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CHINA PLACES BLAME ON JULY RAIL CRASH: China's chief administrative authority issued a statement December 28 placing the blame for a fatal high-speed rail crash in July on design flaws and poor management, condemning the Chinese Rail Ministry in a critical, public rebuke. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-30-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Gains were reported in rail freight traffic for the week ending Dec. 24, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 287,137 carloads, up 11.9 pct compared with the same week last year. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-29-11]

WASHOUT DERAILS 33-CAR TRAIN IN AUSTRALIA: A train operated by Genesee & Wyoming Australia Pty. Ltd. derailed near the Edith River bridge north of Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia, Dec. 27. Flood waters associated with heavy rainfall from Cyclone Grant washed away the southern abutment of the bridge while a 33-car intermodal train heading north to Darwin was passing over the structure. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-29-11]

COLUMBIA TAP TRAIL REOPENS IN HOUSTON: The Columbia Tap Trail is a rails-to-trails project consisting of four miles of a 10-foot wide, concrete hiking-and-biking trail along the old Columbia Tap railroad in Houston. The trail has now reopened following construction of the Southeast line of the Harris County light-rail system expansion project. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-29-11]

GE TRANSPORTATION TO BUILD NEW PLANT IN PENNSYLVANIA: GE Transportation has plans to build a new plant in Grove City, Pa. GE expects to spend $35-million to create capacity at a new diesel engine remanufacturing plant and an additional $37-million in 2011 and 2012 on improvements at the existing Grove City plant. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-28-11]

PLANS FOR DOWNEASTER LAYOVER FACILITY MOVE FORWARD: The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is moving ahead with plans to build a $9-million layover and maintenance facility for the Amtrak Downeaster in Brunswick, Maine, despite the loss of a federal grant that would have paid for the project. [Canadian Press website report, 12-28-11]

CHINA TESTING 310-MPH TRAIN: China’s official news agency, Xinhua has announced that the Ministry of Railways launched a test train capable of achieving 500 km/h (310 mph) cruising speeds. CSR Corp. Ltd. built the train.  [Railway Age website report, 12-28-11]

BOMBARDIER GETS ORDER FOR 130 ELECTROSTAR EMU CARS IN U.K.: Bombardier Transportation has announced that it has secured an add-on order, worth $296-million, for 130  ELECTROSTAR e.m.u. cars for the UK's Southern rail operation. [Railway Age website report, 12-28-11]

TITAN WINS AMTRAK MARKETING CONTRACT: Advertising company Titan has landed the exclusive right to sell Amtrak's media in the Northeast Corridor from New York to Washington D.C., beginning Jan. 1, 2012. [Railway Age website report, 12-27-11]

MASSENA, N.Y., INDUSTRIAL PARK TO GET CSX RAIL ACCESS: An industrial park in Massena, N.Y., will get rail access after the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena agreed to supply the rest of the funds needed for the project. The first phase is expected to begin next summer and include a switch to a nearby CSX line. [Daily Courier-Observer website report, 12-27-11]

BOMBARDIER TO SUPPLY 90 EMU TRAINS FOR FRANKFURT, GERMANY: Bombardier Transportation will supply 90 of its 430 series electric multiple unit (EMU) trains to Germany’s DB Regio AG, worth $648-million, to serve the Frankfurt metropolitan area. The new 90 four-car electric multiple units of the 430 series are to be used in the suburban-network Kleyer. [Railway Age website report, 12-27-11]

VEOLIA AWARDED SPRINTER CONTRACT EXTENSION: Veolia Transportation has been awarded a two-year contract extension for operations and maintenance of the North Country Transit District Sprinter service in northern San Diego County, California.  [Railway Age website report, 12-27-11]

BNSF TO PAY $1.5-M OVER SEATTLE STORMWATER POLLUTION: BNSF Railway has agreed to pay $1.5-million for Puget Sound restoration projects to resolve a lawsuit over stormwater pollution at its Seattle facility. The Puget Soundkeeper Alliance had sued BNSF, alleging it violated federal clean-water laws with stormwater discharges from its Balmer Yard facility. [Associated Press report, 12-23-11]

BNSF DEVILS LAKE LINE TO BE RAISED IN SPRING: A 17-mile stretch of flood-threatened railroad tracks and two bridges in the Devils Lake Basin of North Dakota will be raised out of danger. BNSF Railway CEO Matt Rose said construction will begin in the spring on the $97.4-million project along the BNSF track. [Grand Forks Herald website report, 12-23-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Gains were reported in rail freight traffic for the week ending Dec. 17, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 304,377 carloads, up 11.7 pct compared with the same week last year. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-22-11]

NEW TRAMS FOR ESSEN, GERMANY: Bombardier Transportation says the Essen, Germany, Transport Authority has ordered 27 FLEXITY Classic trams in a contract worth $94-million.  [Railway Age website report, 12-22-11]

DETROIT CANCELS LIGHT-RAIL PLAN: Detroit has canceled a roughly $528-million plan to build 9.3 miles of a light rail network. The line was the product of activity by Detroit’s corporate leaders who are trying to breath life back into the city’s downtown. Instead the, city will now focus on a Bus Rapid Transit system. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-22-11]

BOSTON-N.Y. AMTRAK SERVICE AFFECTED BY TRESPASSER FATALITY: Amtrak Northeast Corridor and Shore Line East service was impacted Dec. 21 by a trespasser fatality involving Northeast Regional train 137 just after 3:30 p.m. in Old Lyme, Ct. Service was restored about two and one-half hours later. [Amtrak, 12-21-11]

CHARLOTTE LIGHT RAIL BLUE LINE TO GET $18-M UPGRADE: Charlotte’s Lynx Blue Line light-rail will get an $18-million upgrade, allowing station platforms to be extended to handle three-car trains, boosting system capacity. Construction work is expected to commence in 2013 and be finished in 2015. [Railway Age website report, 12-21-11]

VIA RAIL INTRODUCING NEW SCHEDULE FOR MONTREAL-OTTAWA-TORONTO SERVICE: VIA Rail Canada plans to introduce new schedules in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto triangle starting Jan. 24. The changes are anticipated to attract 100,000 new passengers per year and increase revenue by several million dollars annually. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-21-11]

AFGHANISTAN OPENS FIRST MAJOR RAILROAD: Operators ran the first train down Afghanistan’s first major railroad DEC. 21, clearing the way for service from the northern border that should speed up the U.S. military’s crucial supply flow and become a hub for future trade. [Washington Post website report, 12-20-11]

PITTSBURGH TO BEGIN TESTING CARS ON LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION: The Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pa., will soon begin testing the first T cars along a new 1.2-mile light-rail extension. Set to open in spring 2012, it will extend the existing 25-mile T system to the North Shore from downtown Pittsburgh, Station Square and the South Hills. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-20-11]

SIX NEW ‘MIDDLE CARS’ FOR TORONTO: Sumitomo Corp. of America, in conjunction with Nippon Sharyo, has obtained a $22-million contract from Metrolinx in Toronto to supply six additional diesel multiple units (DMU). The current contract called for 12 DMUs. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-20-11]

UNION PACIFIC ORDERED TO REINSTATE TERMINATED WHISTLEBLOWER: The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered Union Pacific Railroad to immediately reinstate an employee in Idaho who was terminated after reporting a work-related injury. OSHA also has ordered the company to pay the employee more than $300,000 in back wages, compensatory damages, attorney's fees and punitive damages. [U.S. Dept. of Labor, 12-20-11]

TWO NEW TRAM LINES IN U.K.: A Tramlink Nottingham consortium that includes Alstom has obtained a $893-million contract to build and operate two new tram lines in the United Kingdom. The project will expand the existing network by about 11 miles. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-20-11]

NEW LOCOMOTIVES FOR TASMANIA: Downer Rail, in partnership with Progress Rail USA, has obtained a contract from TasRail to design and build 17 new PR22L locomotives for the Tasmanian rail network. The first locomotives are expected to start arriving by mid-2013. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-20-11]

GO TRANSIT COMPLETES IMPROVEMENTS TO CLARKSON STATION: Provincial and GO Transit officials have marked the completion of a $14-million project to improve the Clarkson Station in Mississauga, Ontario. The facility is one of the busiest stations across the system. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-19-11]

FEDS GRANT $10-M TOWARD MINNEAPOLIS RAIL INTERCHANGE PROJECT: A rail interchange project at Target Field in Minneapolis has received $10-million in funding to be used to help build a new passenger platform, storage and staging tracks and a public plaza at the station. The interchange serves commuter and light-rail systems, and will serve future systems when those projects are completed. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-19-11]

COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF UNION PACIFIC IN SMUGGLING CASE: A U.S. district court has ruled that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials overstepped their authority in imposing fines on Union Pacific. The Department of Homeland Security had imposed fines and seized equipment after finding illegal drugs from Mexico were being smuggled in rail cars. UP argues that their security officials have no authority in Mexico. [Washington Post website report, 12-19-11]

AMTRAK HAD RECORD RIDERSHIP THANKSGIVING WEEK: Amtrak made it official, announcing that it carried 724,051 passengers over the Thanksgiving holiday week, marking the most successful week in the railroad’s 40-year history.  And with 138,736 passengers on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Amtrak also broke its previous single day ridership record. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-16-11]

RAIL FATALITIES IN 2010: Rail fatalities in 2010 increased from 742 to 813, with the majority at grade crossings. Deaths on light, heavy and commuter rail rose from 229 to 253. [National Transportation Safety Borad, 12-16-11]

TONY INGRAM, EDMOND HARRIS ADDED TO CP BOARD: Canadian Pacific has announced the appointment of Tony L. Ingram and Edmond L. Harris to the company’s board of directors. Ingram was from 2004 to 2009 executive vice president and chief operating officer at CSX Transportation; Edmond Harris from 2010 to 2011 was chief operations officer at Canadian Pacific. [Canadian Pacific, 12-15-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Gains were reported in weekly rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 297,400 carloads for the week ending Dec. 10, 2011, up 3.7 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 240,899 trailers and containers, up 3 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-15-11]

BORDER DEAL TO IMPROVE AMTRAK CASCADES SERVICE BETWEEN CANADA & U.S. : Amtrak Cascades passengers will enjoy more reliable southbound service into the U.S. because U.S. border agents will conduct security inspections before the train leaves Vancouver, B.C., rather than along the tracks in Blaine. Details of the new procedures will be negotiated and worked out by the end of 2012. [Bellingham Herald website report, 12-15-11]

TIGER-III GRANT ANNOUNCED FOR W.VA. INTERMODAL FACILITY: The West Virginia Ports Authority will receive a $12-million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery III (TIGER III) grant to help fund construction of a long-planned intermodal terminal along Norfolk Southern’s Heartland Corridor near Prichard, W.Va. Construction is slated to begin next year. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-15-11]

BOMBARDIER GETS LIGHT-RAIL & TRAM ORDERS FOR FRANKFURT: Bombardier Transportation has received orders to supply 78 additional Flexity Swift high-floor light-rail vehicles and 10 Flexity Classic trams to the Frankfurt Transport Authority, VGF, in Germany. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-15-11]

EVANSVILLE WESTERN RWY SEEKS APPROVAL FOR WINTER HAVEN, FLORIDA, RAIL TERMINAL: CSX subsidiary Evansville Western Railway has applied for site plan approval for a rail terminal project in Winter Haven, Fla. The project is needed to handle traffic from the Orlando-area line and the Polk County line. Initial construction is anticipated to start as early as mid-2012. [Lakeland Ledger website report, 12-15-11]

CP UPGRADING ITS NORTH MAIN LINE THROUGH THREE PROVINCES: Canadian Pacific says that it has completed the first year of infrastructure improvements under a three-year plan to upgrade its North Main Line between Winnipeg and Edmonton. The $250-million program, designed to increase capacity, spans 850 miles in three provinces.  [Railway Age website report, 12-14-11]

DART AWARDS CONTRACT FOR AIRPORT LIGHT-RAIL LINE: Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has awarded a design-build contract for a 5.2-mile extension of the Orange Line from the future Belt Line Station to the airport. A joint venture of Kiewit, Stacy and Witbeck, Reyes, Parsons was selected to complete the $149.7-million project known as Irving-3 (I-3). [Railway Age website report, 12-14-11]

MOYNIHAN STATION CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT CONTRACT: A joint venture between AECOM Technology Corp., its Tishman Construction arm and STV have obtained a $19-million contract from the Moynihan Station Development Corp. The contract calls for the joint venture to provide construction management services and rail expertise for the station’s first phase of construction. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-13-11]

ELECTRIFICATION CONTRACT FOR METRO SYSTEM IN LIMA, PERU: Siemens Infrastructure & Cities will be responsible for electrifying the new double-track metro line on behalf of train consortium Consorcio Tren Electrico in Lima, Peru. The line will run from the city’s northern suburbs to the downtown area, and will include 10 new stations. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-13-11]

FTA GRANTS $116-M TOWARD UTAH LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION: The Federal Transit Administration has announced $116-million grant to Utah Transit Authority to extend UTA’s TRAX ligh-rail transit line 3.8-miles from Sandy to Draper. [Railway Age website report, 12-13-11]

AMTRAK, BNSF PROVIDE FUNDS FOR N.D. RAIL REHABILITATION: Amtrak and BNSF have provided a combined $65-million to help rehabilitate a 17-mile long line and two bridges near Churchs Ferry, N.D., that were damaged by floods. The estimated cost of the project is pegged at $97.4-million, and it has won a $10-million grant from the Department of Transportation. [Grand Forks Herald website report, 12-13-11]

MONTANA INTERMODAL HUB GETS FEDERAL GRANT: An estimated $10-million grant for the construction of the Intermodal Hub project in Shelby, Montana, has been awarded by the Department of Transportation. Part of the grant will be directed to track projects based on train specifications of BNSF, which also serves certain ports in the state. [KRTV-TV website report, 12-13-11]

CHICAGO-QUAD CITIES PASSENGER RAIL PROJECT GETS FEDERAL GRANT: The Federal Railroad Administration has given more than $177-million to the Illinois Department of Transportation for a passenger rail project that will operate twice daily round-trip service between Chicago and the Quad Cities with intermediate stops at Geneseo, Princeton, Mendota and Plano.  [Railway Track & Structures website report, 12-13-11]

FEDS GRANT $15-M TOWARD EXPANSION OF NORFOLK SOUTHERN’S RUTHERFORD YARD : The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded Pennsylvania a $15-million grant to expand capacity at the freight processing facility in Rutherford, near Harrisburg, Pa. The area's freight market is expected to begin new services from Memphis, Birmingham and Charlotte in the next few years, and this project will ensure that the Rutherford facility is able to handle the increase. [Norfolk Southern, 12-13-11]

STREETCAR TURNTABLE FOR DALLAS: Dallas will celebrate the debut of a streetcar turntable Thursday, Dec. 15, complete with holiday lights coordinated to dazzle viewers when the turntable itself is in use. The turntable will allow for the eventual introduction of new and modern streetcars to supplement the current heritage operation. Most modern streetcar designs are not double-ended. The current service includes a loop track at one end. [Railway Age website report, 12-12-11]

KCS TAKES DELIVERY OF SEVEN GE LOCOMOTIVES: Kansas City Southern has taken delivery of seven new Evolution Series 4400-hp locomotives from GE Transportation. The company has ordered a total of 25 Evolution Series units for operations in the U.S. and Mexico, and the remainder will be delivered by year’s end. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-12-11]

D.C. GETS GRANT TO STUDY CSX’S LONG BRIDGE OVER POTOMAC RIVER: The D.C. Dept. of Transportation has received a $2.9-million federal grant to evaluate rehabilitation or replacement of CSX’s Long Bridge over the Potomac River. The bridge, more than 100 years old, is the sole railroad bridge between Virginia and Washington, carrying approximately 90 trains daily.  Rail service over the bridge is expected to grow to nearly 150 trains per day in the next 20 years.  CSX will contribute $100,000 to the study. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 12-12-11]

GEORGIA GETS GRANT TO STUDY ATLANTA-CHARLOTTE PASSENGER RAIL CORRIDOR: The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has received a $4.1-million federal grant to complete a service development plan and environmental study for the 250-mile passenger rail corridor between Atlanta and Charlotte.  GDOT is contributing $1.125-million for this phase of the project.  [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 12-12-11]

SIGNAL CUTOVER IN BRUNSWICK, MD.: A CSX signal cutover project took place in Brunswick, Md., Dec. 9-11. Included were updated signal systems, new signal masts, conversion of signals from the B&O-style aspects to those of the former Seaboard system, and the retirement of WB Tower. The tower, the last active interlocking tower in the state of Maryland, is slated to close officially within the next several days. [Posted 12-11-11]

ILLINOIS TO BUY NEW EQUIPMENT FOR HIGH-SPEED TRAIN PROJECT: Illinois plans to buy bullet train equipment worth $233.8-million consisting of 12 locomotives and 30 two-level passenger cars. The state is also working with other states that have high-speed rail projects to access more than $782-million in federal grants to buy equipment. [Associated Press report, 12-11-11]

BART SOUTH BAY EXTENSION CONTRACT AWARDED: Joint venture group Skanska-Shimmick- Herzog has been awarded a $772-million contract by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority to extend BART 10 miles south, into Santa Clara County, California. The project will extend BART service to San Jose’s Berryessa neighborhood. [Railway Age website report, 12-9-11]

MASSACHUSETTS TABLES COMMUTER RAIL PROPOSAL THROUGH CAMBRIDGE: Massachusetts transportation officials are backing off a proposal to extend the Worcester/ Framingham commuter rail line 8 miles through Cambridge to North Station. The project had drawn opposition in Cambridge where residents were concerned about noise and traffic that would be created by additional trains. [Boston Globe website report, 12-9-11]

MAYOR OF COLUMBUS, GA., FORMS PASSENGER RAIL DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION: The mayor of Columbus, Georgia, has formed a Passenger Rail Commission to develop train service between the town and nearby Atlanta. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson believes that Atlanta-Macon is the most likely first segment of any state rail development plan in Georgia and is working to ensure that Columbus is included in future considerations. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 12-9-11]

MODERNIZED METRO TRAINS FOR SAO PAULO: Bombardier Transportation has unveiled the first of 26 six-car modernized metro trains for Companhia Metropolitana do Metro de Sao Paulo (CMSP). The train is ready to commence service on Line 1 of the Sao Paulo metro network, with all necessary tests having been completed, Bombardier said.  [Railway Age website report, 12-8-11]

NOVEMBER 2011 RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Gains were reported in November 2011 rail traffic compared with the same month last year, with U.S. railroads originating 1,476,635 carloads, up 2.3 pct, and 1,162,249 trailers and containers, up 3.8 pct. November 2011 saw the largest year-over-year percentage increase in carload traffic since March 2011. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-8-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC EXPANDS BAKKEN RAIL SHIPMENTS: CP is now increasing volumes of crude oil movement by rail out of the Saskatchewan Bakken oil formation through a new CP transload facility, operated by Bulk Plus Logistics in Estevan.  This is in addition to railcar loads already moving out of the Dollard transload facility, located on the Great Western Railway.  The oil is destined to various refineries in Canada and U.S. [Canadian Pacific, 12-7-11]

IMPROVEMENTS TO LAWRENCE, KANSAS, TRAIN STATION COMPLETE: On Dec. 3, Amtrak, Kansas and local officials marked the completion of more than $1.5-million in improvements to the Lawrence, Kansas, station, including a 500-foot passenger boarding platform. About 6,410 passengers used the station in a 12-month period ending Sept. 30, Amtrak said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-6-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC ADDS 61 GE EVOLUTION SERIES AC LOCOMOTIVES: Canadian Pacific has added 61 new high horsepower GE Evolution (EVO) Series AC locomotives, and has initiated a program to modernize its low and medium horsepower yard locomotives. The new EVO locomotives are currently in transcontinental service on  priority series trains. [Canadian Pacific, 12-6-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN SEEKS FEDERAL FUNDS TOWARD PORTAGE BRIDGE REPLACEMENT: Norfolk Southern is upgrading its old Southern Tier route in New York state to take advantage of economic opportunities in the area and from Marcellus Shale drilling. It wants to replace its 135-year-old Portage Bridge, which crosses Letchworth Gorge and the Genesee River. Together with Canadian Pacific and the state's Dept. of Transportation, NS applied for $17.7-million in federal funding to help with costs. [Batavia Daily News website report, 12-6-11]

SHOOTOUT ABOARD TEXAS EAGLE, ONE KILLED: One person was killed and a bystander and a plainclothes Dallas narcotics officer were wounded in a shooting Dec. 5 aboard Amtrak’s Texas Eagle at Union Station in Dallas. The shooting occurred on train 22 awaiting departure for Chicago. One witness said he saw a disagreement over a seat. [Dallas Star-Telegram website report, 12-5-11]

WATCO TO ACQUIRE CONTROLLING INTEREST IN BIRMINGHAM SOUTHERN RWY.: On Dec. 1, Watco Transportation Services LLC announced its Birmingham Terminal Railway (BHRR) subsidiary reached an agreement to purchase the assets of Birmingham Southern Railway (BSRR). Watco currently owns 23 short lines in the United States. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-5-11]

EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENTS ON BUCKINGHAM BRANCH R.R.: The Buckingham Branch Railroad Company’s board has promoted R. Mark Bryant to chief executive officer; Steven Powell to president; and Gale Wilson to senior vice president. The Buckingham Branch Railroad operates more than 200 miles of track in Virginia, including segments between Dillwyn and Bremo, and Richmond and Clifton Forge. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-5-11]

FEDS APPROVE $280-M LOAN TOWARD DENVER’S EAGLE P3 COMMUTER RAIL PROJECT: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has approved a $280-million infrastructure loan to help fund construction of Denver’s Eagle P3 commuter-rail project. The P3 entails the western segment, known as the Gold Line, which will serve Arvada and Wheat Ridge; and the East Line, which will operate from Union Station to Denver International Airport and connect to existing light-rail and bus service. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-5-11]

AAR WELCOMES ALASKA R.R. TO MEMBERSHIP: The Alaska Railroad has become the newest member of the Association of American Railroads. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-5-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC EXPANDING SIDINGS TO ACCOMMODATE LONGER TRAINS: Canadian Pacific will further develop its long train strategy in 2012.  The Company’s installation of new and extended sidings in several key regions throughout its network will allow CP to further benefit from current double digit increases in train lengths. By the end of 2013, the railway is targeting an 11 per cent increase in transcontinental train lengths by adding growing volumes into existing trains. [Canadian Pacific, 12-5-11]

CP BUILDING RAIL YARD FOR WIND TURBINE PARTS IN PLATTSBURGH, N.Y.: Canadian Pacific is building a new rail yard in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Wind-turbine components from Canada would arrive by rail in Plattsburgh, and then be loaded onto trucks bound for the wind-project site near Scranton, Pa., said Canadian Pacific.  [Press-Republican website report, 12-4-11]

MAN ARRESTED IN BID TO STEAL R.R. TRACKS USING A BLOW TORCH: California authorities say they arrested a man who was using a blow torch on top of some railroad tracks in Modesto in an apparent attempt to steal the tracks. [CBS News website report, 12-2-11]

RAIL STRIKE AVERTED WITH AGREEMENTS, EXTENSION: The nation’s major freight railroads have reached tentative agreements with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the American Train Dispatchers Association, which together represent about 26,500 employees in collective bargaining. The last remaining union without a settlement, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE), has agreed with the railroads to extend the ‘cooling off’ period until Febr. 8, 2012, eliminating the immediate threat of a national rail strike. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-1-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC AND IOWA NORTHERN SIGN TRACKAGE RIGHTS AGREEMENT: Canadian Pacific has announced a trackage rights agreement with the Iowa Northern Railway (IANR). The agreement expands CP’s market reach in Iowa and increases rail business options for customers’ agricultural commodities via CP and IANR track. The agreement also provides Iowa Northern rights to operate over CP’s line between Garner, Iowa and Nora Springs, Iowa. [Canadian Pacific, 12-1-11]

FRA ISSUES SAFETY ADVISORY FOR R.R. BRIDGE WORKERS: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a Safety Advisory to remind railroads, contractors and railroad bridge workers of safety practices intended to prevent accidents and casualties to employees.  FRA regulations require standards related to scaffolding and for railroads and railroad contractors to provide, and employees to use, fall protection and personal protective equipment, including head, foot, eye, and face equipment for employees as they work on railroad bridges. [Federal Railroad Administration, 12-1-11]

FLORIDA TO SPEND $118-M TOWARD AMTRAK SERVICE VIA FEC: Direct Amtrak service between Florida's two largest cities is just a few years away. The state will spend about $118-million to restore passenger service to the Florida East Coast Railway. That money will help build eight new stations in coastal towns between Stuart and Jacksonville, build a connector just north of West Palm Beach along with other improvements to the line. [Palm Beach Sun Sentinel website report, 12-1-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: The Association of American Railroads reports gains in rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 265,304 carloads for the week ending Nov. 26, 2011, up 4 pct compared with the same week last year. [Assn. of American Railroads, 12-1-11]

VTG RAIL ASSUMES BUSINESS OF SC RAIL LEASING: VTG Rail Inc. has assumed the business activities of SC Rail Leasing America Inc. The VTG-subsidiary, formerly known as Texas Railcar Leasing, will operate as VTG Rail in the North American market. [Progressive Railroading website report, 12-1-11]

CSX TO WIDEN PRESENCE AT PORT OF VIRGINIA: CSX expects its partnership with Maersk Line to increase its visibility in the Port of Virginia because it will handle a bigger share of intermodal activity. Norfolk Southern also serves the rail terminal there.[Virginia Business website report, 11-30-11]

CN TO CONTINUE RAIL SERVICE TO DALHOUSIE, N.B.: The Port of Dalhousie, N.B., has reached an agreement with Canadian National that will ensure rail service is available to Dalhousie. Earlier, the railway had indicated that it would abandon the branch line from Dalhousie Junction to the town, but port manager Brian Hyslop has confirmed that it has signed an agreement under which CN will continue to operate the line.  [New Brunswick Business Journal website report, 11-30-11]

DRIVERLESS METRO LINE FOR HONOLULU: Ansaldo has announced that its Honolulu Joint Venture, a consortium comprising Finmeccanica companies Ansaldo STS and AnsaldoBreda, has signed a contract with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to supply the technology and vehicles for the driverless metro line being advanced in Honolulu. [Railway Agewebsite report, 11-29-11]

WATCO TO ACQUIRE CONTROLLING OWNERSHIP OF WISCONSIN & SOUTHERN: Watco Transportation Services, L.L.C. and The Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. have announced that they have mutually agreed for Watco to acquire controlling ownership of the Wisconsin & Southern. Milwaukee-based Wisconsin & Southern will retain its existing corporate structure, including its name, and operations to serve its customers. [Watco, 11-29-11]

METRO-NORTH OPENING FAIRFIELD METRO STATION: Metro-North plans to begin providing service to the recently-built Fairfield Metro Station on the New Haven Line December 5. Fairfield Metro is the first new station on the New Haven Line since the State Street Station opened in 2002. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-29-11]

FEDS GRANT $900-M TOWARD HOUSTON LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION: The Federal Transit Administration has signed two agreements to provide $900-million in grants to extend Houston’s light-rail system by 12 miles. The light-rail expansion plan, featuring 18 new stops, is part of the city’s efforts to connect its workforce with major downtown employment centers, including the Texas Medical Center and the University of Houston. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-29-11]

CSX INTRODUCES ‘CARBON CALCULATOR’: CSX has launched an improved Carbon Calculator aimed at helping consumers and businesses better understand the key role freight rail plays in a sustainable supply chain. To demonstrate the efficiencies of CSX's network, the calculator compares the carbon emissions generated by freight rail to those of long-haul trucks over similar routes. Consumers are able to choose from a number of variables to estimate the average carbon emissions reduced by shipping via rail. [CSX, 11-29-11]

VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON, TO EXPAND PORT RAIL CAPACITY: The Port of Vancouver, Washington, will launch a key piece of its planned expansion of rail tracks by the end of this year. Six train tracks will run underneath a new overpass which will carry cars and trucks to port terminals. The idea is to simultaneously speed rail cargo while providing quicker, easier auto access to the port’s cargo operations. [The Columbian website report, 11-28-11]

CLASS I RAIL WORKFORCE CONTINUES INCREASE: The U.S. Class I workforce grew a bit larger last month. As of mid-October, the large roads employed 160,251 people, up 0.1 percent from September’s level and 3.9 percent from October 2010’s count, according to Surface Transportation Board data. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-23-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Gains were reported in rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 301,919 carloads for the week ending Nov. 19, 2011, up 1.1 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 243,234 trailers and containers, up 3pct. Eleven of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-23-11]

FEDS GRANT $16.7-M TOWARD RESTORATION OF SEATTLE’S KING STREET STATION: A $16.7-million federal High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail grant to the state of Washington allows the complete restoration of Seattle’s ornate King Street Station by late 2013. Work on the station will begin in the spring. State funding will cover 20 percent of the cost. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-23-11]

FEDS GRANT $1-B TOWARD CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL PROJECT: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded a California High-Speed Rail Authority $1-billion for initial construction of its High-Speed Rail. Construction will begin next year in Fresno. California’s 220-mph high-speed rail system will connect to the rest of the state’s transportation network, improving local, regional and international mobility. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 11-22-11]

MICHIGAN GETS $150-M GRANT TOWARD DETROIT-CHICAGO RAIL SERVICE: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded $150-million to the Michigan Department of Transportation for a high-speed rail project for Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water services between Detroit and Chicago. The grant will enable MDOT to acquire ownership over much of the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac Rail Corridor within the State of Michigan and pave the way to allow for speeds up to 110 mph on 77 percent of the affected route. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 11-22-11]

MESA, AZ, LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION FUNDED: A three-mile extension of light-rail transit deeper into Mesa, Ariz., has received $35.5-million in fiscal year 2012 appropriations to fund right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation for the approximately three miles along Main Street from the Sycamore Street station through Mesa's downtown.  [Railway Age website report, 11-22-11]

EXTENSION APPROVED FOR CONTAINER FACILITY IN GEORGIA: The Georgia Ports Authority has approved a $6.5-million, 6,000-foot extension of the Mason Intermodal Container Transfer Facility. The project calls for combining 46,921 linear feet of track between two on-site rail yards served by CSX and Norfolk Southern. The project will enable locomotives to pull cars through the facility instead of having to back cars into it. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-22-11]

AVENIO TRAMS FOR THE HAGUE: Siemens Rail Systems Division has obtained a $134.8-million contract to manufacture 40 four-unit Avenio trams for the HTM Materieel B.V. operator in The Hauge, the first city in the world to purchase the Avenio trams, according to Siemens. The agreement also includes an option for the purchase of up to 40 additional Avenio trams. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-22-11]

GENESEE & WYOMING UNVEILS NEW LOCOMOTIVE FOR AUSTRALIAN SERVICE: Genesee & Wyoming Australia has commissioned the first of 16 new 4300-horsepower Downer Rail locomotives, GWA001, the first unit to be delivered. It will be used in GWA’s intermodal service between Adelaide and Darwin. [Adelaide Now website report, 11-22-11]

PERSHING SQUARE HIKES STAKE IN CP RAIL TO 12.4 PCT.: Pershing Square Capital Management has invested another $90-million in Canadian Pacific Railway, raising the fund’s stake in Canada’s second-largest railroad to 12.4 percent from 12.2 percent. [Financial Post website report, 11-22-11]

UNION PACIFIC RELEASES APP FOR TRACKING ITS STEAM PROGRAM: A free app for fans of historic rail equipment is available at Apple's App Store in iTunes for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Features include: Real-time GPS location of Union Pacific's steam locomotives and steam excursion schedules; Photos, videos, descriptions, and history of UP steam locomotives; and Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare functionality. [DC Velocity website report, 11-22-11]

STB AWARDS $63-M TO UTILITY IN RAIL OVERCHARGE CASE: The Surface Transportation Board has granted an estimated $63-million in reparations and rate reductions to the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative. The STB found that BNSF and Union Pacific were overcharging the utility for shipments of coal from New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana to AEPCO's power generating station near Cochise, Arizona. [Surface Transportation Board, 11-22-11]

STB AUTHORIZES 35-MILE ALASKA RAIL EXTENSION: The Surface Transportation Board has issued a decision authorizing the Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) to build a 35-mile line connecting Port MacKenzie in south-central Alaska to a point on ARRC’s existing main line near Houston, Alaska. The line would provide a rail transport option where trucking is now the only mode of surface freight transportation.  [Railway Age website report, 11-21-11]

WABTEC ACQUIRES FULMER COMPANY: Wabtec Corp. has acquired Fulmer Co., a manufacturer of motor components for rail, power generation, and other industrial markets. Based in Export, Pa., Fulmer has annual sales of about $15-million.  [Railway Age website report, 11-21-11]

PRESIDENT SIGNS $10.6-B PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION BILL: President Obama signed a fiscal-year 2012 appropriations bill that will include $10.6-billion for public transportation, which represents a 3 percent increase over FY2011 funding levels. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-21-11]

AMTRAK REORGANIZING INTO SIX BUSINESS LINES: New Amtrak business lines are: Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Investment Development; Northeast Corridor Operations; State Supported Services; Commuter Services; Long-Distance Services; and Corporate Asset Development. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-18-11]

CHICAGO-TWIN CITIES HIGH-SPEED LINE SHOULD FOLLOW MISSISSIPPI RIVER, STUDY SAYS: The planned higher-speed intercity rail corridor between the Twin Cities and Chicago should be routed along the Mississippi River, according to a study released by the Minnesota DOT and the Federal Railroad Administration. The Mississippi River alignment was selected as the preferred alternative, beating out a competing corridor that would have followed Interstate 94. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-18-11]

SOUND TRANSIT TO BEGIN FINAL DESIGN OF EAST LINK LIGHT-RAIL PROJECT: Sound Transit’s board has voted to launch work on the final design for the route between Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond, Washington. The agency plans to begin East Link construction in 2015 and begin rail service in 2023. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-18-11]

CUMMINS TO EXPAND INVESTMENT IN ITS S.C. TECHNICAL CENTER: Cummins Inc. announced plans to invest $24-million over three years to expand research and development at its North Charleston, S.C., technical center. The center will be capable of running a variety of engines and test a range of fuels, according to the company. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-18-11]

FEDS AWARD $21-M FOR CALTRANS PROJECTS: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded $21-million for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for engineering to begin on three double-track projects to improve Southern California’s Pacific Surfliner. The projects involve Oceanside, Del Mar, and Elvira-Morena [U.S. DOT, 11-18-11]

DESERT XPRESS GETS BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT APPROVAL: The $6.5-billion DesertXpress bullet train project has received authorization from the Bureau of Land Management for right-of-way construction on BLM-administered public property. The Surface Transportation Board and the Federal Railroad Administration gave the same approval to the 185-mile, double-track project earlier this year. [Las Vegas Sun website report, 11-18-11]

UNION PACIFIC HIKES DIVIDEND 26 PCT: Union Pacific Corporation’s Board of Directors has voted to increase the quarterly dividend on the company's common shares by 26 pct to 60 cents per share.  The increased dividend is payable January 2, 2012, to stockholders of record on November 30, 2011.  [Union Pacific, 11-17-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Gains in rail traffic were reported for the week ending Nov. 12, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 299,591 carloads, up 0.5 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 244,972 trailers and containers, up 5.2 pct compared with the same week last year. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-17-11]

BNSF PROFIT RISES 8.5 PCT: BNSF Railway’s profit rose 8.5 percent year-over-year to $766-million in the second quarter, as the railroad's revenue rose 13 pct despite traffic falling 1.9 pct. Revenue rose to $4.9-billion and operating expenses increased 14 percent year-over-year to $3.5-billion. [Journal of Commerce website report, 11-17-11]

LABOR AGREEMENTS REACHED FOR 50 PCT OF RAIL EMPLOYEES: Since the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) issued its recommendations on November 5, 2011, the major freight railroads have been actively engaged with its unions to implement the recommendations. Tentative agreements have been reached with four unions. Including the agreement that was reached with the largest union prior to the convening of the PEB, there are now agreements covering over 50 pct of the rail employees in this bargaining round. [BNSF, 11-16-11]

GE TRANSPORTATION TO ACQUIRE SOFTWARE PROVIDER RMI: GE Transportation announced its intent to acquire software provider RMI from The Carlyle Group. Pending regulatory approval anticipated for early 2012, the acquisition would expand GE’s Software and Optimization Solutions business to serve railroad customers worldwide. RMI generates annual revenue of $45-million and provides transportation management software for railroads, rail shippers, rail-car leasing companies and intermodal services in North America. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-16-11]

CONGRESSIONAL NEGOTIATORS SLASH AMTRAK OPERATING FUNDS: House and Senate negotiators have agreed on a fiscal 2012 ‘minibus’ spending bill that funds Amtrak at $1.42-billion and protects short distance services.  But there is no new funding for the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program of grants to states for infrastructure and equipment investments.  The Senate had included $100-million for this, the House nothing. The Amtrak operating number is $466-million, which is 17 percent below the 2011 level. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-15-11]

AMTRAK SERVICE RESTORED AT MINOT, N.D.: Passenger train service has been restored to Minot. The service was discontinued when the Souris River flooded in late June and damaged the depot. In the interim, the Empire Builder has been stopping in Minot for fueling, but passengers have had to go to Stanley, Rugby or Williston to board the train or disembark. [Minot Daily News website report, 11-15-11]

