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AMTRAK TO STOP IN CASTLETON, VT.: Amtrak's Ethan Allen Express will stop in Castleton, Vt., at its recently renovated station starting Jan.2, 2010. The Agency of Transportation decided to switch the train's daily stop from Fair Haven to Castleton to meet growing and anticipated demand to Castleton State College and Lake Bomoseen areas. [United Transportation Union, 12-30-09, from Associated Press report]

JUDGE RULES AGAINST MBTA WORKERS ON CUTS: A judge has dealt a blow to MBTA employees fighting a cut in their benefits, saying in a ruling that a group of 22 labor unions was unlikely to win a lawsuit attempting to block the state's transportation plan. The unions had argued the plan to save up to $30-million a year through cuts to benefits illegally subverts collective bargaining rights without going to the negotiating table. But the judge denied an attempt by the unions to block benefit cuts on an emergency basis. [United Transportation Union, 12-30-09, from Boston Globe report]

N.S. NORFOLK COAL FACILITY SHUT DOWN BY WEATHER: Norfolk Southern is telling customers it is keeping in place a 'force majeure' declaration for coal deliveries, after absorbing damage to its big ocean terminal for coal loadings just as it was recovering from a winter storm. NS said its Lambert's Point transloading terminal suffered machinery damage on Dec.26 and again Dec.27. NS said problems at Lambert's Point have rendered both ship loaders temporarily inoperable. [United Transportation Union, 12-29-09, from Journal of Commerce report]

COLORADO SKI TRAIN CANCELED: Iowa Pacific, the company attempting to revive a Denver-to-Winter Park ski train, has pulled the plug on the venture. Amtrak said a contract never was finalized, Iowa Pacific had yet to agree to insurance requirements and the ski train's locomotives and railcars had not passed Federal Railroad Administration safety inspections. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-28-09, from Denver Post website report]

METRA EXPANDS PARKING AT CRYSTAL LAKE STATION: Metra on Dec.28 marked the opening of expanded parking facilities at Pingree Road Station on the Union Pacific Northwest Line in Crystal Lake, Ill. The 400-space lot features an additional 338 parking spaces, four electronic payment boxes and new striping. [Progressive Railroading website report]

CHINA LAUNCHES WORLD'S FASTEST TRAIN: The Chinese government opened a new high-speed railway Dec.27 that is the fastest in the world. The Wuguang Passenger Railway links Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei, with the port of Guangzhou. The train runs an average of 217 MPH and makes the journey in less than three hours. The old train took ten. [United Transportation Union, 12-27-09, from Reuters report]

BOMBARDIER WINS SWEDISH TRAIN ORDER: Bombardier will deliver 11 three-car Contessa trains to Sweden with an option for an additional five trains. They will operate at speeds up to 112 MPH in the Oresund region, and can cross the bridge into Denmark using a system integration comprehending different signaling and power systems. [Railway Age website report]

CONNECTICUT RECEIVES FIRST TWO M8 RAIL CARS: The state of Connecticut on Dec.24 took delivery of the first two M8 rail cars manufactured by Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. in Japan. The Connecticut Department of Transportation has ordered 300 cars to replace most of its current fleet of 343 M2, M4 and M6 cars, some of which were built in 1976. The cars are operated by MTA Metro-North Railroad. [Progressive Railroading website report]

VIA RAIL GETS NEW PRESIDENT, CEO: Marc Laliberte has been named president and chief executive officer of VIA Rail Canada Inc. for a four-year term, effective Jan.4. He succeeds Paul Cote, who is retiring. Laliberte most recently was president and CEO of Quebec Railway Corp. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-22-09]

AMTRAK TRAIN STRIKES CAR IN N.C., KILLING TWO: Two people are dead and a baby is in the hospital after an Amtrak train hit a car at a crossing in Efland, N.C., Dec.22. Amtrak said none of the 215 passengers on the Carolinian, headed from Charlotte to New York, were hurt. [United Transportation Union, 12-22-09, from Associated Press report]

PORT OF SEATTLE BUYS 42-MILE BNSF LINE: The Port of Seattle will pay BNSF Railway some $81-million for a 42-mile section of track northeast of the port. BNSF had donated the southern portion of the north-south corridor to the city and the new agreement covers the northern section, beween Woodinville and Snohomish. The port said it would maintain rail service on the line with a third-party operator. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-21-09, from Journal of Commerce website report]

CLASS I RAILROAD WORKFORCE CONTINUES TO SHRINK: The U.S. Class I workforce shrank some more last month, remaining well under 150,000. As of mid-November, the workforce stood at 147,097, down 1.3 percent from October's level, and 9.8 percent from November 2008's count, according to Surface Transportation Board data. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-21-09]

EUROSTAR SUSPENDS TUNNEL SERVICE: The passenger rail link between Britain and the rest of Europe has been shut down indefinitely. Services were suspended late Dec.18 when a series of glitches stranded five trains inside the Channel Tunnel and trapped more than 2,000 passengers for hours. More than 55,000 passengers overall have been affected. The company said it had traced the problem to 'acute weather conditions in northern France,' which has seen its worst winter weather in years. [United Transportation Union, 12-20-09, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK DISRUPTED BY BNSF DERAILMENT IN ILLINOIS: A freight train derailment Dec.19 sent four rail cars down a steep embankment, put three into West Bureau Creek and left another standing vertically from the ground to the top of a trestle east of Wyanet, Ill. Amtrak set up a 'bus bridge' for the Chicago-to-Quincy routes; for the Illinois California zephyrs, Amtrak set up a detour around Naperville, Mendota and Princeton. [United Transportation Union, 12-20-09, from LaSalle News Tribune report]

SOUND TRANSIT OPENS AIRPORT LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION: On Dec.19, Sound Transit opened the Link light-rail extension between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac International Airport. The final 1.7-mile segment from Tukwila to the airport, built in partnership with the Port of Seattle, helps Sound Transit provide a 36-minute ride to the airport from downtown with 13 stops. [Progressive Railroading website report]

NJ TRANSIT TRAIN STRIKES BUS: An NJ Transit train struck one of its buses, which was stuck on snow-covered tracks in Pennsauken Dec.18. The bus was heading from the Cherry Hill Mall to Philadelphia. As soon as the driver determined snow prevented the bus from getting off the tracks, the driver evacuated the bus. Passengers were off the bus and away from the tracks for about 10 minutes before the crash occurred. No injuries were reported by the passengers aboard the train, bound for Atlantic City. The train engineer received minor facial injuries. [United Transportation Union, 12-18-09, from Philadelphia Inquirer report]

FULL DINING SERVICE RESTORED TO LAKE SHORE LIMITED: Heritage Dining Cars have replaced modified Cafe Cars on the Lake Shore Limited. They feature booth style seating, large picture windows and modern cooking equipment. They have also been refurbished to meet current safety and operating standards. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-18-09]

MANAGEMENT SHAKEUP AT METROLINK: A management shakeup has led the top Metrolink executive to step down in the face of concerns facing the five-county southern Californian regional rail system. David Solow will step down as Chief Executive Officer, ending a ten year tenure. He will stay with the rail agency. Eric Haley, the former CEO of Riverside County's transportation agency, will act as interim head. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-18-09]

RAILAMERICA TERMINATES LEASE OF OTTAWA VALLEY RWY: RailAmerica Inc. has announced its subsidiary RaiLink Canada Ltd. closed on an 'early termination' transaction with Canadian Pacific regarding a lease of the Ottawa Valley Railway line between Smiths Falls and Camspur, Ontario. CP now has 60 days to decide if service will be restored on the OVR line. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-18-09]

BLET MEMBERS RATIFY 5-YEAR BNSF CONTRACT: The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) said its members ratified a new five-year agreement with BNSF Railway Co. Between Jan.1, 2010, and Dec.31, 2014, the contract calls for general wage increases of 11 percent over the five-year period, an increased 401(k) contribution from BNSF and additional week of vacation for engineers with 25 or more years of service. The pact settles wage and work-rule issues, but health and welfare matters will be addressed in upcoming negotiations, BLET officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-18-09]

RAIL STIMULUS FUNDS TO BYPASS N.E.: The railroad from Boston to Washington has been virtually shut out of $8-billion worth of federal stimulus money set aside for high-speed rail projects. The obstacle was a decision by the Federal Railroad Administration that, before any major upgrades could proceed, a comprehensive environmental review would have to be conducted on the entire 457-mile railroad.When the first grants are announced, most of the money is expected to go to railroad projects in California and the Midwest. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-17-09, from Boston Globe website report]

AMTRAK'S LYNCHBURG-WASHINGTON LINE BEATS PROJECTIONS: The new Amtrak train between Lynchburg and Washington had twice as many passengers as expected during its first month of operation in October. Revenues from passenger fares were strong too, despite low introductory rates. Amtrak has extended its reduced fare, which is usually $38 one way to Washington, through March on the new train. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-17-09, from Lynchburg News Advance website report]

PROGRESS RAIL LAYS OFF 67 IN RACELAND: Progress Rail laid off 67 employees Dec.17 at the Raceland Car Shops, with the vast majority of those being hourly workers, The Herald-Dispatch reported. The layoffs, combined with 19 earlier job cuts around Thanksgiving, leave only seven Progress Rail employees at the car shops, according to a union spokesman. The company had about 95 employees before the layoffs started last month. [United Transportation Union, 12-17-09, from Herald-Dispatch report]

GREYHOUND BUS CRASHES IN IDAHO: Police say a bus carrying nearly 50 passengers bound for Salt Lake City crashed in Idaho. A Greyhound bus was travelling on Interstate 84 around midnight when the driver of a Ford Ranger lost control and the pickup rolled into the middle of the road. The driver of the pickup was listed in serious condition at a Boise hospital. Four bus passengers were treated for minor injuries. [United Transportation Union, 12-17-09, from Associated Press report]

FLORIDA APPROVES MILLIONS FOR TRI-RAIL: Gov. Charlie Crist has signed a bill that will provide new funding to Tri-Rail, South Florida's commuter service, and boost billion-dollar rail projects in the Central Florida region. The bill gives Tri-Rail an extra $13-million to $15-million in annual state funding. The legislation also allows the $1.2-billion Orlando commuter rail project, SunRail, to go forward and strengthens the state's hand in competing for federal money for a bullet train that would run from Tampa to Orlando to Miami. [United Transportation Union, 12-16-09, from South Florida Sun-Sentinel report]

CAPITOL LIMITED STRIKES TWO STUDENTS IN OHIO, KILLING ONE: An Amtrak passenger train en route from Washington to Chicago struck two high school Ohio students crossing some tracks as they walked to school, killing one and critically injuring the other. Authorities say the students were trying to beat the train Dec.16 at a crossing next to Springfield High School in Holland, near Toledo. [United Transportation Union, 12-16-09, from Associated Press report]

ST. PAUL DEPOT RENOVATION ON TRACK: Ramsey County, Minn., commissioners selected M.A. Mortenson Co. to take the lead on the first part of a $150-million overhaul of St. Paul's Union Depot. Officials hope that a host of transportation modes will converge on the site: faster and more-frequent trains by Amtrak, bus service, light-rail line and Metro Transit buses, taxis, pedestrians and bicycles. Details on the design of the building haven't been decided. [United Transportation Union, 12-16-09, from Pioneer Press report]

METROLINX BUYS C.N. TRACKAGE IN TORONTO: Metrolinx announced it purchased the lower portion of the Newmarket Subdivision in Toronto from CN for $64-million. The transaction provides Metrolinx end-to-end ownership of the 60-mile Barrie-Bradford GO Transit corridor between downtown Toronto and Barrie, Ontario. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-16-09]

SOME AMTRAK PASSENGERS TO TRAVEL IN LOCKED BOXES?: Harry Houdini made a career escaping from locked boxes. So did David Copperfield and Doug Henning. And now you can add Amtrak passengers packing heat in their luggage to that list of escape artists. It sounds absurd. But President Obama actually signed a bill into law Wednesday that would require passengers who carry firearms aboard Amtrak be locked in boxes for their journey. It's a mistake. But for now, the clerical error is the law of the land. Earlier this week, Congress sent the president a massive spending bill that funded dozens of federal departments. Tucked into the transportation section of the legislation are safety requirements for Amtrak customers who carry firearms on board the government-backed train system. The bill Congress passed mandates that passengers with firearms declare they have weapons with them in advance and stow them in locked boxes while on the train. The bill text was correct when the House approved the legislation last week and the Senate followed suit Sunday. But somewhere in between, the language that referred to putting the guns in locked boxes morphed into stuffing "passengers" into locked boxes. Aides to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became aware of the problem Wednesday night as the House voted on its final slate of bills for the year. Pelosi's staff tried to negotiate with Republican aides to see if they would agree to change the text of the bill without revoting the entire piece of legislation. But it was all for naught as Mr. Obama had already signed the measure into law. It's clear the typo alters the intent of the legislation. But no one quite knows the origin of the mistake. The misfire is fixable. But probably not until early next year. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-16-09, from Fox News website report]

STELLA JONES INC. TO ACQUIRE TANGENT RAIL: Canada's Stella Jones Inc., which makes industrial pressure treated wood products, said it acquired Tangent Rail Corp. for an undisclosed sum to strengthen its U.S. railway tie market. The transaction is expected to close before the end of the first quarter of 2010. [United Transportation Union, 12-15-09, from Reuters report]

JAVELIN HIGH-SPEED TRAIN BEGINS SERVICE IN U.K.: Britain has launched its first full high-speed domestic rail service. Prime Minister Brown was on hand at Saint Pancras station in London for the first services by the Japanese-built Javelin trains, slashing journey times between the capital and the county of Kent. The Hitachi class 395 trains will reach speeds of up to 140 miles per hour. [United Transportation Union, 12-14-09, from AFP website report]

JURY SIDES WITH CSX IN 2007 ALABAMA CROSSING ACCIDENT: An Alabama jury has sided with a railroad in a series of lawsuits filed by the relatives of four men killed in a train crash. Chilton County jurors ruled in favor of CSX Transportation deciding the company wasn't liable. Four were killed when the van they were riding collided with a train near Thorsby on Feb.8, 2007. Four more were injured. Relatives claimed CSX failed to maintain the crossing, and that warning signs were missing or broken. But jurors sided with CSX, which said the van pulled out in front of the oncoming freight train. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-14-09, from Associated Press report]

CHICAGO ELEVATED TRAIN DERAILS: A six-car elevated train derailed Dec.12 on the southeast side of Chicago, causing minor injuries. The Chicago Transit Authority went off the tracks about noon, and 14 people were hospitalized with minor injuries. Fire officials helped evacuate about 42 people from the train. [United Transportation Union, 12-12-09, from Associated Press report]

DAILY TEXAS-LOS ANGELES AMTRAK SERVICE BEING DISCUSSED: Amtrak will begin negotiations with Union Pacific aimed at creating a daily Chicago-San Antonio-Los Angeles full-service train, and a daily, connecting New Orleans-Houston-San Antonio coach-and-lounge train. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-11-09]

TALGO CASCADES TRAINS TO GET REFURBISHED: The Cascades fleet refurbishment will begin with a complete overhaul of the bistro and lounge cars. Work is scheduled to begin in March 2010, after the conclusion of the Winter Olympics taking place in Vancouver, B.C. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-11-09]

BRAZIL PLANS HIGH-SPEED RAIL LINE: The Brazilian government will begin the bidding process to construct a high-speed line between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The line, slated for completion in 2015, will be over 315 miles, reach a top speed of about 220 mph, and is projected to cost around $19.4-billion. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-11-09]

L.A. OK'S NEW LIGHT-RAIL LINE: A new light-rail system through South Los Angeles and South Bay was approved by transit officials Dec.11. The 8.5-mile line is the biggest beneficiary to date of Measure R, the half-cent sales tax for transportation projects that county voters approved last year. But some residents and officials want more of the line underground, saying that it would reduce accidents, ease community concerns and speed up the line. [United Transportation Union, 12-11-09, from Los Angeles Times report]

BNSF SCHEDULES STOCKHOLDER VOTE ON BERKSHIRE ACQUISITION: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. announced it will conduct a stockholders vote on Feb. 11 regarding the adoption of a merger agreement with Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Stockholders of record at the close of business on Dec.18 will be entitled to vote at the meeting. MORE.. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-11-09]

U.P. REASSIGNS FOUR OFFICIALS: Union Pacific has named Dennis Duffy vice chairman- operations effective Jan.1. Currently executive vice president of operations, he will continue to serve as senior operations exec. UP also named Lance Fritz VP of operations. Currently VP of labor relations, he will report to Duffy. In addition, UP named William Turner VP of labor relations to succeed Fritz and Robert Grimaila, VP of safety, security and environment. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-10-09]

FREQUENCY CUT ON ATLANTIC CITY TRAINS: The Atlantic City Express which carries gamblers between New York City and Atlantic City on weekends will cut back the number of trains it runs from 18 to 11 effective Dec.18. Three Atlantic City casinos and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority pay NJ Transit to operate the service, and the casinos will decide in the spring whether to restore the service being cut. [United Transportation Union, 12-9-09, from Associated Press report]

NEW SIDING TO BENEFIT AMTRAK IN MISSOURI: Officials have marked the opening of an $8.1-million, 9,000-foot siding on a UP line used by Amtrak Missouri River Runner trains between Kansas City and St. Louis. Located near California, Mo., the siding will eliminate a bottleneck between UP and Amtrak trains on a 25-mile stretch of single track. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-9-09]

AMTRAK HAD RECORD RIDERSHIP THANKSGIVING WEEK: Amtrak has set a new record for numbers of passengers it carried the week of Thanksgiving. The company said it carried 685,876 passengers between Nov. 24 and 30, and 127,577 on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The total number of passengers is four percent higher than last year. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-8-09, from Associated Press report]

BNSF-BERKSHIRE DEAL CLEARS ANTITRUST HURDLE: The $26-billion buyout of BNSF Railway by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway investment firm cleared a key antitrust review process. The Federal Trade Commission listed the transaction among several that were granted "early termination" from a mandatory waiting period under antitrust law. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-7-09, from Journal of Commerce website report]

HISTORIC R.R. CAR TO BE RESTORED: A colorful 39-ton piece of history is destined to become famous and yet more colorful. It's a 1910 Harriman smoker railroad car, built for luxury, bought and transported to Nevada from Old West Ranch in California, by Tom Gray, owner of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad. The 60-foot Harriman car will return to duty on the short line, which makes runs between Virginia City and Gold Hill, Nevada. The Harriman is one of five cars the company is reassembling for the line. [United Transportation Union, 12-7-09, from Tehachapi News website report]

BOX CAR CATCHES FIRE AT ACCA YARD: Henrico County, Va., firefighters responded Dec.7 to a boxcar fire that caused heavy smoke to drift over the CSX Corp.'s Acca Yard switching facility and Interstate 64 near Bryan Park. The car that caught fire contained bounded, shredded paper and was being worked on while on a spur in the rail yard. [United Transportation Union, 12-7-09, from Richmond Times Democrat report]

U.P. DELAYS EXPANSION PROJECTS IN S.W.: Several construction projects to increase Union Pacific's freight-moving capacity on the railroad's main line across southern Arizona and New Mexico are being temporarily sidetracked by the recession. Plans to build a new yard in Pinal County in Arizona and a new rail facility in Santa Teresa, N.M., are on hold, and installation of a second set of tracks across Arizona also has been postponed indefinitely. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-7-09, from Associated Press report]

N.S. ANNOUNCES HOLIDAY SCHEDULE: For the Christmas holiday, Norfolk Southern will curtail non-intermodal freight operations beginning 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009; full operations will resume at 7 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 26. Interline gateways will remain open for traffic delivered from connecting carriers and passenger trains will continue to operate through the Holiday. [Norfolk Southern, 12-7-09]

CSX'S NATIONAL GATEWAY GAINS SUPPORT: The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Conservation Fund and Ohio Environmental Council recently announced support for CSX Corp.'s National Gateway double-stack intermodal route. The $850-million project, which will be funded through a public-private-partnership, now has drawn backing from more than 100 organizations. The project calls for raising bridges, increasing tunnel clearances and building new terminals along existing corridors. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-7-09]

BUFFETT PURCHASE OF BNSF HEADING TO COURT: Legal skirmishing has commenced in courts in Texas and Delaware as lawyers from across the country prepare to do battle over whether Warren Buffett should have to pay more than $26.3-billion to take over BNSF Corp. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 12-4-09, from Star Telegram report]

TEN G.E. LOCOMOTIVES ORDERED BY BRAZIL: GE Transportation has landed an order for 10 freight locomotives to be shipped to Brazil before the end of the year. The ACC44 locomotives, which predate the Evolution series, will be powered by engines built at the company's Grove City plant, but assembled at the GE plant in Contagem, Brazil. [United Transportation Union, 12-4-09, from Erie Times-News report]

MARYLAND TO UPGRADE EASTERN SHORE RAIL FREIGHT LINE: The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) recently began rehabilitating 17.5 miles of a state-owned freight-rail line between Massey and Worton. To be completed in May 2010, the $1.5-million project calls for replacing rail and more than 6,000 ties, and installing ballast. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-4-09]

MASS COASTAL GETTING OPERATING RIGHTS ON SOUTH COAST LINES: Cape Rail Inc. subsidiary Massachusetts Coastal Railroad recently reached agreements with CSX and the commonwealth of Massachusetts regarding the purchase of CSXT's operating rights on the New Bedford and Fall River lines, also known as the South Coast Lines. After the rights to the 33 miles of track are transitioned to Mass Coastal on May 14, 2010, the short line will operate about 100 miles of track in southeastern Massachusetts. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-3-09]

STRIKE OVER AT C.N.: The locomotive engineers' strike is over for CN. Late Dec.2, the company announced it reached an agreement with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference that, for the moment, resolves the parties' contractual disagreements. They agreed to continue negotiations to resolve all issues related to wages, benefits and work rules. If no agreement is reached, the parties' wage and benefits offers will be subject to final binding arbitration. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-2-09]

N.S. CHANGES LOCATION OF TENNESSEE YARD: Norfolk Southern has confirmed that it has chosen a new site for its Memphis intermodal facility. It is in an area further south of the original site selected. There was concern that the original location was too near the Wolf River and could cause contamination of both it and the Memphis Sands aquifer, where the city gets its drinking water. The new intermodal yard will be part of Norfolk Southern's Crescent Corridor. [United Transportation Union, 12-2-09. from press reports]

POWER OUTAGE DISRUPTS LIRR SERVICE: A feeder distribution line supplying power to the Long Island Rail Road in the Ronkonkoma area broke down early Dec.1, causing a brief suspension of service on the branch between Ronkonkoma and Central Islip. The outage involved Long Island Power Authority equipment. [United Transportation Union, 12-1-09, from Newsday website report]

