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WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Weekly rail traffic posted strong gains over 2009 for the holiday week ending Dec. 25, 2010, with U.S. freight railroads originating 256,098 carloads, up 29.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Seventeen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009 with all posting double digit gains in loadings. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-30-10]

HIGH-SPEED RAIL PACT REACHED FOR ILLINOIS: The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) reached an agreement December 22 with Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak that will clear the way for $1.1-billion in high-speed rail improvements to take place on the Chicago to St. Louis line. Trains will be reaching top speeds of 110 mph by 2012.  However, the Cooperative Agreement provides only for the number of round-trips currently operating (five).  It allows 110 mph operation for only three of those round-trips in the initial 2014 schedule, with expected cuts in trip time of 48 minutes between Chicago and St. Louis. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-30-10]

AMTRAK GETS BOOST FROM DISPLACED AIR PASSENGERS DUE TO SNOW: A massive snowstorm hit the Northeast over the past weekend bringing holiday travel to a grinding halt throughout the region, forcing many air travelers to scramble to secure passage aboard trains. Airlines were forced to cancel hundreds of flights.  Even Amtrak announced on December 26 that it would cancel service between Boston and New York. The recuperation time for Amtrak, however, was much quicker than airports, with limited Boston-New York service being restored Monday morning. Washington D.C.-New York service experienced delays, but few cancellations.  Amtrak announced on Wednesday that it would be restoring its normal schedule - while warning passengers to expect weather-related delays. Amtrak confirmed that it was seeing heavy passenger loads due to the displaced air travelers. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-30-10]

NS CORRIDOR GAINS FEDERAL FUNDS: Norfolk Southern has won final funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for its long planned 2,500-mile Crescent Corridor linking New Orleans, Memphis and the Northeast. The Crescent Corridor improvements, when completed, will increase height clearances and speed double-stack movements along the route, and expand intermodal terminals where trailers and containers are loaded onto and unloaded off of trains. The most recent $105-million federal grant will be used to help develop a 261-acre intermodal terminal near Birmingham, Ala., and a 380-acre intermodal terminal near Memphis. [United Transportation Union, 12-30-10, from Journal of Commerce report]

THOMAS SCHLOSSER NEW PRESIDENT OF FORT WORTH & WESTERN: Fort Worth & Western Railroad has announced that Thomas Schlosser will become president and chief executive officer, succeeding Steven George, who will retire in the first quarter of 2011. [Railway Age website report, 12-28-10]

TWO PACTS REACHED ON FLORIDA EAST COAST: Two tentative four-year agreements have been reached between the United Transportation Union and Florida East Coast Railway. One of the tentative four-year agreements covers conductors, engineers, trainmen and yardmen represented by the UTU. The second tentative four-year pact covers yardmasters represented by the UTU. The tentative agreements, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2009, and extending through Dec. 31, 2012, cover wages, benefits and working conditions. The agreements must be ratified by the crafts, and include retroactive pay. [United Transportation Union, 12-27-10]

STB COMPLETES EFFORT TO PRESERVE NORTHERN MAINE RAIL SERVICE: The Surface Transportation Board has completed its work in the multiparty effort to preserve freight train service in northern Maine. After months of STB-led mediation and extensive involvement of federal, state, and local officials, Maine businesses and workers, the Board has approved the request of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway to abandon 233 miles of rail line in Aroostook and Penobscot counties. The action will pave the way for the state of Maine to acquire the line and find a third-party operator to serve rail customers in Northern Maine. Meanwhile, MM&A is continuing to operate on the line. [U.S. Surface Transportation Board, 12-27-10]

GERMAN LEASING COMPANY ORDERS 36 TRAXX LOCOMOTIVES: Bombardier Transportation has received an order for 36 TRAXX locomotives from the German leasing company Railpool GmbH. The contract is worth roughly $157-million. Delivery is scheduled to commence in July, with all 36 locomotives in service by November 2013. [Railway Age website report, 12-23-10]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. railroads posted moderate gains in weekly rail intermodal traffic for the week ending Dec. 18, 2010, originating 220,187 trailers and containers, up 5 percent compared with the same week in 2009. Container volume increased 4.9 percent and trailer volume was up 5.2 percent. Rail carload traffic for the week totaled 271,709 carloads, flat when compared with the same week last year. The effects of blizzards throughout the Midwest were felt in weekly traffic numbers on U.S. railroads. Twelve of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009. Canadian railroads reported volume of 71,009 cars for the week, up 8.5 percent from last year [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-22-10]

FEDS ISSUE $25.7-M IN TRANSIT PLANNING GRANTS: The Federal Transit Administration has awarded $25.7-million in Alternative Analysis grants to communities in 16 states for the planning of new or expanded transit systems. The Alternatives Analysis program is the first milestone in the New Starts capital planning process, the primary source for federally funded transit projects, according to the FTA. Sixty-seven grant applications were reviewed from 30 states seeking a total of $73-million in funds. Twenty-three winning proposals were submitted by transit and other public agencies as part of a nationwide competition. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-22-10]

COAST STARLIGHT TO RUN TWO HOURS LATER: Amtrak’s Coast Starlight is scheduled to depart both Los Angeles and Seattle two hours later starting January 2, 2011, and going through March. Track gangs will be working on ties and rail between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, and between Eugene and Portland. [National Assn. of Railway Passengers, 12-22-10]

CRESCENT SERVICE TO BE AFFECTED BY TRACK WORK: On Monday through Thursday of each week beginning January 10 through February 17 2011, Trains 19 and 20 will not operate between Atlanta and New Orleans, due to track work being performed by Norfolk Southern Railway. Service will not be provided to or from intermediate stations. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only, between January 10 and February 17, 2011, Trains 19 and 20 will serve all stations along the route, but may encounter delays due to speed restrictions and freight train interference. [Amtrak, 12-22-10]

CANADIAN NATIONAL FINED FOR MISREPORTING CHICAGO STREET CROSSING DELAYS: The Surface Transportation Board has fined Canadian National Railway Company $250,000 for "knowingly violating Board orders" regarding the reporting of street-crossing blockages in the Chicago area. The Board also extended its oversight regarding the CN-EJ&E merger for an additional year. The fine is the first ordered by the Board since its inception in 1996. [U.S. Surface Transportation Board, 12-21-10]

ANN BEGEMAN NOMINATED TO STB: President Obama has announced his intention to nominate Ann Begeman as a Surface Transportation Board member for a term that would expire Dec. 31, 2015. If her nomination is confirmed by the Senate, Begeman would succeed Charles Nottingham, whose STB term expires at year’s end. Begeman has served as minority staff director of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation since 2009. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-21-10]

TRAIN & ENGINE WORKER JOBS CLIMB NEARLY 10 PERCENT: Almost 10,000 train and engine workers returned to work on Class I railroads through the first 11 months of 2010, with T&E jobs up almost 10 percent compared with November 2009, says the Surface Transportation Board, which tracks the data. The STB says 61,819 train & engine workers are now on the job with Class I railroads. The increase in train and engine workers during 2010 was more than double the increase in other crafts, said the STB. [United Transportation Union, 12-20-10]

N.S. AGREES TO NORFOLK-PETERSBURG PASSENGER PACT: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell announced Dec.20 that the state and Norfolk Southern Railway have signed an agreement that is a step toward bringing daily intercity passenger rail service back to Norfolk for the first time since 1977. The round-trip train will link Norfolk with Richmond, Washington, and cities as far north as Boston. The agreement provides for the upgrading of N.S. tracks between Norfolk and Petersburg so that they are suitable for use by passenger trains. Funded by an $87-million Rail Enhancement Fund grant, the projects include upgraded signaling, track extensions and connections, passenger train turning and servicing facilities, and a track and platform near Norfolk's Harbor Park for the passenger train. Also included is construction of a new connection between Norfolk Southern and CSXT tracks near Petersburg. [Norfolk Southern, 12-20-10]

IOWA INTERSTATE TO BUILD LOCOMOTIVE SHOP: The Iowa Interstate Railroad has announced plans to begin building a locomotive servicing facility near Homestead, Iowa, in spring 2011. To be located on a 62-acre site west of the city, the facility is designed to accommodate up to five large locomotives, and will feature a wash bay and wheel change station. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-20-10]

CN COMPLETES RAIL CONNECTION IN EJ&E INTEGRATION PROGRAM: CN has completed construction of the first major rail connection built as part of the continuing integration of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Company along CN routes in the greater Chicago area. The new $5-million connection at Griffith, Ind., creates a direct route for CN freight trains moving between Kirk Yard in Gary, Ind., and points farther east on the Company's rail network. The integration also includes building new rail connections at Mundelein, Ill., Bartlett, Ill., Joliet, Ill., and Matteson, Ill. Engineering or construction work is now underway on the balance of the connection projects. [CN, 12-20-10]

IOWA INTERSTATE TO BUILD LOCOMOTIVE SHOP: The Iowa Interstate Railroad has announced plans to begin building a locomotive servicing facility near Homestead, Iowa, in spring 2011. To be located on a 62-acre site west of the city, the facility is designed to accommodate up to five large locomotives, and will feature a wash bay and wheel change station. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-20-10]

CN COMPLETES RAIL CONNECTION IN EJ&E INTEGRATION PROGRAM: CN has completed construction of the first major rail connection built as part of the continuing integration of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Company along CN routes in the greater Chicago area. The new $5-million connection at Griffith, Ind., creates a direct route for CN freight trains moving between Kirk Yard in Gary, Ind., and points farther east on the Company's rail network. The integration also includes building new rail connections at Mundelein, Ill., Bartlett, Ill., Joliet, Ill., and Matteson, Ill. Engineering or construction work is now underway on the balance of the connection projects. [CN, 12-20-10]

TALGO CLOSING PLANT IN WISCONSIN: Spanish train manufacturer Talgo Inc. has announced that it will be pulling its train manufacturing operations out of the state of Wisconsin in 2012, a response to a decision by Governor-Elect Scott Walker (R) to kill the Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison high-speed rail project. Talgo had recently opened a manufacturing plant in Milwaukee as part of a deal to supply the state with two train sets for Amtrak's Hiawatha (an existing line between Milwaukee-to-Chicago).  The plant also has an order for two trains from Oregon. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-17-10]

LARGE RAIL SHIPMENT OF MARIJUANA SEIZED IN CHICAGO: When Union Pacific accepted six freight cars interchanged from a Mexican railroad at Eagle Pass, Texas, customs agents discovered almost 22,000 pounds of marijuana. The agents resealed the pot and sent the cars on their way - under seal and tight surveillance. When the pot was unloaded at a Chicago warehouse, agents arrested seven individuals. With an estimated $22-million street value, the seizure may be the largest marijuana bust in Chicago history. [United Transportation Union, 12-17-10, from Chicago Tribune report]

U.P. OPENS NEW OFFICE IN DES MOINES: Union Pacific Railroad employees gathered Dec.16 to officially open a $2.4-million office building in Des Moines.  The more-than-11,600-square-foot building for more than 150 employees replaces several outdated structures used as offices. Construction began on the office at the Union Pacific rail yard off of East Market June 7, 2010, and was completed December 15, 2010. [Union Pacific, 12-16-10] 

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Weekly rail traffic remains up over 2009 levels with U.S. railroads originating 286,391 carloads for the week ending Dec. 11, 2010, up 10.2 pct compared with the same week last year. Fifteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-16-10]

ISRAELI RAILWAYS INCREASES ORDER FOR DOUBLE-DECK PASSENGER CARS: Bombardier Transportation has received an additional order from Israeli Railways for the delivery of 72 double-deck coaches. This contract is part of a framework agreement concluded last October, which included a firm order for 78 coaches and foresees optional batches. The additional order is valued at approximately $154-million. [Railway Age website report, 12-14-10]

THREE KILLED BY AMTRAK TRAIN IN CALIFORNIA: Three young men were walking on tracks in Commerce, California, near Los Angeles, around 9 p.m. Dec. 13 when they were hit by an Amtrak train and killed. Two were identified as 15 and 17 years of age, while the age of the third was not determined. The Amtrak train, with 125 passengers, was en route from San Diego to Los Angeles. [United Transportation Union, 12-13-10, from Los Angeles Times report]

ROUTE CHOSEN FOR CHICAGO-ROCKFORD AMTRAK SERVICE: The Illinois Department of Transportation has selected a southern route for Amtrak's new Chicago-Rockford-Dubuque service. The department estimates it will cost a total of $60-million to implement the service, which could start by early 2014. In addition, the study projects annual ridership on the southern route at 76,357 vs. 54,988 on the northern route. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-13-10]

AMTRAK THANKSGIVING WEEK RIDERSHIP SETS RECORD: Amtrak says it set a new Thanksgiving ridership record last month, carrying 704,446 passengers over the holiday week (November 23 through November 29). Meanwhile,Amtrak carried 134,230 customers on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, setting the new single-day ridership record. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-10-10]

TEMPE, AZ, TO PROCEED WITH STREETCAR PROPOSAL: Arizona's Valley Metro has received regional approval from the Maricopa Association of Governments to build a 2.6-mile streetcar route in Tempel. The approval follows three years of study that evaluated transit improvements to support both Tempe and Chandler, Ariz. [Railway Age website report, 12-10-10]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: For the week ending Dec.4, 2010, weekly rail traffic registered gains in the post-holiday week with U.S. freight railroads originating 303,570 carloads, up 6.8 pct compared with the same week last year. Thirteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-9-10]

WICK MOORMAN NAMED RAILWAY AGE RAILROADER OF THE YEAR: Charles W. 'Wick' Moorman, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Norfolk Southern Corporation, has been named 2011 Railroader of the Year by railroad industry trade journal Railway Age. Moorman is Railway Age's 48th Railroader of the Year. [Railway Age webite report, 12-9-10]

OHIO, WISCONSIN LOSING HIGH-SPEED RAIL GRANTS: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that Ohio and Wisconsin will lose money granted to them under the high-speed rail program, citing promises by the two states' incoming governors to kill the projects. The $1.95-billion will be redirected to other states. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-9-10]

LOCATION SELECTED FOR NEW MIDDLETOWN, PA., TRAIN STATION: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has selected a new location for the Middletown station to improve the community's access to Amtrak's Keystone service. The station's site, is near the Penn State Harrisburg campus and Harrisburg International Airport. PennDOT will schedule a public meeting in early 2011 to gather input on design and other project considerations. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-8-10]

CHINA REPORTS TRAIN SPEED RECORD: A Chinese high speed trainset broke a world record Dec.3 for the fastest unmodified revenue-service train, reaching 298.9 mph. According to Xinhua, China's official news agency, a CRH380 EMU trainset, during a trial run on the soon-to-open Beijing-Shanghai high speed line. The overall world speed record for any kind of steel-wheel train is 357 mph, set by a modified Alstom SNCF TGV Duplex. [Railway Age website report, 12-5-10]

AMTRAK TO ALLOW FIREARMS AS CHECKED BAGGAGE: Amtrak announced it will begin accepting unloaded firearms as checked baggage at stations and on trains within the United States that offer checked baggage service, as of December 16.  The new policy is required by the 2010 appropriations law enacted in December, 2009. Passengers wishing to bring a gun or ammunition aboard an Amtrak train must notify Amtrak's reservations department, over the phone, not online, at least 24 hours in advance of their trip. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-3-10]

FRA AWARDS FUNDS TO STUDY DELMARVA PASSENGER SERVICE: The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded the Delaware Department of Transportation $450,000 for a study on the potential for rail service between the Northeast Corridor and the Delmarva Peninsula. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-3-10]

U.S. RAIL FREIGHT WEEKLY TRAFFIC REPORT: For the week ending Nov.27, 2010, U.S. freight railroads maintained traffic gains of 3.2 percent over the corresponding week last year, originating 254,121 carloads. The comparison week from 2009 included the Thanksgiving Holiday. After 47 weeks, all 19 carload commodity groups posted cumulative gains over last year. For the current week, fifteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-2-10]

TRAIN-WATCHING PARK BEING STUDIED FOR BRUNSWICK, MD.: The Brunswick, Md., Main Street Board has voted to accept the exploration of the Brunswick Area Transportation Tourism & Safety committee's Railroad View Park Redevelopment Plan feasibility as a project under the organization's Design Committee. The goal will be the construction of improvements at Railroad View Park (Alternatively known as 'YMCA Park') meant to attract tourism and provide safe train watching amenities. The park would be located on the site of the one-time YMCA building adjacent to the CSX main line in Brunswick. [Submitted report by Dale Jacobson, 12-2-10]

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN LAUNCHES NEW BRANDING INITIATIVE: Kansas City Southern has launched a new branding initiative, honoring its legacy and embracing the future of freight rail transportation.  The new branding includes the grouping of original logos for The Kansas City Southern Railway Company, Kansas City Southern de Mexico and Panama Canal Railway Company, and adds the statement, 'Business Without Borders.'  The original logos and new tag line, along with the red, gold and black colors of the heritage paint scheme displayed on KCS locomotives, will be featured on marketing collateral, video, print advertisements and a new website, now in development. [Kansas City Southern, 12-1-10]

GENESEE & WYOMING ACQUIRES AUSTRALIA'S FREIGHTLINK: Genesee & Wyoming (GWI) has announced it has completed the acquisition of Australian railroad FreightLink Pty. Ltd., Asia Pacific Transport Pty. Ltd. (APT) and other related entities. GWI purchased the railroad for $319-million and will assume debt of about $1.7-million. FreightLink owns and operates the 1,400-mile Tarcoola-to-Darwin railroad, which connects the Port of Darwin to the Australian interstate rail network in South Australia. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-1-10]

R.R. RETIREMENT PAYROLL TAX SET FOR 2011: Railroad Retirement payroll taxes will remain at 2010 levels in 2011. For Tier I, carriers and employees each will pay 6.20 percent on a maximum of $106,800 of wages. For Medicare, carriers and employees each will pay 1.45 percent on all wages. For Tier II, carriers will pay 12.10 percent and employees 3.9 percent on a maximum of $79,200 of wages. [United Transportation Union, 12-1-10]

BNSF WORKER DIES IN WISCONSIN ACCIDENT: A BNSF employee was killed at a taconite facility in Superior, Wisconsin, Dec. 1, reports the Duluth News-Tribune. Kelly Yadron, 43, was found pinned between two steel beams beside a conveyer belt. He was a member of the Transportation Communications Union. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident. [United Transportation Union, 12-1-10]

FRA ADVANCES BIO-BASED FUELS WITH RESEARCH GRANTS: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has awarded $395,189 to North Carolina State University to continue its research into the use of biofuels for freight and passenger rail operations, which will result in a possible recommendation of a premium biofuel blend for locomotive engines. In addition, the National Ag-based Lubricant Center at the University of Northern Iowa received $371,373 to study the feasibility of using readily biodegradable soy-based lubricants by freight and passenger railroads. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 12-1-10]

HYBRID LFX-300 STREETCAR TO BE UNVEILED IN JANUARY: Kinkisharyo International LLC says that its prototype LFX-300, a dual-powered, hybrid streetcar specifically designed for North America, will arrive in the U.S. in mid-December for testing, with a public unveiling in Charlotte, N.C., in January. The LFX-300 is propelled by either overhead electric catenary or on-board battery power. [Railway Age website report, 11-30-10]

ONTARIO NORTHLAND ADDS STOP AT IROQUIS FALLS: Beginning Dec.15, Ontario Northland will begin offering Northlander passenger-rail service to the town of Iroquois Falls, Ontario. Trains will stop at the site of the former Porquis Junction train station. Residents living near Iroquois Falls previously had to travel to or from Matheson, about 20 miles away, to access train service. The Northlander train travels six days a week between Cochrane and Toronto. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-30-10]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: For the week ending Nov. 20, 2010, U.S. freight railroads continue to post weekly rail traffic gains, originating 297,990 carloads, up 3.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Fourteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-24-10]

S.F. CABLE CARS TO SHUT DOWN FOR SIX MONTHS: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which operates the Municipal Railway (MUNI), has announced Phase Two of the California Cable Car Infrastructure Improvement Project will require the closure of the California Cable Car Line for six months, beginning in January 2011. SFMTA and DPW will replace aging underground components of the cable car line and repave 17 blocks on California Street between Drumm Street and Van Ness Avenue. Phase One of the project began in September, but operations continued. [Railway Age website report, 11-24-10]

PLATFORMS RENOVATED AT BWI TRAIN STATION: The Maryland Transit Administration has reopened the northbound platform at the BWI MARC/Amtrak station. The agency rebuilt and lengthened the northbound and southbound platforms at the Penn Line station. The new platforms are 700 feet longer, enabling passengers to use all doors on nine-car trains. MTA also added new signs, lights, shelters and benches at the platforms. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-24-10]

WORK TO CLOSE KEYSTONE LINE CROSSINGS TO BEGIN IN 2011: Recovery Act-funded work to remove the only three remaining at-grade road-rail crossings on Amtrak's Keystone line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA, is slated to begin early next year. All three are located in Lancaster County. Two of the crossings will be closed, and a new bridge will be constructed to carry the third road over the tracks [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-24-10]

METROLINK TO PURCHASE 20 MORE CARS: Metrolink's board has opted to exercise an option to purchase 20 additional passenger cars from Hyundai Rotem, bringing the total number of cars on order to 137. By purchasing the cars under an existing contract, Metrolink will pay $1-million under market value per unit, agency officials said in a prepared statement. The first 10 cars are slated for deployment on the agency's commuter-rail system next month. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-23-10]

AMTRAK INTRODUCING FRENCH TO ITS WEBSITE: Amtrak has announced that it is unveiling a French-language version of Amtrak.com to increase its appeal to international travelers. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-19-10]

WISCONSIN & OHIO GOVERNORS-ELECT NIX HIGH-SPEED RAIL PROJECTS: Governors-elect Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio have maintained that the high-speed rail projects in their respective states will not go forward under their administrations.  They received reinforcement this week in the U.S. Congress from three Republican congressmen from Wisconsin who introduced H.R. 6408, to allow states to return certain funds made available for high speed and intercity rail projects to the general fund of the Treasury for federal budget deficit reduction.  The bill has been referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, though no action is expected until at least January. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-19-10]

LEWIS PARDEE DIES, FORMER NRHS PRESIDENT: Ernest Lewis Pardee, who served as president of the National Railway Historical Society from 1958 until 1977, died November 14, 2010. Mr. Pardee, who was chairman emeritus of the society, was the only living former president and the one who had served as in that capacity the longest. He was 90.