LOAN APPROVED FOR PURCHASE OF FORMER YOUNGSTOWN & SOUTHERN LINE: The Ohio Rail Development Commission has approved loan term revisions for the Columbiana County Port Authority for the rehabilitation of a former Youngstown & Southern line. The $2.1-million loan will enable a buyer to purchase both the rail line and a landfill. The buyer also plans to develop a bulk transload facility on the line. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-15-11]

HIGH-SPEED RAIL STUDY RELEASED FOR QUEBEC-WINDSOR CITY CORRIDOR: The Government of Canada and the provincial governments of Quebec and Ontario have released the final report of the high-speed rail study for the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. HSR is technically feasible in the corridor, the report concludes, but will require significant public expenditure. With these study findings, Canada will take the time necessary to carefully consider possible next steps. [Railway Age website report, 11-15-11]

RAILROADS RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR COMMITMENT TO MILITARY VETERANS: The freight railroad industry has been recognized for the seventh consecutive year by G.I. Jobs magazine, the nation’s premier career guide for military job-seekers, for their commitment to hiring military veterans. The magazine named five Class I railroads to their annual ‘Top 100 Military Friendly-Employers’ list. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-15-11]

STB TO STREAMLINE ROUTINE DECISION PROCESS: The Beginning Dec. 15, the Surface Transportation Board will implement a ‘grant stamp’ procedure for routine, unopposed decisions issued by the Director of the Board’s Office of Proceedings. Rather than preparing a separate decision, the director will apply a stamp to the filed pleading, and the stamped pleading will constitute the Board's decision granting the relief sought. [Railway Age website report, 11-14-11]

AGREEMENT REACHED TO FUND PHASE 2 OF DULLES RAIL LINE PROJECT: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation says that an agreement, pending approval, has been reached to fund the second phase of the Dulles Silver Line Rail project, which has been proposed to extend rail service from Reston, Va., to eastern Loudoun County via Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-14-11]

NEW MONORAIL CARS FOR GERMANY: Vossloh Electrical Systems has obtained a contract with Wuppertaler Stadtwerke to provide 31 new suspension rail cars for the Wuppertal Schwebebah, a high-rail mounted suspension monorail in Germany, to be delivered by the end of 2015. The new cars will replace units that date back to the 1970s. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-14-11]

FORMER UTU LOCAL TREASURER INDICTED FOR EMBEZZLEMENT: A former treasurer of UTU local in Brownsville, Pa., has been indicted on charges of embezzling more than $9,300 from his local, reports the PittsburghTribune-Review. The indictment alleges the individual 'wrote and cashed unauthorized union checks for his personal benefit.' So far this year, four former UTU local treasurers - and seven more from other rail unions - have faced federal indictments alleging they unlawfully converted union funds for personal use. [United Transportation Union, 11-14-11]

METRA TO HIKE FARES 25 PCT: The Metra board has approved a fare hike package that will increase the cost of commuting on Metra trains an average of 25 pct starting in February 2012. [Chicago Sun-Times website report, 11-12-11]

GENESEE & WYOMING CARLOADS UP 14.2 PCT IN OCTOBER: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. reported traffic volumes for October 2011 of 84,331 carloads, an increase of 10,464 carloads, or 14.2 pct compared with October 2010. [Genesee & Wyoming, 11-11-11]

CSX TO BUILD INTERMODAL TERMINAL IN WINTER HAVEN: CSX plans to construct a terminal in Winter Haven, Florida, to replace one in the Orlando area. CSX subsidiary Evansville Western Railway Inc. will begin building the new terminal by year’s end or early 2012. CSX purchased a 318-acre property from the city of Winter Haven in 2007. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-11-11]

BNSF TO SERVE ETHANOL TERMINAL IN BIRMINGHAM: Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc. subsidiary BlendStar L.L.C. has announced plans to build a BNSF-served ethanol unit train terminal in Birmingham, Ala. To be completed in third-quarter 2012, the it will be designed to store 160,000 barrels of ethanol and receive 96-car unit trains. The facility will be the eastern-most point for direct rail shipments of ethanol received from the Midwest. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-11-11]

SARATOGA & NORTH CREEK RWY SEEKS TO OPERATE N.Y. ROUTE: Saratoga and North Creek Railway L.L.C. recently filed with the Surface Transportation Board to operate the 29.7-mile Tahawus Line, between North Creek and Newcomb, N.Y. The track is owned by NL Industries Inc., which plans to sell the line to the carrier in the near future. It plans to provide rail service over the line connecting to its existing track at North Creek and extending to a connection with Canadian Pacific in Saratoga Springs. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-11-11]

MISSOURI GETS $3.6-M GRANT FOR THIRD TRACK PROJECT FOR AMTRAK: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has announced a $3.6-million grant to Missouri to build a third main track on the St. Louis Grand Avenue-to-Gratiot Street Rail Corridor. The project will allow the existing track near the Gateway Intermodal Station to be used primarily for the Amtrak train access to the station. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-11-11]

DURHAM COUNTY, N.C., VOTERS APPROVE HALF-CENT TAX BOOST TO FUND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Voters in Durham County, N.C., voted 60 percent to add an extra half-cent to their own county sales taxes exclusively to fund public transportation improvements, including the development of rail transit service linking the three cities of the Research Triangle. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-11-11]

NEW DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR FOR FRA: The Federal Railroad Administration has announced that Karen Hedlund would be taking over as the new Deputy Administrator. She previously served as the FRA’s Chief Counsel. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-11-11]

INDIANA R.R. MOVES TWO MILLIONTH CARLOAD: Indiana Rail Road Company on Nov. 10 celebrated a major milestone in its history as a regional railroad, officially moving its two-millionth carload of revenue freight at INRD’s Senate Avenue Terminal in Indianapolis. [Railway Age website report, 11-10-11]

CORADIA NORDIC TRAINS FOR SWEDEN: Alstom has obtained a $135-million contract to supply 20 Coradia Nordic regional trains to Skanetrafiken in Sweden. The new trains will serve rail lines in the Skane region. The Coradia Nordic train offers a maximum of 235 seats and can reach a speed up to about 99 mph. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-10-11]

IOWA APPROVES $5.5-M TOWARD RAIL PROJECTS: The Iowa Transportation Commission has approved more than $5.5-million in funding for nine rail infrastructure improvement projects. The monies come from the state’s Railroad Revolving Loan and Grant program, which provides funding assistance to rail projects that create jobs, spur economic development and improve or preserve rail transportation. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-10-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Gains were repoorted in rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 298,465 carloads for the week ending Nov. 5, 2011, up 3.4 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 239,180 trailers and containers, up 3.5 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-10-11]

TRESPASSER FATALITY DISRUPTS NEC SERVICE: A fatal accident involving a trespasser forced Amtrak to suspend service on the Northeast Corridor between New York and Philadelphia the afternoon of Nov. 9. Officials said a trespasser was hit by an Acela train near Hamilton, N.J., causing delays of around 30 minutes. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers]

CINCINNATI VOTERS ELECT TO KEEP STREETCAR PROJECT: A majority of Cincinnati voters have stood by current plans to reintroduce streetcars to the city, rejecting Issue 48, a ballot measure that would have banned any city funds to be spent on passenger rail implementation. [Railway Age website report, 11-9-11]

R.R. CONDUCTOR CERTIFICATION TO BE IMPLEMENTED JAN. 1: Conductor certification, mandated by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, has a clear track for Jan. 1 implementation. In a final rule, published by the Federal Railroad Administration Nov. 9, railroads must implement, by Jan. 1, a formal training program for certifying conductors and a formal process for training prospective conductors. [United Transportation Union, 11-9-11]

NEW CHICAGO TRANSIT CARS UNVEILED: The Chicago Transit Authority has unveil new 5000-series rail cars, marking the first time the agency has added new cars to its rail fleet since 1992. After a prototype test period, the first of the 706 Bombardier Transportation-built cars will enter service on the agency’s Pink Line. The new cars will allow CTA to retire some of the oldest cars in its fleet. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-9-11]

COLTON CROSSING PROJECT BEGINS IN CALIFORNIA: Officials have marked the start of construction on the Colton Crossing grade separation project in Colton, California. To be completed in 2014, the $208-million project calls for elevating two east-west Union Pacific tracks over two north-south BNSF tracks, which currently cross at street level. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-9-11]

CN GETS COAL TRANSPORT DEAL: Canadian National will transport thermal coal products from Coalspur Mines' planned coal mine in Alberta to a rail terminal in the Port of Prince Rupert in British Columbia, under an initial agreement to take effect in 2015. The railroad will also partner with Coalspur for the construction of a rail siding at the mine. [Canadian Press website report, 11-9-11]

GT LOGISTICS INSTALLING RAIL LINES AT TEXAS PORT: GT Logistics is working on rail line installations at its Union Pacific-serviced OmniPort terminal in Port Arthur, Texas. The 300-acre facility is expected to become a multimodal terminal for oil shipments and other products handled by freight carriers once it opens in January 2012. [Oil & Gas Journal website report, 11-9-11]

AMTRAK PRIVATIZATION PLAN DEAD IN HOUSE: Privatization plans for Amtrak's Northeast Corridor will not be pursued further after congressional lawmakers refused support for the idea, said House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica, R-FL. Mica is now suggesting that any returned high-speed rail funds go toward the Northeast Corridor. [Wall Street Journal website report, 11-8-11]

UP, CSX LAUNCH NORTH-SOUTH INTERMODAL ROUTE: Union Pacific and CSX have launched an intermodal service between Detroit and Laredo connecting the Upper Midwest and Canada to southern Texas and Mexico. Using the UMAX container fleet, the two railroads say they deliver three days faster than the next best intermodal service, making fourth-day delivery to Laredo and fifth-day delivery to Detroit.  [Railway Age website report, 11-8-11]

VRE ACHIEVES RECORD ON-TIME PERFORMANCE: During October 2011, Virginia Railway Express’s on-time performance was 98 percent, a first-time achievement in the rail service’s 19-year history. The commuter-rail agency operated 600 trains with 11 total delays. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-8-11]

MASS BAY REOPENS SCIENCE PARK WEST STATION: The Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation marked the completion of a $22-million project to upgrade the Science Park/West End Station on the Massachusetts Bay Green Line on November 5 after being closed six months. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-8-11]

UTU DEVELOPING TRAINING GUIDE FOR AMTRAK: About 8,000 Amtrak employees will undergo training once the Emerging Incidents Procedures manual of the United Transportation Union is completed. "The manual will be used as part of Amtrak's 2012 Block Training cycle to assist front-line employees aboard trains, in stations and on platforms in developing skills related to situational awareness, observation, communication and response," said Bruce Feltmeyer, UTU's training and education coordinator. [Railway Track & Structures website report, 11-8-11]

TRACK UPGRADES ON VIA MONTREAL-OTTAWA-TORONTO LINE COMPLETED: Major improvements have been completed between Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto that will improve passenger-rail service. The project included $55-million in infrastructure upgrades between Ottawa and Montreal, and track and safety improvements on the Ottawa and Brockville route, completing a major part of a $300-million expansion of VIA’s Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-7-11]

ST. LOUIS BEGINS LIGHT-RAIL IMPROVEMENTS: Metro Transit-St. Louis has begun a new light-rail improvement project at the University of Missouri-St. Louis South MetroLink Station. The $1.2-million project is being funded by federal stimulus money. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-7-11]

AMTRAK RAISES AGE FOR UNACCOMPANIED MINORS: Amtrak passengers between the age of 8 and 12 are no longer allowed to ride the national passenger railroad without being accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older. Amtrak had previously allowed passengers as young as 8 years to ride unaccompanied. [Railway Age website report, 11-7-11]

CN MARKS OPENING OF ‘MATTESON CONNECTION’: Canadian National recently unveiled its $30-million rail connection in Matteson, Illinois, the biggest component of the company's $100-million plan to connect the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway and its rail network in Chicago. The Matteson rail link integrates two CN rail lines via a four-point link, allowing trains to reach eastern, northern, southern and western destinations. [Railway Track & Structures website report, 11-7-11]

DOT ‘HERO’ AWARDS PRESENTED TO TWO AMTRAK CONDUCTORS: Amtrak conductors Richard d’Alessandro and Loxie Sanders have been given ‘hero’ awards by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation for their courage under pressure in evacuating passengers from burning equipment of the California Zephyr following the collision of a truck into their train in Nevada June 24. The awards were presented in Washington November 3. [United Transportation Union, 11-4-11]

WABTEC ACQUIRES BEARWARD ENGINEERING: Wabtec Corp. has acquired Bearward Engineering, a leading manufacturer of cooling systems and related equipment for power generation and other industrial markets. [Railway Age website report, 11-4-11]

FUNDING APPROVED FOR TWO CHICAGO TRANSIT RAIL PROJECTS: Illinois and Chicago officials have announced the state will provide $646-million to repair and rebuild the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line, and improve the agency’s Purple Line. Combined with other state, local and federal funds, the latest state allocation brings the total investment to $1 billion to overhaul ‘a critical piece’ of the region’s transit system. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-4-11]

METRO LINE OPENS IN ALGIERS: Siemens officials announced that the president of the Algerian Republic recently inaugurated the first metro line in Algiers. Siemens, a consortium leader for the project, installed the complete rail system as a turnkey project. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-4-11]

INVENSYS RAIL LANDS CONTRACTS IN THREE COUNTRIES: Invensys Rail has obtained contracts worth $967.7-million in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and United Kingdom. In Saudi Arabia, the company will provide signaling and train control systems for the Haramain high-speed line. In Turkey, Invensys obtained a $269.4-million signaling contract for Istanbul’s Bosphorus crossing rail link. And in the United Kingdom, the company obtained a $4.8 million contract to provide signaling for the next phase of the Reading Station remodeling project. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-4-11]

DRIVERLESS TRAINS ENTER METRO SERVICE IN PARIS: The first driverless trains recently entered service on Paris Metro’s oldest line, which is equipped with Siemens’ automatic Trainguard MT communications-based train control system. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-4-11]

FEDS ANNOUNCE 2010 ‘REVENUE ADEQUACY’ FOR CLASS I RAILROADS: The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has issued a decision on Class I railroads’ revenue adequacy for 2010. The board-determined rates of return on net investment included UP, 11.54 pct; Norfolk Southern, 10.96 pct; CSX, 10.85 pct; Kansas City Southern, 9.77 pct; BNSF, 9.22 pct; CN (all U.S. affiliates), 9.21 pct; and Canadian Pacific (all U.S. affiliates), 8.01 pct. Only UP had a revenue adequacy of at least 11.03 pct, the benchmark for the adequacy standard; the others are considered ‘revenue inadequate.’ [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-4-11]

COURT UPHOLDS NORFOLK SOUTHERN FREIGHT TERMINAL IN VIRGINIA: The Virginia Supreme Court has upheld a state grant to Norfolk Southern for a freight terminal in Montgomery County. The court unanimously rejected the county's claim that the grant was unconstitutional, clearing the way for development of the truck-to-rail transfer facility adjacent to Interstate 81. [Associated Press report, 11-4-11]

AMTRAK ADDS THE VILLAGES, FLORIDA, WITH THRUWAY BUS CONNECTION WITH SILVER STAR: The Villages - a retirement community in Florida  - will now have a daily connection to Amtrak’s Silver Star via Thruway bus service. The new bus stop is located at the Spanish Springs Shuttle Station at 1150 Paige Place. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 11-4-11]

UNION PACIFIC UNVEILS AUTOFLEX CONVERTIBLE RAIL CAR: Union Pacific's employee-designed and built AutoFlex rail car was rolled out of the fabrication shop door Nov. 4. The 90-foot long car is a convertible, multi-level that can be easily transformed from two to three decks based on the customer's vehicle shipment needs. [Union Pacific, 11-4-11]

STB DEFERS ACTION ON SHIPPER RAIL ACCESS: The Surface Transportation Board, meeting a deadline to respond to a petition from the National Industrial Transportation League, says it will defer consideration of the shipper group’s request for tougher switching rules. The board said the ‘reciprocal switching’ issue is part of a broader set of rail competition and shipper issues it is already reviewing. The NITL had filed a limited proposal in July aimed at making some freight switching more competitive. [Journal of Commerce website report, 11-4-11]

MARC TO PURCHASE 54 CARS: The Maryland Transit Administration will spend $153-million to acquire 54 new multi-level passenger rail cars from Bombardier for the MARC system. MARC, meanwhile, will retire 26 single-level passenger cars and 12 galley-style cars. The cars to be acquired include 15 cab cars, 34 trailer cars and five other cars. The acquisition will expand MARC’s existing fleet by 16 cars. The new cars will be designed to operate at speeds up to 125 mph, where allowed. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-3-11]

OCTOBER 2011 RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Gains in U.S. rail freight traffic were reported for October compared with the same month last year. U.S. railroads originated 1,215,627 carloads, up 1.7 pct, and 975,566 trailers and containers, up 3.6 pct. October 2011 saw the highest weekly carload average of any month since October 2008, as well as the highest weekly intermodal average since October 2006. [Assn. of American Railroads, 11-3-11]

CSX SELLING 61-MILE FLORIDA LINE FOR SUNRAIL: CSX Corporation has completed the previously announced transaction with the state of Florida to sell a 61-mile rail corridor for the SunRail commuter railroad. The commuter system is expected to begin initial operations in 2014 in a corridor along Interstate 4. SunRail will serve the Orlando area as well as Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties.  Under the agreement, CSX will retain an exclusive freight easement to operate on the SunRail line. [CSX, 11-3-11]

U.S. AWARDS $7.9-M TOWARD NEW TRAIN STATION IN TUKWILA, WASHINGTON: U.S.  Dept. of Transportation has awarded $7.9-million to Washington state to construct a new station in Tukwila, replacing the current, temporary wooden structure and creating enhanced intermodal and parking facilities. The improvements will provide enhanced access to the Amtrak Cascades and ST Sounder services [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 11-3-11]

BNSF TO PROVIDE ONE-THIRD FUNDING TO RECONSTRUCT NORTHERN N.D. LINE USED BY AMTRAK: BNSF will fund a third of the $100-million, 20-mile track and bridge reconstruction near Churchs Ferry, N.D., while another third will be committed through a partnership with Amtrak, according to BNSF CEO and president Matthew Rose. The line provides a route for the Empire Builder to Devils Lake, Rugby, Fargo and Grand Forks. [Railway Track & Structures website report, 11-3-11]

GRANT SOUGHT TO RESTORE 40 MILES OF 2006 FLOOD-DAMAGED TRACK IN UPSTATE N.Y.: An application to the New York state DOT for $4,724,000 to revitalize the Utica Main Line railroad has been submitted.  The grant would cover 90 pct of the costs to repair the sections of the line that were damaged by floods in June 2006, as well as replace deficient cross-ties, the agency said. The main line’s operator, New York Susquehanna and Western Railroad (NYS&W), would absorb 10 percent of costs for repair. [Utica Observer-Dispatch website report, 11-3-11]

MASS BAY REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH CONCRETE TIE MANUFACTURER: The MBTA has reached a settlement in its $91.5-million lawsuit against the manufacturer of the faulty concrete railroad ties that had to be replaced on the Old Colony commuter rail lines. Federal Judge Douglas Woodlock entered an order to terminate the case, subject to both parties filing their stipulations for dismissal with the court by Dec. 1. [Patriot Ledger website report, 11-3-11]

AMTRAK CREATES NEW NEC DEVELOPMENT DIVISION: Amtrak has created a new Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Investment Development business line to streamline the railroad’s funding, policy and planning decisions for the corridor. It is part of Amtrak’s new strategic plan, which aims to align the railroad’s organizational structure and resources with the company’s goals and priorities. Stephen Gardner has been named to the newly-created position of vice-president of the division. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-2-11]

RHODE ISLAND TO EXPAND SERVICE ON PROVIDENCE-STOUGHTON LINE: Rhode Island officials announced plans to expand commuter-rail service Nov. 14, including a stop at T.F. Green International Airport in Warwick. The new schedule nearly doubles the number of weekday stops on the Providence/Stoughton Line, state DOT officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-2-11]

LANCASTER COMMUTERS FORCE THROUGH LOCKED DOOR TO CATCH TRAIN: About 75 to 100 frustrated commuters broke through a door at the Lancaster, Pa., Amtrak train station Nov. 1 to get to the platform after they found a dark, locked station upon arriving before 5:30 a.m. Because of what Amtrak called a ‘scheduling error,’ no one had arrived to open the station. The station is used by more than 500,000 passengers a year and is the second busiest station on the Keystone line. [Lancaster Intelligencer Journal website report, 11-2-11]

WILLIS BELL DIES, SIGNAL & COMMUNICATION ENGINEER: Willis Edward Bell, 93, of Port Charlotte, Florida, died Oct. 31, 2011. He was the Chief Signal Engineer of the Erie Lackawanna Railway and later the Chief Engineer for Communications and Signals at the U.S. Railway Association. [Railway Age website report, 11-2-11]

HILTON & ALBANY R.R. IS A NEW SHORT LINE IN GEORGIA: Genesee & Wyoming reached a deal to lease and operate 56 miles of track from Norfolk Southern in Georgia. It then created a a new short-line subsidiary under GWI's management, the Hilton & Albany Railroad Inc., which should be operational in January and will have an estimated capacity of 12,000 rail car shipments, [Railway Age website report, 11-2-11]

COST OF CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL PROJECT NEARLY DOUBLES: California's bullet train will cost an estimated $98.5-billion to build over the next 22 years, a price nearly double any previous projection and one likely to trigger political sticker shock, according to a business plan scheduled to be unveiled today. [Los Angeles Times website report, 11-1-11]

FREIGHTCAR AMERICA REPORTS 3-Q LOSS: FreightCar America Inc. reported a third-quarter net loss of $2.4-million or 20 cents per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $200,000 or 2 cents per diluted share in third-quarter 2010. The company delivered 1,515 new rail cars to customers in the quarter. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-1-11]

SIGNALING CONTRACT IN GREAT BRITAIN: Invensys Rail has obtained a $44-million signaling contract from Network Rail for the Reading Western Mainlines program in Great Britain. The program’s scope covers the remodeling of the Reading Station area from Sonning to Pangbourne, a new train care depot and four new platforms to increase capacity at and through the station, Invensys Rail officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-1-11]

SIN BUNDANG LINE IN SOUTH KOREA IN REVENUE SERVICE: The Sin Bundang Line now is in revenue service, operating from Gangnam, Seoul, to Bundang, Seongnam, in Korea. The line was built via a public-private investment involving Doosan Engineering & Construction Consortium and the government sector. [Progressive Railroading website report, 11-1-11]

GENESEE & WYOMING REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. has reported third-quarter net income of $32.9-million, compared with net income of $24.8-million in the third quarter of 2010. [Railway Age website report, 11-1-11]

SENATE APPROVES $15-M FOR DESIGN & ENGINEERING WORK ON AMTRAK’S GATEWAY TUNNEL: A bill that includes $15-million funding for Amtrak to begin design and engineering work on the Gateway Tunnel project has been approved by the Senate. The project calls for a new Hudson River tunnel expected to be open in 2020. [Wall Street Journal report, 11-1-11]

AMTRAK SERVICE IN NEW ENGLAND IMPACTED BY STORM: The Springfield line between New Haven and Springfield resumes normal operations Nov. 1 following this weekend’s storm in the Northeast. Vermonter trains will originate and terminate in New Haven, and Lake Shore Limited trains 448 and 449 are canceled between Albany and Boston with alternate bus transportation. [Amtrak, 10-31-11]

AMTRAK ADDS FREE WI-FI TO MORE TRAINS: Amtrak is launching a major expansion of its free ‘AmtrakConnect’ Wi-Fi service to 12 East Coast routes. As a result, trains that carry nearly 60 percent of all Amtrak passengers now have Wi-Fi connections. [Amtrak, 10-31-11]

CSX UPGRADES METHOD FOR CUSTOMERS TO TRACK SHIPMENTS: CSX has announced the release of a new iPhone application, 'ShipCSX.' The application allows CSX customers to track freight shipments and trains across the network. It also provides customers with specifications of rail cars such as equipment dimensions and weights. The app is a highly anticipated addition to CSX's e-commerce tools, and bolsters the company's commitment to customers. [CSX, 10-31-11]

ACTIVIST HEDGE FUND INVESTS IN CANADIAN PACIFIC: Pershing Square Capital Management, an activist hedge fund, reportedly has compiled a stake in Canadian Pacific Railway exceeding 12 percent. Pershing Square said CP Rail shares are undervalued and an attractive investment, and that it expected ‘to engage in discussions’ with company about a wide swath of its business. [Railway Age website report, 10-31-11]

PATH MARKS COMPLETION OF 340-CAR ORDER: PATH officials hosted a ceremonial ride employing the final seven PA-5 rapid transit cars of a 340-car delivered by Kawasaki Rail Car Corp. to the agency. The cars replace earlier equipment in service since the 1980s, with some gear dating back to the 1960s, officials said.  [Railway Age website report, 10-31-11]

FLORIDA SET TO BUY SUNRAIL TRACKS FROM CSX: Florida's much-delayed SunRail project could reach another milestone this week when the state buys 61 miles of track from the CSX railroad company for $150-million. Orlando Sentinel website report, 10-31-11]

SOUND TRANSIT APPROVES MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING FOR EAST LINK TUNNEL: Sound Transit’s board has endorsed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that outlines an agreement to fund construction of a rail tunnel under downtown Bellevue, Washington. The pact also outlines a partnership for the agency and city to work together on East Link’s final design, scheduled to get under way next year. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-31-11]

SEPTA OPENS UPGRADED CROYDON STATION: SEPTA has officially opened the Croydon regional rail station following major upgrades including new platforms, stairways and passenger shelters, and an expanded parking area for commuters. The station, which is located about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia on the Trenton Line, averages 300 riders per weekday. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-31-11]

CONTRACT SIGNED FOR SECOND METRO LINE IN VENEZUELA: Alstom-led consortium Grupo de Empresas has obtained a contract worth $741-million to build the second line of Los Teques metro in Miranda State, Venezuela. Alstom will undertake the project’s global coordination, including engineering, integration and commissioning of the electromechanical works on a turnkey basis. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-31-11]

‘COW-POWERED’ LOCOMOTIVE TESTED ON AMTRAK’S HEARTLAND FLYER: Amtrak said that a mix of beef tallow and diesel fuel has effectively powered the Heartland Flyer’s 3,200-horsepower engine. After a yearlong test on the rails between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth evaluation found that the fuel blend met industry standards, engine wear was limited and emissions were below federal limits for the type of engine using it. [NewsOK website report, 10-31-11]

NEW RULES GOVERNING R.R. CAMP CARS: The Federal Railroad Administration has issued new regulations to improve conditions of rail camp cars. They will now have to comply with requirements for potable hot and cold water, an increase in minimum square footage of living space per occupant, improved sanitation provisions, and restrictions against locating the cars in the immediate vicinity of switching and humping of placarded rail cars carrying hazardous materials. Norfolk Southern is the only Class I railroad in the country still utilizing camp cars. [International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 10-31-11]

CSX & JACKSONVILLE LOOK TO FEDS FOR TIGER GRANT: CSX, the state of Florida and the Jacksonville Port Authority are applying for a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary Grant to help build a new intermodal container transfer facility. The grant could fund $25-million of the estimated $45-million facility. The state would pick up the rest. CSX has already undertaken track upgrades leading to the site at Dames Point. [American City Business Journals website report, 10-31-11]

NTSB REPORTS ON 2009 DISNEY WORLD MONORAIL COLLISION: On July 5, 2009, two monorails collided near the concourse station within Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The accident occurred when the Pink monorail backed through an improperly aligned switch-beam and struck the Purple monorail. The operator was fatally injured; the six passengers were not injured. The only occupant of the Pink monorail, the operator, was taken to a nearby hospital and treated and released. The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the collision was the shop panel operator's failure to properly position switch-beam 9 and the failure of the monorail manager to verify the position of switch-beam 9 before authorizing the reverse movement of the Pink monorail. [NTSB, 10-31-11]

CSX STARTS WORK ON PORT OF MOBILE BRIDGE UPGRADES: CSX is making a $72-million investment in the improvement of its bridge in the Port of Mobile, Ala. Construction of the vertical-lift bridge is expected to enhance the clearance for barges. [Mobile Press-Register, 10-29-11]

EXTENSION OF N.Y. NO. 7 SUBWAY LINE TO N.J. TO BE STUDIED: N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced a $250,000 feasibility study to extend the No. 7 subway train under the Hudson River to New Jersey this week, with N.J.  Governor Chris Christie indicating through a spokesman that he is intrigued by the idea. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-28-11]

EAST PEORIA TO NORMAL, ILLINOIS, LINK WOULD COST $134-M, AMTRAK SAYS: It would cost $106-million in railway improvements and $28-million in capital purchases to link East Peoria to Normal, Illinois, according to findings from an Amtrak feasibility study. The link would use tracks owned by Norfolk Southern. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-28-11]

LOCOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING PLANT OPENS IN INDIANA: Caterpillar Inc. subsidiary Progress Rail Services Corp. has opened a locomotive manufacturing plant in Muncie, Indiana. The new facility is the first locomotive assembly plant to open in the United States in many years, Progress Rail officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-28-11]

AMTRAK CALIFORNIA LOCOMOTIVES TO EXCEED EPA EMISSION STANDARDS: The Caltrans intercity passenger-rail program will be the first in the nation to start converting a fleet of locomotives to emission-control standards exceeding current U.S. Environmental Projection Agency requirements, Caltrans said. The retrofitted locomotives will operate on the San Joaquin and Capitol Corridor routes. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-28-11]

SAN FRANCISCO MUNI NAMING STREET CAR YARD IN HONOR OF CAMERON BEACH: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) board has renamed Muni Geneva Yard, which is home to the F Market & Wharves historic streetcar fleet, for the late Cameron Beach, a transit advocate and former board member. Beach, who died earlier this year, served SFMTA’s board for more than four years and was recognized for his transit experience and passion for public transportation. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-28-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC TO UPGRADE RAIL NETWORK IN N.D.: Canadian Pacific Railway is investing more than $90-million to develop its North Dakota network, to bolster capacity as oil production increases in the Bakken field, said spokesman Mike LoVecchio. "It's all being driven by the increase in demand that we are witnessing for the transportation service that we provide," LoVecchio said. "They are, in part, related directly to the demand for Bakken crude and the transportation of Bakken crude." [Minot Daily News website report, 10-28-11]

CREWS GET SAFETY ADVISORY ON AUTORACK CARS: A safety advisory on autorack cars has been issued by the Association of American Railroads. Some of these cars have been found to have cut convenience handles, ladder rungs and/or fasteners missing from these devices. Workers are advised to make a thorough visual inspection of all convenience handles, steps, ladder rungs, grab handles and other hand holds prior to use. [United Transportation Union, 10-28-11]

FEDS APPROVE DESERT XPRESS ROUTE: The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has approved construction of a 190-mile high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and southern California. The project is being proposed by DesertXpress Enterprises L.L.C., a group of California and Nevada companies. The group would build a non-stop rail line on a corridor between Victorville and Las Vegas, operating along Interstate 15. Trains would reach speeds up to 150 mph. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-27-11]

CONTRACT AWARDED IN TORONTO AIR-RAIL LINK PROJECT: Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx have chosen a joint venture formed between Aecon Group Inc.’s infrastructure division and Dufferin Construction Co. as the preferred bidder to design, build and finance a 1.9-mile line for the Air Rail Link (ARL) and an ARL passenger station at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Metrolinx will own and operate the ARL, an express rail line between Toronto Union Station and the airport. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-27-11]

LONG BRIDGE PARK SET TO OPEN: Long Bridge Park opens Nov. 5. Its name is a reference to the railroad bridge over the Potomac just southwest of Washington. The location marks the northern end of the RF&P at RO Tower (CFP110), where the Rosslyn Branch of the PRR once turned west on a routing that passed the Pentagon and terminated in a yard in old Rosslyn. [John Fuller, 10-26-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: The Association of American Railroads reported mixed results for weekly rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 301,864 carloads for the week ending Oct. 22, down 0.5 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 245,404 trailers and containers, up 4.2 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-26-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern Corporation reported record third-quarter net income of $554-million, 24 pct higher than the same period of 2010. Diluted earnings per share were a record $1.59, up 34 pct from the third-quarter of 2010. Railway operating revenues of $2.9-billion rose 18 pct compared with the same period last year. [Norfolk Southern, 10-26-11]

NEW TRAM-TRAINS FOR GERMANY: Vossloh AG has obtained a contract worth $104.5-million from Germany’s Verkehrsbetriebe Karlsruhe and Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft to supply 25 low floor Tram-Trains. The contract includes an option for 50 additional vehicles. The Tram-Trains will have a capacity for a maximum of 224 passengers; delivery is scheduled to begin in October 2013. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-26-11]

RAILAMERICA REVENUE & EARNINGS RISE: RailAmerica, Inc. third-quarter revenue increased 7 percent to $104.7-million with average revenue per car up 14 percent and carloads down 6 percent, the company said. Non-freight revenue increased 14 percent.  [Railway Age website report, 10-26-11]

RUNAWAY RAIL CARS TAKE RIDE THROUGH 3 COUNTIES IN TENNESSEE: Norfolk Southern Railway officials are investigating how three top-loading gondola train cars loaded with scrap metal rolled onto the company’s main track line in Jonesborough, Tennessee, traveled 10 miles and through numerous crossings before losing momentum in Piney Flats Wednesday night, Oct. 26. The cars traveled into and through downtown Johnson City, through a portion of Carter County and on over to Piney Flats before stopping. No injuries were reported. [Johnson City Press website report, 10-26-11]

CANADIAN NATIONAL REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: CN has reported its financial and operating results for the third-quarter period ending Sept. 30, 2011. Net income increased 19 per cent from the year-earlier quarter to $659-million, with diluted earnings per share rising 23 per cent to $1.46. The results included an after-tax gain of $38-million or $0.08 per diluted share, on the sale of substantially all of the assets of IC RailMarine Terminal Company. [CN, 10-25-11]

FEDS GRANT $75-M TOWARD UPGRADING MASS BAY’S FITCHBURG LINE: The Federal Transit Administration has sealed a $75-million grant agreement to fund upgrades to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s 50-mile Fitchburg line. The project is designed to increase the line’s maximum speed by 20 mph, improve safety and on-time performance at 18 stations, and reduce travel times and improve connections between Fitchburg and MBTA’s Red Line at Porter Square outside Boston. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-25-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd reported its third-quarter 2011 results with net income of $186.8-million and diluted earnings per share of $1.10, inclusive of $0.04 per share of expenses related to the early redemption of its 2013 Notes. Total revenues were $1.3-billion, an increase of $55.4-million. [Canadian Pacific, 10-25-11]

CANADIAN NATIONAL LAUNCHES LARGE STOCK BUYBACK PROGRAM: The Canadian National Railway board has authorized the company to buy back up to 17 million shares of common stock, or 3.82 percent of those outstanding as of Oct. 14, 2011. [Journal of Commerce website report, 10-25-11]

MASSACHUSETTS TO REVITALIZE ‘KNOWLEDGE CORRIDOR’ RAIL LINE: Massachusetts state officials and transportation leaders have unveiled plans for the revitalization of the ‘Knowledge Corridor- along the Connecticut River rail line in western Massachusetts. The improvements will occur on the Connecticut River mainline of the Pan Am Southern railroad, a joint venture between Pan Am Railways and Norfolk Southern to improve freight service for customers along the line and within western Massachusetts. [Railway Track & Structures, 10-24-11]

NEW TRAIN STATION FOR SMITHS FALL, ONTARIO: Smiths Fall, Ontario, and VIA Rail officials officially opened a new station along the Ottawa-Toronto route Oct. 21. The facility, which began serving passengers in August, was designed to blend in with the ‘historic character’ of Smiths Falls.  [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-24-11]

ASHMONT MASS BAY STATION COMPLETED: Officials have marked the completion of a reconstructed Ashmont Station on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Red Line in Dorchester. The $84-million facility was the last of four Dorchester stations to be modernized as part of MBTA’s Red Line rehabilitation project. Built in 1928 and modernized in 1976, the station now features two entrances; a new lobby and new platforms to accommodate six-car trains. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-24-11]

MARYLAND TO PURCHASE 54 RAIL CARS FOR MARC: The Maryland Transit Administration has agreed to purchase 54 bi-level commuter coaches for MARC from Bombardier at a cost of $153-million. MARC plans to replace 38 older cars and expand its fleet by 16 cars. The order will be piggybacked with one from N.J. Transit, according to MARC. [Baltimore Sun, 10-21-11]

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Kansas City Southern has reported third-quarter 2011 revenues of $545-million, a 24 percent increase compared to the corresponding 2010 period. Operating income of $182-million was an increase of 57 percent, or 19 percent adjusted for hurricane-related impacts and a 2010 post-employment expense benefit. [Kansas City Southern, 10-21-11]

CORN EXPORTS TO CHINA EXPECTED TO DOUBLE, RAILS WILL BENEFIT: China may double its corn imports from the U.S. this season, adding to a burgeoning year for American exporters and giving railroads and ocean carriers a boost in grain shipments until about August 2012.  [Journal of Commerce website report, 10-21-11]

SAN ANTONIO COMMITS TO STREETCAR PLAN: The San Antonio City Council has voted to help fund the city’s first modern streetcar line. The city will also pursue creation of a special assessment district along the streetcar route, which is critical to the line’s advancement. [Railway Age website report, 10-21-11]