N.C. UTILITY TO CLOSE 11 COAL-FIRED PLANTS: Progress Energy, based in Raleigh, said it would close 11 coal-fired power plants built between the 1950s and 1970s, 30 percent of its North Carolina coal-fired plants by 2017. The plants being closed, at four sites, have a combined capacity of nearly 1,500 megawatts. [United Transportation Union, 12-1-09, from New York Times report]

G.E. PRESSING FOR AMTRAK LOCOMOTIVE DEAL: Amtrak hopes to replace 54 of its oldest passenger locomotives, and Lawrence Park-based GE Transportation wants to bid for the contract. But at least for now, there's no money in the government's 2010 budget to pay for them. Company officials and its main union are making a joint plea for Congress to include an appropriation for new locomotives. [United Transportation Union, 12-1-09, from Times-News report]

CSXT ANNOUNCES MANAGEMENT CHANGES: CSX Transportation has announced that David A. Brown will be named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer upon the retirement of Tony Ingram at the end of the year. Brown, 50, has a nearly 30-year railroad career, most recently serving as VP and chief transportation officer. Succeeding Brown will be Cindy M. Sanborn, 44, who has been serving as vice president-Northern Region. [CSXT, 11-30-09]

C.P. TO TEST BIODIESELS IN WINTER WEATHER: For five months, CP will operate four GE AC4400 diesel locomotives with FDL-16 engines in captive service between Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta. The company will work in conjunction with GE Transportation and fuel supplier 4Refuels during the testing phase, which began in early November and will conclude at March's end. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-30-09]

C.N. ENGINEERS ON STRIKE: Canadian National Railway Co., whose unionized locomotive engineers went on strike Nov.28, rejected an offer for binding wage arbitration because it didn't include a clear timeline for concluding the dispute. Labour Minister Rona Ambrose may introduce back-to-work legislation tomorrow if no agreement is reached. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-29-09, from Bloomberg News report]

TWENTY-SIX DIE IN RUSSIAN TRAIN BLAST: Russian authorities have begun a criminal investigation into a suspected terrorist bomb attack that derailed a luxury train en route from Moscow to St Petersburg on Friday night, killing at least 26 people and injuring about 100. It was the largest such attack in Russia for five years, and the prevailing version in the Russian media is that the bombers could be linked to extremist groups operating in Russia's troubled north Caucasus region. [United Transportation Union, 11-28-09, from Financial Times report]

BNSF TO RATION GRAIN LOADS: BNSF Railway has implemented a 'permit embargo' to control movement of export grain shipments to backed-up seaports in the Pacific Northwest after heavy rains slowed ship loadings. Lengthy rainstorms have affected some standing crops but they can also clog ocean terminal activities. Grain can be exposed to moisture during ship loadings, and that can damage the cargo. The embargo covers shipments to Oregon destinations of Portland and Albina, and in Washington to Tacoma, Vancouver, Interbay, Kalama and Longview. [United Transportation Union, 11-25-09, from Journal of Commerce report]

CLEANER-BURNING AMTRAK LOCOMOTIVE BEING ADDED IN CALIFORNIA: Amtrak's Sacramento-San Jose Capitol Corridor will soon boast one of the railroad's cleanest-burning diesel engines. The rebuilt Electro-Motive Division F59PHI locomotive boasts an EPA Tier 2 emissions rating. The locomotive's engine ­ originally built in 2001 ­ was replaced with a 710ECO Repower microprocessor-controlled engine. Money has already been allocated to purchase more of them. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-25-09]

SEPTA'S CRESTMONT STATION PROJECT COMPLETED: The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority recently marked the completion of the Crestmont station revitalization project in Abington. The project called for replacing a deteriorated wooden shelter and completely rebuilding the station in three months. The building now features a glass-enclosed passenger shelter and new platforms, walkways, signage and lighting. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-25-09]

BOISE VALLEY R.R. LAUNCHED IN IDAHO: The Watco Cos. Inc. has launched its newest short line, the Boise Valley Railroad (BVRR). The railroad operates a 25-mile 'Boise Cut-Off' line from Nampa to Boise, and an 11-mile 'Wilder Branch' from Wilder to Caldwell. BVRR also retains trackage rights from Union Pacific Railroad for a line between Nampa and Caldwell. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-25-09]

POUGHKEEPSIE BRIDGE OPEN AS A WALKWAY: The Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park has opened to the public. Hours of operation are 7 A.M. to sunset. The historic former railroad bridge spans the Hudson River between Poughkeepsie and Highland. N.Y.

U.P. COMPLETES DONNER PASS TUNNEL PROJECT: Union Pacific Railroad has opened the Donner Pass route to double-stack traffic after completing a 12-month tunnel improvement project. The project called for improving clearances in 15 restricted tunnels between Rocklin and Truckee, Calif.; upgrading 30 miles of signals to centralized traffic control standards to eliminate dark territory; lowering floors in two tunnels; and increasing stability in five tunnels. The Donner Pass route is about 73 miles shorter than UP's Feather River Canyon intermodal route. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-24-09]

SENATE VOTES TO ALLOW FIREARMS IN CHECKED BAGGAGE ON AMTRAK: The U.S. Senate has voted to allow Amtrak passengers to transport guns in checked bags. The proposal would require Amtrak to allow guns by April 1 or risk losing its funding. Firearms would still be banned in carry-on luggage. Passengers could take guns aboard where checked baggage service is available. That's about 30 percent of Amtrak's 520 stations. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-23-09, from Kansas City Star website report]

FARM GROUPS SEEK MEDIATION ON BNSF RATES: Two grain organization will use a new mediation process for the first time to determine if Montana farmers are paying unfair railroad rates. Montana Grain Growers Association and Montana Farm Bureau Federation will request formal mediation of a Shelby-to-Portland rail freight rate with BNSF Railway. Under the terms of the process, they will present the complaint to BNSF, and all parties agree to mediate the issue. In the event an agreement cannot be reached, an independent group of arbitrators will issue a binding decision. [United Transportation Union, 11-23-09, from Great Falls Tribune report]

AMTRAK TRAINS NOW STOP IN STANWOOD, WASHINGTON: The Washington State community of Stanwood/Camano Island is seeing passenger train service again after a 38 year hiatus, with daily Amtrak Cascades service starting November 21. Trains make two morning and two evening stops at a brand new station in downtown Stanwood. The $5-million project to return service was paid for with state funds. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-20-09]

F.R.A. DENIES ONE-PERSON CREW BAN: The Federal Railroad Administration has denied a joint UTU/BLET petition for an emergency order prohibiting the use of one-person crews in conventional and remote control yard switching operations. MORE... [United Transportation Union, 11-20-09]

CSX INTRODUCES GENSET LOCOMOTIVES IN INDIANA: CSX Transportation has unveiled two ultra low-emission GenSet locomotives, which will be used to switch cars within CSXT's Avon Yard outside of Indianapolis. CSXT is the first railroad in Indiana to utilize GenSet locomotives, which can reduce nitrous oxide and particulate matter emissions by 80 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 50 percent and switch to a "sleep" mode after a period of inactivity. [CSX, 11-19-09]

COMPUTER GLITCH CAUSES FLIGHT DELAYS: There were widespread flight cancellations and delays Nov.19 because of a problem with the Federal Aviation Administration system that collects airlines' flight plans. There was no danger to planes in the air. However, flight plans were having to be inputted manually. [United Transportation Union, 11-19-09, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK EXTENDS N.E. REGIONAL SERVICE FARE PROMOTION: Amtrak has extended a fare promotion on Northeast Regional service between Washington and Boston through March 31. The promotion, with up to 25 percent off the lowest published coach fare, offers fares as low as $49 each way between either Washington and New York or New York and Boston. Reservations are required and must be made 14 days in advance of travel. Fares are not available on all trains or during certain blackout periods. [Amtrak, 11-19-09]

JUDGE RULES CSX NOT NEGLIGENT IN 2007 OHIO DERAILMENT: A federal judge has dismissed a class action lawsuit on behalf of more than 200 people who were displaced from their homes and businesses when a train derailed Oct.10, 2007, in Painesville, Ohio. After the CSX train derailed, hazardous substances leaked out forcing the evacuation of more than 1,300 Mentor and Painesville residents. CSX had argued residents failed to prove that exposure to substances released in the derailment led to a significantly increased risk of disease. [United Transportation Union, 11-19-09, from Painesville News Herald report]

AMTRAK BOARD NOMINEE VOICES CONCERNS: Amtrak needs to upgrade its management and accounting controls "to gain the trust of the general public and Congress" if it wants to grow in the future, a New Jersey nominee to the railroad's board of directors told a Senate committee Nov.18. "Amtrak's leadership... must make every effort to conduct itself and the business of the agency a transparent manner," Anthony Coscia told the Senate's transportation committee at a confirmation hearing. [United Transportation Union, 11-18-09, from North Jersey Media Group report]

S.T.B. UNLIKELY TO REVIEW BUFFETT'S PURCHASE OF BNSF: The top economic regulator of U.S. railroads said the potential for his agency to have a role reviewing Warren Buffett's planned purchase of BNSF Railway "is looking more and more remote." MORE... [United Transportation Union, 11-18-09, from Journal of Commerce report]

PAUL SORROW NAMED BLET PRESIDENT: The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen has announced it appointed Paul Sorrow national president. He had served as acting national president since Oct. 15, when former BLET National President Edward Rodzwicz took a leave of absence after the U.S. Justice Department charged him with bribery in connection with a designated legal counsel. Rodzwicz now has resigned and plans to retire. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-18-09]

COLORADO SKI TRAIN RETURNING: A company seeking to keep Denver's ski train going is selling tickets for the upcoming season. The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad is expected to provide service from Denver's Union Station to the Winter Park ski area from Dec.27 to March 28 on weekends, holidays and other select days. Ed Ellis, the railroad's president, says his company needs final approval from Amtrak, but is confident it will come through in a week or two. [United Transportation Union, 11-17-09, from Associated Press report]

FEDS SEEK SEAT BELTS FOR MOTOR COACHES: Installation of seat belts on commercial motor coaches in the United States is a new objective of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Targeted are intercity and tour buses with elevated passenger decks over a baggage compartment, said the federal agency on Nov.16. [United Transportation Union, 11-17-09]

NORTHSTAR COMMUTER LINE BEGINS SERVICE: Transportation in the Twin Cities region entered a new era Nov.16 as the Northstar Commuter Rail Line began daily service. Northstar - operated by Metro Transit - will offer five trips weekdays between Big Lake and downtown Minneapolis (with one reverse trip) and three roundtrips on weekends. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-16-09, from Workday Minnesota website report]

BNSF PURCHASE 'NOT A BARGAIN,' BUFFETT SAYS: Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s Warren Buffett, who agreed to buy Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. in his biggest takeover, said the railroad's results in the next 100 years will justify a $26-billion bid that's "not a bargain. It's a good asset for Berkshire to own over the next century," Buffett said. MORE... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-15-09, from Bloomberg News report]

BELL STOLEN OFF C&O LOCOMOTIVE IN ROANOKE: Someone took a brass bell from a diesel locomotive owned by the Roanoke chapter of the National Railway Historical Society sometime last weekend or early this week. The thieves cut the 8-foot-high fence to get in. The bell measures 9 by 12 inches and says 'C&O RY.' it was the first major theft to occur at the site in 30 years. [United Transportation Union, 11-13-09, from Roanoke Times report]

U.P. PUTS INTERMODAL FACILITY ON HOLD: Because of the recession, Union Pacific Railroad officials said plans for its proposed intermodal facility in Santa Teresa, near El Paso, are on hold until the economy improves. U.P. will have the land but postpone the construction for the intermodal facility. Initially, the railroad will use the Santa Teresa site for refueling and crew changes. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-12-09. from El Paso Times website report]

RAILAMERICA REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: RailAmerica, Inc. has reported third quarter 2009 earnings from continuing operations of $3.5-million or $0.08 per diluted share, compared to $2.0-million or $0.05 per diluted share for the third quarter of 2008. Net income, which includes discontinued operations, for the quarter was $3.5-million, compared to $2.9-million for the third quarter of 2008. [RailAmerica, 11-11-09]

AMTRAK EYES MOVING GLENVIEW, ILLINOIS, STOP: If the Illinois General Assembly, Glenview and Metra make good on their funding, Amtrak has agreed to move the stops for the Hiawatha and Empire Builder routes from the downtown Glenview Metra station to The Glen of North Glenview. The plan is to eliminate some of the lengthy stops on Glenview Road. [United Transportation Union, 11-11-09, from Chicago Sun-Times report]

BUFFETT TO DISPOSE OF NON-BNSF RAIL HOLDINGS: Before it completes its deal to buy out the rest of BNSF, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway will divest its shares of Union Pacific Railroad and Norfolk Southern Railway. MORE... [United Transportation Union, 11-10-09, from Journal of Commerce report]

SEPTA TRANSIT STRIKE OVER: Representatives of Philadelphia's transit system and its largest union signed a contract early Monday, Nov.9, bringing an end to a strike that idled the city's subways, buses and trolleys for six days. MORE... [United Transportation Union, 11-9-09, from Associated Press report]

THEODORE ALVES NAMED INSPECTOR GENERAL OF AMTRAK: Amtrak has appointed Theodore Alves as inspector general. He will succeed Fred Weiderhold, who resigned last summer. Alves recently retired from 35 years of federal service. He most recently was deputy inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation where he was responsible for supervising audits and investigations of federal transportation agencies. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-9-09]

G.E. SENDS TWO POWERHAUL LOCOMOTIVES TO U.K.:The first two of GE Transportation's PowerHaul locomotives have arrived in the United Kingdom for the Freightliner Group freight rail line, marking GE's first entry to European markets with what will be an eventual delivery of 30 of the high-power units. These 129-ton units will be the largest deployed in that country. They were were built in Erie, Pa. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-9-09, from Journal of Commerce report]

BNSF CEO CALLS BERKSHIRE DEAL 'GREAT OPPORTUNITY': Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. need no longer worry about hedge funds or other "activist investors" that attempt hostile takeovers, said Matthew K. Rose, CEO of the rail company. MORE... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-8-09, from Omaha World-Herald website report]

INVESTORS SUE BERKSHIRE, BNSF OVER DEAL: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Burlington Northern Santa Fe are being sued by investors over claims Berkshire's acquisition of the railroad would not maximize shareholder value. MORE... [United Transportation Union, 11-5-09, from Business Day website report]

COMMISSIONS APPROVE VRE CONTRACT WITH FRENCH COMPANY: Two Virginia transportation commissions have voted to approve Virginia Railway Express's plan to end its 17-year relationship with Amtrak and give an international company a start in the U.S. transportation industry. The commissions each voted to award a five-year, $85.7-million contract to Keolis Rail Services America, the U.S. subsidiary of a company based in France. MORE... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-5-09, from Washington Post website report]

U.P. SAYS BUFFETT DEAL GOOD FOR RAILS: Union Pacific Corp. executives said a move by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to buy its rival Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. was a "strong positive statement" for the industry. MORE... [United Transportation Uniom, 11-4-09, from Reuters report]

SEPTA COMMUTER TRAIN CATCHES FIRE: A Philadelphia commuter train caught fire during the morning rush Nov.4, complicating commutes hampered by the city's transit strike. A big cloud of smoke also billowed from the SEPTA train, which was heading east from the Overbrook station in West Philadelphia toward the Amtrak station in Center City. Officials said no injuries were reported. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-4-09, from Associated Press report]

BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY WANTS TO BUY BNSF: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway said Nov.3 it will buy railroad operator BNSF for $44-billion. Federal regulatory approval will be necessary. Berkshire, which already has major stake in the company, said it would acquire the remaining 77.4 percent of the company in a cash-and-stock offer worth $100 per share. MORE... [United Transportation Union, 11-3-09, from CNN Moneyline report]

PORTLAND'S STEAM LOCOMOTIVES GETTING NEW HOME: The Brooklyn Roundhouse in the Southeast Portland rail yards is home to hidden treasure - three oil-fired steam locomotives owned by Portland taxpayers and maintained by volunteers. Today, the place is inaccessible to the public, but there are plans to change that. MORE... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 11-1-09, from Oregonian website report]

K.C.S. REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Kansas City Southern (KCS) (NYSE: KSU) reported third quarter 2009 revenues of $386.1-million compared with $491.5-million in the third quarter of 2008. While all commodity groups experienced revenue declines in the third quarter compared to a year ago, every commodity group recorded higher revenues on a sequential basis from the second quarter. [Kansas City Southern, 10-29-09]

PREPARED FOR HARVEST VOLUME, U.P. SAYS: Union Pacific has prepared for a big harvest, company spokesman Mark Davis says. Union Pacific has been staging rail cars in strategic areas of the Grain Belt, which he says has helped the carrier move trains faster. Davis says U.P. has about 7,500 grain cars along with about 3,200 locomotives in storage. If needed however, many will be brought back into service. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-29-09, from Brownfield Ag News website report]

N.S. REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern posted a third-quarter profit of $303-million or 81 cents a share, down from $1.37 a share a year earlier. Revenue slid 29 percent to $2.06-billion amid a 20 percent drop in traffic volume and lower fuel-related revenue. Revenue from coal shipping decreased 35 percent. [United Transportation Union, 10-28-09, from Wall Street Journal report]

JURY AWARDS $1.3-M IN SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION CASE AGAINST U.P.: A jury has awarded more than $1.3-million in a sex discrimination and retaliation case brought against Union Pacific Railroad in Kansas City. The jury decided that a former locomotive shop foreman for the railroad had been harassed and wrongly fired. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-28-09, from Kansas City Star website report]

ALSTOM TO CUT 502 RAIL JOBS IN N.Y. STATE: French engineering firm Alstom SA is cutting 502 jobs in Hornell, N.Y., leaving between 200 to 300 workers at its rail assembly plant. The cuts will begin on Jan. 18. [United Transportation Union, 10-28-09, from Associated Press report]

C.P. SELLS WINDSOR STATION: Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. announced the sale of its historic Windsor Station in Montreal to Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd. for $86-million. As part of the deal, the railroad entered into a long-term lease to remain the principal tenant at the station. [United Transportation Union, 10-28-09, from Montreal Gazette report]

AMTRAK TO OPERATE METROLINK SERVICE: Amtrak and the Southern California Regional Rail Authority recently signed a memorandum of understanding calling for Amtrak to provide Metrolink train and engine crews on all seven of the agency's Los Angeles-area lines, set to take effect on July 1, 2010. Amtrak currently operates intercity trains over four of Metrolink's seven lines. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-28-09]

C.P. REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited announced third-quarter net income of $195-million, an increase of 14 per cent from 2008. Diluted earnings per share were $1.16, an increase of five per cent from third-quarter 2008. Foreign exchange gain and loss on long-term debt and other specified items after tax, including the sale of two large properties, had an impact on earnings of $0.31. Excluding these items, adjusted diluted earnings per share were $0.85. [Canadian Pacific, 10-27-09]

U.P., N.S. LAUNCH 'GULF COAST FLYER': Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern have recently introduced the Gulf Coast Flyer to move chemicals between UP-served locations in southern Texas and Louisiana, and NS destinations in the Northeast and Southeast. Eastbound and westbound shipments between lines will connect in the Salem, Ill., and New Orleans gateways. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-27-09]

U.P., CSXT LAUNCH NEW SERVICE: Union Pacific Railroad and CSX Transportation have launched 'RailChem Connect,' a coordinated rail service for expedited transport of chemicals between the Texas Gulf Coast region and the Southeast. The service allows shipments to bypass smaller rail yards for expedited transit between major hubs. [Joint press release, 10-27-09]

FEDS PROVIDE $75-M FOR PORTLAND STREETCAR EXPANSION: Officials have announced a $75-million federal grant for the Portland streetcar system expansion - the first streetcar project to be funded through the federal Small Starts Program. Portland plans to extend the downtown streetcar system across the Willamette River and into the city's east side. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-26-09]

AMTRAK LOSING $32 PER PASSENGER, STUDY SAYS: U.S. taxpayers spent about $32 subsidizing the cost of the typical Amtrak passenger in 2008, according to a private study. Forty-one of Amtrak's 44 routes lost money in 2008, said the study by an arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts. The Northeast corridor's Acela Express made a profit of about $41 per passenger, while the Northeast Regional lost almost $5 per passenger, the study shows. MORE... [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-26-09, from Associated Press report]

TRAIN CRASH IN EGYPT KILLS AT LEAST 18: A train crash south of Cairo Oct.24 has killed at least 18 people with many more injured. A passenger train reportedly ran into the rear of a standing train in al-Ayyat. The wreck is under investigation. [Press reports, 10-24-09]

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific Corporation reported 2009 third quarter net income of $517-million or $1.02 per diluted share, compared to $703-million or $1.38 per diluted share in the third quarter 2008. Operating income totaled $967-million, down 20 percent. Net income declined 26 percent to $517-million. All six of Union Pacific's business groups continue to be impacted by the slowdown in the global economy. [Union Pacific, 10-22-09]

NEW SEPTA SILVERLINER SHELLS ARRIVE: The first body shells of a new fleet of Septa railroad cars have arrived in Philadelphia. The first three shells from Hyundai Corporation in Korea were were being transported to a subsidiary in South Philadelphia where they were to be outfitted and placed atop undercarriages. This is the first of 120 new rail cars for Septa to arrive over the next 18 to 24 months. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-22-09, from KYW website report]

STUDY SUPPORTS NEW METRA LINE TO S.E. CHICAGO SUBURBS: A recent study by the SouthEast Commuter Rail Development Board cited reasons for a new $735-million Metra rail line to run from Chicago's LaSalle Street Station south to Balmoral Park in Crete, where an end station and maintenance facility would be built. Stops would include 35th St., Gresham, 115th St., Dolton, South Holland, Thornton, Glenwood, Chicago Heights, South Chicago Heights, Steger, and two stops in Crete. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-22-09, from Southtown Star website report]

ONE KILLED IN N.S. TUNNEL ACCIDENT IN W.VA.: One person was been killed in a construction accident inside a Norfolk Southern Railroad tunnel in Stepptown, W.Va., Oct.22. The victim was operating an excavator and working on the tunnel's roof when a portion of the roof collapsed. It took rescuers nearly two hours to reach the victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene. [United Transportation Union, 10-22-09, from WSAZ website report]

BNSF REPORTS 3-Q RESULTS: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. reports quarterly earnings of $1.42 per diluted share, which included a $0.06 per share impact related to a favorable coal rate case adjustment. This compared to third-quarter 2008 earnings of $1.99 per diluted share. Quarterly freight revenues were $3.49-billion, which included a decrease in fuel surcharges of $725-million, compared to third-quarter 2008 freight revenues of $4.77-billion. [BNSF, 10-22-09]

TRAIN WRECK IN INDIA KILLS AT LEAST 22: A passenger train near Agra, India, crashed into the rear of another train Oct.21 killing 22 and injuring 16. The two trains were heading from southern India toward New Delhi. [Press reports,10-21-09]