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: U.S. freight railroads continue to post weekly rail traffic gains over 2009 levels, originating 297,269 carloads for the week ending Nov. 13, 2010, up 5.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal traffic for the week totaled 232,888 trailers and containers, up 11.9 percent compared with the same week a year ago, with container volume up 12.8 percent and trailer volume up 7.5 percent. Sixteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-18-10]

RAIL PROFITS UP 33 PERCENT IN 12 MONTHS: Major railroads have posted a 33 percent increase in net income over the past 12 months, according to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. The Class I railroads surveyed by the STB are BNSF (up 30 pct); CSX (up 25 pct); Grand Trunk (up 106 pct); Kansas City Southern (up 22 pct); Norfolk Southern (up 43 pct); Soo Line (up 64 pct); and Union Pacific (up 27 pct). The STB said the railroads' revenue ton-miles hauled was up just five percent against the 33 percent increase in net income. [United Transportation Union, 11-18-10]

FEDS GRANT $35-M TO RENOVATE ST.PAUL UNION DEPOT: The U.S. Department of Transportion has announced a $35-million grant agreement with the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority to renovate the historic Union Depot in St. Paul, Minn. The funds will be provided through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. The TIGER funds will help defray the cost to renovate the facility, and restore tracks, driveways and sidewalks. The entire $237.5-million project also includes co-locating Amtrak, intercity and local bus, light-rail services and taxis at the station. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-18-10]

SIEMENS WINS FRENCH METRO LINE ORDER: Transport authority Rennes Metropole has awarded a $269-million contract to Siemens to build an automated metro line in Rennes. Siemens will undertake the initial planning of the line, install the communication, control and safety equipment, and also deliver 19 automated Cityval trainsets for the line. [Railway Technology website report, 11-18-10]

CONNECTICUT TO PURCHASE 42 M-8 RAIL CARS: The state of Connecticut plans to purchase an additional 42 M-8 rail cars from Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. for MTA Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line. The state previously purchased 300 of the cars from Kawasaki. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-17-10]

METROLINK PREPARING TO INSTALL POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL: Los Angeles Metrolink - a 512-mile commuter rail system serving Southern California - is moving to be the first railroad to install and implement a positive train control (PTC) system. PTC is collision avoidance technology that monitors and controls train movements remotely, can prevent train-to-train collisions, prevent unauthorized train movement into a work zone, halt movement of a train through a switch left in the wrong position, and stop trains exceeding authorized speeds. Congress has mandated that freight and passenger railroads install PTC on designated lines by Dec. 31, 2015. [United Transportation Union, 11-15-10]

GATX ACQUIRES 2,500 FORECLOSED RAIL CARS: GATX Corp. has acquired a fleet of more than 2,500 freight cars valued at approximately $150 million, from a financial institution that recently foreclosed on part of the fleet of a railcar lessor.  “These newer, high-quality railcars are highly utilized and will be seamlessly absorbed into the GATX fleet,” said Brian A. Kenney, president and chief executive officer of GATX. [Railway Age website report, 11-15-10]

AMTRAK, N.J. TRANSIT END HUDSON TUNNEL TALKS: Amtrak says it has ended exploratory talks with New Jersey Transit about reviving the cancelled ARC trans-Hudson commuter rail tunnel. Amtrak said: “We’re no longer interested in this project. There were exploratory talks going on with NJT. The talks have stopped. That was commuter rail, and we are interested in intercity rail projects.” [Railway Age website report, 11-12-10]

WEEKLY U.S. FREIGHT RAIL TRAFFIC REPORT: Weekly rail traffic continues to see modest year-over-year gains with U.S. railroads originating 288,056 carloads for the week ending Nov. 6, 2010, up 4.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal traffic for the week totaled 231,078 trailers and containers, up 11.7 percent compared with the same week a year ago, with container volume up 12.4 percent and trailer volume up 7.7 percent. Thirteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-11-10]

U.P. TO HIKE CAPITAL EXPENDITURES 25 PERCENT: Union Pacific will increase its capital spending by 25 percent to $3.25-billion in 2011, reports the Journal of Commerce. U.P. said it will be purchasing as many as 200 new locomotives in 2011, upgrade numerous corridors to accommodate double-stack container cars, and replace a 100-year-old bridge across the Mississippi River at Clinton, Iowa. [United Transportation Union, 11-9-10]

VIA RAIL TO IMPROVE STATIONS IN MONTREAL, VANCOUVER :VIA Rail Canada has unveiled plans to upgrade stations in Quebec and British Columbia. The railroad plans to spend $6.1-million to build a new Windsor station in Montreal. The project is part of a program to upgrade rail infrastructure along the Ontario-Quebec Corridor, including a $17-million project to modernize rail traffic control systems and track structure between Windsor and Chatham. VIA Rail also plans to spend $5.1-million to rehabilitate the heritage train station in Vancouver. The project calls for replacing the facility’s masonry, roof and windows while preserving the facility’s historic features. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-9-10]

EXPANSION WORK BEGINS AT VIRGINIA METRORAIL STATION : Arlington County, Va., recently broke ground on a $32.6-million expansion project at the WMATA Rosslyn Station, the state's busiest Metrorail station. Scheduled to be complete by spring 2013, the project includes adding a new entrance, high-speed elevators, kiosk fare-collection equipment and fare vending machines, as well as completing various safety improvements. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-8-10]

BNSF TRAINS COLLIDE NEAR K.C.: Two northbound BNSF freight trains collided Sunday morning, Nov.7, reported the Kansas City Star. There were no reported injuries. BNSF said the lead northbound train, with 110 empty boxcars, was backing from a siding when hit from the rear by the other northbound train of 78 empty tank cars. Five cars of the lead train and both locomotives of the second train derailed, reported the Kansas City Star. [United Transportation Union, 11-7-10]

LOCOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING PLANT TO BE BUILT IN INDIANA: Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Progress Rail Services Corp. have announced plans to construct a $50-million, 740,000 square foot locomotive manufacturing plant in Muncie, Indiana. The state of the art assembly plant will specialize in diesel-electric locomotives, allowing Progress Rail to expand into transit-rail market. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-5-10]

BALTIMORE PORT BENEFITS FROM SURGE IN COAL SHIPMENTS: The Port of Baltimore has seen a surge in coal exports. Favorable exchange rates and demand for coal from Asia are fueling the gains. CSX, in conjunction with CNX Marine Terminal, moved about nine million tons of coal in 2010 through September, versus 3.8 million tons during the comparable 2009 period. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-5-10]

WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC CONTINUES TO GAIN OVER 2009: Weekly rail traffic continues to gain over 2009 levels with U.S. railroads originating 292,884 carloads for the week ending Oct. 30, 2010, up 6.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal traffic for the week totaled 232,717 trailers and containers, up 14.2 percent compared with the same week a year ago, with container volume up 15.7 percent and trailer volume up 6.5 percent. Thirteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009. MORE.. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-4-10]

ROWLESBURG TOWER TO CLOSE: CSXT's (x-B&O) interlocking tower in Rowlesburg, W.Va., is slated to be closed on or about December 6, according to report by Dale Jacobson of Greenbelt, Md.. [Submitted report, 11-3-10]

SEPTA INTRODUCES FIRST SILVERLINER-V TRAIN: The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) recently placed its first Silverliner V Regional Rail train in service. The three-car train will be dispatched to different lines throughout the system so all regional rail passengers can ride it, according to the agency. SEPTA is purchasing 120 new cars under a $274-million contract with Hyundai-Rotem USA. The new cars will enable SEPTA to retire 70 cars that are more than 40 years old. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-3-10]

DELAWARE GETS GRANT FOR NEC: A $20-million grant to Delaware includes the addition of a third main track between Yard and Regan control points south of Wilmington, and a new Orange Street bridge, which will increase capacity for both Amtrak and SEPTA service. Construction is slated to begin early next year. [Railway Age website report, 11-1-10]

CARL ICE NAMED PRESIDENT OF BNSF RWY: Carl Ice has been named president and chief operating officer of BNSF Railway Company with responsibility for operations, marketing and technology services. He had served as executive vice president and chief operations officer with BNSF since 2000. [BNSF Railway, 11-1-10]

LIGHT-RAIL APPROVED FOR LOS ANGELES: A $1.37-billion two-mile, underground light rail line through downtown Los Angeles has been approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, reports Bloomberg Business Week. The MTA board also approved for construction a 9.5 mile light rail extension west of downtown Los Angeles. [United Transportation Union, 11-1-10]

AMTRAK ORDERS 70 ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVES FOR NEC: Amtrak says 70 new electric locomotives have been ordered for the Northeast Corridor. The 6-year, $466-million contract went to Siemens, and will create 250 jobs - primarily at a manufacturing facility in Sacramento, California, but also at plants in Norwood, Ohio and Alpharetta, Georgia. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-29-10]

N.J. GOVERNOR NIXES HUDSON RIVER RAIL TUNNEL: N.J. Governor Chris Christie (R) has announced that he will stick to his decision to kill the Access to the Region's Core sub-Hudson River tunnels, citing the potential cost overruns and the lack of a direct connection into the existing intercity rail network. Christie has criticized the ARC tunnels' current end point a few blocks away from Penn Station. "There was also some discussion of ways to more closely tie the proposed ARC station below 34th Street to the existing Penn Station which has been one of the problems with the project from the beginning" said Christie. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-29-10]

U.S. ANNOUNCES $2.4-M IN HIGH-SPEED RAIL GRANTS: The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the latest high speed and intercity passenger train grants, with 23 states sharing in $2.4-billion in federal funds from the regular fiscal 2010 high-speed rail appropriation.  Regular appropriations require at least a 20 percent non-federal match. The money will fund 54 passenger rail infrastructure projects to lay and upgrade tracks, construct and renovate train stations, perform engineering work, manufacture passenger trains, and complete planning studies to develop new high- and higher-speed train service. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) received 132 applications from 32 states totaling $8.8-billion, over three times more than was available. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-29-10]

N.S. REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern Corporation has reported third-quarter 2010 net income of $445-million, an increase of 47 percent, compared with $303-million for third-quarter 2009. Diluted earnings per share were $1.19, up 47 percent, compared with $0.81 per share in the third quarter of 2009. [Norfolk Southern, 10-27-10]

AMTRAK ABOLISHES POSITION OF CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Amtrak reported that Chief Operating Officer Bill Crosbie is leaving Amtrak immediately, and the position of chief operating officer is being abolished. Amtrak President Joseph Boardman, in an employee advisory, said the vice presidents of the operating departments will begin reporting directly to him. [United Transportation Union, 10-21-10]

U.P. REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP) reported 2010 third-quarter net income of $778-million or $1.56 per diluted share, compared to $514-million or $1.01 per diluted share, in the third quarter 2009. Third-quarter Operating Revenue grew 20 percent to $4.4-billion versus $3.7-billion in the third-quarter 2009. [Union Pacific, 10-21-10]

FEDS GRANT $34-M TOWARD FORT WORTH TOWER 55 IMPROVEMENT: The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that Texas’ Tower 55 – the vital rail intersection for freight and passenger traffic in Fort Worth, Texas - will receive $34-million under the TIGER II grant program. This grant, combined with investments from BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad, the City of Fort Worth and TxDOT, will enable improvements to Tower 55 that will create jobs, benefit the community and the environment, and substantially increase rail capacity. [Texas DOT, 10-20-10]

AMTRAK OPENS NEW AUTO TRAIN STATION IN FLORIDA: A new Amtrak station - seating 600 and four times the size of its predecessor - has opened in Sanford for the more than 244,000 annual Amtrak Auto Train passengers. The $10.5-million to enlarge and improve the station - severely damaged by a 2004 hurricane - was funded with $10.5-million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Since the hurricane, part of the waiting room was sheltered in a tent. [United Transportation Union, 10-19-10]

RAILS MARK 30 YEARS OF THE STAGGERS ACT: America's freight railroads have marked 30 years of success following the passage of the 1980 Staggers Act, a watershed piece of legislation that revitalized the nation's railroads and removed a century's worth of excessive regulation. "Freight railroads are a true American success story," said Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads. By extracting the federal government from the day-to-day running of railroads, and allowing the marketplace to determine success or failure, the Staggers Act helped put a teetering rail industry on sound financial footing. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-15-10]

AT LEAST 41 DIE AS TRAIN STRIKES BUS IN UKRAINE: At least 41 people were killed when a freight train hit a commuter bus at a railway crossing in eastern Ukraine Oct.12. Officials said the accident occurred outside the town of Marhanets in the Dnipropetrovsk region after the bus attempted to cross the track, ignoring a warning that indicated an oncoming train. The Emergencies Ministry said 41 people, two of them children, had died, but officials said the toll could rise further because many survivors were badly injured. [United Transportation Union, 10-12-10, from MSNBC website report]

CSX GETTING N.Y.-N.J. DOUBLE-STACK TUNNELS: CSX can double-stack containers on its trains serving the ports of New York and New Jersey after opening a $24 million public-private project. The partnership, which received $10-million in government funding with the rest coming from CSX, included raising the clearance of two tunnels in New Jersey. The project is part of CSX's $842-million public-private partnership, known as the National Gateway, to increase intermodal rail capacity and improve service to and from East Coast ports. [United Transportation Union, 10-11-10, from Jacksonville Business Journal report]

AMTRAK RIDERSHIP UP NEARLY 37 PERCENT SINCE 2000: Amtrak set an annual ridership record of almost 29 million passengers for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, and collected a record $1.74-billion in ticket revenue.  Since FY-2000, Amtrak ridership is up nearly 37 percent. [Amtrak, 10-11-10]

CSX PUTS NEW FACE ON PARK IN BALTIMORE: Solo Gibbs Park in South Baltimore received a rapid facelift Oct.9. when employees of CSX spent the day freshening up the area of grass and athletic courts you pass if you walk along Hamburg Street to a Ravens or Orioles game. CSX brought together 125 volunteers, including employees, community members and a crew of midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy to slap new coats of red paint on benches, pull weeds from the ball field and replace dead trees with live ones. They asked neighborhood children for input on a mural, which features a train representing CSX, a large Ravens logo and a portrait of Frederick Douglass, who once gave a speech under a tree in the historic park. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-9-10, from Baltimore Sun report]

FORMER VIRGINIAN RWY CABOOSE GETS NEW LIFE IN N.J.: A reminder of railroads' past is in the finishing touches of a restoration effort that brings a new viewing experience at the Princeton, N.J., Railroad Museum. The old railroad caboose once rested next to the Princeton Municipal Building, but now it has a new home at the Mercer Street railroad museum and new life as an exhibit. Once used by the Virginian Railroad, Norfolk Southern Railroad donated the caboose to the city of Princeton in 1991 and later donated the oversized railroad ties and rails it now rests upon at the museum. A more than $78,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant funded most of the project, and a city matching grant paid for the rest of the $99,000 effort. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-8-10, from Bluefield Daily Telegraph website report]

TORNADO DERAILS 28 TRAIN CARS IN ARIZONA: A tornado that ripped through a small northern Arizona town derailed 28 cars on a Burlington Northern-Santa Fe freight train. BNSF said neither of the two crew members on the train were injured in the Oct.6 tornado. [United Transportation Union, 10-7-10, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK PLEDGES $40-M TO CHICAGO UNION STATION PROJECT: Amtrak has pledged $40-million to spruce up Chicago's Union Station. The funding was announced Oct.4 during a news conference in the station's Great Hall. The project will add new restrooms and double the passenger waiting area. Air conditioning and a new heating system will also be added Great Hall. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 10-5-10, from Associated Press report]

CHINA UNVEILS LATEST HIGH-SPEED TRAIN: A new Chinese high-speed train will cut the travel time between Shanghai and Hangzhou by more than half. The Chinese-made CRH380A train reached a speed of almost 259 miles per hour on its trial run between Shanghai and Hangzhou. The train is designed to move at a speed of 217 miles per hour on the 125-mile-long railway between the two cities, and is expected to serve about 80 million passengers per year. [United Transportation Union, 9-29-10, from United Press International report]

CSX HIKES DIVIDEND 8 PERCENT: Today the Board of Directors of CSX Corporation’s board voted to approve an eight percent increase in the quarterly dividend on the company’s common stock. The quarterly dividend which increases from 24 to 26 cents per share. This marks CSX’s eighth increase during the past five years. [CSX, 9-29-10]

RUNAWAY POODLE DISRUPTS COMMUTER TRAINS: A runaway poodle is to blame for a morning delay on some commuter trains in Oakland, California. Bay Area Rapid Transit agency said traffic heading in and out of the Lake Merritt station had to be halted for five to 10 minutes Thursday morning when the pooch got out of a train, jumped onto the tracks and ran down a tunnel. The dog was last seen exiting the tracks above ground near West Oakland. [United Transportation Union, 9-24-10, from Associated Press report]

LAST FOUNDING MEMBER OF NRHS DIES: James Paul Shuman, a 40-year veteran of the Pennsylvania Railroad, noted photographer, ardent railfan, Army veteran of the second World War and member of the National Railway Historical Society, died August 31, 2010, in Lancaster, Pa.  He was 96.  According to the society, he was the last surviving member of the NRHS.  He was a founding member of the Lancaster Railway and Locomotive Historical Club, which along with the Interstate Trolley Club became the NRHS in 1935.

CONNECTICUT MAY BUY NEW BAR CARS: It looks like the party will keep rolling on Metro-North's Connecticut trains, as officials are moving forward with plans to replace out-of-date bar cars with new ones. Governor Jodi Rell is asking the state's bond commission to approve $226-million in borrowing to buy 80 more new railcars - seven of which will have their rows of seats stripped out and turned into rolling bars. The new cars will look more like a sit-down pub on wheels than the current wide-open design with benches along the sides, according to floor plans being circulated by the Connecticut Department of Transportation. The old bar cars are set to be retired in coming years. [United Transportation Union, 8-13-10, from Wall Street Journal report]

SAN JOAQUIN TRAIN STRIKES SEMI, 21 SLIGHTLY HURT: Twenty-one passengers aboard Amtrak's San Joaquin received minor injuries on August 6 when the 79 MPH train collided with a semi-trailer at a highway grade crossing near Shafter, California. Train 714 was carrying 219 passengers on its way south to Bakersfield when it hit the truck that was blocking the tracks. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-13-10]

GROUND BROKEN FOR NEW STATION IN NORMAL, ILLINOIS: Elected officials and transportation leaders gathered in Normal, Illinois, August 7 for a ground-breaking ceremony for a new Multimodal Transportation Center, which will serve the new higher speed Amtrak service between Chicago and St. Louis, as well as intercity and local transit buses. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-13-10]

AMTRAK REPORTS 11 P.C. RIDERSHIP INCREASE IN CHICAGO-ST.LOUIS CORRIDOR: Amtrak reports that ridership figures have shot up on the Lincoln Service/Texas Eagle trains, with more than half a million passengers traveling along the Chicago-St. Louis corridor during the first 10 months of the fiscal year, an increase of 11 percent over the same period last year. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-13-10]

DISCOUNT AVAILABLE FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS RIDING N.E. REGIONAL TRAINS IN VA: Amtrak Virginia is offering a special discount for college students traveling by train in Virginia. With a valid school-issued ID, students will receive a 15 percent discount off the regular adult fare on Northeast Regional trains. The limited-time discount is valid for travel between now and Dec.31, but purchases must be made before Oct.31. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-13-10]

DOWNED TREE DISRUPTS AMTRAK SERVICE IN N.J.: Train passengers along Amtrak's busy Northeast Corridor faced delays of up to two hours after a fallen tree knocked out power and rail signals Aug.11. The tree took down overhead power wires near Hamilton, N.J., around 5:30 a.m., causing delays between New York City and Philadelphia, Amtrak said. Just before 8 a.m., Amtrak trains were able to move at greatly reduced speeds. No passengers were stranded between stations, but some were placed on other trains after the railroad canceled three trains and terminated three in Philadelphia. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-11-10, from Associated Press report]

GROUND BROKEN FOR NEW SAN FRANCISCO TRANSIT TERMINAL: The Transbay Transit Center, which is planned to act as the terminus station for a high-speed rail system, has been dubbed the 'Grand Central Station of the West Coast.' Officials broke ground Aug.11, 2010, on the new center. In addition to the high-speed rail system, the $4.2-billion transit center will eventually accommodate 10 other transit operators, including Caltrain, AC Transit, Amtrak and others. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-11-10, from San Francisco Appeal website report]

PATRIOT RAIL TO BUY SIX SHORTLINES FROM WEYERHAEUSER: Patriot Rail Corp. has agreed in principle to purchase Weyerhaeuser Co.'s six short lines. The acquisition is subject to certain closing conditions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter. The lines include the DeQueen and Eastern Railroad Co., which comprises the DeQueen and Eastern and Texas, Oklahoma & Eastern railroads; the Columbia & Cowlitz Railway; Weyerhaeuser Woods Railroad; Golden Triangle Railroad; and Mississippi & Skuna Valley Railroad. Patriot Rail also recently signed an agreement to lease and operate the 13-mile Piedmont & Northern Railroad in North Carolina. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-10-10]

JOHN FISHWICK DIES, FORMER N&W PRESIDENT: John P. Fishwick died Aug.9 at the age of 93. As president of the Norfolk & Western Railway from 1970 to 1981, he is perhaps best remembered for negotiating a merger with the Southern Railway to form the Norfolk Southern Corp., one of the nation's largest railroads. He joined the railroad as assistant to the general solicitor in 1945 after a stint in the U.S. Navy and worked his way up to the top job. [United Transportation Union, 8-9-10, from Roanoke Times report]

NEBRASKA TRAIN WRECK MARKER DEDICATED: A new historical marker along a recreational trail in southwest Lincoln, Nebraska, marks where 11 people died in an 1894 train wreck. An act of sabotage, the derailment represents Nebraska's largest mass murder. About 40 people attended the Aug.9 dedication along the Jamaica North Trail about 3/4 mile south of Old Cheney Road. [United Transportation Union, 8-9-10, from Journal Star report]

NJT TRAINMAN ADMITS POCKETING CASH: An assistant NJ Transit conductor who resold bundles of train tickets and pocketed the $3,500 in cash pleaded guilty Aug.9 to theft by deception and official misconduct. Terance Campbell, 34, entered his plea before Superior Court Judge Torkwase Sekou. Campbell resold the tickets between January 2007 and September 2009, prosecutors said. Campbell is scheduled to be sentenced Sept.17. [United Transportation Union, 8-9-10, from Star Ledger report]

CSX TRAIN DERAILS IN BALTIMORE TUNNEL: Baltimore officials say a freight train has derailed in a tunnel beneath Howard Street, but none of the cars have overturned and no injuries were reported. Emergency officials were alerted around 8:15 a.m. Aug,5 that a train had derailed in the north end of the tunnel. In 2001, that same tunnel was the scene of a derailment that led to a large underground fire that burned for days. CLICK HERE.. CSX says the train with three locomotives was headed from North Carolina to New York. It is affecting freight service, but not passenger service. [United Transportation Union, 8-5-10, from Associated Press report]

