 46,000 UTU members. [RailwayAge.com, 1-24-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO INVEST $1.43-BILLION IN CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS: Norfolk Southern Corp. said Jan.23 it plans to invest $1.43-billion this year on such capital expenses as maintaining its track and buying more rail cars. About 71 percent of the 2008 capital expenditures will be spent on maintenance, such as repairing and replacing track and bridges. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-23-08, from Virginian-Pilot report]

AMTRAK, UNIONS REACH TENTATIVE SETTLEMENT: On January 18, a coalition of eight Amtrak non-operating unions signed a tentative contract agreement with Amtrak, which basically adopts the recommendations of Presidential Emergency Board 242. The White House made public the recommendations of PEB 242 on January 3. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-22-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern Corporation has reported record fourth-quarter 2007 net income of $399-million, an increase of four percent, compared with $385-million for fourth-quarter 2006. Diluted earnings per share were $1.02, up seven percent, compared with the $0.95 per diluted share earned in the fourth quarter of 2006. Net income for 2007 was $1.5-billion, down one percent, compared with record net income for 2006. Diluted earnings per share increased three percent, or 11 cents, to $3.68. [Norfolk Southern, 1-22-08]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN HIKES DIVIDEND: Norfolk Southern Corporation announced that its Board of Directors today voted to increase the regular quarterly dividend on the company's common stock by 12 percent or 3 cents per share, to 29 cents per share. The increased dividend is payable on March 10 to stockholders of record on Feb.1. The increase is in addition to an 18 percent increase announced in July 2007. In total, Norfolk Southern has increased its dividend 32 percent over the last 12 months. [Norfolk Southern, 1-22-08]

CSX REPORTS 4-Q RESULTS: CSX Corporation has reported fourth quarter 2007 net earnings of $365-million or 86 cents per share, including a penny per share from insurance gains. In the fourth quarter of last year, the company reported earnings of $347-million or 75 cents per share, including 18 cents per share from insurance gains, a gain on Conrail property and the resolution of certain tax matters. On a reported basis, earnings per share increased 15 percent on a year-over-year basis. [CSX, 1-22-08]

R.J. CORMAN R.R. BUYS CHINESE-BUILT STEAM ENGINE: The R.J. Corman Railroad Co. has taken delivery on a Chinese-built steam locomotive, which it plans to park on a siding in Lexington, Kentucky, both as a piece of historic preservation and for actual use on as-yet-unspecified 'special occasions.' Company owner Rick Corman says he expects to fire up the engine and try it out on the track within a few weeks, as soon as it's inspected and spruced up from its long trip from China. Though built in China in 1986, the engine is based on a U.S. design from the 1920s. [United Transportation Union, 1-17-08, from Herald Leader report]

ARGENTINA AWARDS CONTRACT FOR HIGH-SPEED RAIL SYSTEM: The government of Argentina has awarded a contract worth more than $1.48-billion to a consortium led by Alstom Transport to build a high speed rail system. The 435-mile line will be the first dedicated high speed system in the Western Hemisphere. It will link the cities of Buenos Aires, Rosario, and Cordoba and use TGV technology. The system, which will operate at speeds from 160 to 186 mph, will be built in two phases and involve upgrading and electrifying existing rights-of-way. [RailwayAge.com. 1-16-08]

VIRGINIA STREETCAR PROJECT GETS FUNDING: The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority has approved almost $40-million in funding for a proposed Columbia Pike Streetcar project linking Pentagon City and Skyline. The 4.7 mile project, estimated to cost $120-million, is being advanced by the authority in conjunction with Arlington and Fairfax counties. [RailwayAge.com, 1-14-08]

BNSF TO EXPAND FORT WORTH HUB: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. is expanding its intermodal hub at Fort Worth's AllianceTexas development while it considers whether to build a similar facility in southern Dallas County. Last year, the railroad said it added nearly nine miles of track and four new trucking lanes to meet current and future demand for business and to speed up the flow of traffic through Alliance. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-13-08, from Dallas Morning News website report]

CHINA ALLOCATES $41-BILLION FOR RAIL UPGRADES: The Chinese government is planning to spend $41-billion to build 4,415 kilometers of new railways in 2008 as it seeks to upgrade its overburdened transport infrastructure. The railways sector will maintain rapid growth because of the sustained large-scale increases in both cargo and passenger flows, said a Chinese official. [United Transportation Union, 1-13-08, from Reuters report]