C.N. ORDERS 70 NEW LOCOMOTIVES: CN announced orders for 70 new high-horsepower locomotives from GE Transportation, a unit of General Electric Co. (GE), and Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. (EMD). CN will acquire 35 ES44DC locomotives from GE starting in the fourth quarter of 2010, and 35 SD70M-2s from EMD beginning in January 2011. The GE locomotives produce 4,400 horsepower and the EMDs 4,350 horsepower. [C.N., 10-21-09]

C.N. REPORTS 3-Q RESULTS: CN has reported its financial and operating results for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2009. Net income declined to C$461-million or C$0.97 per diluted share, from year earlier net income of C$552-million or C$1.16 per diluted share, largely as a result of lower freight volumes stemming from depressed North American and global economies. Revenues declined 18 per cent to C$1,845 million. [CN, 10-20-09]

POWER PROBLEM DISRUPTS N.E.C.: Thousands of train passengers were stranded between New York and Washington because of Amtrak power problems along the busy Northeast Corridor Oct.19. Amtrak says a substation in north Philadelphia lost power around 7:41 a.m. It's not known what caused problem and the railroad is investigating. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-19-09, from Associated Press report]

THREE DIE IN CROSSING ACCIDENT IN MISSISSIPPI: Authorities say three people have been killed and another person critically injured after the car they were riding in collided with a passenger train in McComb, Mississippi. No one on the Amtrak train, heading from New Orleans to Chicago, was injured in the crash Oct.19. [United Transportation Union, 10-19-09, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK RECOMMENDS ADDITIONAL PITTSBURGH-HARRISBURG TRAIN: Amtrak is recommending that a second train be added to the service between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, if state and federal legislators decide the additional ridership is worth the expense. In a study, officials looked at service in Pennsylvania and decided that the potential riders and revenue were sufficient to consider increasing the route. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-19-09, from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review website report]

F.R.A. FORGES PRELIMINARY NATIONAL RAIL PLAN: The Federal Railroad Administration has released a preliminary National Rail Plan (NRP) aimed at formulating a strategy to address the nation's rail needs. The preliminary plan directs the FRA to provide assistance to states in developing their rail plans to ensure that the federal long-range NRP is consistent with approved state rail plans. The FRA is soliciting input from states, freight railroads and other transportation stakeholders to help develop the plan. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-19-09]

NO R.R. RETIREMENT INCREASE IN 2010: Railroad retirement annuities, like social security benefits, will not increase in January 2010 as there was no increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the third quarter of last year to the corresponding period of the current year. [Railroad Retirement Board, 10-16-09]

LAST MOUNTAIN RAILWAY IS LATEST SHORTLINE IN SASKATCHEWAN: Saskatchewan has opened the Last Mountain Railway, the province's 10th short line. It has leased 67 miles of track between Davidson and Lumsden, plans to lease the remaining 17 miles of track between Lumsden and Regina, and retain an option to buy the segment from CN. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-16-09]

AMTRAK UPGRADING N.E.C. POWER SYSTEM: Amtrak is using $25-million in stimulus funds to speed up the modernization of electrical equipment on the northeast corridor. The railroad says it is replacing a transformer this week in Landover that has been in operation since 1934. The company says a power failure in May 2006 that left thousands of passengers stranded on trains highlighted the need for improvements. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-15-09, from Associated Press report]

WORK SET TO START ON PENNSAUKEN TRAIN STATION: Construction will start Oct.19 on a new train station in Pennsauken, N.J., a $40-million project where the Atlantic City line passes over the River Line. It is expected to open by late 2012. The project is being funded with money from the federal stimulus program. [United Transportation Union, 10-15-09, from Philadelphia Inquirer report]

HONOLULU TO START PRELIMINARY ENGINEERING FOR COMMUTER RAIL: The Federal Transit Administration has approved Honolulu's application to begin preliminary engineering for the Honolulu Rail Transit commuter project through the New Starts funding program. The project calls for a 20-mile elevated line to connect West Oahu with downtown Honolulu and Ala Moana. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-14-09]

JACOBS ENGINEERING TO MANAGE AMTRAK STIMULUS PROJECTS: Amtrak has awarded a contract to Jacobs Engineering Group to provide program and construction management services for more than 100 infrastructure improvement projects at more than 360 locations. They include maintenance facility upgrades, bridge replacements, track work, security enhancements and station improvements. [Railway Age website report, 10-14-09]

SEPTEMBER RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: The Association of American Railroads reports that while U.S. rail intermodal traffic in September was down 14.6 percent (to 993,235 units) compared with the same month last year, average weekly intermodal units in September 2009 were the highest since November 2008. In the monthly Rail Time Indicators report, AAR noted that the relative improvement in intermodal traffic may be related to retailers restocking shelves for the upcoming holiday season. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-14-09]

COMPANY WILL REBOUND WITH ECONOMY, CSX CHIEF SAYS: CSX Corp. CEO and President Michael Ward said his company's increased handling of nearly all types of goods from the second quarter to the third shows that the economy is recovering. But he doesn't expect volumes to return to the level experienced in 2007 for several months. He said the company has been able to keep operating costs down by tailoring its capacity to market demands. [United Transportation Uniom. 10-14-09, from Jacksonville Business Journal report]

BLET PRESIDENT ARRESTED ON BRIBE CHARGE: Edward W. Rodzwicz, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, was arrested on a federal complaint charging him with bribery, acting U.S. Attorney Michael Reap said. Rodzwicz, 63, was charged with one violation of 18 U.S.C. section 666, bribery in connection with a federally funded program; and one violation of 18 U.S.C. section 1952, interstate travel to carry on unlawful activity. [U.S. Justice Dept. Eastern District of Missouri, 10-13-09]

AMTRAK REGISTERS 2ND HIGHEST ANNUAL RIDERSHIP: During fiscal-year 2009, which ended Sept.30, Amtrak carried 27.2 million passengers - the railroad's second-highest annual ridership since it began operations in 1971. The record of 28.7 million passengers was set in FY2008. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-13-09]

COAST STARLIGHT HAS AMTRAK'S LARGEST GAIN: The Amtrak train with the nation's largest ridership gain in fiscal year 2009 was the Coast Starlight, which runs daily between Seattle and Los Angeles. Year-over-year ridership on the Coast Starlight increased 22.3 percent to 432,565, according to Amtrak's new ridership data. [United Transportation Union, 10-13-09, from Puget Sound Business Journal report]

RAILAMERICA INITIATES PUBLIC OFFERING: RailAmerica Inc. has announced it's holding an initial public offering of 10.5 million primary shares of common stock and 11.5 million secondary shares of common stock priced at $15 per share. The IPO will be conducted through RR Acquisition Holding L.L.C. Shares will begin trading today [Oct.13] on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "RA." The offering is expected to close on Oct.19. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-13-09]

CSX REPORTS 3-Q RESULTS: CSX has announced third quarter earnings from continuing operations of $293-million or 74 cents a share, versus $380-million or 93 cents a share in the same period last year. Third quarter revenues of $2.3-billion were down 23 percent from the prior year, primarily due to a 15 percent decline in volume and lower fuel surcharge recovery. At the same time, core pricing remained strong and consistent with prior quarters. [CSX, 10-13-09]

R.R. MUSEUM IN OHIO TO SELL ITS TRAINS: Members of the Steam Railroad Museum in Minerva, Ohio, are auctioning the locomotives, passenger cars, caboose and baggage car that together provided scenic rides. When it was running, the trips would carry passengers from the south side of Minerva east about two miles into Columbiana County's West Township. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-12-09, from Canton Repository website report]

FIX FOUND FOR SIDELINED MARC ELECTRIC ENGINES: The MARC train system has received hopeful news as the Maryland Transit Administration welcomed back to its fleet the first of four electric locomotives that have languished in an Amtrak repair yard in Delaware for much of the past three years. A spokesman for the MTA confirmed that the engine went through two rounds of testing and that so far it has passed. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-8-09, from Baltimore Sun website report]

SEATTLE GETTING NEW STREETCAR LINE: Another streetcar line is headed for Seattle. The Seattle City Council has approved a deal with Sound Transit for a line to connect the downtown transit tunnel from the International District to the light rail station at Capitol Hill, which is now under construction. The streetcar line will be funded by the $18-billion package regional voters approved last November. [United Transportation Union. 10-8-09, from Associated Press report]

ADMINISTRATION GETS APPLICATIONS FOR $50-B IN HIGH-SPEED RAIL: The Obama administration said it has received applications from 24 states seeking $50-billion for high-speed rail projects, more than six times the money designated in the economic stimulus plan. A decision on which projects will receive funds will be made this winter, Joseph Szabo, head of the Federal Railroad Administration, said in a statement. [United Transportation Union, 10-7-09, from Associated Press report]

PLAN TO RENOVATE ST.PAUL DEPOT GETS BOOST: In a plan to renovate St. Paul's historic Union Depot, the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority voted to release a request for proposals to manage design and construction of the project. If restored, the depot will accommodate Amtrak, intercity and transit buses, and future commuter and high-speed rail. [United Transportation Union, 10-6-09, from Minneapolis/ St.Paul Business Journal report]

ANTHONY COSCIA NOMINATED TO AMTRAK'S BOARD: President Obama wants Anthony R. Coscia, a top official at the Port of New York and New Jersey, to serve on Amtrak's board of directors. Coscia has been chairman of the port authority's board of commissioners since April 2003. The position requires Senate confirmation. [United Transportation Uniom, 10-6-09, from Gannett News report]

PROTOTYPE LOCOMOTIVE BEING TESTED FOR U.P.: A prototype locomotive Union Pacific Railroad and Progress Rail Services are testing in intermediate, line-haul service has surpassed the 500-hour mark. The ultra-clean diesel PR30C-LoNOx locomotive is powered by a 3,005-hp Caterpillar engine. It features a state-of-the-art after-treatment system and provides more power than a typical 2,000-horsepower four-axle Genset switcher. UP plans to operate the prototypes in regional service in the Midwest and California. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-6-09]

CSX ADDS CONTAINER SERVICE BETWEEN BUFFALO & EAST COAST PORTS: CSX has launched intermodal train service between Buffalo and the seaports of New York City and Philadelphia, in a bid to win more container business from the East Coast to the Canadian border and beyond. The railroad said it is operating service to Buffalo from the Elizabeth Marine Terminal at the Port of New York and New Jersey. Its Buffalo-Philadelphia trains will offer third-day service southbound and fourth-day on the northbound route. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-2-09, from Journal of Commerce website report]

N.S. TARGETS $140-M FOR PATRIOT CORRIDOR: Norfolk Southern Railway Co. is transferring $140-million in cash and property to a joint venture with Pan Am Railways to improve the 155-mile rail route from Albany, N.Y., to Ayer, Mass. The project includes $87.5-million to be spent over three years on capital improvements, including terminal expansions and track and signal upgrades. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-2-09, from Telegram & Gazette website report]

TWO LONG ISLAND R.R. SWITCH ENGINES DELIVERED TO MUSEUM: The Metropolitan Transit Authority Long Island Rail Road officially transferred two retired LIRR locomotives - 397/398 - to the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum for display with their historic equipment collection as part of the yearlong celebration of LIRR's 175th anniversary. The two mini locomotives - now known as Dashing Dan and Dashing Dottie - were used in the LIRR's Morris Park diesel servicing and repair yard in Richmond Hill, Queens. [United Transportation Union, 10-2-09, from Anton News website report]

CALIFORNIA REVEALS HIGH-SPEED TRAIN PLANS: The California High-Speed Rail Authority has released its "alternatives analysis," the most detailed view yet of how the project might transform the region from San Francisco to San Jose. The $40-billion-bullet train would travel at speeds up to 125 mph along the Caltrain corridor to Los Angeles. Service is expected to begin late next decade. [United Transportation Union, 10-1-09, from Mercury News report]

U.P. CUTS RIBBON ON KATE SHELLEY BRIDGE IN IOWA: Union Pacific held a ceremony Oct.1 to commemorate the opening of the new Kate Shelley Bridge, one of North America's tallest double-track rail bridges. Spanning the Des Moines River near Boone, Iowa, the bridge is more than 2,800 feet long and 190 feet high. UP spent more than $50-million to reconstruct the bridge. The structure is named after Kate Shelley, who as a 15-year-old in 1881 alerted Chicago & Northwestern Railroad officials about a bridge collapse in the Boone area. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-1-09]

LIONEL LIRR TRAIN SETS SHIPPED WITH METRO-NORTH STATION STICKERS: Model-train maker Lionel said that it mistakenly included Metro-North station stickers in its first shipment of a LIRR 175th Anniversary commemorative train set, which was sent to pre-order customers and retailers last month. Lionel secured an exclusive licensing agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns and operates both New York area railroads, in 2005. It released a 25th anniversary Metro-North train set last year. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-29-09, from Newsday website report]

TRANSPORT FATALITIES FALL IN 2008: Transportation fatalities in the United States decreased by almost 10 percent in 2008 from 2007, according to preliminary figures released by the National Transportation Safety Board. Along with a significant reduction in highway fatalities, rail and pipeline deaths also decreased, but fatalities in the aviation and marine modes ticked up slightly. Buses and motorcoaches were an exception to the drop in highway fatalities. The number killed in this category almost doubled in a single year. Rail fatalities fell slightly from 794 to 777. [National Transportation Safety Board, 9-29-09]

N.S. UNVEILS BATTERY-POWERED LOCOMOTIVE: Norfolk Southern has unveiled the latest in alternative energy locomotive technology at its Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, Pa. NS 999 is an entirely electric locomotive that uses a lead-acid energy storage system comprised of 1,080 12-volt batteries to operate in railroad switching applications without the use of a diesel engine and with zero exhaust emissions. [Norfolk Southern, 9-28-09]

BOMBARDIER WINS CHINA HIGH-SPEED TRAIN PACT: Bombardier Inc.'s Chinese joint venture, Bombardier Sifang (Qingdao) Transportation Ltd., has received a $4-billion contract to build 80 high-speed trains for China's Ministry of Railways. Bombardier's share of the contract is estimated at $2-billion. The joint venture will supply 80 ZEFIRO 380 high-speed trains, which will include a total of 1,120 rail cars, for China's high-speed rail network. [United Transportation Union, 9-28-09, from Wall Street Journal report]

CSX ADDS SERVICE TO SHIPPERS IN N.Y. REGION: CSX hopes to make a Lackawanna rail yard a magnet for shipments that arrive at two East Coast ports and are bound for Canada. The railroad has debuted international services connecting its Buffalo Intermodal Container Transfer Facility to ports in the New York City and Philadelphia areas. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-24-09, from Buffalo News website report]

ALASKA R.R. CANCELS SKI TRAIN: the Alaska Railroad told the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage it has canceled next spring's ski train. The train has carried thousands of skiers into the remote backcountry of Grandview, south of Anchorage, and Curry, near Talkeetna. The railroad is canceling all charter trains from November through April, with the possible exception of the Holiday Train to Seward. Regularly scheduled passenger service to Fairbanks will continue through the winter. [United Transportation Union, 9-24-09, from Anchorage Daily News report]

NEW C.N. YARD IN MEMPHIS NAMED FOR HUNTER HARRISON: CN has announced the completion of the $100-million multi-year construction project to modernize its Memphis rail classification yard. At a ceremony Sept.24 at the yard, CN announced the renaming of the facility as Harrison Yard. E. Hunter Harrison has served as president and chief executive officer of CN since January 1, 2003. He will retire at the end of 2009. [CN, 9-24-09]

MASS BAY MAKES DEAL WITH CSX TO IMPROVE COMMUTER SERVICE: Massachusetts reached a final agreement on a $100-million deal with CSX that is expected to improve service between Worcester and Boston and lay the groundwork for a long-planned line to Fall River and New Bedford. With the deal reached, the state plans to take over the tracks between Framingham and Worcester in 2011 and control the right of way needed to build the New Bedford-Fall River line and several properties around Boston. [United Transportation Union, 9-24-09, from Boston Globe report]

VIA RAIL TO OVERHAUL 21 LOCOMOTIVES, 78 CARS: Earlier this week, VIA Rail Canada Inc. and the government of Canada unveiled a $20-million program aimed at renewing and upgrading the railroad's locomotives and passenger cars. The program calls for renovating 78 stainless-steel cars and 21 diesel-electric locomotives. The cars primarily are assigned to VIA Rail's Toronto-to-Vancouver streamliner and the locomotives are used in the Quebec-Windsor corridor. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-23-09]

NTSB IDENTIFIES SIGNAL FAILURE IN FATAL D.C. METRO CRASH: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued nine safety recommendations to address concerns about the safety of train control systems that use audio frequency track circuits. The recommendations are the result of NTSB's ongoing investigation into the collision between two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority trains on the Red Line near the Fort Totten station in Washington, D.C., on June 22, 2009. MORE... [National Transportation Safety Board, 9-22-09]

ALASKA R.R. LAYS OFF 127: The Alaska Railroad has laid off 127 employees. Officials had earlier estimated a 20 percent cut in its work force. It has about 700 year-round employees and hires another 100 on a seasonal basis. The railroad is dealing with declining revenues because of a drop in tourism and reduced production at the Flint Hills petroleum refinery. More than a third of the railroad's revenue comes from transporting products from the North Pole refinery. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-22-09, from Associated Press report]

SOCIETY WANTS TO PRESERVE OLD INTERLOCKING TOWER: Railroad enthusiasts are hoping to move a century-old railroad tower in Hammond, Indiana, and make it the focus of a working rail exhibit and museum. The Northwest Indiana Railroad Preservation Society says it is in talks with the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad, which owns the structure and has wanted it removed for years. The two-story brick and wood tower was used for about 100 years before being automated in 2001. The tower is the last of its kind still standing in Hammond. [United Transportation Union, 9-21-09, from Associated Press report]

FRENCH COMPANY BIDS ON HIGH-SPEED RAIL SYSTEM IN U.S.: SNCF, the company that owns and operates France's high-speed trains, has submitted proposals to the Federal Railroad Administration to build and run a 220-mph rail system throughout the Midwest, California, Florida and Texas. The Midwestern network would cost $68.6-billion, with U.S. taxpayers picking up 54 percent, or $37 billion. [United Transportation Union, 9-21-09, from Milwaukee Sentinel Journal]

U.S. PROVIDES $100-M IN STIMULUS FUNDS TO 43 TRANSIT AGENCIES: The U.S. Department of Transportation announced it will provide $100-million in stimulus funding to 43 transit agencies for projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lessening the nation's dependence on oil. The Federal Transit Administration reviewed applications seeking more than $2-billion from the grant program. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-21-09]

RAIL EMPLOYMENT SLIPS IN AUGUST: The seven largest railroads operating in the United States boosted their overall train and engine crews from mid-July to mid-August, but job cuts elsewhere took employment down from a month earlier. The U.S. operations of Class I U.S. and Canadian lines reported 150,064 workers across all categories at mid-August, down from 150,400 in the middle of July, according to a report from the Surface Transportation Board based on company filings. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-21-09, from Journal of Commerce website report]

WATCO SEEKS APPROVAL TO LAUNCH 4TH SHORT LINE IN IDAHO: Watco Transportation Services Inc. recently reached an agreement with Rio Grande Pacific Corp. to obtain 36 miles of track from its Idaho Northern & Pacific Railroad subsidiary. Watco plans to file a notice with the Surface Transportation Board seeking approval to operate the lines as the Boise Valley Railroad beginning in mid-October. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-17-09]

AMTRAK ADDING STOP IN LEAVENWORTH, WASHINGTON: Starting Sept. 25, Amtrak's Empire Builder will stop in Leavenworth at the Bavarian-themed town's new Icicle station. The town's Chamber of Commerce has worked for several years with Amtrak and Burlington Northern Santa Fe to build the station and return passenger rail service to the popular tourist destination in the Cascade foothills. [United Transportation Union, 9-17-09, from press reports]

NEW MARC LOCOMOTIVES BEING TESTED FOR SERVICE: As part of a program to increase the capacity and reliability of MARC train service, the Maryland Transit Administration is purchasing 26 new diesel locomotives which will replace existing locomotives that are nearing the end of their service life. MORE... [Md.MTA, 9-16-09]

MARYLAND DRAFTS STATEWIDE FREIGHT PLAN: Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) recently announced Maryland has released its first statewide freight plan. Devised to address a projected 75 percent increase in freight traffic by 2030, the plan includes more than 100 rail, highway and port projects. O'Malley also announced that additional transportation projects worth $30-million will be funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-16-09]

CSX OPENS CONTAINER HUB IN ALABAMA: CSX Transportation Inc. began operating a railroad hub in Bessemer, Alabama, this week. It is a $6-million container-loading terminal on 25 acres in the Interstate Industrial Park. It has about 5,000 feet of track with parking for 300 containers or trailers. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-16-09, from Birmingham News website report]

BOSTON COMMUTER TRAIN CRASH INJURES 18: The engineer controlling a commuter train mistimed his entry into Boston's South Station Sept.15 and hit a metal block at the end of the track. A total of 13 people were taken to hospitals, including nine passengers who were carried from the scene on backboards. An additional five people at the scene were treated for minor injuries but refused to be transported to local hospitals. [United Transportation Union, 9-15-09, from Boston Globe report]

CSX INTERMODAL BUILDING IN OHIO VALLEY: CSX Intermodal is clearing tunnels to accommodate double-stack rail service between Mid-Atlantic ports and the Ohio Valley. The National Gateway corridor, as it is called, should be completed in time for the widening of the Panama Canal in 2014. Also, CSXI in the spring of 2011 is scheduled to complete its Northwest Ohio hub. That project will link CSX Railroad's service with the BNSF Railway, reducing transit times from West Coast ports to Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati and other Ohio Valley destinations. [United Transportation Union, 9-15-09, from joc.com website report]

CSX STOCK DOWNGRADED: Stifel Nicolaus downgraded CSX Corp. on Sept.15, saying the railroad's volume recovery will be slow amid an environment of lower consumer spending. Moreover, quarter-over-quarter volume gains may not continue, wrote analyst John Larkin in a research note as he downgraded CSX to Hold from Buy. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-15-09, from Associated Press report]

TWO BOSTON COMMUTER TRAINS WERE ON A COLLISON COURSE: Train officials are investigating how two trains got onto the same track headed for each other. CSX, which operates the section of the track involved, confirmed there were two commuter rail trains on the Worcester line heading right for each other. Passengers on the outbound train said the train stopped and the conductor told passengers they were on the wrong track and needed to go back to switch. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-15-09, from WHDH website report]

C.N. OPENS NEW AUTO COMPOUND NEAR TORONTO: On Sept.11, CN marked the opening of a new $13-million Toronto Automotive Compound at MacMillan yard north of Toronto. The facility's track layout is designed to accommodate the unloading of 60 auto-carrying rail cars simultaneously compared with 27 unloading spots at the former compound. Under a planned second phase, the auto compound will feature parking for 6,000 cars and/or trucks. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-14-09]