PROMOTOR DUMPS PLAN FOR YELLOWSTONE LUXURY TRAIN: Luxury train service to Yellowstone National Park and other Western landmarks was spiked before it launched, as Philip Anschutz pulled the plug on the American Railway Explorer project, set to launch in 2011. Contractors were told to immediately cease restoration work on the vintage train cars purchased to transport visitors from the West Coast. [United Transportation Union, 8-5-10, from Yellowstone Insider website report]

VRE ADDING LOCOMOTIVES TO ITS FLEET: Virginia Railway Express added the first of 19 new locomotives to its fleet August 2, a move designed to improve the efficiency of the system and pave the way for future expansions. The locomotives will replace the aging freight units that VRE bought more than a decade. VRE officials said the new locomotives are more efficient and will have fewer mechanical issues. [United Transportation Union, 8-4-10, from Washington Post report]

CONNECTICUT BUYING 80 NEW COMMUTER CARS: Connecticut will spend $226-million later this month to purchase 80 additional M-8 Kawasaki rail cars for the Metro-North and Shore Line East commuter fleets. The cars come in addition to 300 rail cars already on order as part of the state's $1-billion transportation investments dating to 2005. [United Transportation Union, 8-4-10, from The Day report]

CLUB CAR PAMPERS NJT RIDERS: The Jersey Shore Commuters Club railcar looks like any other single-level NJ Transit car, but the similarity ends inside. Instead of sitting on flat-backed three- and two-seaters with limited leg room, riders are treated to reclining seats, drop-down snack tables, room to stretch out and card tables that can seat eight. The amenities come at an extra cost. A recently signed contract with NJ Transit will ensure that the car will keep riding the rails at least through the end of 2014. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 8-4-10, from Asbury Park Press report]

LANCASTER TRAIN STATION RENOVATION TO MOVE FORWARD: After a meeting last week, Amtrak and the Lancaster County Planning Commission (LCPC) announced that issues surrounding the renovation of the Lancaster, Pa., station have been resolved and the project will move forward. The parties determined that no additional funds beyond Amtrak's estimate of $1.7-million provided to the LCPC in 2008 will be needed for construction support, Amtrak said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-3-10]

CSX AGREES TO WASHINGTON-RICHMOND RAIL PLAN: Virginia and CSX have reached an agreement about how to proceed with federal stimulus spending on a new high speed rail line between Washington and Richmond. If the U.S. Department of Transportation signs off on the $75-million project, Gov. Bob McDonnell's office indicates work on the rail line can begin. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-2-10, from Washington Post website report]

PLANS UNVEILED FOR AMTRAK STATION IN MOLINE: We're getting a first look at what the Amtrak Station in Moline, Illinois, will look like. Plans for the new station will be a renovation of the O'Rourke building and an addition of a grand passenger hall, staging area and ways to connect people to the Quad City attractions.The entire project will cost around $16-million. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-30-10, from CBS4 website report]

FRISCO R.R. SHOPS BEING DEMOLISHED IN SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI: From the North Kansas Expressway viaduct, you can see the remains of a different era crumbling to the ground. Rusted train tracks and piles of rubble litter the ground near the rail yards. The debris once made up the economic engine of Springfield: the Frisco Railroad Shops. The car shops, the last remaining large buildings of a once-massive complex, are being torn down. Historians say the facility built train cars, and helped build the city. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-30-10, from KY3 News website report]

SAN JOAQUIN SERVICE TO INCREASE CAPACITY: Amtrak California will increase capacity on the San Joaquin service by 25 percent for the rest of the summer in response to unprecedented ridership. Between now and Labor Day, Amtrak will add a fifth car to the typical four-car consists of at least six of the busiest trains that serve the San Joaquin Valley.  The change will allow an additional 88 passengers per train. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-30-10]

LONGVIEW, TEXAS, TO UPGRADE TRAIN DEPOT: The city of Longview, Texas, has secured the $2.6-million needed to upgrade its 70-year-old train depot. "Ridership from this station is up to 80 passengers a day; that's more than we have for local air travel," Longview Mayor Jay Dean told reporters. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-30-10]

'KILL AMTRAK' AMENDMENT DEFEATED IN HOUSE: The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a $79.4-billion transportation funding bill for Fiscal Year 2011, after defeating a 'kill-Amtrak"'amendment on a 293-129 vote. The amendment, would have eliminated the bill's $1.2-billion for Amtrak capital investment and debt service. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-30-10]

NTSB ISSUES FINAL REPORT ON 2009 WASHINGTON METRO CRASH: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its final report on the deadly June 22, 2009, crash between two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) trains in Washington, D.C. NTSB said the probable causes were failure of track circuit modules and Metro's failure to widely use a track circuit test instituted after a 2005 near-collision in a tunnel near Rosslyn Station. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-30-10]

WISCONSIN GETS MORE FUNDS FOR HIGH-SPEED RAIL: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle have signed an agreement providing $46.5-million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for work to continue on the state's high-speed rail program. Under the grant, Wisconsin will complete preliminary engineering and final design work, conduct program management activities and complete environmental management plans for the Milwaukee to Madison high-speed rail corridor that will operate at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour. [U.S. Department of Transportation, 7-29-10]

CP RAIL REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS, HIKES DIVIDEND: Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. delivered stronger-than-expected quarterly results, but warned its recovery will remain choppy throughout the remainder of the year. Its volumes continued to grow in the second quarter, up 20 per cent compared to the same period last year. The news comes as CP reported a 23-per-cent increase in its second-quarter earnings. The company earned $166.6-million during the quarter. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-29-10, from Ottawa Citizen website report]

CHINA PLANS $326-B ON HIGH-SPEED RAIL: China plans to build 8,000 miles of high-speed rail lines by 2012, more than the rest of the world combined. Trains will travel at a maximum speed of 217 MPH on nearly 5,000 miles of the track and at 155 MPH on the rest. The Beijing-Shanghai line due to open next year will halve the travel time between the two cities to five hours. By 2020 the network will have expanded to over 9,900 miles, serving more than 90 percent of the population. [United Transportation Union, 7-28-10, from Reuters report]

WASHINGTON METRO TO PURCHASE 428 RAIL CARS: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has contracted Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. to manufacture 428 7000-series rail cars, some of which will replace 1000-series cars. WMATA will use 128 of the new cars to expand service on the Dulles rail corridor. The other 300 vehicles will replace 1000 series cars. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-28-10

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern Corporation has reported second-quarter 2010 net income of $392-million, an increase of 59 percent, compared with $247-million for second-quarter 2009. Diluted earnings per share were $1.04. [Norfolk Southern, 7-27-10]

CANADIAN PACIFIC REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited announced second-quarter net income of $166.6-million. Diluted earnings per share were $0.98, up 23 per cent from $0.80 in the second-quarter 2009 which included a $0.41 per share gain from an asset sale. [Canadian Pacific, 7-27-10]

KCS REPORTS RISE IN QUARTERLY REVENUE: Kansas City Southern earnings jumped five-fold from a year ago and revenue was up 35 percent in the second quarter. The company said net income of $34.6-million, after paying dividends to preferred shareholders, up from $6.5-million a year ago. This worked out to diluted earnings per share of 34 cents. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-27-10, from Kansas City Star website report]

AMTRAK ORDERS 130 NEW RAILCARS: Amtrak has ordered 130 new single-level railcars - similar to the Viewliner model - for the long distance network. The order is worth $298.1-million over five years, with the first cars scheduled to be completed in October 2012.  The contract was awarded to CAF USA based in Elmira, New York. Amtrak will get 25 sleeping cars, 25 diners, 55 baggage cars, and 25 baggage/dormitory cars.  These cars will allow Amtrak to begin to remove some of its oldest cars - dating back to the 1940s and 1950s - from service. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-23-10]

DENVER UNION STATION PROJECT GETS $300-M LOAN: U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that the Denver Union Station project will receive just over $300-million in federal loans through a unique financing structure. The loans will finance new facilities which include an underground bus terminal with 22 bays, a light rail terminal consisting of three tracks and two platforms and an intercity and commuter rail facility consisting of eight passenger tracks. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 7-23-10]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO MOVE KENTUCKY CREW CHANGE POINT: Norfolk Southern will move its rail crew change point next year from Danville, Ky., to the Burnside area south of Somerset. Company spokesman Robin Chapman confirmed a report that the move will happen at the beginning of next year. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-23-10, from Advocate-Messenger report]

CANADIAN NATIONAL REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Canadian National Railway Co. said its second-quarter earnings rose 38 percent as shipments picked up. The company earned $514.8-million or $1.09 per share, compared with 82 cents per share in the second-quarter of 2009. Revenue rose 118 percent. Revenue from coal shipments increased the most at 40 percent. [United Transportation Union, 7-22-10, from Associated Press report]

SIX KILLED, 34 HURT IN GREYHOUND BUS CRASH: Six people died and at least 34 were injured in a crash involving a Greyhound bus and two other vehicles on a highway in Fresno, Calif., early July 22. The accident occurred on northbound California Highway 99. The bus, en route from Los Angeles to Sacramento, apparently struck an overturned SUV that was in the highway's fast lane, then possibly struck a second vehicle before traveling down an embankment and slamming into a large eucalyptus tree. [United Transportation Union, 7-22-10, from CNN website report]

ANOTHER ROUND-TRIP ADDED TO RICHMOND-WASHINGTON AMTRAK ROUTE: Amtrak added another round-trip option to its service between Richmond and Washington July 20. The addition to Amtrak's Northeast Regional Service gives Richmond-area travelers five morning departures to Washington and six returning departures in the afternoon and evening. The Richmond-originating trains continue up the Northeast corridor to Boston. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-21-10, from Richmond Times-Dispatch report]

CREW ERROR BLAMED IN INDIA TRAIN CRASH: A train that slammed into another in an eastern Indian station early July 19 was traveling three times faster than it should have been, and ignored signals to stop, officials said, suggesting that engineer error may have been behind the crash that killed 63 people and wounded scores of others. [United Transportation Union, 7-21-10, from Associated Press report]

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific earned second-quarter net income of $711-million or $1.40 per diluted share, compared to $465-million or $0.92 per diluted share in the same quarter last year. UP said its total revenue carloads grew 18 percent from last year's levels, [Railway Age website report, 7-21-10]

MORE THAN 60 KILLED IN INDIA TRAIN CRASH: A speeding train, the Uttarbanga Express, plowed into a stationary train, the Vananchal Express, in eastern India July 19, killing over 60 people. Another 125 other people were injured. The accident destroyed two passenger cars. Officials said they could not rule out sabotage. [United Transportation Union, 7-19-10, from Associated Press report]

CINCINNATI GETS GRANT FOR STREETCAR LINE: The city of Cincinnati has received a $25-million federal grant for a proposed streetcar project. Now, $114.5-million has been committed, more than 90 percent of the funds needed, Ohio DOT officials said. The line would reconnect the city's two largest employment centers. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-19-10]

CHINA ORDERS 40 HIGH-SPEED TRAIN SETS: Bombardier Inc. said that its Chinese joint venture had won a contract for 40 high-speed train sets from China's Ministry of Railways, worth about $761-million. Each train set has eight cars and can carry a total of 604 passengers with a maximum speed of 155 miles per hour. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 7-16-10, from Reuters report]

NJT TO PURCHASE NEW EQUIPMENT: The NJ Transit board has approved the purchase of 100 additional multilevel rail cars and 10 dual-mode locomotives. Both will replace aging equipment in the fleet to increase seat capacity and improve reliability. [United Transportation Union, 7-15-10, from Rail-News website report]

OLDEST PULLMAN PORTER IS 105: When Andrew Isaacs read a recent article about Lee Wesley Gibson, a centenarian, believed to be the oldest surviving Pullman porter, he knew something was amiss. "I have to tell them about my brother," he recalled thinking. Ben Isaacs was also a Pullman porter. He began his railroad career in April 1936, according to the Chicago-based Newberry Library, which keeps data on Pullman employees. Isaacs retired in Dec.1968. Isaacs was born Sept. 8, 1904 - six years before Gibson. That would make him 105. [United Transportation Union, 7-15-10, from New York Times report]

MASS BAY TO PURCHASE 20 NEW LOCOMOTIVES: The Massachusetts Department of Transportation's board recently approved a $114.6 million contract with MotivePower Inc. to supply 20 new diesel-electric locomotives for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The contract will enable MBTA to remove its 20 oldest and least-reliable locomotives from service to help eliminate mechanical failures. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-15-10]

CSX TO REROUTE ACCESS LINE IN S.C.: CSX, the city of North Charleston, S.C., and Shipyard Creek Associates L.L.C. recently reached an agreement to address ongoing rail issues at the former Charleston Naval Base and in the city's southern portions. The parties agreed to a long-term plan under which CSX would abandon certain rights of way and discontinue operations on old routes, and instead use a new southern access route and rail yard. Under the agreement, North Charleston also would redevelop the Cooper Yard/Macalloy site into an intermodal yard and warehouse facility. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-13-10]

OHIO OK'S UPGRADES TO NORFOLK SOUTHERN YARD IN TOLEDO: The Ohio Rail Development Commission has it issued a notice to proceed for a $12.3-million project calling for upgrades to Norfolk Southern's Airline Yard in Toledo. About half of the project's cost will be funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act with the remainder covered by ORDC, the Ohio Department of Development and NS. The project includes the construction of new track and signals, and installation of new yard equipment and machinery. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-13-10]

CHINA TO INVEST $10-B IN ARGENTINA RAILS: Argentina and China have signed agreements under which China will invest $10-billion in the Argentina's railways sector. The pact calls for China to invest in 10 separate rail projects, including construction of railway lines and equipment, over the next two-five years. Argentina is looking to restore what is a largely dilapidated rail network that spans some 10,000 kilometers through 13 provinces. [United Transportation Union, 7-13-10, from Wall Street Journal report]

RAIL CARLOADS UP IN JUNE: The Association of American Railroads reports that monthly rail carloads for June 2010 were up 10.6 percent compared with last year, but still down 10.2 percent compared with June 2008. Intermodal traffic was up 19.2 percent compared with the same month in 2009, representing the largest year-over-year monthly gain since AAR records begin in 1990. [Assn. of American Railroads, 7-13-10]

CSX REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corporation announced second quarter earnings from continuing operations of $414-million or $1.07 per share, versus $282-million or $0.71 per share in the same period last year. This represents a 51 percent year-over-year improvement in earnings per share from continuing operations. Revenue in the second quarter increased 22 percent from the prior year to nearly $2.7 billion. [CSX, 7-12-10]

N.C. GETTING $20.3-M FOR HIGH-SPEED RAIL: The U.S. Department of Transportation and the state of North Carolina have finalized a grant agreement for $20.3-million to continue its development of high-speed intercity rail. The state will use the funds to refurbish passenger coaches and locomotives to expand rail service. [U.S. Department of Transportation, 7-12-10]

KEOLIS TO RUN VRE BEGINNING JULY 12: After 18 years of service, Amtrak has reached the end the line running Virginia Railway Express trains. July 9 is the final day it will operate the commuter trains, at least over the next five years. On July 12, Keolis Rail Services America will run the trains. It is starting a five-year, $85-million contract with VRE. [United Transportation Union, 7-9-10, from Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star report]

AMTRAK TO EXPAND VIRGINIA SERVICE: Amtrak Virginia announced that starting July 20 it will expand service to include daily round-trip service between Richmond and Washington. Virginia's second state-supported train, the new service is part of a three-year pilot program designed to provide more transportation options for Virginians, Amtrak officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-9-10]

DOWNEASTER GETS $35-M GRANT TO EXTEND SERVICE: Thanks to $35-million in Recovery Act awarded this week, mobilization work has begun on a 28-month project to extend Amtrak Downeaster service east to Brunswick, Maine. The line, which currently boasts five daily round-trips between Boston's North Station and Portland, Maine, will add stops at Freeport and Brunswick.  The grant money went to the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-9-10]

GERMANY TO INVEST $51-B IN RAIL OPERATIONS OVER NEXT FOUR YEARS: Deutsche Bahn, the state-owned railroad, is planning to invest $51-billion in its rail operations over the next four years, 75 percent of which will go towards rail infrastructure and station modernization and the rest will buy new cars, locomotives and trainsets. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-9-10]

SITE CHOSEN FOR MADISON RAIL STOP: Wisconsin has announced that the downtown high speed rail stop in Madison will be at the Wisconsin Department of Administration building.  This project will connect Madison by a new high speed line to Milwaukee, and upgrade the Milwaukee to Chicago segment. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-2-10]

RAILROAD RETIREMENT BOARD PHASING OUT PAPER CHECKS: Paper checks are being phased out by the Railroad Retirement Board in favor of electronic bank deposits, which are more secure and hasten availability of the funds. The change over is targeted for completion by 2013. For beneficiaries without a bank account, the Railroad Retirement Board will utilize the Treasury Department's Direct Express debit card. The amount of benefits will be loaded onto the card and used like an ordinary credit card. [Railroad Retirement Board, 7-1-10]

RAILAMERICA ACQUIRES ATLAS RAILROAD CONSTRUCTION CO.: RailAmerica has reached an agreement to acquire Atlas Railroad Construction Co. and related assets for $21.5 million in cash plus closing adjustments for working capital estimated to total $2.5 million. Founded in 1954, Atlas is a railroad engineering, construction, maintenance and repair firm that provides various railroad construction services to public transit agencies, regionals, short lines and industrial customers. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-1-10]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN PLANS STEAM EXCURSIONS: Norfolk Southern Corporation is in negotiations with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum with regard to the operation of a limited schedule of steam locomotive event appearances and passenger excursions beginning later this year. '21st Century Steam' would highlight milestones in rail history and provide an opportunity for audiences to learn about today's safe and service-oriented freight railroads. The program would feature three venerable coal-powered steam locomotives: Southern Railway 4501, Southern Railway 630 and Tennessee Valley Railroad 610. [Norfolk Southern, 6-30-10]

AMTRAK PROMISES IMPROVED RESCUE MEASURES FOR DISABLED MARC TRAINS: A rescue locomotive will be sent immediately when MARC locomotives break down, and MARC crews will undergo training to better inform passengers of problems - two of nine changes Amtrak has made following a June 21 breakdown that stranded 900 passengers on a sweltering Penn Line train for more than two hours. If a MARC train breaks down and loses air conditioning or heat, the next MARC train will be canceled so that train can rescue the stranded passengers, he said. Amtrak operates and maintains MARC's Penn Line under contract. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-30-10, from Washington Post website report]

AMTRAK ADDS THREE BOARD MEMBERS: Amtrak recently announced that three new board members were nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate.

Now, eight of nine director positions are filled. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-29-10]

DAVID STARLING NAMED CEO OF KCS: Kansas City Southern said David Starling, the railroad operator's president and chief operating officer, will be promoted to CEO under a planned transition to replace current CEO Michael Haverty, who will hold the post of executive chairman beginning Aug. 1, when the board-approved transition is to take effect. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-28-10, from Associated Press report]

VIA RAIL STRIKE AVERTED: A possible train strike was averted late June 26 as Via Rail and the Canadian Auto Workers reached a tentative agreement. The pact must now be ratified by Via's 2,200 CAW-represented workers at stations, maintenance centers, on-board trains and phone sales offices across Canada. The deal could be ratified by mid-July. [United Transportation Union, 6-27-10, from Windsor Star report]

AMTRAK BACK RUNNING METROLINK: Amtrak crew members were at the controls of Southern California's Metrolink commuter trains June 26. Amtrak took over train operations after the Southern California Regional Rail Authority's agreement with private contractor Connex Railroad LLC expired. Metrolink had picked Connex over Amtrak after bidding in 2004. Connex did not seek a contract extension. [United Transportation Union, 6-26-10, from Associated Press report]

BUS CRASH INJURES 24 IN ATLANTIC CITY: A bus carrying gamblers from New York City's Chinatown to the Atlantic City casino resort crashed into two other vehicles, then smashed into a retaining wall June 24. Twenty-four of the 50 people aboard were injured, including the driver, who was thrown through the windshield and then run over by the vehicle. The bus is owned by Sun Lee Bus Co. of New York City. [United Transportation Union, 6-24-10, from Associated Press report]

NO STEAM LOCOMOTIVE FOR W.VA. FESTIVAL, THANKS TO CSX: An effort to celebrate 100 years of railroad in West Virginia lost steam when event organizers learned CSX had pulled its support from the three-day festival. Jason Johnson, a member of the West Virginia Rails 2010 organizing committee, said the Petersburg, W.Va., event had gained verbal approval to have steam locomotive No. 734, operated by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, use 10 miles of CSX tracks from Cumberland to Green Spring, W.Va., in order to be available to spectators in Petersburg. "They will not give us a reason," Johnson said. "We had everything worked out, and they came back and told us 'no.' We have tried repeatedly (to learn why) without success." Up to 10,000 people are expected for the festival, which begins June 25 and runs through June 27. A phone call left for a CSX spokesman was not returned before deadline. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmenb, 6-23-10, from Cumberland Times-News website report]

BNSF TRAIN IN MONTANA STRIKES ROCK SLIDE, DERAILS: A rock slide 30 miles east of Libby, Montana, buried two BNSF Railway freight cars and derailed 14 others June 23, shutting down the railroad's mainline through northern Montana. The slide came off a 140-foot cliff and hit the train at the 41st car. There were no injuries. Traffic was being rerouted to other lines, including the line through Great Falls. [United Transportation Union, 6-23-10, from Great Falls Tribune report]

N.S. TO EXTEND HEARTLAND CORRIDOR TO CINCINNATI: Norfolk Southern Railway is nearing completion of its Heartland Corridor between Chicago, Columbus, and the Port of Norfolk, Va. But the company is pursuing a further expansion plan for the double-stack intermodal route. The Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) recently approved NS' application to proceed with engineering and construction on a Columbus-to-Cincinnati "Heartland Corridor West" extension to accommodate double-stack trains. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-23-10]

TRAIN STRIKES GROUP IN SPAIN, KILLING 12: A train speeding through a seaside rail station June 23 plowed into a group of youths taking a shortcut across the tracks to get to a 'Night of St. John' beach party, killing at least 12, injuring 14. It was Spain's deadliest train accident since 2003. [United Transportation Union, 6-23-10, from Associated Press report]

U.S. FORMS TRANSIT-RAIL SAFETY ADVISORY COMMITTEE: The U.S. Department of Transportation named members of the Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS), a newly formed advisory body that will assist the Federal Transit Administration with developing national transit-rail safety standards. TRAC's 20 members include representatives from the American Public Transportation Association and various transit agencies and rail labor unions. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-23-10]