CONTRACT AWARDED FOR SECOND-PHASE OF DALLAS LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION: AECOM Technology Corp. has obtained a $17-million contract extension from Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) to complete the second phase of its light-rail expansion. Under the extension, AECOM will provide a variety of project control, system integration and staff support services as DART completes a 20-mile expansion of its Orange and Blue light-rail lines. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-21-11]

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific Corporation has reported 2011 third-quarter net income of $904-million or $1.85 per diluted share, compared to $778-million or $1.56 per diluted share in the third-quarter 2010. Diluted earnings per share improved 19 pct to $1.85. Severe heat and extended drought conditions in Texas and the resulting damage to large sections of track structure negatively impacted operating efficiencies, driving operating expenses up by $18-million during the quarter. [Union Pacific, 10-20-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Mixed results were reported for the week ending Oct. 15, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 303,363 carloads, flat compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 244,389 trailers and containers, up 3 pct compared with the same week last year. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-20-11]

CONSTRUCTION ON NORFOLK SOUTHERN’S WEST VA. INTERMODAL TERMINAL MAY BEGIN IN SPRING 2012: Construction on Norfolk Southern’s new intermodal facility in Prichard, W.Va., might begin in spring 2012, according to the West Va. Department of Transportation. The facility is part of NS’ Heartland Corridor, a double-stack intermodal route between the Port of Virginia in Norfolk, Va., and Chicago. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-20-11]

PORT JERVIS LINE REPAIR AHEAD OF SCHEDULE: MTA Metro-North Railroad says its efforts to repair its Port Jervis Line, providing West-of-Hudson service to New York’s Rockland and Orange counties, is ahead of schedule and, so far, under budget expectations. Projected cost of the repair now is at $37-million, less than the initial estimate of $50-million.  [Railway Age website report, 10-20-11]

WABTEC AWARDED DENVER PTC CONTRACT: Wabtec Corp. has signed a $63-million contract with Denver Transit Partners to provide Positive Train Control equipment and services for three new commuter rail lines planned for Denver. Known as Eagle P3, Denver's commuter rail project includes three new lines with more than 36 miles of track and is expected to be completed in 2016. [Railway Age website report, 10-19-11]

AMTRAK TO LEASE POUGHKEEPSIE-SCHENECTADY TRACK CORRIDOR FROM CSX: Amtrak plans to lease 100 miles of track and right-of-way between Poughkeepsie and Schenectady, N.Y., from CSX Corp., essentially taking control of the corridor. Under the agreement, expected to take effect early next year, Amtrak would be responsible for operations, maintenance and for capital improvements along the rail line. [Albany Times-Union website report, 10-18-11]

NEW NORFOLK SOUTHERN INTERMODAL FACILITY IN PENNSYLVANIA TO OPEN BY END OF NEXT YEAR: Work continues on Norfolk Southern's $95-million intermodal facility in Antrim Township, Pa., connecting directly with U.S. 11. It is expected to open by the end of next year. NS estimates a million long-haul trucks would be taken off the roads in just the first phase of the project. [Chambersburg Public Opinion website report, 10-18-11]

CANADIAN NATIONAL GETS $4-M TOWARD RELOCATION OF INDIANA RAIL FACILITY: Gary, Ind., will get $4 million in funding that it will use to help Canadian National move its locomotive repair station from Markham, Ill., to Kirk Yard in Gary, Ind. The money comes from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. CN is also planning a $163 million investment in its Kirk Yard project, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. [Hammond Times website report, 10-18-11]

ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, BEGINS RAIL-HIGHWAY BRIDGE PROJECT: A $600-million bridge-construction project has started in Orange County, Calif. The overpasses and underpasses will enhance safety and reduce drivers' idling time at seven Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail crossings. [Equipment World website report, 10-18-11]

NEW BUS SERVICE EXPANDS AMTRAK ACCESS IN WISCONSIN: Amtrak is providing riders access to more destinations in Wisconsin by adding bus connections to the Empire Builder. The connection from Columbus will provide service to and from Madison, Beaver Dam, Waupun, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Appleton and Green Bay; the connection from Portage will provide service to and from Westfield, Stevens Point, Mosinee and Wausau. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-18-11]

AMTRAK’S CAPITOL CORRIDOR BREAKS RIDERSHIP RECORD: Northern California’s Capitol Corridor Amtrak service posted ridership of more than 1.7 million passengers and generated $27.2-million in revenue in fiscal-year 2011. The numbers ‘shattered’ ridership and revenue thresholds set in previous fiscal years, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-18-11]

GE TRANSPORTATION TO UPGRADE ERIE PLANT AND ADD A PLANT IN FORT WORTH: GE Transportation will invest $231-million in improvements and upgrades to its Erie, Pa., site and a new manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas. In Erie, GE will invest in research and testing technology, facilities, and equipment to reduce engine emissions and improve fuel efficiency of GE locomotives and as well as engines used in the marine and stationary power industries. The company also intends to build a 236,000 square-foot facility adjacent to its new manufacturing plant in Fort Worth to complement its operations in Erie. [Railway Age website report, 10-18-11]

CN ADDING 200 ECOTHERM CONTAINERS: Canadian National has purchased 200 EcoTherm containers. CN will use the equipment to transport food, beverages, paints, and pharmaceuticals that require protection against low temperatures. The acquisition brings CN’s EcoTherm fleet to almost 500 units, which CN says is the largest in North America. [Railway Age website report, 10-18-11]

CSX REPORTS 3-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corp. has announced third-quarter net earnings of $464-million or $0.43 per share, versus $414 million or $0.36 per share in the same period last year. This is a 19 pct improvement in earnings per share and a record third-quarter for the company. [CSX, 10-18-11]

FEDS FORM PARTNERSHIP TO SUPPORT TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENTS: The U.S. departments of Transportation and Commerce will partner to encourage the creation of domestic manufacturing jobs and opportunities for U.S. suppliers through transportation investments. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership will leverage over 1,300 expert manufacturing assistance field staff in over 350 locations to provide knowledge of local manufacturing capabilities from across the nation, and ensure maximum economic benefit for taxpayer-funded transportation investments across all modes. [Joint announcement, 10-18-11]

RAIL KEY PLAYER IN N.D. OIL BOOM: Rail infrastructure in North Dakota continues to be upgraded as the amount of crude oil from the Bakken Region keeps setting records. BNSF's Gavin Yard project in Minot, N.D., is designed not only for better capacity of oil shipments but also for coal, grain and construction goods as well, said BNSF. The benefits of CP's capacity improvements "accrue to our grain customers as well," said CP. [Minot Daily News website report, 10-17-11]

CP & CONTRANS CONVERT FLATBED FREIGHT TO INTERMODAL: Canadian Pacific Railway is partnering with truck and logistics provider Contrans by using collapsible containers to convert some flatbed-type shipments to double-stack rail intermodal service. The loads can be double-stacked when loaded for the long-distance haul, and collapsed on the return so that four fit into a single slot. [Journal of Commerce website report, 10-17-11]

CSX BEGINS VIRGINIA-OHIO CONTAINER SERVICE: CSX Transportation began offering a container service between the Port of Virginia and its North Baltimore, Ohio, intermodal terminal on Oct. 10. The service connects port customers to markets in Findlay and Toledo, Ohio, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-17-11]

DOUBLE-TRACK RAILROAD PROJECT IN NORWAY: Skanska has obtained a $236-billion contract from the Norwegian National Rail Administration to build double track on the Vestfold Line. The line will provide a more efficient flow of traffic between Drammen and Porsgrunn, according to Skanska. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-17-11]

BOMBARDIER WINS LIGHT-RAIL SUPPLIER AWARD: Bombardier Transportation, for the second year running, has received the Worldwide Supplier of the Year Award. Bombardier was recognized at the 2011 Light-Rail Awards, held in London on Oct. 5. [Railway Age website report, 10-17-11]

WINDSOR-QUEBEC CITY HIGH-SPEED RAIL COULD BOOST CANADA’S ECONOMY: Canada's economy should reap benefits if a high-speed rail route between Windsor and Quebec City is built, according to an EcoTrain study. The feasibility report revealed the bullet train's cost estimate would be $18-billion to $21-billion based on the technology type used. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-17-11]

DETROIT SEEN AS ‘INLAND PORT’: An initiative known as Great Lakes Global Freight Gateway wants to create 210,000 jobs over the next 10 years, and Canadian National plays a major role in its plan. The group wants to push shipment of goods from abroad between the deep-water port in Halifax and Detroit via CN's track. [Crain’s Detroit Business website report, 10-16-11]

AMTRAK’S MICHIGAN SERVICE RIDERSHIP UP OVER 18 PCT.: Train routes in Michigan have set new ridership records for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, and collected $27.7-million in ticket revenue. Each of the three Amtrak routes in the state had increased revenue and ridership despite track work and freight slowdowns on one route. In figures for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, ridership was up 18.6 percent. [Flint Journal website report, 10-15-11]

AMTRAK CARRIED 30.2 MILLION PASSENGERS IN FY-2011: Amtrak has made it official by announcing they carried 30.2 million passengers in fiscal year 2011, earning $1.9-billion in ticket revenues in the process. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-14-11]

PASSENGERS RECOGNIZE L.A. METRO & METROLINK FOR EXCELLENCE: Metrolink and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority were honored with the National Association of Railroad Passengers’ Tracks to the Future award Oct. 14 in recognition of their outstanding work creating an efficient, attractive public transportation system. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 10-14-11]

AMTRAK WINS BRUNEL AWARD FOR WILMINGTON STATION: Amtrak’s historic Wilmington, Delaware, rail station on the Northeast Corridor was honored at the 2011 Brunel Awards International Railway Design Competition. The Wilmington station renovation was recognized for balancing the need to modernize the station while retaining its historic features and feel.  [Railway Age website report, 10-14-11]

AMTRAK TRAIN COLLIDES WITH ANOTHER TRAIN IN CALIFORNIA: Eighteen people suffered minor injuries on Oct. 12 in a slow-speed crash between two Amtrak passenger trains at a railway station in northern California. Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole told Reuters that the locomotive of Amtrak's San Joaquin train, with eight passengers aboard, ran head-on into the locomotive of the stationary Coast Starlight train, which was carrying 137 passengers. [Reuters website report, 10-13-11]

CALTRAIN TO REPLACE JERROLD AVENUE BRIDGE IN SAN FRANCISCO: Caltrain work crews will remove a 100-year-old railroad bridge that spans Jerrold avenue in San Francisco and replace it with a modern single-span steel bridge on Oct. 15. The project will begin shortly after midnight and be completed before trains start operating Saturday morning, Caltrain said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-13-11]

BOMBARDIER TO SUPPLY TRAFFIC CONTROL EQUIPMENT FOR POLISH RAIL NETWORK: Bombardier Transportation has obtained a four-year, $11-million contract from PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe SA to supply rail traffic control equipment and spare parts for the Polish rail network. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-13-11]

TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY LAHOOD SAYS HE WILL NOT SERVE ANOTHER TERM: Ray LaHood, head of the U.S. Department of Transportation, told the Chicago Tribune that he is staying in that job for one term only and will not run for public office again. [Chicago Tribune website report, 10-13-11]

NEW RAIL SERVICES WILL HELP VIRGINIA PORTS: New services from CSX and Norfolk Southern will help the Virginia Port Authority expand its trade business for boxed cargo into the Southeast and the Midwest markets. NS has started double-stack rail service between the Virginia ports and Greensboro, N.C., and CSX will extend its current service from the Portsmouth Marine Terminal to APM Terminals Portsmouth, allowing for the transfer of containers to and from APM's intermodal hub in Ohio. [Journal of Commerce website report, 10-13-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: A gain in weekly rail traffic for the week ending October 8, 2011, was reported with U.S. railroads originating 302,500 carloads, up 2.1 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 241,999 trailers and containers, up 2.4 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 10-13-11]

WASHINGTON METRO PURPLE LINE ADVANCES TO PRELIMINARY ENGINEERING PHASE: The Federal Transit Administration has given approval for the Purple Line to enter the preliminary engineering phase. The line is a proposed 16-mile, east-west light-rail route that would run between Bethesda and New Carrollton, Md., and connect to four branches of the Washington Metro system. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-12-11]

RAILROADS PREDICT THEY WILL HIRE 15,000 NEW WORKERS IN 2012: Due to an improving economy and an aging workforce, the railroad industry is estimating that it will hire 15,000 people in 2012.  [ABC News website report, 10-12-11]

AMTRAK RANKS FLORIDA EAST COAST LINE ‘MOST PROMISING FOR EXPANSION’: Long-discussed plans for returning passenger rail service to Florida's East Coast got new life from an Amtrak report that ranks the dormant West Palm Beach-Jacksonville segment as the most promising initiative for expansion. Passenger service on the 350-mile coastal stretch was abandoned in 1968. [Sunshine State News website report, 10-12-11]

BALTIMORE’S RED LINE PROJECT GETS BOOST: The Obama administration has announced a number of infrastructure projects - including Baltimore’s Red Line - will be expedited through permitting and environmental review processes. The announcement is part of the administration’s efforts to speed up federal reviews of job-creating infrastructure projects. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-12-11]

CSX UPDATES NATIONAL GATEWAY PROGRESS: CSX has work completed or construction underway at one-third of the clearance projects included in the National Gateway. Work is complete at five of the locations, and crews are working at 15 others. Work has begun on other projects in its phase one of construction, with five tunnel improvement projects underway in Confluence, Pa.; Hansrote, W. Va.; and Magnolia, Md., where tunnel linings are being modified to provide the necessary clearance for double-stacked freight rail containers. In Ohio, CSX is also raising four highway bridges and lowering the tracks at three others to improve clearances.  Bridges in Kent and Ravenna, Ohio, and Paw Paw, W. Va., are being replaced with newer structures.  [CSX, 10-11-11]

FRA ISSUES SAFETY ADVISORY IN SWITCHING PROCEDURES: The Federal Railroad Administration has issue an advisory to the railroad industry to help prevent injuries and fatalities from employees working between rail cars during switching operations and other dangerous workplace behaviors. Highlights include reviewing and revising existing switching operation safety rules as needed, ensuring the use of sound communication protocols to notify employees when going between two pieces of rolling equipment, emphasizing the shared obligation and responsibility of managers and employees in following established rules and procedures, and encouraging heightened situational awareness and vigilance. [Federal Railroad Administration, 10-11-11]

NEW TRAIN STATION AT PLAUDERVILLE, N.J., OPENED: N.J. Transit opened a new Plauderville Station on the Bergen County Line October 10. The station features a high-level platform and serves about 400 riders daily. Plauderville Station is the first NJ Transit facility to incorporate platforms built with a structural polymer composite system instead of concrete to save maintenance costs. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-11-11]

DISPUTED UTU MERGER ORDERED IMPLEMENTED: An arbitrator has ruled that a merger of the United Transportation Union and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) - now viewed by many as a takeover of the UTU - be implemented at the ‘earliest possible date.’ In a decision announced Oct. 11, Arbitrator Michael H. Gottesman ordered the current leadership of the two unions to meet within two weeks to decide how the implementation is to take place. [Railway Age website report, 10-11-11]

DESERT XPRESS NEEDS FEDERAL GRANT TO BEGIN WORK: Infrastructure work on the DesertXpress, a proposed high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California, could begin in late 2012 if it receives a federal grant, said DesertXpress Enterprises Chief Operating Officer Andrew Mack. The rail line, which could cost up to $6.5-billion, would cover 185 miles, with trains running at 150 mph once it becomes operational in 2016. [Las Vegas Sun website report, 10-10-11]

AMTRAK MAY RETURN TO DAYTONA BEACH: The Florida Department of Transportation has set aside $118-million for a passenger line that would run from Jacksonville to Miami with a stop in Daytona Beach, and Amtrak recently released a report strongly in favor of a new coastal route through Volusia and Flagler counties. [Daytona Beach News-Journal website report, 10-10-11]

FREIGHT SHIPPING INDEX REACHES 3-YEAR HIGH: The Cass Freight Index for U.S. shipments jumped to its highest level in more than three years in September, growing 7.5 percent over the same month a year ago and defying suggestions of a new downturn in the American economy. [Journal of Commerce website report, 10-10-11]

GROUND BROKEN ON ENGLEWOOD FLYOVER: Ground was broken October 10 on the ‘Englewood Flyover’ project, a critical component to the Chicago hub of the Midwest high-speed rail network. The construction project will build a bridge to separate traffic along two railroads, allowing 130 trains per day to move more quickly through one of the worst bottlenecks in North America. The investment will improve on-time performance of passenger trains and reduce freight congestion.  [Federal Railroad Administration, 10-10-11]

NEW TRANSIT STATION TO OPEN IN CLEVELAND: Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority officials plan to dedicate a new East 55th Street station on Oct. 11. The $9.4-million facility is unique because it is one of the few stations that serves the Red, Blue and Green lines, as well as eastside and westside transit and bus-to-rail service. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-7-11]

FEDS APPROVE SAN DIEGO LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION: The Federal Transit Administration has approved San Diego’s proposed extension of its Mid-Coast Corridor Transit light rail line, running from the city’s Old Town Transit center to the University of California-San Diego and Westfield University Town Center. The move allows the city to vie for federal funding support.  [Railway Age website report, 10-7-11]

RAILS EXPAND SHIPPING CAPACITY IN COLUMBUS: Columbus, Ohio, has seen expanded shipping capacity to and from the area, in part because of Norfolk Southern's Heartland Corridor, which allows double-stacked trains. But another reason has to do with CSX's high-tech intermodal terminals, where ‘wide-span’ cranes that are controlled by a computer allow containers to be double-stacked, which doubles the amount of containers the terminal can hold. [Columbus Dispatch website report, 10-6-11]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT FOR SEPT. 2011: Gains were reported for rail traffic in September 2011 compared with the same month last year. U.S. railroads originated 1,195,671 carloads, up 1.1 percent, and 949,606 trailers and containers, up 2.3 pct. Thirteen of the 20 carload commodity categories saw increases on U.S. railroads compared with September 2010. [Association of American Railroads, 10-6-11]

CALIFORNIA BULLET TRAIN ROUTE TO UNDERGO MAJOR CHANGES: The proposed California bullet train will undergo major design changes, involving more than half of the route that traverses the Central Valley. The plan for building a 114-mile segment of the system between Fresno and Bakersfield was released in August, but encountered heavy criticism from citizens groups, local cities, major land owners and financial experts. [Los Angeles Times website report, 10-6-11]

FRIENDS OF BNSF ATTRACTS MORE THAN 8,500 MEMBERS IN FIRST MONTH: More than 8,500 employees, retirees and members of the public have joined the Friends of BNSF ranks since the new site launched one month ago. Friends of BNSF is a special members-only website for rail advocates and BNSF enthusiasts. The site offers its members access to historic photos and videos, free downloads and company updates. [BNSF, 10-6-11]

BNSF FLOOD-CONTROL MEASURES TO COST $375-M: The estimated cost to BNSF of repairs and disruption from flood damage is expected to be about $375-million. The company has restored normal service to some major rail lines and has "worked hard to communicate with" its customers to address service concerns, BNSF CEO Matthew Rose said. "We undertook extensive rebuilding and hardening efforts, including raising miles of track by up to eight feet," he said. [Journal of Commerce website report, 10-5-11]

UNION PACIFIC LOADS 1,093 COAL TRAINS IN SOUTHERN POWDER RIVER BASIN IN SEPT.: In September, Union Pacific loaded 1,093 coal trains in the Southern Powder River Basin compared with 1,009 trains in September 2010. The company averaged 36.4 train loadings per day in the basin and met 97.2 percent of National Coal Transportation Association demand for the month, UP said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-5-11]

CHICAGO-DETROIT HIGH-SPEED LINE WINS $196-M GRANT: Michigan will get $196.5-million in federal funding from the Department of Transportation for rail signaling and line upgrades for a Chicago-Detroit high-speed rail service. The state will buy 135 miles of track from NS for $140 million. [Associated Press report, 10-5-11]

RAIL CREW VAN OPERATOR FINED FOR SAFETY LAPSES: Shuttle van operator Coach America Crew Transport has been fined more than $13,000 by the State of Washington for alleged safety lapses in the wake of a train-van accident in March 2011 that killed a BNSF engineer, a conductor trainee and the van driver, and seriously injured a conductor. The van, transporting crew members to an away-from-home terminal, was struck by a BNSF train at a private crossing in Kelso. [United Transportation Union, 10-4-11]

NS DEDICATES YARD OFFICE TO LATE COAL EXECUTIVE: At a dedication ceremony Oct. 4, Norfolk Southern named its new yard office building in Williamson, W.Va., after the late John William (Bill) Fox Jr., who retired from Norfolk Southern as senior vice president coal services in 2003 after a 35-year career with the company. Fox, who died in January 2011, headed the railroad's coal group for seven years, during which he has been credited with improving revenues, customer service and cost controls. [Norfolk Southern, 10-4-11]

NOVA SCOTIA TO HELP FUND SHORT LINE FOR THREE MORE YEARS: The province of Nova Scotia has extended a funding agreement with the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway (CBNS) through Sept. 2014. Owned by RailAmerica Inc., CBNS will continue to receive up to $2-million annually from the province for working capital and track maintenance costs. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-4-11]

SIXTEEN RAILJET TRAINS FOR CZECH RAILWAY: Siemens Mobility has obtained a $264-million order from Czech railway company Ceske Drahy for 16 seven-car Railjet trains to modernize its fleet. The Railjets will be deployed on a mainline between Prague and Brno, and in cross-border traffic to Austria, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia. [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-4-11]

RAIL SERVICE ADDS TO SAVANNAH PORT’S COMPETITIVENESS: CSX and Norfolk Southern's on-dock rail services are seen as one of the assets of Georgia's Port of Savannah and have helped it outpace the Port of Miami in terms of trans-Pacific cargo that eventually goes to Florida. However, the Miami port is now considering strategies it learned from the Savannah port to ‘win back’ business it has lost to the only Class I-served port on the East Coast, said Port of Miami Director Bill Johnson. [DC Velocity website report, 10-4-11]

R.R. COST OF CAPITAL IS 11 PCT, STB SAYS: The Surface Transportation Board has announced its decision calculating the railroad industry's cost of capital for 2010. The board found that the rail industry's after-tax cost of capital was 11.03 pct, up from 10.43 pct. STB noted that the figure represents it estimate of ‘the average rate of return needed to persuade investors to provide capital to the freight-rail industry.’ [Railway Age website report, 10-4-11]

NS TO BEGIN INTERMODAL SERVICE BETWEEN VIRGINIA & N.C.: Norfolk Southern is scheduled to provide a new double-stack rail service between the Port of Hampton Roads in Virginia and Greensboro, N.C. The service will begin in the middle of the month and will operate six days a week, according to the Virginia Port Authority. [Norfolk Virginian-Pilot website report, 10-3-11]

OREGON’S COAST-TO-VALLEY RAIL LINE TO REOPEN: Sometime in the next two weeks, the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay will reopen a 110-mile rail line that was abandoned four years ago by the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad. The Port District purchased the line, between the Bay's North Spit to Danebo in West Eugene, after the state’s economic development arm approved $12.6-million in loans to help pay for it. [Eugene Register-Guard website report, 10-3-11]

COLTON CROSSING PROJECT TO BEGIN NEXT MONTH: Work on BNSF and Union Pacific's $202-million rail overpass in Colton, California, is expected to begin next month. The overpass will unclog a freight bottleneck in the area, where the east-west tracks of UP would be raised above BNSF's north-south rail lines. The railroads have agreed to support other projects being planned by San Bernardino Associated Governments, including a quiet zone. [Press-Enterprise website report, 10-3-11]

BRITISH COLUMBIA TO HELP FUND UPGRADES TO VANCOUVER PORT RAIL LINK: British Columbia has announced $50-million in funding to improve a provincially owned corridor that connects Deltaport to Canada's rail network. Port Metro Vancouver’s largest container terminal, Deltaport is located in Roberts Bank, B.C.   [Progressive Railroading website report, 10-3-11]

U.S. RAIL ACCIDENTS/INCIDENTS CONTINUE TO DECLINE: In this year's first seven months, 743 large and small U.S. railroads reported 6,229 accidents and incidents, down 7.3 pct from the same period in 2010, according to the Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety Analysis. [Railway Age website report, 10-3-11]

CSX SIGNS PACT WITH GARY, INDIANA, AIRPORT: CSX has signed off on a contract that will allow a new portion of expansion work to start at the Gary/Chicago International Airport. The contract provides right-of-entry with a 50-foot perimeter around the area. [Merrillville Post-Tribune website report, 10-3-11]

DOZENS SUFFER MINOR INJURIES IN AMTRAK CRASH IN CALIFORNIA: Thirty-seven passengers and two crew members suffered minor injuries when an Amtrak passenger train collided with a truck in Northern California Oct. 1. The train was carrying 191 passengers from Oakland to Bakersfield when it collided with a truck at a rural crossing east of Brentwood, according to Amtrak.  [Google website report, 10-1-11]

GEORGIA SEEKS NEW ATLANTA TRAIN STATION: The state of Georgia wants to build a train station at a good location along the Norfolk Southern mainline in Atlanta. Peachtree Station is inadequate to the needs of over 100,000 passengers a year. The facility is cramped and access to the platform is limited. There is no long-term parking. The state would like to put Amtrak in a major downtown intermodal terminal, a project some 10 years away, but Amtrak has resisted this because it would be impractical for the Crescent to serve such a station. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers]

KEYSTONE SERVICE GETS $40-M FEDERAL GRANT: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded a $40-million grant to Pennsylvania to eliminate delays in and out of Harrisburg on Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor.  The project consists of replacing aging track and signals with modern technologies.  The DOT had previously funded $23-million to the Keystone Corridor to improve safety and allow future train speeds to increase from 110 mph to 125 mph.  [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 9-30-11]

AMTRAK ENDS FISCAL YEAR WITH RECORD RIDERSHIP: Amtrak ends its fiscal year Sept. 30 and celebrates an annual record ridership that surpassed 30 million passengers. The agency operates more than 315 trains a day over 43 routes that run through 46 states.   [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review website report, 9-30-11]

FEDS CLAIM $274-M FOR SCRAPPED N.J. RAIL TUNNEL: Officials say New Jersey owes the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) nearly $274-million for the Hudson River rail tunnel project that Gov. Chris Christie scrapped nearly a year ago. That figure includes more than $2.6-million in interest and penalties that the FTA is tacking on while the Christie administration fights repayment.  [Associated Press report, 9-30-11]

ONE MILLION PASSENGERS RODE SAN JOAQUIN SERVICE IN ONE YEAR: Ridership on Amtrak’s San Joaquin corridor in California reached one million in fiscal-year 2011, the first time ridership topped the million mark on the route, Amtrak officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-30-11]

HOUSTON METRO APPROVES PURCHASE OF 39 LIGHT-RAIL VEHICLES: The Metropoolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, has approved a $153.1-million plan to purchase 39 light-rail vehicles from CAF USA lines under construction in Houston, agency officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-30-11]

RUSSIAN RAILWAYS ORDERING 200 ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVES: Alstom and Transmashholding (TMH) have signed a contract worth $1.4-billion to develop and produce 200 class 2ES5 electric locomotives for the Russian Railways (RDZ). Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2012. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-30-11]

FALLING CHUNK OF CONCRETE HITS LOCOMOTIVE IN CHICAGO UNION STATION: Amtrak said it believes the train platforms on the north concourse at Chicago’s Union Station are safe for passengers after a large piece of concrete fell from the overhead structure and struck a Metra locomotive engine Sept. 29. No one was hurt in the incident. [Google website report, 9-30-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Gains were reported for rail freight traffic for the week ending Sept. 24, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 305,133 carloads, up 1.1 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 248,402 trailers and containers, up 3 pct compared with the same week last year. This weekly intermodal volume is the highest since Week 39 of 2007. [Association of American Railroads, 9-29-11]

PACIFIC HARBOR LINE REDUCES POLLUTION WITH ‘GREENER’ LOCOMOTIVES: California's Pacific Harbor Line operates 18 miles of track in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and is known for its eco-friendliness. Now, it's poised to do even more. Sixteen of its locomotives are being outfitted with ‘advanced engines and special exhaust systems that will sharply reduce some key components of air pollution.’   [Los Angeles Times website report, 9-29-11]

CSX RECEIVES SECOND FREEDOM AWARD FROM PENTAGON: CSX received its second Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in honor of its support for U.S. Guard and Reserve service members. The company helps injured military members secure employment after service through its participation in the Warriors to Work project.   [American City Business Journals website report, 9-29-11]

NORFOLK RAIL TERMINAL PROJECT GETS SUPPORT FROM STATE: A $100-million multi-modal transportation facility to be built in Norfolk, Va., has received state approval. The facility will offer access to daily Amtrak trains en route to Washington that run from Norfolk through Richmond on track owned by Norfolk Southern.  [WTKR-TV website report, 9-29-11]

INDUSTRY BLAMES REGULATIONS AS COAL PRODUCTION SLIPS: Platt's reports that U.S. coal production slipped 2.8 percent from year-ago levels in the week ending Sept. 24. An Associated Press report stated production could drop even further in the Central Appalachians. However, the industry says regulations, not quantity of coal, are to blame. [Beckley Register-Herald website report, 9-29-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC DONATES $1-MILLION TO HELP PREVENT BEAR-TRAIN COLLISIONS: Each year a few bears die in Banff National Park in Canada when bears run toward trains rather than away from them. Canadian Pacific has donated $1-million to help fund research to prevent such collisions. One solution appears to be installation of ‘wooden peg boards screwed to the railway sleeper,’ about every 300 feet or so.  [PostMedia News website report, 9-29-11]

ATLANTA-CHATTANOOGA TRAIN SERVICE BEING STUDIED: While the idea for the Atlanta-Chattanooga train has been around since at least 1998, there hasn’t been significant movement on the project.  However, the city of Atlanta has committed to providing a $250,000 match for a study to determine potential alignments, environmental impacts, ridership, costs, and economic benefits. The money would match $13-million in federal funds.  In addition to Atlanta’s contribution, the Georgia Department of Transportation is chipping in $1.5-million, and the City of Chattanooga is in for $1.7-million.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers]

FEDS GRANT $13.6-M TO OREGON TOWARD PASSENGER RAIL PROJECTS: U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded a $13.6-million grant to Oregon to modernize the Portland Union Station, upgrade passenger rail service along Amtrak’s Cascades route and continue further development of an integrated, statewide rail network. Amtrak’s Cascades Service, which operates between Eugene, Oregon, to Vancouver, B.C., is one of the railroad’s fastest growing routes. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 9-28-11]

MICHIGAN APPROVES FUNDING FOR NEW ANN ARBOR TRAIN STATION: The passage of Senate Bill 237, in part, allows the state to spend $2.8-million in federal funding for a new train station in Ann Arbor, which would eventually accommodate 110-mph trains running between Detroit and Chicago. The total project could cost more than $120 million, according to estimates by the city.  [Ann Arbor website report, 9-28-11]

SIGNAL, SWITCH PROBLEMS DELAY AMTRAK SERVICE IN N.Y. CITY: Problems with Amtrak’s signal feeds and switches on Sept. 27 caused delays throughout the Mid Atlantic region and stymied New Jersey commuters. While Amtrak crews were able to repair the signaling systems by the evening, thousands of people trying to leave New York City were delayed for hours while operators manually directed train traffic.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers]

DALLAS AREA RAPID TRANSIT BUDGET LAYS GROUNDWORK FOR RAIL EXPANSION: Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s board has approved a $1.5-billion budget for fiscal-year 2012 that provides support for the opening of the first section of the Orange Line light-rail project to Irving, Texas, in July 2012. In addition, the budget will prepare the agency for additional rail expansions to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and Rowlett later in the year, officials said [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-28-11]

STB EYES BNSF PURCHASE PRICE REGULATORY EFFECTS: The Surface Transportation Board says that it has instituted a public proceeding to examine the regulatory effects of the price Berkshire Hathaway paid when it acquired BNSF Railway last year. “This formal proceeding will allow stakeholders and the public to bring their perspectives to the Board,” said STB Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III. “This complex issue should be examined in a transparent way, with the inclusion of as many views and voices as possible.”  [Railway Age website report, 9-28-11]

BNSF, UNION PACIFIC EARN NEW CUSTOMER AWARDS: BNSF Railway has added Michael Scores’ Domestic Carrier of the Year Award to its honor roll. Union Pacific also picked up another prestigious award, this one from Owens Corning, which named UP its Enterprise Carrier of the Year for Rail. This is the second consecutive year Union Pacific received the award.   [Railway Age website report, 9-28-11]

VIRGINIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL PROJECT GETS $44.3-M IN FEDERAL FUNDING: A planned high-speed rail route from Richmond, Va., to Washington, D.C., moves closer to reality with a $44.3-million federal grant from the Transportation Department. The goal is to develop high-speed rail in Southeast regions and connect it to the proposed Northeast Corridor high-speed rail project.   [Washington Post website report, 9-27-11]

FEDS AWARD $48-M TOWARD HIGH-SPEED RAIL BETWEEN RALEIGH & WASHINGTON: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has announced $48.3-million for North Carolina and Virginia to advance the development of the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor, which will link Raleigh, NC, to Washington, DC via Richmond, Va.  These grants will ultimately spur high-speed and intercity passenger rail development as far south as Charlotte, NC, and Atlanta, Ga., and to the Tidewater Region of Hampton Roads and Norfolk, Va. [Federal Railroad Administration, 9-27-11]

DELAWARE GETS $13.3-M FOR ADDITIONAL TRACK SOUTH OF WILMINGTON: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has announced a $13.3-million grant for the Delaware to add a 1.5-mile third track immediately south of the Wilmington station.  The additional track will eliminate a chokepoint on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. The project also includes two additional crossovers, and a bridge replacement. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 9-27-11]

LONG ISLAND R.R. TO LAUNCH BRIDGE REHAB PROJECT: The MTA Long Island Rail Road plans to launch a $26.2-million project designed to rehabilitate three bridges in Hampton Bays. Work on the North Highway, Montauk Highway and Shinnecock Canal bridges, all built a century ago, is expected to take two years to complete and extend the life of each bridge by 35 to 40 years, officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-27-11]

METRO-NORTH COMPLETES FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT OF PORT JERVIS LINE: About $50-million in repairs to the Port Jervis Line will allow train service to be restored by year’s end, according to an assessment of Hurricane Irene-related flood damage. Metro-North plans to seek a contractor through an expedited bidding process to rebuild the line. After service resumes, occasional busing will continue in select off-peak periods to allow completion of flood mitigation and riverbank stabilization work. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-27-11]

AMTRAK TO REPLACE TRACK IN EAST RIVER TUNNELS: Amtrak is about to begin a multi-year project to replace track in all four of the East River tunnels. The project, which is scheduled for completion in 2015, calls for total track structure work in each tunnel. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-27-11]

ALASKA R.R. BEGINS TO BUILD TANANA RIVER BRIDGE: The first phase of the Northern Rail Extension project is under way with construction beginning on a bridge over the Tanana River in Salcha. The multi-phased project will eventually expand track infrastructure from North Pole/Eielson 80 miles southeast to Delta Jct. The project is expected to take three years to complete. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-27-11]

NEW TRANSLOAD FACILITY FOR LOUISIANA & NORTH WEST R.R.: Patriot Rail, whose holdings include the Louisiana & North West Railroad (L&NW), is investing $3.3-million in new tracks, equipment, and a 340-acre transload facility as part of a revitalization program for L&NW. The faculty will open officially on Oct. 5. L&NW operates from Gibsland, La., to McNeil, Ark. [Railway Age website report, 9-27-11]

BROOKHAVEN RAIL TERMINAL OPENS SEPT. 27: Brookhaven Rail Terminal will celebrate the grand opening of Brookhaven Rail Terminal, located in Yaphank, N.Y., on Sept.27. The terminal is projected to handle approximately one million tons of freight per year by 2016  [Railway Age website report, 9-27-11]

PATRIOT RAIL IMPROVES LINE IN ARKANSAS: Patriot Rail Corp. has announced a $3.3-million investment in new tracks, equipment and a transloading facility that will officially open Oct. 5. The move will allow oil and gas companies working in the Haynesville Shale to move freight and cut down on the number of trucks, officials said. The 68-mile rail line between Gibsland and McNeil, Arkansas, connects the shale region through the Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific rail lines. [Shreveport Times website report, 9-27-11]

MIAMI TRANSPORTATION CENTER CONSTRUCTION TO BEGIN: Construction of south Florida’s first complete ground transportation hub will begin Sept.27 during a ceremony to be attended by state and transportation officials. Covering 16.5 acres, the $147-million station will be “a major transfer point between rail and bus systems for commuters and visitors alike,” officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-26-11]

UNION PACIFIC IMPROVING RAIL LINE IN CENTRAL IOWA: Union Pacific Railroad will be investing nearly $10.5-million in the rail line that runs from Des Moines to Iowa Falls. Various projects over the almost 65 miles of the line include removing and installing 52,500 ties, replacing more than two miles of rail in various curves, renewing the surfaces at 91 road crossings and spreading nearly 22,000 tons of ballast. [Union Pacific, 9-26-11]

UPSTATE N.Y. RAIL PROJECT TO PROCEED: The construction of a second track between Albany and Schenectady, boosting the reliability of track signals, and improving service along Amtrak’s Empire Corridor will move ahead after an agreement was reached with CSX Transportation, which owns the tracks. Work likely will get under way by next spring. [Albany Times-Union website report, 9-24-11]