AMTRAK DEAL MAY REVIVE MOYNIHAN STATION: After months of negotiations - and years after it first pulled out of the project because of costs - Amtrak has reached a preliminary agreement to move to an annex of Pennsylvania Station planned for the James A. Farley Post Office Building. Under the agreement, Amtrak agreed to relocate its services to a new train hall in the old post office. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-13-09, from New York Times website report]

DES MOINES RIVER BRIDGE OPEN FOR RAIL TRAFFIC: Freight trains have begun moving across a new $43-million bridge over the Des Moines River that reportedly is the tallest double-track railroad structure in North America. The Boone High Bridge is 2,550 feet long and 190 feet high. The structure's opening has also marked the end of service for the nearby historic Kate Shelley Bridge. That bridge will remain because it is a historic landmark. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-13-09, from Des Moines Register website report]

AMTRAK GETS TENTATIVE OK TO REPLACE NIANTIC BRIDGE IN CONNECTICUT: The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has tentatively approved Amtrak's application to replace the Niantic River Bridge, bringing the railroad one step closer to getting all the permits it needs. Next, Amtrak needs approval for its plans from the Army Corps of Engineers, which has already started looking at the proposal. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-11-09, from The Day website report]

U.S. AWARDS $28-M FOR MAGLEV PROJECT IN PENNSYLVANIA: The federal government is awarding $28-million for a high-speed magnetic-rail project that would ultimately link Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Maglev technology uses magnetic forces to propel a vehicle over a guideway at 250 m.p.h. The grant will pay for pre-engineering work, financial estimates, an independent cost analysis, and other work. [United Transportation Union, 9-11-09, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK'S 'JULIE' CAN NOW ACCEPT NAMES FOR RESERVATIONS: Julie, Amtrak's automated voice response unit, will ask the customer to spell out his or her name. This replaces the generic designation based on the telephone number the customer calls from. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-11-09]

DUBAI, U.A.E., LAUNCHES METRO SYSTEM: Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, launched its new urban train line on September 8, becoming the first Arab Gulf state to have a metro system. While only 10 stations are currently operating, the 52.1 km Red Line will feature 29 stations when fully complete in February 2010. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-11-09]

MASS BAY TO EXTEND COMMUTER TRAIN INTO RHODE ISLAND: The MBTA trains will run to a new $267-million intermodal station being constructed at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I.  The station is set to open in February 2010.  While the MBTA plan calls for train service to begin in 2011, officials have left the door open for service as early as 2010, should the station and rail infrastructure be finished ahead of time. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-11-09]

IOWA INTERSTATE ADDING TO LOCOMOTIVE FLEET: By year's end, Iowa Interstate Railroad Ltd. expects to begin using two additional 4,400-horsepower GE Evolution Series ES44AC locomotives. Last year, the company purchased 12 of the locomotives and immediately registered fuel savings, reduced maintenance costs and efficiency gains, said IAIS President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Miller. The units are scheduled to be completed at GE's Erie, Pa., plant and delivered by Dec. 1. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-10-09]

COBOURG, ONTARIO, TO GET NEW TRAIN DEPOT: The Town of Cobourg will soon have a new train station. The federal government will provide $1-million for the project while VIA Rail will supply the remaining $7-million. Designs are yet to be finalized, but the project will include a new station to replace the current Grand Trunk building. The project will also include the creation of an official third rail line in and around Cobourg. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-10-09, from North Umberland News website report]

MARYLAND WANTS TO STUDY ENLARGING BWI TRAIN STATION: The Maryland Department of Transportation wants to study the idea of doubling the BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport station's size and recently applied for a $10-million federal grant for a detailed engineering study. Every day, 1,800 passengers board more than 40 trains headed for Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and destinations all along the Northeast corridor. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-8-09, from The Capital Website report]

SEPTA BEGINS OVERHAUL OF SHARON HILL TROLLEY LINE: SEPTA on Sep.8 began a massive overhaul of the Route 102 Sharon Hill Line - the first phase of various improvements of two trolley lines. Work will continue through December with shuttle buses in place of trolleys during the project seven days a week between Drexel Hill Junction and Sharon Hill. Six projects will be conducted on the Route 102 and Route 101 Media trolley lines, portions of which date back to 1915. [United Transportation Union, 9-8-09, from Delaware County Daily Times report]

VIA RAIL TO BUILD NEW STATION IN BELLEVILLE, ONTARIO: VIA Rail Canada Inc. has announced plans to build a new station and improve infrastructure in Belleville, Ontario. The railroad recently received federal funding for the projects. More than $2-million of the total $7-million cost will come from the Canadian government's Economic Action Plan. The existing station, which opened in 1856, no longer can accommodate riders during peak travel periods, VIA Rail officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-1-09]

N.S. PUTS SOME OF ITS FLEET BACK INTO SERVICE: Executives at the Norfolk-based railroad say that nearly a third of the rail fleet that the company idled as the recession eroded business has been put back in service. Over the past six weeks, about 9,500 of its 35,000 stored freight cars and 200 of its parked 700 locomotives have begun rolling again, they said. The railroad still has about a quarter of its rail-car fleet and 14 percent of its locomotive fleet in storage. [United Transportation Union, 8-31-09, from Virginian-Pilot report]

METROLINK IN TALKS WITH AMTRAK TO OPERATE COMMUTER TRAINS: Last week, Metrolink's board voted in favor of negotiating a contract for train engineer and conductor services with Amtrak. The board determined that Amtrak negotiations presented the best option to meet a June 30, 2010, deadline imposed by the conclusion of a current services contract with Connex Railroad L.L.C. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-31-09]

GROUND BROKEN FOR RENOVATIONS TO AMTRAK STATION IN ELIZABETH, PA.: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) helped break ground for major renovations to Amtrak's Elizabeth, Pa., station. The project is funded by a $9.3-million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant. Proceeds will be used to renovate the station building, reconstruct and triple the size of each platform, and complete other upgrades. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-26-09]

DM&E PUTS $6-BILLION COAL PLAN ON HOLD: The Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp. has dropped condemnation lawsuits against several Wyoming landowners in northeastern Wyoming and said the project has been put on hold. DM&E's attorneys have filed a notice of dismal in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne. DM&E had worked a proposal to extend its railroad 278 miles to access the Powder River Basin coal mining district in northeastern Wyoming. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-26-09, from Star-Tribune report]

BILL WOULD GIVE SHORT-LINE RAILROADS TAX BREAKS: There's support in Congress for helping short line railroads. Over 150 co-sponsors have signed on to a bill giving short-line railroads added tax breaks for maintaining their rail lines. H.R. 1132, introduced by Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., would increase the allowable amount of the tax credit to $4,500 per mile of rail in service. Nationally, around 600 short-line railroads spend more than $200-million each year on maintenance. [United Transportation Union, 8-26-09, from Hornell Evening Tribune report]

GROUND BROKEN FOR NEW CSX INTERMODAL TERMINAL IN OHIO: Ground has been broken on a new intermodal terminal in North Baltimore, Ohio. The new Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal will employ more than 200 people when fully operational in 2011. [United Transportation Union, 8-26-09, from Transport Intelligence website report]

MARYLAND SEEKS $360-M TOWARD RAIL UPGRADES: Maryland has put in a bid for $360-million in federal economic stimulus funds to upgrade the state's passenger rail network, seeking money to replace an aging tunnel under downtown Baltimore, expand the BWI Marshall airport rail station and open up other bottlenecks in intercity and commuter train travel in the Northeast Corridor. [United Transportation Union 8-25-09, from Baltimore Sun report]

BNSF ADDS NEW SERVICES: So far this year, BNSF Railway Co. has created 23 new intermodal services and improved transit times in 45 lanes in response to customer feedback. The new services, which branch out to several new markets, include premium container moves between Houston and Chicago; Kansas City and Phoenix; Atlanta and Phoenix; and St. Louis and Stockton. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-25-09]

SKI TRAIN REVIVAL SEEKS UNION STATION AID: A business team trying to revive the Ski Train service between Denver and Winter Park for the upcoming season has asked Union Station officials for help in keeping the tradition going. Earlier this month, Iowa Pacific Holdings, which operates tourist trains in southern Colorado and shortline freight railroads there and in other states, said it was interested in taking over the Ski Train operation. [United Transportation Union, 8-24-09, from Denver Post report]

LOUISIANA DROPS HIGH-SPEED RAIL PROPOSAL: In a sudden about face, state transportation leaders said Aug.21 they are dropping plans to seek about $300-million of special federal aid to launch passenger railroad service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Officials said earlier this month that a new proposal was being drafted in hopes of launching rail service by 2013. But state Transportation Secretary William Ankner dropped the effort. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-22-09, from The Advocate website report]

PATRIOT RAIL LAUNCHES TEXAS SHORTLINE: Patriot Rail Corp. has launched its sixth short line. The holding company recently obtained a long-term license agreement from the city of Temple, Texas, to provide switching and other rail-related services at Central Pointe Rail Park and formed subsidiary Temple & Central Texas Railway to serve as the service provider. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-21-09]

CALTRANS TO RENOVATE BILEVEL RAILCAR FLEET: The California Department of Transportation has awarded Alstom $13.1-million contract to renovate its entire fleet of 66 bi-level intercity passenger railcars. The fleet, which consists of four distinct car types, will be renovated over a period of two years at Alstom's new Train Life Services facility in Mare Island, California. The cars are used on the Capital Corridor and San Joaquins. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-21-09]

SHELBY COUNTY, TENNESSEE, ACQUIRES CSX RIGHT-OF-WAY FOR TRAIL: Shelby County, Tennessee, has signed the paperwork transferring an old CSX railroad line from the railroad to the county. The county will now transform the corridor into a 7-mile multiuse trail that extends from the Poplar-Union avenues viaduct in the west to Farm and Mullins Station roads and Shelby Farms Park to the east. [United Transportation Union, 8-14-09, from Memphis Daily News report]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO ADD INTERMODAL FACILITY IN FRANKLIN COUNTY, PA.: Norfolk Southern is planning a major rail facility in Antrim Township, Pennsylvania, near exit 3 of Interstate 81. According to a press report, the company intends to formally announce its selection for the location on August 10 at a press conference near the site. It will be known as the Franklin County Regional Intermodal Facility and will serve the railroad's Crescent Corridor.

RAILAMERICA TO GO PUBLIC: RailAmerica Inc. is on track to go public after it offered up to $300-million in stock late last month. The operator of 40 short-line railroads in 27 states, including the Florida East Coast Railway, RailAmerica filed a registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission. [United Transportation Union, 8-7-09, from Jacksonville Business Journal report]

G.E. TOUTS 'TRIP OPTIMIZER' FOR LOCOMOTIVES: More than 60 million gallons of fuel a year could be saved if every train in North America were to be fitted with GE Transportation's Trip Optimizer, the supplier believes. MORE... [GE, 8-7-09]

SOME CSX EMPLOYEES IN CUMBERLAND RETURN TO WORK: Within the last month, some CSX employees who were furloughed in Cumberland have been called to return to work. "Right now we have brought back 21 employees but we still have 55 out," CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan said. He said more employees may be called back to work depending on demands. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-6-09, from Cumberland Times-News website report]

TORONTO APPROVES PLAN FOR UNION STATION: The Toronto council has approved the final piece of a $640-million revitalization plan for its Union Station. The project includes digging out a new 120,000-square-foot level for a retail concourse, several new entrances, renovated VIA Rail areas and a $65-million tunnel at the northwest corner to connect to the city's PATH system. Two new GO Transit concourses will be built, the Great Hall will be renovated, as will the west wing for GO Transit's head office. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-6-09, from Globe and Mail website report]

RAILROADS IN LOUISIANA NEED PERMISSION TO CLOSE PRIVATE CROSSINGS, COURT RULES: A judge has refused to put the brakes on a Louisiana Public Service Commission order requiring railroads to apply for PSC permission before closing private crossings across tracks. State District Judge William Morvant rejected the Louisiana Railroad Association's request to block the PSC's April order, saying the group failed to show the order would have any economic or operational impact on its member railroads. Railroads had been closing crossings after a spate of deaths in wrecks between trains and automobiles. [United Transportation Union, 8-6-09, from The Advocate report]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC DOWN IN JULY: The Association of American Railroads has reported 1,319,387 carloads of freight in July 2009, down 17.5 percent compared with July 2008. U.S. intermodal rail traffic, not included in carload figures, totaled 922,734 units in July 2009, was down 18 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-6-09]

CHICO, CALIFORNIA, AMTRAK STATION GETTING NEW PLATFORM: Amtrak will use $509,000 in federal stimulus dollars to build a 550-foot concrete platform along the railroad tracks. The city of Chico is also planning to use up to $150,000 in city transportation funds to rebuild the wooden deck that runs around the northern part of the depot building. Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham said the platform is part of the corporation's effort to improve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. [United Transportation Union, 8-6-09, from Chico Enterprise Record report]

AMTRAK'S PERE MARQUETTE CELEBRATES 25TH YEAR: Amtrak is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Pere Marquette service between Grand Rapids and Chicago. Named after a 'fallen flag' railroad of that name (now part of CSX), the Pere Marquette was the only railroad every named for a Catholic priest. The Pere Marquette service has grown every year since 2001, but officials say ridership is down this year because of the weak economy. [United Transportation Union, 8-5-09, from Associated Press report]

PATCO MAY REOPEN FRANKLIN SQUARE STATION IN PHILADELPHIA: A commuter train linking New Jersey and Philadelphia may be making an extra stop. The Delaware River Port Authority is putting the wheels in motion to reopen the PATCO train's Franklin Square station in Philadelphia. The station was closed in 1979 due to low ridership. If all goes well, the station could be open by the end of 2010. [United Transportation Union, 8-5-09, from Daily Journal report]

MARYLAND SELECTS LIGHT-RAIL AS TRANSIT OPTION FOR PURPLE LINE: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) announced the state has chosen light rail as the locally preferred alternative for the Purple Line, designed to run along an east-west corridor from Bethesda to New Carrollton. The line, which would feature 21 stations and one tunnel section, is projected to handle 64,800 boardings daily by 2030. Pending FTA approval and funding, construction could start in 2014 and be completed in 2018. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-5-09]

WINDSOR STATION IN MONTREAL SOLD: Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. announced the sale of its historic Windsor Station in Montreal. CP said it had sold the station and related real estate to Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd. for $86-million. As part of the deal, the railroad entered into a long-term lease to remain the principal tenant at the station. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-4-09, from Financial Post website report]

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN ISSUES $75-M IN STOCK: Kansas City Southern has issued 4.3 million shares of common stock at an average price of $17.32 per share. The sale was valued at $75-million. The railroad company now has 95.9 million shares outstanding. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-3-09, from Kansas City Star website report]

NEW SWITCHES AIM TO AVERT MASS BAY COMMUTER DELAYS: Operators of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's commuter rail service are pledging to install new switches and take other steps to avoid delays. The steps to avoid delays include replacing 12 switches along the Framingham/ Worcester Line, and increasing overtime for employees covering the operation. Additionally, new employees have been hired to respond to switch or signal problems during the morning and evening rush hours. Replacing the 12 switches will be paid for by CSX, according to a spokesman for the freight railroad company. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-2-09, from Boston Globe website report]

OREGON ENACTS TRANSPORTATION FUNDING BILL: Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski has signed into law the Jobs and Transportation Act of 2009, which provides more than $1-billion to address the state's transportation needs, including railroads, mass transit systems, highways, bridges, ports and airports. The measure includes funding for multi-modal transportation projects, increased appropriations for transit and continued funding for the ConnectOregon program, which aims to improve rail networks, transit systems, ports and airports. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-31-09]

SHORT LINE IN TENNESSEE PURCHASED: EnergySolutions is purchasing a short-line railroad that traverses the former K-25 uranium-enrichment site - now Heritage Center - and joins the main Norfolk Southern rail system at Blair Station a few miles north of the site. Troy Eshleman, EnergySolutions vice president for the Commercial Processing Division, said the company would continue to use the 11.5-mile short line in the same manner it has for years. [United Transportation Union, 7-31-09, from Knoxville News Sentinel report]

CP RAIL REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited announced second-quarter net income of $157-million, an increase of two per cent from the same period in 2008. The impact on net income from a decline in freight volumes was offset by a net gain after tax on the sale of a portion of CP's interest in the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership of $69-million. Diluted earnings per share were $0.93, a decrease of seven per cent from $1.00 in second-quarter 2008. [Canadian Pacific, 7-30-09]

GENESEE & WYOMING 2-Q NET FALLS 53 PERCENT: Railroad operator Genesee & Wyoming Inc. reported a 52 percent drop in net profit, hurt mainly by a one-time charge related to the closure of the Huron Central Railway. For the second quarter, net income fell to $7.5-million or 20 cents a share, 42 cents a share a year ago. The company, which now has 13 percent of its locomotive fleet parked and 10 percent of its employees furloughed, earned 22 cents a share from continuing operations. [United Transportation Union, 7-30-09, from Reuters report]

K.C.S. 2-Q PROFIT DROPS: Regional railroad operator Kansas City Southern reported a much smaller second-quarter profit as the economy and lower fuel prices slashed revenue by 30 percent, Reuters reports. The company said it earned $6.7-million or 7 cents per share during the three months ending June 30. By comparison, it earned 56 cents per share, during the same period a year ago. Revenue during the quarter fell 30 percent to $341.3-million. [United Transportation Union, 7-30-09, from Reuters report]

OLD RAIL ARTIFACTS FOUND IN DIG: Mission artifacts that could be more than 200 years old were discovered during an archaeological survey near the San Gabriel Mission, an environmental consultant said. Archaeologists recovered items linked with the building of the Union Pacific Railroad in the late 1800s. The excavation is part of Alameda Corridor East, a massive project that involves safety improvements along 39 rail crossings from Pomona to Montebello. [United Transportation Union, 7-30-09, from Los Angeles Times report]

V&T RAILROAD IN NEVADA RESUMING SERVICE AFTER 71 YEARS: On August 14, a train will travel between Carson City and Virginia City, Nevada, for the first time since 1938. A black steam engine that pulled into Carson City a little after noon on July 28 will transport riders on an hour-long trip. A $55-million reconstruction project, initiated by the Nevada Legislature in 1992, is expected to draw tens of thousands of tourists and millions of dollars to Northern Nevada each year. [United Transportation Union, 7-29-09, from Gazette-Journal report]

N.S. PROFIT DROPS 45 PERCENT: Norfolk Southern Railway saw its profit plunge 45 percent from a year earlier in the April-June quarter to $245-million, as revenue fell 33 percent to $1.9 billion. The net income was mildly above Wall Street expectations, but the revenue drop outpaced a 29 percent cost reduction and a 26 percent fall in freight volume. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-29-09, from Journal of Commerce website report]

GARY LONG APPOINTED TO TOP POST OF OMNITRAX: The Broe Group has appointed Gary Long president and chief executive officer of OmniTRAX Inc. He will be responsible for the operating and financial performance of the managed companies under OmniTRAX, including short lines and intermodal, port and new venture developments. Long most recently was senior vice president of commercial and supply chain management for Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-29-09]

STRIKE ENDS AT VIA RAIL: The end to the nationwide VIA Rail strike is over. July 26, just two days after walking off the job, VIA's 340 locomotive engineers were on their way back to work. Trains started rolling out of major hubs last night, with full service expected to resume by this morning. [United Transportation Union, 7-27-09, from Toronto Globe report]

AMTRAK MIGHT RETURN TO F.E.C. ROUTE IN 2012: It's been 41 years since passenger trains last rolled down Henry Flagler's old railroad between West Palm Beach and Jacksonville. But if Florida gets its way, Amtrak will run down those tracks beginning in the fall of 2012, stopping in coastal towns such as St. Augustine, Cocoa Beach and Stuart. The Florida Department of Transportation has applied for federal stimulus money for railroad projects to bring Amtrak service to the Florida East Coast Railway. [United Transportation Union, 7-27-09, from Miami Herald report]

RETIRED RAILROADERS FIGHT TO PRESERVE LOCOMOTIVE: Bill Howes and George Bollinger are retired railroaders working to preserve an old engine. Howes, 70, and Bollinger, 68, both CSX retirees, have been leading efforts to save a rare steam engine, Atlantic Coast Line locomotive No. 1504, located in the Prime Osborn Convention Center's back parking lot. The engine outside the Convention Center used to belong to CSX but was donated to the city to be put outside the center when it opened in 1986. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-27-09, from Florida Times-Union website report]

AMTRAK DELAYS IOWA TRAIN STUDY FOR YEAR: Plans for a study needed to revive Des Moines-to-Chicago passenger train service have been put on a side track at least until next year, state officials say. But Amtrak passenger train service to Dubuque and the Quad Cities appears likely in about two years. [United Transportation Union, 7-24-09, from Des Moines Register report]

U.P. 2-Q PROFIT FALLS 12 PERCENT: Union Pacific Corp. reported a 12 percent drop in its second-quarter net income as shipping demand remained weak, but the railroad beat expectations by keeping expenses 30 percent lower and selling some land in Colorado. The railroad reported $468-million or 92 cents per share net income in the quarter that ended June 30. That's down from $531-million or $1.02 per share a year ago. Operating revenue fell 28 percent to $3.3-billion. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-23-09, from Associated Press report]

D.C. METRO SYSTEM HAD CHRONIC SIGNAL PROBLEM, NTSB SAYS: The signaling system that detects a train on the tracks of Washington's Metro system has been having problems for a year and a half in the area of a crash that killed nine, National Transportation Safety Board investigators said. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 7-23-09, from Associated Press report]

JURY EXONERATES CSX IN GOOSE ENCOUNTER WITH EMPLOYEE: It took a jury 25 minutes to decide CSX Transportation was not responsible for a conductor's injuries resulting from a railyard run-in with a goose. Aaron Richards had filed a FELA lawsuit last year against CSX, claiming the railroad was negligent in not removing the goose from its Keyser Receiving Yard near Ravenswood, W.Va. Richards was injured April 23, 2005, at the yard when, as he was performing a brake test on a train, the goose startled him and knocked him backward. Before U.S. District Court, Richards' attorneys argued that CSX knew or should have known the goose was a hazard to its employees. CSX attorneys, meanwhile, said the company had no prior knowledge of the goose. [United Transportation Union, 7-22-09, from Legal Newswire report]

C.N. REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: CN has reported its financial and operating results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2009. Net income declined to C$387-million or C$0.82 per diluted share, from year-earlier net income. Revenues declined 15 per cent to C$1,781-million, carloads declined 22 per cent, and revenue ton-miles declined 14 per cent, with weakness in almost all market segments. Operating income declined 18 per cent to C$583-million, while the operating ratio increased by one percentage point to 67.3 per cent. [Canadian National, 7-20-09]