TRAIN CRASH IN CONGO KILLS ABOUT 60: A train derailed and plunged into a ravine in Congo Republic, killing around 60 people and injuring hundreds. The accident happened late June 21 after the train left the coastal town of Pointe-Noire on the Chemin de Fer Congo Ocean line to the capital Brazzaville. Some 60 bodies were recovered from the accident scene by midday June 22 and about 450 people were being treated for injuries. [United Transportation Union, 6-22-10, from Reuters report]

MARC PASSENGERS STUCK ON SWELTERING TRAIN FOR TWO HOURS: Hundreds of MARC passengers are upset after they were stranded on a broken-down train for about two hours June 21 in sweltering heat, which sent two people to the hospital. The disabled train, MARC 538, left Washington around 6:13 p.m., headed north toward Baltimore. It was feet from the New Carrollton station when it broke down. [United Transportation Union, 6-22-10, from WJLA website report]

N.J. TRANSIT REOPENS MONTCLAIR STATION: NJ Transit has marked the reopening of the newly reconstructed Upper Montclair Station. Built in 1892, the station sustained extensive fire damage in 2006. The new station features a restaurant, public restrooms and a waiting area, and maintains the original building's historic architecture. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-21-10]

VIETNAM SCRAPS BULLET TRAIN PROJECT: Vietnamese legislators have rejected a proposed bullet train over its $56-billion cost. The project would have built a 975-mile track linking the capital Hanoi and the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City by 2035. A train trip that now takes 30 hours would have been cut to about six hours. [United Transportation Union, 6-20-10, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK TRAIN STRIKES VAN IN LOUISIANA, KILLING FOUR: Four young people died June 18 when Amtrak's City of New Orleans slammed into a van near Independence, Louisiana. None of the 224 passengers and 10 crew members were injured, said Amtrak. [United Transportation Union, 6-18-10, from WPTY Memphis report]

MASSACHUSETTS BUYING 38 MILES OF TRACK FOR SOUTH COAST RAIL: The effort to make the South Coast Rail a reality is taking another step forward with the state officially purchasing nearly 40 miles of rail lines from CSX. According to deeds filed with the Fall River District Registry of Deeds, the state will pay CSX $21-million for 38.15 miles of track in Fall River, New Bedford and Dartmouth. The deed indicates the purchase is for the use as a commuter rail line, while also permitting continued use of the lines for CSX freight purposes. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-16-10, from Herald News website report]

AMTRAK TO COMPLETE CHICAGO UNION STATION UPGRADES: As part of a $1-billion construction program, Amtrak is spending $115-million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to improve tracks, buildings and control systems in Chicago, for completion February 2011. The railroad plans to construct the control center, which will manage and dispatch Amtrak and other trains in four geographically separate areas. The center, which will help Amtrak better manage daily train operations. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-16-10]

TRAINS COLLIDE IN MEXICO, AT LEAST 10 DIE: Two freight trains collided headon June 15 near Suffrage Station in northwestern Mexico, leaving at least 10 dead and five injured. The accident occurred just after 3 a.m. and is believed to have been caused by a miscommunication. [United Transportation Union, 6-15-10, from Notimex report]

COURT BACKS CP'S PURCHASE OF DM&E: Canadian Pacific Railway's acquisition of the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad in 2008 was upheld by a U.S. appeals court, which rejected challenges by the Sierra Club and Chicago's commuter rail agency. The court said the Sierra Club had no stake in the matter that would allow it to sue, and rebuffed claims by Metra that the Surface Transportation Board abused its discretion in approving the purchase. Both plaintiffs claimed the board's approval was premature. [United Transportation Union, 6-15-10, from Bloomberg News report]

N.Y. STATE, CSX AGREE ON HIGH-SPEED RAIL: New York state and CSX have set aside differences so that planning can go forward for a high-speed rail line across upstate New York. The parties have signed a pair of agreements to facilitate planning for the passenger-train track that New York intends to build. State officials have begun a two-year, $4.5-million planning effort that they hope will yield details of the new line, on which Amtrak passenger trains would travel up to 110 mph from Albany to Buffalo. [United Transportation Union, 6-14-10, from Rochester Democrat & Chronicle report]

MARC MAY GET A NEW DESIGNATED OPERATOR: The Maryland Transit Administration is expected to choose a new operator for two MARC commuter rail lines before the end of the year. The change was prompted by CSX Transportation Inc., which has told state transportation officials it wants out of the commuter rail game. The department is reviewing proposals from multiple bidders with an eye toward making a decision this fall. The new operator would take about a year to transition into its role. CSX will still be responsible for dispatching MARC trains along its tracks. [United Transportation Union, 6-13-10, from Md. Daily Record website report]

CHINA TO HIKE INVESTMENT IN HIGH-SPEED RAIL: China is reporting that He Huawu, the chief engineer of national Ministry of Railways, said he "expects 2,866 miles of high-speed rail line will be put into service this year," and that around 6,200 miles are currently under construction. this statement suggests that government officials are speeding up construction schedules and massively ratcheting up investment levels. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 6-11-10]

W.VA. RAIL PROJECT STALLED: A poor economy and lack of interest have forced the West Virginia Public Port Authority to postpone plans for the Prichard Intermodal Terminal. Norfolk Southern had donated 78 acres for an $18-million terminal the state hoped to develop to provide westward rail service between Prichard and Chicago. To the east, it would provide double-stacked rail service to the Virginia Port Authority. Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox says he believes the concept is good, but private investment companies aren't willing to take risks right now. [United Transportation Union, 6-11-10, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK TO RUN VRE TRAINS BRIEFLY BEYOND CURRENT CONTRACT: Amtrak plans to continue operating Virginia Railway Express trains beyond June 28, instead of a rival French company, even though Amtrak's contract will have expired. Amtrak, which lost out on a contract renewal last fall to Keolis, has agreed to continue running the commuter trains that run from Northern Virginia into downtown Washington for two more weeks, according to both sides. [United Transportation Union, 6-11-10, from Washington Examiner report]

SOUTH AFRICA LAUNCHES HIGH SPEED TRAIN: For South Africans, the Gautrain (pronounced how-train), traveling at 100 mph and linking the area's airport with Sandton, is a powerful symbol of modern Africa, and their country's advancement and preparedness for the World Cup beginning late this week. The section linking Sandton to the airport opened June 8. [United Transportation Union, 6-8-10, from Los Angeles Times report]

LAST CSX TICKET AGENT RETIRES: MARC passengers at the historic station in Brunswick, Maryland, can still get tickets there, but as of today they'll have to buy them from a machine, not Barb Eichelberger. She retired June 8 as a CSX ticket agent - the last person to hold that position in a railroad company that traces its origins back to the earliest days of American railroading. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 6-8-10, from Baltimore Sun report]

GENESEE & WYOMING TO ACQUIRE AUSTRALIA'S FREIGHTLINK: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (GWI) has signed an agreement to acquire the assets of FreightLink Pty Ltd., Asia Pacific Transport Pty Ltd. and related corporate entities for $277.2-million, plus the assumption of debt. FreightLink, which has been in receivership since November 2008, owns and operates a 1,400-mile line between Tarcoola and Darwin, Australia, that links the Port of Darwin to an interstate rail network in South Australia. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-8-10]

CSXI TO MERGE WITH CSXT: Later this month, CSX Intermodal (CSXI) will merge with CSX Transportation. The companies, both of which are headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., will combine on or about June 26. "CSXI will no longer be a separate entity," said CSX Corp. spokesman Gary Sease in an email. "We are combining the sales force and related support activities of CSXI into CSXT." [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-7-10]

AMTRAK EXPANDING PIEDMONT SERVICE: Starting June 12, North Carolinians will have one more option for rail travel between the state's major cities. Amtrak's Piedmont train will make a new mid-day run that will complement morning and evening service between Raleigh and Charlotte. It will increase the number of daily trips between the cities from four to six. [United Transportation Union, 6-5-10, from WRAL website report]

INLAND PORT OPENED IN TEXAS: Third-party service provider Trans-Trade recently opened an operations center in Alliance, Texas, adjacent to the BNSF Railway Co.'s intermodal facility. Certified as a foreign trade zone, the center features warehouse and distribution space. Trans-Trade is working with BNSF to streamline cargo handling services, and offer rapid transloading and processing alternatives for containers arriving from the West Coast. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-3-10]

PROGRESS RAIL TO PURCHASE EMD: Progress Rail Services Corp. has announced it signed an agreement to purchase Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. (EMD) for $820-million from Berkshire Partners L.L.C. and Greenbriar Equity Group L.L.C. The acquisition is expected to close by year's end pending final regulatory approval. EMD would become a wholly owned subsidiary of Progress Rail, which is owned by Caterpillar Inc. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-1-10]

AMTRAK TRAIN DERAILS IN ILLINOIS, FIVE HURT: Amtrak says five people suffered minor injuries when a passenger train derailed in suburban St. Louis. The last two coaches on the train from St. Louis to Chicago left the tracks May 30 in Granite City, Ill. [United Transportation Union, 5-30-10, from Associated Press report]

FLORIDA EAST COAST NAMES JAMES HERTWIG PRESIDENT, CEO: The Florida East Coast Railway has announced that James Hertwig will become president and CEO of the company, effective July 1. Hertwig was formerly president of CSX Intermodal. He David Rohal, who will continue as senior vice president of RailAmerica and will remain on FEC's board of managers. [United Transportation Union, 5-28-10, from Florida Times-Union report]

TRAIN DERAILS IN INDIA, AT LEAST 65 DEAD: A passenger train derailed May 28 in eastern India, triggering a crash with an oncoming freight train that killed at least 65 people and injured 200 more. The blue passenger train and the red cargo train were knotted together in mangled metal along a rural stretch of track near the small town of Sardiha, about 90 miles west of Calcutta. Officials disagreed on the cause of the derailment, with some saying it was caused by an explosion but others blaming sabotaged rail lines. [United Transportation Union, 5-28-10, from Associated Press report]

CLASS I RAILROADS ADD TO WORK FORCE IN APRIL: U.S. Class I railroads' workforce edged a bit closer to 150,000 last month. As of mid-April, the large roads employed 149,749 people, up 1.2 percent from March's level, according to Surface Transportation Board (STB) data. However, the workforce shrank 2.9 percent on a year-over-year basis. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-27-10]

CSX REOPENING NASHVILLE-MEMPHIS LINE: CSX's rail line between Nashville and Memphis is reopening May 25. Much of the 200-mile line, which eventually connects to Chicago, runs along or near the Harpeth River, which washed out much of the line when it rose above its banks earlier this month. [United Transportation Union, 5-25-10, from Nashville Business Journal report]

BNSF TRAIN DERAILMENT SNARLS JOLIET TRAFFIC: A BNSF freight car carrying liquefied petroleum gas derailed May 24 in downtown Joliet, Illinois, snarling traffic on the city's streets for several hours. The derailed car also blocked rails used by Metra trains, though those rails were eventually cleared. [United Transportation Union, 5-24-10, from Suburban Chicago News website report]

CALIFORNIA OK'S FUNDS FOR COLTON GRADE SEPARATION: The California Transportation Commission has approved a plan to provide $125-million for a grade separation project in Colton. About 100 trains per day pass through Colton Crossing, one of the nation's busiest rail-to-rail crossings. Established in 1882, the crossing is used by BNSF, UP, Amtrak and Metrolink. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-21-10]

CSX FINED FOR RETALIATION AGAINST EMPLOYEE: CSX faces $5,000 in punitive damages it must pay an employee after federal investigators say it took retaliatory action against him for repeatedly reporting safety concerns. The 'whistleblower' investigation resulted after the worker filed a complaint in 2009 with OSHA, saying he'd been disciplined by CSX in December 2008. In addition to the punitive damages, CSX also must "expunge the worker's personnel record of any derogatory reference" and rescind the disciplinary action. The employee worked in the railroad's dispatching office in Selkirk, N.Y. [United Transportation Union, 5-20-10, from Albany Times Union report]

CP INCREASES DIVIDEND: Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. said its board increased its quarterly dividend to 27 cents from 24.75 cents. The dividend is payable on July 26 to shareholders on June 25. The railroad's board also approved a $70-million increase in capital spending this year. [United Transportation Union, 5-20-10, from Associated Press report]

BILL JOHNSTON DIES, FORMER B&O OFFICIAL: A.W. "Bill" Johnston, a former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad operating officer and later vice president of operations and maintenance for the Association of American Railroads, from which he retired in 1988, died May 16. He was 85. With the former B&O, Johnston's assignments included general manger eastern region, manger of Washington Terminal Co., general manager western region, and general manger central region. [United Transportation Union, 5-19-10]

RESTORED N&W LOCOMOTIVE ARRIVES FOR PORTSMOUTH, VA., MUSEUM: Norfolk & Western 1134 might never steam down the tracks again. But it is still a new day for the locomotive that had been rusting away in a Roanoke scrap yard for almost 60 years. The long-awaited locomotive has arrived in three weighty chunks. From now on, it's the star of the emerging Railroad Museum of Virginia. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-19-10, from Virginian-Pilot website report]

U.S. QUESIONS 1996 CONRAIL LINE SALE: The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has ordered Conrail to explain how it sold a property in Jersey City to NJ Transit in 1996, including the Lehigh Valley Main Line, without its approval. The board requires railroad companies to serve notice when they plan to stop using a line, or sell it. Conrail's explanation is due July 1. A spokesman for the company declined to comment, but said the company would comply with the board's requests. [United Transportation Union, 5-19-10, from Jersey Journal report]

AMTRAK'S NEW LYNCHBURG TRAIN GREATLY EXCEES RIDERSHIP TARGETS: Amtrak's new Lynchburg route has exceeded its annual ridership and revenue performance targets within just the first six months of operation. Ridership data compiled in March shows that the route, which provides daily service from Lynchburg, Va., as far north as Boston, reached 55,025 passengers during the first six months of operation. The original ridership goal was 51,000 passengers annually. In addition, the service exceeded its $2.58 million annual revenue goal by generating revenue of $2.84 million, Amtrak officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-19-10]

KANSAS GRANTS $35M TO BNSF FOR RAIL HUB: The Kansas Legislature has cut a deal that will allow BNSF to start work on a Johnson County freight hub that has been delayed by the recession. The railroad gets $35-million in exchange for agreeing to start the project this year, officials said. The incentive will come from state sales taxes paid on utilities serving the entire 1,000-acre project, which includes the nearly 500-acre freight yard plus a warehousing complex being developed separately. [United Transportation Union, 5-18-10, from Kansas City Star report]

STATEN ISLAND LOCOMOTIVE GETS NEW LIFE ON SCENIC LINE: After decades of hard work pulling trains, the Staten Island Railway's two retired 1940s-vintage locomotives have been sold - and one of them will keep chugging along the scenic Catskill Mountain Railroad. Known by their numbers 407 and 821 and built in 1946 and 1942, respectively, the locomotives were sold to American Railway Technologies Inc., a preservationist group that in turn sells the old trains to other organizations. Instead of the scrap heap, 407, which worked on the Long Island Rail Road before it was brought to Staten Island back in the early 1970s, will get a new life in Ulster County, where it will pull cars filled with tourists along scenic Esopus Creek. The Railroad's summer season is set to kick off on Memorial Day weekend. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-18-10, from SI Live website report]

VRE OPERATOR HIRING OFF NJ TRANSIT: Keolis Rail Services has hired the majority of the 45 train engineers and conductors needed to start operating Virginia Railway Express trains on June 28. Keolis has hired 15 of the needed 18 train engineers, and 15 of the 27 needed train conductors, said Steve Townsend, executive vice president of Keolis America. Keolis recruited Amtrak employees who currently work on VRE trains first, and offered them the same salary and benefits, plus a signing bonus, to join Keolis. But all but one employee elected to stay. [United Transportation Union, 5-16-10, from Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star report]

KURT LAIRD NAMED SUPERINTENDENT, AMTRAK'S PACIFIC NORTHWEST DIVISION: Amtrak recently appointed District Superintendent Kurt Laird to the newly created position of general superintendent of the Pacific Northwest division. In the new position, Laird will oversee all transportation and mechanical operations, including maintenance of Talgo equipment, Amtrak Cascades service and the Sounder commuter-rail contract. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-14-10]

NJ TRANSIT TRAIN STRIKES VAN, 15 HURT: Fifteen people were treated for minor injuries May 14 when a mini-van pulled in front of an NJ Transit train at a crossing in Riverton, N.J. Twelve of the injured were aboard the train, three in the minivan. They were all taken to Cooper University Medical Center in Camden for treatment. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-14-10, from Trentonian website report]

AMTRAK TRAIN COLLIDES WITH TRACTOR TRAILER IN N.C., 13 HURT: A truck driver ignored signs warning of a humpbacked railroad crossing in Mebane, N.C., May 13, and his lowboy trailer got stuck in the path of an Amtrak train. Twelve of the 36 Charlotte-bound passengers and one crew member needed medical attention, but none suffered life-threatening injuries. The derailment forced cancellation of Thursday's Amtrak service for the Charlotte-to-Raleigh Piedmont and the Charlotte-to-New York Carolinian. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-13-10, from News & Observer website report]

ROBERT PATTISON DIES, FORMER LIRR PRESIDENT: Robert K. Pattison, 88, a third-generation railroad man who served from 1976 to 1978 leading the Long Island Rail Road, one of the country's busiest commuter-rail systems, died of a heart ailment May 12. For much of his early career, Mr. Pattison ascended through the engineering ranks of the New York Central Railroad. In July 1976, he was tapped to serve as president and general manager of the LIRR. He later became president of the railroad consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff Centec and a top executive with its parent firm, the engineering giant Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas. [United Transportation Union, 5-12-10, from Washington Post report]

BNSF TRAIN STRIKES BOULDER, DERAILS INTO RIVER: A freight train hit a large boulder in Wind River Canyon, Wyoming, May 12, and slid down a 50-foot embankment into the river, spilling some diesel fuel but causing no injuries. The train's two-man crew was able to escape and swim to safety, BNSF said. Containment crews were using booms in an attempt to keep contaminated water out of the Thermopolis water supply. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-12-10, from Casper Tribune website report]

U.P. VOWS TO FIGHT HIGH-SPEED RAIL IN CALIFORNIA: Union Pacific has notified the California high-speed rail authority that it will fight the state's newest plans to run bullet trains from the South Bay to the Central Valley. The company, which runs freight trains along the Caltrain corridor and south into the Central Valley, says the California High Speed Rail Authority's revised route plans released in March are "not acceptable." The rail authority needs land owned by Union Pacific to build its railroad to Southern California. But in a recent letter to the authority, Union Pacific rejected a plan to negotiate the sale of the land and vowed to join its freight-shipping customers in warding off the state's attempts to grab their land through eminent domain. [United Transportation Union, 5-11-10, from Mercury News report]

HYUNDAI CHOOSES CSX OVER NORFOLK SOUTHERN: Hyundai Intermodal, a unit of Hyundai Merchant Marine, will switch from Norfolk Southern to CSX Transportation as its eastern-U.S. railroad partner beginning June 1. Hyundai said it is making the change partly because a new intermodal terminal CSX is building in North Baltimore, Ohio, will cut 24 to 48 hours off transit times for international box shipments. The facility is set to open in the first quarter of 2011. That terminal, south of Toledo, will be a key hub in CSX's National Gateway corridor project. [United Transportation Union, 5-11-10, from Journal of Commerce report]

VIA RAIL IMPROVES MONTREAL-OTTAWA SCHEDULES: VIA Rail Canada says that as of May 11, 2010, travel times on the Montreal-Ottawa route will improve with the introduction of new schedules. Trip times will be shortened by as much as 15 minutes, while arrival and departure times for certain trains will be changed to better suit customer needs. With the introduction of these new schedules, a trip between Ottawa and Montréal can take less than two hours. [VIA Rail, 5-10-10]

NEW 19-MILE RAIL LINE COMPLETED IN NEWFOUNDLAND: Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines Ltd recently completed a 19-mile rail line from Bloom Lake to Wabush in Newfoundland and Labrador. The provincial government has granted the company an operating permit to move unit trains of iron ore on the route, which connects to an existing rail line between Wabush mine installations and the Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway. The Bloom Lake Railway will own and operate Consolidated Thompson's line. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-10-10]

CHICAGO METRA CHIEF DEAD IN SUICIDE: Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano, under investigation by his own agency for financial issues, threw himself in front of a Metra train Friday morning, May 7, near Crystal Lake, and was killed. Pagano, executive director of the commuter rail service since 1990, was put on paid administrative last week amid a probe that he paid himself an unauthorized $56,000 bonus. The probe expanded to look at "more serious allegations of official misconduct," according to the attorney hired to conduct the inquiry. Pagano had agreed to remain on leave until the investigation ends and was to continue to collect his $269,625 salary, Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said. [United Transportation Union, 5-7-10, from Chicago Sun Times report]

CSX NASHVILLE-MEMPHIS LINE FLOODED OUT: Last weekend's killer storms that flooded out Nashville and other parts of Tennessee will keep a CSX Transportation line between Nashville and Memphis closed for up to six weeks. CSX issued an advisory to customers May 7 saying two bridges on that line "have been heavily damaged and will take four to six weeks to repair. CSXT is rerouting shipments over other railroads to minimize impact to customers." The company says CSX usually averages about 10 trains a day on that 200-mile route. Memphis is also one of its key western gateways, where it connects with other major North American railroads. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-7-10, from Journal of Commerce website report]

U.P. HIKES DIVIDEND, CAPITAL SPENDING: Union Pacific boosted its dividend 22 percent and decided to increase its capital budget by $100-million this year to help the railroad take advantage of the strengthening economy. Company CEO Jim Young announced the changes Thursday at the railroad's annual meeting in Salt Lake City. Union Pacific will increase its dividend to 33 cents, up from 27 cents. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 5-6-10, from Associated Press report]

PROGRESS RAIL ACQUIRES FCM RAIL: Progress Rail Services Corp. subsidiary Progress Rail Leasing Corp. recently acquired FCM Rail Ltd., a lessor of maintenance-of-way equipment. FCM Rail specializes in MofW leasing and total equipment services, including warehouse leasing and short- and long-term equipment rentals. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-6-10]

SEATTLE APPROVES STREETCAR LINE: A First Hill Streetcar route on Broadway was unanimously approved by the Seattle City Council. The $130-million line is to open in 2013, connecting the International District/Chinatown light-rail station to the train station on Capitol Hill scheduled to open in 2016. A short loop will pass King Street Station and Pioneer Square. Streetcars will run every 10 minutes. The council said it would seek transit funds to study a north extension, beyond the light-rail station at Denny Way. [United Transportation Union, 5-3-10, from Seattle Times report]