BNSF UNVEILS MASTER PLAN FOR BELEN, N.M.: BNSF recently presented its master plan for the Southwest region and detailed how Belen will fit into that picture. BNSF plans to create a multi-modal logistics center in Rancho Cielo, which will include distribution, warehousing and manufacturing facilities. The industrial park facility would include transload operators that move products by rail and truck, making the service available to additional customers. The hub will have rail, road, air and seaport distribution service to local, national and international customers. [Valencia County News-Bulletin website report, 9-24-11]

SENATE COMMITTEE BILL WOULD FUND $1.48-B FOR AMTRAK: The Senate Committee on Appropriations passed a transportation bill that would fund Amtrak at $1.48-billion, and was successfully amended to include $100-million for the High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail program. Under the Senate proposal, Amtrak would receive $544-million for operations and $937-million for capital and debt servicing. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-23-11]

FEDS GRANT $82.3-M FOR RAIL IMPROVEMENTS IN N.E.: The U.S. Dept. of Transportationis granting $82.3-million for high-speed and intercity passenger rail improvements in the Northeast. The money will fund infrastructure upgrades in Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut and Vermont, improving service on the Northeast Corridor, Connecticut’s New Haven-Springfield line, Maine’s Downeaster route, and the Vermonter service.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-23-11]

FEDS GRANT $22-M TOWARD SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BRIDGE REPLACEMENT: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation announced $22-million for the Maryland Dept. of Transportation to finish up the preliminary engineering and environmental work for the replacement and expansion of the 105 year-old Susquehanna River Bridge on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-23-11]

FASTER FUELING SYSTEM FOR LOCOMOTIVES: MPL Technology Inc. demonstrated its SpillX fueling system during a demonstration in Minneapolis. The system delivered fuel into a locomotive at a rate of 600 gallons per minute. Current fueling rates for the industry typically range from 180 to 250 gallons per minute, MPL officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-23-11]

NEW SHORT LINE IN SASKATCHEWAN: Big Sky Rail, which officially opened Sept.22 in Saskatchewan, will receive a $5.6-million interest-free provincial loan toward the purchase of 220 miles of track from CN between Laporte and near Macrorie, and between Beechy and Delisle. The short line assumed operations of the two track segments from CN in early September. Formal purchase agreements and land title transfers are expected to be finalized later this year. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-23-11]

ADVANCED TRAIN CONTROL FOR SOUTH KOREA LIGHT-RAIL LINE: Busan-Gimhae Light Rail Transit Co. Ltd. (BGL) in South Korea has launched revenue service on a line incorporating Thales’ SelTrac advanced communications-based train control (CBTC) technology. Thales has installed CBTC on 25 Hyundai Rotem trains operating at 114-second headways in unattended/driverless mode along the 14-mile, 21-station double-elevated track. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-23-11]

BNSF’S BELEN YARD GETS NEW BLUE-FLAG INDICATOR SYSTEM: BNSF’s Belen Yard in New Mexico will be adding RailComm’s Blue Flag Indicator System to its facility. The system will allow a user to apply blue flag protection, with keypad security, to the fueling tracks through the use of strategically located field control panels.   [Railway Age website report, 9-23-11]

POWER PROBLEMS SLOW NEC TRAINS BETWEEN NY & NJ: A power outage on the busy rail line between New York City and New Jersey stranded 1,500 commuters under the Hudson River for more than two hours on Thursday morning Sept.22. The outage was repaired by the afternoon and normal service resumed. [Washington Post website report, 9-22-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Mixed rail freight traffic results were reported for the week ending Sept. 17, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 299,914 carloads, down 1.4 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 242,250 trailers and containers, up 0.9 pct compared with the same week last year. This weekly volume is the highest since Week 40 of 2008. [Assn. of American Railroads, 9-22-11]

BOMBARDIER GETS $96-M TRAIN CONTROL SYSTEM ORDER IN BRAZIL: Bombardier Transportation has obtained a $96-million order to supply its CITYFLO 650 communications-based train control system for Line 5 of the Sao Paulo Metro in Brazil. The new system is designed to enable trains to circulate safely with a 75-second headway. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-22-11]

NY’S SECOND AVE. SUBWAY’S SECOND TUNNEL BORED THROUGH: The tunnel boring machine underneath Manhattan’s Second Avenue has completed its work on the second subway tunnel running from 92nd Street to 63rd Street, breaking through to an existing MTA New York City Transit tunnel near the Lexington Avenue/63rd Street station, and marking the completion of major tunneling for the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway. [Railway Age website report, 9-22-11]

BNSF HONORED FOR EXCELLENCE BY HONDA: BNSF Railway was recently presented with the Rail Origin of the Year Performance Excellence Award at the American Honda Automotive Logistics Conference in Torrance, California. The award criteria included the percentage of loaded cars without damage, rail cars ordered versus supplied and the quarterly audits on following standard operating procedures.   [Railway Age website report, 9-22-11]

UNION PACIFIC SPENDING $10-M FOR LINE IMPROVEMENTS IN COLORADO: Union Pacific Railroad will be investing more than $10-million in the rail line that runs from near the east portal of Moffat Tunnel to near Kremmling, Colo. Various projects over almost 70 miles of the line include removing and installing more than 55,600 ties, as well as renewing the surfaces at 51 road crossings. Crews will also spread nearly 33,600 tons of ballast and replace more than two miles of rail in various curves. [Union Pacific, 9-22-11]

FEDS GRANT $15.8-M TOWARD TWO MISSOURI RAIL PROJECTS: Missouri has won a $15.8-million federal grant for two railway projects in the St. Louis area. The funding will go toward the replacement of a line on the Chicago-St. Louis passenger rail corridor and the Webster Universal Crossover at the Kirkwood Junction. The projects will improve the corridor efficiency and allow more trains to operate.   [St. Louis Business Journal website report, 9-22-11]

SENATE BILL WOULD GRANT $15-M TOWARD HUDSON RIVER TUNNELS: Amtrak stands to gain $15-million for preliminary engineering of two new Hudson River rail tunnels next year under a bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The new tunnels would allow Amtrak and NJ Transit increase service during peak hours.   [Assn. of American Railroads, 9-22-11]

CALTRANS DECORATING TWO LOCOMOTIVES WITH SAFETY MESSAGES: The California Department of Transportation will be joining its associates and employees in an effort to decorate two locomotives as a tool to help spread rail-safety messages - “Be Track Smart - Tragedies Touch All Of Us” - as well as observe the state's Rail Safety Month. [Fontana Herald News website report, 9-22-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC TO MAKE ABOUT $1-B IN CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS BY NEXT YEAR: Canadian Pacific expects to add 91 locomotives and 3,300 employees and make about $1-billion in capital improvements by next year. [Assn. of American Railroads,, 9-21-11]

FEDS GRANT WASHINGTON STATE $31-M FOR RAIL ENCHANCEMENTS : The U.S. Dept. of Transportation is giving Washington state $31-million for rail enhancements, including $16-million for mudslide-prevention projects. The rest of the money will go to help build a new rail access route to the Port of Vancouver, Washington. [Assn. of American Railroads,, 9-21-11]

CHICAGO TO REPAIR 100 TRANSIT STATIONS BY FALL 2012: The city of Chicago and the Chicago Transit Authority have announced a new initiative aimed at repairing 100 stations during the next 12 months. Work performed at each station will be determined by the facility’s specific needs and configurations, but could include painting, new lighting, repairs, power washing walls and ceilings, replacing signs and landscaping. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-21-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN EXHIBIT CAR BEGINS FALL TOUR: The Norfolk Southern Exhibit Car rolls out of the company's Juniata Shops this week for a multistate public tour, newly equipped with enhanced displays showcasing the railroad transportation network. It is a restored 1926 Pullman passenger car that was converted to a mobile museum in 1971. The car includes a locomotive simulator -complete with throttle, brake, and horn - putting guests in control of a virtual freight train. [Norfolk Southern, 9-21-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC IMPROVING WINNEPEG-EDMONTON NORTHERN MAINLINE: Canadian Pacific Railway is spending $300-million to improve its northern mainline across the Canadian Prairies to take advantage of strong global demand for potash and grains. The upgrades between the grain-trade center of Winnipeg, Manitoba, through Saskatchewan to Edmonton, Alberta, will allow it to handle longer, heavier freight trains, and will provide a better back-up if bad weather shuts down the railway's southern cross-Canada mainline, CP said. [Reuters website report, 9-21-11]

UNION PACIFIC WORKING ON DOUBLE-TRACK PROJECT IN NEBRASKA, IOWA: Union Pacific Railroad is investing nearly $300-million over the next several years on its central corridor between Fremont, Nebraska, and Missouri Valley, Iowa. "When complete, this multi-year double-track project will help us operate more efficiently, increase train velocity and support our ability to add capacity as our customers' freight transportation needs grow," the company said. [Union Pacific, 9-20-11]

CSX HONORED WITH FREEDOM AWARD: CSX will accept the 2011 Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in Washington, D.C., on September 22, 2011. CSX is the only two-time recipient, having first received the award in 1998. The award, given by the Department of Defense's Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve agency, is the highest recognition for companies that provide exceptional support for employees serving in the Guard and Reserves. [CSX, 9-20-11]

ETHANOL UNIT TRAIN PROJECT FOR TAMPA: CSX, the Tampa Port Authority and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners L.P. have announced they are pursuing a public-private partnership project designed to transport ethanol into the Tampa, Fla. in a unit train-to-pipeline distribution system. Under the partnership, the TPA will build track and rail support infrastructure to handle 100-car unit trains and a multi-product unit train offloading yard at Hooker’s Point in the Port of Tampa. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-20-11]

WINNEPEG UNION STATION RENOVATION COMPLETED: VIA Rail Canada recently completed upgrades to Union Station in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The project included major repairs to the station roof and train shed, and upgrades to make the more than century-old station energy efficient while maintaining its historic design. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-20-11]

CHARLOTTE GETS $25-M STREETCAR GRANT: The Federal Transit Administration has awarded a $25-million grant to Charlotte, N.C., to build the first phase of a streetcar system. The 1.5-mile initial segment will include six stops, and the city plans eventually to expand the streetcar system to 10 miles, serving the entire Charlotte region. The city has acquired three vintage streetcars to operate on the line. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-20-11]

CLASS I RAILROADS BOOST EMPLOYMENTS LEVELS: Class I railroads hired 1,191 more workers between the middle of July and the middle of August. The increase comes as carload traffic recovered from a growth lag during the early summer period. BNSF, CSX, CN, CP, KCS and NS all strengthened their workforces, according to a government report. [Journal of Commerce website report, 9-20-11]

FEDS GRANT $83-M FOR AMTRAK NEW ENGLAND ROUTE UPGRADES: Amtrak was awarded an $83-million grant from the Department of Transportation for upgrades to tracks in New England. Passenger and freight railroads commonly use the same tracks in the region, so the upgrades and additional side tracks should be beneficial for freight railroads as well, according to DOT officials. [Journal of Commerce website report, 9-20-11]

BUCKEYE YARD EXPANSION EXPECTED TO DOUBLE CAPACITY, CSX SAYS: CSX said its $59-million expansion project at the Buckeye Yard in Columbus, Ohio, will give it twice the capacity once the project is complete. The yard will become a spoke to the North Baltimore, Ohio, hub and will provide convenience to shippers. [American City Business Journals website report, 9-20-11]

MAJOR TRACK UPGRADE PLANNED FOR TEXAS-NEW MEXICO RR: Iowa Pacific Holdings LLC has announced plans to complete extensive track upgrades on a Permian Basin oilfield line operated by subsidiary Texas-New Mexico Railroad. The short line operates the 100-mile line between a Union Pacific Railroad connection in Monahans, Texas, and Lovington, N.M. The line was built in the 1920s. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-19-11]

OTTAWA’S OC TRANSPO ORDERS SIX DIESEL MULTIPLE UNITS: Alstom Transport won a $34-million contract from Ottawa’s OC Transpo to supply six new diesel multiple units (DMUs). The order is part of OC Transpo's plan to continuously upgrade O-Train rolling stock and infrastructure. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-19-11]

4,500 EVOLUTION SERIES LOCOMOTIVES HAVE ENTERED SERVICE: GE Transportation announced that its 4,500th Evolution Series Locomotive recently entered revenue service. Now, the locomotives operate in rail markets worldwide, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Egypt, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and Australia. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-19-11]

CN SPEEDS UP CONTRAINER MOVES THROUGH MONTREAL: CN and Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership (MGT), the operator of two container terminals at the Port of Montreal, have achieved dramatic performance metrics through closer collaboration and innovation, CN announced. “Since August 2010, ocean terminal dwell - the average time it takes for a container to be placed on a railcar from a vessel - has declined by almost 40 percent. [Railway Age website report, 9-19-11]

LORAM TO ACQUIRE TRANERGY CORP.: Loram Maintenance of Way Inc. and Tranergy Corporation have reached agreement for Loram to acquire all assets of Tranergy. The new subsidiary will manufacture friction management products that include CurvGlide top of rail friction management systems, SwitchEnhancer switch lubrication devices and YardGlide for friction modification in yards. Tranergy, Inc. will also solely develop and market TracGlide, a train mounted top of rail friction management system. [Railway Age website report, 9-19-11]

KEYSTONE SERVICE GETS FEDERAL DEVELOPMENT GRANT: The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded $1.35-million to the Pennsylvania Transportation Department for rail development work on Amtrak's Keystone route. [WHP-TV Harrisburg website report, 9-19-11]

FLORIDA EAST COAST PROJECT BOOSTS MIAMI PORT’S POTENTIAL: The Florida East Coast Railway, along with the Port of Miami and the Florida Department of Transportation, is reconstructing a 4.4-mile length of FEC track in an effort to boost business once the Panama Canal expansion is complete. The line will make it possible to load cargo directly onto trains from the ships, instead of needing to transfer it by way of trucks. [Miami Herald website report, 9-18-11]

GE TRANSPORTATION TO SPEND $200-M ON LOCOMOTIVE OPERATIONS: GE Transportation plans to invest $200 million to build a locomotive factory in Fort Worth, Texas, and upgrade technology at a 100-year-old plant in Erie, Pa. The General Electric unit aims to meet growing domestic and global demand. [Reuters report, 9-18-11]

AMTRAK FACES BUDGET CUTS: Amtrak ridership is increasing, but it faces the elimination of 150 weekday trains if a bill passed by a House subcommittee is approved. The bill would give Amtrak $227-million for its 2012 budget, but it would require that no federal funds be used on short-distance lines. "The GOP plan penalizes states that have made investments in passenger rail, some of which have contributed toward costs for nearly 40 years," said Amtrak Board Chairman Tom Carper. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram website report, 9-17-11]

AMTRAK INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORTS ON AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Amtrak Inspector General Ted Alves, before a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing Sept.15, gave a detailed overview of areas in which the railroad still has work to do. They include implementing daily Sunset Limited and Cardinal service, combining the Pennsylvanian with the Capitol Limited west of Pittsburgh, and running more special trains to maximize revenue. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-16-11]

UNION PACIFIC WORKING ON DOUBLE-TRACK PROJECT IN IOWA, NEBRASKA: Union Pacific is working on a double-track project in Iowa and Nebraska to facilitate travel through the area, at a cost estimated to be $300-million to $400-million, said UP Chairman and CEO Jim Young. "The major project under way is the double tracking of our railroad from Fremont over to Missouri Valley," said Young. The infrastructure work, which is part of UP's $3.3-billion capital spending budget, will reach completion by 2014. [Fremont Tribune website report, 9-16-11]

CSX TO PROVIDE RAIL SERVICE FOR EHTANOL SHIPMENTS TO FLORIDA PORT: CSX entered a business venture with the Tampa Port Authority and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners to bring Midwestern ethanol to the Tampa, Fla., area. The venture will create the nation's first ethanol unit train-to-pipeline distribution system. The company and the port will spend nearly $11-million for the project. The distribution system is set to be in operation next year. [American City Business Jounals website report, 9-16-11]

NORFOLK’S NEW LIGHT-RAIL LINE DOING WELL: Norfolk’s new light-rail transit line, ‘The Tide,’ is proving a huge success with daily ridership almost doubling initial predictions with more than 5,600 trips taken daily. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-16-11]

UNACCOMPANIED PATRONS MUST BE AT LEAST 13 YEARS OF AGE TO RIDE AMTRAK: Starting November 1, Amtrak will require that minors be at least 13 years of age to travel unaccompanied. Under the new policy, children 12 and under will need to be accompanied by a guardian 18 years of age or older. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-16-11]

FEDS UPDATE RULE FOR ACCOMMODATING PASSENGERS WITH DISABILITIES AT TRAIN STATIONS: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has issued a new rule that calls on commuter, intercity and high-speed rail operators to better accommodate passengers with disabilities on new or renovating station platforms. At new or altered stations where track is shared with existing freight-rail operations, preventing rule compliance, passenger railroads will be able to choose from a variety of options to help passengers with disabilities board trains. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-16-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: A slight increase in weekly rail traffic was reported for the week ending September 10, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 278,382 carloads, up 0.1 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 208,090 trailers and containers, up 0.6 pct. [Association of American Railroads, 9-15-11]

FULL CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR SERVICE RESUMES: Beginning with the Sept. 15 eastbound departure from Emeryville and the Sept. 16 westbound Chicago departure, Amtrak's California Zephyris now serving its entire route. Flood damage and the resulting backup of freight traffic caused chronic delays between Chicago and Denver, and eventually forced Amtrak to run the train only between Denver and Emeryville for several weeks. Quick repair work by host BNSF Railway crews allowed full service to resume slightly earlier than expected. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-15-11]

CSX RECOGNIZED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE: CSX says that the company is the only Class I railroad named to the Carbon Performance Leadership Index (CPLI), part of the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) 2011 S&P 500 Report. This is the second consecutive year that CSX has been featured as a leader in its industry sector by the CDP with the highest level of reporting. [CSX, 9-15-11]

SOUND TRANSIT OPENING NEW TACOMA STATION: A new Commerce Street light-rail station in downtown Tacoma, Washington, opens Sept.15. Located at 11th and Commerce streets, the station marks the sixth stop on the 1.6-mile Tacoma Link that serves as a major transit connector in the downtown area. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-15-11]

ENGINEERING SERVICES CONTRACT SIGNED FOR SALT LAKE CITY STREETCAR PROJECT: HDR obtained a contract from the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) to provide preliminary engineering services for the $37-million, two-mile Sugar House Streetcar project in Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake City.  [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-15-11]

TWENTY NEW FREIGHT LOCOMOTIVES FOR SERVICE IN AUSTRALIA: UGL Ltd.’s rail business has obtained two new orders valued at $88-million to supply 20 freight locomotives in the Australian market. The orders include the supply of seven C44ACi locomotives in New South Wales, and 13 new GE Transportation Evolution Series locomotives in western Australia, UGL officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-15-11]

CENTENNIAL OF BALTIMORE’S PENN STATION: Baltimore’s Penn Station is 100 years old Sept. 14. The Beaux Arts style building, designed by Kenneth MacKenzie Murchison, played a key role in emphasizing Baltimore’ importance as a dominant rail hub. [Amtrak, 9-14-11]

METRO-NORTH BEGINS PORT JERVIS LINE REHAB: Affirming its commitment to repair the damage to its Port Jervis Line Inflicted by Hurricane Irene last month, MTA Metro-North Railroad Sept.15 publicly heralded the beginning of construction work on the line in Orange County, N.Y., while unveiling limited service restorations involving shuttle bus service, to commence Sept.19. [Railway Age website report, 9-14-11]

HOUSE PASSES EXTENSION OF SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BILL: The U.S. House has approved a combined bill that would provide a short-term extension of the surface transportation bill (SAFETEA-LU) and maintain current funding levels for transit, highway and aviation programs. The highway and transit side of the bill would extend funding at current levels until March 31, 2012. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-14-11]

IDLED RAIL CARS REACH 2-YEAR LOW: Owners of railcars across North America pulled 5,539 units of various types out of storage during August, shrinking the idled fleet to its lowest level since the 2008-2009 recession. That was the strongest monthly drawdown of parked railcars since April. It left 271,404 still idle as of Sept. 1, said the Association of American Railroads, or 17.8 percent of the total fleet of available cars across the continent. [Journal of Commerce website report, 9-14-11]

CSX’S BULK-MATERIAL TRANSFER FACILITY APPROVED FOR WESTBOROUGH: CSX's plan to construct a bulk-material transfer terminal in Westborough, Massachusetts, is slated to move forward after selectmen recently approved the construction project. [Framingham MetroWest Daily News website report, 9-14-11]

METRO-NORTH TO BECOME NATION’S BUSIEST PASSENGER RAIL CARRIER: After more than three decades of gradual growth, Metro-North Railroad's total ridership is expected to surpass that of the Long Island Railroad in 2012 to become the nation's busiest passenger rail line. [Stamford Advocate website report, 9-14-11]

BNSF LAUNCHES ‘FRIENDS OF’ WEBSITE: BNSF Railway has launched a website - 'Friends of BNSF' - that will provide exclusive content to advocates interested in BNSF or freight rail transportation. The URL is https://www.friendsofbnsf.com/. [BNSF, 9-13-11]

PEAK RAIL INTERMODAL VOLUME APPROACHING: The peak season for intermodal volume could begin this week, according to Union Pacific Chief Financial Officer Robert Knight. The anticipated peak season for intermodal follows volume growth of 0.4 percent to about 1.18 million containers and trailers in August compared to the same period in 2010, according to the Association of American Railroads. [Journal of Commerce website report, 9-13-11]

NEW ORLEANS TO EXPAND STREETCAR SYSTEM: Parsons Brinckerhoff has obtained a contract from the Regional Transit Authority of New Orleans for construction management of the three-phase expansion of the city’s streetcar system. The authority has a $25-million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to build a 1.4-mile streetcar loop on Loyola Avenue from Canal Street to the Union Passenger Terminal. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-13-11]

FEDS GRANT $32.5-M TOWARD EXPANSION OF BOSTON’S SOUTH STATION: U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded the Massachusetts Department of Transportation $32.5-million to expand and enhance the historic South Station in Boston. The station currently operates beyond its capacity and expects an estimated 50 percent increase in high-speed intercity passenger rail travel in the coming years along the Northeast Corridor.  [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 9-13-11]

NEW MARC STATION SLATED FOR EDGEWOOD: Maryland MTA will soon begin construction on a new MARC commuter-rail station in Edgewood. The $4.3-million station will feature restrooms, ticket vending machines, two ADA accessible ramps and a new platform shelter. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-12-11]

SEPTA’S QUEEN LANE RAIL STATION RENOVATION COMPLETED: SEPTA has marked the completion of a $4.1-million renovation project at its Queen Lane Regional Rail station. The station, which serves SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill West Line, was built in 1885. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-12-11]

BOMBARDIER UNVEILS FIRST OF 32 NEW LOCOMOTIVES FOR PROGRESS RAIL: Bombardier Transportation has unveiled the first of 32 Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. model SD70ACe diesel-electric locomotives manufactured for Progress Rail Services Corp. Production began in April, following the contracting signing in November 2010.  [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-12-11]

DELAWARE PROPOSING STUDY FOR AMTRAK MAINTENANCE CENTER: Delaware officials are proposing a feasibility study to examine a maintenance center Amtrak's fastest trains, which would focus on the heavy locomotive maintenance yards at Wilmington or another suitable spot in northern Delaware. [Associated Press report, 9-10-11]

HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL WOULD SLASH AMTRAK FUNDING: A House appropriations subcommittee has approved a FY-2012 funding bill that would zero-out high-speed rail, slash Amtrak funding by $357 million, and prohibit Amtrak from using federal dollars to fund operating expenses for state-supported routes. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-9-11]

MINNESOTA GETS $5-M TOWARD HIGH-SPEED RAIL PROJECT : The Minnesota Dept. of Transportation (MNDOT) will receive $5-million from the U.S. DOT to complete initial engineering and environmental reviews for the Northern Lights high-speed rail project between Minneapolis and Duluth. The 155-mile corridor will accommodate top speeds of 110 mph, with stops in Coon Rapids, Isanti, Cambridge, Hinckley, Boylston and Duluth, Minnesota, along with a station in Superior, Wisconsin. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-9-11]

PARIS-SWITZERLAND HIGH-SPEED RAIL PROJECT MOVES FORWARD: French and Swiss officials on Sept.8 at Belfort, France, celebrated a new high-speed rail station and track upgrades that will join Paris to Switzerland by state-of-the-art rail system. The upgrades to the rail corridor will cut travel times by around 30 minutes. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-9-11]

CSX ADDED TO DOW JONES SUSTAINABILITY INDEXES: CSX Corp. has been added to the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes in recognition of its leadership in creating and adopting sustainable practices, the company said. CSX is an industrial transportation sector leader among 143 companies named to the North America list this year. [CSX 9-9-11]

PRESIDENT SEEKS $50-B FOR TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS: The Journal of Commerce is reporting that the jobs plan President Obama is sending Congress will include a $50-billion spending request for new investments in highways, transit, rail and aviation. [Journal of Commerce website report, 9-9-11]

BNSF FLOOD RECOVERY UPDATE: Portions of BNSF’s Napier and Omaha Subdivisions remain out of service, resulting in some traffic remaining on alternate routes. The company still anticipate reopening those subdivisions in October, pending receding flood waters. [BNSF, 9-9-11]

CSX CONDUCTOR DIES IN SHOVING ACCIDENT: CSX conductor Dennis A. Hemme, 59, died in an on-the-job accident September 8 when he reportedly was crushed to death in Botkins, Ohio, during a mainline shove of a stalled train. Botkins is some 110 miles north of Cincinnati. [United Transportation Union, 9-9-11]

AAR RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT FOR AUGUST 2011: The Association of American Railroads reported mixed results for rail traffic in August compared with the same month last year. U.S. railroads originated 1,482,570 carloads, down 0.3 percent, and 1,179,838 trailers and containers, up 0.4 percent. Compared to August 2010, grain carloads in August 2011 were down 17.1 percent, and coal carloads were down 1.7 percent. Twelve of the 20 carload commodity categories saw increases compared with August 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 9-8-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: The volume of freight shipments carried by North American Class I and regional railroads increased by 1.4 percent in the seven-day period through Sept. 3, despite Hurricane Irene. For the week, 397,320 rail carloads originated at North American freight railroads, up 5,467 shipments compared with the previous week. [Association of American Railroads, 9-8-11]

BNSF FLOOD REPAIRS COSTING $300-M: BNSF Railway has been working for six months to repair flood damage on its rail network in the Midwest and Northern Plains and expects to spend more than $300-million to complete the project, an official said. Record runoff from the Missouri and Surri rivers flooded lines this spring in states including Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. [Dallas Business Journal website report, 9-8-11]

BNSF REOPENS ST.JOSEPH SUBDIVISION: BNSF Railway has reopened its St. Joseph Subdivision along the Missouri River in Nebraska following flood repairs, the company said. [Dallas Business Journal website report, 9-8-11]

TRAIN SERVICE IMPACTED BY HEAVY RAINS: Trains have been cancelled due to potential flood waters and a downed tree has knocked out part of SEPTA's service as heavy rains continue to pound Philadelphia and other regions along the East Coast. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-8-11]

MEDIATION BOARD PROFFERS ARBITRATION IN NATIONAL RAIL CONTRACT DISPUTE: The National Mediation Board has urged the unions comprising the Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition and the carriers represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee to submit their unresolved national contract dispute to binding arbitration. The RLBC has been bargaining for new national agreements since November of 2009. The proffer of arbitration is a mandatory step in the RLA bargaining process. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-8-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN APPEALS OSHA FINDINGS OVER DISMISSED EMPLOYEE: Norfolk Southern has filed objections with the Chief Administrative Law Judge of the U.S. Department of Labor to findings of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In the findings, OSHA concluded that Norfolk Southern's 2009 dismissal of a maintenance-of-way employee was retaliation for his reporting a workplace injury. Norfolk Southern has set forth in its objections the bases for its disagreement with OSHA's decision. [Norfolk Southern, 9-8-11]

NORFOLK LIGHT-RAIL RIDERSHIP STARTS STRONGLY: Hampton Roads Transit officials have expressed satisfaction over ridership numbers notched by The Tide as light-rail transit notched its first week of revenue service in Norfolk. HRT predicted 2,900 trips per weekday on the 7.4-mile system in its first year. But ridership exceeded that level each day between Aug. 29 and Sept. 5, including weekends, averaging 6,500 trips. Ridership on Saturday, Sept. 3, was the highest, at 9,158 trips.  [Railway Age website report, 9-8-11]

CALTRAIN TO INSTALL CAMERAS ON TRAINS: Railhead Vision Systems has obtained a contract to install cameras on the front and back of Caltrain’s trains to provide information to investigators if an accident occurs on tracks. Metrolink contracted Railhead to install the cameras inside train control rooms to monitor engineers, as well as outward-facing cameras. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-8-11]

MOTIVEPOWER TO BUILD 10 LOCOMOTIVES FOR COMMUTER LINES: Wabtec Corp. subsidiary MotivePower Inc. has obtained contracts worth $30-million to build commuter locomotives for delivery in 2012 and 2013. MotivePower will provide seven remanufactured, 3,000-horsepower locomotives to the Florida Department of Transportation for the SunRail commuter line and three 4,000-horsepower locomotives to Sound Transit.  [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-8-11]

CSX ESTIMATES UP TO $15-M IMPACT BY HURRICANE IRENE: Hurricane Irene's net hit to CSX Corp's earnings came to $10-million to $15-million, Oscar Munoz, the railroad's chief financial officer, estimated. [Reuters website report, 9-7-11]

NEW RAIL LINE TO BE BUILT IN AUSTRALIA: Australian freight-rail service porovider QR National Ltd has signed an agreement with eight coal companies to build a more than $950-million rail line to a new coal export terminal at a port in Gladstone, Queensland. The line will be used to transport export coal to the proposed Wiggins Island coal terminal from Australian coal mines in the southern Bowen Basin. Construction on the terminal is scheduled to start in early 2012 and conclude in mid-2014. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-7-11]

UNION PACIFIC RR MUSEUM LAUNCHES IMPROVED WEBSITE: The Union Pacific Railroad Museum website has a bold new design that incorporates fresh content, picture slide shows and easy-to-find information.  The site better serves a broader audience, including rail fans, history enthusiasts, teachers, and students interested in Union Pacific Railroad history and how the railroad helped shape America.  [Union Pacific, 9-7-11]

GARY, INDIANA, ADVANCES FINANCING AGREEMENT WITH CANADIAN NATIONAL: The Board of Public Works and Safety in Gary, Ind., agreed with Canadian National's plan for developing the Gary rail yard. The project is estimated to cost $165-million and create 250 jobs. The company agrees to use its best efforts to recruit qualified city of Gary residents for employment and training. [Merrillville Post-Tribune website report, 9-7-11]

TWELVE SEPTA CARS DAMAGED BY HURRICANE COULD TAKE WEEKS TO REPAIR: Twelve of the 16 SEPTA railcars stuck in Trenton during Hurricane Irene will be sidelined for weeks due to water damage. The 12 sustained damage to electrical motors and suffered extensive corrosion throughout the trains. [Philadelphia Inquirer website report, 9-6-11]

U.S. FREIGHT SHIPMENTS UP IN AUGUST: The The volume of U.S. freight shipments in August was 4.4 percent higher than a year earlier, according to the Cass Freight Index. However, the year-on-year growth was down from 11 percent in July and was the lowest growth rate since February 2010. [Journal of Commerce website report, 9-6-11]

FEDS OK ENGINEERING FOR MORE TWIN CITIES LIGHT-RAIL: The Federal Transit Administration has granted approval to begin preliminary engineering for the Southwest Corridor, the third proposed light-rail transit line for Minnesota’s Twin Cities. The 15-mile line would link downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie. [Railway Age website report, 9-6-11]

DELHI METRO ORDERS 76 MOVIA CARS FROM BOMBARDIER: Bombardier Transportation has obtained a $120-million contract to supply 76 additional Bombardier MOVIA metro cars to the Delhi Metro Rail Corp. Ltd. The order is a follow-up to the orders for 114 vehicles announced in 2010. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-6-11]

ALL AMTRAK EAST COAST SERVICE RESTORED: Amtrak has restored all service to the East Coast following the damage from Hurricane Irene. Amtrak thanks its passengers for their patience as we worked to restore service along the East Coast. [Amtrak, 9-2-11]

UPDATE ON CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR ACCIDENT: The eastbound California Zephyr, hit a construction crane at a grain elevator that was obstructing the BNSF Railway-owned tracks.  The two locomotives derailed, along with five passenger cars.  The remainder of the ten-car train remained upright and on track.  No serious harm was reported among the 175 passengers or the train’s 17 crew members, but a number of passengers were transported to a hospital to treat minor injuries. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-2-11]

UTU RATIFIES NATIONAL RAIL CONTRACT: A new national rail contract, delivering a 17 percent wage increase over 60 months, a 78-month cap on health care insurance contributions, plus improvements in health care benefits, has been ratified by solid margins by UTU members in each of the six crafts eligible to vote. [United Transportation Union, 9-2-11]

AAR FILES SUIT OVER AMTRAK’S RULES WITH FREIGHT RAILROADS: The Assn. of American Railroads has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration over a provision of the Passenger Rail Rehabilitation and Improvement Act that they claim gives Amtrak 'improper authority to promulgate binding rules governing the conduct of its contractual partners, the freight railroads.’ The issue seems to hinge on a provision which empowers Amtrak and the FRA to jointly develop new ‘metrics and minimum standards for measuring the performance and service quality of intercity passenger train operations.’ [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 9-2-11]

CALTRAIN CONTRACTS WITH TRANSIT AMERICA TO OPERATE TRAINS: Caltrain’s board has approved a contract with Herzog subsidiary TransitAmerica Services Inc. to operate the commuter-rail system. The new five-year contract, which will go into effect next year, will represent the first time in 20 years that Caltrain will not be operated by Amtrak. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-2-11]

GENESEE & WYOMING COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF ARIZONA EASTERN: Greenwich, Conn.-based Genesee & Wyoming Inc. has completed its acquisition of the Arizona Eastern Railway (AZER) from Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC for $90.1-million in cash, subject to adjustment for final working capital. AZER is composed of two rail lines operating 265 track miles in southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico that are connected by 52 miles of trackage rights over the Union Pacific Railroad. [Railway Age website report, 9-2-11]

FTA APPROVES DETROIT’S LIGHT-RAIL PLANS: The Federal Transit Administration has given the go-ahead to Detroit to proceed with its plans for light rail transit. Detroit still needs to secure up to $300-million in federal funding support for the proposed $550-million project, to be funded in part by private-sector partners. [Railway Age website report, 9-2-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: A slight dip in rail traffic was reported for the week ending August 27, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 299,943 carloads, down 0.8 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 236,051 trailers and containers, down 0.5 pct. Eleven of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 9-1-11]

TOWER 55 CONTROL POINT IN TEXAS TO BE REBUILT: The Associated Press is reporting that a congested freight railroad control point in Fort Worth called Tower 55 should be rebuilt by early 2014. The U.S. Department of Transportation is expected sign an agreement to rebuild with work set to begin in April on the $91-million project. [Associated Press report, 9-1-11]

VERMONT RAIL SYSTEM RESTORES SERVICE: Since Hurricane Irene struck the area last weekend, Vermont Rail System worked around the clock to repair damaged tracks. Now, some freight operations have resumed and VRS expects Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express to operate today. To restore the line from Whitehall to Rutland, the railway needed to repair washed-out track in 19 locations. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-1-11]

ENGINEERING DESIGN CONTRACT AWARDED FOR EDMONTON LIGHT-RAIL EXPANSION: AECOM Technology Corp. has obtained a $35.5-million contract from the city of Edmonton, Alberta, for a light-rail transit expansion project. The company will provide preliminary engineering design services for the Southeast LRT line from downtown Edmonton to Mill Woods, and the West LRT line from Lewis Estates to downtown Edmonton. The new 29-station LRT system will include 17 miles of double track, with more than half a mile to be built in tunnels and one mile on an elevated structure. [Progressive Railroading website report, 9-1-11]

UNION PACIFIC IMPROVING EASTERN WYOMING LINE: Union Pacific Railroad will continue improving the transportation infrastructure in Wyoming by investing nearly $31-million in the rail line that runs from Lusk to Shawnee. Various projects over almost 37-miles of the line include removing and installing more than 28 miles of rail and nearly 75,000 concrete ties, as well as renewing the surfaces at seven road crossings. Crews will also spread nearly 48,000 tons of rock ballast and replace three switches. Most of these projects begin September 2 and are scheduled to be completed by mid-November. [Union Pacific, 9-1-11]

UNION PACIFIC, BNSF GETTING BACK TO NORMAL AFTER MISSOURI RIVER FLOODING: Union Pacific and BNSF have lifted embargoes and are getting back to more normal freight operations as flooding from the Missouri River subsides. The companies have spent millions of dollars to raise track, build levees and strengthen bridges in the wake of the flood. Both expect their flood-related work to be completed by fall. [Omaha World-Herald website report, 9-1-11]

RAIL ACCIDENTS, INCIDENTS DOWN IN SIX MONTHS: With 736 railroads reporting, the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis has issued a preliminary report showing that 5,257 accidents/incidents were recorded during the first six months of 2011, 7.9 percent fewer than in the corresponding period of 2010. There were 11 employee fatalities, the same as in the 2010 period. [Railway Age website report, 9-1-11]