LIGHT-RAIL TRAINS COLLIDE IN SAN FRANCISCO, 48 INJURED: Two MUNI light-rail trains collided July 18 at San Francisco's busy West Portal station. At least 48 people were treated for injuries. An L-Taraval train slammed into a K-Ingleside train at the West Portal station just before 3 p.m. Passengers say the L was moving pretty fast while the K was standing still. Witnesses say the L train did not look like it was slowing down at all as it approached the platform and the operator appeared slumped over. [United Transportation Union, 7-18-09, from ABC-7 News report]

WISCONSIN TO BUY TWO TALGO TRAINSETS: Wisconsin has agreed to a $47-million deal with Spanish train manufacturer Talgo for two 14-car passenger trains to run between Milwaukee and Chicago, Gov. Jim Doyle announced July 17. The cars will replace aging cars on the existing Amtrak Hiawatha Service line between the two cities. The deal calls for Talgo to set up an assembly plant in Wisconsin. It also includes an option for the state to buy two more Talgo trains. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-17-09, from Associated Press report]

VIA RAIL TO EXPAND MONTREAL-TORONTO INFRASTRUCTURE: The Canadian government and VIA Rail Canada Inc. have announced a more than $250-million investment in the railroad's "Canadian National Kingston Subdivision" project - the largest infrastructure improvement program in the 153-year history of passenger-rail service between Montreal and Toronto. The project calls for a series of infrastructure improvements at eight locations along VIA Rail's 334-mile double-track line. Work is scheduled to begin this summer and conclude in 2011. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-17-09]

HOME OF CASEY JONES RENOVATED: Casey Jones' renovated former residence in Jackson, Tennessee, reopened to visitors this month after the opening in June of a new 8,000-square-foot train museum next to the home. Designed as an 1890s train station, the new museum offers more than six times the space for the memorabilia and artifacts once crammed inside the home. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-16-09, from Tennessean website report]

FOUR U.T.U. INTERNATIONAL V.P.'S REMOVED FROM OFFICE: Four United Transportation Union International vice presidents have been removed from office by the executive board after having been found guilty of violating the UTU constitution. John W. Babler, Victor Baffoni, James R. Cumby and Constantino A. Iannone were found guilty of acting "in opposition to the established policy of the UTU" and having "usurped the authority of the [UTU] President in violation of [their] duty as a UTU officer." [United Transportation Union, 7-15-09]

N.S. SELECTS SITE FOR ALABAMA TERMINAL: Norfolk Southern Corp. announced it has selected a site in Jefferson County, Ala., for a new $112-million intermodal terminal. The company plans to build the Birmingham Intermodal Terminal in McCalla, near interstates 20 and 59, about 20 miles from Birmingham. Slated to open in 2012, the 316-acre facility will be designed to handle 165,000 containers and trailers annually. The facility will be part of NS' Crescent Corridor, a proposed 2,500-mile intermodal route between New Jersey and Louisiana. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-14-09]

CSX REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corp. saw its earnings drop 20 percent in the second quarter of 2009, compared to last year. The company announced it earned $308-million or 78 cents per share, compared with $385-million or 93 cents a share in the second quarter of 2008. Excluding charges related to The Greenbrier resort, earnings from continuing operations were 95 cents per share versus 72 cents per share last year, a drop of 24 percent. Second quarter revenues of $2.2-billion were down 25 percent from last year. [United Transportation Union, 7-14-09, from Associated Press report]

N.S. TO CUT 84 JOBS AT SHEFFIELD YARD IN ALABAMA: Norfolk Southern Corp. will close part of the operations at its Sheffield rail yard, a move that involves cutting 84 jobs. A spokesman for Norfolk Southern said about 130 people work at the yard. The railroad will announce the move Wednesday to close the yard's humping operation. The company said 57 layoffs are train and engine positions, and 27 are mechanical employees. [United Tansportation Union, 7-14-09, from Florence Times Daily report]

AMTRAK UNVEILS FIRST STIMULUS-FUNDED CAR: Amtrak has wasted little time using its $1.3-billion slice of the federal stimulus package, unveiling the first of 81 passenger cars to be restored with the help of economic recovery funds. Passenger car no. 25103, damaged a few years ago in a yard collision but now completely refurbished - complete with that "new car" interior smell - was shown off Monday at Amtrak's maintenance facility in Bear, Delaware. The car, refitted at a cost of about $687,000, will rejoin the Amtrak fleet next week and will be used on eastern long-distance routes. [United Transportation Union, 7-13-09, from Associated Press report]

NEW TRAIN STATION OPENS IN DURHAM: Durham, N.C., celebrated the opening of a brand-new, 10,000-square-foot train station on July 8. The facility will improve and expand amenities for passengers waiting for the four daily Amtrak trains that run through the town. The expanded station hours are 6:30 am to 9 pm, seven days a week. The facility offer both short- and long-term parking. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-10-09]

PATH SYSTEM ADDING NEW CARS: Some commuters are in for a smoother ride beginning July 10, when new rail cars hit the tracks of the PATH train system for the first time in more than 20 years. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is spending about $500-million to replace all 340 cars by 2011. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-10-09, from Associated Press report]

FIVE KILLED TRYING TO BEAT AMTRAK TRAIN AT CROSSING: Police say five teens are dead after they drove around a crossing gate in Canton, Michigan, and were hit by an Amtrak passenger train the afternoon of July 9. Witnesses said the teens were headed northbound on Hannan Road between Michigan Avenue and Van Born when they went around crossing gates lowered at the railroad tracks. [United Transportation Union, 7-9-09, from Detroit Free Press report]

UNION PACIFIC SHUFFLES OPERATIONS STAFF: Union Pacific Railroad has appointed Rod Richardson superintendent-intermodal operations in Oakland, Calif.; David Giandinoto general superintendent-transportation services for the Chicago Service Unit; Kurt Zalar, general superintendent-transportation services for the Denver Service Unit; Ruben Lopez, superintendent- transportation services for the Wichita Service Unit; Jeff Moore, superintendent at the Harriman Dispatch Center in Omaha, Neb.; and John Huddleston, superintendent-transportation services for the Pocatello, Idaho, Service Unit. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-7-09]

ALASKA RAILROAD HAS FOUR CABOOSES FOR SALE: The Alaska Railroad has four old cabooses up for bid. And for a price as low as $8,000, it could be yours. The oldest of the cars was built in 1948 by Pacific Car and Foundry Co., featuring "plenty of storage" and three chairs. A pair of newer cabooses were built in 1976 by International Car Co., with features like sinks, chairs and wood flooring. [United Transportation Union, 7-6-09, from Daily News-Minor report]

METRA BEGINS BUILDING ROCK ISLAND LINE STATION: Metra has broken ground on a new Chicago station to be located at 35th Street along the Rock Island line. The station will be funded by $4.9-million in federal monies and $6.8-million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. To be named the Lovana S. "Lou" Jones/Bronzeville Station, the facility is scheduled to be complete by fall 2010. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-6-09]

HYDROGEN-POWERED FUEL-CELL LOCOMOTIVE MAKES FIRST TRIP: The nation's first hydrogen-powered fuel-cell locomotive has made its first trip, although it was a short one. Officials from BNSF Railway and the Defense Department were on hand this week in Topeka as the prototype locomotive moved up and down the tracks. It now heads to Colorado and California for additional tests. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-3-09, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK CLEARED FOR 2ND CASCADES TRAIN TO B.C.: The Canadian government has announced that Amtrak has been cleared for a second daily Cascades train between Seattle and Vancouver. The trains will begin next month and continue through the Olympic and Paralympic Winter games next year. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-3-09, from Seattle Times website report]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC DOWN IN JUNE: U.S. railroads originated 1,039,889 carloads of freight in June 2009, down 19.7 percent compared with June 2008. U.S. intermodal rail traffic ­ comprising trailers and containers on flat cars that are not included in carload figures ­ totaled 755,000 units in June 2009, down 18.2 percent compared with the same period last year. For the first six months of 2009, total U.S. rail carloadings were down 19.5 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 7-3-09]

WASHINGTON METRO FAILED TO DETECT CIRCUITRY MALFUNCTION: Five days before last week's deadly Red Line accident, a Metro crew replaced a key piece of equipment designed to prevent crashes, but the circuitry malfunctioned and no one at Metro detected the problem, investigators and transit officials said. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-2-09, from Washington Post website report]

COLORADO AGENCY BUYS 33-MILE LINE FROM U.P.: Union Pacific Railroad sold 33 track miles north of Denver to Colorado's Regional Transportation District for $118-million, in the first and largest of four land transfer deals to develop commuter rail in that area. UP said the land it sold to the eight-county RTD runs from Commerce City just outside Denver to Boulder's Valmont power plant. [United Transportation Union, 7-1-09, from Journal of Commerce report]

CSX DISMISSES ELECTRIFICATION, FOR NOW: Michael Ward, chairman, president and CEO of the large eastern-U.S. carrier, told Journal of Commerce, "at this point we have no plans to pursue electrification. Times are a little tough right now, and we think our resources are better attuned to looking at how we handle this current recession than spending time looking at something." At least two other major railroads, however, are looking at ways they might begin to tap electricity for some freight trains. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-1-09, from Journal of Commerce website report]

AT LEAST 15 KILLED FROM TRAIN DERAILMENT IN ITALY: At least 15 people have been killed and 35 others seriously injured after an Italian goods train carrying liquefied natural gas derailed and exploded. The train was travelling from La Spezia to Pisa when a rear car ploughed into a residential neighborhood beside the train station in a seaside village just before midnight June 29. A train car filled with liquefied natural gas exploded in the crash, collapsing five buildings and setting fire to a vast area. [United Transportation Union, 6-30-09, from Daily Mail report]

LANCASTER, PA., TRAIN STATION BEING RENOVATED: Amtrak has launched construction on a $12-million station renovation project in Lancaster, Pa. The 18-month project calls for rehabilitating the station's interior and exterior; installing a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system; adding new restrooms; improving landscaping; and increasing parking capacity. The project also includes a new taxi loading and unloading area, new waiting room and ticketing area for the Trailways Bus Co. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-30-09]

HOUSE PROBES RESIGNATION AT AMTRAK: A House committee is investigating the recent resignation of Amtrak's inspector general, citing concerns about oversight at the publicly funded corporation at a time when it is set to spend more than $1-billion in federal stimulus funds. Fred Weiderhold stepped down June 18, around the time a report he commissioned concluded that the "independence and effectiveness" of the inspector general's office was "being substantially impaired" by Amtrak managers. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-29-09, from Wall Street Journal website report]

CSX COMMITS TO CUT CO2 EMISSIONS BY 8 PERCENT: CSX has announced a plan to reduce the CO2 emissions associated with its vast and economically vital train operations by 8 percent per revenue ton mile by 2011. The company made its commitment as part of its participation in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Climate Leaders Program, a voluntary program for businesses to inventory and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. [CSX, 6-29-09]

CSX TO INTRODUCE GENSET SWITCHERS AT N.Y. OAK POINT YARD: On June 29, CSX will hold a ceremony at Oak Point Yard in the Bronx to introduce four ultra-low-emission GenSets. The locomotives are designed to reduce particulate matter emissions by 80 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent compared with a conventional switcher. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-26-09]

METRO OPERATOR MADE FAILED BID TO STOP TRAIN: The operator of the Metro train that slammed into a stationary train in front of it apparently had activated the emergency brakes in a failed effort to stop before the accident, federal officials said as they searched for the cause of Monday's Red Line wreck that killed nine and injured 80. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-24-09, from Washington Post report]

COMPUTER FAILURE MAY HAVE CAUSED D.C. CRASH: Investigators looking into the deadly crash of two Metro transit trains have focused on why a computerized system failed to halt an oncoming train, and why the train failed to stop even though the emergency brake was pressed. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 6-24-09, from Associated Press report]

FAULTY ELECTRONIC RELAYS EYED IN METRO CRASH: Experts familiar with Washington Metro's operations focused on a failure of the signal system and operator error as likely causes of yesterday's fatal Red Line crash. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 6-23-09, from Washington Post report]

NINE DEAD, SCORES INJURED IN WASHINGTON METRO CRASH: A Washington Metro train struck another train on the same Red Line track at the height of the evening rush hour near the Fort Totten station June 22, killing at nine and injuring 70 others in the deadliest accident in Metrorail's 33-year-history. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 6-22-09, from Washington Post report]

CHICAGO METRA GETTING $46.6-M IN STIMULUS MONEY FOR UPGRADES: The Chicago-are commuter rail agency Metra is set to receive $46.6 million in federal economic stimulus money for improvements on three of its lines. The money will go toward bridge rehabilitation and reconstruction on the Electric District and the Union Pacific North Line. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-20-09, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK RIDERSHIP SHOWS DECLINE: Amtrak ridership dropped for the seventh straight month according to statistics released by the company June 17, with long-distance routes showing a decline for the first time in over a year. Overall ridership for May of this year fell 9.8 percent from May 2008. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 6-19-09]

D.O.T. ISSUES GUIDLINES FOR HIGH-SPEED RAIL RECOVERY FUNDS: The Department of Transportation moved another step closer to realizing President Obama's vision for high-speed rail in America, publishing guidelines for states and regions to apply for federal funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The guidelines require rigorous financial and environmental planning to make sure projects are worthy of investment and likely to be successful. [U.S. Department of Transportation, 6-17-09]

RAIL WORKFORCE CONTINUES TO SHRINK: The U.S. Class I workforce continued to shrink last month. As of mid-May, the workforce stood at 151,536, representing a 1.8 percent decrease from mid-April's level and 8.3 percent drop from May 2008's count, according to the Surface Transportation Board's most recent employment data. The workforce segment also shrank a whopping 18 percent from May 2008's count. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-17-09]

HURON CENTRAL RAILWAY TO END OPERATIONS: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. said its subsidiary Huron Central Railway Inc. will end operations because a drop in traffic means the railroad is "not economically viable to operate for the long term." The company said 45 jobs will be eliminated when Huron Central closes. The unit has operated the 173-mile railroad from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, under a lease agreement since 1997. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-16-09, from Dow Jones Newswire report]

MICHIGAN TO REDUCE AMTRAK FUNDING: The daily train trip from Port Huron to Chicago could be threatened as officials work to balance the state's budget. The Michigan State Senate Appropriations Committee has voted to cut the Amtrak rail passenger operating grant by $2-million. The proposed cut could result in the loss of either the rail services along the Port Huron to Chicago route or the Grand Rapids to Chicago route, or both. [United Transportation Union, 6-16-09, from Times Herald report]

AMTRAK TO RESTORE STOP AT HOPE, ARKANSAS: Officials say Hope, Arkansas, will soon win back an Amtrak stop. The old brown brick train station, remodeled into the city's Visitor and Information Center, will serve as a stop on the line. The Texas Eagle route already makes stops in Arkansas at Little Rock, Arkadelphia, Malvern, Texarkana and Walnut Ridge. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-15-09, from Associated Press report]

AMERICAN RAILCAR INDUSTRIES MOVES CORPORATE HOME TO NORTH DAKOTA: Shareholders of American Railcar Industries have approved switching the company's corporate paperwork from Delaware to North Dakota. Supporters of the law say it is the most shareholder-friendly law in the country. The law makes it easier for shareholders to run opposition candidates when a company elects its board of directors. It also requires a company to give its shareholders an advisory vote on executive pay. [United Transportation Union, 6-11-09, from Associated Press report]

DEBORAH HERSMAN TO BE NOMINATED TO CHAIR N.T.S.B.: President Obama has announced his intention to nominate Deborah Hersman as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and re-nominate Harry Hoglander as a National Mediation Board (NMB) member. An NTSB member since June 2004, Hersman has served as the board's representative at 15 transportation accidents. Prior to joining the NTSB, she was a senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-10-09]

N.J. TRANSIT ORDERS NINE NEW LOCOMOTIVES: NJ Transits board has approved a $72-million contract with Bombardier Transit Corp. for nine more ALP-46A locomotives, to be added to an earlier order of 27 such electric engines. The additional order will go toward replacing NJ Transits fleet of 32 ALP-44 engines, the oldest of which were built in 1990 and were the first new electric locomotives ordered by the agency after its formation. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-10-09, from Asbury Park Press website report]

CSXT, PSEG POWER BRING GENSET LOCOMOTIVES TO N.J.: CSX Transportation and PSEG Power met June 9 with state and local officials to unveil low-emission GenSet locomotives to be operated in New Jersey. A total of three GenSet locomotives will be purchased in partnership by the two companies. The locomotives will be used to switch cars within CSXT yards in New Jersey and can also be utilized for road switching service. [CSX, 6-9-09]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN MULLS ELECTRIFICATION: A Norfolk Southern Railway executive said his company is exploring the potential to eventually electrify some freight rail lines in connection with passenger rail corridors. Earlier this year, BNSF Railway's chairman, president and CEO, Matthew Rose, said he was in talks with transmission line companies that want to install new power lines in the railroad's right of way. Industry sources indicated other large carriers were looking at the same options. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-9-09, from Journal of Commerce website report]

FIRST NORTHSTAR COMMUTER RAIL COACHES ARRIVE: The first two Northstar Commuter Rail coaches passed through Anoka County June 8 on their way to the Northstar Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Big Lake. Sixteen additional coaches will arrive in the coming weeks from the Bombardier facility in New York. Expect to see locomotives and coaches traveling on the tracks for testing now through the start of service in November. [United Transportation Union, 6-8-09, from Erstarnews website report]

MARYLAND TO EXPAND FALLS ROAD LIGHT-RAIL PARKING FACILITY: The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) recently began a $2.3-million project aimed at upgrading the parking facility at the Falls Road light-rail station. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and scheduled for completion in spring 2010, the project calls for increasing parking capacity from 97 spaces to 197 spaces, constructing a lighted pedestrian path, and installing new lighting, signs, fencing and bike racks. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-8-09]

UNION PACIFIC HAS 1,900 LOCOMOTIVES IN STORAGE: Union Pacific officials say boxcars, locomotives and employees are being idled until this country's economic engine chugs back to life. System-wide, Union Pacific said it has 1,900 locomotives and 66,000 freight cars in mothballs. [United Transportation Union, 6-8-09, from Grand Junction Sentinel report]

CSX CONTINUES WITH STRATEGIC PLAN: CSX is going full speed ahead on its investment in tracks and terminals this year, despite the recession's drag on freight shipments, CEO and Chairman Michael Ward told Jacksonville business leaders. The company will spend about $1.6-billion on its shipping facilities, which is close to the $1.7-billion CSX spent during the past year, Ward said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-6-09, from Florida Times-Union website report]

HUMAN ERROR BLAMED FOR RUNAWAY RAIL CARS IN CALIFORNIA: A railroad maintenance worker likely didn't set the brakes on his high-rail truck on June 3, allowing the truck and the six cars it was towing to roll out of control, forcing railroad crews to intentionally derail it north of Dunsmuir, California, railroad officials said. A Union Pacific spokeswoman said a contractor was stacking used railroad ties onto the six gondola cars when the mishap occurred near Mott, between Dunsmuir and Mount Shasta. No one was hurt in the incident. [United Transportation Union, 6-5-09, from Redding Record Searchlight report]

FIVE TEENS SENTENCED FOR PLACING BOULDER IN PATH OF TRAIN: The last of five teenagers charged with disabling a CSX train in Chili, N.Y., in 2008 by placing a boulder on tracks in front of it, has been sentenced in Monroe County Court. The teen, who pleaded guilty to a felony of second-degree criminal mischief, received five years' probation and four weekends in County Jail and was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. The other four were sentenced previously. All five received the same sentence and were ordered to repay $20,172 to CSX for damage to the train. [United Transportation Union, 6-5-09, from Democrat and Chronicle report]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC DOWN IN MAY: U.S. rail carload traffic in May 2009 fell 24.7 percent compared to May 2008. Intermodal traffic (which is not included in carloads) fell 19.7 percent. Rail carloadings fell in May 2009 in all 19 major commodity groups tracked by the AAR. [Assn. of American Railroads, 6-4-09]

HUB GROUP SHIFTS BULK OF INTERMODAL TRAFFIC FROM BNSF TO UNION PACIFIC: Hub Group notified customers and BNSF this week that it would start moving over to UP within a week, a process that could take several months. Hub will shift 8,400 of its domestic 53-foot containers over to UP while leaving BNSF handling only 1,400. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-4-09, from Journal of Commerce report]

AMTRAK TO OPERATE TWO NEW TRAINS IN VIRGINIA: Amtrak recently signed an agreement with the Virginia to provide new passenger-rail service between Richmond and Washington, D.C. Virginia will pay Amtrak $17.2-million during a three-year demonstration period to provide daily rush-hour service from Washington, D.C. to Lynchburg, beginning in October, and from D.C. to Richmond starting in December. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-4-09]

TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF CONRAIL ACQUISITION: On the 10th anniversary of Norfolk Southern Corporation's acquisition of nearly 60 percent of Conrail, CEO Wick Moorman thanked customers, suppliers, stockholders, communities, and employees for their hard work and support. Since Day One, when Norfolk Southern added 7,200 miles of Conrail routes and 10,000 former Conrail employees to its system, the railroad has moved 3.5 trillion gross ton-miles of freight. A single train of every carload NS hauled in the last decade could stretch to the moon and back twice - and then some. [Norfolk Southern, 6-1-09]

ANGRY MOB BURNS TRAIN, STATION IN INDIA: An angry mob in northern India has torched a train and a station to protest against a new rail schedule that has trains skipping stops at their station. Television footage showed flames and smoke billowing out of the train that was stopped just outside the Khusrupur train station in the northern state of Bihar. About 200 protesters also set the train station on fire and pulled up train tracks. The new schedule is the result of a political reshuffle following last month's national elections. [United Transportation Union, 6-1-09, from Associated Press report]

VERMILLION, OHIO, SEEKS TO BECOME ULTIMATE RAILFAN DESTINATION: Trains began running through Vermilion starting in 1853. The Vermilion Main Line Rail committee of Main Street is capitalizing on the city's rail history and train traffic and has been working on establishing a train viewing area in downtown Vermilion and several other sites along the tracks. [Vermilion, Ohio, News website report, 6-1-09]

LAST SURVIVOR OF TITANIC DIES: Millvina Dean, 97, the last survivor of the Titanic, died May 31, 2009. She was just nine weeks old at the time of the disaster. She had no memory of the event, and did not even learn about it until eight years later. The Titanic sank April 15, 1912, after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Over 1,500 people died, including Ms. Dean's father.