AMTRAK TEST TRAIN RUNS FLORIDA EAST COAST ROUTE: A passenger train traveled May 1 from Miami to Jacksonville on the Florida East Coast railroad tracks. The train, populated with Amtrak senior staff and transportation officials from throughout Florida, conducted a test run to look into the feasibility of passenger rail service. The train left from Miami a little before 9 a.m. and pulled into Jacksonville a little after 5:30 p.m. [United Transportation Union, 5-3-10, from Florida Times Union report]

CSX TO LIMIT PASSENGER TRAIN SPEEDS TO 90 MPH IN N.Y. STATE: CSX Transportation, citing safety concerns, has told the New York Department of Transportation that passenger trains traveling faster than 90 mph would have to do so in a separate corridor located at least 30 feet away from the nearest freight track. In the meantime, 90 MPH passenger trains would share the existing tracks with CSX freight trains. CSX, which owns the tracks, currently limits Amtrak trains to a top speed of 79 mph. [United Transportation Union, 5-3-10, from Albany Times Union report]

N.Y. & ATLANTIC TO UPGRADE LOCOMOTIVE FLEET: The New York & Atlantic Railway said that a federal grant for new equipment will help the Long Island freight carrier lower its locomotive emissions by more than one third. The new technology will reduce engine idling on its eleven-unit fleet and is expected to lower NYA's carbon footprint by an estimated 35 percent. The new equipment will be paid for by NYA and funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program. The entire upgrade program will cost approximately $1-million. [New York & Atlantic, 4-30-10]

CSX, D&H SEEK APPROVAL FOR JOINT USE CORRIDOR IN N.Y. STATE: CSX Transportation and Delaware & Hudson Railway Co. have filed an application with the Surface Transportation Board seeking approval of a joint-use corridor arrangement. CSXT and D&H plan to jointly use a north-south corridor linking the New York City area with an international border at Rouses Point, N.Y. The corridor would include a line operated by D&H between Rouses Point Junction and Albany, N.Y., and CSXT's line between Albany and Fresh Pond, N.Y. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-30-10]

BOB STEWART ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF NARP: The National Association of Railroad Passengers' Council of Representatives has elected Robert J. "Bob" Stewart as the association's Chairman.  He succeeds George L. Chilson, who had served three two-year terms and did not run for re-election.  The chairman serves as a volunteer. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 4-30-10]

CHECKED BAGGAGE RESTORED TO AMTRAK'S CARDINAL: Starting with the departure of train 50 from Chicago on Tuesday, May 11, checked baggage will once again be accepted on the Cardinal, which travels three days a week between New York and Chicago. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 4-30-10]

LIRR TO GET NEW, LIGHTER TRAINS: About a dozen new, smaller diesel trains have been approved for the Long Island Rail Road. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority gave the green to spend $78-million to buy the trains for LIRR branches served by diesel engines. Commuters will have to wait until at least 2014 to see the new trains They will largely serve areas with lighter ridership. [United Transportation Union, 4-28-10, from Associated Press report]

CANADIAN PACIFIC QUARTERLY PROFIT SURGES: Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd reported a 74 percent jump in quarterly profit. CP earned $99.8-million or 59 Canadian cents a share. That compared with a profit of $57.3-million or 36 Canadian cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter. Revenue at the railway rose 5.2 percent to $1.17-billion. [United Transportation Union, 4-28-10, from Reuters report]

NINE INJURED IN FLORIDA CROSSING ACCIDENT: Nine people were injured after the driver of an SUV failed to yield at a railroad crossing and collided with a freight train near Gainesville, Florida, April 25. The Levy County Sheriff's Office said three children were critically injured. Later, the nine were reported to be in stable condition. [United Transportation Union, 4-26-10, from Associated Press report]

STUDY RECOMMENDS LIGHT-RAIL FOR SOUTHERN N.J.: The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) and the Port Authority Transit Corp. (PATCO) have released the results of a study focused on the mass transit needs for southern New Jersey, with a recommendation for a light-rail line along the Conrail right of way from Glassboro to Camden. The new light-rail line would connect with PATCO and New Jersey Transit at Camden's Broadway Station, creating a transportation hub that would provide direct connections for commuters going to Trenton, Lindenwold or Glassboro, N.J., or Philadelphia. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-26-10]

KCS REPORTS STRONGER 1-Q EARNINGS: Kansas City Southern swung to a first-quarter profit, beating analysts' estimates, as rail volume picked up. The regional railroad operator's profit dropped last year on fewer shipments. It's one of the main railroad operators in Mexico, where business has done better than in the U.S. lately, and also operates in the Midwest. The company reported profit of $35.3-million or 34 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $2.7-million or 9 cents a share. The latest quarter included 10 cents in debt-retirement costs. Revenue jumped 26 percent to $436.3-million. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-26-10, from Dow Jones Newswires report]

C.N. REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: CN reported its financial and operating results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2010. Net income increased 21 per cent from the year-earlier quarter to $511-million, with diluted earnings per share rising 20 per cent to $1.08. The results included an after-tax gain of $131-million from a rail-line sale to a Toronto-area transit agency. Operating income increased 25 per cent to $603-million. [CN, 4-26-10]

FORMER OHIO CENTRAL R.R. OFFICIAL GETS TWO YEARS FOR FRAUD: A former repair manager for the Ohio Central Railroad will serve two years in prison for defrauding the company through a $200,000-plus kickback scheme. Ronald L. Zullig, 55, was sentenced in U.S. District Court by Judge Gregory L. Frost, who also ordered him to pay $185,000 in restitution to the railroad. Zullig, who now lives in Bolivar, Mo., also was charged with stealing railroad equipment that he sold to buyers in other states. Jean Zullig, his wife, was sentenced late last year to three years of probation and ordered to pay $53,000 in restitution. [United Transportation Union, 4-23-10, from Columbus Dispatch report]

U.P.'S RIDGELY TOWER IN ILLINOIS TO CLOSE IN JUNE: The Union Pacific Railroad is closing the Ridgely Tower in Springfield, one of the last manually operated rail switching towers in Illinois. The tower, slated to close in June, controls rail traffic along the Union Pacific/Amtrak line between St. Louis and Chicago and the Springfield to Peoria line of the Illinois and Midland Railroad. One of five operators sits in the tower around-the-clock to control rail traffic using a series of levers. The tower has been in its current location since the early 20th century. It was rebuilt in 1930 by the then-owner, the B&O Railroad Co., and hasn't changed much since. The five operators who still work at Ridgely are Bob Phillips, Frances Jumper, Dave Gutierrez, Damon Vinson and Dewayne Clinton. [United Transportation Union, 4-22-10, from State Journal Register report]

TWO KILLED AS TRAIN BRAKES FAIL IN SOUTH AFRICA: A luxury train filled with foreign tourists, many of them Americans, sped downhill out of control before derailing April 21, killing a pregnant woman and another crew member and trapping passengers in the mangled coaches. Rail officials advised passengers and crew to jump from the train as it sped into Pretoria, South Africa's capital, after their attempts to apply the brakes did not work. Crumpled cars on their sides with broken windows littered the site. Fifty-nine passengers were aboard the train, including 44 Americans. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-22-10, from Associated Press report]

U.P. 1-Q EARNINGS JUMP 43 PERCENT: Union Pacific Corporation has reported 2010 first-quarter net income of $516-million or $1.01 per diluted share, compared to $362-million or $0.72 per diluted share in the first quarter 2009. Net income increased 43 percent; operating ratio was 75.1 percent, a first-quarter record and 5.3 points better than first quarter 2009. [Union Pacific, 4-22-10]

BNSF OPENS EXPANDED MEMPHIS INTERMODAL FACILITY: BNSF Railway Company has introduced its new Memphis Intermodal Facility to customers, community and state leaders during the facility's grand opening ceremony. The is now fully operational after a $200-million expansion and rebuilding. BNSF's newest intermodal facility will double BNSF's lift capacity in the Memphis market and improve efficiency while also reducing emissions and helping to improve air quality. [BNSF, 4-21-10]

CSX MOVING REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS TO OHIO: Wood County, Ohio, commissioner Tim Brown said that CSX will be relocating its northern region headquarters from Chicago to North Baltimore, at the site of the new CSX Intermodal Yard. The headquarters at the $175-million CSX yard will oversee CSX-owned rails in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. [United Transportation Union, 4-21-10, from Fox Toledo website report]

AMTRAK TO TEST BIODIESEL BLEND: When Amtrak's Heartland Flyer passenger train runs next year from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, it will be testing a 20 percent biodiesel blend that uses a beef byproduct. This first test in a daily interstate passenger train is a research project with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, aided by a $274,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration. The aim, Amtrak said, is to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the train's locomotive and to lower the use of foreign oil. [United Transportation Union, 4-20-10, from Journal of Commerce report]

RAIL CROSSING PROTECTION FAILS IN ILLINOIS FATALITY: A Canadian National Railway signal crew inadvertently turned off the gates and warning lights at a rail crossing in University Park late last week, shortly before a deadly crash in which a train blindsided an SUV driven by a Chicago woman. "This was human error,'' said an investigator, who asked not to be identified. Also, a video camera aboard the four-car Amtrak train that struck and killed Katie Lunn, 26, on Friday night, April 16, corroborated the preliminary findings, officials said. [United Transportation Union, 4-19-10, from Chicago Tribune report]

MISSISSIPPI TO HELP FUND REBUILDING OF COLUMBUS & GREENVILLE RWY: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour signed into law a $316-million transportation bond package that includes $15-million to help rebuild a 92-mile Columbus & Greenville Railway line between West Point and Greenwood that's been closed since 2001. The state will provide loans and grants to offset the cost of rehabilitating the line, but only if $65 million is contributed to the project via private dollars, and federal and local government funds. The line was damaged by floods nine years ago. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-19-10]

N.Y. HIGH-SPEED RAIL CHIEF QUITTING: N.Y.'s High-speed rail director Ann Purdue has announced her resignation effective April 30 in the wake of clashes with the administration over a sudden policy shift in critical talks with CSX, one Department of Transportation insider said. "She is leaving because of the lies which Gov. Paterson and his deputy for transportation and infrastructure have told CSX," the source said. The abrupt departure of Purdue casts doubt on state efforts to spend $151-million in federal stimulus money to speed Amtrak service between New York City and Buffalo, Albany and Montreal. Relations between state officials and CSX were running smoothly as recently as the fall, when the state inked an agreement not to push passenger trains faster than 90 mph on tracks shared by freight. Talks unraveled in February after administration officials - over the objections of Purdue - suddenly demanded train speeds of 110 mph, sources said. The DOT insider said the speed issue has "just poisoned the relationship between CSX and the state. There's been virtually no movement on anything since." [United Transportation Union, 4-19-10, from New York Post report]

CHICAGO ADDING NEW RAIL CARS: New CTA rail cars decked out mostly with center-facing seats to pack in more rush-hour commuters will enter service next week. The new cars will replace trains that have operated Chicago since 1969 and will be capable of going 70 mph, though they will be limited to the current 55 mph limit. The trains will carry their first passengers on the Red Line, officials said. [United Transportation Union, 4-15-10, from Chicago Tribune report]

N.J. TRANSIT BOOSTING FARES: New Jersey Transit bus and rail riders will pay up to 25 percent more starting on May 1. The agency's board voted to increase fares and to make some changes in bus and rail service as part of an effort to offset a $300-million budget shortfall. Rail and intercity bus fares will go up by 25 percent, and certain discounts will be eliminated. [United Transportation Union, 4-14-10, from Associated Press report]

A.A.R. REPORTS TRAFFIC GROWTH IN MARCH: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reports that U.S. freight railroads saw a 7.5 percent rise in carloads during March 2010 compared with the same month last year, and a decline of 11.5 percent compared with the same month in 2008. Sixteen of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by AAR saw higher carloads last month compared with the same month last year. U.S. rail intermodal traffic, which covers the movement of truck trailers and shipping containers by rail, was up 12.1 percent in March compared with the same month last year, but down 4.5 percent for the same month in 2008. [Assn. of American Railroads, 4-14-10]

CSX REPORTS 1-Q RESULTS: CSX Corporation announced first-quarter earnings per share from continuing operations of $306-million or 78 cents per share, versus $254-million or 64 cents per share in the same period last year. This represents a 22 percent year-over-year improvement in earnings per share from continuing operations. Revenue in the first quarter increased 11 percent from the prior year, to nearly $2.5-billion. [CSX, 4-13-10]

NS, EMD TO TEST BIODIESEL AS LOCOMOTIVE FUEL: Norfolk Southern and Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. are partnering to test biodiesel for locomotive fuel applications. Eight SD70M-2 units and two MP15 switchers will be used during the testing phase. The locomotives will run in regular service for nine to 11 months under various operating and environmental conditions. NS and EMD then will evaluate the test units and components. Biodiesel has been shown to reduce greenhouse-gas emssions and eliminate sulfur oxide and sulfate from exhaust emissions. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-13-10]

MAINE TO PURCHASE RAIL LINE THAT WAS SLATED FOR ABANDONMENT: Maine Gov. John E. Baldacci has signed a job creation investment bill into law that includes funds to purchase a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. line that's proposed for abandonment. The bill's bond package includes $7-million to buy the line in Aroostook County. In addition, up to $7-million in cash that was originally slated for the state's budget stabilization fund will be used to fund the balance of the line purchase. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-13-10]

RAILROAD RETIREMENT BOARD CELEBRATES 75 YEARS: The 75th anniversary of the enactment of the Railroad Retirement Act of 1935 is being observed during 2010. Part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal legislation, the Act was signed into law on August 29, 1935. MORE.. [Railroad Retirement Board, 4-13-10]

AT LEAST SIX DEAD IN ITALY TRAIN DERAILMENT: A train in Northern Italy, near the city of Merano, about 185 miles north of Venice, derailed and left at least six people dead and several injured April 12. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear. Reports said the train possibly derailed after a landslide. [United Transportation Union, 4-12-10, from MSNBC website report]

G.E. TO SUPPLY 150 LOCOMOTIVES TO KAZAKHSTAN: GE Transportation has a deal to sell 150 locomotives to Kazakhstan's railroad, most of which will be kits that are assembled in that country. The deal calls for five prototypes of its shunter locomotives to be built at its plant in Erie. The remaining locomotives will be shipped to Kazakhstan as kits to be assembled there, scheduled for 2012 delivery. [United Transportation Union, 4-12-10, from CBS-3 website report]

RAILS SET TO BENEFIT FROM BUMPER CROPS: From one end of the country to the other, shippers of the largest grain crops are gearing up to fill the supply chain needs of late 2010 and 2011. A big crop means more bushels are available for export as well as for domestic use, and ultimately means more freight shipments. The USDA said corn farmers expect to plant 88.8 million acres, an increase of 3 percent from last year. The department projects corn exports to grow about 2 percent this year. [United Transportation Union, 4-12-10, from Journal of Commerce report]

N.S. TUNNEL OPENS FOR LARGER LOADS: The 698-foot-long Cooper Tunnel on the Norfolk Southern mainline in Mercer County, W.Va., opens April 9 for larger loads. The NS Heartland Corridor project began in the fall of 2007. An NS official said earlier this year that the entire route from Chicago to Hampton Roads will be able to serve double-stacked freight cars this summer. [United Transportation Union, 4-9-10, from Daily Telegraph report]

AMTRAK RIDERSHIP LIKELY TO BREAK RECORD: Amtrak is on track to break its single-year best for passengers carried after carrying a record 13.6 million passengers in the first six months of fiscal year 2010, revealed the railroad in an April 8 announcement. Amtrak carried the 13,619,770 passengers between October 2009 and March 2010, a 4.3 percent increase over same period last year, and about 100,000 riders better than their previous six month best in FY2008. [National Association of Railroad Passengers, 4-9-10]

FRA TO HELP FUND PTC WITH $50-M GRANT: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will begin accepting grant applications April 9 for the deployment of positive train control (PTC) collision avoidance systems and complementary advanced technologies under a new $50-million Rail Safety Technology Program. Eligible applicants include passenger and freight rail carriers, railroad suppliers and state and local governments. FRA will give preference to collaborative projects sponsored by multiple railroads and public authorities that satisfy one or more specific objectives, particularly interoperability. [Federal Railroad Administration, 4-7-10]

AMTRAK EXPANDING ITS PTC TECHNOLOGY: Amtrak plans to expand its existing positive train control technology to cover all of the tracks it owns along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and on its Michigan Line by the end of 2012 - three years ahead of the federal deadline. Amtrak also is working with freight and commuter railroads that operate on Amtrak-owned tracks, as well as with the host railroads on whose tracks Amtrak trains operate, to ensure PTC systems are interoperable. Currently, Amtrak uses an Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System on many sections of track along the NEC between Washington, D.C., and Boston; and an Incremental Train Control System on most of its Michigan Line between Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Porter, Indiana. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-7-10]

ST. LOUIS VOTERS OK MASS TRANSIT SALES TAX: By a wide margin, St. Louis County voters approved a half-cent increase to the transit sales tax to restore lost bus and Call-A-Ride service and, eventually, expand the reach of mass transit farther into the St. Louis suburbs. Metro transit officials had warned that the agency would likely have run MetroLink trains less often. The sales tax is expected to generate about $75-million a year. [United Transportation Union, 4-6-10, from St.Louise Post Dispatch report]

CALTRAIN TO ELECTRIFY SAN FRANCISCO-SAN JOSE LINE: Caltrain officials have approved plans to electrify the rail line from San Francisco to San Jose as part of a ten year initiative. The electrification would allow Caltrain to expand the number of trains it runs from 90 to 114 each weekday. Construction is expected to last around three years.  The electrified trains will produce 90% less emissions, run and stop more quickly, operate more quietly, and cost less to run. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 4-2-10]

BEECH GROVE TO GET 108 AMTRAK JOBS: Amtrak is using $32-million from the Recovery Act to create 108 jobs in Beech Grove, Indiana. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the United States is getting ready to expand high-speed inner-city passenger rail. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-2-10, from WTHR website report]

CANADIAN NATIONAL SELLS TRACKAGE IN TORONTO TO METROLINX: Canadian National Railway Co. says it has sold a key section of track in Toronto to Ontario government-owned Metrolinx for $168-million. The track, west of Toronto's Union Station, will give Metrolinx ownership of a section of the busiest corridor for its commuter rail service, GO Transit. It also links Union Station to GO's Willowbrook rail equipment facility in southwest Toronto. CN said it will retain certain operating rights over the line so it can maintain service for its freight customers. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-1-10, from Canadian Press report]

U.P. LOCOMOTIVE HONORS BOY SCOUTS: Union Pacific will unveil locomotive 2010 at the Houston Amtrak Depot March 31 honoring the centennial celebration of Boy Scouts. Scouts representing Troop 886 in The Woodlands will attend the event. [United Transportation Union, 3-31-10, from Conroe Community News report]

BNSF, DENVER SIGN FINAL FASTRACKS AGREEMENTS: The Regional Transportation District (RTD) of Denver and BNSF Railway Co. have signed final agreements that will enable RTD to purchase rail property from BNSF and relocate BNSF facilities to advance the FasTracks program. The pacts provide RTD the property needed to build the Gold Line in the Northwest rail corridor, and gain access in and out of Denver Union Station and a commuter-rail maintenance facility. The parties also reached a joint corridor use agreement governing ongoing operations between RTD and BNSF in shared corridors. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-31-10]

AMTRAK ADDING THIRD TRAIN TO RALEIGH-CHARLOTTE ROUTE: North Carolina's passenger train schedule will grow on June 5 with the launch of a third daily round-trip train between Raleigh and Charlotte, leaving each city at midday. North Carolina recently got $545-million in federal stimulus grants to beef up and speed up the state's passenger rail service. Plans include faster trip times and more frequent trains, with the addition in 2012 of a fourth daily round-trip between the two cities. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-31-10, from News & Observer website report]

MARYLAND TO TEST 'CHARM CARD' FARE PAYMENT: Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is seeking volunteers to test a new electronic farecard, the CharmCard. The card can be used to pay fares on Metro trains and buses by tapping the card on a faregate or farebox. Scheduled to begin in early April, the test will include the Metro subway and buses, as well as train and bus services in Washington, D.C., Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and northeastern Virginia. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-30-10]

AMTRAK MAKES N.E. REGIONAL FARE DISCOUNTS PERMANENT: Amtrak, which started offering discounts of as much as 25 percent on some Northeast Regional fares a year ago, has decided to make the discount fares part of its standard offerings. The discounts require a 14-day advance ticket purchase. They were set to expire at the end of March. The discounts mean one-way travel between Washington and New York is as little as $49, or Washington to Philadelphia for $35. Amtrak carried 492,000 passengers on its Northeast Corridor trains in February, up from 474,000 a year earlier. [United Transportation Union, 3-30-10, from Washington Business Journal report]

N.Y. RAILWAY GROUP RESERVES LAND FOR MUSEUM: The Western New York Railway Historical Society plans to consolidate its equipment and railroad memorabilia into six buildings on 35 acres of the old Buffalo Color Corp. site in South Buffalo. The most prominent feature will be conversion of the former four-story Schoellkopf Power House into a 25,000-square-foot exhibition hall to house rail cars. These include a 110-foot-long Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotive once used to haul coal and iron ore into Lackawanna; and an old-fashioned dining car and the car President Eisenhower used to crisscross the country. This equipment and more is currently scattered in Hamburg, Orchard Park, North Collins, Lackawanna and Buffalo's East Side. [United Transportation Union, 3-30-10, from Buffalo News report]

AMTRAK CREWS TO OPERATE METROLINK TRAINS: Amtrak crews will begin operating Metrolink trains beginning June 26th replacing Conex which currently operates trains on all seven Metrolink lines. A Conex engineer was found to have been text messaging when his Metrolink train and a Union Pacific freight collided in Chatsworth killing 25. [United Transportation Union, 3-30-10, from Inland News Today report]

VIA RAIL CONTRACTS TO UPGRADE SIX BUDD CARS: Industrial Rail Services of Moncton, N.B., has won a $12.6-million contract from the Canadian government and Via Rail to modernize six railcars first built in the 1950s by the Budd company. The rebuilt cars will provide another 15 to 20 years of service for use on scenic routes in northern Ontario and Vancouver Island. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-29-10, from Canadian Press report]

ONTARIO TO PROVIDE FUNDS FOR HURON CENTRAL UPGRADES: The province of Ontario announced it would provide $15-million for the Huron Central Railway in the 2010 provincial budget. Last year rail officials announced they would close the route if the province didn't provide funding to help upgrade the line. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-29-10]

EXPLOSIONS IN MOSCOW SUBWAY: Two explosions in the Moscow subway system March 29 have killed over 30 people and injured many more. The explosions were reportedly the work of suicide bombers, according to press reports.

