Railroad News

DCTA recognized for financial transparency

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 4/6/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts recognized DCTA for “outstanding efforts” in making spending and revenue information available.Photo – DCTA

The Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) has been recognized by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts for financial transparency. 

DCTA received a ‘star’ in the comptroller’s Transparency Stars program for “outstanding efforts” in making spending and revenue information available, DCTA officials said last week in a press release.

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Pandemic update: Transit-rail agencies continue service reductions

Rail News Home Security 4/6/2020 Rail News: Security
image The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District has scaled back rail service by 50 percent.Photo – CDC

Several passenger-rail agencies are further reducing service and implementing other measures to continue to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Following is a summary of recent updates by agency:
 

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LA Metro advances Purple Line subway extension

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 4/6/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Pictured: LA Metro contracted crews preparing a wall form for a concrete pour inside the Wilshire/La Cienega Station.Photo – LA Metro

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) last week announced construction milestones on the Purple Line subway extension project to connect riders between downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Westwood, California.

Construction on the Wilshire/La Brea Station passed the half-way mark to completion. The Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega stations are 41 percent and 29 percent completed, respectively.

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Alaska Railroad postpones launch of summer passenger service

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 4/6/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image "Delaying the start of our summer season wasn't a decision we took lightly, but we believe it to be in the best interest of our passengers, crews and the communities we serve," said President and Chief Executive Officer Bill O'Leary.Photo – Alaska Railroad Corp.

Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) has extended temporary operational changes for passenger-rail operations in response to national and international health agency guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic.

ARRC will suspend Aurora Winter Train through the end of the current winter season. In addition, the Coastal Classic Train will begin daily scheduled service July 1; the Denali Star Train northbound service will begin July 1 and daily bi-directional service will begin July 2; Glacial Discovery Train daily scheduled service will begin July 3; and Hurricane Turn Train will operate May 7 and June 4, while maintaining social distancing requirements, and standard Thursday-Monday summer service will begin July 2.

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KCS to hike train speed near Barksdale Air Force Base

Rail News Home Kansas City Southern 4/6/2020 Rail News: Kansas City Southern
image Kansas City Southern will increase train speed from 20 mph to 49 mph on 1.8 miles of track between Benton Road Overpass and the west gate of Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana, by mid-May, the Class I announced late last week. The maximum speed will be raised incrementally, starting with 25 mph on April 12, followed by 30 mph on April 19; 35 mph on April 26; 40 mph on May 3; 45 mph on May 10; and 49 mph on May 17. The train speed increase on the track segment was made possible by the completion of a major track improvement project, KCS officials said in a press release.  

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KCS to hike train speed near Barksdale Air Force Base

Rail News Home Kansas City Southern 4/6/2020 Rail News: Kansas City Southern
image Kansas City Southern will increase train speed from 20 mph to 49 mph on 1.8 miles of track between Benton Road Overpass and the west gate of Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana, by mid-May, the Class I announced late last week. The maximum speed will be raised incrementally, starting with 25 mph on April 12, followed by 30 mph on April 19; 35 mph on April 26; 40 mph on May 3; 45 mph on May 10; and 49 mph on May 17. The train speed increase on the track segment was made possible by the completion of a major track improvement project, KCS officials said in a press release.  

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MTA reviews proposals for subway signal modernization

Rail News Home Communication and Signal 4/6/2020 Rail News: Communication and Signal
image The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Transit Innovation Partnership last week hosted a digital event to review proposals for modernizing MTA New York City Transit's subway signaling system.  MTA officials hosted more than 150 video conference presentations and question-and-answer sessions from 17 technology companies as part of the agency’s signaling challenge.  The signaling challenge enlists the world’s top transportation technology innovators to identify ways to make existing subway cars compatible with new signaling technology as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, MTA officials said in a press release. During the event, invited companies presented solutions such as ultra-wideband and other wireless communications and radio technologies, LiDAR mapping systems, collision avoidance systems, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics.  Subject matter experts are now evaluating the proposals based on criteria that include how much they would improve the subway system’s safety, on-time performance and operational flexibility.  Companies whose solutions are chosen could proceed to work collaboratively with the MTA to further test, develop or explore implementing them.

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CN moved record amount of grain in March

Rail News Home Canadian National Railway - CN 4/6/2020 Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN
image CN marked a record March for grain moved by rail, Canadian news outlets reported last week. The railroad moved 2.62 million tonnes of grain last month, a 6 percent increase from March 2017, the previous record CN set for March. The record comes as the Class I works to clear up a backlog built after a month of political blockades set up across the country in February. High demand for flour and durum from mills during the COVID-19 pandemic will likely drive high grain volumes in the coming months, as producers seek to shore up staple reserves, said CN Grain Director David Przednowek, according to news reports.

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CN moved record amount of grain in March

Rail News Home Canadian National Railway - CN 4/6/2020 Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN
image CN marked a record March for grain moved by rail, Canadian news outlets reported last week. The railroad moved 2.62 million tonnes of grain last month, a 6 percent increase from March 2017, the previous record CN set for March. The record comes as the Class I works to clear up a backlog built after a month of political blockades set up across the country in February. High demand for flour and durum from mills during the COVID-19 pandemic will likely drive high grain volumes in the coming months, as producers seek to shore up staple reserves, said CN Grain Director David Przednowek, according to news reports.