BOMBARDIER TRANSPORTATION ORDERS STAY STRONG: Bombardier Transportation increased its revenue by 26 percent, reaching $2.7-billion for the second quarter ended July 31, compared with $2.1-billion for the corresponding period last fiscal year. During the second-quarter, the transportation segment reported new orders valued at $3.9-billion, representing a book-to-bill ratio of 1.5, compared to $4.3-billion of new orders on the prior year period. [Railway Age website report, 8-31-11]

CSX LOOKING FOR WORKERS TO BUILD FLORIDA TERMINAL: CSX will hold a job fair in November in Winter Haven, Florida, and is looking for about 800 workers to help build a new rail terminal there. [Lakeland Ledger website report, 8-31-11]

CSX UPDATES STORM RECOVERY: CSX has substantially cleared its track infrastructure affected by Hurricane Irene. However train service in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions remains slow as recovery efforts continue, commercial power is restored, and the substantial backlog of trains is worked down. In addition to securing its entire rail network in the storm affected regions, CSX employees have removed hundreds of trees, recovered dozens of miles of flooded track and damaged roadbed, and deployed generator power to facilities, signals and crossing devices across these areas. [CSX, 8-31-11]

RAILSERVE FORMS NEW DIVISION FROM SPRING RIDGE RAIL: Railserve Inc. has acquired inventory and production equipment from Spring Ridge Rail Services of Hughes Springs, Texas, to form a new division that will repair, rebuild and install air brake valves and systems for freight locomotives. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-31-11]

FEDS ANNOUNCE FUNDING FOR TWO DENVER LIGHT-RAIL LINES: The U.S. Department of Transportation has signed an agreement committing $1.03-billion in federal funds for two planned light rail lines in Denver. One line will link downtown to the airport; the other will link downtown to the northwest suburbs of Arvada and Wheat Ridge. Both lines are scheduled to be ready for service in 2016. [Associated Press report, 8-31-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN RETURNS TO ALMOST NORMAL FOLLOWING HURRICANE: Norfolk Southern's rail operations along the southern East Coast returned to normal for the most part as the company ‘continues to make good progress’ in its service-restoration effort and has resumed freight service in the Philadelphia and South Jersey areas even while rail repairs are under way. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-31-11]

CSX UPDATES STORM RECOVERY: Progress is being made in the restoration of freight rail service on storm-impacted areas of CSX. The Mid-Atlantic region is moving closer to full service while more limited operations continue in the Northeast, largely due to washouts of track segments west of Selkirk, N.Y., and on the lines between Albany and New York City. Intermodal service in the Northeast is still limited and delayed as trains are held up or take longer reroutes. Service to the export piers in Newport News has resumed, and the company's Curtis Bay export pier reopened Sunday. [CSX, 8-30-11]

METRO-NORTH’S PORT JERVIS LINE MAY BE OUT FOR MONTHS: Metro-North’s Port Jervis Line has been severely damaged in many locations, with service resumption unlikely for months. Much of the line, which terminates in Hoboken, still remains under water, making full damage assessment difficult. But there are at least three washouts of 1,000 feet or more near Sloatsburg, N.Y., damage to several rail bridges, and suspected damage to the signal system. Other lines east of the Hudson River still out of service Aug.30 included the Upper Harlem Line, and the New Canaan, Danbury, and Waterbury branch lines in Connecticut. [Railway Age website report, 8-30-11]

METRA TO BEGIN REPLACING 22 BRIDGES ON U.P. NORTH LINE: Metra plans to begin replacing 22 bridges along the Union Pacific North line in the next two weeks. Replacement of the century-old bridges will be done in two phases comprising 11 bridges each, with the first phase slated for completion in 2015. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-30-11]

METRA TO BEGIN CONSTRUCTION OF RAVENSWOOD STATION: Construction of the new Ravenswood Station - the busiest stop on the UP North line – will begin in spring 2012. To be built at its current location, the new station will feature longer, covered platforms, warming shelters, improved lighting, landscaping, a ticket office, vendor space, ramps and stairs.  [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-30-11]

INDIANA R.R. BEGINS TO BUILD LOCOMOTIVE SHOP: The Indiana Rail Road Co. has broken ground for a $6-million locomotive maintenance facility in Jasonville, Indiana To be located at INRD’s Hiawatha Yard, the facility is part of the 500-mile line’s record capital spending budget for 2011. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-30-11]

CSX EXPANDING COLUMBUS INTERMODAL TERMINAL: CSX has announced it’s investing $59-million to expand its intermodal freight terminal at Columbus, Ohio, as part of the National Gateway initiative. The expansion includes a redesign of the site footprint, installation and realignment of tracks, reconfiguration of inbound and outbound truck gates, additional onsite parking, and three rail-mounted wide-span cranes. [Railway Age website report, 8-29-11]

BUS COMPANIES ORDERED TO POST ORGANIZING NOTICES: Employers, including union and non-union bus companies, covered by the National Labor Relations Act, must now post notices on bulletin boards informing employees they have a right under federal law to organize and be represented by a labor union. The National Labor Relations Board issued that final ruling after concluding many workers are not aware of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.  [United Transportation Union, 8-29-11]

UNION PACIFIC TRACK INSPECTOR DIES IN HI-RAIL ACCIDENT: A Union Pacific employee, operating a hi-rail vehicle, was killed in an accident with a SUV at a highway-rail grade crossing in Abilene, Kansas, reports KAKE television news. KAKE reported the UP employee was driving the hi-rail vehicle westbound while inspecting track when it was struck at the crossing by the SUV. [United Transportation Union, 8-28-11]

CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR DERAILS IN NEBRASKA: Amtrak’s eastbound California Zephyr collided with a vehicle near Benkelman, Nebraska, August 26, derailing two locomotives and three cars. There were 178 passengers on board, some of whom were taken to a hospital. There were no life-threatening injuries. [Amtrak, 8-26-11]

AMTRAK HIRES CONSULTANTS TO DEVELOP PLAN FOR 220 MPH TRAINS: Amtrak announced August 24 that it has recruited private consultants KPMG LLP to advise in the development of a business and financial plan to bring 220 mph next generation high-speed rail service to the Northeast Corridor, part of an initiative to maximize private investment opportunities. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-26-11]

CSX DONATES TO RED CROSS FOR HURRICANE RELIEF: In advance of the projected East Coast landfall of Hurricane Irene, CSX Corporation has made a $100,000 donation to the American Red Cross to use where there is the greatest need in this or future storms. [CSX, 8-26-11]

NJ TRANSIT’S SOMERVILLE STATION COMPLETED: New Jersey Transit has marked the completion of a $15.3-million project aimed at rebuilding a station in Somerville, N.J. The improvements included new high-level platforms. NJ Transit designated Somerville Station as a key facility under the agency’s Commuter Rail Accessibility plan. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-26-11]

ALSTOM LANDS RAIL MAINTENANCE CONTRACT IN MEXICO: Alstom recently obtained a $57.6-million, 11-year contract from Ferrocarril y Terminal del Valle de México S.A. de C.V. (Ferrovalle) to maintain 410 miles of track. Alstom will be responsible for the corrective and preventive maintenance of all track miles operated by Ferrovalle. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-26-11]

TTS NAMES UNION PACIFIC RAIL CARRIER OF THE YEAR: Transportation and logistics provider TTS, LLC, named Union Pacific Railroad its 2010 Rail Carrier of the Year. The award recognizes Union Pacific's consistent attention to customer service and on-time delivery in the intermodal business it handles for TTS.   [Union Pacific, 8-26-11]

FLORIDA EAST COAST LEASES LAND FOR INTERMODAL FACILITY: A $72.8-million plan creates a place at Port Everglades, Florida, where containers will be put onto trains right at the port, after they are unloaded from ships. The deal is between Broward County’s Port Everglades and the Florida East Coast Railway. The county will lease 42.5 acres to the FEC for 30 years, with two 10-year renewal options. [Florida East Coast Rwy, 8-26-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Gains were reported for rail traffic with U.S. railroads originating 300,521 carloads for the week ending August 20, 2011, up 1.1 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 238,680 trailers and containers, up 1 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-25-11]

CONTRACTOR FINED FOR HIAWATHA LINE CLAIMS: The Justice Department says Minnesota Transit Constructors Inc. falsified claims related to work performed by disadvantage businesses involved with construction of Minneapolis’ Hiawatha light-rail. The firm has agreed to pay $4.6-million to resolve the allegations, but denies any knowledge of wrongdoing. [Railway Age website report, 8-25-11]

MAN SENTENCED TO 15 MONTHS FOR BOMB THREAT ON AMTRAK TRAIN: A bogus bomb threat that led to the evacuation of an Amtrak train near East Glacier, Montana, in February has landed Hussein Abdi Hassan in a federal prison for 15 months. The 24-year-old Minnesota man was sentenced following his guilty plea to a federal charge of providing false information. In addition to the prison term, he must spend three years on supervised release and pay $310,000 in restitution.   [The Missoulian website report, 8-25-11]

CANOLA BOOSTS CN RAIL SHIPMENTS: A record Alberta canola crop has pushed the number of grain cars transported by Canadian National Railway Co to British Columbia ports to a 20-year high, the railway said. CN moved more than 125,000 grain cars to export terminals at the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert during the 2010-2011 crop marketing year, which ended July 31. CN moved 6.7 million tons of grain through Vancouver, and 4 million tons of grain through Prince Rupert. [Reuters website report, 8-24-11]

AMTRAK PROCEEDS WITH HSR PLANS AMID PRIVATIZATION DEBATE: Amtrak is moving ahead with its high-speed rail plans even though House Republicans are pushing for the privatization of some of its services. While House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., has argued that private investments are a better option for operating the Northeast lines, Amtrak remains determined to continue its plans and has New York-based KPMG to create a financial plan for the Northeast project. [The Hill website report, 8-24-11]

TWO RAILROADERS KILLED IN CREW VAN ACCIDENT IN MONTANA: BNSF locomotive engineer Todd Burckhard, 35, and BNSF conductor Blaine Mack, 56, were killed August 19 when the crew van they were riding was involved in a collision near Frazer, Montana. The van driver was hospitalized for minor injuries. The van was traveling westbound on Highway 2 when it was struck by an eastbound pickup truck operating in the westbound lane of traffic. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 8-24-11]

EARTHQUAKE DISRUPTS AMTRAK’S EAST COAST NETWORK: A 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit on August 23 - centered in Mineral, Virginia - caused delays through much of Amtrak’s East Coast rail network.  Train speeds were slowed while crews inspected tracks to ensure structural integrity. Amtrak reported that operations were back to normal by nightfall. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers]

INDIANA RAIL ROAD TO ANNOUNCE $65-M YARD PROJECT: Indiana Rail Road Company is preparing to announce a $65-million, five-year investment project near Jasonville, Indiana. The work will focus around the Hiawatha Yard, which is the center of operations for the 500-mile IRRC system. [Green County Daily World website report, 8-24-11]

FEDS SCALE BACK PTC REQUIREMENT FOR FREIGHT RAILROADS: Freight railroads will deploy less expensive automation systems than earlier proposed under a new version of a positive train control requirement issued by the Department of Transportation. The changes could remove up to 14,000 track miles from a PTC mandate. [Journal of Commerce website report, 8-23-11]

UNION PACIFIC IMPROVING 84 MILE TRACK PORTION IN UTAH: Union Pacific Railroad will enhance the rail line that runs from Provo to Lynndyl, Utah. The more than 84-mile, $13-million project includes removing and installing more than 106,000 ties, renewing the surfaces at 88 road crossings and replacing more than one mile of rail in various curves. Crews will also spread 72,000 tons of ballast. [Union Pacific, 8-23-11]

FEDS PROVIDING $28-2-M TOWARD NEW DEARBORN, MICHIGAN, TRAIN STATION: The Federal Railroad Administration has obligated $28.2-million in High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail funds to Michigan for the construction of a new train station in Dearborn. The funding will allow the city to consolidate two passenger-rail stations into one. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-22-11]

NEC GETS $745-M FOR IMPROVEMENTS: Amtrak and the DOT finalized agreements to spend $745-million toward the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak will use about $450-million to upgrade electrical systems and tracks between Trenton and New York. That will also raise top operating speeds to 160 mph from 135 mph now on a 24-mile run from Trenton to New Brunswick, and allow for future speeds to reach 186 mph. Another $295-million will go to help Amtrak build new tracks and bypass an area where it now suffers delays at a junction for trains moving in and out of Manhattan. [Journal of Commerce website report, 8-22-11]

CP BEGINS CONSTRUCTION ON SASKATCHEWAN INTERMODAL YARD: Canadian Pacific has started work on a $50.7-million intermodal yard outside Regina, Saskatchewan, in the Global Transportation Hub as part of a plan to relocate CP's rail yards from downtown. The new rail yard is expected to accommodate 250,000 box shipments each year, up from the current 45,000. [Journal of Commerce website report, 8-22-11]

STRASBURG RR PROJECTS 'HUGE' INCREASE IN FREIGHT OPERATIONS: The Strasburg Rail Road is a short line in Pennsylvania that could see more than a 3000 percent increase in its freight operation between 2009 and 2011. It handled nine cars in 2009 and expects about 300 cars this year. [Lancaster Intelligencer Journal website report, 8-21-11]

STEAM RETURNS TO NORFOLK SOUTHERN: September will mark the return of steam to Norfolk Southern rails as Norfolk Southern Corporation and Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum launch a limited schedule of steam locomotive passenger excursions Labor Day weekend. The excursion program, '21st Century Steam,' will operate two trains each day Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3 and 4, powered by recently restored Southern Railway Locomotive 630. Launch of the excursion program coincides with TVRM's Railfest commemorating the museum's 50th anniversary. [Norfolk Southern, 8-19-11]

AMTRAK COMPLETES UPGRADES TO L.A. MAINTENANCE FACILITY: Amtrak has completed $24.5-million in upgrades to an equipment maintenance facility in Los Angeles. The shop performs safety inspections and services passenger cars used on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited and Pacific Surfliner. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-19-11]

CLASS I RAIL WORKFORCE DOWN SLIGHTLY IN JULY: After posting month-over-month increases for most of 2011, the U.S. Class I workforce shrunk a smidge in July, according to Surface Transportation Board data. As of mid-July, the Class I’s employed 158,916 people, down 0.3 percent from June’s level. However, the workforce increased 3.8 percent from July 2010’s count. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-19-11]

HIGH-SPEED RAIL PLANNED FOR IRAQ: The Iraqi government has signed a memorandum of understanding with French passenger train manufacturer Alstom to bring high-speed rail to the country. The proposed line would connect Basra and Baghdad - a 280-mile corridor - with trains reaching top speeds of 155 mph. French Transportation Minister Thierry Mariani will visit Iraq in the fall to hammer out the details of the agreement. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-19-11]

CALTRAIN REPORTED TO SWITCH DESIGNATED OPERATORS: Reports say that Caltrain has chosen TransitAmerica as the next operator of its rail service between San Jose and San Francisco, ending a 20 year partnership with Amtrak. The five-year, $62.5-million agreement with Missouri-based TransitAmerica will have to be approved by Caltrain’s board. Caltrain saw patronage grow almost 12 percent over the past year. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-19-11]

NEW TRAIN STATUS SYSTEM FOR VIA RAIL: The GBS Group has obtained a software engineering contract with VIA Rail Canada Inc. to provide a real-time train status information (TSI) system. The system is designed to optimize GPS, train schedule and related data to provide more accurate forecasts of train departure and arrival times, on-route tracking, updated station arrival times and on-time performance reporting. [Railway Age website report, 8-19-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Mixed results were reported for rail freight for the week ending August 13, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 292,266 carloads, down 1.2 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 235,598 trailers and containers, up 0.8 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-18-11]

SAN DIEGO ADDING PCC STREETCAR: San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System is adding PCC streetcar 529, built in 1949 for use in San Francisco, on the Silver Line downtown loop of the city’s light rail system. Car 529 is one of five MTS holds, and was restored by volunteers and experts at a cost of about $850,000. The car’s retrofit includes equipment updates to conform with current safety standards and San Diego Trolley operations. It will operate on weekends, beginning Aug.27.  [Railway Age website report, 8-18-11]

CSX CHIEF SEES GRADUAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY: CSX CEO Michael Ward sees a ‘gradual recovery’ of the American economy, and because freight rail moves many products, including consumer goods, autos, and lumber, some of the industry is ‘very sensitive’ to the economy. [National Public Radio website report, 8-18-11]

NORFOLK LIGHT-RAIL LINE COMMENCING: Revenue operations will commence August 22 for ‘The Tide,’ a Hampton Roads Transit 7.4-mile light-rail line. Nine Siemens S70 cars will provide service every 7.5 minutes at peak hours, every 15 minutes off-peak, and every half-hour during late evenings and weekends. [Railway Age website report, 8-18-11]

LIGHT-RAIL SIMULATOR FOR TORONTO TRANSIT: FAAC Inc., part of Arotech Corp.’s Training and Simulation Division, has obtained a $2.1-million contract for the Toronto Transit Commission’s light-rail vehicle simulator. The vehicle is a new rail car being produced by Bombardier Transportation. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-18-11]

CANADA TO FUND BORDER SERVICE TO SECOND CASCADES TRAIN: The Canada Border Services Agency has decided that it will continue to provide publicly-funded border clearance service to Amtrak’s second daily train. The train’s 10:50 p.m. arrival time at Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station had earlier led Canada to demand a $1,500 daily charge to cover the inconvenience to the CBSA of the late hours. [Railway Age website report, 8-17-11]

UNION PACIFIC TO IMPROVE 24-MILE RAIL PORTION IN MINNESOTA, WISCONSIN: Union Pacific Railroad will continue improving the transportation infrastructure in Minnesota and Wisconsin with more than $7 million in investment to enhance the rail line that runs from St. Paul, Minnesota., to Hudson, Wisconsin. The nearly 24-mile project includes removing and installing rail and more than 40,000 ties as well as renewing the surfaces at 26 road crossings. Crews will also spread 12,850 tons of rock ballast to help provide a more stable roadbed. [Union Pacific, 8-17-11]

CSX TO SPEND $250-M ON FLORIDA TRACK EXPANSION: CSX is reportedly planning to spend $250M for rail track expansion in Ocala, Florida, which will be the ‘equivalent of an interstate highway’ for freight railroads. Local officials also discussed a plan for a business park that would gain from a notable increase in freight rail traffic through the city. [Ocala Star-Banner website report, 8-16-11]

MONTREAL PORT AUTHORITY TO ACQUIRE TWO GENSET LOCOMOTIVES: The Montreal Port Authority, served by Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, will purchase two additional GenSet locomotives, which will reduce the amount of fuel needed by 30 percent and reduce emissions by 50 percent, according to port officials. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-16-11]

FLOODING SOUTH OF BALTIMORE DISRUPTS NEC SERVICE: Amtrak Northeast Corridor and MARC service between Boston and Washington was impacted August 15 due to flooding conditions south of Baltimore. [Amtrak, 8-15-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ADDING SERVICE TO PORT OF TOLEDO: Norfolk Southern will add freight rail service to the Port of Toledo, Ohio, which is expanding to position itself in the global market. The NS line could be linked to CSX's new intermodal facility in North Baltimore, Ohio, according to development authorities. [WUPW-TV website report, 8-15-11]

UNION PACIFIC TO INCREASE SERVICE CAPACITY AT RAIL PARK IN CHEYENNE: Union Pacific plans to increase the capacity of rail service in the Swan Ranch Industrial Rail Park in Cheyenne, Wyoming. BNSF is already at work in the park, where it is building a new line. UP and BNSF's work will amount to about a $50-million investment in the industrial park. [Wyoming Tribune-Eagle website report, 8-14-11]

RESEARCH GROUP REPORTS HEFTY TRANSITION OF TRUCK TRAFFIC TO RAIL: The amount of truck-transported freight that was converted to intermodal freight rail was about 4.5 percent in the second-quarter, according to a shipping poll from the Wolfe Trahan research group. It was the highest net shift in the past eight years, said analysts Edward Wolfe and Scott Group. [Journal of Commerce website report, 8-14-11]

WASHINGTON UNION STATION CHANGES PLANNED: The Union Station Redevelopment Corporation proposes to cut into the floor of the main hall to create a glass stairway to improve access to the lower level, where the food court would be expanded to include the area formerly occupied by a movie theatre. Separately, the USRC is planning a renovation of the station’s parking deck that would transform it into the city’s intercity bus hub, serving Greyhound, Peter Pan and Bolt Bus.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-12-11]

FEDS GRANT $179-M TO CALIFORNIA TOWARD TRAIN SERVICE: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded $179-million to California for both high-speed rail and improved conventional intercity passenger trains. Included is $86.4-million towards construction of the first segment of the planned Anaheim-Los Angeles-San Francisco high-speed rail line in the Central Valley, extending the already-funded 110-mile Fresno-Bakersfield segment an additional 20 miles north to Merced. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-12-11]

TRACK IMPROVEMENTS IN VERMONT TO SPEED UP ETHAN ALLEN EXPRESS: The Vermont Rail System has completed track work on the Castleton-Rutland portion of Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express route, making for a faster and smoother ride for passengers. Ten minutes already have been shaved from the Ethan Allen’s running time, with 18 minutes to be removed from the schedule by October’s end. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-12-11]

NJT TRAIN DERAILS IN HUDSON TUNNEL: A New Jersey Transit commuter train derailed inside one of the two tunnels under the Hudson River leading into New York City’s Penn Station Aug. 9, fouling the evening commute for hundreds of NJT and Amtrak riders. Before the derailment was cleaned, all trains in and out of Penn Station from New Jersey had to share a one-track tunnel, causing lengthy delays.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-12-11]

FEDS LAUNCH PLAN TO PREVENT RAIL EMPLOYEE FATIGUE: A new Federal Railroad Administration rule differentiates between freight and passenger service. Designed to reduce accidents caused by worker fatigue, the final rule applies ‘fatigue science’ to work schedules to determine maximum on-duty and minimum off-duty periods for passenger train employees, including locomotive engineers, conductors, crews, dispatchers and signal maintainers. The rule, effective October 15, also recognizes the difference between work during daylight and nighttime hours. [Railway Age website report, 8-12-11]

BNSF TO BOOST CAPITAL EXPENDITURES: BNSF officials anticipate that capital expenditures for 2011 will increase about $300-million to $3.8-billion compared with an annual capex budget announced in February. BNSF’s capex budget in 2010 was $2.7-billion. [Progressive Raiolroading website report, 8-11-11]

BRUNEL AWARDS WINNERS ANNOUNCED: The Association of American Railroads and the International Union of Railways declared the winners of an international railroad design competition. Union Pacific's locomotive fleet project and Amtrak's Joseph Biden Jr. station in Wilmington, Del., were included among the five U.S. recipients of the Brunel Awards, and commendation was given to Norfolk Southern's Heartland Corridor intermodal network. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-11-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Modest gains in weekly rail traffic were reported, with U.S. railroads originating 287,321 carloads for the week ending August 6, 2011, up 0.4 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 235,568 trailers and containers, up 1.9 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-11-11]

HURON CENTRAL BEGINS TRACKWORK PROJECT: The Huron Central Railway has marked the start of a project designed to rehabilitate portions of a 173-mile line from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, including a branch from McKerrow to Espanola. The Canada and Ontario each will provide up to $15-million for the more than $33-million project, with the short line covering the remainder. [Progressive Raiolroading website report, 8-11-11]

MIDWEST RAILCAR EXPANDS ITS FLEET: Midwest Railcar is adding 2,400 newly built and pre-owned rail cars to its fleet. Newly commissioned 3,250-cubic-foot covered hoppers will increase the fleet by 1,800 cars during 2011 and 2012. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-10-11]

STRIKE AT BOMBARDIER’S THUNDER BAY PLANT: Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) went on strike at Bombardier Transportation’s plant in Thunder Bay, Ontario, after negotiations broke down over proposed changes to a pension plan, particularly for new workers, according to a CAW press release. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-10-11]

RALEIGH MOVING AHEAD WITH LIGHT-RAIL PLAN: The Raleigh, N.C., city council has approved a plan for LRT, named the D6 route, through the west side of downtown along Harrington Avenue. The council’s plan differs from a recommendation by the city's Passenger Rail Task Force that sought to route LRT on both sides of the state Capitol building, and deemed option D6A. Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, however, says the Harrington Avenue route is cheaper and avoids congestion at major thoroughfares. [Railway Age website report, 8-10-11]

CHINA SUSPENDS NEW RAIL PROJECTS: Press reports from China say Premier Wen Jiabao has told state media that the government will suspend approval of new railway projects while it conducts safety checks to address concerns rising from the high speed train collision last month that killed 40 people.  [Railway Age website report, 8-10-11]

PACIFIC SURFLINER GETS PTC FUNDING: The California Department of Transportation has received nearly $25-million in federal funding to install positive train control equipment on the Pacific Surfliner rail line in San Diego County. The department said it will provide matching funds so that a total of $50-million will be spent on installing the system that can stop trains headed for a collision course. [Silicon Valley Mercury News website report, 8-10-11]

BNSF 2-Q PROFIT JUMPS 14.4 PCT: The Journal of Commerce reports that BNSF Railway’s 2nd quarter 2011 profit was $690-million, an increase of 14.4 percent when compared to the same quarter of 2010. [Journal of Commerce website report, 8-9-11]

UNION PACIFIC BEGINS CONSTRUCTION ON INTERMODAL YARD IN NEW MEXICO: Union Pacific has begun construction on an intermodal ramp and yard facility near Santa Teresa, N.M., along the Sunset Route. To be completed in 2015, the project calls for fueling facilities, crew-change buildings, locomotive inspection tracks, an intermodal ramp and switching yard. The facility is designed as a southern New Mexico inland port and will serve as a ‘strategic focal point’ for goods movement. [Union Pacific, 8-8-11]

TWO LIGHT-RAIL LINES OPEN IN SALT LAKE CITY: Utah Transit Authority has launched its two newest TRAX light-rail lines for revenue service, with UTA claiming both came in ahead of schedule and under budget. The 10.6-mile Mid-Jordan line, reaching the Salt Lake City suburb of South Jordan, and the 5.1-mile extension of the West Valley line, should bolster daily system ridership to 58,000 in short order, UTA says. [Railway Age website report, 8-8-11]

FEDS GRANT $1.4-M TOWARD REPLACING ROCHESTER NY TRAIN STATION: New York State has received a $1.4-million federal grant for preliminary engineering and environmental work associated with replacing a station in Rochester, N.Y. The allocation supplements a previous grant received by NYSDOT in November 2010 for the station’s engineering and design work. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-8-11]

CLASS I RAILROADS EXPECTED TO ADD 15,000 JOBS THIS YEAR.: Class I railroads are hiring, and the railroad industry expects to add 15,000 jobs this year as it anticipates a turnaround in the economy, according to AAR spokeswoman Holly Arthur. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-7-11]

MORNING PERE MARQUETTE TO RUN 90 MINUTES EARLIER: Amtrak will run the morning Grand Rapids-Chicago Pere Marquette 90 minutes earlier than usual from August 15 through September 1. The afternoon reverse trip is unaffected. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-5-11]

AGREEMENT MADE FOR SECOND OSAGE RIVER RAIL BRIDGE IN MISSOURI: The Missouri DOT, Union Pacific Railroad, Amtrak and the FRA have finalized an agreement on that clears the way for construction to begin on a second rail bridge over the Osage River, easing congestion for Amtrak Missouri River Runners and freight trains on the St. Louis to Kansas City corridor. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 8-5-11]

RAILCAR MANUFACTURERS REPORT SIGNS OF GROWTH: More railroads are replacing their steel railcars with lighter models, prompting a boost in business for manufacturers. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-5-11]

QUEBEC NORTH SHORE & LABRADOR RWY TO GET NEW DISPATCHING SYSTEM: RailTerm has provided a new rail traffic control system for Iron Ore Co. of Canada’s Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway. The system’s first phase was completed on July 25. The project entailed replacing the railroad’s existing CTC dispatching system, developing a new traffic planning tool and providing other support applications. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-5-11]

CN TO REDEVELOP KIRK YARD IN INDIANA: CN plans to upgrade Kirk Yard in Gary, Indiana, and relocate its Chicago-area locomotive repair shop to the 350-acre yard. The $165-million project is designed to increase the yard's processing capacity from 1,500 cars to 2,500 cars per day. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-4-11]

JULY 2011 RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Mixed rail freight traffic results were reported for July 2011 compared with the same month last year.  U.S. railroads originated 1,111,682 carloads, down 1 pct, and 895,649 trailers and containers, up 1.3 pct. Twelve of the 20 carload commodity categories saw increases compared with July 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-4-11]

UNION PACIFIC EMPLOYEES SET ALL-TIME SAFETY RECORD: Union Pacific says its employees achieved the best first half of the year safety performance in the company’s nearly 150-year history. Union Pacific’s employee reportable injury rate was 1.01, a 23 percent improvement vs. 2010’s record 1.31 reportable injury rate. [Railway Age website report, 8-4-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN TO BUILD INTERMODAL FACILITY IN GREENCASTLE, PA.: Norfolk Southern has chosen Greencastle, Pa., for its $95-million intermodal facility, which is part of the railroad's 2,500-mile Crescent Corridor network. [Assn. of American Railroads, 8-3-11]

EAST PENN RR OPERATING YORK INDUSTRIAL TRACK: The York Industrial Track, which runs from York to Stony Brook, Pa., is now operated as part of Regional Rail subsidiary East Penn Railroad LLC, which serves southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. The new operation connects to NS and York Railway at York. [Railway Age website report, 8-3-11]

FEDS GRANT $336-M TOWARD HIGH-SPEED RAIL IN FIVE STATES: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has announced that California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri will receive $336.2-million to purchase next-generation, American-made trains to run on rail corridors in those states. Previously awarded rail dollars bring the amount received by these five states and Washington State to $782-million for the purchase of 33 quick-acceleration locomotives and 120 bi-level passenger cars. Trains will be designed to travel more than 110 mph. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 8-3-11]

RAPID RAIL LINE OPENS IN JOHANNESBURG: The extended first phase of the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link in Johannesburg, South Africa, has opened. The new self-contained integrated rail system features a fleet of Bombardier Electrostar intercity trains and Bombardier CityFlo 250 train control technology, Bombardier said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-3-11]

GENESEE & WYOMING TO ACQUIRE ARIZONA EASTERN RWY: Genesee & Wyoming has signed an agreement to acquire the Arizona Eastern Railway Co. (AZER) from Iowa Pacific Holdings LLC for $90.1-million in cash, subject to a final working capital adjustment. The parties expect to close the transaction by the end of the third quarter pending customary closing conditions. Chartered in 1895, AZER initially operated about 133 miles of track between Bowie and Miami, Ariz. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-2-11]

UNION PACIFIC TO IMPROVE 14-MILES OF LINE IN NEBRASKA: Union Pacific Railroad invest nearly $6.5-million in to enhance the rail line that runs from Broadwater to near Northport, Nebraska. The more than 14-mile project includes removing and installing rail and renewing the surfaces at 14 road crossings. Union Pacific plans to invest approximately $3.3-billion in capital during 2011. [Union Pacific, 8-2-11]

CSX TO BUILD INTERMODAL TERMINAL IN LOUISVILLE: CSX says a privately-funded $15-million, 34-acre intermodal terminal will be constructed in Louisville. The terminal, which is slated to begin operations in early 2012, will provide service to customers in the greater Louisville area. The terminal will be built and operated by CSX Intermodal Terminals and will employ about a dozen people. The new facility is between CSXT's Osborne Yard and the Louisville Industrial Center. [CSX, 8-1-11]

CLASS I RAIL EMPLOYMENT INCREASES IN JUNE: Employment on U.S. Class I railroads, as calculated by the Surface Transportation Board, reached 159,340 in June, an increase of 1.15 percent, or 1,688 workers over May, and a 5.16 percent increase over June 2010. Train and engine crew employment showed the strongest increase. [Railway Age website report, 8-1-11]

SOUND TRANSIT SELECTS EAST LINK ROUTE: Sound Transit has selected a route and station locations for the East Link light-rail extension, which will serve East King County, Wash. After receiving a record of decision from the Federal Transit Administration, Sound Transit can begin construction, which is anticipated to start in 2015 or 2016. Passenger service is slated to begin in 2022 or 2023. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-1-11]

SIEMENS GETS HUNGARIAN RAIL CONTRACT: Siemens has obtained a $76-million contract to equip a rail line from Budapest-Kelenfold to Szekesfehervar, Hungary, with train protection systems. Siemens will supply two electronic Simis interlockings, Iltis remote control systems and 15 level crossings. The Trainguard 200 RBC European Train will be manufactured at Siemens plants in Budapest, Wallisellen, Switzerland and Braunchschweig. [Progressive Railroading website report, 8-1-11]

AMTRAK CASCADE SERVICE GETS UPGRADE FUNDING: Washington State’s Department of Transportation has reached an agreement with Amtrak and track owner BNSF Railway that will allow work to begin on upgrading service on the Amtrak Cascades service between Seattle and Portland. The contract will allow BNSF to begin spending $400-million in federal High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program funds. The money will be used to add tracks. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-29-11]

MAGLEV FIRM IN PENNSYLVANIA FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY: Pa.-based Maglev, Inc., the frontrunner expected to land any maglev project serving Pittsburgh International Airport, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it attempts to reorganize and await a $28-million federal grant. The firm has sought to develop a 54-mile, $5.25-billion electromagnetic magnetic levitation train line linking the airport, downtown Pittsburgh, and Monroeville and Greensburg, Pa. [Railway Age website report, 7-29-11]

UNION PACIFIC TO IMPROVE 40-MILES OF TRACK IN COLORADO: Union Pacific Railroad will invest more than $6-million to enhance the rail line that runs from Bond to Dotsero, Colorado. The more than 40-mile project includes removing and installing more than 47,000 ties and renewing the surfaces at 20 road crossings. Crews will also spread 19,400 tons of rock ballast. [Union Pacific, 7-28-11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Modest gains were reported in week ending July 23, 2011, rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 291,909 carloads, up 1.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 232,181 trailers and containers, up 0.8 percent. Twelve of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 7-28-11]

UNION PACIFIC TRAIN DERAILS IN CALIFORNIA: More than 250 homes in the Antelope Valley, California, were evacuated July 27 after a Union Pacific freight train derailed. No injuries were reported. Officials said the 68-car train was heading south when it derailed near Littlerock, southeast of Palmdale, about 1:25 p.m. At least 21 cars derailed. [Los Angeles Times website report, 7-28-11]

PARIS-RATP ORDERS 66 METRO TRAINSETS: Paris-based public transport operator RATP has exercised an option for 66 MFO1 metro trainsets from an Alstom Transport/Bombardier Transportation/Areva TA consortium, according to Alstom. Financing for the order will be split evenly between Syndicat des transports d’lle-de-France and the RATP. The trainsets will be used on a Paris metro line. Deliveries are slated from May 2013 to August 2016. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-28-11]

CHINA RAIL ACCIDENT MARS HIGH-SPEED SAFETY RECORD: The collision of two high speed trains near Wenzhou, China, on July 23 has triggered doubt of China’s expertise to implement its HSR plans, in part because HSR for decades has operated nearly flawlessly in Europe and in Japan. At least 43 were killed, and more than 200 seriously injured, when one HSR train reportedly lost power, attributed by Chinese railway officials to a lightning strike, which then disabled safety devices. The first train was then hit by a second HSR consist following the first train. [Railway Age website report, 7-27-11]

CONAGRA MILLS NAMES UNION PACIFIC ‘RAIL CARRIER OF THE YEAR’: ConAgra Mills named Union Pacific its Rail Carrier of the Year for its grain product transportation service. Union Pacific's selection was based upon the quality of service logs, attention to on-time delivery, how aggressively it aided ConAgra Mills in obtaining new business, and external customer surveys. [Union Pacific, 7-27-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern Corporation reported record second-quarter net income of $557-million, 42 percent higher compared with the same quarter of 2010. Diluted earnings per share were a record $1.56, up 50 percent compared with the same period last year. These results reflect favorable, non-recurring income tax-related benefits totaling $63-million, or $0.18 per share. Railway operating revenues increased to $2.9-billion, a second-quarter record. [Norfolk Southern, 7-26-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN HIKES DIVIDEND: Norfolk Southern directors have voted to increase the regular quarterly dividend on the company's common stock by 7.5 percent, or 3 cents per share, to 43 cents per share. The increased dividend is payable on Sept.10, to stockholders of record on Aug.5. [Norfolk Southern, 7-26-11]

ROBERT BRADWAY ADDED TO NORFOLK SOUTHERN BOARD: Robert A. Bradway has been elected a director of Norfolk Southern Corporation. He has been president and chief operating officer of the biotechnology company Amgen since May 2010. [Norfolk Southern, 7-26-11]

CANADIAN NATIONAL REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: CN has reported its financial and operating results for the second quarter and first half. Net income increased from the year-earlier quarter to $538-million, with diluted earnings per share (EPS) rising four per cent to $1.18. [Canadian National, 7-25-11]

SUNRAIL ORDERS 14 BILEVEL CARS FROM BOMBARDIER: Bombardier Transportation has obtained a $41-million contract from the Florida Department of Transportation to supply 14 bi-level rail cars for the central Florida SunRail commuter-rail project. Under the agreement, FDOT can order up to 46 additional vehicles. Delivery is expected between May and August 2013. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-25-11]

BNSF PLANNING TO BUILD A NEW BRIDGE ACROSS THE MISSOURI RIVER: BNSF Railway is proposing to build a new bridge and tracks over the Missouri River near Plattsmouth and Pacific Junction, Iowa. The project involves constructing a new single-track crossing the Missouri River 60 feet downstream of the existing bridge. During construction and after, the existing bridge and track will continue to operate. The new bridge is planned to accommodate increased coal traffic from the Powder River Basin. The line also carries intermodal traffic, as well as two Amtrak trains daily. [Plattsburg Journal website report, 7-25-11]