VIA RAIL TO CUT TRANSIT TIMES BETWEEN MONTREAL & QUEBEC CITY: On April 6, VIA Rail Canada Inc. plans to reduce transit times on its Montreal-to-Quebec City route. Trip times will be shortened by as much as 20 minutes, and arrival and departure times for certain trains will be changed to better suit riders' needs. The railroad plans to assign its newest, most-powerful and fuel-efficient locomotives on the route to boost train speed. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-29-10]

N.S. FREIGHT DERAILMENT IN INDIANA DISRUPTS AMTRAK SERVICE: A Norfolk Southern freight train derailed Friday evening in Waterloo, Indiana, disrupting Amtrak service into and out of Chicago. Amtrak said the derailment has closed the track and forced detours of its Washington-to-Chicago and New York-to-Chicago trains and will experience significant delays. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-26-10, from Associated Press report]

NEW COMMUTER RAIL LINE OPENS IN AUSTIN: Central Texas officially got its first modern passenger train system on March 22 when the Capitol Metro Transit Authority launched Austin's new commuter rail line. The red line links downtown Austin and Leander, 32 miles to the northwest, reaching speeds up to 60 mph.  Fares will be charged starting March 29. Initially, CapMetro will run trains every 35 minutes during peak hous, with sets capable of carrying 200 passengers each. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-26-10]

AMTRAK ENHANCES GUEST REWARDS PROGRAM FOR TRAVEL IN MAY: Amtrak customers can earn double points on qualifying travel between now and May 7, and triple points on qualifying travel between May 8 and May 29. Passengers must be a member of the Amtrak Guest Rewards program to qualify. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-26-10]

RUSSIA INCREASES EMPHASIS ON HIGH-SPEED RAIL: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed an executive order this week which places new emphasis on high speed rail in the country. The decree sets equipment standards, goals and benchmarks, and budgetary directives for a national high speed train system. Russian Railways is currently operating and developing the high speed route between Moscow and St. Petersburg, a route that is running at 90-100 percent capacity after only three months of service. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-26-10]

AMTRAK AWARDS CONTRACT FOR SEATTLE MAINTENANCE FACILITY UPGRADES: Amtrak has awarded a $37-million contract to PCL Construction Services Inc. for a two-phased upgrade to the Seattle King Street Coach Yard Maintenance Facility. Scheduled to begin April 1 and be completed by 2012's end, the project will improve capacity, efficiency and working conditions of the shops, which perform inspections and tests, and maintain locomotives and passenger-rail equipment. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-25-10]

CHINA HIGH-SPEED TRAIN FORCES AIRLINES TO STOP FLIGHTS: - A new high-speed rail link between Zhengzhou and Xian has cut travel times so dramatically that all competing air services on the route have been suspended, state media said. The 505 km (314 miles) railway, on which trains run at a top speed of 350 km per hour, has cut the travel time between the two cities from more than six hours to fewer than two. By contrast, flying takes just over an hour. Xian's airport is also located at least an hour away by road from downtown. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-25-10, from Reuters report]

WORK ON LAS VEGAS HIGH-SPEED RAIL LINE EXPECTED TO BEGIN THIS YEAR: Environmental approvals for the proposed $4-billion DesertXpress high-speed rail project between Las Vegas and Southern California are taking longer than expected, but executives with the project have said they expect construction to begin this year. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-25-10, from Las Vegas Sun website report]

SECOND CASCADES TRAIN TO RUN THROUGH SEPTEMBER: Washington state and British Columbia officials say the second daily Amtrak train between Seattle and Vancouver will continue to run through September. The train was added August 2009 as a pilot project, and was to last through the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic games.The future of the train service depends on whether Canada's Border Services Agency will waive a $1,500-per-day border inspection fee, money that Washington state doesn't have budgeted. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-24-10, from Associated Press report]

TOUR BUS BRAKES FAIL ON STEEP SAN FRANCISCO STREET: A tour bus loaded with dozens of passengers barreled down one of San Francisco's steepest streets at the tail end of rush hour last week after its brakes partially failed. The City Sightseeing bus shot down California Street shortly before 7 p.m. March 18, but a bit of luck and quick reactions by the bus driver - who swerved into oncoming traffic to avert a crash - appear to have saved passengers from harm. [United Transportation Union, 3-23-10, from San Jose Mercury News report]

AMTRAK REPLACING MESSAGE BOARD IN BALTIMORE: It's quieter in Penn Station these days - no whirring sounds, no clickety-clack of an old-fashioned, mechanical signboard bringing news about your train. In place of the iconic board above the main desk now hangs a large digital board that works intermittently as it undergoes testing. For live information, passengers depend on two small temporary digital screens. In January 2010, Penn Station said goodbye to the old sign - known as a Solari board after the Italian company that introduced the machines in the 1950s. Like so many other familiar inventions of the Industrial Age, the flip-flapping signboards are going the way of the steam engine in rail stations around the world. Also edging closer to retirement are the melodic calls by human announcers of the stations served by arriving trains, soon to be replaced at Penn Station by computer-generated voices. [United Transportation Union, 3-22-10, from Baltimore Sun report]

AMTRAK CREATES HIGH-SPEED DEPARTMENT: Amtrak is creating a new High-Speed Rail Department which will be led by a vice president reporting directly to the company president. The new department will work on the planning and development activities that will allow Amtrak to significantly increase operating speeds above 150 mph on the Northeast Corridor and pursue partnerships with states and others in the passenger rail industry to develop federally-designated high-speed rail corridors elsewhere. [Amtrak, 3-22-10]

RICHARD DAVEY NOMINATED TO HEAD MASS BAY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has nominated Richard Davey to manage the state's public transit and rail operations. Davey currently is general manager of Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad (MBCR), which provides commuter-rail service for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Davey would serve as the state's rail and transit administrator, overseeing 15 regional transit authorities.[Progressive Railroading website report, 3-22-10]

SACRAMENTO RELOCATES LIGHT-RAIL STATION: the Sacramento Regional Transit District has relocated the St. Rose of Lima Park light-rail station to 7th Street between K and L streets. The new location will allow the station to serve Gold Line trains traveling from the Sacramento Valley Station to Folsom, as well as Blue Line trains traveling from Watt/I-80 to Meadowview. The previous station only served the Blue Line. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-22-10]

CHICAGO GETTING NEW RAPID TRANSIT CARS: The Chicago Transit Authority has begun taking delivery of 396 new rapid transit cars from Bombardier following the arrival of a 10-car prototype trainset last year. The 5000-series cars will replace older equipment, some more than 30 years old. [Railway Age website report, 3-22-10]

RUNAWAY TRAIN ROLLS THROUGH HOUSTON: Officials are trying to find out what went wrong after a Union Pacific train started moving Sunday morning [March 22] with no one at the controls. The runaway train traveled through downtown Houston on its own for about 15 minutes before crews could get it to stop. The train traveled from 902 Washington to the 2000 block of Rothwell, where it stopped just south of Interstate 10 East. No one was hurt. [United Transportation Union, 3-21-10, from KHOU website report]

COURT REFUSES TO HALT DENVER UNION STATION CONSTRUCTION: U.S. District Court Judge John Kane on has denied a request by the Colorado Rail Passenger Association to stop construction at Denver Union Station related to the FasTracks regional rail-transit project. The rail association was fighting RTD's plan, arguing that it puts light-rail and commuter-rail passenger platforms too far apart. The platforms are separated by several blocks, with the underground bus station in between for rail passengers to use to reach the other platforms. [United Transportation Union, 3-18-10, from Denver Business Journal report]

DESIGN CONTRACT SIGNED FOR MOYNIHAN STATION: The architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has signed a contract with the Moynihan Station Development Corporation to start design work on the first phase of the new Moynihan Station. The project calls for converting the Beaux-Arts James A. Farley Post Office into a train station. Phase 1 includes extending the west-end concourse beneath the post office to allow access to additional tracks, improving platform ventilation and signal work and upgrading the connector between the post office and Penn Station. The project will also add two entrances flanking the post office's grand stair on the west side of Eighth Avenue, along with escalators and elevators leading to Amtrak platforms. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-18-10, from New York Times website report]

PHILADELPHIA WATERFRONT TROLLEY LINE COULD BE RUNNING BY 2016: A waterfront rail line in Philadelphia moved has moved closer to reality as the Delaware River Port Authority approved a $6.5-million contract for environmental studies and preliminary design. The work is to prepare the way for a proposed $500-million line in the middle of Columbus Boulevard between Pier 70 and Girard Avenue. The Philadelphia trolleys could be running by 2016 if federal funding is available, port authority officials said. [United Transportation Union, 3-17-10, from Philadelphia Inquirer report]

ORLANDO AIRPORT PLANS 3-STORY RAIL STATION: The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority has picked the future location for the Orlando International Airport's high-speed rail station. The three-story station would be designed to handle trains on several different types of lines, including high-speed rail, commuter rail and the airport's people-mover. [United Transportation Union, 3-17-10, from Central Florida News 13 website report]

ALASKA R.R. PRESIDENT LEAVING POST: Alaska Railroad President Pat Gamble is leaving this summer to become president of Alaska's state university system, reports the Fairbanks Daily News. Gamble has been president and CEO of Alaska Railroad since 2001. [United Transportation Union, 3-16-10, from Fairbanks Daily News report]

CSX VETERANS LUNCHEON CLUB CHANGES MEETING LOCATION: The monthly meeting of the CSX Veterans Luncheon Club is now the Golden Corral Restaurant, 6701 Chesapeake Center Drive, south of Ordnance Road, Glen Burnie, Md., rather than Cactus Willies, which has closed. The meeting is always the third Wednesday of the month beginning at 11 A.M.

ANGELS FLIGHT RESTORED TO SERVICE IN LOS ANGELES: L.A.'s beloved Angels Flight funicular began carrying passengers up and down a 33-percent incline again March 15, nine years after a fatal accident forced an extensive overhaul of the tiny railway's operating and safety systems. Fans of 'The Shortest Railway in the World' waited eagerly to board the first ride at 6:45 a.m. Service halted in February 2001 after one car rolled uncontrolled downhill and hit the other car, killing one and injuring seven other passengers. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-15-10, from Associated Press report]

U.P. STEAMER 844 TO BE ON TOUR IN APRIL: Union Pacific Railroad's historic steam locomotive No. 844 will travel more than 3,500 miles from its base in Wyoming on a 28-day, eight-state tour to South Texas, to celebrate the railroad's history and heritage. The Valley Eagle Heritage Tour will begin April 2 when No. 844 leaves Cheyenne, Wyo., and travels to North Platte, Neb. The locomotive will make overnight stops and be on display in the following cities before arriving back in Cheyenne April 29: North Platte, Neb.; Marysville, Parsons and Coffeyville, Kan.; Kansas City, Mo.; McAlester, Okla.; Ft. Worth, Hearne, Houston, Bloomington, Raymondville, Harlingen, Palestine and Longview, Texas; and North Little Rock and Van Buren, Ark. [Union Pacific, 3-15-10]

LIGHT-RAIL TRAIN, BUS COLLIDE IN HOUSTON, 19 HURT: A collision between a transit bus and light-rail train in downtown Houston has sent 19 people to the hospital, none seriously. The Metropolitan Transit Authority says the accident happened at the same intersection where five weeks earlier another bus and light-rail train collided. [United Transportation Union, 3-15-10, from Associated Press report]

RAIL RUNNER EXPRESS ADDING ANOTHER STATION TO ITS SYSTEM: New Mexico's Rail Runner Express is set to begin serving Kewa Pueblo station, located on tribal land between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Ribbon cutting at this, the system's 12th station, will be March 23. [Railway Age website report, 3-15-10]

BNSF ROLLS OUT 'TSS XPRESS' AT 162 SITES ON SYSTEM: TSS Xpress has officially rolled out on the BNSF system. Front-line supervisors at a total of 162 terminals throughout the system have access to TSS Xpress. It allows those supervisors to access information they need to execute their daily responsibilities using a Web-browser front-end rather than the TSS mainframe 'green screen.' [BNSF, 3-15-10]

ILLINOIS CENTRAL CLAIMS TENNESSEE TAXES FAVOR TRUCKS: Railroad company Illinois Central has challenged a state tax that it claims gives trucking companies an unfair advantage in the freight hauling business in Tennessee. Trains pay a seven percent tax on diesel fuel, a charge trucks are exempt from paying under state law. In a federal lawsuit filed last month, the railroad claims the train tax amounts to discrimination against its industry. [United Transportation Union, 3-14-10, from Tennessean report]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S GREENCASTLE, PA., PROJECT ON TRACK: Norfolk Southern will break ground on its Greencastle, Pa., intermodal rail facility this summer, a spokesman said. A mix of proposed legislation and funding denials that is troubling company executives and local legislators has yet to slow the Greencastle project, said Rudy Husband, director of public relations for Norfolk Southern. In February, the U.S. Department of Transportation denied stimulus money to Pennsylvania facilities proposed along the company's Crescent Corridor. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-13-10, from Hagerstown Herald Mail website report]

RAIL SAFETY STATISTICS IMPROVE IN 2009: U.S. freight railroad operations had their safest year ever in 2009, said the Association of American Railroads. The industry trade group said preliminary data from the Federal Railroad Administration show record lows for the train accident rate, employee casualty rate and grade crossing incidents. Accidents and reportable incidents fell from 12,687 in 2008 to 10,529 last year, said FRA, which reports safety figures for the entire U.S. freight and passenger rail industry. Total fatalities across the rail network, most of which reflect trespassers killed on tracks, fell to 713 in 2009 from 803 the year before. The FRA said the total rate of train accidents also fell to 2.78 per million train miles from 3.2 in 2008. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-12-10, from Journal of Commerce website report]

AMTRAK, KANSAS D.O.T. STUDY WAYS TO RESTORE PASSENGER SERVICE TO SIX CITIES: Amtrak and the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) released a study that identifies four alternatives for state-sponsored passenger-rail service between Kansas City, Kan., Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas. The startup costs range from $156-million to $479-million. Each alternative, which is based on input from BNSF Railway Co., would restore passenger-rail service to six cities in Kansas and Oklahoma that lost Amtrak service in 1979 as part of federally mandated cuts. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-12-10]

U.K. PROPOSES 250 MPH HIGH-SPEED RAIL LINE: At a March 11 event, the United Kingdom unveiled a proposal to create super high speed rail line that would run down the spine of the country at speeds in excess of 250 mph. The 335 mile route would run from London to Birmingham, Manchester, the East Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds, creating a 'Y' shape with the base in London. The trains, which will connect into the existing conventional rail network, would allow trip times of less than 75 minutes from cities located in center of the island nation to its capital in the south. [National Association of Railroad Passengers, 3-12-10]

FOUR DEAD IN SEPARATE N.E. TRAIN ACCIDENTS: Authorities say four people were fatally struck by trains in the Northeast March 11. The first death occurred in Mercer County in New Jersey when Amtrak's Keystone 642 train hit a person near the Hamilton Township station. The second accident occurred in New York City when a 48-year-old woman was crushed by a subway train. A man was struck by a New Jersey Transit commuter train near the East Orange station. And Amtrak says someone was hit about 9:15 p.m. in Philadelphia by a Northeast Regional train. The accidents caused travel delays, but no one aboard the trains was hurt. [United Transportation Union, 3-11-10, from Fox News website report]

TWO DIE WHEN CAR COLLIDES WITH LIGHT-RAIL TRAIN IN UTAH: Two people are dead and two are in critical condition after their car collided with a light-rail train March 11 in South Salt Lake, Utah. Police believe the driver tried to go around warning arms at the intersection, leading to the accident. None of the 60 to 80 passengers on the train was injured. [United Transportation Union, 3-11-10, from Associated Press report]

WELLSBORO & CORNING ADDS FOUR LOCOMOTIVES TO ITS FLEET: Wellsboro & Corning Railroad (WCOR) has taken delivery of four SD40-2 six-axle locomotives. The units are equipped with 3,000-horsepower, turbo-charged, V-16 engines that use microprocessors to boost efficiency. WCOR operates a line between Wellsboro, Pa., and Corning, N.Y., and interchanges with Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-11-10]

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM PAYS OFF FOR AMTRAK: Ridership on Amtrak's long-distance trains continues to rise as the national intercity passenger railroad continues to implement the multi-year Route Performance Improvement (RPI) program. The process focuses on all elements of train service on several routes, such as employee-passenger interactions, staffing levels, food service and amenities, equipment cleanliness and reliability, stations and schedules. This year, Amtrak has worked to expand the RPI process to evaluate additional financial and operational issues, and continue to measure customer satisfaction. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-10-10]

FREIGHT RAIL VOLUME DECLINES IN FEBRUARY: The Association of American Railroads on March 10 reported that in Febr., 2010, U.S. freight railroads saw a 1.5 percent decline in carloads compared with the same month last year and a decline of 15.6 percent compared with the same month in 2008. According to the March AAR Rail Time Indicators Report, 14 of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by AAR saw higher carloads last month compared with the same month last year. [Association of American Railroads, 3-10-10]

CSX RESTRUCTURING ITS LAW DEPARTMENT: CSX Corporation has announced the appointment of Nathan Goldman and David Bowling to new General Counsel roles, resulting from the planned April 1 reorganization of the company's law department into two teams. Goldman will lead one of the two teams as General Counsel - Corporate and Transportation Law, while Bowling will lead the other team as General Counsel - Transactions and Insurance. They will report to Ellen M. Fitzsimmons, Senior Vice President-Law and Public Affairs. [CSX, 3-10-10]

CSX EXPECTS DOUBLE-DIGIT EARNINGS INCREASE IN 2010: Railroad operator CSX Corp. March 10 that it expects double-digit growth in earnings per share for 2010 driven by higher sales and shipping volume. Oscar Munoz, executive vice president and CFO, said the company predicts better export coal shipments - an important commodity group for the railroad. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-10-10, from Associated Press report]

K.C.S. SEES 1-Q SALES UP 20 PERCENT: Railroad operator Kansas City Southern said March 10 it expects first-quarter sales to grow by more than 20 percent compared with the same period a year ago. A 20 percent jump would imply revenue of $415-million. [United Transportation Union, 3-10-10, from Associated Press report]

TRAFFIC LOWER ON GENESEE & WYOMING: Short line and regional railroad operator Genesee & Wyoming Inc. said its traffic fell nine percent last month from February 2009, mostly due to lower shipments of coal, coke and ores. The company blamed the shortfall mostly on lower shipments in the Rocky Mountains, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. [United Transportation Union, 3-10-10, from Associated Press report]

U.S. FOREST SERVICE AWARDED $102-M IN SUIT AGAINST UNION PACIFIC: The U.S. Forest Service sued Union Pacific Railroad for damages incurred as a result of a wildfire in 2000 that was caused by negligence on the part of the railroad. U.P. was deemed negligent, and the United States Forest Service recovered $102-million in damages for the environmental destruction of 52,000 acres from wildfire. The value of the wildlife and ecosystem in addition to value of standing timber were incorporated into settlement. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-10-10, from Lawyers and Settlements website report]

R.R. TAXI COMPANY MOVING 62 JOBS TO TEXAS: A company that operates a taxi and crew transportation service for railroad workers is moving 62 positions from Bismarck, N.D., to its Dallas headquarters. The transfer is the result of consolidation within the company. The Bismarck office employs about 150 people and manages operations in 12 states. Dispatching and accounting departments will be moved to Dallas by the end of May. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-9-10, from Associated Press report]

VIA RAIL TO UPGRADE TORONTO-OTTAWA LINE: VIA Rail Canada Inc. announced plans to upgrade the line between Toronto and Ottawa, and build a new station in Smith Falls, Ontario. The Canadian government will provide $21-million for the infrastructure projects, which are designed to increase service frequency and speed along VIA Rail's busy Toronto-to-Ottawa route. The station is designed to blend with the city's 'historic character and railway legacy,' which dates back to 1859. The new station will reduce schedule conflicts between passenger trains and Canadian Pacific freight trains. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-8-10]

KCS ACQUIRES MEXICAN INTERMODAL TERMINAL: Kansas City Southern recently acquired the Puerta Mexico intermodal facility in Toluca, and plans to launch a direct service to the terminal later this month. Kansas City Southern de Mexico S.A. de C.V. (KCSM) will provide the intermodal service from Lázaro Cardenas to Puerta Mexico to offer Mexico City importers and exporters a transportation alternative featuring improved reliability and better transit times. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-8-10]

RICHARD SARLES NAMED INTERIM HEAD OF D.C. METRO: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has appointed Richard Sarles interim general manager, effective March 29. He will temporarily lead the agency after GM John Catoe Jr. leaves WMATA on April 2. Sarles, 65, has more than 25 years of transit industry experience with New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-5-10]

SIX DEAD IN ARIZONA BUS CRASH: Six people were killed when a passenger bus crashed on an Arizona Interstate 10 south of Phoenix early March 5. The tour bus could be seen in a dirt area just off the roadway with extensive damage and debris scattered around it. [United Transportation Union, 3-5-10, from CNN website report]

F.T.A. FAULTS D.C. METRO ON SAFETY: An audit released by the Federal Transit Administration presents damning evidence of disregard for safety and oversight at the Washington area's Metrorail system. The audit says train operators rarely know that workers are on the tracks until the operator can see them, that Metro has no process for communicating safety concerns across departments, that safety officials have been isolated and ignored within the organization, and that the weak and underfunded Tri-State Oversight Committee is denied access to information necessary to perform its duties. [National Association of Railroad Passengers, 3-5-10]

METROLINK TAKES DELIVERY ON FIRST TWO CRASH-RESISTANT CARS: The first two of a fleet of 117 crash-resistant rail cars have been delivered to Southern California commuter rail operator Metrolink. The cars, built by Hyundai-Rotem in South Korea, feature 'crush zone' technology to absorb the impact of a collision. The cars will undergo rigorous testing before being put into service. [National Association of Railroad Passengers, 3-5-10]

QUAKE DISRUPTS HIGH-SPEED TRAIN SERVICE ON TAIWAN: A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan on March 4, causing no reported deaths but several injuries from falling objects. The new high-speed rail line linking Taipei with the southern end of the island suffered service disruptions on its southern half pending safety checks. About 2,400 people left six stalled trains by walking along the tracks on bridges, while 874 passengers had to leave trains stuck in Yunlin County. There was a partial derailment of a train near Hisnshih, whose abrupt stop caused passengers to panic. Subway service in the city of Kaohsiung was also temporarily disrupted. [National Association of Railroad Passengers, 3-5-10]