'SYSTEM WILL CHANGE SLOWLY,' AMTRAK CEO SAYS: Passenger trains could speed travelers from Richmond to Washington at 135 mph, Amtrak's president and CEO says. But, said Joseph Boardman: "Don't expect it next week." Boardman spoke May 28 as part of a Greater Richmond Chamber meeting focused on transportation issues. Depending on which train a rider takes, Amtrak trips from Main Street Station in Richmond to Washington are scheduled to take about three hours, and from Staples Mill Station in Henrico County, trips run 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 hours. Faster rail service could cut that to two hours or a shade less. [United Transportation Union, 5-29-09, from Richmond Times-Dispatch report]

KANSAS RAIL LINE CHANGES OWNERSHIP: An era in the annals of Kansas short-rail service is coming to an end. In the early 1980s, the Mid-States Port Authority rescued the service from the jaws of the Rock Island Railroad's bankruptcy. On June 1 it will transfer ownership of more than 400 miles of short-line track to Kyle Railroad. Kyle is owned by Florida-based RailAmerica. [United Transportation Union, 5-29-09, from Wichita Eagle report]

RUSSIAN RAILWAYS TO BUY HIGH-SPEED TRAINS: State-owned Russian Railways plans to order high-speed trains worth between 500-million and 550-million euros ($699.7 - 769.6 million) from Bombardier, the world's No. 1 passenger train maker. Russian Railways First Vice President Fyodor Andreyev told reporters up to 54 trains would be deployed in and around the southern Russian city of Sochi, which is scheduled to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. [United Transportation Union, 5-29-09, from Reuters report]

TORONTO TO STUDY ELECTRIFICATION OF GO SYSTEM: Toronto's Metrolinx recently announced plans to study the electrification of the entire GO Transit rail system. The agency will establish an external advisory committee comprising community representatives, including riders and independent technical experts, to help the agency address the staging of electrification, performance improvements, power supply and distribution, Union Station capacity, rail corridor ownership, urban planning benefits, vehicle technology options, physical constraints, and impacts on property and GO Transit's capital and operating costs. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-28-09]

FRA ANNOUNCES GRANTS FOR SHORT-LINE EMERGENCY REPAIRS: The Federal Railroad Administration has announced the award of $15-million to nine states for emergency repairs to damaged railroad infrastructure resulting from natural disasters. The funding, from FRA's Railroad Rehabilitation and Repair program, can cover up to 80 percent of the total cost of a selected project. [Railway Age website report, 5-28-09]

BURBANK PROPOSES INTERMODAL TRANSIT CENTER: The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, owner and operator of Bob Hope Airport, has retained Ricondo and Associates to undertake the initial environmental review of a proposed regional intermodal transit center at the airport that would provide access at a single point for air transport, Amtrak, Metrolink rail, buses, and rental cars to converge. An elevated and covered moving sidewalk would convey arriving and departing passengers between the airport terminal and the transit center, facilitating immediate access to the terminal without using shuttle buses. [Aviation News Today website report, 5-26-09]

PETER ROGOFF CONFIRMED AS FTA ADMINISTRATOR: The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved the nomination of Peter Rogoff as administrator of the Federal Transit Administration. For the past 22 years, Rogoff has served on the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, including 14 years as the Democratic staff director of the Transportation Subcommittee. He helped shape each of the last three surface transportation bills and played an instrumental role in advising policymakers on Amtrak's operating and capital needs. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-26-09]

UBS RATES CSX STOCK 'TOP PICK': The lingering misconception of mismanagement at CSX Corp. is the only plausible explanation for why the railway is trading at a discount to its peers, according to UBS analyst Rick Paterson. Based on its current valuation, the railroad trades at 22 percent price-earnings ratio discount to other top-tier rails. But with stronger pricing power and more room than its peers for margin improvement, Mr. Paterson has a 'buy' rating on the stock and a $51 price target. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-26-09, from National Post website report]

SUIT FILED TO HALT FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF DENVER UNION STATION: The Colorado Rail Passenger Association is filing suit in a federal court to halt further development of Denver's Union Station. The group alleges that current plans do not conform to what was agreed upon earlier, which stressed connectivity among modes and capacity for future expansion. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-22-09]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN WINS HARRIMAN SAFETY AWARD: For the 20th year in a row, Norfolk Southern Corp. took top honors in an annual competition recognizing safety achievements by the nation's railroads. Among the biggest U.S. railroads, the company again won the gold medal in the E.H. Harriman Awards with the best safety record in 2008. CSX Transportation took silver. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-20-09, from Virginian-Pilot website report]

AMTRAK CUTS N.E.C. FARES 25 PERCENT: Amtrak said that it cut fares on regional trains in the Northeast 25 percent for the summer travel season. Amtrak also extended a February price reduction on its high-speed Acela trains, which run on the Boston-Washington route, the rail operator said in a statement. The new 25 percent discount is available for travel on Amtrak routes between Boston and Washington, and also applies to travel south of Washington to Newport News, Va. The discounted fare also requires a reservation that must be made 14 days before travel. [United Transportation Union, 5-20-09, from Bloomberg News report]

ARNOLD MCKINNON DIES, FORMER HEAD OF NORTHERN SOUTHERN: Arnold B. McKinnon, a former chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern from 1987 to 1992, died May 18 in Washington, D.C. He was 81. From 1992 to 2000, McKinnon served on the NS board of directors, a period that included NS' acquisition of Conrail in conjunction with CSX. In 2007, Norfolk Southern named its headquarters building in downtown Norfolk in his honor. [Various news reports, 5-19-09]

GE TRANSPORTATION UNVEILS NEW EVOLUTION SERIES LOCOMOTIVE: GE Transportation announced May 18 the introduction of its newest line of fuel-efficient, low-emissions locomotives, the Model ES44C4. The company will produce the new line at its manufacturing planes in Erie and Grove City, Pennsylvania. [Railway Age Magazine website report, 5-18-09]

C.N. TO UPGRADE AGAWA CANYON TOUR TRAIN: CN and the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp. (SSMEDC) recently reached an agreement to acquire locomotives and passenger cars for the Agawa Canyon Tour Train that runs north of Sault Ste. Marie into Canadian Shield country. CN, which operates the tour train, is acquiring three Electro-Motive Diesel F-40 locomotives, eight coaches, two cafe/lounge cars, three club cars and a presentation coach from Ansco Investment Co. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-18-09]

DOUBLE-DECK, SELF-PROPELLED RAILCAR UNVEILED IN ALASKA: The Alaska Railroad has rolled out a new train, a double-deck self-propelled railcar. The train is on a test run to make sure all the parts work properly. The railcar is capable of quickly starting and stopping to let passengers get on and off faster than ever. It will be used for the Chugach Whistle Stop Service, which began in 2007. The whistle stop service starts May 16 and will be a first for many passengers. [United Transportation Union, 5-15-09, from KTUU-TV website report]

N.J. TRANSIT UNVEILS PLAN FOR NORTH JERSEY RAIL LINE: NJ Transit has announced it will begin work this spring on a rail line running across North Jersey that will include nine stations. The agency reached an agreement with the New York Susquehanna and Western Railway to operate an 8.3-mile rail service from Hackensack to Hawthorne, the report said. [United Transportation Union, 5-14-09, from Star-Ledger report]

C.N. SELLS THREE RAIL LINES IN MISSISSIPPI: Canadian National Railway, parent of Illinois Central Railroad, said it has sold 252 miles of rail line in Mississippi, including routes from Natchez to Brookhaven and from Canton to Memphis, Tenn. The company said it has sold those two segments plus another line to Grenada Railway LLC and Natchez Railway LLC - both non-carrier affiliates of V&S Railway LLC and A&K Railroad Materials Inc. - which are headquartered in Salt Lake City. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-13-09, from Associated Press report]

FARMRAIL SYSTEM ADDS THREE LOCMOTIVES TO ITS FLEET: Farmrail System Inc. recently added a fourth GP-38AC and two standard GP-38's to its motive-power roster, enlarging the fleet to 22 units. Farmrail plans to either place some older GP-9/10 units in reserve status, lease or sell the units, or use the locomotives as a source for spare parts. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-13-09]

NEW JERSEY ANNOUNCES PATCO EXPANSION: New commuter rail service to link Gloucester County and much of South Jersey to Philadelphia is the centerpiece of a $2-billion mass transportation plan for the region outlined by Governor Corzine and transit officials. The mass transit plan also calls for improved rail service on NJTransit's under-used Atlantic City line, with a passenger stop at PATCO's Woodcrest station in Cherry Hill. [United Transportation Union, 5-12-09, from Philadelphia Inquirer report]

VERMONT SWITCHES AMTRAK STOP TO CASTLETON: Amtrak will now stop in Castleton, Vt., for the first time in more than 50 years. The Agency of Transportation is switching the Ethan Allen train's daily stop between Rutland and Albany from Fair Haven to Castleton, according to the Rutland Herald. Officials say the state hopes the change will increase ridership from Castleton State College and Lake Bomoseen areas. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-10-09, from Associated Press report]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC DOWN IN APRIL: Freight traffic on U.S. railroads was down sharply during April 2009 in comparison with April 2008. Carload traffic fell 23.0 percent compared to April 2008. U.S. rail intermodal traffic (which is not included in carloads) fell 17.9 percent. U.S. rail carloadings fell in April 2009 in all 19 major commodity groups tracked by the AAR. [Assn. of American Railroads, 5-7-09]

CSX TO END MAJOR SWITCHING OPERATIONS AT BUFFALO'S FRONTIER YARD: CSX says 132 workers at its Buffalo rail yard will be laid off. The rail company said May 5 that it would end its major switching operations at Frontier Yards by the end of May. CSX says more than 330 workers will continue to be based at the facility. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-6-09, from Associated Press report]

LOCOMOTIVE REPAIR COMPANY IN WASHINGTON STATE TO CLOSE: Coast Engine and Equipment of Tacoma will shut down in early July. The closure will put 111 mechanics, welders, electricians and other employees out of work, company President David Swanson said. [United Transportation Union, 5-6-09, from Seattle Times report]

VIA RAIL AWARDS CONTRACT TO REHAB PASSENGER CARS: VIA Rail Canada recently awarded two contracts to Industrial Rail Services Inc. (IRSI) to rehabilitate and improve accessibility on more than 100 passenger cars. Under a $98.9-million contract, IRSI will overhaul 98 VIA Rail passenger cars to extend their life by 20 years and reduce energy consumption by up to 20 percent. Under a separate $5.8-million contract, the supplier will upgrade 21 of VIA Rail's Renaissance cars to improve accessibility. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-5-09]

L.A. UNION STATION CELEBRATES 70 YEARS: Los Angeles' Union Station opened 70 years ago, but speakers at a press conference honoring the occasion said that the station is today more vibrant than ever. The station officially opened with a three-day event held May 3-5, 1939. When it opened, the $11-million station served 60 trains and roughly 7,000 passengers daily. That number pales in comparison to passenger counts today. [United Transportation Union, 5-4-09, from blogdowntown website report by Eric Richardson]

AMTRAK PROPOSES ELIMINATING CINCINNATI UNION TERMINAL FROM FUTURE TRAIN PLANS: Amtrak recommends restoring passenger rail service among Ohio's major cities by bypassing the grandest train station left in the state. Getting new passenger trains into Cincinnati's Union Terminal would require extensive capital improvements and add to freight congestion already in the area, according to Amtrak's preliminary study, which recommends building a new train station on the city's riverfront instead. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-4-09, from Associated Press report]

SUNRAIL COMMUTER PROJECT IN FLORIDA REJECTED: A last-gasp attempt to approve the SunRail commuter train failed May 1 in the waning moments of the legislative session, possibly marking the end of the $1.2-billion project that has been five years on the drawing boards. The 16-23 vote on the Senate floor killed the project for this year. The state would have paid CSX more than $600-million for 61.5 miles of track - running between DeLand and Poinciana - as well as improvements to other parts of the company's system. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-2-09, from Orlando Sentinel website report]

MIAMI-DADE TRANSIT LAUNCHES CONSTRUCTION ON AIRPORT EXTENSION: Miami-Dade Transit breaks ground May 1 on a 2.4-mile Metrorail extension from the Earlington Heights station to the Miami Intermodal Center, which is being built next to Miami International Airport. Scheduled to open in 2012, the Metrorail MIC Connector is "the county's most significant construction project since the opening of the original Metrorail system," according to Miami-Dade Transit. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-1-09]

K.C.S. REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: Kansas City Southern reported first quarter 2009 revenues of $346.0-million, a decline of 23 percent compared with the first quarter of 2008. Revenues were impacted by a 15 percent decline in volumes. Operating Expenses were $297.5-million, a decline of 19 percent, and the operating ratio was 86 percent compared with 81.5 percent a year ago. [Kansas City Southern, 4-30-09]

CSX TO CUT 250 WORKERS IN BUFFALO: CSX has announced plans to sharply curtail operations at its Frontier Yard switching operations and lay off some 250 workers. CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan released a brief statement that said, "CSX expects significant reductions at Frontier, but that there are no plans to close the yard at this time. While a small number of reductions will begin immediately, the larger number is not yet determined." [United Transportation Union, 4-28-09, from Buffalo News report]

AMTRAK PRESSING SWINE FLU VIGILANCE: Amtrak says it's working with crew and other employees on identifying and reacting to passengers with possible symptoms of swine flu. The carrier has routes that run close to the U.S.-Mexico border. One of them is the Sunset Limited with service between Los Angeles and New Orleans. Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black says there's no reason to panic and that Amtrak has procedures in place to manage the situation. [United Transportation Union, 4-28-09, from Associated Press report]

F.T. MILLER DIES, RETIRED PRR LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER: Franklin Tyrie Miller, who worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad and its successors for 45 years, retiring as a locomotive engineer, died April 22 in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. He was 89. Born in Glencoe, Maryland., near the Northern Central branch of the PRR, which became his route as an engineer, he was also a Navy veteran in the second World War.

BNSF, CSX LAUNCH EXPEDITED TRAILER SERVICE: BNSF Railway Co. and CSX Intermodal on April 26 launched a transcontinental expedited trailer service between Los Angeles and Atlanta and Orlando. The service will offer customers improved transit times between California and the Southeastern markets, according to the companies. The trailer moves are supported by multiple line and facility expansions completed by BNSF and CSXI last year. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-27-09]

'YN3' CSX LOCOMOTIVE SCHEME NOW EXCEEDS 'YN2': It took more than seven years, but the number of CSX locomotives sporting the current 'YN3' paint scheme now exceeds those in the earlier 'YN2' scheme. This information on April 27 is according to Robert Michaels of Howell, Michigan, an expert on locomotive paint designs who has diligently kept Bull Sheet readers updated with this type of data for nearly two decades. The YN3 scheme was introduced in February 2002. It replaced the so-called 'Bright Future' YN2 paint scheme that had been introduced to CSX locomotives in March 1990. The older YN2 scheme has continued to appear on units having that scheme until such time as they are repainted.

A YEAR AFTER PROXY FIGHT, TCI DUMPS ITS CSX SHARES: The Children's Investment Fund Management LLP, which waged a high-profile proxy fight with CSX Corp. last year, has sold off all of its shares in the Jacksonville-based railroad company, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The filings show that TCI, a London-based hedge fund, sold 17.8 million shares of CSX stock this week at prices ranging from $28.38 to $30.09 per share. TCI's 17.8 million shares represented a 4.5 percent stake in CSX. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-24-09, from Florida Times-Union website report]

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 1ST QUARTER EARNINGS: Union Pacific Corporation has reported 2009 first quarter net income of $362-million or $0.72 per diluted share, compared to $443-million or $0.85 per diluted share for the first quarter 2008. Diluted earnings per share declined 15 percent to $0.72. Average quarterly diesel fuel prices decreased 47 percent. Operating income totaled $672 million, down 15 percent. Operating ratio was 80.3 percent. [Union Pacific, 4-23-09]

CANADIAN PACIFIC REPORTS 1ST QUARTER EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited announced first-quarter earnings results of $0.39 per share. This is a decrease of 34 per cent from first-quarter 2008 earnings per share of $0.59. Excluding foreign exchange gains and losses on long-term debt and other specified items, earnings per share were $0.34 for first-quarter 2009 compared with $0.75 in 2008, a decrease of 55 per cent. [Canadian Pacific, 4-23-09]

BNSF REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation has reported quarterly earnings of $0.86 per diluted share, which included a $0.19 per share charge related to an unfavorable coal rate case decision and an $0.08 per share loss on unwinding interest rate hedges on debt no longer expected to be issued. This compares to first-quarter 2008 earnings of $1.30 per diluted share. First-quarter 2009 freight revenues decreased $831 million, or 20 percent, to $3.31 billion compared with $4.14 billion in the prior year. [BNSF, 4-23-09]

COLORADO'S SKI TRAIN ENDS AFTER 69 YEARS: The Ski Train that has run between Denver's Union Station and Winter Park for 69 years has come to an end, a spokesman for the Anschutz Co., the owner, has confirmed. The Denver Business Journal reported the equipment has been sold to the Algoma Central Railway Inc., a subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway Co., and will no longer operate in Colorado, a spokesman said. The train's last run was March 29. [United Transportation Union, 4-22-09, from Denver Business Journal report]

CSX LOCOMOTIVES OVERTURN IN BENNING YARD: The Washington D.C. fire department is working to contain a fuel and chemical spill from two overturned locomotives, the Associated Press reported. Fire department spokesman Billy Hayes says two CSX Corp. locomotives overturned about 11 a.m. April 21 in a rail yard at Benning Road in northeast Washington. [United Transportation Union, 4-21-09, from WUSA9 website report]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: For the first quarter of 2009, Norfolk Southern Corporation reported net income of $177 million or $0.47 per diluted share, compared with $291 million, or $0.76 per diluted share for the first quarter of 2008. For first-quarter 2009, railway operating revenues were $1.9-billion, down 22 percent compared with the first-quarter of 2008. Income from railway operations was $383-million. Net income was $177-million. Diluted earnings per share were $0.47. The railway operating ratio was 80.3 percent. [Norfolk Southern, 4-21-09]

CLAUDE MONGEAU NAMED TO SUCCEED HUNTER HARRISON AS HEAD OF C.N.: The father of scheduled and "precision" railroading, and CN's leader for more than six years is stepping down from the company's top post at year's end. President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison will be succeeded by Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Claude Mongeau on Jan. 1, 2010. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-21-09]

C.N. REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: CN has reported its financial and operating results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2009. Net income was C$424-million, or C$0.90 per diluted share, including three items that generated net positive earnings of C$122-million (C$0.26 per diluted share). [Canadian National, 4-20-09]

TRAINS COLLIDE IN GERMANY, 24 INJURED: Twenty-four people were injured, five seriously, when a regional express train crashed into a freight train outside Berlin, a spokesman for the German rail authority said Friday. CNN reported thst the accident happened Thursday evening in the Karow area outside the German capital, the spokesman for Deutsche Bahn said. [United Transportation Union, 4-17-09, from CNN website report]

CSX EXPECTS FURTHER VOLUME DROP, MORE FURLOUGHS: Railroad operator CSX Corp. said April 15 it predicts double-digit declines in shipping volume to continue through the second quarter, and expects to furlough more employees as a result. The company said in a conference call with analysts that sales will continue to be hurt as demand to ship goods by rail plummets. [United Transportation Union, 4-15-09, from Associated Press report]

CSX REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corp. reported first-quarter net income of $246-million or 62 cents per share, down nearly 30 percent from the same quarter in 2008. Revenue in the quarter fell 17 percent to $2.25-billion on a 17 percent decline in freight volumes. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-14-09, from Reuters report]

BNSF EXPLORES ELECTRIFIED TRACK SYSTEM: Converting the freight rail system to electric trains from today's all-diesel operations might seem like a far-off notion, but BNSF Railway Matthew K. Rose is starting to explore this new frontier. If his ideas pan out, BNSF's still-early planning efforts could help produce historic change for North American freight railroads. Rose, BNSF's chairman, president and CEO, told The Journal of Commerce his company is in talks with electrical power line builders about stringing or burying transmission lines in some of BNSF's inter-city rail corridors. With those line-easement leases emerging as a possible new revenue source, BNSF officials are also weighing how to electrify the carrier's mainline track system and asking equipment makers about locomotives that could run both under electric or diesel power. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-13-09, from Journal of Commerce website report]

SOUTH DAKOTA TO IMPROVE THREE RAIL LINES: Gov. Mike Rounds has authorized the South Dakota Transportation Department to enter into agreements to fund $10.7-million in improvements on three state-owned railroad lines. They are the one from Canton to Elk Point, the Huron-to-Yale line, and the Britton line from Aberdeen to Geneseo Junction. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-13-09, from Sioux City Journal website report]

AMTRAK JOINS N.Y. METS AT CITI FIELD 'ACELA CLUB': The New York Mets and Amtrak have announced a multi-year marketing and promotional partnership at Citi Field, the Mets' new, world-class home. As part of the partnership, Amtrak gains branding rights to the name-entitled 'Acela Club,' Citi Field's 350-seat restaurant overlooking left field. This multi-tiered, climate-controlled Acela brand centerpiece will provide uninterrupted views of play and showcase a fine-dining experience from Drew Nieporent's Myriad Restaurant Group. [New York Mets, 4-13-09]

PETER ROGOFF NOMINATED TO HEAD FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION: President Obama has nominated Peter M. Rogoff to succeed James S. Simpson as head of the Federal Transit Administration. Senate confirmation is required. Rogoff served for 22 years on the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, including 14 years as the Democratic staff director of its transportation subcommittee. [United Transportation Union, 4-9-09, from Metro Magazine report]

ABANDONED RAILROAD TRESTLE IN CHARLESTON, W.VA., BURNS: A portion of an abandoned CSX Transportation trestle on Charleston's West Side burned in an early morning fire. Firefighters raced to the wooden trestle, which has not been used for decades, just after 1 a.m. April 8 only to find the support beams and crossties fully engulfed. The fire was contained to a section of the 4,250-foot long trestle. Officials had been working with the Friends of the Kanawha Trestle Trail Project on a rail trail for bicycles and pedestrians that would link Charleston to South Charleston via the trestle that spans the Kanawha River. [United Transportation Union, 4-8-09, from Charleston Daily Mail report]

NEW GREYHOUND BUSES HAVE SEATBELTS: For the first time, Greyhound is providing seatbelts on its newest fleet of buses, which began operating several weeks ago. Greyhound officially unveiled the buses, which also feature free wireless internet, power outlets at each seat, and three additional inches of legroom between rows. [United Transportation Union, 4-8-09, from Albany Times Union report]

STIMULUS TO FUND AMTRAK STATION UPGRADES IN PA, KS: Amtrak stations throughout the country are getting a facelift thanks to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. Two states recently announced station improvement plans. Pennsylvania will allocate $9.3-million in stimulus funds to refurbish the 97-year-old Elizabethtown station. Meanwhile, Kansas announced Amtrak has earmarked more than $1-million to improve six stations along the Southwest Chief route. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-8-09]