N.S. HEARTLAND CORRIDOR CONSTRUCTION BEGINS: Work has begun to raise tunnels in Virginia and in southern West Virginia between Antler and Gordon. Meanwhile, the state of West Virginia has received the results of a survey about the economic impact of the corridor on the state. The Heartland Corridor project involves improvements in railways between the Virginia coast and Columbus, Ohio, so that trains can carry more goods. Tunnels will be raised so that trains can carry double-stacked containers. [United Transportation Union, 1-11-08, from Herald Dispatch report]

COURT UPHOLDS FIRING OF VIA RAIL CHAIRMAN: The Federal Court of Appeals in Ottawa has upheld the former Liberal government's second attempt to fire Via Rail chairman Jean Pelletier. The December dismissal was the Paul Martin government's second try at firing Pelletier over remarks he made about former Via employee and onetime Olympian Myriam Bedard. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-9-08, from Canadian Press report]

BNSF DEVELOPING HYDROGEN FUEL CELL LOCOMOTIVE: BNSF Railway Company and Vehicle Projects LLC have announced they are developing an experimental hydrogen fuel cell switch locomotive. The locomotive has the potential to reduce air pollution, is not dependent on oil for fuel, and could serve as a mobile backup power source for military and civilian disaster relief efforts. The switch locomotive is currently under development and field testing is scheduled to begin later this year. [BNSF, 1-9-08]

MUSEUM & WAITING ROOM TO OPEN IN ARKADELPHIA TRAIN DEPOT: The Clark County Historical Association of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, is establishing a museum in the town's train station that is served by the Texas Eagle. The group has agreed to have the city of Arkadelphia open and operate a passenger waiting room in the building. Currently, Arkadelphia passengers do not have a secure, indoor place to wait for the train. [National Assn. of R.R. Passengers, 1-4-08]

PATRIOT RAIL ACQUIRES UTAH CENTRAL RWY: Patriot Rail Corp.'s portfolio now includes three short lines. The holding company has announced it purchased the Utah Central Railway (UCRY), which operates 34 miles of owned and leased lines in and around Ogden, Utah. Established in 1995 after leasing track from Union Pacific Railroad, UCRY interchanges with UP and BNSF Railway Co. Patriot Rail owns and operates the Tennessee Southern Railroad and Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Railway. [ProgressiveRailroading.com, 1-3-08]

TRI-RAIL HAS RECORD YEAR: Tri-Rail carried more riders last year than in any year in its 18-year history. The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority said 3.5 million passengers rode the train in 2007, up 10.2 percent from 2006's previous high of 3.17 million passengers. Officials say ridership has increased more than 30 percent since construction of a second track in 2006. Last year, Tri-Rail boosted the number of weekday trains from 40 to 50 and added trains on weekends and holidays. [United Transportation Union, 1-3-08, from South Florida Sun-Sentinel report]

U.S. 2007 RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC 2ND HIGHEST IN HISTORY: Although down from 2006's record-setting levels, freight traffic on U.S. railroads was the second highest on record. Full-year 2007 U.S. carloads totaled 16,952,288, down 2.5 percent (426,598 carloads) from 2006. Full-year 2007 U.S. intermodal loadings were 12,026,660 trailers and containers, down 2.1 percent (255,561 units) from 2006. Total volume for the year was estimated at 1.76 trillion ton-miles, although down 1.0 percent from last year. [Assn. of American Railroads, 1-3-08]

GENESEE & WYOMING ACQUIRES MARYLAND MIDLAND: Genesee & Wyoming, parent company to the Meridian and Bigbee Railroad, announced Tuesday that it has acquired most of the Maryland Midland Railway. Maryland Midland operates 63 miles of track and has 30 employees. It is an interline carrier with CSX. Genesee & Wyoming paid $29.1-million for an 87.4 percent stake in the carrier. The remainder is owned by Lehigh Cement, which is the line's largest customer. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-2-08, from Montgomery Advertiser website report]

AMTRAK MAKES CHANGES TO GUEST REWARDS PROGRAM: Amtrak Guest Rewards announced as of the first of this year that members who do not own an Amtrak Guest Rewards MasterCard issued by Chase Bank or who are not currently Select or Select Plus elite members will no longer have the option to redeem Amtrak Guest Rewards points for airline miles or hotel points. Furthermore, the annual point transfer caps are still in place - 50,000 points for Select or Select Plus members and 25,000 points for Amtrak Guest Rewards MasterCard cardholders. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-2-08, from WebFlyer.com report]