MILWAUKEE CHOSEN FOR TALGO MANUFACTURING PLANT: The vacant Tower Automotive Corporation plant in northwestern Milwaukee has been selected as the site for Talgo North America's new US train manufacturing facility. The Spanish-owned company, whose trains currently operate on Amtrak's state-sponsored Portland-Vancouver Cascades service, reportedly could create hundreds of jobs thanks to a $47.6-million deal with the state of Wisconsin to build two 14-car trainsets to operate between Chicago and Milwaukee on Amtrak's Hiawatha service. The plant will use largely US-made parts. [National Association of Railroad Passengers, 3-5-10]

MARYLAND GETS FEDERAL GRANTS FOR LIGHT-RAIL, MARC PROJECTS: The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a $17.1-million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to the Maryland Transit Administration to upgrade light-rail yard switches, replace or overhaul 24 light-rail substation circuit breakers and other work, and $2.8-million to perform additional work on MARC's public-address system. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-5-10]

THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF SLIDE IN ROGERS PASS: Home to hundreds of active avalanche paths, Canadian Pacific Railway's historic Rogers Pass route between Golden and Revelstoke has been a formidable challenge to the operation of the railway since 1885. Such was the case shortly before midnight on March 4, 1910, when a colossal avalanche overwhelmed a CP work crew killing 58 men. It was the largest avalanche disaster in Canadian history. [Canadian Pacific, 3-4-10]

CALIFORNIA RAIL AGENCY RECONFIRMS HIGH-SPEED ROUTE: The state High-Speed Rail Authority issued a revised study that continues to recommend that speed trains between the Bay Area and Central Valley travel through the Pacheco Pass. The authority, which selected the Pacheco route over Altamont Pass in 2008, had to reassess the best route and redo portions of its environmental report after a Sacramento judge ruled in December that its initial analysis was inadequate. [United Transportation Union, 3-4-10, from San Francisco Examiner report]

RAIL LINE IN MAINE TO KEEP RUNNING, SENATOR SAYS: The Federal Railroad Administration will work with the state to develop a plan to keep the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Inc. line open for 22 shippers that "directly rely on the rail line," said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). The railroad recently filed a notice of intent with the Surface Transportation Board to abandon 233 miles of track in northern Maine because of high operating costs and low traffic volumes. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-4-10]

FIRE BREAKS OUT ON HARPERS FERRY BRIDGE: A fire broke out on a portion of the CSX Railroad a bridge at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., late March 4. Firefighters were dispatched to the fire at about 6:50 p.m., and the fire was put out shortly afterward. MARC commuter trains were disrupted with passengers bused around the scene toward Martinsburg. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-4-10, from Martinsburg Journal website report]

SEPTA TO ABANDON 'R' DESIGNATIONS FOR TRAINS: SEPTA has decided to abandon the familiar R designations of its Regional Rail lines, effective July 25. The agency will instead identify them according to the ultimate destination. For example, the R8/Chestnut Hill West will become the Chestnut Hill West line, and the R8/Fox Chase will become the Fox Chase line. SEPTA officials said visitors and infrequent riders sometimes got on the wrong trains, confused by different lines with the same R designation. SEPTA will also get rid of the color codes linked to each line on its maps and schedules. Henceforth, the color of all Regional Rail lines will be "a bluish-gray," SEPTA said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-4-10, from Philadelphia Inquirer website report]

TRAINS COLLIDE HEAD-ON IN B.C.: Two trains slammed head-on just outside of Golden, B.C., March 3, sparking a large propane fire. Canadian Pacific said the crash between an empty grain train and a train carrying potash knocked one engine on its side and striking a propane tank at a rail switch heater, which spread into a blaze. Emergency crews quickly doused the fire before it ignited leaking diesel fuel and no dangerous substances escaped from either train. CPR could not say how soon the line will be reopened. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-3-10, from Calgary Sun website report]

CINCINNATI COUNCIL WANTS ITS UNION TERMINAL TO SERVE PROPOSED 3-C SERVICE: The Cincinnati city council has recommended that the city's landmark union terminal serve the proposed '3-C' corridor train service. The state of Ohio had previously recommended a riverfront site to serve Cincinnati. MORE.. Currently, only one Amtrak train uses the terminal. [Railway Age website report, 5-3-10]

AMTRAK TRAIN SLAMS INTO BUS IN CALIFORNIA: At 6:30 on March 3, a Southbound Amtrak Capitol Corridor train slammed into an empty AC Transit bus in Oakland. The bus, which was split in half, was just entering service, so it had yet to carry passengers for the day. The driver was able to exit the bus before the accident, and there were no reports of injuries. The passengers aboard the train were taken by bus to their final destinations. [United Transportation Union, 3-3-10, from Examiner website report]

VRE TO ADD EXPRESS TRAIN IN JULY: Virginia Railway Express is preparing early morning express train service in July. The new train is slated to leave the Fredericksburg station at 5:05 a.m. Overall, the train would stop at Leeland Road, Brooke, Alexandria, Crystal City, L'Enfant Plaza and Union Station. The train is expected to get commuters to Washington 25 minutes earlier than any other VRE train. [United Transportation Union, 3-2-10, from Media General News Service report]

VIA RAIL TO REPLACE WINDSOR, ONTARIO, STATION: VIA Rail Canada and the Canadian government have announced a joint investment to build a new station in Windsor, Ontario, featuring improved and expanded facilities. The government will provide $6-million for the project through Canada's Economic Action Plan. To be built on a site near the existing facility by fall 2011, the station will replace a structure built by CN in the early 1960s and expanded by VIA Rail in 1982. The station project also is part of the federal government's $923 million capital investment in passenger-rail modernization and expansion, according to VIA Rail. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-1-10]

AMTRAK TRAIN STRIKES FIRE TRUCK IN DETROIT: A Chicago-bound Amtrak train with at least 76 people aboard slammed into a fire truck that was stopped on the tracks in southwest Detroit, causing minor injuries to several people. The ladder truck was hit as the driver tried to move it Monday morning. The truck and a police car were there helping a family involved in an earlier crash. [United Transportation Union, 3-1-10, from Associated Press report]

OREGON TO BUY TWO TALGO TRAINSETS: The State of Oregon is buying two new passenger trains to be used on Amtrak's Cascades service that runs between Eugene and Vancouver, B.C. The 13-car trains are made by Talgo and are similar to the trains being used now. Oregon received a discount by pooling the train purchase with the State of Wisconsin. [United Transportation Union, 3-1-10, from KMTR website report]

ANALYST UPGRADES N.S. TO 'OVERWEIGHT': A Barclays Capital analyst said he believes investors aren't paying enough attention to the earnings growth potential of Norfolk Southern Corp., citing the railroad operator's pricing strength, improving shipping volume and potential for stronger coal shipments. Analyst Gary Chase upgraded the stock to 'Overweight' from 'Equal Weight' and raised his share price target to $62 from $55. [United Transportation Union, 3-1-10, from Business Week website report]

DERAILMENT DISRUPTS AMTRAK SERVICE IN ILLINOIS: A Union Pacific freight train derailment Febr.26 caused delays in Amtrak passenger service between Chicago and St. Louis. Three freight cars filled with ballast rock derailed about two miles south of Wilmington, Illinois. No injuries were reported. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-27-10, from Associated Press report]

TWO TEENS KILLED BY ACELA TRAIN IN PENNSYLVANIA: An Acela train traveling from Boston to Washington hit two teenage girls about 10:30 a.m. Febr.25 in Norwood, Pa., about 10 miles southwest of Philadelphia. Norwood Police say an examination of the girls' e-mail and text messages showed they spoke of their desire to end their lives. [United Transportation Union, 2-27-10, from Associated Press report]

GALESBURG TO RAISE FUNDS FOR R.R. HALL OF FAME: Backers of a plan to build a national railroad hall of fame in Galesburg. Illinois, say they plan to start a national fundraising campaign early next year. The hall of fame could cost about $30-million to build. Local organizers say they've raised $1.45-million in town and have more secured in state and local grants. Galesburg has a long railroad history and annually celebrates Railroad Days. MORE.. [United Transportation Union, 2-25-10, from Associated Press report]

N.S. TO BUILD CORRIDOR HUBS: Norfolk Southern Railway hopes to begin construction by July on new intermodal terminals in Memphis and Birmingham now that it has a large stimulus grant to help pay for them. The two terminals are part of the NS Crescent Corridor development plan, which aims to remake an old rail route from the Mississippi Delta to the Northeast into a refurbished, high-speed route for double-stacked intermodal trains. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-25-10, from Journal of Commerce website report]

STORM DAMAGE DISRUPTS N.Y. STATE AMTRAK SERVICE: Eight of Amtrak's 26 weekday trains between the Capital Region and New York City will be canceled on Thursday as CSX works to complete repairs to its tracks and systems that were damaged by Wednesday's winter storm. Power outages along Amtrak's line between Albany-Rensselaer and Poughkeepsie on Wednesday delayed some trains and forced the cancellation of others, according to Amtrak and passengers. [United Transportation Union, 2-25-10, from Albany Times Union report]

VIA RAIL TRAIN DERAILS NEAR QUEBEC CITY: A VIA Rail passenger train derailed early Febr.25 at St. Charles de Bellechasse, on the south shore of Quebec City. About 10 passengers suffered minor injuries and shock in the mishap. The accident occured about 4:45 a.m. as westbound train No. 15, the Ocean, headed to Montreal from Halifax. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-24-10, from Montreal Gazette website report]

CSXI, U.P. ANNOUNCE 'UMAX' INTERLINE CONTAINER PROGRAM: UMAX, a new domestic interline container program created by CSX Intermodal and Union Pacific Railroad, will provide customers access to more than 20,000 containers and expanded market reach across North America. UMAX will feature more than 600 service lanes supported by faster and more frequent train schedules. UMAX launches March 29, 2010. [Joint press release, 2-24-10]

BOMBARDIER LANDS LARGE FRENCH TRAIN ORDER: Bombardier Inc. has signed a framework agreement with French National Railways that could add up to around $10.85-billion for a total of 860 regional express trains. Bombardier said it has an initial firm order with SNCF, France's publicly owned railway for 80 of the double-deck electric trains. The first deliveries are scheduled for June 2013 and will continue through December 2015. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-24-10, from Reuters Canada report]

AMTRAK SEEKS SUNRAIL LIABILITY DEAL: The chief executive of Amtrak is again threatening to scuttle the SunRail commuter train planned for Central Florida before it picks up its first passenger. In a letter mailed to the Florida Department of Transportation, Joseph Boardman of Amtrak said he was terminating a previous agreement his agency had with the state to share tracks with SunRail. Boardman said that he wants a better liability deal from the state than is being offered in case there is an accident between Amtrak and SunRail, both which would run on tracks Florida intends to buy from CSX of Jacksonville. The way the deal stands now, he said, Amtrak could be liable for millions of dollars to people injured or killed in an accident. Instead, he wants the state to shield Amtrak from some potential lawsuits and claims. [United Transportation Union, 2-24-10, from Orlando Sentinel report]

RAIL DEPOT IN KANSAS NOMINATED TO NATIONAL REGISTRY: A former Rock Island Depot that now serves as the home for the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. At a meeting at the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka, the Historic Sites Board of Review voted to forward that nomination and five others to the office of the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C., to be evaluated by their professional staff. If they concur with the board's findings, the properties will be included in the National Register. The 1887 combination depot designed to accommodate both passengers and freight is located across the street from its original location and was moved there in 1959 to accommodate the development of the Eisenhower Presidential Museum and Library. [United Transportation Union, 2-24-10, from Abilene Reflector-Chronicle report]

DESIGN CONTRACT AWARDED FOR METRA'S 'ENGLEWOOD FLYOVER': Metra's board recently approved a final design contract for the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program's Englewood flyover project. TranSystems Corp. obtained a $5.65-million contract to design the flyover, which will carry Metra's north-south Rock Island line over the an east-west Norfolk Southern Railway/Amtrak line. To be completed in 2012, the project is designed to eliminate conflicts between 68 Metra trains and 60 freight and Amtrak trains that intersect daily at an existing grade crossing. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-23-10]

AMTRAK WANTS NEW LOOK FOR CHICAGO UNION STATION: Amtrak is asking architectural and real estate firms to dream up ways to pump new life into the historic part of Chicago's Union Station - a goal the railroad has previously been unable to accomplish. The project could dramatically reshape the outlines of the 85-year-old structure, an official city landmark. Amtrak, which owns Union Station, plans to select a winner by the end of May. Amtrak is asking the firms for redevelopment ideas for Union Station's headhouse building which contains the Great Hall, a grandly-scaled passenger waiting room. Amtrak wants to bring vitality to vacant retail space around the Great Hall and vacant office floors above it. [United Transportation Union, 2-23-10, from Chicago Tribune report]

RAILROAD MAY BE SHUT DOWN IN MAINE: The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway has filed notice with the federal Surface Transportation Board that it intends to abandon 233 miles of track that stretch from Madawaska to Millinocket, Maine. The state is trying to see whether it can buy the railroad, which has a couple of dozen customers. If that doesn't happen, northern Maine could be left without rail service as early as summer. The railroad dates to 1891, when the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad was incorporated and began laying track. The present owner bought the railroad in 2003 and now owns 774 miles of track that run from Maine to Montreal, with a short side line into Vermont. [United Transportation Union, 2-21-10 from Boston Globe report]

CSX TO DOUBLE THE SIZE OF ITS FREIGHT YARD IN WORCESTER, MASS.: CSX plans to more than double the size of its freight yard on Franklin Street, Worcester, and make the city its new freight hub for New England. The $100-million project is part of a private-public partnership between the state and CSX to reposition its freight operations in Massachusetts, so the rail line between Worcester and Boston can be opened up to more commuter trains, according to Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray. Because CSX will be moving its main freight operations out of its Beacon Park yards in the Allston section of Boston, the company needs to reposition its freight activity at existing rail yards it has in Central and Western Massachusetts. CSX anticipates a two-year construction process. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-20-10, from Telegram & Gazette website report]

KCS REPLACES BNSF ON DOW JONES TRANSPORATION AVERAGE: On Febr.16, 2010, Dow Jones Indexes replaced Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. with Kansas City Southern on the Dow Jones Transportation Average after Berkshire Hathaway Inc. acquired BNSF. The index tracks 20 U.S. transportation stocks. Dow Jones Indexes develops, maintains and licenses the transportation average for use as benchmarks and the basis for investment products. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-18-10]

N.S. DERAILMENT IN INDIANA DISRUPTS AMTRAK SERVICE: Amtrak passengers headed from Bryan, Ohio, to Chicago Febr.18 ended up riding buses after a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed near Butler, Indiana. Nobody was hurt and no hazardous materials were released when cars near the rear of an eastbound train hauling freight containers jumped the tracks at about 6 a.m., but the accident blocked both tracks of Norfolk Southern's Toledo-Chicago main line for the entire morning. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-18-10, from Toledo Blade website report]

NTSB URGES STRONGER RAIL CARS: U.S. regulators should require transit-rail operators to meet safety standards that would prevent cars from crumpling in crashes, after fatal accidents in Washington and near Boston. The National Transportation Safety Board added the recommendation to its 'most wanted' list of federal safety improvements. Regulators should also require that cars be designed to be more accessible to first responders, and that equipment failing to meet standards be removed. "There are no standards" for crashworthiness of transit rail cars, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said at a hearing in Washington. "That doesn't make any sense." [United Transportation Union, 2-18-10, from Bloomberg News report]

NEW CSX TERMINAL PLANNED FOR PITTSBURGH AREA: A new CSX rail terminal will be built in the Pittsburgh area as part of the National Corridor project, funded in part by federal stimulus money. CSX is working with regional economic development officials to determine the best location for the new terminal. The public-private $842-million corridor project will stretch from Ohio to Chambersburg, Pa. Stimulus money for the corridor includes $98-million for CSX to raise vertical clearances on tunnels and bridges, allowing trains to carry double-stacked containers. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-17-10, from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review website report]

BELGIAN TRAINS COLLIDE, MANY DEATHS: Two commuter trains collided head-on at rush hour in a Brussels suburb Febr.15, killing as many as 25 people. The trains collided in light snow just outside of the station at Buizingen around 8:30 a.m. local time. There was no immediate word on the number of injured. The international high-speed network Thalys, which links major cities in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands, temporarily halted all traffic because its trains use the same rails as commuter lines near Hal. [United Transportation Union, 2-15-10, from Associated Press report]

AMTRAK COPES WITH RECORD SNOWFALL IN EAST: A record-breaking pair of blizzards brought much of the Mid-Atlantic's transportation network to a halt this week. On the Febr.6 Capitol Limited heading west to Chicago, an employee disembarked to procure groceries for breakfast, and later ordered meals for all 115 passengers from a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken. Conditions only got worse when a second storm front hit on Febr.9, dumping almost 20 inches of snow in some areas. Amtrak reported stoppages and reduced service on a number of trains, including the Capitol Limited, Northeast Regional, Acela Express, Auto Train, Cardinal, Silver Star, Carolinian, Palmetto, Empire, and Keystone. Some services were scheduled to begin by Febr.12, with all services affected by the weather back in full operation by Febr.13. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 2-12-10]

BNSF SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE BERKSHIRE DEAL: At about lunchtime Febr.12, BNSF Railway Co. will become a privately held company. Yesterday, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. shareholders voted in favor of the proposed $26-billion-plus acquisition by Warren Buffett/Berkshire Hathaway Inc. during a stockholder meeting in Fort Worth, Texas. Preliminary voting results released by the Class I show that about 70 percent of stockholders who own non-Berkshire-owned BNSF shares approved the transaction. MORE.. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-12-10]

U.P. TO IMPROVE RAIL LINE IN HOUSTON: Union Pacific will improve Houston's transportation infrastructure with a $29-million investment to improve the rail line that runs from Spring, Texas, to the Washington Avenue Corridor. Work on the 23-mile stretch of tracks will begin on the line that parallels the Hardy Toll Road February 18. Crews also will make track improvements to the rail line located along Washington Avenue, between downtown Houston and Hempstead Road. [Union Pacific, 2-11-10]

CSX HIKES DIVIDEND NINE PERCENT: On February 10, 2010, the Board of Directors of CSX approved a 9 percent increase in the quarterly dividend on the company's common stock to $0.24 per share. The dividend is payable on March 15, 2010, to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 26, 2010. [CSX, 2-10-10]

RAIL TRAFFIC REMAINS DOWN IN JANUARY: The Association of American Railroads reported U.S. carloads for the month of January 2010 were down 0.7 percent at 1,056,684 carloads, compared with the same month last year, and down 17.7 percent compared with 2008. The month's intermodal traffic, which includes movement of truck trailers and shipping containers, was up slightly at 2.5 percent to 803,275 units compared with January 2009, but down 11.2 percent compared with the same month in 2008. Thirteen of the 19 commodity categories tracked by AAR saw year-over-year gains from January 2009. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-10-10]

CSX CLEANS UP FROM DERAILMENT IN PENNSYLVANIA: CSX rail service is expected to resume shortlY following the derailment of 113 coal cars early Febr.6 near Meyersdale in Somerset County, Pa. Two locomotives pulling a freight train reportedly remained upright when the derailment occurred in the area of Wills Creek. The line closed by the derailment is a major freight line through the region. Two CSX workers operating the train were uninjured. [United Transportation Union, 2-9-10, from Cumberland Times-News report]

R.R. MUSEUM PLANNED IN REMINGTON, VA.: A new railroad museum is currently under development in the town of Remington, Va., located south of Manassas on Norfolk Southern's former Southern Railway main. The Remington Railroad Museum will be housed in the former Southern Railway freight depot, which is estimated to be about 100 years old. The old depot will be moved from its current location to a new site 750 feet to the southwest.  The railroad donated the building with the agreement that it would be relocated off their property. Once the depot is in its new location, work will start to restore it based on a 1919 photo which was discovered at the Library of Congress.  The museum will tell the story of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, which was the predecessor of the Southern Railway, and its instrumental role in the development of Remington and its strategic role in the Civil War.  The museum will house display cases, interpretive wall panels, a working telegraph station, and other artifacts. [Alex Mayes, 2-9-10]

LINCOLN STATUE BEING UNVEILED AT SPRINGFIELD, ILL, AMTRAK DEPOT: A ceremony will take place Febr.9 to unveil a monument that marks the spot where the body of President Abraham Lincoln was returned to Springfield. The event will be at the Springfield Amtrak station on the station platform on the west side of the building. Mayor Tim Davlin and other dignitaries will conduct the ceremony, the time of which might change slightly to accommodate regularly scheduled Amtrak passenger trains, according to a news release from the City of Springfield. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-8-10, from State Journal-Register website report]

AMTRAK RELEASES ITS 'FLEET STRATEGY': Amtrak will need to purchase over the next 14 years 780 single level cars, 420 bi-level cars, 70 electric locomotives, 264 diesel locomotives and 25 high speed train sets. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 2-5-10]

MURRELL HOGUE DIES, RETIRED AMTRAK AGENT & PASSENGER ADVOCATE: Murrell Hogue, passenger train activist and former Amtrak agent from Texarkana died February 3 in Commerce, Texas. He was 70. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 2-5-10]

PRESIDENT PROPOSES FEE FOR RAIL INSPECTIONS: President Obama's budget proposes to have the Federal Railroad Administration start charging for some of its safety inspection services, to bring in $50-million in fee income during the fiscal year. The "railroad safety user fee" is intended, the budget said, 'to help offset the costs associated with railroad safety inspectors and their activities.' Obama also tucked in a request to spend $4.5-million for the FRA to hire 31 full-time equivalent new rail inspection and grant program workers. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-3-10, from Journal of Commerce website report]

R.R. RETIREMENT BOARD TO MARK 75TH ANNIVERSARY THIS YEAR: During 2010, the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board will observe the 75th anniversary of the enactment of the Railroad Retirement Act of 1935. Part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal legislation, the Act was signed into law on August 29, 1935, and the RRB made its first annuity payments 11 months later. The 1935 Act was the cornerstone of the present railroad retirement system. In addition to paying retirement and survivor benefits to railroad employees and their families, subsequent legislation also authorized the payment of unemployment and sickness benefits to rail workers. [U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, 2-3-10]