EMD GETS ORDER FOR 25 SD70ACS LOCOMOTIVES FOR SAUDI RAILWAY: Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. has signed a contract with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund Ministry of Finance to manufacture 25 SD70ACS heavy haul diesel electric locomotives for Saudi Railway Company. The units will serve the kingdom's north-south line carrying minerals on about 920 miles of newly-constructed track. Delivery is schedule to begin during the second quarter of 2010. [Railway Age Magazine website report, 4-8-09]

DETROIT MAY DEMOLISH MICHIGAN CENTRAL DEPOT: The Michigan Central Depot - a 17-story hulking reminder of Detroit's past grandeur - could be approaching its end. The city council has passed a resolution seeking emergency demolition of the mostly hollowed-out building just outside the shadow of downtown, while Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. has made it clear that he wants federal stimulus money to bring it to rubble. Both want to force the long-closed train station's owner, Manuel (Matty) Moroun, to pay the city back. The building was sold in 1985, with passenger carrier Amtrak pulling out three years later. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-7-09, from Associated Press report]

CSX OFFICIAL 'OVERSTATED' CREDENTIALS, COMPANY SAYS: Clarence Gooden, chief commercial officer at CSX Corp., doesn't have the bachelor of arts degree from the University of Georgia claimed in his corporate biography, the company said. A 2006-2007 corporate profile that the railroad operator filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission said that Mr. Gooden has a "B.A." from the school. Mr. Gooden attended the school from the fall of 1970 to the fall of 1973, but there is no record of the university granting him a degree. CSX issued a statement to employees after Dow Jones Newswires alerted CSX officials to the discrepancy. Mr. Gooden released a statement apologizing to employees. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-6-09, from Wall Street Journal report]

OHIO APPROVES FUNDS FOR 3-C CORRIDOR STUDY: The Ohio State Legislature has approved money to study a statewide passenger rail line between Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and Cleveland (the '3-C Corridor') as part of their $9.2-billion transportation budget that was passed April 1.  Ohio has already commissioned Amtrak to study the feasibility of the 260-mile route between Cincinnati and Cleveland, which would run at up to 79-mph on existing rail lines. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 4-3-09]

AMTRAK TRAIN STRIKES TREE IN MISSISSIPPI, ENGINE DERAILS: Authorities say there are no severe injuries after southbound Amtrak train City of New Orleans partially derailed near Osyka in Pike County, Mississippi, April 2. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said thunderstorms in the area caused a tree to fall on the tracks. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-2-09, from Clarion Ledger website report]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC DOWN IN MARCH: Freight traffic on U.S. railroads was down during March. U.S. railroads originated 1,082,514 carloads of freight in March 2009, down 17.3 percent from March 2008. U.S. intermodal rail traffic, which consists of trailers and containers on flat cars and is not included in carload figures, totaled 729,033 units in March 2009, down 14.9 percent. Of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR, 18 saw carload declines. [Assn. of American Railroads, 4-2-09]

LONG ISLAND R.R. LAUNCHES CONTEST TO NAME TWO LOCOMOTIVES: LIRR is launching a contest to ask customers to name the two small engines, part of the railroad's celebration of its 175th anniversary in April. Built by General Electric more than 50 years ago, the switching locomotives, known in the railroad industry as 'dinkies,' were retired in 2006. The 150-horsepower, blue-and-yellow engines are being loaned to the Oyster Bay Transit Museum where they will be displayed on a turntable in its yard. [United Transportation Union, 4-2-09, from Newsday report]

SPEEDS COULD INCREASE UNDER POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL, BNSF CHIEF SAYS: BNSF Chairman, President & CEO Matthew Rose testified April 1 before the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. "Speaking as a freight railroad CEO, it is possible to increase speeds from 79 mph to 90 mph on tracks that both freight and passenger trains use. Upgrades would include the implementation of Positive Train Control," he said. "Track would need to be upgraded from Class IV to Class V track," he added. [Railway Age Magazine website report, 4-2-09]

CPR SELLS MAJORITY STAKE IN DETROIT RIVER TUNNEL: Canadian Pacific Railway said it planned to cut its holding in the key Detroit River Tunnel Partnership, giving a majority ownership to one of the country's biggest pension funds. CPR said it will sell a majority stake in the tunnel which carries CP's rail line from Windsor to Detroit, to Borealis Infrastructure, an investment arm of the big OMERS pension fund. Once the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is completed, Borealis would have a majority position in the partnership, while CP retains exclusive operating rights to the tunnel. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-1-09, from Reuters report]

NTSB BLAMES AMTRAK ENGINEER FOR 2007 CHICAGO CRASH: An Amtrak engineer was to blame for a crash in 2007 involving a speeding passenger train and a stopped freight train on Chicago's South Side that injured 71 people, federal safety officials have ruled. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 4-1-09, from Chicago Tribune report]

AMTRAK TO ADD 2ND CASCADES TRAIN TO B.C. FOR 2010 WINTER OLYMPICS: A second Amtrak Cascades passenger train will travel between Seattle and Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Games, but Canadian border officials are still balking at extending the service in the future. Scott Witt, rail and marine director for the Washington state department of transportation, said details were still being finalized, but the B.C. government has authorized Amtrak to run a second daily train to and from Vancouver during the Olympic period. [United Transportation Union, 4-1-09, from Vancouver Sun report]

STATE FUNDING FOR ADIRONDACK SERVICE APPROVED: Full state operating support was restored for Amtrak's Adirondack service from the Capital Region to Montreal, ensuring the train operates for another year. The funding was part of the 2009-10 state budget agreed to by New York Governor David Paterson and legislative leaders. Vermont has agreed to continue operating support for the Ethan Allen Express passenger train, scrapping an earlier plan to use a bus to connect Albany and Rutland instead. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-30-09, from Albany Times-Union website report]

LAKE SHORE LIMITED SLEEPER BEING RESTORED TO BOSTON SECTION: The through sleeper on the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited will be restored effective with train 448's departure from Chicago on April 2 and train 449's departure from Boston on April 4. Through coaches were restored last October. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-27-09]

FRED HOUSER DIES, RAILROAD WRITER: Frederick N. Houser Jr., railway technical writer who worked as an associate editor for Railway Age and as editor of Railway Locomotives & Cars from 1955 to 1974, died March 26, 2009, in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania. In addition, he was a contributing editor to the Car Builder's Cyclopedia and author of the Railroad Electrical Section, Student Handbook for Electrical Engineers. He was 84. [Railway Age website report, 3-27-09]

CSX TO TAKE 'ACTIVE ROLE' IN N.Y. HIGH-SPEED RAIL PLAN: CSX has agreed to play an active role in making high-speed rail transportation a reality in New York state, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said March 25. He met with Michael Ward, CSX Corp. chief executive officer, in Washington to discuss the state's new rail master plan and to encourage CSX to be an active partner in the plan. The state's new railroad master plan calls for a third rail track along this corridor for a high-speed passenger train that would reach speeds in excess of 100 MPH. [United Transportation Union, 3-26-09, from Schenectady Daily Gazette report]

AMTRAK ANNOUNCES STIMULUS PROJECTS: Amtrak has released a list of projects it plans to complete with $1.3-billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Highlights include: replacement of Niantic River movable bridge in Connecticut; return of 21 long-distance cars and 60 Amfleet cars to service from wrecks and storage; ADA upgrades and improvements at nearly 200 stations; construction of an indoor maintenance facility in Seattle; and improvements to Chicago Union Station to better handle winter weather. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-25-09]

V.R.E. BUYING NINE NEW LOCOMOTIVES: Virginia Railway Express is using money from the federal stimulus package to buy new locomotives, according to the Fredericksburg Star. VRE has a $33.1-million order for nine new locomotives from Motive Power Inc. in Boise, Idaho. The locomotives will arrive in fall 2010. [United Transportation Union, 3-25-09, from Fredericksburg Star report]

DICK WEBB DIES, WATCO FOUNDER: Charles R. 'Dick' Webb, Watco Companies Inc. founder, died March 23 in Kansas City, Kansas. He was 70. "At the time of his death, he had led the company to operate 3000 miles of track, 20 short-line railroads, 22 switching locations, 14 mechanical shops, 18 mobile mechanical repair locations and numerous transload and intermodal locations," said Watco Chief Commerical Officer Ed McKechnie. [Railway Age website report, 3-24-09]

JURY DECIDES PAN AM RAILWAYS GUILTY OF COVERUP IN 2006 FUEL SPILL: A jury in Massachusetts has convicted Pan Am Railways company and three of its subsidiaries of failing to report a hazardous waste spill at a rail yard in Ayer. Prosecutors said a locomotive spilled hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel at the rail yard in August 2006. [United Transportation Union, 3-24-09, from WCBV-TV report]

NEW E.M.D. POWER FOR SOUTH AFRICA: The GT26CU-3/Class 39-200 is the first new diesel-electric locomotive for South Africa's Transnet Freight Rail in 20 years. The first in an order for 50 units has been rolled out by EMD and Transnet, with the balance scheduled for delivery by the end of the third quarter. [Railway Age website report, 3-23-09]

ROBERT NELSON, 'FATHER OF THE METROLINER,' DIES: Robert A. Nelson, 89, a teacher and transportation authority who pushed for high-speed rail in the Northeast corridor and who was known as "the father of the Metroliner," died March 10 at his home in Springfield. As a member of President Lyndon Johnson's White House Task Force on Transportation Policy, he maintained that if trains could reduce by an hour the travel time between New York and Washington, a significant number of travelers would choose rail over planes and cars. [United Transportation Union, 3-22-09, from Washington Post report]

GREENBRIER RESORT FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY: The posh Greenbrier resort that has housed presidents and royalty in West Virginia has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and signed a deal to sell itself to hotel giant Marriott International. The four-star resort said its owner, CSX Corp., would lend Marriott $50-million to operate the hotel for two years. Marriott would repay the loan and also pay CSX between $60-million and $130-million within seven years. [United Transportation Union, 3-19-09, from Associated Press report]

BNSF, CSX ENHANCE CONTAINER SERVICE TO THE SOUTHEAST: BNSF Railway Company and CSX Intermodal recently expanded their current intermodal container service to include several new locations in the Southeast. BNSF and CSXI will now serve Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; and Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Fla. This expanded service builds upon a 2006 agreement between BNSF and CSXI to provide improved service to customers for shipments between the West Coast, Atlanta and other Southeast destinations. [BNSF, 3-19-09]

JOSEPH SZABO NAMED TO HEAD F.R.A.: President Obama said he wants Joseph C. Szabo, the state legislative director in Illinois for the United Transportation Union, to head the Federal Railroad Administration. The previous FRA administrator, Joseph Boardman, left that post last fall to become president and CEO of Amtrak. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-18-09, from Journal of Commerce website report]

RAILROAD HALL OF FAME AWAITING STUDY: The National Railroad Hall of Fame may not begin attempting to raise serious amounts of private money to develop the project for up to two years, while it pays consultants to complete a "philanthropic feasibility study" and works to raise awareness of the ambitious plan. The proposed site for the hall of fame is in Galesburg, Illinois, close to the Amtrak Depot and Colton Park. [United Transportation Union, 3-17-09, from Register-Mail report]

RAIL EMPLOYMENT DOWN 2.1 PERCENT IN 12 MONTHS: U.S Class I railroads employed 2.11 percent fewer workers in mid-January 2009 than in mid-January 2008, the Surface Transportation Board reported in new statistics. The biggest decline was in the transportation category, where train and engine employment was down 6.95 percent. [Railway Age website report, 3-17-09]

CSX GOES 'GREEN' IN ILLINOIS: At Chicago's LaSalle Street station March 17, St. Patrick's Day, CSX chief executive Michael Ward - sporting a green tie - unveiled four National Railway Equipment Company-built EPA Tier II-compliant 2100 hp 3GS21B ViroMotive GenSet locomotives. The units, each equipped with three 700-hp Cummins engines and Cattron-Theimig remote control, are assigned to CSX's Barr Yard near Chicago. They join four other GenSets operating in CSX's Rougemere Yard in Michigan. [Railway Age website report, 3-17-09]

AMTRAK GETTING $1.3-B FOR REPAIRS, UPGRADES: Amtrak will receive $1.3-billion from the new economic stimulus law to fix bridges and stations, repair rail cars, upgrade electrical equipment and take care of other long-standing maintenance issues, Vice President Joe Biden said March 13. The list of projects eligible for the funding is being finalized. About 80 projects in the Northeast Corridor are expected to be on that list. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-16-08, from Courier-Post website report]

STIMULUS WILL IMPROVE SEPTA TROLLEYS: SEPTA's trolleys on the subway-surface lines will get more technical upgrades in the next few weeks as the transit agency struggles to fix a flawed automatic control system that has produced delays. With $5.2-million in federal stimulus funds, SEPTA will buy new computers to run the "communication-based train control" system, replace speedometers in the trolleys, and rework the electronic system that identifies trolleys as they enter the trolley tunnel in West Philadelphia. [United Transportation Union, 3-16-09, from Philadelphia Inquirer report]

FRANCIS MULVEY NAMED ACTING CHAIR OF S.T.B.: Francis P. Mulvey has been designated Acting Chairman of the agency by President Barack Obama, succeeding former Board Chairman Charles D. Nottingham. Nottingham plans to continue serving as a Member of the Board through the end of a term to expire on December 31, 2010. [U.S. Surface Transportation Board, 3-16-09]

CLAUDE BRINEGAR DIES, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY IN 1973: Claude Brinegar, who as U.S. transportation secretary led an overhaul of the railroad industry and pushed for energy conservation in response to the oil crisis of 1973, died March 13. He was 82. President Richard Nixon nominated Brinegar to become the nation's third transportation secretary in late 1972. [United Transportation Union, 3-16-09, from Associated Press report]

NEW GRAND RAPIDS AMTRAK STATION PLANNED: Travelers may soon step off a city bus at the Grand Rapids central station, walk a few steps and board an Amtrak train to Chicago. The budget President Obama signed this week includes nearly $4-million toward the relocation of the Amtrak train station on Market St. The $3.8-million earmarked for the train station would buy land and pay an architect. It will take another $8 million to actually build the station and install new tracks. [United Transportation Union, 3-13-09, from WZZM-13 website report]

VIRGINIA BEACH BUYS N.S. RIGHT OF WAY: The city of Virginia Beach, Va., recently signed an agreement with Norfolk Southern to acquire a right of way that's being studied as a possible light-rail route from Norfolk to Virginia Beach. The 10.6-mile rail line, which no longer is in service, runs from the Norfolk city line to Birdneck Road, parallel to Interstate 264. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-13-09]

UNION PACIFIC'S FREIGHT SHIPMENTS DOWN 15 PERCENT IN 1ST QUARTER: Freight shipments on Union Pacific Railroad are down 15 percent in the first quarter from last year, a sure sign of the slumping U.S. economy. Rail shipments began declining in the spring of last year, Union Pacific Chairman Jim Young said, with all six of the company's business sectors posting double-digit declines. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-11-09, from Fort Worth Star-Telegram website report]

N.Y. GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES $10.7-B PLAN TO IMPROVE UPSTATE RAIL SERVICE: Gov. David Paterson announced a 20-year, $10.7-billion plan to improve the state's freight and passenger rail service. The plan includes high-speed passenger train service between Niagara Falls and Albany. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-10-09, from Associated Press report]

S.T.B. APPROVES JOINT CONTROL OF PAN AM SOUTHERN: The Surface Transportation Board has approved the joint control and ownership of Pan Am Southern LLC (PAS), a new railroad carrier, by the Norfolk Southern Railway Company (NS), Pan Am Railways, Inc. (PARI), and two of PARI's rail subsidiaries, the Boston and Maine Corporation and the Springfield Terminal Railway Company, subject to Board-imposed conditions. PAS will operate approximately 437 miles of track. [U.S. Surface Transportation Board, 3-10-09]

TWO MANAGERS REMOVED BY METROLINK FOR SAFETY VIOLATIONS: Two top managers who supervised the train engineer suspected of causing last year's Chatsworth rail crash were ordered off the Metrolink system March 5 after disclosures of repeated and serious safety violations. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 3-6-09, from Los Angeles Times report]

NTSB FAULTS METROLINK OVERSIGHT: Widespread problems with enforcement of the nation's railroad safety rules and sharp differences over what can be done to prevent accidents have been exposed by the investigation of last year's deadly Metrolink crash in Chatsworth. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-4-09, from Los Angeles Times website report]

NORTHSTAR TO BEGIN SERVICE IN NOVEMBER: A ceremonial ground-breaking May 3 was for the Fridley Station, the sixth and final station to be built for phase one of the Northstar Commuter Rail. Five locomotives have already been delivered, with 18 rail cars due next month. Testing and trial runs will start in May, with the regular service this coming November. [United Transportation Union, 3-4-09, from KARE11-TV website report]

N.J. TRANSIT UPGRADING RIDGEWOOD STATION: New Jersey Transit recently launched a project aimed at improving Ridgewood Station by making the historic facility fully accessible to passengers with disabilities and more convenient for all riders. The agency will construct a 710-foot-long center island platform and 640-foot-long side platform to replace the three existing low-level platforms. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-3-09]

TWO CARS OF AMTRAK TRAIN DERAIL NEAR PALM SPRINGS: Two cars of a nine-car Amtrak train derailed March 1 near Palm Springs. The minor derailment happened at 5:50 p.m. and the cars were rerailed by 10 p.m. according to Amtrak. The Sunset Limited train, which departed from Los Angeles on Sunday, was bound for New Orleans. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-2-09, from Desert Sun website report]

CSX CLOSES FRAMINGHAM SOUTHSIDE RAIL YARD: CSX Corp has shut one of its rail yards in town, ceasing operations at its southernmost train port, which had acted as a hub of car freight for years. In early February, Mazdas and Fords stopped getting delivered to the site. Now the CSX unloading operation has moved to a rail yard in East Brookfield. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-2-09, from The MetroWest Daily News website report]

NEW NORFOLK RAIL YARD WILL DOUBLE CONTAINER CAPACITY: A new rail yard at Norfolk International Terminals will double the number of cargo containers the marine terminal can move on and off rail cars each year, the Virginian Pilot reports. Scheduled to open next month, the new Central Rail Yard features six lines of fresh track and a contingent of new equipment. It also is complemented by a new road dedicated to the terminal's shuttle carriers, which carry cargo boxes among ships, storage and train cars. [United Transportation Union, 2-27-09. from Virginian Pilot report]

K.C.S. TO REOPEN HOUSTON RAIL LINE: Kansas City Southern Railway plans to reopen a long-closed 90-mile link southwest of Houston before July. The line between Victoria and Rosenberg will shorten the Texas-Mexico route by 70 miles and enable KCS to avoid using more than 160 miles of heavily-congested Union Pacific track. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-25-09, from Journal of Commerce website report]

CALTRAIN COMPLETES UPGRADES TO TWO STATIONS: Caltrain has completed a year-long, $35-million project under which the agency increased track capacity, and improved safety and accessibility at both stations in Palo Alto, Calif. At California Avenue Station, Caltrain replaced the center-boarding platform with outside boarding platforms on either side of the tracks, and installed a fence between the train tracks. At Palo Alto Station, workers modified the northern-most underpass to meet ADA standards and replaced the existing platforms with new, longer platforms. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-25-09]

TIM O'TOOLE RESIGNING FROM LONDON UNDERGROUND: Former Conrail CEO Tim O'Toole, who has run the London Underground for six years, announced he is stepping down. As CEO of the London Underground, O'Toole, an attorney, oversaw a multibillion-pound upgrade. It was the largest investment since World War II in the 146-year-old railway, and made in the aftermath of terrorist attacks on city trains in 2005. The railway, which struggled to keep pace with increasing demand, has improved performance since O'Toole took over. [United Transportation Union, 2-25-09, from Bloomberg News report]

LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD MARKING 175TH ANNIVERSARY: The Long Island Rail Road is marking its 175th birthday by giving riders Broadway tickets and other prizes. The railroad has announced monthly customer appreciation days with free prize drawings. The LIRR was chartered on April 24, 1834. It has become North America's busiest commuter railroad, carrying more than 87 million riders last year. The LIRR says it is also the oldest railroad still operating under its original name. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-23-09, from Newsday report]

VIRGINIA APPROVES FUNDING FOR NEW LYNCHBURG - WASHINGTON TRAIN: Virginia's Transportation Board announced approval of funding for a new train from Lynchburg to Washington, DC. The funding will cover the first three years of operation, during which time the Department of Rail and Public Transportation will evaluate the service's effectiveness and search for a permanent funding source. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 2-20-09]

PASSENGER RAIL EXPANSION SHOULD NOT IMPEDE RAIL FREIGHT GROWTH, A.A.R. SAYS: Freight railroads support efforts to expand passenger-rail service where needed, but such expansion should preserve and provide for freight-rail growth. During the board's Febr.11 hearing on the implementation of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, Ed Hamberger, Association of American Railroads president, urged the STB to take into account the operational realities of the freight-rail system when designing passenger-rail on-time performance metrics. Hamberger also urged the STB to establish principles used in track or right-of-way mediation proceedings between passenger and freight rail that further the preservation and expansion of freight-rail service. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-20-09]

LEGISLATORS BLAME CSX FOR MASS BAY COMMUTER TRAIN DELAYS: Citing a surge in late and canceled commuter trains this year, 11 Massachusetts state legislators along the Worcester-to-Boston rail line are calling on freight operator CSX Corp. to help fix the delays. In a letter to CSX, the legislators said while the company that runs the commuter trains is responsible for some delays, CSX also has contributed to the problem by being less responsive to problems on the tracks. [United Transportation Union, 2-19-09, from MetroWest Daily News report]

TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY PREDICTS MORE HIGH-SPEED RAIL FUNDS: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has emphasized the administration's long-term commitment to expanding high-speed rail service in "five or six regions" of the country, not just with the $8-billion provided in the economic stimulus package President Obama signed into law last week, but also "in subsequent years a very substantial effort." [United Transportation Union, 2-19-09, from National Journal website report]

CSX DELAYS JACKSONVILLE CONTAINER FACILITY: CSX Corp.'s plan to build a new container transfer facility has been pushed back six months to a year due to the international container trade slump. The terminal, which originally was expected to be open as soon as 2011, would be built near Dames Point to handle containers handled by the newly opened TraPac Container Terminal and Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd. [United Transportation Union, 2-18-09, from Jacksonville Business Journal report]

BNSF ORDERED TO PAY $345-M IN RATE DISPUTE: The Surface Transportation Board has ordered BNSF Railway to pay $345-million in damages and rate relief to two utilities that had challenged rates for hauling coal from mines in Wyoming. Western Fuels Association Inc. and Basin Electric Power Cooperative Inc. had challenged rates charged by BNSF for hauling 8 million tons of coal each year from mines in Wyoming's Powder River Basin to an electric-generating plant in Moba Junction, Wyo. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-18-09, from Dow Jones Newswires report]