HIGH-SPEED TRAINS CRASH IN CHINA, AT LEAST 39 DIE: A deadly rear-end collision involving two high-speed trains on China’s new Ningbo-to-Wenzhou line killed 39 and injured almost 200 people July 23. Reports coming out of China indicate that a lightning strike brought a train to a halt on the Shanghai Railway line. For reasons that aren’t yet clear, the next train did not receive a signal to stop and smashed into the first train from behind, with the force of the collision sending rail cars into the air and off of the rail bridge upon which the first train had stalled. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers]

‘TORONTO ROCKET’ SUBWAY TRAINS IN SERVICE: Canadian government officials and the Toronto Transit Commission have welcomed Toronto Rocket subway trains into revenue service. The subway trains feature additional passenger capacity, enhanced safety and security components, better customer information systems and accessibility, and reduced energy consumption. Over the next two years, older cars on the Yonge-University-Spaldina line will be replaced with the new Bombardier model. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-22-11]

CONTRACT SIGNED FOR SAUDI HIGH-SPEED RAIL NETWORK: A consortium of Spanish rail companies secured a contract to connect the Saudi Arabian cities of Medina, Jeddah, and Mecca through a high-speed rail network - a contract estimated to be worth $10-billion.  The Spanish consortium consist of rail operator Renfe, and manufactures Talgo, Adif, OHL, along with eight other companies. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-22-11]

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific Corporation reported 2011 second quarter net income of $785-million or $1.59 per diluted share, compared to $711-million or $1.40 per diluted share, in the second quarter 2010. Five of Union Pacific's six business groups reported volume growth. [Union Pacific, 7-21--11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Mixed results were reported for rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 281,387 carloads for the week ending July 16, 2011, down 0.3 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 230,324 trailers and containers, up 1.2 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 7-21-11]

GRANTS TO BOOST KEYSTONE CORRIDOR SPEEDS: The U.S. Department of Transportation says that work can begin on closing the last three highway-rail grade crossings on the Keystone corridor with the signing of $24.3-million in grants between the U.S. Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania DOT and Amtrak will also contribute a combined $3.4-million. Eliminating the grade crossings will allow future train speeds to increase from 110 mph to 125 mph. Grade crossings in Mount Joy Borough, Rapho and Leacock townships will be eliminated. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 7-21-11]

KCS REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: Kansas City Southern reported second quarter 2011 revenues of $535-million, a 16 percent increase compared to the corresponding 2010 period. Overall, carload volumes were 7 percent higher than in second quarter 2010. Operating income was $152-million, an increase of 19 percent from a year ago. [Kansas City Southern, 7-21-11]

CSX REPORTS 2-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corporation reported second quarter net earnings of $506-million or $0.46 per share, versus $414-million or $0.36 per share in the same period last year.  This represents a 28 percent year-over-year improvement in earnings per share. Revenue in the quarter improved 13 percent from the prior year to $3.0 billion. [CSX, 7-19-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN COMPLETES MON VALLEY TRACK PROJECT: During eight days in early July, Norfolk Southern completed $16.2-million in track, bridge, and signal improvements in southwestern Pennsylvania's Monongahela Valley. Some 30 trains daily operate on Norfolk Southern's Mon Valley rail network. [Norfolk Southern]

CHANNEL TUNNEL OPERATOR BUYS FIVE SNCF FREIGHT LOCOMOTIVES: Groupe Eurotunnel recently purchased five remaining Class 92 SNCF freight locomotives. The agency now has 16 Class 92 locomotives and 280 total motive power units in its fleet. The additional locomotives will help the agency - which provides freight and passenger transportation services through the Channel Tunnel - accommodate increasing traffic. The dual-current locomotives are certified to haul freight both on the United Kingdom rail network and in the Channel Tunnel. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-19-11]

JOHN KENEFICK DIES, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF UNION PACIFIC: John C. Kenefick, 89, died July 15. He was president of Union Pacific from 1971 to 1983 when he was named chairman and chief executive officer of Union Pacific Railroad. During his tenure, Union Pacific's revenue swelled from $1-billion to $8-billion, and with his oversight of the 1982 Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific mergers, its size doubled. His strategic guidance also paved the way for mergers with the Chicago & North Western and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas. [Union Pacific, 7-15-11]

EMPIRE BUILDER RESUMING THROUGH SERVICE FOLLOWING FLOOD REPAIRS: Starting with the eastbound trains departing Seattle and Portland on Sunday, July 17, the Amtrak Empire Builder will return service to missed stops in eastern Montana, North Dakota and western Minnesota. Service to Minot, N.D., however, will remain suspended.  The city was severely affected by the floods, and the Minot Amtrak station and boarding platform were both damaged. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-15-11]

DOWNEASTER INVOLVED IN CROSSING ACCIDENT: Amtrak’s Downeaster was involved in an accident July 11 when a tractor-trailer drove into the path of the oncoming Amtrak train, killing the truck driver and injuring six people on board the train. The train was traveling north from Boston to Portland, Maine at around 70 mph when it struck the truck.  Eyewitnesses report that the crossing-gates and safety lights were engaged and working properly. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-15-11]

BEIJING-SHANGHAI HIGH-SPEED TRAINS DISRUPTED BY POWER OUTAGES: China’s brand new Beijing to Shanghai high-speed rail line had a rough first month, experiencing multiple power outages that have stalled some trains on the tracks. The disruptions have led to some passengers waiting on a stalled train while engineers scrambled to restore service.  In a July 13 incident, an electrical transformer malfunctioned dropping the top speed to 100 mph; operators were forced to transfer passengers to another train capable of reaching top speeds rather than risk disrupting the entire network. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-15-11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: A decrease is reported in weekly rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 245,574 carloads for the week ending July 9, 2011, down 3.2 percent compared with the same week last year.  Intermodal volume for the week totaled 192,619 trailers and containers, down 0.2 percent. Thirteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 7-14-11]

ATLANTA STREETCAR PROJECT MOVING FORWARD: The Federal Transit Administration has announced that $47.6-million in TIGER II grant funding is now available so that work can begin on the Atlanta streetcar project. The grant was awarded in October 2010. The streetcar will run 2.6 miles through Atlanta’s downtown business, tourism and convention corridor. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-14-11]

CSX HIKES ITS CAPITAL INVESTMENT: The CSX Corporation Board of Directors today authorized an increase in 2011 capital investment for certain asset purchases - primarily railcars to meet the growing near- and long-term demand for export coal. As a result, the company now expects to make 2011 capital investments of $2.2-billion, up from the previously announced $2-billion.  [CSX, 7-13-11]

NJ TRANSIT ADVANCES PENNSAUKEN TRANSIT CENTER PROJECT: New Jersey Transit’s Board of Directors approved a ‘second and final phase’ of construction for its Pennsauken Transit Center, establishing a transfer point between the company’s Atlantic City Line passenger rail service and its RiverLINE diesel light rail transit (DLRT) operation. The transit center is being built in where the ACRL crosses above River Line tracks in Pennsauken, N.J., east of Philadelphia.  [Railway Age  website report, 7-13-11]

AMTRAK EXPECTS RIDERSHIP TO EXCEED 30 MILLION THIS YEAR: Amtrak is projecting that for the first time ever its annual ridership will exceed 30 million passengers and in the process set a new all-time record when the current fiscal year ends Sept. 30. Amtrak is basing its projection of more than 30 million passengers on strong June ridership numbers and expected ticket sales for July, August and September. This performance is part of a long-term trend that has seen Amtrak set annual ridership records in seven of the last eight fiscal years, including more than 28.7 million passengers in FY 2010. [Amtrak, 7-12-11]

AT LEAST 80 DIE IN TRAIN ACCIDENT IN INDIA: The death toll in a train accident in northern India climbed to 80 with more than 350 injured in one of the worst rail disasters to hit the country's rail network in years. The accident occurred July 10 in northern Uttar Pradesh state after the New Delhi-bound Kalka Mail suddenly stopped, derailing over a dozen cars that smashed and piled into one another. Rescue teams and army officers struggled for over 24 hours to locate and remove bodies from the wreckage. [Reuters website report, 7-11-11]

EAST PENN R.R. TO OPERATE YORK INDUSTRIAL TRACK: Regional Rail LLC has entered into an agreement with Norfolk Southern to lease and operate the York Industrial Track, which runs from York to Stony Brook, Pa. Regional Rail said the line will be operated as part of its subsidiary East Penn Railroad LLC, which serves southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. [Railway Age website report, 7-8-11]

WISCONSIN & SOUTHERN CEO GETS PROBATION IN CAMPAIGN FINANCE CASE: William Gardner, CEO of the Wisconsin & Southern short line and a major donor to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, was sentenced to two years of probation for violating state campaign finance laws. He admitted that he exceeded campaign contribution limits in support of Walker and laundered additional campaign contributions through employees and associates. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website report, 7-8-11]

CONTRACT AWARDED FOR 10 RED LINE STATIONS IN TEL AVIV: IBI Group Inc. has obtained a contract from NTA-Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd. to provide architectural and engineering team to plan and design the 10 underground stations of the Red Line light-rail system in Tel Aviv, Israel.  The proposed 14-mile Red Line would include about six miles built below grade and 10 underground stations. [Progressive Railroading website report, 7-8-11]

CSX NAMES DAVID BAGGS V.P. CAPITAL MARKETS & INVESTOR RELATIONS: CSX Corporation announces the promotion of David Baggs to vice president capital markets and investor relations, effective immediately. Previously, he was assistant vice president treasury and investor relations. [CSX, 7-7-11]

TWO CSX CREW MEMBERS HURT JUMPING FROM LOCOMOTIVE: Two CSX train workers were injured after they jumped out of a moving locomotive moments before it rear-ended another train in DeWitt, N.Y. Both workers were taken to local hospitals. The rear-end collision caused eight to 10 train cars to derail. [Syracuse Post Standard website report, 7-7-11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Solid weekly rail traffic is reported with U.S. railroads originating 285,943 carloads for the week ending July 2, 2011, up 0.3 percent compared with the same week last year.  Intermodal volume for the week totaled 236,988 trailers and containers, up 2.5 percent. Fifteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 7-7-11]

FEDS TO FUND VERMONTER REROUTE: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded $72.8-million to Massachusetts to rehabilitate 50 miles of track, allowing Amtrak service to Vermont to return to an earlier and potentially speedier route. The improvements would trim up to 30 minutes of travel time by upgrading 50 miles of track between Springfield and East Northfield. New Massachusetts station stops are planned for Greenfield, Northampton, and possibly Holyoke.  [Railway Age website report, 7-5-11]

MORE ON THE ZEPHYR ACCIDENT: Details are beginning to emerge about last week’s accident in Nevada where a gravel-hauling truck smashed into the side of Amtrak’s California Zephyr at a highway crossing, killing six and wounding dozens. Around 11:20 a.m. local time June 24, a semi-trailer truck traveling on U.S. 95 approached a grade crossing at considerable speed. Though the crossing gates were engaged and the flashing lights activated, the truck braked too late to prevent an accident, skidding 320-feet to slam into the middle of the train. The Zephyr, en route from Chicago, was carrying 195 passengers.  As of a week after the accident, two passengers remain hospitalized. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 7-1-11] 

SUNRAIL GETS NOD FROM FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Florida Governor Rick Scott has given approval to the proposed 61-mile, $1.2-billion SunRail commuter rail project in central Florida. The project is to run from north of Sanford through downtown Orlando to Poinciana near Kissimmee. Florida is expected to cover one-half of the cost. [Railway Age website report, 7-1-11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Mixed weekly rail traffic is reported, with U.S. railroads originating 284,562 carloads for the week ending June 25, 2011, down 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year.  Intermodal volume for the week totaled 234,775 trailers and containers, up 3.3 percent. Twelve of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 6-30-11]

AMTRAK GETS LOAN FOR 70 ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVES: The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has announced a $562.9-million loan to Amtrak under the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program. The dollars will finance the purchase of 70 high-performance, electric locomotives from Siemens Industry USA. They are more energy-efficient and will enable Amtrak to improve frequency, performance and reliability for regional and intercity routes along the Northeast and Keystone Corridors. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 6-29-11]

FEDS APPROVE NEXT PHASE FOR BALTIMORE LIGHT-RAIL PROJECT: The Federal Transit Administration has given Baltimore’s Red Line light-rail project the go-ahead to move into the engineering phase. The MTA worked with the FTA for the past two years to meet federal requirements. The proposed 14.5-mile line would connect downtown Baltimore with several surrounding areas. The $2.2-billion project is slated for completion in 2020. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-29-11]

UNION PACIFIC NAMED ‘BEST DIVERSITY COMPANY’: For the third consecutive year, Diversity Careers in Engineering and Information Technology named Union Pacific Railroad a Best Diversity Company.  The magazine chose Union Pacific based upon its support of women and minorities, efforts to support work/life balance, and supplier diversity commitment based on feedback from the magazine's readers and website visitors. [Union Pacific, 6-29-11]

B.C. TO HELP FUND RESTART OF PASSENGER TRAINS ON VANCOUVER ISLAND: The province of British Columbia plans to provide $7.5-million for the E&N Railway to help restore passenger-rail service on Vancouver Island. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will contribute up to $500,000 for an engineering inspection on the condition of 40 rail bridges and trestles on the 140-mile line between Victoria and Courtenay. The remaining $7-million will help the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF), which owns the E&N Railway, repair track; the ICF has identified $15-million worth of necessary repairs. Passenger service was suspended earlier this spring after it determined the line was unsafe for passenger service. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-29-11]

FLOODING DISRUPTS AMTRAK’S EMPIRE BUILDER: Amtrak service in part of Minnesota, all of North Dakota and in eastern Montana is affected by the closure of BNSF Railway Co. tracks in and around Minot, N.D., due to what is predicted to be the worst flooding in more than 120 years. Effective in both directions with the originations of June 21, Amtrak Empire Builder service will be temporarily suspended between St. Paul, Minn., and Havre, Mont., with no alternate transportation available between those points until further notice. [Amtrak]

CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY TO CUT MANAGEMENT BY 10 PCT: The Chicago Transit Authority will eliminate 54 non-union positions, including 26 management posts, and reduce other expenses as part of an effort to shave $15-million from the agency’s 2011 budget. The reductions meet Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “target for leaner senior management at city agencies,” CTA officials said. The agency will save $7.6-million in salaries and benefits, amounting to a 10 percent reduction in senior management. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-28-11]

FEDS GRANT $1.58-B FOR 27 MAJOR TRANSIT PROJECTS: The U.S. Department of Transportation announced it will provide $1.58 billion for 27 major transit construction projects slated for New Starts funding allocations for 2011. Some of the projects involve subway, light-rail and streetcar systems. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-28-11]

TRUCK CRASHES INTO CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR, KILLING SIX: The preliminary death count remained at six June 27 as investigators continued to examine the wreckage left when a highway tractor-trailer rig crashed into a double-deck car of Amtrak’s westbound California Zephyr at a grade crossing near Fallon, Nev., 70 miles east of Reno, June 24. An Amtrak conductor and the truck driver were among the fatalities. [Railway Age website report, 6-27-11]

NTSB INVESTIGATING FATAL AMTRAK ACCIDENT: Workers in Nevada combing through rubble found a cell phone belonging to the truck driver involved in the June 24 fatal Amtrak accident. Investigators also revealed that the driver had received four speeding tickets in the past three years, including three for driving a school bus over the speed limit in California. The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating the truck's tires and braking system, and said he was traveling at a considerable speed when he skidded through closed crossing gates and into the side of a moving Amtrak train. At least six people were killed and approximately 20 were injured in the collision. [Associated Press report, 6-27-11]

TRUCK COLLIDES WITH AMTRAK TRAIN IN NEVADA: A truck drove into the side of the California Zephyr east of Reno, Nevada, June 24.  Initial reports indicate two fatalities: the truck driver and an Amtrak employee. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 6-24-11]

NORTHEAST CORRIDOR PLAGUED WITH POWER PROBLEMS: On June 21, a transformer fire in New Jersey caused delays along the Northeast Corridor.  Two days later, Amtrak experienced issues with its power transmission, delaying Amtrak and New Jersey Transit passengers.  Technicians were able to trace the problem to a converter issues resulting from an error in its primary and backup computer systems. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 6-24-11]

ENGLEWOOD FLYOVER PROJECT APPROVED: The Illinois Department of Transportation has the green light to begin work on Chicago’s Englewood Flyover, freeing up $126-million in grant money. By separating Rock Island District Metra commuter trains from Amtrak and freight trains traveling on Norfolk Southern tracks, the flyover will ease congestion on one of the most tangled sections of Amtrak’s national network. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 6-24-11]

FEDS GRANT $16-M FOR DESIGN OF CALIFORNIA RAIL SIGNAL SYSTEM:  The Federal Railroad Administration has obligated $16-million in High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program funds California for the design of a new, modernized signaling between San Francisco and San Jose. The system will be designed to allow train movements and schedules to be coordinated more efficiently, which improves the safety and reliability of all passenger rail operations in the corridor. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-24-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Gains were reported in weekly rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 294,310 carloads for the week ending June 18, 2011, up 3.3 pct compared with the same week last year.  Intermodal volume for the week totaled 237,682 trailers and containers, up 4.3 pct, and setting a new weekly high for U.S. intermodal volume in 2011. [Assn. of American Railroads, 6-23-11]

PRIVATIZATION OF N.E. CORRIDOR WOULD LIKELY END NATIONAL RAIL PASSENGER SYSTEM, AMTRAK PRESIDENT SAYS: Amtrak President Joseph Boardman wrote in a letter that a Republican plan to privatize the Northeast Corridor "would likely mean the end of Amtrak and the national passenger rail system that Congress authorized nearly 40 years ago." He also said that the plan would retard, rather than advance, the development of high-speed rail. [The Hill website report, 6-22-11]

UNION PACIFIC TO SPEND $23-M IN IDAHO TRACK IMPROVEMENTS: Union Pacific Railroad will continue improving Idaho's transportation infrastructure with a $23.1-million investment in the rail line that runs from Weiser to Mountain Home in the west and from Pocatello to Idaho Falls in the east. The 180-mile project includes removing and installing new rail and more than 206,000 railroad ties along this corridor through. Crews will spread 106,000 tons of rock ballast to ensure a stable roadbed.  [Union Pacific, 6-20-11]

FEDS PROVIDE $175-M IN TRANSIT GRANTS: The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced plans to provide up to $175-million in ‘livability’ grants to help urban, suburban and rural communities develop transit options. The grant program will begin accepting applications shortly. Local transit agencies will be able to compete for grants from the pool. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-17-11]

HOUSE BILL WOULD ALLOW PRIVATE COMPANIES TO COMPETE FOR HIGH-SPEED RAIL: US Representatives John Mica (R-FL) and Bill Shuster (R-PA) plan to introduce draft legislation to allow private companies to compete against Amtrak for the right to build a new high-speed railroad from Washington to Boston, and to bid to operate any route currently run by Amtrak. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 6-17-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Incremental gains were reported in rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 290,181 carloads for the week ending June 11, 2011, up 0.3 pct compared with the same week last year.  Intermodal volume for the week totaled 237,422 trailers and containers, up 6.4 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 6-16-11]

CANADIAN NATIONAL TO SELL LOUISIANA RAILMARINE TERMINAL: CN has announced a definitive agreement to sell substantially all of the assets of IC RailMarine Terminal Company (ICRMT) to Raven Energy LLC, an affiliate of Foresight Energy, LLC and the Cline Group, for $73-million. ICRMT is an indirect subsidiary of CN, located on the east bank of the Mississippi River west of New Orleans. The terminal stores and transfers bulk commodities and liquids between rail, ship and barge, serving customers in North American and global markets. [CN. 6-16-11]

JEFFREY GEARY NAMED AMTRAK’S VP OPERATIONS: Jeffrey E. Geary, a 30-year railroad industry veteran who most recently served as vice president and chief operating officer of Florida East Coast Railway and FEC Highway Trucking Services, has been named Amtrak’s vice president of operations. Geary, who will be based in Delaware, will have oversight of the transportation, engineering, and mechanical departments. [Railway Age website report, 6-13-11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Steady results are reported in weekly rail traffic with U.S. railroads originating 273,584 carloads for the week ending June 4, 2011, up 1.1 pct compared with the same week last year.  Intermodal volume for the week totaled 205,565 trailers and containers, up 7.2 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 6-9-11]

BOMBARDIER WINS NEW BUSINESS IN AUSTRALIA: Bombardier Transportation has a stake valued at $265-million in a $1.1-billion contract that the Queensland state government has awarded to a consortium to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the first stage of the Gold Coast Rapid Transit light rail system in an 18-year public-private partnership. Sixteen stations are planned for the 8-mile route. [Railway Age website report, 6-8-11]

ADVOCACY GROUP ENDORSES 90 MPH RAIL SPEED IN UPSTATE N.Y.: The Empire State Passengers Association rail advocacy group, in an effort to get tens of millions of dollars worth of stalled rail projects rolling across upstate New York, has endorsed CSXT's push for a 90 mph speed limit west of Schenectady. The state’s department of transportation had sought a top speed of 110 mph. Amtrak passenger trains now are limited to no more than 79 mph on the CSX-owned two-track line. Trains travel at 110 mph on several stretches of track between Schenectady and Poughkeepsie, but freight trains operate on those tracks only at night. [Albany Times Union report, 6-7-11]

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON CSX YARD EXPANSION IN MASSACHUSETTS: A groundbreaking ceremony June 6 marked the start of a $100-million expansion of a CSX freight yard in Worcester, Mass. CSX is moving its freight operations out of the Beacon Park yards in Boston to existing rail yards in Central and Western Massachusetts, and plans to make Worcester its freight hub for New England. The expansion will also permit increased passenger rail traffic between Worcester and Boston. [Railway Age website report, 6-6-11]

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON NORFOLK SOUTHERN BIRMINGHAM INTERMODAL FACILITY: Norfolk Southern onJune 6 broke ground on the new Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility in McCalla, Alabama. The $97.5-million facility is part of the railroad's multi-state Crescent Corridor initiative to establish a high-capacity intermodal freight rail route between the Gulf Coast and the Northeast. It is expected to open in late 2012. [Norfolk Southern, 6-6-11]

AMTRAK, METRA TRAINS COLLIDE IN CHICAGO: A collision between a southbound Amtrak train and a Metra commuter train outside of Chicago’s Union Station injured nine people June 3, severely damaging a Metra car. There were 1,500 passengers aboard the Metra train, and eight were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  An Amtrak engineer was also hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.  All 117 Amtrak passengers are reported as unharmed.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 6-3-11]

VERMONT BUDGETS NEARLY $34-M FOR VERMONTER TRAIN SERVICE: The 2012 Vermont budget, signed by the governor June 1 includes almost $34-million for upgrades to Amtrak’s Vermonter train that runs along the state’s eastern rail corridor, an amount inclusive of money the state received from the federal government in a competitive grant for this project.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 6-3-11]

THOMAS SHEDD DIES, FORMER EDITOR OF MODERN RAILROADS: Thomas C. Shedd, 93, editor of Modern Railroads from 1959 to 1983, died June 2. Shedd played a major role in making Modern Railroads a highly respected chronicler of a renascent railroad industry. Shedd remained with Modern Railroads as editorial director until it was merged into Railway Age in 1991. [Railway Age website report, 6-3-11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Steady results are reported in weekly rail traffic with U.S. railroads originating 288,049 carloads for the week ending May 28, 2011, up 0.7 pct compared with the same week last year.  Intermodal volume for the week totaled 234,668 trailers and containers, up 4.2 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 6-2-11]

SIEMENS JOINS RUSSIAN ELECTRIC TRAIN PARTNERSHIP: Siemens AG has formed a joint venture with Russian partner Sinara Group to deliver regional trains to Russia. The new company, Train Technologies, has obtained a contract valued at $2.9-billion to supply Desiro RUS electric trains to the Russian Railways. The preliminary contract covers 240 trainsets comprising 1,200 rail cars. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-2-11]

ALSTOM GETS POLISH HIGH-SPEED TRAIN CONTRACT: Alstom Transport has obtained a $961-million contract from Polish long-distance passenger-rail operator PKP Intercity to supply 20 high-speed seven-car trains and provide maintenance for up to 17 years, as well as build a new maintenance depot. Delivery is scheduled for 2014. [Progressive Railroading website report, 6-2-11]

RAIL SAFETY IMPROVES IN 1-Q: This year’s first-quarter saw continued overall improvement in railroad safety, with the total number of accidents/incidents down 10.1 percent compared with the first-quarter of last year.  Train accidents declined 5.3 percent. Trespassing fatalities rose 2.5 percent and highway-rail fatalities were up 12.5 percent. [Railway Age website report, 6-1-11]

STEWARTSTOWN RAILROAD FILING FOR ABANDONMENT: The Estate of George M. Hart is giving notice that on or about June 15, 2011, it intends to file with the Surface Transportation board an application for adverse abandonment of all the track of the Stewartstown Railroad Company extending from New Freedom, Pennsylvania. There are no active stations on the track, which has been out of service for conventional freight and passenger operations for over six years. [Alex Mayes, 5-31-11, from US Surface Transportation Board]

NEW ORLEANS READIES STREETCAR EXTENSION WORK: New Orleans’ Regional Transit Authority expects shortly to select one of six bids submitted for extending streetcar service along Loyola Avenue to link Canal Street with Union Passenger Terminal. The new route will use surplus streetcars from the Canal Street and Riverfront lines. [Railway Age website report, 5-31-11]

FEDS MAY SLASH 10,000 MILES FROM POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL: The White House says a proposals has come out of review to include changes to railroad safety rules. The railroad proposal would scale back a requirement that railroads install technology intended to prevent collisions between trains. The plan says the requirement would be limited to areas where it is ‘actually needed’ and would eliminate approximately 10,000 miles of track from PTC installation. The change would save $400-million initially and up to $1-billion over 20 years, according to the fact sheet. [Bloomberg News report, 5-26-11]

HOUSE COMMITTEE DISCUSSES PRIVATE DEVELOPMENT FOR HIGH-SPEED RAIL: The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee held a hearing May 26 on ‘Opening the Northeast Corridor to Private Competition for Development of High-Speed Rail.’ Chairman Mica said that Amtrak’s 30-year plan for the “next gen” Boston-Washington railroad is unacceptable; he wants results in one-third of the time and with minimal federal money. He maintains his great faith in the private sector’s ability to fund. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-26-11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Steady results are reported in weekly rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 295,148 carloads for the week ending May 21, 2011, up 2.3 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 234,235 trailers and containers, up 8.7 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 5-26-11] 

TWO KILLED IN CSX TRAIN COLLISION IN N.C.: Two CSX train crew members were killed and two others injured when a pair of freight trains collided south of Charlotte, N.C. CSX said the trains were traveling through Mineral Springs when one train struck the other from behind early May 24. Officials said one of the railroad employees died at the scene; the other was pronounced dead at a Charlotte hospital. [CBS News website report, 5-24-11]

FEDS OFFERING $7.6-B IN TRANSIT FUNDING: The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced the availability of $7.6-billion in annual funding for states, local communities and transit agencies nationwide to help maintain transit and rail operations, as well as to fund capital construction and maintenance projects. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-23-11]

AMTRAK SEEKS PRIVATE INVESTMENT SOURCES: Amtrak is developing a business plan that will look to private sources of investment to bolster public funding for capital improvements and equipment purchases for high-speed rail on the Northeast Corridor. A successful proposal will consider central financing issues such as risk, credit, debt, and the phasing of investment, as well as provide an outline for how to meet a project delivery timeline and achieve financial goals. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-20-11]

ATLANTA BUYING FOUR NEW STREETCARS: The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) will receive four new streetcars under a $17.2-million contract with Siemens Industry Inc. Scheduled for delivery in September 2012, the vehicles will be the first new streetcars in Atlanta since 1949. The contract marks Siemens’ entry into the U.S. streetcar market. The cars will begin operating in 2013. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-20-11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Steady results are reported in weekly rail traffic with U.S. railroads originating 294,271 carloads for the week ending May 14, 2011, up 1.6 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 231,875 trailers and containers, up 6.3 pct compared with the same week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 5-19-11]

UNION PACIFIC OPENS NEW WYOMING RAIL YARD: Union Pacific Railroad on May 19 officially opened the new $24-million Blacks Fork rail yard about 20 miles west of Green River.  Construction began in August 2008 and was completed in December 2010.  [Union Pacific, 5-19-11]

BNSF APPLIES TO DROP SERVICE ON LINE IN MISSOURI: BNSF Railway has applied to the Surface Transportation Board for permission to discontinue service on a 45.8-mile segment in Iron and Crawford counties, Missouri. known as the Lead Line, the STB announced May 19. [Railway Age website report, 5-19-11]

CSX COMMITS ADDITIONAL $160-M TO COMPLETE ‘NATIONAL GATEWAY’: CSX will invest $160-million over the next several years to complete its National Gateway. Most of the investment will expand and improve the century-old Virginia Avenue Tunnel in Washington, D.C. and provide double-stack train clearances in Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. [CSX, 5-18-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN WINS 2010 HARRIMAN SAFETY AWARD: The 2010 E.H. Harriman Awards winners in Group A, comprising line-haul railroads whose employees worked 15 million employee-hours or more, Norfolk Southern received the gold award for the 22nd year in a row. CSX Transportation won the silver award and Union Pacific Railroad the bronze award. [Norfolk Southern, 5-18-11]

KENTUCKY RAILWAY MUSEUM GETS PROJECT GRANT: The Kentucky Railway Museum has received a $190,350 grant from the state to repair and rehabilitate track and a crossing in Nelson and LaRue counties. Funding will come from the Short Line Railroad Assistance Fund, which is maintained by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. [Progressive Railroading website report, 5-16-11]

G.E. TO OPEN LOCOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING FACILITY IN TEXAS: General Electric Transportation says it will open a state-of-the-art train locomotive manufacturing facility in Fort Worth, Texas - creating 500 new jobs.  The move to meet rising global demand for rail equipment will also have positive effects in Erie, Pennsylvania, where GE Transportation will hire 250 new production workers at its main plant. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-13-11]

FEDS GRANT $450-M FOR NEC UPGRADES: Amtrak will be the recipient of $450-million for Northeast Corridor power, signal, track, and catenary improvements to boost capacity, reliability, and speed in one of the most heavily-traveled sections of the Northeast Corridor. The project will create a 24-mile segment of track capable of supporting train speeds up to 160-mph. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-13-11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Results were mixed in weekly rail traffic with U.S. railroads originating 281,860 carloads for the week ending May 7, 2011, down 2.6 pct compared with the same week last year.  Intermodal volume for the week totaled 232,178 trailers and containers, up 11.2 pct compared with the same week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 5-12-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC HIKES DIVIDEND: The board of directors of Canadian Pacific Railway has declared an increase in CP's next quarterly dividend to thirty cents Canadian per share on the outstanding Common Shares, from twenty-seven cents per share.  The increased dividend is payable on July 25, 2011, to holders of record at the close of business on June 24. [Canadian Pacific, 5-11-11]

NJT UNVEILS NEW DUAL-POWER LOCOMOTIVE: New Jersey Transit unveiled the ALP45-DP, its first dual-powered locomotive, noting it also is the first of its kind in North America, at Newark-Penn Station May 11. NJT says its has ordered 26 dual-powered locomotives from Bombardier Transportation. It also has an option for an additional 10 units.  [Railway Age website report, 5-11-11]

TRAIN DERAILS IN N.Y. EAST RIVER TUNNEL: Amtrak train 254, having completed its scheduled run May 8 from Albany, N.Y., to New York’s Penn Station, derailed as it headed under the East River to Sunnyside Yard in Queens, damaging both catenary and the third rail. [Railway Age website report, 5-9-11]

U.S. RAIL CARLOADS SLIP SLIGHTLY IN APRIL: U.S. rail carloads in April 2011 decreased 0.2 percent compared with the same month last year, to 1,177,277 carloads. On a seasonally adjusted basis, carloads were down 2.5 percent and intermodal traffic was up 1.2 percent compared with March 2011. [Association of American Railroads, 5-9-11]

WASHINGTON STATE GETS $145-M IN HIGH-SPEED RAIL FUNDS: The Federal Railroad Administration signed a contract with Washington State’s Department of Transportation that will release $145 million in high-speed rail funds to begin work to expand and improve Amtrak’s Cascades service. The money, awarded to Washington in late 2010, was redirected from funds turned down by the governors of Ohio and Wisconsin last year. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-6-11]

FEDS SAY N.J. MUST RETURN $271-M FROM KILLED RAIL TUNNEL PROJECT: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced April 29 that New Jersey will be required to repay the federal government the $271-million that the state was granted for the initial engineering and construction for the trans-Hudson River rail tunnels that Governor Chris Christie (R) killed upon taking office. Governor Christie killed the $8.7-billion rail tunnels last fall, citing the potential for cost overruns.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-6-11]

EMPIRE BUILDER RETURNING TO NORMAL ROUTE THROUGH N.D., FOR NOW: Amtrak’s Empire Builder has received the OK to return to its normal route through North Dakota, serving Grand Forks, Devils Lake, and Rugby. The train had been using a route bypassing the three towns due to a washout.  However, the threat of a long-term or permanent reroute still looms as water at the bridge near Churchs Ferry remains high and could go higher.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 5-6-11]

UNION PACIFIC HIKES DIVIDEND 25 PCT: Union Pacific Corporation announced that its board of directors voted to increase the quarterly dividend on the company's common shares by 25 percent to 47.5 cents per share.  The increased dividend is payable July 1, 2011, to stockholders of record on May 31, 2011.  [Union Pacific, 5-5-11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Results were mixed in weekly rail traffic with U.S. railroads originating 295,347 carloads for the week ending April 30, 2011, flat compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 229,677 trailers and containers, up 7.8 percent compared with the same week in 2010. Nine of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 5-5-11]

CSX ANNOUNCES 3-FOR-1 STOCK SPLIT, DIVIDEND INCREASE : CSX Corporation has announced that its Board of Directors has approved a 3-for-1 stock split, a 38 percent increase in the quarterly dividend on its common stock, and a $2-billion share buyback program. The new quarterly dividend of $0.36, or $0.12 on a post-split basis, is payable on June 15, 2011, to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 31, 2011.  [CSX, 5-4-11]

TRAIN WRECK IN TAIWAN KILLS FIVE: A train crash in Taiwan killed five tourists and injured more than 100, government officials said. The accident happened April 28 when a 40-foot-long branch weighing a ton fell from a 90-foot-tall Mori oak tree less than 10 yards from the track of the narrow-gauge Alishan Forest Railway, striking a train and derailing four cars. Investigators dispatched by the Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture determined that termites had eaten away the interior of the large branch, and with further stress on the tree from recent dry weather, it broke and fell on the train. [CNN website report, 4-29-11]

ITALY ORDERS 50 ADDITIONAL ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVES FROM BOMBARDIER: Trenitalia (Italian Railways) recently placed an order with Bombardier Transportation for 50 additional E464 electric locomotives under a contract signed in 2009 for the supply of 100 units, valued at $186-million. Trenitalia has placed orders for a total 688 E464 locomotives, 570 of which are in service. Delivery of the latest order is scheduled for 2012 or 2013. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-29-11]

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON MEMPHIS INTERMODAL FACILITY: Ground has broken for the new Memphis Regional Intermodal Facility in Rossville, Tennessee. The $105-million facility is part of the multi-state $2.5-billion Crescent Corridor initiative to establish a high-capacity intermodal freight rail route between the South and the Northeast on Norfolk Southern's rail network. The facility is expected to open in late 2012. [Norfolk Southern, 4-29-11]

FIRST-QUARTER FREIGHT CAR ORDERS TOP ALL OF 2010: Orders for new freight cars soared to 36,900 in this year’s first quarter, sharply exceeding expectations and easily topping the total of just more than 30,000 cars ordered last year.  [Railway Age website report, 4-28-11]

GENESEE & WYOMING REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: Genesee & Wyoming  Inc. (GWI) reported net income in the first quarter of 2011 of $22.1-million, compared with net income of $16.0-million in the first quarter of 2010. GWI's diluted earnings per share increased 33 percent from $0.39 with 41.4 million weighted average shares outstanding in the first quarter of 2010 to $0.52 with 42.5 million weighted average shares outstanding in the first quarter of 2011. [Genesee & Wyoming, 4-28-11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: The Association of American Railroads reported mixed results in weekly rail traffic on U.S. railroads, with carloads down 2.1 pct, at 292,706 carloads for the week ending April 23, 2011, and intermodal volume up 6.3 pct compared with the same week last year. [Assn. of American Railroads, 4-28-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: For the first-quarter of 2011, Norfolk Southern Corporation reported net income of $325-million or $0.90 per diluted share, 26 percent higher than $257-million or $0.68 per diluted share for the first quarter of 2010. First-quarter railway operating revenues improved 17 percent. [Norfolk Southern, 4-27-11]

FEDS GRANT $100-M FOR CALIFORNIA PASSENGER EQUIPMENT: Amtrak California will add coach cars on two of its passenger train lines, including the San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner lines, with a $100-million federal grant announced April 27. The Federal Railroad Administration is awarding the money to the California Department of Transportation, which funds Amtrak service in the state, for 27 coach cars and two diesel-electric locomotives. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-27-11, from Fresno Bee website report]