EMPIRE BUILDER TO STAY ON DEVILS LAKE, RUGBY ROUTE, AMTRAK SAYS: Amtrak announced it has no intention to discontinue service along the longer - but more populated - route, according to the Grand Forks Herald.  This reroute also was threatened in 1989 and was dropped then in response to political resistance. The North Dakota congressional delegation has affirmed that they will work with Amtrak and BNSF - which owns both sets of tracks in consideration - to shore up problems areas on the 277 mile arc, which is under threat by high water near the Devil's Lakes Subdivision and where track is not up to the same standard as BNSF's mainline. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-29-10]

PRESIDENT PLEDGING $8-B FOR HIGH-SPEED RAIL: President Obama will give $8-billion in economic stimulus money to 13 U.S. rail corridors, mostly for high-speed passenger service. The funds, the biggest single U.S. investment in high-speed rail, will be announced by Obama in Tampa, Fla., today. Announcements by administration officials will also be made at events in Columbus, Durham, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Philadelphia. In all, 31 states will benefit, and a small portion of the $8-billion will go to improvements in existing rail lines, according to an Obama administration official. [United Transportation Union, 1-28-10, from Bloomberg News report]

N.S. PROFIT FALLS 32 PERCENT: Norfolk Southern Corp. says its profit for the fourth quarter fell 32 percent. Net income was $307-million or 82 cents a share for the quarter that ended Dec. 31, down from $452-million or $1.21 cents a share in the same quarter of 2008. Coal revenue dropped 27 percent and intermodal dropped 15 percent. [United Transportation Union, 1-28-10, from Virginian Pilot report]

K.C.S. REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Kansas City Southern reported fourth quarter 2009 revenues of $406.8-million, a four percent decrease compared to the corresponding 2008 period. Notable year-over-year revenue improvements were achieved in chemical & petroleumof 12 percent and intermodal of three percent. Volumes were down just one percent in the quarter compared to fourth quarter 2008. [Kansas City Southern, 1-28-10]

TWO WASHINGTON METRO WORKERS KILLED ALONG RED LINE: Two Metro workers were struck and killed by a piece of track equipment just north of the Rockville Metrorail station early Jan.26. The workers were installing equipment on the tracks that helps trains communicate with each other and with headquarters. There was no information immediately available about why the workers did not get out of the way of the equipment. Red Line service in the Rockville area was disrupted with no train service at the Shady Grove or Rockville stations while the accident was investigated. [United Transportation Union, 1-26-10, from Washington Post report]

C.N. REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: CN reported its financial and operating results for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2009. Net income and diluted earnings per share for the final quarter of 2009 increased two per cent from the year-earlier period to $582-million and $1.23, respectively. The results included an after-tax gain of $59-million from a line-sale to Metrolinx in Toronto, and a deferred income tax recovery of $99-million. Net income for full-year 2009 decreased two per cent from 2008 to $1,854-million, with diluted earnings per share declining one per cent to C$3.92. The 2009 results included after-tax gains of C$194 million. CN's operating ratio for 2009 increased by 1.4 points to 67.3 per cent when compared to 2008. [C.N., 1-26-10]

BNSF CUTS DOMESTIC INTERMODAL TRANSIT TIMES: BNSF Railway implemented service improvements that cut scheduled trip times for 60 percent of its premium domestic intermodal traffic, saving shippers up to half a day on their long hauls. The railroad said its changes also add 16 more days of domestic service frequency across its network. Changes at the start of 2010 include cutting transit seven to 10 hours on BNSF's main transcontinental route between the Los Angeles area and Chicago. It cut trip times between Los Angeles and Memphis by four to six hours, and at Houston increased inbound and outbound day-of-week frequency. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-26-10, from Journal of Commerce website report]

C.N. ANNOUNCES NEW LEADERSHIP TEAM: Claude Mongeau, who succeeded E. Hunter Harrison as CN's president and chief executive officer on Jan.1, has installed his new senior team. Mongeau announced the company has appointed Keith Creel, executive vice president and chief operating officer; Jean-Jacques Ruest, EVP and chief marketing officer; Luc Jobin EVP and chief financial officer; Sean Finn, EVP of corporate services and chief legal officer; Kim Madigan, VP of human resources; and Robert Noorigian, VP of investor relations. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-26-10]

AMTRAK CONCERNED ABOUT FLORIDA LIABILITY ISSUE: Amtrak has sent a letter to Florida threatening to end rail service in the SunRail corridor, alleging the state violated an agreement over the use of the shared Orlando-area tracks and over liability for accidents. The dispute stems from a special legislative session in December when lawmakers approved legislation designed to kick-start SunRail, pour more money into South Florida's Tri-Rail and entice the federal government into committing billions to start high-speed rail in Florida. The letter asks lawmakers to pass legislation giving Amtrak the same no-fault liability protections afforded CSX. Without them, the risk of liability exposure in an accident might be too great to continue service. But Florida officials say they won't meet demands for new negotiations. The dispute does not affect current service in the Orlando area and does not apply to other Amtrak rail lines in the state. [United Transportation Union, 1-25-10, from Miami Herald report]

AMTRAK CAFE CAR CATCHES FIRE IN INDIANA: At about 7:15 p.m. Jan.23, officials from a train bound for Detroit called the Michigan City, Indiana, fire department and moved the 129 passengers to the front of the train, to get them from the smoke that had erupted in the cafe car. "There was a fire in an overhead motor of the cafe car," MCFD Battalion Chief Mike Osborne said. No one was injured. [United Transportation Union, 1-24-10, from News-Dispatch report]

AMTRAK TRAIN DERAILS IN VIRGINIA, SEVERAL MINOR INJURIES: Amtrak says a train heading to Florida derailed just outside Washington, causing several minor injuries and delaying the train for about four hours. The train derailed about 8:30 p.m. Saturday in Fairfax County, Va., and got under way again about 12:40 a.m. Sunday. Several passengers and crew members suffered minor bumps and bruises. The train was a special train headed for West Palm Beach with 712 passengers and 15 crew. [United Transportation Union, 1-23-10, from Associated Press report]

BURKE CENTER, VA., ADDED AS AMTRAK STOP: In an effort to further integrate the new Lynchburg to Washington service into its national network, Amtrak has added the Burke Center stop in Burke, Virginia, as an official stop on its Northeast Regional line. Burke Center had previously served only as a connecting point for VRE passengers. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-22-10]

BNSF REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation reported quarterly earnings of $1.55 per diluted share, which included a tax benefit of $0.25 per share related to the fourth-quarter donation of a portion of a line segment located in Washington State. This compared to fourth-quarter 2008 earnings of $1.78 per diluted share, which included a fuel surcharge lag benefit of about $200 million. Full-year 2009 earnings per diluted share were $5.01. [Burlington Northern Santa Fe, 1-21-10]

BNSF ANNOUNCES 2010 CAPITAL COMMITMENT: BNSF Railway Company announced a planned 2010 capital commitment program of $2.4-billion, which is expected to be approximately $240-million lower than 2009 due to fewer expected locomotive acquisitions in 2010. BNSF currently expects to spend about $2.1-billion for track, signal systems, structures, and freight cars, and to upgrade technologies, including the unfunded mandate for positive train control. The Company also anticipates acquiring approximately 170 locomotives. [Burlington Northern Santa Fe, 1-21-10]

NTSB RECOMMENDS SURVEILLANCE IN LOCOMOTIVES: The federal government should require surveillance cameras in nearly all locomotives, to allow railroad managers to see if engineers are texting or talking on cellphones, sleeping or admitting unauthorized visitors, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended. The recommendation resulted from the investigation into the crash of a commuter train in Chatsworth, Calif., in 2008 that killed 25 people. The engineer, who was among those killed, was apparently composing a text message when he ran a red signal and the train collided with a freight train. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-21-10, from New York Times website report]

U.P. REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific Corporation reported 2009 fourth quarter net income of $551-million or $1.08 per diluted share, compared to $661-million or $1.31 per diluted share in the fourth quarter 2008. Operating income totaled $1-billion, down 12 percent. For the full year 2009, Union Pacific reported net income of $1.9-billion or $3.75 per diluted share. This compares to $2.3-billion or $4.54 per diluted share in 2008.  The Company's 2009 operating revenue totaled $14.1-billion, compared to $18-billion in 2008. Operating income decreased 17 percent from 2008 to $3.4-billion. [Union Pacific, 1-21-10]

MUDSLIDE NEAR SEATTLE DISRUPTS PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICE: Sound Transit commuter rail and Amtrak service between Everett and Seattle is shut down at least until Thursday Jan.21 because of a mudslide across the tracks. The slide hit around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday in north Seattle. [United Transportation Union, 1-20-10, from Herald report]

POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL COULD HAVE PREVENTED METROLINK ACCIDENT, FORMER NTSB HEAD SAYS: The engineer's use of a cell phone has been widely publicized in connection with the head on collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, Calif., in September 2008. Jim Hall, who served as Chairman of the NTSB from 1994 to 2001, expressed concern that focusing too much attention on the cell phone issue may detract from the real lesson to be learned from the Chatsworth collision. Hall believes that positive train control, a system of monitoring and controlling train movements that NTSB identified over three decades ago as the most effective way to avoid train-to-train collisions, could have prevented the Chatsworth accident regardless of other factors. MORE.. [Former NTSB Chair Jim Hall, 1-20-10]

CSX REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corporation announced fourth quarter earnings from continuing operations of $305-million or 77 cents a share, versus $361-million,or 92 cents a share in the same period last year. Fourth quarter revenue of $2.3 billion was 13 percent down from the prior year. CSX also announced full year 2009 earnings from continuing operations of $1.14-billion or $2.87 a share, versus $1.5-billion or $3.66 a share, for 2008. [CSX, 1-19-10]

JEFFREY MORELAND NOMINATED TO AMTRAK BOARD: President Obama has nominated retired BNSF executive Jeffrey R. Moreland to be a member of Amtrak's nine-member board of directors, which currently has four vacancies. Moreland, an attorney, was BNSF's executive vice president for public affairs prior to his 2007 retirement. [United Transportation Union, 1-19-10]

K.C.S. TO RETROFIT FIVE GP40 LOCOMOTIVES: Later this year, Kansas City Southern Railway Co. plans to repower five GP40 locomotives at a diesel shop in Shreveport, La. The locomotives will be equipped with more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly, eight-cylinder, 2,000-horsepower engines manufactured by Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. (EMD). The retrofit will extend the 30- to 40-year-old units' life another 20-plus years and help the railroad reduce its carbon footprint. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-18-10]

PRESIDENT CHANGING POLICIES FOR SELECTING TRANSIT PROJECTS: The Obama Administration has announced it will change existing policies for selecting transit projects for federal funding, focusing on issues such as economic development opportunities and environmental benefits, as opposed to the existing criteria that are focused on cost and time saved. Trolleys, streetcars, light-rail, bicycle and pedestrian projects are all expected to benefit as transit projects that improve urban mobility without necessarily improving on automobile commute times. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-15-10]

WASHINGTON METRO G.M. TO RESIGN: The Washington, D.C. Metro System General Manager John. B. Catoe Jr. announced on January 14 that he will resign as head of the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA), effective April 2, 2010. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-15-10]

AMTRAK'S SILVER STAR DAMAGED BY PASSING FREIGHT TRAIN: Amtrak's northbound Silver Star experienced severe damage January 12 near Boulogne, Florida, when a loose boxcar door on a passing CSX freight train became airborne after striking the engines, tearing off 20 feet of the roof of the then-unoccupied dining car. There were no injuries. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-15-10]

CONTRACT AWARDED TO REPLACE AMTRAK'S NIANTIC RIVER BRIDGE: Amtrak has awarded a $104.7-million contract to Cianbro/ Middlesex VII for replacement of the 102-year old movable bridge over the Niantic River. The three-year project, set to begin in April, is being funded by Amtrak's annual capital program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The plan is for the existing bridge to remain in operation until the new bridge is built. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-14-10, from The Day website report]

MONTANA RAIL LINK TO CUT JOBS, FREIGHT CAR FLEET: Montana Rail Link will get rid of 46 jobs across Montana. The company cited the closures of Smurfit-Stone container's pulp mill and the loss of lumber mills in Bonner and Pablo as reasons for the cuts. The company also says the freight car fleet will be reduced from 2,200 to just 600 over the next several months. [United Transportation Union, 1-14-10, from KECI website report]

OHIO TO HELP FUND REPAIRS TO W&LE SWING BRIDGE IN TOLEDO: The Ohio Rail Development Commission has approved a $155,000 grant for the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway to repair the Maumee River swing bridge in Toledo. Built in 1911, the bridge connects the railroad to CN and the Ann Arbor Railroad, and spans the waterway leading to the Port of Toledo. W&LE will provide matching funds for the repairs, which call for repairing the swing mechanism and installing a new emergency generator. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-14-10]

BNSF'S CROSSING-CLOSURE TEAM ACHIEVES GOALS: BNSF's Field Safety Support and Public Projects employees have achieved 10 years of reaching grade-crossing closure goals. "As of Dec. 31, 2009, the team closed a total of 4,686 grade crossings in 10 years," Mark Schulze, vice president, Safety, Training and Operations Support said. "Closing crossings is important because the closures help improve safety in the community and for our crews." [BNSF, 1-14-10]

U.S. 2009 RAIL CARLOAD TRAFFIC WORST SINCE 1988: The Association of American Railroads reported that 2009 saw total carload traffic on U.S. railroads at its lowest levels since at least 1988, when the AAR's data series began. MORE.. [Assn. of American Railroads, 1-13-10]

CORN PRODUCTION POISED TO SET RECORD THIS YEAR: Good news for railroads' grain traffic: The U.S. Department of Agriculture now projects the nation's 2010 corn production will reach a record 13.2 billion bushels, which would represent a one percent increase from the previous record of 13 billion bushels set in 2007. In December 2009, the USDA forecasted annual corn production of 12.9 billion bushels. The agency still projects annual corn exports at 2.1 billion bushels. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-13-10]

OTTAWA TO PROCEED WITH LIGHT-RAIL PLANS: The Ottawa City Council has voted to proceed with preliminary engineering and environmental review of a $2.1-billion, 7.8 mile light-rail plan for the city. The 13-station line would include a 2-mile tunnel. [Railway Age website report, 1-13-10]

LAS VEGAS MONORAIL COMPANY FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY: The Las Vegas Monorail Company has filed with federal bankruptcy court due to falling ridership. The company operates a 4-mile service connecting hotels with the convention center. Operations will continue during the bankruptcy process. [Railway Age website report, 1-13-10]

AMTRAK SETS 1-Q RIDERSHIP RECORD: Amtrak says that the state of America's passenger railroad is strong and announced it had set a first quarter ridership record carrying nearly 7.2 million passengers during the first three months of fiscal year 2010. [United Transportation Union, 1-12-10, from Associated Press report]

U.S. ANNOUNCES POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL SAFETY STANDARDS: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Joseph Szabo have announced historic safety regulations requiring Positive Train Control technology. MORE.. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 1-12-10]

U.P. SETS INTERMODAL RECORD IN 2009: Union Pacific Railroad achieved a record year of 1.25 million domestic intermodal shipments in 2009.  In addition, for the second consecutive year, Union Pacific and UPS achieved a "Perfect Peak Season" by delivering 100 percent of UPS peak season freight without a sort failure. Prior to 2009, Union Pacific's highest domestic intermodal volume was 1.19 million shipments in 2007. [Union Pacific, 1-12-10]

AMTRAK TO BUY NEW LOCOMOTIVES, CARS: Amtrak will buy more than 100 locomotives, along with hundreds of new passenger cars, reports the Journal of Commerce. Amtrak included the purchase plans in a 2010 outlook statement, but gave no details about how much money it will spend on the equipment. The agency said it will later 'announce a comprehensive and detailed plan to replace and expand its fleet.' Separately, Amtrak said it is committed to completing a positive train control system by the end of 2012. [United Transportation Union, 1-11-10, from Journal of Commerce report]

ACELA TO GET WIRELESS INTERNET: Amtrak says that its installation of wireless Internet access on the high-speed trains would be complete in March and initially free to passengers. Amtrak made the announcement as part of a 2010 preview of its activities. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-11-10, from Associated Press report]

U.S. CARLOADS WORST SINCE 1989: The 2009 plunge in bulk U.S. railcar shipments took cargo volume to its lowest level since 1989, said the Association of American Railroads. The five U.S. Class I railroads, plus a few regional lines that report to AAR, ended 2009 with just over 13,812,989 carloads, which was down 16.1 percent from 2008 for a single-year decline of more than 2.6 million shipments. When measured for average capacity changes, the 13.8 million carloads in 2009 would be the lowest since an adjusted level in 1989 of 13,664,142 carloads. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-8-10, from Journal of Commerce report]

CHINA INTRODUCES 'HARMONY' HIGH-SPEED TRAIN: With the introduction of its 680-mile-long Harmony train service, China unveiled arguably the fastest long distance train service in the world. On December 26, the Harmony express ran from Guangzhou to the central city of Wuhan in under three hours - a journey that previously took over 11 hours.  The train reached a top speed of 245 mph. The new Chinese service is planned to run 56 times a day and fares will cost roughly $115. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-8-10]

TWO DERAILMENTS OF TEXAS EAGLE TRAINS IN TWO DAYS: The first derailment was Wednesday morning in Arkansas, 45 miles northeast of Little Rock. The Los Angeles bound train derailed at 3 a.m., stranding 212 passengers. The second incident, also involving a southbound train with Los Angeles cars, was Thursday around 9 p.m., two miles north of the St. Louis station. Amtrak characterized that delay as "minor," and expected the train to be moving again in a few hours. However, the train left St. Louis eight hours late and will not run past Fort Worth. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-8-10]

GALESBURG EYES NATIONAL R.R. HALL OF FAME: Galesburg, Ill., officials are hoping they can combine the attractions of the Quad Cities, Peoria and Galesburg to create a tourism corridor called Tractors, Trains & Tracks, that would include a $30-million proposed National Railroad Hall of Fame. The Tractors, Trains & Tracks corridor would use the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, the proposed Caterpillar visitor center in Peoria and the NRRHOF to create a tourism hub. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood visited Galesburg last October and met with officials. LaHood was supportive of the Tractors, Trains & Tracks idea, as was BNSF CEO Matt Rose. [United Transportation Union, 1-7-10, from Register-Mail report]

U.B.S. DOWNGRADES K.C.S. STOCK: Shares of rail company Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU) are down after analysts at UBS downgraded the stock, saying the 42 percent rally in the stock since Berkshire announced its BNSF acquisition in early November suggests 'there's an unhealthy degree of takeover speculation in the name.' The firm's rating went from Neutral to Sell. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-7-10, from Street Insider website report]

F.R.A. DEMANDS STRONGER PASSENGER CARS: Passenger trains in the U.S. must be manufactured to better withstand collisions under a federal rule to be published Jan. 8. The rule, which starts taking effect in March, will cost $4.1-million over 20 years, mostly for engineering and testing development, the Federal Railroad Administration said in a notice. The U.S. will require stronger front-end frames on new passenger railcars and some locomotives to help prevent them from collapsing or telescoping on impact. The rule applies only to orders placed after it takes effect. [United Transportation Uniom, 1-7-10, from Bloomberg News report]

COAST GUARD TO DISCONTINUE LORAN-C COVERAGE: LORAN-C has been used in navigation for 52 years by offering radio navigation signals to determine the vessel's location. For more than a decade, it has basically served as a backup system to GPS, which is more efficient. Effective Febr.8, 2010, LORAN-C will be decommissioned at most locations currently offering the service. MORE.. [U.S. Coast Guard, 1-7-10]

S.T.B. OK'S ALASKA R.R.'S PLAN TO BUILD NORTHERN EXTENSION: The Surface Transportation Board has granted the Alaska Railroad's request to construct and operate an 80-mile line between North Pole and Delta Junction, subject to certain conditions. The railroad plans to build the 'Northern Rail Extension' to provide year-round rail service to the region south of North Pole, Alaska. The line would serve as an alternative to Richardson Highway, and would provide the U.S. military year-round access to training areas. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-6-10]

READING BLUE MOUNTAIN & NORTHERN ACQUIRES TOWANDA-MONROETON LINE: The Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad Co. (RBMN) has acquired the Towanda-Monroeton Shippers Lifeline Railroad Inc., which operates a six-mile line between Towanda Borough and Monroeton, Pa. The company will own a 1.5-mile section of the line and Shaffer's Feed Service Inc. will continue to own the remainder, but RBMN will provide service on the entire six-mile route. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-6-10]

LIRR OPENS BROOKLYN TERMINAL: The new Atlantic Terminal Pavilion has opened. The semicircular outside walls and ceiling of the three-story pavilion are paneled with glass, allowing light to flood through the half-moon shaped atrium. The completion of the $108-million hub coincides with major redevelopment efforts in the neighborhood, including a new mall directly above the station and a proposed $1-billion basketball arena just blocks away. [United Transportation Union, 1-5-10, from New York Times website report]

CSX SEEKS TO DEVELOP RECLAIMED LAND IN INDIANA: A more-than-4,500-acre site stretching across Vigo and Clay counties, Indiana, has been certified as a CSX Transportation Large Industrial/Light Manufacturing Mega Site by a site selection consulting firm. The site, largely reclaimed land from the former Chinook coal mine, is the first property in Indiana, and one of only 15 sites within the entire CSX service area, to hold the certification. [United Transportation Union, 1-5-10, from Tribune-Star report]

STOURBRIDGE RWY GETS STATE GRANT TO REHABILITATE LINE: Pennsylvania is prioritizing rail service with the recent investment of $24.5-million in 39 rail companies, including Honesdale's Stourbridge Railway, which is targeted to receive $3.2-million to rehabilitate 23 miles of track and restore the line to operating standards. Currently used primarily for local tourist excursions, the railroad serves the Honesdale area and may eventually provide freight service as well as customized tourist excursions from outlying areas. On December 15, a shipment of steel made its way to Honesdale via the soon-to-be upgraded line. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-5-10, from River Reporter website report]

K.C.S. REVAMPS OPERATING DIVISIONS: Kansas City Southern Railway Co. has reorganized the transportation and mechanical departments. The changes increasing increasing field divisions from two to three. The new Midwest Division includes territory form East St. Louis, Ill., west to Kansas City, Mo., and south to Shreveport, La. The new Southeast Division includes territory from Counce, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss., west to Shreveport and south to New Orleans. The new Southwest Division includes territory from Laredo, Texas, to Shreveport. [Kansas City Southern, 1-4-10]

BNSF URGES SHAREHOLDERS TO VOTE FOR BERKSHIRE DEAL: A colorful 8-page brochure is being mailed by Burlington Northern Santa Fe to its shareholders, urging them to vote for the freight railroad's proposed acquisition by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. MORE.. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 1-4-10, from CNBC website report]