RAIL STATION BANS KISSING: Britain's Warrington Bank Quay rail station has banned kissing and passionate embraces at a drop-off point because departing passengers and drivers have been blocking access to the station with vehicles while saying goodbye, the Manchester Evening News reports. "No kissing" signs have been put up as a reminder. Only a quick handshake is now permitted. If lovers insist on puckering-up, the Evening News says, they now have to go to a designated kissing area. Colin Daniels, chief executive of Warrington Chamber of Commerce, first suggested the signs, partly out of fun, but the idea has stuck. "They may seem frivolous, but there is a serious message underneath," he tells the newspaper. "They certainly make our station unique." [United Transportation Union, 2-17-09, from Manchester Evening News website report]

NEW CSX BOARD MEMBER WON'T SEEK REELECTION: The managing partner of the Children's Investment Fund will not seek reelection to the board at this year's annual meeting. Christopher Hohn was one of four representatives nominated by hedge funds TCI and 3G Capital Partners Ltd. to win election to CSX's 12-member board in 2008. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 2-13-09, from Jacksonville.com report]

STATEN ISLAND RAILWAY ACQUIRES FOUR NEW LOCOMOTIVES: Four brand-new diesel locomotives arrived yesterday and were rolled onto the tracks of the 14-mile Staten Island Railway line, the Staten Island Advance reported. At a cost of $1.6-million each, the low-emission locomotives weigh 230,000 pounds and have a lifespan of about 35 years. They will be used to pull work trains for maintenance. [United Transportation Union, 2-10-09, from Staten Island Advance report]

CN, NS ANNOUNCE 'MIDAMERICA CORRIDOR' INITIATIVE: CN and Norfolk Southern Corporation have announced an initiative to create a "MidAmerica Corridor" in which the railroads will share track between Chicago, St. Louis, Kentucky, and Mississippi to establish shorter and faster routes for merchandise and coal traffic moving between the Midwest and Southeast. [Joint press announcement, 2-10-09]

N.J. TRANSIT TO REPLACE ITS OLDEST TRAIN CARS: N.J. Transit has asked for proposals to replace the old silver-sided Arrow III cars that have been used for decades on the North Jersey Coast, Northeast Corridor and Morris and Essex lines. The agency wants trains on those lines powered by electric motors on each car instead of being hauled by locomotives, as they are now. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-10-09, from Newsday website report]

CSX TRESTLE IN ALABAMA DESTROYED BY FIRE: Work crews have demolished a train trestle on a CSX main line at Catfish Bayou that burned Febr.7 and materials are being delivered to rebuild it. CSX anticipates a two-week rebuilding period. CSX customers that used the line to ship items like building materials, consumer products and commodities through Mobile are being shifted to other rail lines. The bridge work is expected to affect as many as 18 trains daily in Mobile, according to CSX. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-10-09, from Press-Register website report]

GO TRANSIT ORDERS 20 ADDITIONAL LOCOMOTIVES: Wabtec Corp. says its MotivePower subsidiary has been awarded an $85-million option order to build an additional 20 MPXpress locomotives for GO Transit. The contract follows an original order for 27 locomotives, already delivered. The 20 additional units, to be built at MotivePower's facility in Boise, Idaho, will be delivered beginning late this year. [Railway Age website report, 2-10-09]

SUNSET LIMITED EXCLUDED FROM STIMULUS PLAN: Even if the money allotted for Amtrak is left in the final version of the economic stimulus being debated in Congress, it will not go toward restoring the Sunset Limited route on the Gulf Coast. If approved, the stimulus money must be used for "shovel-ready" projects, said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black. Bringing back the Sunset Limited passenger line would be a long-term undertaking. [United Transportation Union, 2-9-09, from News Herald report]

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN SPEAKS AT LAUREL, MD., TRAIN STATION: Vice-President Joe Biden intensified the Obama Administration's call for action on infrastructure investment in a speech given at the Laurel train station on MARC's Camden Line. The Vice President-who was joined by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood-identified rail as a priority for the administration, and spoke out against Senators who are obstructing the bill over concerns about the size. The Vice-President spoke of thousands of train and commuter stations across the nation which require improvements. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 2-6-09]

NYC-ATLANTIC CITY TRAIN SERVICE BEGINS: Express train service between New York City and Atlantic starts this morning with the debut of the Atlantic City Express Service. The first train leaves Atlantic City at 10 this morning bound for New York's Penn Station. The return trip departs Manhattan at 2:30 p.m., with one stop in Newark before arriving in Atlantic City. The service will operate on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $50 one way for regular seats, and $75 for first class. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-6-09, from Associated Press report]

RAIL TRAFFIC DOWN SHARPLY IN JANUARY: U.S. rail carload traffic fell 17.2 percent to 1,067,548 carloads in the first four weeks of 2009 compared with the first four weeks of 2008, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reports. U.S. rail intermodal traffic (which is not included in carloads) fell 12.9 percent to 788,115 units in January. Total January volume was estimated at 113.3 billion ton-miles, down 15.9 percent from a year earlier. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-5-09]

BERKSHIRE BUYS ANOTHER 2.3 MILLION SHARES OF BNSF: Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's company has bought an additional 2.3 million shares of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. stock, increasing its stake to more than 76 million shares. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. controls more than 20 percent of the nation's second-largest railroad. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-2-09, from Associated Press report]

THOMAS CARPER NAMED AMTRAK CHAIRMAN: A former Macomb, Illinois, mayor has been named the chairman of Amtrak's board. Thomas C. Carper has been a director on the national passenger railroad's board since March last year. He was mayor of Macomb from 1991 to 2003. He's also a regional director of an Illinois economic development program. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-31-09, from Associated Press report]

'MISSOURI RIVER RUNNER' NEW NAME FOR TRAINS: Missouri River Runner is the new name for the state-supported Amtrak trains between St. Louis and Kansas City. The name evokes the river that parallels much of the route. It was submitted by Keith Kohler of Glendale, Mo., and it received 2,036 votes, or 37 percent of the votes cast. More than 8,300 name suggestions were entered late last year. [United Transportation Union, 1-29-09, from Kansas City InfoZine report]

FRENCH FRIES NOW FUEL DISNEYLAND'S TRAINS: The grease from the frying French fries is going to fuel some of the park's trains. Guests downing chicken nuggets and French fries at Disneyland's Tomorrowland Terrace are no longer just fueling themselves for a day of walking the park. These days, they're also helping fuel the Disney trains. On Jan.28, the five Disneyland Railroad trains that circle a one-mile perimeter of the park began running on cleaner-burning biodiesel made with oil that comes from the resort's restaurants and hotels. [United Transportation Union, 1-29-09, from Orange County Register report]

CSX NEEDS TO IMPROVE INJURY REPORTING, FRA SAYS: After investigating charges that CSX Corp. discourages workers from reporting injuries, the acting administration of the Federal Railroad Administration said in a letter that the railroad "has not made sufficient progress to remediate its culture of harassment and intimidation in connection with injury reporting." Although CSX has responded to the charges, FRA acting administrator Clifford Eby said in a Jan.16 letter to CSX Chairman and CEO Michael Ward that the "response has been inadequate" and the problems have not been corrected. CSX spokesman Gary Sease told Bloomberg News in an e-mail that the company disagrees with some of the FRA's conclusions and that it will detail the steps it has taken in a response to the FRA. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-28-09, from Florida Times-Union report]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern Corporation has reported record fourth-quarter 2008 net income of $452-million, an increase of 13 percent compared with $399-million for fourth-quarter the previous year. Diluted earnings per share were $1.21, up 19 percent compared with the $1.02 per diluted share earned in the fourth quarter of 2007. Net income for 2008 was a record $1.7 billion, up 17 percent compared with $1.5 billion for 2007. Diluted earnings per share for 2008 increased 23 percent, or 84 cents, to $4.52. [Norfolk Southern, 1-27-09]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN HIKES DIVIDEND: Norfolk Southern's board of directors hs voted to increase the regular quarterly dividend on the company's common stock by six percent, from 32 to 34 cents per share. The increased dividend is payable on March 10 to stockholders of record on Febr.6. [Norfolk Southern, 1-27-09]

BNSF TO LAY OFF 2,500 IN FIRST QUARTER: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway will reduce its work force by 2,500 employees during the first quarter. The company attributed the move to the slowed economy, saying the furloughs would reduce the company's 41,000 employees by five percent in the coming months. [United Transportation Union, 1-27-09, from Abilene Reporter-News report]

HISTORIANS EXPLORE FORMER NYC RAILROAD TUNNEL IN SYRACUSE: Dennis Connors and his helpers crawled into a hole in a parking lot along Franklin Street last week and came out with some pieces of Syracuse history. Their quest is a buried railroad tunnel left behind in 1936 when a New York Central Railroad depot was demolished at the edge of Armory Square. The tunnel, which was filled during demolition, ran from the railroad station to a so-called "train barn." It connected a passenger waiting room and the shed. They found about 30 feet of the remnant just below the parking lot. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-27-09, from Post-Standard website report]

CANADIAN PACIFIC ANNOUNCES 4-Q RESULTS: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited has announced its fourth-quarter and full-year 2008 results. Net income was $201-million, down from $342-million in fourth-quarter 2007, and diluted earnings per share were $1.29, down from $2.21 in fourth-quarter 2007. This decrease is primarily due to a future tax benefit that was recorded in fourth-quarter 2007. [Canadian Pacific, 1-27-09]

LUBBOCK ALLIANCE BUYS 220 ACRES TO EXPAND RAIL PORT: The Lubbock Economic Development Alliance voted Jan.26 to acquire additional land for future development northeast of Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport at a cost of $600,000. The 220-acre tract, which will become an extension to the Lubbock Rail Port industrial park off Interstate 27 at FM 1294, stretches the entire way to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. [United Transportation Union, 1-26-09, from Lubbock On Line website report]

MBTA DELAYS BUYING 28 NEW LOCOMOTIVES: The MBTA has halted its effort to buy new locomotives for its commuter rail service, citing its financial problems and an ongoing battle between the two companies that were competing for the contract. Daniel A. Grabauskas, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said he expects to rebid the project in the coming months. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-24-09, from Boston Globe website report]

ABOUT THE OBAMA TRAIN RIDE: President Obama's decision to kick off his inauguration with a 137-mile trip aboard an Amtrak train was a huge success, with hundreds of thousands of people viewing the historic even, both at rallies and lining the tracks. MORE.. [National Assn of Railroad Passengers, 1-23-09]

LAHOOD CONFIRMED AS TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: By unanimous voice vote, former Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) was confirmed by the Senate Jan. 22 as President Obama's transportation secretary. A day earlier, the Senate Commerce Committee enthusiastically recommended the confirmation. LaHood becomes the 16th transportation secretary since DOT was created by Congress in 1967. A listing of his predecessors is found, below. [United Transportation Union, 1-22-09]

BNSF SURPASSES UNION PACIFIC IN SALES: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp passed Union Pacific Corp. last year to become the biggest U.S. railroad by annual sales. Revenue for the year rose 14 percent to $18.02-billion. Union Pacific reported a 10 percent increase to $17.97-billion. Burlington Northern and Union Pacific both boosted profit and sales last year as they raised rates while hauling less freight. With cargo volumes not expected to recover before mid-2009, the companies plan to focus on controlling expenses. [United Transportation Union, 1-22-09, from Bloomberg News report]

UNION PACIFIC 4-Q PROFIT UP 35 PERCENT: Union Pacific Corp. said its fourth-quarter profit jumped 35 percent because the railroad operator spent less on fuel, improved productivity and increased some shipping prices, according to the Associated Press. The company said it had net income of $661-million, or $1.31 per share, up from $491-million, or 93 cents per share, a year ago. The railroad's revenue grew 2 percent, to $4.29-billion in the quarter. [United Transportation Union, 1-22-09, from Associated Press report]

INAUGURAL TRAVEL PROBLEMS MINOR DESPITE HUGE CROWD: Despite an estimate by federal authorities of a record crowd of up to 2 million for President Obama's inauguration and an unprecedented number of Metro, transportation problems were relatively few. The coordinated strategy from local and national law-enforcement agencies to close down many of the highways leading into the District as well as all of the bridges across the Potomac from Virginia appeared to pay off. Many roads, including the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and New York Avenue from Maryland, were clear. By early evening, the bridges began to reopen, and D.C. and Virginia transportation officials reported very few problems. Many Metro stations were packed, with long delays and frustrated passengers. Metro parking lots quickly filled up. The transit agency said 973,285 people had boarded Metrorail as of 7 p.m., setting a new record for the highest ridership day of all time. Metro officials said some delays during the day were caused by riders who blocked doors and caused breakdowns, and the Federal Triangle station was closed unexpectedly for more than four hours due to concerns about overcrowding at the Mall. A woman's fall onto the Metro tracks at about 9:25 a.m. also snarled the subway briefly, but service resumed at 10:15 a.m. at the Chinatown and Metro Center stops. [United Transportation Union, 1-21-09, from Washington Times report]

CSX 4-Q EARNINGS FALL: Railroad operator CSX Corp. said Tuesday (Jan. 20) its fourth-quarter earnings sank 32 percent from a year earlier, mostly due to a sizable writedown on the value of a resort the company owns, according to Forbes Magazine. The company posted net earnings of $247 million, or 63 cents per share, compared with $365 million, or 86 cents per share a year earlier. The 2008 period includes a charge of 27 cents per share related to the money-losing Greenbrier resort the company owns. Excluding the one-time charge, CSX earned 90 cents per share. [United Transportation Union, 1-21-09, from Forbes website report]

HUDSON RIVER RAIL TUNNEL GETS OK FROM FEDS: The federal government issued final approval Jan.14 for a second commuter rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River, clearing the way for a project transportation officials and lawmakers say will make commuting easier for hundreds of thousands of people. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ Transit and the state of New Jersey already have secured $5.7-billion for the project. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-15-09, from Star-Ledger website report]

VIRGINIA BEACH TO BUY 10.6-MILE RAIL LINE: The Virginia Beach City Council has agreed to spend $10-million to buy the 10.6-mile Norfolk Southern Corp. right-of-way, the most likely route for a light rail project. Under the plan, the city money would be combined with $10-million in state money and other incentives yet to be finalized. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-15-09, from Virginian-Pilot website report]

COALITION UNITES RAIL PASSENGER, FREIGHT INTERESTS: Anticipating a return to U.S. rail expansion under an Obama Administration, numerous rail industry groups have announced their formation of the OneRail Coalition, which they claim "brings passenger and freight rail stakeholder together for the first time." The coalition "will encourage public policies recognizing rail as a critical element of the national transportation system and an essential part of the future economic growth and environmental well-being of the nation," it said in a statement. [Railway Age website report, 1-15-09]

BNSF OFFERS FASTER SHIPPNG OPTIONS FROM PACIFIC NORTHWEST: BNSF Railway Company has announced it is offering an express international container service from the high-capacity ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., to BNSF's intermodal facilities in Memphis and Chicago. BNSF is in the process of expanding capacity at its Memphis facility, which will soon load and unload containers using five of the largest wide-span cranes in North America. [BNSF, 1-15-09]

MICHIGAN TO ADVANCE DETROIT LIGHT-RAIL LINE: Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has signed legislation that aims to create non-profit entities to build and operate rail lines in the state, and provide financing mechanisms to operate the lines. The legislation will help advance the Regional Area Initial Link, a 3.5-mile light-rail line along Woodward avenue in downtown Detroit. The line would run between Hart Plaza and the New Center. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-15-09]

CHARLOTTE TRANSIT CHOOSES ALIGNMENT FOR LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION: After several months of review, the Charlotte Area Transit System has selected a preferred alignment for the LYNX Blue Line light-rail extension. The chosen alignment would run along North Carolina Railroad Co. (NCRR) right of way, a bridge over Sugar Creek Road and enter North Tryon Street, following the road to the University of North Carolina. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-15-09]

VANCOUVER ISLAND SHORT-LINE TO CONTINUE OPERATIONS: Short line Southern Railway of Vancouver Island, Ltd., will continue serving its namesake island in British Columbia under a three-year deal reached with the Island Corridor Foundation. The deal includes exploration of expanded freight operations and passenger rail services. [Railway Age website report, 1-14-09]

CONNECTICUT AT ODDS WITH AMTRAK OVER COMMUTER ROUTE PLAN: Despite acknowledging that a frustrating impasse with Amtrak has stalled plans for a New Haven-to-Springfield commuter rail line, the state's transportation chief said he's not ready to ask Connecticut's congressional delegation to step in - yet. "We're hoping that with a new president at Amtrak, they'll be more responsive to our requests," transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie told the General Assembly's transportation committee. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-13-09, from Hartford Courant website report]

HEDGE FUNDS AGREE TO PAY CSX $11-M: Railroad operator CSX moved closer to collecting $11-million from two hedge funds that successfully fought to get four directors on the CSX board last year. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-12-09, from Traffic World website report]

COLORADO DENIES FORT MORGAN DEPOT GRANT REQUEST: The city of Fort Morgan's request for a $100,000 grant to renovate its old railroad depot into an intermodal facility serving bus lines and Amtrak has been denied. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) developed a list of 116 projects representing $1.16 billion in construction. The Fort Morgan Amtrak stop serves about seven passengers a day. [United Transportation Union, 1-12-09, from Fort Morgan Times report]

U.S. ISSUES FINAL TANK CAR HAZMAT SAFETY RULE: The U.S. Department of Transportation has issuing a final rule improving the safety of rail tank cars that carry poisonous by inhalation materials. The improvements increase rail hazmat tank car crashworthiness over existing design standards. The new standards apply to affected tank cars built on or after March 16, 2009, and to certain tank cars currently in service that already conform to the interim standard. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 1-12-09]

HACKENSACK TRAIN STATION DESTROYED BY FIRE: One of New Jersey's oldest train stations has been destroyed by fire. The Anderson Street rail station in Hackensack was built in 1869 and placed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places in 1984. Fire officials are investigating why the building became engulfed in flames early Saturday morning [Jan.10]. [United Transportation Union, 1-11-09, from Newsday report]

U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC DOWN IN 2008: Last year, U.S. freight railroads originated 16,572,709 carloads (down 380,885 carloads, or 2.2 percent), while intermodal originations were 11,517,240 trailers and containers (down 509,391 units, or 4.2 percent). Combined U.S. carloads and intermodal units in 2008 were 28.09 million, the fourth-highest such total in history (behind 2005, 2006, and 2007). In the fourth quarter of 2008, U.S. carloads totaled 3,895,821, down 8.2 percent (349,006 carloads) from 2007, while intermodal loadings (which are not included in carload figures) totaled 2,770,609 trailers and containers, down 231,389 units (7.7 percent). [Assn. of American Railroads, 1-9-09]

CHINA TO INCREASE STAKE IN HIGH-SPEED RAIL: The Chinese Minister of Railways, Liu Zhijun, announced a plan to spend 600-billion yuan ($87.9-billion) in 2009 as part of a larger 4-trillion yuan package announced by the government earlier in the year. This would almost double China's 2008 rail outlay of 330-billion yuan. Mr. Liu announced that it will finance 5,148 km on new rail, five high-speed lines dedicated to passenger service which will begin operation next year, and the initial phase of 70 other assorted projects.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-9-09]

GERMANY TO BUY 800 DOUBLE-DECKER PASSENGER RAIL CARS: Germany's Deutsche Bahn has agreed on a $2.1-billion deal with Bombardier Inc to purchase 800 double-decker railcars. It will be DB's largest ever framework agreement for rolling stock, and it will allow the 14-year-old company-formed from the national rail sector during the reunification of East and West Germany-to be competitive when it begins bidding on local rail service later this year. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-9-09]

BNSF SETS POWDER RIVER COAL RECORD: Last year, BNSF Railway Co. loaded 274.7 million tons of coal in the Powder River Basin (PRB), setting a new annual record. The railroad beat the previous high-water mark reached in 2007 by 2.2 percent. Daily train loadings in the PRB last year averaged 51.5, more than one train ahead of 2007's 50.2 trains-per-day pace. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-9-09]

U.P. FURLOUGHS HUNDREDS IN NORTH PLATTE: Union Pacific Railroad announced Jan.8 it is temporarily laying off hundreds of employees. In the North Platte area, about 231 workers will be off the job, television station KNOP-TV reported. UP officials said this is a direct result of the fallout from the auto industry. [United Transportation Union, 1-8-09, from KNOP-TV website report]

LONG ISLAND R.R. HAS RECORD ON-TIME PERFORMANCE: The Long Island Rail Road operated 245,933 trains in 2008, and 95.14 percent of them were on-time - the best record achieved since LIRR began measuring the punctuality of North America's biggest commuter rail operation 30 years ago. It exceeded the previous record of 94.07 percent set in 2007. [Railway Age website report, 1-8-09]

NEW JERSEY PICKS PREFERRED PATCO ROUTE: New Jersey's Office of Smart Growth says it's recommending an existing rail right-of-way over two other alternatives to provide passenger rail service to Gloucester City and Glassboro, as part of a proposed PATCO extension linking the New Jersey locations to Philadelphia. OSG chose the route because the rail right-of-way better serves existing municipal centers. [Railway Age website report, 1-8-09]

AMTRAK PHOTO CONTEST PARTICIPANT ARRESTED BY AMTRAK POLICE: When photographer Duane Kerzic first heard about Amtrak's "Picture our Trains" photo contest, he never imagined that Amtrak police at New York's Penn Station would confuse his picture-taking for suspicious activity and arrest him. Kerzic was charged with trespassing after refusing to delete the photos of the trains from his camera. Kerzic has also composed a detailed account of his arrest and he says he'd like criminal charges to be filed against the arresting officer. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-6-09, from Gadling.com report by Aaron Hotfelder]

AMTRAK BUYING CREDIT CARD READERS FOR CONDUCTORS: Stressing that on-board ticket purchases comprise a small fraction of its customer revenue, Amtrak has announced it nonetheless plans to acquire 2,000 credit-card readers for conductors to use to sell tickets. The readers will aid conductors handling customers boarding at locations without a ticket agent or ticket machines. [Railway Age website report, 1-6-09]

CLAIBORNE PELL DIES, PASSENGER RAIL ADVOCATE: Claiborne Pell, a Rhode Island Democrat who served in the U.S. Senate for 36 years and is credited with helping to usher in a whole new generation of modern passenger trains, died at his Newport, R.I., home on Jan.1. To rail partisans, he is known for giving a critical push to development of high speed train service in the Northeast Corridor. [Railway Age website report, 1-5-09]

F.R.A. TO REVISE LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER CERTIFICATION RULE: The Federal Railroad Administration proposes to revise a regulation governing locomotive engineer qualification and certification. The revision would prohibit a railroad from reclassifying a worker's locomotive engineer certificate to a more restrictive class while a certificate is still valid, but permit a railroad to place any appropriate restrictions on an engineer. The FRA also proposes to clarify that the revocation of an engineer's certificate can only occur for the reasons specified in the regulation. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-2-09]