U.P. IMPROVING 52 MILES OF TRACK IN MISSOURI: Union Pacific Railroad will continue improving Missouri's transportation infrastructure with a nearly $29-million investment to enhance the rail line that runs from St. Louis to near Morrison. More than 52 miles of new rail will be installed, the surfaces at 54 road crossings will be replaced and more than one mile of rail in various curves will be upgraded. Crews will also replace five switches. [Union Pacific, 4-27-11]

AMTRAK TO INSTALL SECURITY FENCE AT MIDDLE RIVER, MD.: Beginning late April 2011, Amtrak will install a heavy steel, 8-foot high security fence along a portion of its Northeast Corridor in Middle River, Md., to deter trespassing. The $3-2-million project will take six months to complete. [Amtrak, 4-22-11]

CHINA LOWERING MAXIMUM RAIL SPEEDS: China’s national railway says it would lower speeds on its new high-speed trains to save energy and reduce wear-and-tear. The trains will reduce their current speeds of 217 mph to 186 mph, bringing them more in line with European operating conventions. This will reduce the forces exerted on the tracks and lower energy costs. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 4-22-11]

UP TO $100-M MAY BE NEEDED TO MAINTAIN AMTRAK SERVICE TO THREE N.D. STOPS: Amtrak says it could take as much as $100-million to upgrade bridge and tracks to maintain Empire Builder service for the cities of Devils Lake, Rugby and Grand Forks in the face of recurring flooding. Amtrak said track owner BNSF Railway will make the ultimate decision on whether the tracks and bridges are capable of carrying trains safely, though BNSF doesn’t run freight trains over the route in question.  An alternate routing from Minot to Fargo would bypass the flooded area, but end service at the three stops. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 4-22-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: The Association of American Railroads reported steady weekly rail traffic gains with U.S. railroads originating 295,426 carloads for the week ending April 16, 2011, down slightly at 0.3 percent compared with the same week last year. [Assn. of American Railroads, 4-21-11]

SHORT LINE RAILROADS SEE 9 PCT TRAFFIC GAIN: North America’s small and regional railroads are enjoying a surge in traffic so far in 2011, with overall volume up nine percent and some important cargoes growing by double digits. The traffic counts include an 11.5 percent gain in the largest short line category - chemical loadings - to 262,902 railcar loads. [Journal of Commerce website report, 4-21-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific Railway Limited reported net income in the first-quarter was $33.7-million and diluted earnings per share were $0.20.  Operations were impacted by unusually severe winter weather decreasing shipping volumes and increasing costs. [Canadian Pacific, 4-21-11]

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: Kansas City Southern reported first quarter 2011 revenues of $489-million, a 12 percent increase compared to the corresponding 2010 period.  Overall, carload volumes were 7 percent higher than in first quarter 2010.  [Kansas City Southern, 4-21-11]

PORTLAND STREETCAR EXPANSION PROCEEDS: The Portland, Oregon, City Council, in a 4-1 vote April 20, approved plans to expand the city’s growing streetcar line from the city’s South Waterfront to suburban enclave Lake Oswego, south of Portland. Portland Streetcar, owned by the city, began operations in 2001. [Railway Age website report, 4-21-11]

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS RECORD 1ST-QUARTER: Union Pacific Corporation reported 2011 first quarter net income of $639-million or $1.29 per diluted share, compared to $516-million or $1.01 per diluted share in the first quarter last year. Each of Union Pacific's six business groups reported freight revenue growth in the first quarter.  [Union Pacific, 4-20-11]

R.J. CORMAN LANDS CORPUS CHRISTIE GENSET ORDER: R.J. Corman Railpower has obtained a contract to supply a repowered RP14BD GenSet locomotive to the Port of Corpus Christi Authority in Texas. Delivery is planned for late summer. Partially funded through the national clean diesel funding assistance program’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, the locomotive is designed to reduce fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-20-11]

CSX REPORTS 1-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corporation announced first-quarter net earnings of $395-million or $1.06 per share, versus $305 million or $0.78 per share, in the same period last year. This represents a 36 percent year-over-year improvement in earnings per share. Revenue in the quarter improved 13 percent from the prior year. [CSX, 4-19-11]

RAIL TRAIL SECTION TO OPEN IN N.Y. STATE: Albany County, N.Y., the town of Bethlehem and the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy have formed an agreement to open a 1.85-mile section of the Albany County Rail Trail to the public. Pending town and county approval, the path will begin at Fireman’s Park near New Scotland Road in Slingerlands and end at the Veterans Park on Delaware Avenue in Delmar. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-19-11, from Albany Times Union website report]

RAILWAY ARTIFACTS UNEARTHED IN TORONTO: Relics of Toronto’s 19th-century railway boom have been unearthed near Fort Yor, Ontario. However, given that they are at the base of the new Library District condominium project, their fate has yet to be decided. Brick and masonry foundation walls uncovered by archaeologists are the remains of a huge cruciform-shaped engine-house complex built by the Grand Trunk Railway in the 1850s. These buildings, near the shore of Lake Ontario, marked the starting point of the railway’s westbound route. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-19-11, from Globe & Mail website report]

CONTRACT SIGNED FOR RAIL RELOCATION PROJECT IN SACRAMENTO: Granite Construction Inc. has won a $41-million rail relocation project in Sacramento. The project includes relocating 2.3 miles of heavy rail, major utility infrastructure and site improvements, construction of access tunnels for pedestrians and service vehicles, and new tracks and platforms. The project is part of a 245-acre redevelopment designed to connect downtown Sacramento with other residential and commercial development plans. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-19-11]

VIRGINIA TO INVEST $4-B IN TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has signed legislation that will provide $4-billion for the state's road, rail and transit networks, and fund more than 900 projects over the next three years. Projects to be funded under the new law include work at the Washington Metro, Hampton Roads Transit light rail, and a VRE extension into Spotsylvania County. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-19-11]

AMTRAK TAPS RAILROAD FANS TO BOOST SECURITY: Amtrak is tapping into the rail fan community to help keep the nation's passenger railroad safe. Through a new program dubbed ‘Partners for Amtrak Safety and Security,’ Amtrak will recruit people who are already watching and riding trains to keep an eye out for suspicious activity on trains and around stations and tracks. Passengers and rail fans can register online to participate in the program They'll be issued membership cards and learn more about what safety and security concerns they should look out for and how to report them. [Wall Street Journal website report, 4-18-11]

BOMBARDIER AWARDED DB REGIO AG CONTRACT: Bombardier Transportation has signed a nine-year contract with Deutsche Bahn subsidiary DB Regio AG, valued at about $867-million, for 200 TRAXX diesel locomotives with game-changing multi-engine propulsion. At the same time, DB Regio has placed a formal order for the first 20 locomotives for passenger transportation. First delivery is planned for mid-2013. [Railway Age website report, 4-18-11]

TWO KILLED IN IOWA TRAIN ACCIDENT: A BNSF conductor and an engineer were killed in a rear-end train accident near McPherson, Iowa, April 17. McPherson is 35 miles southeast of Council Bluffs and is part of BNSF's Creston subdivision, which has centralized traffic control, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. BNSF was quoted in news reports that an eastbound freight train pulling 130 loaded coal hoppers collided with the rear of a second BNSF train pulling 34 cars of railroad maintenance equipment. [United Transportation Union, 4-17-11]

BNSF RAIL SERVICE CUT OFF IN GRAND FORKS: Burlington Northern Santa Fe has suspended rail service in Grand Forks, N.D., along with service in Mayville and Harwood, because of flooding. There’s a floodwall blocking the tracks in Grand Forks. In Harwood, it’s a clay dike. In Mayville, service is cut off at the Goose River bridge. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 4-14-11, from Grand Forks Herald website report]

RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 4-9-11: Rail traffic gained with U.S. railroads originating 293,798 carloads for the week ending April 9, 2011, up 1.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week was also up 12.4 percent, totaling 228,713 trailers and containers. [Association of American Railroads, 4-14-11]

AECOM GETS CONTRACT EXTENSION IN EDMONTON LIGHT-RAIL PROJECT: AECOM Technology Corp. has obtained a $32.5-million contract extension from the city of Edmonton, Alberta, to provide management and engineering services of the city’s light-rail extension from downtown to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-13-11]

RAIL CEO IN WISCONSIN FACES CRIMINAL CHARGES: The CEO of privately owned regional railroad Wisconsin & Southern, William Gardner, says he will plead guilty to felony charges of making some $53,000 in illegal political campaign donations to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The charges filed April 10 against Gardner include exceeding campaign contribution limits and reimbursing employees for their personal campaign contributions. Gardner said that he was not aware he had broken any laws. [United Transportation Union, 4-12-11, from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report]

WABTEC WINS LOCOMOTIVE ORDER IN AUSTRALIA: Wabtec Corp. announced Monday that its MotivePower subsidiary has won acontract to build 22 new locomotives for CBH Group, a leading transporter of grain in Australia. The contract includes a combination of standard- and narrow-gaugelocomotives [Railway Age website report, 4-11-11]

RAILAMERICA TO ACQUIRE THREE ALABAMA SHORT LINES: RailAmerica will sign an agreement to acquire the assets of three Alabama short lines from Gulf & Ohio Railways Inc for $12.7-million. The transaction - which includes the Three Notch Railroad (THNR), Wiregrass Central Railroad (WGCR) and Conecuh Valley Railroad (COEH) - is expected to close in the second quarter. [RailAmerica, 4-11-11]

MARCH 2011 RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Monthly rail carloads in March 2011 increased 3.4 percent compared with the same month last year, for a total of 1,493,553 carloads. According to the Association of American Railroads, intermodal traffic in March increased 8.5 percent for a total of 1,111,301 trailers and containers compared with March 2010. On a seasonally adjusted basis, carloads were up 2 percent and intermodal was up 0.5 percent over February 2011. [Association of American Railroads, 4-11-11]

AMTRAK RIDERSHIP ROSE 5.5 PCT IN MARCH: Amtrak served 137,000 riders in March 2011, a 5.5 pct increase compared with March 2010 and the 17th consecutive month of year-over-year ridership growth. For the first six months of FY2011 (October-March), ridership totaled 802,745 passengers, up 5.9 pct vs. the first six months of FY2010.  [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-8-11]

FEDS GRANT $4.9-M TOWARD REBUILDING NEBRASKA NORTHWEST R.R. TRACKS AND YARD: The city of Chadron and the Nebraska Northwest Railroad will soon begin rebuilding its tracks and rail yard thanks to an agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation for a $4.9-million grant, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation has announced. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 4-8-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT : Record gains in rail traffic were reported for the week ending April 2, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 305,905 carloads, up 5.7 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week was also up 19.4 pct compared with the same week last year, totaling 234,308 trailers and containers. This week's carload total is the highest since late 2008. Fifteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010.  [Assn. of American Railroads, 4-7-11]

ROBERT GLINES DIES, RAIL SIGNALING & COMMUNICATIONS MAGNATE: Robert H. Glines, 70, an icon in the railway signaling and communications supplier community for many years, died Saturday, March 26, 2011. Mr. Glines held leadership positions with railway industry associations, serving as a director on the board of the American Public Transportation Association. [Railway Age website report, 4-7-11]

FEDS GRANT $3.3-M TO ADD TRACK CAPACITY IN N.Y. STATE: U.S. Dept. Of Transportation has granted $3.3-million for the state of New York to add track and rail capacity in the congested upstate New York area, advancing the state’s high-speed intercity passenger rail program. The grant is for two miles of second mainline track used by Amtrak’s Adirondack and Ethan Allen Express services near the Village of Ballston Spa. Construction will begin in spring 2011. [U.S. DOT, 4-7-11]

UNION PACIFIC TO BUILD RAIL FACILITY IN N.M.: New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed into law a bill granting Union Pacific a locomotive fuel tax deduction. This legislation paves the way for Union Pacific to begin construction of an all new rail facility near Santa Teresa, New Mexico, in June 2011. The facility will be located just west of the Santa Teresa Airport on 2,200 acres and will include fueling facilities, crew change buildings, an intermodal yard and an intermodal ramp with an annual lift capacity of up to 250,000 intermodal containers. [Union Pacific, 4-5-11]

COLD TRAIN INTERMODAL EXPANDS: Launched last April, the Pacific Northwest-Chicagoland Express Cold Train is expanding service to meet rapidly growing demand. This year will see expansion to the Southwest market. Cold Train says eastbound shipments have doubled since the beginning of the year and continue to climb. Additionally, westbound shipments have increased. [Railway Age website report, 4-4-11]

AAR ASKS FEDS TO MODIFY SIX RAIL REGULATIONS: The Assn. of American Railroads is urging the U.S. Dept. of Transportation to modify six regulations that are costly to the industry. AAR submitted the list in response to DOT’s request for comments regarding regulations issued by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that are deemed ‘obsolete, unnecessary, excessively burdensome, or counterproductive.’ Specifically, they involve locomotive inspections, track inspection technology, gauge standards, imtermediate brake tests, signal inspections and diesel exhaust exposure limits. AAR noted that the list is not addressing ongoing or recently concluded proceedings, but to revise regulations to better apply to today’s modern railroad operating environment. [Assn. of American Railroads, 4-4-11]

CSX SEEKS ENVIRONMENTAL IDEAS ON FACEBOOK: CSX Corporation has begun a search for the next big environmental idea with a contest on Facebook. The company is encouraging individuals to ‘like’ its Facebook page and submit an idea that describes how they would help protect the environment for tomorrow. A panel of judges will choose two winners who will each receive a $5,000 cash prize. [CSX 4-4-11]

MAN CHARGED WITH OPENING BRIDGE, ENDANGERING TRAIN: Jacksonville, Florida, authorities say a 27-year-old man illegally opened a bridge, forcing a train to make an emergency stop to prevent it from careening into a river. Police said he was on his boat March 26 when he came upon a closed drawbridge. He allegedly broke into the bridge tender's building and activated controls to open the bridge. Police said he jumped back in his boat, leaving the bridge open. A passing CSX train was forced to stop to prevent going into the Trout River, causing a significant delay. [Miami Herald website report, 4-2-11]

RAIL STRIKE IN GERMANY: German’s largest train drivers’ union announced a two-day strike earlier this week, protesting what they call operators’ unwillingness to discuss a uniform pay-scale for drivers across the country. The strike began 3am on March 31 and will continue 47 hours through 2am April 2. National operator Deutsche Bahn will not be effected.  Keolis Germany has been exempted as a result of a willingness to engage in continued negotiations with the union. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 4-1-11]

AMTRAK UPDATES FLEET STRATEGY PLAN: Amtrak has released an updated fleet strategy plan; a document intended to serve as a blueprint for the replacement of the railroad’s aging fleet and allow Amtrak to meet the steady increase in U.S. demand for passenger trains. The plan documents recent procurement efforts, which includes the purchase of 130 single-level cars to replace the oldest cars and increase capacity on long-distance trains, and an order for 70 electric locomotives to replace all those currently in operation on the Northeast and Keystone Corridors. The plan also provides additional detail on the procurement for 40 additional Acela Express cars. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 4-1-11]

SOUTH AUSTRALIA ORDERS 22 ELECTRIC TRAIN SETS: The South Australian government has ordered 22 three-car electric trains from Bombardier Transportation for $278-million. The vehicles, known as the A-City, will be built at the company’s plants in Victoria and Queensland. They will be the first rail vehicles in Australia to meet new stringent international crash standards, according to Bombardier.  [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-1-11]

BOMBARDIER REPORTS 2010 EARNINGS: For the full year, the company reported net income of $769-million or 42 cents per diluted share, compared with $707-million or 39 cents per share a year earlier. Consolidated revenue fell to $17.7-billion from $19.4-billion a year ago.  [Progressive Railroading website report, 4-1-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Rail traffic gained for the week ending March 26, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 299,903 carloads, up 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week was also up 5.7 percent compared with the same week last year, totaling 223,034 trailers and containers. Eleven of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 3-31-11]

DERAILMENT IN NEWTON FALLS, OHIO, FORCES DEMOLITION OF TOWER: It took workers 24 hours to remove a 14-car train derailment in the center of Newton Falls. By Tuesday morning, workers from CSX and RJ Corman Derailment Services - working Monday and throughout the night - had taken the derailed cars to a yard nearby and replaced ruined tracks and railroad ties. One thing that won’t return as normal, however, is a building that many locals refer to as 'The Tower.' It’s the former B&O Depot, also known as the Franklin Street Station, a former elevated station between Canal and Center streets. CSX says the station, which CSX owns, had not been used for two years. The building had a section on the top that CSX used to use for keeping track of train traffic in the area. The building, believed to date to 1904, will be destroyed. [Youngstown Vindicator website report, 3-30-11]

PORTLAND LIGHT-RAIL EXTENSION APPROVED: TriMet of Portland, Oregon, said the Federal Transit Administration has approved its planned 7.3-mile MAX light rail transit extension to suburban Milwaukie. The approval moves the project into final design phase, which will last about a year. The $1.49-billion project would extend MAX line from the current terminus of the Green and Yellow lines at Portland State University to South Waterfront, Southeast Portland, Milwaukie and Park Avenue in Clackamas County. A bridge over the Willamette River designed for LRT use is part of the plan.  [Railway Age website report, 3-30-11]

BNSF EXTENDS MOBILE SHIPMENT APPLICATIONS: BNSF Railway today announced it has released four new mobile applications that enable customers to manage their BNSF shipments on their smart phones. The new applications - Unit Trace, Switch and Release, Coal Train Tracing and Display Lot Location (DLL) - are now available on the new BNSF mobile website. [BNSF, 3-30-11]

METROLINX ACQUIRES CN LINE IN TORONTO: Metrolinx has acquired a section of CN’s Kingston Subdivision line to use for commuter- and passenger-rail services in eastern Toronto for $308-million. The two- and three-track corridor runs east of Union Station in downtown Toronto to a junction in Pickering where the line connects with GO Transit’s separate right of way. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-30-11]

VIA REVISES DESIGN OF BROCKVILLE, ONTARIO, DEPOT: VIA Rail has revised its design of a proposed passenger-rail station in Brockville, Ontario, to incorporate suggestions by area residents. The new design, ‘more reflective of a traditional railway station and more attuned to the historic character of the city,’ contains elements consistent with other eastern Ontario public buildings, while also incorporating modern, large track-facing windows to allow more natural light to enter the building and provide an optimal view of the platform. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-30-11]

CSX TRAIN DERAILS IN OHIO, PROMPTING EVACUATION: A freight train derailed in Newton Falls, Ohio, early March 28, and authorities, suspecting a possible ammonia leak, evacuated nearby residents. A spokesman for CSX said 14 of the train's 111 cars had derailed and no one was injured. CSX said none of the derailed cars contained chemicals. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-28-11, from Chicago Tribune website report from Reuters]

UNION PACIFIC LAUNCHES NEW AGRICULTURAL TRANSLOADING SERVICE: Union Pacific Railroad's new Plant-to-Port transportation and transload program provides customer product transfer from covered hopper unit trains directly to marine containers at the railroad's Yermo, Calif., facility.  The program includes double-stack intermodal train service on dock to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. [Union Pacific, 3-28-11]

UNIONS PETITION FEDS ON HAZMAT SAFETY: Seven railroad labor organizations have petitioned the Federal Railroad Administration for enhanced safety standards to protect rail workers and the public from hazmat accidents. Citing a doubling in the number of damaged or leaking hazardous materials containers shipped by rail since 2007, organized rail labor is concerned that the FRA routinely grants special permission for railroads to transport damaged hazardous materials containers on mainline tracks to repair facilities. [Railway Age website report, 3-28-11]

CSX PLANNING NEW INTERMODAL FACILITY BETWEEN BALTIMORE & WASHINGTON: The Maryland Dept. of Transportation and CSX plan to conduct three public workshops in central Maryland in April to review the development of a new intermodal facility in the state. The workshops are designed to provide the public an overview of the proposed Baltimore-Washington Rail Intermodal Facility which would be located on CSXT’s National Gateway corridor. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-25-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC TO EXPAND CAPACITY IN NORTH DAKOTA: Canadian Pacific has announced the investment of $100-million in North Dakota between 2010 to 2012. The plan will expand network capacity and enhance rail service in order to meet increased traffic demands. It  includes hiring over 70 new employees to its  train crew base; a new Superintendent of Operations territory between Enderlin and Portal; capacity expansion on the Newtown, Portal and Carrington subdivisions; and increased budget for maintenance work on the Newtown subdivision. [Canadian Pacific, 3-25-11]

HIGH-SPEED RAIL PLAN APPROVED FOR ILLINOIS: Illinois announced March 22 that a $685-million agreement has been reached that will clear the way for construction of the next phase of high-speed rail between Chicago and St. Louis. The federal investment will allow workers to modernize signaling systems between Dwight and Alton; and install new concrete ties and rail between the Mississippi River and Alton, and Lincoln and Dwight.  Construction is scheduled to begin April 5. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-25-11]

POLL SUPPORTS HIGH-SPEED RAIL OPTION: A poll released this week revealed that 79 percent of the public would choose high-speed rail over air travel if the option existed. The poll, done by SilverRail Technologies, found a number of responses conveying a favorable sentiment towards high-speed trains. Additionally, 90 percent of people would like to see rail options displayed alongside flights when researching travel.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-25-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Rail traffic gained for the week ending March 19, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 293,772 carloads, up 2.3 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week was also up, totaling 222,788 trailers and containers, up 10.7 pct. Twelve of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 3-24-11]

THREE FORMER MARC LOCOMOTIVES ACQUIRED BY MASS BAY: One of the T's new pre-owned locomotives backed into North Station for the first time today. The locomotive is one of three formerly owned by Maryland's MARC commuter rail that will go into service on MBTA lines over the next two weeks, leased by the T at $300 apiece per day. The T is leasing them from an Idaho locomotive maker that recently built new engines for MARC and is also slated to build 20 for the T, at $115-million. Although cast off by MARC, the 16-year-old engines are newer than all but two of the MBTA's 82 engines, more than half of which date to the 1970s. [Boston Globe website report, 3-24-11]

TRAIN STRIKES CREW VAN IN WASHINGTON STATE, KILLING THREE: A Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman says a freight train struck a shuttle van carrying BNSF crew members in Washington state, killing three people and seriously injuring a fourth. The collision happened late Wednesday afternoon at a private rail crossing in the Longview, Wash., area, as the van was leaving a BNSF rail yard to take the crew members to Vancouver. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-23-11, from Associated Press report]

REPORT FAULTS AMTRAK OVER INSPECTOR GENERAL’S FIRING: Top Amtrak officials failed to give “adequate consideration” to a federal mandate to inform Congress before they removed the rail service’s longtime inspector general in 2009, according to a new independent review. The findings by the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General were reported in a letter to three top Republican lawmakers who requested an inquiry into the removal of Amtrak Inspector General Fred Weiderhold. [Washington Times website report, 3-23-11]

CPR WARNS OF DROP IN EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific Railway warned this week that its first-quarter profit would likely come in below expectations led to a series of earning estimate revisions. The railway said it expected earnings for the quarter in the range of 12 to 22 cents a share, somewhat lower than the 74 cents a share expected from the Street. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-22-11, from Financial Post website report]

N.C. HIGH-SPEED RAIL PLAN MOVES FORWARD: The Federal Railroad Administration is making $545-million in Recovery Act-funded investments in North Carolina, under the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program, including $59-million for a third daily round trip between Charlotte and Raleigh and station upgrades in Cary, Burlington, and High Point. [US Dept. of Transportation, 3-22-11]

QUEENS TUNNELING WORK TO BEGIN: Officials have dedicated two tunnel boring machines that will create four tunnels under Sunnyside Yard in Queens, N.Y., as part of the East Side Access project. The project will connect the tracks of Long Island Rail Road mainline with the tunnel under the East River that leads to Grand Central Terminal. The tunnels, to be completed in October 2012, are the last to be built as part of the East Side Access project. After completion of the overall project in 2016, LIRR trains traveling through Sunnyside will be able to travel to Penn Station or Grand Central. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-22-11]

HONOLULU ISSUES CONTRACTS FOR ELEVATED RAIL SYSTEM: The city of Honolulu has awarded two contracts for its rail transit project totaling $946-million. Ansaldo Honolulu won a $574-million contract to provide train vehicles and power for a system control center. Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. obtained a $372-million contract to design and build the second phase of the elevated-rail guideway from Pearl City to Aloha Stadium. The $5.5-billion project calls for building a 20-mile, 21-station elevated-rail system connecting East Kapolei with Ala Moana Center. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-22-11]

NAME SELECTED FOR FORT WORTH COMMUTER RAIL: Fort Worth Transportation Authority’s board of directors has adopted Tarrant Express, or TEX, as the name of the agency’s new commuter rail project, replacing the less decorous name of SW2NE. The authority (known as the T) said TEX will run from southwest Fort Worth through that city’s downtown district, then across northeast Tarrant County to Grapevine and into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. [Railway Age website report, 3-22-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN EXPECTS TO PAY $58-M FOR 2005 DERAILMENT: Norfolk Southern says it will record an expense of at least $58-million from a 2005 derailment that led to nine deaths and evacuation in Graniteville, S.C. The company said on that an arbitration panel ruled against it regarding an insurance claim from the derailment. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-21-11, from Associated Press report]

WILMINGTON STATION RENOVATION COMPLETE: After nearly two years of renovation, Amtrak’s Wilmington, Delaware, station is now complete. It was dedicated March 19 in honor of Vice President Joseph Biden, who regularly used the station as senator from Delaware for 36 years. [Amtrak, 3-19-11]

POWER PROBLEM DISRUPTS TRAINS IN N.E.: Electrical problems along railroad lines March 19 sent Amtrak riders in the Mid-Atlantic region scrambling to reschedule their weekend plans. The outage occurred at about 9:30 a.m. and lasted for about four hours. Twenty-one trains were affected in Amtrak's Northeast and Keystone corridors. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-19-11, from Baltimore Sun website report]

NEW SPECS FOR DIESEL LOCOMOTIVES APPROVED: The Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee announced the approval of new specifications for diesel-electric locomotives on March 16, another step in a process they say will make it easier, faster, and cheaper to build and purchase cars, locomotives and train sets for the accelerating development of America’s high-speed and intercity passenger train network. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-18-11]

GREENBRIER LANDS $325-M IN NEW ORDERS: The Greenbrier Cos. has received new orders for 4,200 railcars and intermodal platforms valued at $325-million. Most are for doublestack platforms; the remainder are boxcars, covered hopper cars of various types, and various car types for the European market. Delivery is expected to occur mostly in 2011. [Railway Age website report, 3-18-11]

METRO-NORTH'S DANBURY BRANCH REOPENS FOLLOWING EMERGENCY REPAIRS: Metro-North has resumed train service on the Danbury Branch following completion of a major, emergency reconstruction of a 150-foot-long section of track that had been washed away in a flood. In all, it took 10 million pounds of stone, 300 truck loads, one truck at a time, to rebuild the right-of-way. [Metro-North, 3-17-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Rail traffic gained for the week ending March 12, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 292,164 carloads, up 1.3 pct compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week was also up, totaling 216,828 trailers and containers, up 6.5 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 3-17-11]

SAFEST YEAR FOR U.S. FREIGHT RAILROADS: The Association of American Railroads has announced that 2010 was the safest year in U.S. Class I freight railroad history. The data, which is released by the Federal Railroad Administration, shows that the total number of train accidents involving U.S. Class I freight railroads declined by 3 percent in 2010, with the rate per-million-train-miles falling 9.6 percent from the previous record established in 2009. [Assn. of American Railroads, 3-15-11]

GATX ORDERS 12,500 RAILCARS: Trinity Industries Inc. and GATX Corp. have announced an agreement where Trinity Rail Group LLC will supply GATX with 12,500 railcars in the next five years. The order will include both tank and freight cars. [Railway Age website report, 3-15-11]

TWO HELD IN ASSAULT ON AMTRAK CONDUCTOR: Two men are facing charges in Fayette County, Pa., after they allegedly assaulted an Amtrak train conductor March 14. When Connellsville police went to the Amtrak station, the conductor told them the two men were being disorderly toward other passengers, and one of them punched the conductor in the jaw. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-15-11, from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review website report]

WILLIAM KRATVILLE DIES, RAIL HISTORIAN: Noted railroad author, photographer, and historian William W. Kratville, 81, died March 14, 2011, at his home in Omaha, Nebraska. He wrote more than 20 railroad books and kept a file of more than 300,000 railroad photo negatives. [Railway Age website report]

METROLINX ORDERS 50 BILEVEL CARS: Greater Toronto’s Metrolins has turned to Bombardier Transportation for 50 BiLevel rail cars destined to serve GO Transit customers, valued at about [US] $128-million.  [Railway Age website report, 3-14-11]

METRA TO OPEN STATION ON ROCK ISLAND LINE: Metra will open a new station in Chicago at 35th St. along the Rock Island line on April 3. The Metra Board of Directors voted to name the new stop after Lovana S. “Lou” Jones, a state lawmaker who represented the area for nearly 20 years. She died in 2006. The station will be formally dedicated in early May. [Metra]

ATLANTA OK’S STREETCAR PURCHASE FUNDS: The Atlanta City Council moved forward with planning the Atlanta streetcar project by voting to approve $9-million to buy new streetcars and approving a construction contract with MARTA. Construction on the route from the Martin Luther King Jr. district to Centennial Olympic Park will begin in the fall. [Railway Age website report, 3-11-11]

AMTRAK MARKS 16 MONTHS OF UNINTERRUPTED GROWTH: Amtrak carried 2,099,010 passengers in February 2011, smashing its previous ridership record for February and marking 16 months of uninterrupted growth. The run of increased ridership stretches all the way back to November, 2009. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-11-11]

FLORIDA’S HIGH-SPEED RAIL FUNDS TO BE REALLOCATED: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the Federal Railroad Administration will be reallocating Florida’s $2.4-billion in high-speed rail funds, via a competitive process, to states eager to develop high-speed rail corridors across the United States. Meanwhile, Florida state transportation officials released a study March 9 that projected the rejected Tampa to Orlando high-speed train would have made $10-million its first year, and almost $29-million by its 10th year. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-11-11]

MILW 97A BEING SCRAPPED: After over a decade of languishing about Northeastern Pa., the former Milwaukee Road FP7 #97A, later operated by the Maryland Midland and then Steamtown, is due to be scrapped at RMDI at Pittston/Duryea, Pa. in the next week or so.  This has been confirmed by the locomotive's owner. Also on the cut list, for those maintaining loco rosters: Montour 77 was cut (a couple days ago), the next in line is former PNER SW1 601, nee-CNJ 1012. Also in this line are BM&R/RBMN NW2 1000, AMTK/ATSF CF7 58 (former ATSF 2440, nee-F7 269), MILW (faux WM) FP7 97A, PNER NW2 87, and others. [Alexander B. Mitchell IV, 3-10-11]

CANADIAN RAIL LINE GETS MINING CONTRACT: Labrador Iron Mines Holdings Ltd. (LIM) has announced a ‘life of mine’ Confidential Rail Transportation Contract with Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway Co., Inc. QNS&L, a wholly owned subsidiary of Montreal-based Iron Ore Co. of Canada, will transport iron ore from LIM's Emeril Junction, Newfoundland and Labrador, facility to Sept-Iles Junction, Quebec. QNS&L already carries iron ore for its parent company. [Railway Age website report, 3-10-11]

BOMBARDIER LANDS SWEDISH ORDER FOR SIX HIGH-SPEED TRAINSETS: Bombardier Transportation says it has received an order for six new three-car Regina high speed trains from Sweden’s Vasttrafik, thus increasing the latter’s fleet to a total of 26 trains. The contract is valued at $101-million with delivery in 2013.  [Railway Age website report, 3-10-11]

VEHICLE-TRAIN COLLISIONS, CROSSING DEATHS & INJURIES RISE IN 2010: Operation Lifesaver says FRA statistics show 2,004 vehicle-train collisions in the U.S. in 2010, up 4.2 percent from the 1,924 incidents in 2009; those 2010 collisions resulted in 260 deaths and 810 injuries, with crossing deaths up 5.3 percent and crossing injuries up 9.8 percent from the 247 deaths and 738 injuries in 2009. [Railway Age website report, 3-10-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Rail traffic gains for the week ending March 5, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 300,953 carloads, up 5.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week was also up, totaling 214,343 trailers and containers, up 1 pct. [Association of American Railroads, 3-10-11]

MARC INCREASES PENN LINE SERVICE: The Maryland Transit Administration has announced that the revised schedule for MARC Penn Line Service will start Monday, March 14, 2011.  Penn Line service will increase to eight train sets, providing approximately 1,000 additional seats during the morning and evening rush hours.  The new schedule is being implemented in an effort to reduce overcrowded conditions and improve on-time performance. [Md. Transit Administration, 3-10-11]

FREIGHT RAILROADS PLAN RECORD CAPITAL INVESTMENTS IN 2011: The Association of American Railroads says the nation’s freight railroads in 2011 are planning to spend a record $12-billion on capital expenditures, after setting a record with $10.7-billion in capital spending in 2010. According to the Great Expectations 2011, Railroads and Continued U.S. Economic Recovery report, these investments are potentially threatened by regulatory and legislative policies being considered in Washington, D.C. [Assn. of American Railroads, 3-9-11]

ILLINOIS ADDING METRA SOUTHEAST LINE: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation that will create the Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District as part of a plan to build a 33-mile Metra line connecting 20 communities to downtown Chicago. The $778-million project will extend service to one of the last metro regions without access to commuter rail. The line would run along existing freight- and passenger-rail lines in south Cook and Will counties. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-9-11]

CSX ANNOUNCES SLATE OF DIRECTORS FOR 2011 ANNUAL MEETING: CSX has announced the names of the directors to be nominated for election at its 2011 Annual Meeting of Shareholders and said the size of the Board will be increased to 13.  One current director, Alexandre Behring, will not stand for re-election. Two new candidates are J.C. Watts Jr. and Steven Whisler.  The other candidates are current directors Donna Alvarado, John Breaux, Pamela Carter, Steven Halverson, Edward Kelly III, Gilbert Lamphere, John McPherson, Timothy O’Toole, David Ratcliffe, Donald Shepard and Michael Ward. [CSX, 3-9-11]

R J CORMAN PROPOSES REOPENING TWO RAIL LINES IN PA.: R.J. Corman Railroad/Pennsylvania Lines plans to construct a 10.8-mile line over a segment of abandoned rail right of way between Wallaceton and Winburne, and reactivate a connecting 9.3-mile line between Winburne and Gorton. The route would serve a new waste-to-ethanol facility, quarry and industrial park - which are being developed by Resource Recovery L.L.C . - as well as several other shippers along the line that are interested in rail service. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-7-11]

FEBRUARY 2011 U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT:  Monthly carloads in Febr. 2011 increased 4.2 pct compared with the same month last year, for a total of 1,135,396. Intermodal traffic in February increased 10.3 pct for a total of 881,830 trailers and containers compared with February 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 3-7-11]

JUDGE RULES IN UNION MERGER CASES: U.S. District Court Judge John Bates has issued rulings regarding the pending cases regarding the UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association. He ruled that the claims regarding whether the merger ever took place, as well as other merger related claims, should go before an arbitrator to decide, and that he could make no ruling on those issues. [United Transportation Union, 3-5-11]

COURT RULES AGAINST FLORIDA HIGH-SPEED RAIL PLAN: The Supreme Court of Florida has ruled against a lawsuit filed by supporters of the Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail project.  U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released a statement implying that the $2.4-billion originally awarded to Florida could be redistributed to high-speed rail programs in other states, which would effectively end Florida’s high-speed ambitions for the foreseeable future. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-4-11]

TSA VIPR TEAMS BARRED FROM AMTRAK PROPERTY: Amtrak Police have temporarily barred the Transportation Security Administration’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams from Amtrak property following an incident in the Savannah train station. This refers to a video of a VIPR team performing airport-style inspections of passengers and their belongings in an Amtrak station. Amtrak police only perform random bag searches, and there is no wanding or pat-downs of passengers. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-4-11]

EMPIRE BUILDER DISRUPTED BY SNOW: Extremely heavy snow and whiteout conditions halted Empire Builder service between Spokane and Whitefish from Febr.26 through March 2.  Through service resumed with Thursday’s departures of train 7 from Chicago and train 8 from Seattle. “We’ve experienced extreme weather conditions from Cut Bank through Glacier (National Park),” BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said March 1.  “We have had crews working around-the-clock to keep the switches open.” [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 3-4-11]

BOMBARDIER BUYS 25 PCT STAKE IN RUSSIAN SIGNALING MANUFACTURER: Bombardier Transportation Signaling B.V. has purchased a 25 pct stake in signaling equipment manufacturer Elteza, a subsidiary of Russian Railways (RZD). Subject to further approval, BT Signaling B.V. could increase its stake up to 50 pct. RZD will remain the majority shareholder. Elteza is Russia's largest signaling equipment producer. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-4-11]

POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL REQUIREMENTS TO BE REVISED: The Obama Administration has agreed to adjust Positive Train Control requirements imposed on the nation’s freight railroads. The Federal Railroad Administration has reached agreement with the Association of American Railroads to modify the rules in response to AAR’s concerns. Details would be determined during a public rule-making process later this year. AAR says the new rules would exempt 10,000 miles of track currently subject to the PTC implementation. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-4-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN NAMED TO LIST OF 100 BEST CORPORATE CITIZENS: Norfolk Southern has been named to Corporate Responsibility Magazine's 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2011. This is the third time NS has been selected. The 100 Best Corporate Citizens List is based on 360 public data points relating to the environment, climate change, human rights, philanthropy, employee relations, financial performance, and governance. [Norfolk Southern 3-4-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Rail traffic for the week ending Febr. 26, 2011, saw gains with U.S. railroads originating 296,252 carloads, up 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week was also up, totaling 220,589 trailers and containers, up 7.2 percent. Fourteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 3-3-11]

CSX YARDMASTERS RATIFY CONSOLIDATION PACT: CSX-employed yardmasters represented by the UTU have ratified a coordination-of-operations agreement affecting CSX eastern district (former Baltimore & Ohio) and northern district (former Conrail) lines. The ratified agreement contains negotiated enhancements, including automatic certification for employees at locations where assignments will be affected by the coordination, prior rights to consolidated work, and an increase to the highest yardmaster pay rates for all positions in the territory not currently at the high rate. [United Transpotation Union, 3-3-11]

UNION PACIFIC NAMED ‘MOST ADMIRED’ BY FORTUNE MAGAZINE: Fortune magazine has named Union Pacific Railroad the most admired company among trucking, transportation and logistics companies. Fortune expanded the category this year to include railroads. The magazine publishes its annual World's Most Admired list in the March 21 edition. Union Pacific ranked No. 1 in seven of nine reputation attributes identified by Fortune. [Union Pacific, 3-3-11]

SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE APPROVES RAIL ANTITRUST BILL: The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that would remove antitrust exemptions from freight railroads. The bill, S. 49 would “amend the Federal antitrust laws to provide expanded coverage and to eliminate exemptions from such laws that are contrary to the public interest with respect to railroads.” Prior railroad antitrust proposals approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee have failed to become law. [Railway Age website report, 3-3-11]

STB ISSUES BNSF COAL DUST RULING: The Surface Transportation Board has acknowledged that coal dust poses a problem for railroad safety and operations, but found that BNSF Railway's attempt to mitigate those problems was not reasonable. Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. had asked the Board to prevent BNSF from using a rail side emission monitoring system that sought to measure coal dust blowing from the top of coal cars. The board found that BNSF may require shippers to take ‘reasonable measures’ to address the problem, but found the provisions of BNSF's tariff ‘not reasonable’ given the level of uncertainty and the available methods to control coal dust. [U.S Surface Transportation Board, 3-3-11]

METRO-NORTH ADDS FIRST SET OF M-8 CARS: The initial set of M-8 cars have begun operating on MTA Metro-North’s line from Stamford to New York City. In all, 380 new cars eventually will replace the railroad’s entire fleet, which serves 63,000 riders daily. [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-2-11]

WABTEC GETS BRAZILIAN CONTRACT: Xorail Inc., a subsidiary of Wabtec Corp., said it has signed a $165-million contract to design and install Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) for MRS Logistica, which operates the Southeastern Federal Railroad Network in Brazil.  [Railway Age website report, 3-2-11]

ANOTHER CHINESE RAIL OFFICIAL CANNED FOR ALLEGED CORRUPTION:  Alleged corruption in China’s $300-billion high speed rail initiative has led to the dismissal of Zhang Shuguang, deputy chief engineer of the Ministry of Railways, who has played a high-profile role in a program that will soon produce trains with a cruising speed of 300 mph. It followed the dismissal last month of railway Minister Liu Zhijun on similar charges. [Railway Age website report, 3-2-11]

UPGRADES TO CASCADE CORRIDOR: An agreement signed by Washington State, BNSF and Amtrak clears the way to spend $590-million of a federal grant to upgrade freight tracks for expanded passenger service on Amtrak's Cascades Corridor, which links the cities of Eugene and Portland, Ore., with Seattle, and Vancouver, B.C. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 3-1-11, from Journal of Commerce website report]

KCS PROMOTES THREE SENIOR EXECUTIVES: Kansas City Southern has promoted three senior-level executives. The Class I appointed David Ebbrecht executive vice president of operations for KCS and its U.S. subsidiaries; John Jacobsen, senior VP and chief engineer for U.S. subsidiaries; and Oscar Del Cueto, SVP of operations.  [Progressive Railroading website report, 3-1-11]

ERSKINE BOWLES ELECTED TO NORFOLK SOUTHERN BOARD: Erskine B. Bowles has been elected a director of Norfolk Southern Corporation. He served as president of the University of North Carolina from 2006 to 2010, when he was appointed co-chair of President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Bowles currently is a senior advisor to Carousel Capital and a director of Morgan Stanley and Cousins Properties Inc. [Norfolk Southern, 2-28-11]

FEDS EXTEND DEADLINE FOR FLORIDA ACCEPTANCE OF HIGH-SPEED RAIL FUNDS: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he has extended by one more week the federal government’s deadline for Florida to accept $2.4-billion in federal funds for high-speed rail.  He met with Gov. Rick Scott Febr.25. A negative decision is projected to cost the state of Florida around 24,000 jobs. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 2-25-11]

MINNESOTA RAIL-TRAIL GETS NATIONAL HONOR: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy announced the Paul Bunyan State Trail as the newest member of the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. The Paul Bunyan State Trail passes through 15 communities in north-central Minnesota and extends 112 miles from the northern end in Lake Bemidji State Park south to Brainerd's Northland Arboretum. The idea for the trail emerged in 1983 when the county lost its 90-year-old Burlington Northern rail line. [Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 2-25-11]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Freight traffic continues to register gains with U.S. railroads originating 296,980 carloads, up 8.2 pct compared with the same week last year, for the week ending Febr.19, 2011. Intermodal volume for the week was also up, totaling 233,993 trailers and containers, up 16.9 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-24-11]

RAIL REGULATORY FRAMEWORK IS A SUCCESS, AAR SAYS: The Association of American Railroads told the Surface Transportation Board on Febr.24 that the current rail economic regulatory framework is a success  Testifying at a hearing to review exemptions for certain types of rail traffic, AAR President and CEO Edward Hamberger noted that today’s rail regulatory policies are the very reason freight railroads are such a critical part of the U.S. economy and vital to our nation’s financial recovery. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-24-11]

L.A. COUNTY METRO AUTHORITY TO BUY UNION STATION: The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has negotiated the purchase of Los Angeles Union Station from Catellus Operating Limited Partnership for $75-million. The purchase includes 38 acres and 5.9 million square feet of entitlements that provide LACMTA the right to build on the property and draw lease revenue from transit operators and businesses. The station is home to Amtrak, Metrolink, and LACMTA's Red, Purple and Gold lines. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-24-11]

SEPTA ADDS SILVERLINER-V CARS TO SERVICE: The first of SEPTA's Silverliner V passenger railcars made their debut Febr.21. The two cars were the first of 117 being assembled at a South Philadelphia factory to be placed in revenue service. SEPTA ordered 120 Silverliner V cars from Hyundai Rotem for $274-million. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-23-11, from Philadelphia Inquirer website report]

RAILAMERICA REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: RailAmerica Inc. has reported fourth-quarter revenue of $127.6-million and freight revenue of $98-million, up 17 percent and 13 percent, respectively, compared with fourth-quarter 2009 totals. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-23-11]

PRESIDENT APPOINTS BNSF, AFL-CIO CHIEFS TO WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL: President Obama has named BNSF CEO Matt Rose, AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka and United Food and Commercial Workers' Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Hansen to the White House Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The three join a long list of mostly business executives and bankers on the council. [United Transportation Union, 2-23-11]

AMTRAK ASKED TO STUDY SERVICE TO CHICAGO’S O’HARE AIRPORT: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has asked Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman to conduct a study examining Amtrak passenger rail linking Chicago Union Station and O'Hare International Airport. The governor reportedly sees a synergy in linking O’Hare to the Amtrak network, including the railroad’s Chicago-to-St. Louis service, now undergoing an upgrade to 110 mph higher-speed rail service. [Railway Age website report, 2-22-11]

SUPREME COURT RULES FOR CSX IN ALABAMA FUEL TAX CASE: The U.S. Supreme Court broadened the ability of railroads to challenge state taxes as illegally favoring other types of carriers, ruling in favor of CSX Corp. in an Alabama case. The justices, voting 7-2, said CSX can press claims that the state is violating a federal law that protects railroads from discrimination by forcing the company to pay higher fuel taxes than motor and water carriers. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-22-11, from Bloomberg News report]

N.W. OHIO CSX TERMINAL BEGINS SERVICE: Operations have begun at the new Northwest Ohio Terminal. Located near North Baltimore, the new facility employs more than 200 full-time employees and will serve as the transfer point for hundreds of thousands of freight containers annually. [CSX, 2-22-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN ORDERS 1500 NEW RAIL CARS: Norfolk Southern Railway Company is acquiring 1,500 new railcars from Chicago-based FreightCar America, Inc. (NASDAQ: RAIL). The high-capacity coal cars will be manufactured at FreightCar America's facility in Roanoke beginning in May of 2011. The order will result in approximately 200 jobs. [Norfolk Southern, 2-21-11]

MARYLAND WANTS HIGH-SPEED RAIL FUNDS: If other states don't want federal funding to build the administration's proposed national network of high-speed rail lines, Maryland would be happy to have the money they spurn. Gov. Martin O'Malley has spelled that out in a letter to U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. Three newly elected Republican governors - Florida's Rick Scott, Wisconsin's Scott Walker and Ohio's John Kasich - have rejected federal money for high-speed rail, citing concern with cost overruns. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-18-11, from Washington Post website report]

HOUSE REJECTS PROPOSAL TO CUT $446.7-M IN AMTRAK FUNDING: The U.S. House of Representatives has rejected a proposal to cut $446.9-million in Amtrak funding for the current fiscal year 2011. The vote rejecting the Amrak cuts reportedly was 250-176, indicating more Republican House support for the nation’s passenger railroad network than many observers anticipated. [Railway Age website report, 2-17-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: The Association of American Railroads reported gains in weekly rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 12, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 274,043 carloads, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week was also up, totaling 228,035 trailers and containers, up 18.5 percent. Sixteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-17-11]

EMPIRE BUILDER DELAYED IN MONTANA BY BOMB THREAT: No bomb was found Febr.14 on an Amtrak train at Browning, Montana, but the threat by a college student that there was one jolted 140 passengers, who were forced to get off the train in high winds and drifting snow. Three passengers were transported to local hospitals because of injuries sustained while getting off the train. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-16-11, from Great Falls Tribune website report]

FLORIDA REJECTS HIGH-SPEED RAIL: Florida has become the third state to reject federal stimulus funds to help create a high-speed rail system. Florida Gov. Rick Scott said state finances are so dire that the state could not afford its share of the money or future subsidies for the new rail passenger service. At least in the shortrun, this puts an end to efforts to create high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando. [United Transportation Union, 2-16-11]

AMTRAK PLANS TO ADD 40 ACELA COACHES: Amtrak plans to begin procurement in fiscal year 2012 of 40 additional Acela Express coach cars to increase seating capacity on all existing high-speed train sets to meet growing ridership demand. The plan to purchase new high-speed equipment is part of the national passenger railroad's $2.22-billion funding request submitted to Congress. [Amtrak, 2-14-11]

CHINA FIRES ITS RAIL MINISTER: A corruption investigation has led to the removal of Chinese Railway Minister Liu Shaun from his post, and a New York Times dispatch from Beijing says the probe “raises questions about China's deep investment inhigh speed railways.” The charge against Liu is “severe violations of discipline,” without further elaboration.  [Railway Age website report, 2-14-11]

AMTRAK REPORTS RIDERSHIP GROWTH IN JANUARY: Amtrak announced that it carried 2.1 million people in January 2011, marking the 15th straight month of ridership growth and setting yet another monthly ridership record for the railroad, a 4.6 percent increase over the same period last year. Ridership on the Cardinal showed a 15.9 percent increase. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 2-11-11]

UNION PACIFIC TO IMPROVE ITS YUMA-WELTON LINE: Union Pacific Railroad will enhance the rail line that runs from Yuma to Welton. The 30-mile, $6.9-million project includes removing and installing new rail and more than 47,000 railroad ties along this railroad corridor through southern Arizona. Crews will spread 18,000 tons of rock ballast to ensure a stable roadbed. [Union Pacific, 2-11-11]

GENESEE & WYOMING JANUARY 2011 TRAFFIC REPORT: Traffic for Genesee & Wyoming (GWI) in January 2011 was 82,735 carloads, an increase of 17,579 carloads, or 27.0 percent, compared with January 2010. Excluding 5,826 carloads from the acquisition of FreightLink, which closed December 1, 2010, same-railroad traffic in January 2011 increased 11,753 carloads, or 18.0 percent, compared with January 2010. [Genesee & Wyoming, 2-11-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: The Association of American Railroads reports a mix in weekly rail traffic as a result of winter storms in parts of the country last week. For the week ending Febr.5, 2011, rail carloads were flat with U.S. railroads originating 267,682 carloads, while intermodal volume was down 1.5 percent to 198,249 trailers and containers. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-10-11]

CN PLANS $1.7-B IN 2011 CAPITAL INVESTMENTS: Canadian National plans to invest $1.7-billion in 2011 toward its railway network. Approximately $1-billion of CN's program will be targeted on track infrastructure to maintain safe railway operations and to improve the productivity and fluidity of its rail network. This includes replacement of rail, ties, bridge improvements, as well as rail-line improvements on the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Company (EJ&E) that CN acquired in 2009. The EJ&E addresses the ‘missing link’ for CN in Chicago, connecting its five rail lines entering the city. [CN, 2-9-11]

SIEMENS LANDS CHINESE ORDERS FOR TRAIN PROPULSION SYSTEMS: Siemens Mobility Division has received three orders from China for the supply of propulsion systems. A total of 93 new trains will be equipped with propulsion technology and deployed on the Shanghai Metro Line 11, Zhengzhou Metro Line 1 and Ningbo Metro Line 1. The equipment package includes gearboxes, auxiliary converter units traction motors, traction converters and train control systems. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-9-11]

PEPCO TO INSTALL ENERGY SAVINGS MEASURES FOR MARYLAND MTA: Pepco Energy Services Inc., a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings Inc., has obtained a $6.2-million, 15-year energy savings performance contract from the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). Pepco Energy will install lighting retrofits and occupancy sensors, and complete daylight harvesting and other energy conservation measures to help MTA reduce energy consumption. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-9-11]

NATIONAL HIGH-SPEED RAIL PLAN ANNOUNCED: Vice President Joe Biden announced a comprehensive plan that will help the nation reach President Obama’s goal of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years. The proposal will place high-speed rail on equal footing with other surface transportation programs and revitalize America’s domestic rail manufacturing industry by dedicating $53-billion over six years to continue construction of a national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network. [White House, 2-8-11]

JANUARY FREIGHT RAIL TRAFFIC REPORT: Monthly carloads in January 2011 increased 8 percent compared with the same month last year, for a total of 1,142,293 carloads. Intermodal traffic in January increased 7.4 percent for a total of 863,099 trailers and containers compared with January 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-8-11]

GENESEE & WYOMING REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (GWI) reported net income in the fourth quarter of 2010 of $19.9-million, compared with net income of $18.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2009. GWI's diluted earnings per share in the fourth quarter of 2010 were $0.47 with 42.3-million weighted average shares outstanding, compared with diluted EPS of $0.44 with 41.3-million weighted average shares outstanding in the fourth quarter of 2009. [Genesee & Wyoming, 2-8-11]

CSX TO PAY $8-M FOR D.C. OIL LEAK: CSX has agreed to pay the District of Columbia $8-million in a settlement to clean up a petroleum leak that flowed into the Anacostia River. According to the Associated Press, CSX will pay $7.5 million to clean up both government and private property along the river, as well as a $500,000 civil penalty. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-8-11]

SENATE BILL WOULD REDUCE ROUTE MILES REQUIRING PTC: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced a bill (S.301) that proposes to reduce the number of route miles on which railroads must install positive train control (PTC) by Dec. 31, 2015. Co-sponsored by Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Tom Coburn (R-OK), the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-8-11]

NEW HUDSON RAIL TUNNEL PROPOSED: Amtrak has advanced a plan dubbed the ‘Gateway Tunnel,’ to increase capacity on the Northeast Corridor under the Hudson River. Unlike New Jersey Transit’s Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) project, terminated October 2010 by Gov. Chris Christie, the Amtrak-led effort would direct two additional tracks, and two tunnels, to directly serve Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, including the Moynihan Station project. The Amtrak plan does not envision any connection to Grand Central Terminal, but instead would add capacity at Penn Station for Amtrak, NJ Transit, Metro-North. [Railway Age website report, 2-7-11]

ETHANOL TANK CARS DERAIL, BURN IN OHIO: A Norfolk Southern train carrying 62 tank cars of denatured ethanol derailed early Febr.6 in Arcadia, Ohio, with many catching fire and creating what was described as a 'huge fireball that could be seen for up to 15 miles.' No injuries were reported to the crew or others in the derailment of 26 of the tank cars, but residents of 30 homes in the rural area, about 50 miles south of Toledo, were evacuated. [United Transportation Union, 2-7-11]

ATTORNEY CHARGED IN BLET BRIBERY ALLEGATION: Robert L. McKinney, a lawyer, of Houston, Texas, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery in federally funded programs. He is accused of paying cash bribes to two high-ranking officials in the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. It is alleged that McKinney paid bribes to railroad union officials, including the union president, seeking to represent injured union members. McKinney was a plaintiff's personal injury attorney, specializing in representing injured railroad workers. [United Transportation Union , 2-7-11]

BNSF ANNOUNCES $3.5-B CAPITAL COMMITMENT PROGRAM: BNSF has announced a $3.5-billion capital program for 2011. The largest component of the capital plan is spending $2-billion on BNSF's core network and related assets. BNSF also plans to spend about $450-million to acquire 227 locomotives and approximately $350-million on freight car and other equipment acquisitions. [BNSF, 2-7-11]

MASS BAY LAUNCHES NEW LOCOMOTIVE: Massachusetts officials recently took an inaugural ride aboard a new commuter-rail locomotive. The diesel-electric locomotive is one of two purchased from the Utah Transit Authority at a cost of $7-million, and marks the first time in more than 20 years that MBTA’s commuter-rail fleet will feature new locomotives. In addition, another 20 new locomotives, to be purchased from MotivePower Inc. at a cost of $114-million, will be brought into service in 2013 to replace the 20 oldest and least reliable units in the fleet. [Progressive Railroading website report , 2-7-11]

STRIKE ON CANADIAN PACIFIC AVERTED: Canadian Pacific and the Canadian Auto Workers have reached a new tentative agreement averting a strike the union had planned to launch Febr.8 if the parties failed to negotiate a new contract. CAW Local 101, which represents 2,100 CP shopcraft/mechanical services workers, will present the agreement to members and conduct a ratification vote. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-7-11]

CSXT BOOSTS SPENDING WITH MINORITY SUPPLIERS: CSXT significantly increased its spending on products and services with minority providers in 2010, setting a new record. The company spent nearly $105-million with firms owned by minorities and women. The products and services range from signals to technology. Despite some consolidation among minority suppliers of specialized rail products, CSXT increased its spending with minority suppliers under the Minority Supplier Purchasing Program. That increase was the result of continually updating its supplier database and reaching out to minority firms to encourage participation in competitive bidding. [CSX, 2-7-11]

STORM DISRUPTS TRAVEL: A massive snowstorm hit the northern U.S. Febr.2, halting and delaying travel across the country. Train travel weathered the storm better than its highway and airline counterparts - but some train passengers were faced with delays and cancellations in particularly hard hit areas, especially around Chicago. In the Northeast, travel was halted throughout much the NEC on the afternoon of Febr.2 due to power problems.  Amtrak was able to resume service to most of the network of the NEC by early Febr.3, though delays of 60 to 90 minutes were widespread. The Midwest experienced some cancellations. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 2-4-11]

AFTER MONTH ON THE LOOSE, SNAKE ON TRAIN IS BOSTON FINALLY SNARED: Penelope the pet snake’s long journey on the MBTA came to a happy end Febr.3. The Dumeril’s boa had slithered away from its owner while riding on the Red Line nearly a month ago. Yesterday morning (Febr.3), a Red Line passenger spotted a snake and alerted a motorman. The train was taken out of service, but it was not until 8:30 p.m. that Red Line train attendant Sharon Lynch, a snake owner herself, got Penelope into a box at the JFK/UMass station. “You can’t make this stuff up,’’ Fitzgerald said. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-4-11, from Boston Globe report]

WEEKLY U.S. RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Weekly rail traffic was up over 2010 levels for the week ending Jan. 29, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 291,147 carloads, up 4.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 222,742 trailers and containers, up 9.2 percent compared with the same week in 2010, with container volume up 10.1 percent and trailer volume up 4.4 percent. Fourteen of the 20 carload commodity groups saw increases from the comparable week in 2010. [Assn. of American Railroads, 2-3-11]

UNION PACIFIC TO REPURCHASE UP TO 40-M COMMON SHARES: Union Pacific Corporation has announced that its Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of up to 40 million additional common shares by March 31, 2014. This new program is effective April 1, 2011, replacing the current authorization that will expire March 31, 2011. [Union Pacific, 2-3-11]

RAIL DEPOT TIME CAPSULE OPENED: After Jane Borg learned that a Union Pacific station was to be torn down, she remembered that a time capsule had been placed behind a cornerstone there in 1949. The box was opened, and Borg and U.P. employee David Pickett took out the artifacts. These included several business cards, notes, railroad regulation books and timetables, many of which bore the names of people who have since died and businesses that have faded into history. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 2-3-11, from Register-Pajaronian report]

UNION PACIFIC INCREASING TRAIN SPEED THROUGH CERTAIN WISCONSIN COMMUNITIES: Recent track improvements will allow Union Pacific Railroad to increase the speed of its trains in western Wisconsin communities, reducing motorist wait time at crossings.  The speed will increase from 30 mph to 50 mph across more than 20 miles of Union Pacific's line between Hudson and Menomonie, Wis. [Union Pacific, 2-2-11]  

TRAIN & ENGINE CREW EMPLOYMENT UP OVER 9 PCT IN 2010: U. S. Class I railroads called train crews back to work at a steady pace in 2010, with the result that train and engine employment increased 9.21 percent to 62.027 during the year. [Railway Age website report, 2-1-11]

SEPTA TO ACQUIRE 120 NEW RAIL CARS: SEPTA has approved funding to acquire 120 new Silverliner V regional cars under a contract with Hyundai-Rotem. The cars "will significantly upgrade customer service throughout the regional rail system," SEPTA officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-1-11]

FEDEX LAUNCHING NEW SERVICE USING RAIL INTERMODAL: FedEx Freight Corp. has announced it's launching a new unified less-than-truckload (LTL) network. The changes are designed to meet the needs of today’s LTL shippers, according to the FedEx Corp. subsidiary. The new services will involve rail intermodal, according to Norfolk Southern Railway. FedEx recently selected NS as its preferred eastern rail carrier for the new domestic services. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-1-11]

STREETCAR LINE EXTENSION OPENS IN TAMPA: On Jan.31, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff and other public officials attended the grand opening of a new extension of the TECO Streetcar line in Tampa, Fla. The U.S. Department of Transportation funded nearly the entire $5.3-million project, including $1 million in federal stimulus funds. The one-third mile extension, which elongates the entire line to 2.7 miles, will better connect Tampa’s tourist and entertainment districts, including downtown Tampa. The project also added an eleventh station. [Progressive Railroading website report, 2-1-11]

FORTY-FOUR NEW EMD LOCOMOTIVES FOR MEXICO: Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. has announced it signed an agreement with Ferromex regarding the purchase of 44 new SD70ACe locomotives - the Mexican railroad’s first new locomotive order since 2006. The 4,300-horsepower unit features EMD’s two-stroke 710 engine. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-31-11]

FOUR AMTRAK LOCOMOTIVES GETTING HERITAGE PAINT SCHEMES: Amtrak will celebrate 40 years providing intercity and high-speed passenger rail service to the nation. Preparations are now underway for several activities to commemorate the occasion. The first sign of celebration occurred on January 30 in Chicago when the first of four P-42 diesel-electric locomotives with one of four historic paint schemes entered regular revenue service. All four locomotives will be in service by the end of April and operate on trains across the Amtrak national network. [Amtrak, 1-31-11]

LIGHT-RAIL LINE GETS ONE-MILE EXTENSION IN BAYONNE: New Jersey Transit dedicates its latest extension of Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit Jan.31, adding roughly one mile to the system’s southern terminus. The addition will stretch HBLRT from 22nd Street in Bayonne to 8th Street Station, former site of a Central of New Jersey Railroad stop with the same name. [Railway Age website report, 1-28-11]

STORM DISRUPTS TRAVEL IN N.E.: Amtrak passengers were faced with delays along the Northeast Corridor as the East Coast was hit with yet another snow storm Jan.26. As much as a foot of snow was dropped in areas all along the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions, wreaking havoc with air service and forcing some cancellations on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor service Thursday.  However, the railroad reported that service had returned to normal by Friday morning. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-28-11]

KCS REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Kansas City reported fourth quarter 2010 revenues of $479-million, reflecting continued improvement in economic conditions in the markets served. Revenue growth was experienced across all commodity groups. Reported operating income for the fourth quarter was $135-million, representing a 47 percent increase from a year ago [Kansas City Southern, 1-27-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Weekly rail traffic saw modest year-over-year gains for the week ending Jan. 22, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 282,837 carloads, up 1.5 pct compared with the same week in 2010. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 213,206 trailers and containers, up 6.2 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 1-27-11]

PRESIDENT TOUTS HIGH-SPEED RAIL IN STATE-OF-THE-UNION ADDRESS: In his state-of-the union speech, President Obama singled out high-speed rail as "the most reliable way to move people," saying that "within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail.." The White House press office said the president will release more details on his desires for high-speed rail, transit and Amtrak improvements when he delivers his fiscal-year 2012 budget request to Congress in early February. [United Transportation Union, 1-26-11]

CANADIAN PACIFIC REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. has announced revenue in the fourth-quarter increased 13 per cent with gains across all lines of business.  Reported net income in the fourth-quarter was $186-million, an increase of 27 per cent. [Canadian Pacific, 1-26-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Norfolk Southern Corporation reports fourth-quarter 2010 net income of $402-million or $1.09 per diluted share, 31 percent higher compared with $307-million or $0.82 per diluted share for the same quarter of 2009. Income from railway operations improved 17 percent to $642-million. [Norfolk Southern, 1-25-11]

NORFOLK SOUTHERN INCREASES DIVIDEND: Norfolk Southern Corporation's board of directors has voted to increase the regular quarterly dividend on the company's common stock by 11 percent, or 4 cents per share, from 36 to 40 cents per share. The increased dividend is payable on March 10 to stockholders of record on Febr. 4. [Norfolk Southern, 1-25-11]

BNSF TO SERVE BAKKEN SHALE RAILPORT IN N.D.: Savage Companies has announced plans to build a large multi-user rail terminal in Trenton, N.D., that will be served by BNSF Railway. The Trenton Railport is designed to bring rail service to the Bakken Formation oil field to transport various materials, such as tubular, frac sand and unit trains of crude oil. The railport will feature rail infrastructure, open space for oil-field materials storage, and receiving facilities for frac sand and other materials. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-25-11]

NEW ORLEANS STREETCAR EXPANSION PLAN ADVANCES: New Orleans Regional Transit Authority says it expects the to approve completion of design work on the French Quarter streetcar loop. It would travel along North Rampart and then St.Claude between Canal St. and Press St., with a 1.2-mile spur on Elysian Fields Ave. that would connect with the existing Riverfront streetcar line at Esplanade Ave. A second phase, still to be funded, would extend the line to Poland Ave. in the Upper 9th Ward. [Railway Age website report, 1-25-11]

CSX TO INVEST $2-B TO STRENGTHEN RAIL NETWORK: CSX Corporation will invest $2-billion to increase the quality, flexibility and capacity of its rail network. That’s on top of the $1.8-billion the company invested in 2010. The company also said today that it will increase employment by one to two percent in 2011 as business levels continue to return in an improving economy.  CSX currently employs 30,000 people. [CSX, 1-25-11]

CSX REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: CSX Corporation has announced fourth quarter earnings of $430-million or $1.14 per share, versus $303-million or $0.77 per share in the same period last year. This represents a 48 percent year-over-year improvement in earnings per share and a record fourth quarter for the company. [CSX, 1-24-11]

GROUND BROKEN FOR ST. PAUL UNION DEPOT PROJECT: Officials gathered in St. Paul, Minnesota to watch the groundbreaking begin on the renovation of the historic Union Depot, which will be transformed into a regional transportation hub by the time work is finished. The renovations include expanded track capacity, connections to the city’s Central Corridor light rail line currently under construction, and will incorporate access for buses, taxis, and bicycles.  [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-21-11]

GRANTS ANNOUNCED FOR FIVE LIGHT-RAIL SYSTEMS: The Federal Transit Administration has announced Recovery Act grant agreements for the development of light-rail systems in five major cities: Detroit, Dallas, New Orleans, Portland, and Tucson. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-21-11]

UNION PACIFIC OPPOSED TO POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL: UP Chairman Jim Young said he is headed to Washington to meet with President Obama's economic advisers to oppose a congressional mandate that railroads implement crash-avoidance positive train control by year-end 2015. Young said he will be joined by executives from other railroads. The Journal of Commerce reported that Young 'strongly complained about the heavy expense of developing and deploying positive train control technology.' [United Transportation Union, 1-21-11]

ACQUISITION OF SANTA CRUZ BRANCH IN CALIFORNIA APPROVED: The California Dept. of Transportation has approved the acquisition of a Santa Cruz branch line from Union Pacific for $13.8-million, as well as a commitment to make $5-million in line improvements. The acquisition is part of a plan to change the 135-year-old transportation corridor from private freight to public use. The corridor spans the length of Santa Cruz County. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-21-11]

WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC REPORT: Weekly rail traffic continues to register gains for the week ending Jan. 15, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 282,987 carloads, up 7.5 pct compared with the same week in 2010. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 213,486 trailers and containers, up 5.8 pct. [Assn. of American Railroads, 1-20-11]

UNION PACIFIC REPORTS 4-Q EARNINGS: Union Pacific Corporation has reported 2010 fourth-quarter net income of $775-million or $1.56 per diluted share, compared to $549-million or $1.08 per diluted share in the fourth-quarter 2009. Fourth-quarter business volumes, as measured by total revenue carloads, grew 9 percent versus 2009. [Union Pacific, 1-20-11]

GE ANNOUNCES $2-B IN CHINESE DEALS: During Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the United States this week, General Electric will sign five agreements with Chinese partners that will bring an estimated $2-billion in revenue to the company. A GE announcement said the five joint ventures, partnerships, and orders in the clean energy, aviation, and railroad sectors are expected to generate more than $1 billion in exports from the U.S. [Railway Age website report, 1-19-11]

MARC TRAIN STRIKES MAN AT GAITHERSBURG, MD.: An eastbound MARC commuter train struck and killed a man the morning of Jan.14, 2011, at the crossing at Gaithersburg, Md. According to a news report, the 81-year old man was hurrying across the tracks to try to board the train when he was struck. All train traffic halted for more than two hours because of the incident, according to the report.

COALITION BEING FORMED TO REINFORCE ORLANDO-TAMPA RAIL PROJECT: A Florida business lobby announced Jan. 12 that they would be forming a high-speed rail coalition to ensure that the Orlando-Tampa passenger rail project stays on track in the face of recent criticism. The statement by the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) comes a week after a study by the Reason Foundation attacked the project, citing the potential costs to taxpayers. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-13-11]

STORM DISRUPTS AMTRAK NEC SERVICE: A massive winter storm that hit the east coast on the evening of Jan.11, 2011, delayed train service in much of the Northeast while crews dealt with the resulting damage. The storm - which came on the heels of a large snowfall in December - abbreviated service north of New Haven, Connecticut. Local news sources reported multiple fallen trees. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-13-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: Rail traffic was up for the first week in 2011 ending January 8, with U.S. freight railroads originating 285,108 carloads, up 20.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal traffic for the week totaled 213,665 trailers and containers, up 8.6 percent. [Assn. of American Railroads, 1-13-11]

CP BUDGETS $1-B FOR 2011 CAPITAL EXPENDITURES: Canadian Pacific announced it plans to spend between $950 million and $1.05 billion on capital expenditures in 2011. Last year, the Class I’s capex budget approached $800 million. The 2011 capex plan will focus on gaining efficiencies through a long train strategy, and sustained repair facility and yard consolidations as business levels return, the officials said. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-12-10]

CSX OFFERING ‘SUPER SITES’ TO RAIL CUSTOMERS: Leveraging the economic and environmental benefits of rail, customers committed to 130 new or expanded facilities on CSX lines in 2010. The facilities are located in 18 states. CSX offers pre-certified “super sites” to businesses seeking locations for expansions or startups, as well as track design and logistics expertise. [CSX, 1-10-11]

ENGINE FIRE ON LAKE SHORE LIMITED: Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited had a fire in its rear locomotive (No.70) the afternoon of January 9, 2011, at Rotterdam, N.Y., east of Schenectady. According to news reports, the fire was extinguished while passengers remained on board the train and no injuries were reported.

EUGENE GARFIELD DIES, FOUNDER OF AUTO-TRAIN: Eugene Garfield, 74, who created the American Auto-Train concept, has died. Garfield oversaw work by the Transportation Department examining the feasibility of moving passenger customers’ automobiles by train between the Northeast and Florida. In 1968, he determined to act on that recommendation, forming Auto-Train Corp., which operated from 1971 to 1981. Amtrak revived the Auto-Train in 1983. [Railway Age website report, 1-7-11]

STB PROPOSES NEW REGULATION FOR AMTRAK DETOURS: The Surface Transportation Board has proposed a new regulation that would give Amtrak emergency access to freight lines to ensure the continued operation of intercity passenger trains in a scenario where a catastrophe knocks out a service corridor. The STB could designate a freight line as a temporary alternate route.  The rule would also provide the STB with authority to indemnify the freight railroad against liability in case of an accident where passengers were harmed. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-7-11]

AMTRAK CALIFORNIA RIDERSHIP CONTINUES TO GROW: Amtrak California’s routes - the Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner - rank among the top five busiest passenger rail corridors in the entire nation. The service carried over 5.1 million passengers in fiscal year 2010 - or 18.8 percent of the Amtrak’s 27.1 million intercity train passengers carried. [National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 1-7-11]

JIM BOYD DIES: Jim Boyd has passed away. He started with Carstens Publications working on Flying Models and later Railroad Model Craftsman. He served as editor of Railfan & Railroad from the magazine's inception in 1974 until 1998, and continued as editor emeritus and author of the popular Camera Bag column until his passing. [Steve Barry, Railfan & Railroad magazine, 1-6-11]

VIA RAIL UPDATING ROLLING STOCK FLEET: VIA Rail Canada is investing $923-million to update its rolling stock fleet. The renewal program calls for refurbishment of 78 HEP1 stainless-steel cars, including 40 sleeping and 13 dining cars; an overhaul of 21 locomotives for the Canadian route between Vancouver and Toronto; refurbishment of the Skyline and Park dome-lounge cars; overhaul of coaches on the Ontario-Quebec corridor routes; and renovation of 21 Renaissance coaches on routes between Quebec and Toronto and Montreal and Halifax, including improvements to economy and sleeping cars on the overnight Ocean service. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-6-11]

WEEKLY RAIL FREIGHT TRAFFIC REPORT: An increase in weekly rail traffic was reported for the post-holiday week ending Jan. 1, 2011, with U.S. freight railroads originating 240,073 carloads, up 5.6 pct compared with the same week in 2009. [Assn. of American Railroads, 1-6-11]

PATRIOT RAIL ACQUIRES SIX WAYERHAEUSER SHORT LINES: Patriot Rail has announced ithas acquired six short lines from Weyerhaeuser Co. The transaction boosted Patriot Rail's short-line holdings to 13. The acquired short lines include the: DeQueen and Eastern Railroad; Texas, Oklahoma & Eastern Railroad; Columbia & Cowlitz Railway; Patriot Woods Railroad; Golden Triangle Railroad; and Mississippi & Skuna Valley Railroad. [Progressive Railroading website report, 1-6-10]

BOMBARDIER LANDS LATVIA CONTRACT: Bombardier Transportation has been awarded a contract in Latvia for its INTERFLO 200 signaling, to be used in the ‘Second Railway Track Construction, Skrivery-Krustpils’ project. The contract, valued at $12.3-million, includes the design, installation, testing, and commissioning of INTERFLO 200 for approximately 62 miles of double-track right-of-way with five stations. [Railway Age website report, 1-5-10]

ROGER LEWIS DIES, RAILWAY AGE PUBLISHER: Robert Lewis, 95, publisher of Railway Age from 1956 until not long before he retired from the company in 1995, died January 5 in Florida. He began his career with the Pennsylvania Railroad in the operations department in 1934. He briefly worked for the Bessemer & Lake Erie in 1940, and returned to the Pennsylvania before joining the U.S. Navy in December 1941. After the war he returned to the Pennsylvania before joining as an Associate Editor of Railway Age in 1947. He was named publisher in 1956. [Railway Age website report, 1-5-11]

NS LAMBERTS POINT PIER 6 COMPLETES SECOND LARGEST COAL LOADING: Norfolk Southern has completed loading the second largest cargo in the history of its Pier 6 coal transloading facility at Lamberts Point in Norfolk. On Dec. 27, 2010, Norfolk Southern finished loading 155,522 net tons of coal into the M/V Cape Provence. Pier 6 opened for business in 1962 as the hemisphere's largest, fastest, and most efficient transloading facility. [Norfolk Southern, 1-4-11]