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Garneau orders speed restrictions on key, higher-risk trains

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 4/6/2020 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image Transport Minister Marc GarneauPhoto – Transport Canada

Canada's Transport Minister Marc Garneau late last week announced new rail safety measures aimed at reducing train derailments.

The ministerial order requires speed restrictions for the following:
• key trains that have one or more loaded tank cars of dangerous goods that are toxic by inhalation or contain 20 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods; and
• higher-risk trains that carry crude oil or liquefied petroleum gases in a continuous block of 20 or more tank cars or 35 or more tank cars dispersed throughout the train.

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Transit-rail agencies implement crew, rider distancing measures

Rail News Home Security 4/3/2020 Rail News: Security
image Metra closed the cab car on all trains to passengers to protect train crews from potential exposure to COVID-19.Photo – CDC

Metra in Chicago yesterday announced it has closed the cab car on all trains to passengers to protect its train crews from potential exposure to COVID-19.

Last week, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) also installed plexiglass enclosures for booth attendants at Tower City Station to ensure distancing between riders and staff. Next week, GCRTA next will begin using ultra violet technology (UV-C) to enhance its disinfectant procedures at stations and on trains.

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APTA calls for infrastructure bill in response to COVID-19

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 4/3/2020 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) endorsed U.S. Democratic House leaders' call this week for work on a fourth economic recovery legislative package in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with the next bill focused on infrastructure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter Fazio (D-Ore.) spoke April 1 about their plan to address the nation's growing infrastructure needs through their Moving Forward Framework, an infrastructure package first proposed in January. The proposal calls for a $489 billion investment over five years in surface transportation, including $105 billion for public transit and $55 billion for passenger rail. The proposal would follow the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) that President Donald Trump signed into law last week. The CARES Act was the third in a series of bills that Congress passed and Trump signed to address the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the nation. "Increased investment in infrastructure creates jobs and strengthens local economies, and that is exactly what America needs right now," said APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas in a press release. "As the nation moves forward and works to address the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, renewed investment in public transportation infrastructure will provide a solid economic foundation for recovery." APTA has proposed a $178 billion investment over six years is necessary to restore transit and passenger-rail systems to a state of good repair.  

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FRA awards CRISI grants to four South Dakota rail projects

Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way 4/3/2020 Rail News: Maintenance Of Way
image The South Dakota Department of Transportation announced last week that four rail projects in the state have been awarded grants under the Federal Railroad Administration's Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program. The State Railroad Board approved grant request applications and dollar amounts for the following projects: • Dakota and Iowa Railroad's mainline replacement and crossing improvement project, $3.99 million;
• Ellis and Eastern Railroad's Sioux Falls area bridges, $3.9 million;
• Belle Fourche Industrial and Rail Park's project to expand rail-car capacity, $1.9 million; and
• Sisseton Milbank Railroad's Lake Farley Bridge replacement, $1.5 million. The funds were awarded under the CRISI program's Special Transportation Circumstances Grant Program, state transportation officials said in a press release.

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San Mateo County transit board OKs Caltrain sales tax ballot measure

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 4/3/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image If the measure is passed, it would generate over $100 million per year to support Caltrain’s operation.Photo – Caltrain Facebook

The San Mateo County Transit District's (SMCTD) board earlier this week authorized Caltrain to place a 1/8-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties in California.

If passed, the measure would generate more than $100 million annually to support Caltrain’s operation and expansion of electrified rail service.

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MTA HQ redevelopment revenue to support capital program

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 4/3/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New York City officials yesterday announced an agreement to dedicate future ground lease revenue from the redevelopment of MTA’s former headquarters site to the MTA capital program.  Redevelopment of the former headquarters on Madison Avenue in East Midtown into a transit-oriented development is expected to generate more than $1 billion in real estate taxes and other revenue over the life of the ground lease to fund approved transit projects.  The plan also calls for construction of a new entrance to the Grand Central Terminal and the MTA Long Island Rail Road terminal in 2022. The agreement helps New York City fulfill its obligation to provide $600 million from alternative non-tax-levy revenue sources as part of its $2.66 billion contribution to the MTA’s 2015-2019 capital program, MTA officials said in a press release. The Madison Avenue site served as the MTA’s headquarters from 1979 until 2014.

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Washington Gov. Inslee signs minimum train crew bill

Rail News Home Labor 4/3/2020 Rail News: Labor
image Gov. Jay InsleePhoto – Gov. Inslee's Facebook

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on March 27 signed legislation establishing minimum two-person train crews on certain railroads.

H.B. 1841 authorizes the state's Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) to issue fines for violations. Although the legislation called for the requirement to take effect immediately, Inslee vetoed that section of the bill to give the UTC time to develop rules governing the new law.

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Illinois panel OKs funding for 1,400 grade crossing improvements

Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way 4/3/2020 Rail News: Maintenance Of Way
image An Amtrak train traveled through an upgraded high-speed rail crossing in Williamsville, Illinois, in September 2019.Photo – JJ11 / Shutterstock.com

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) earlier this week approved a five-year, $315 million plan for grade crossing safety capital projects across the state.

The funds will be dispersed by the Grade Crossing Protection Fund to help local communities and railroads pay for safety improvements at more than 1,400 crossings during fiscal years 2021-2025, ICC officials said in a press release.

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FTA allocates $25 billion in virus aid to transit agencies

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 4/3/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act allocates $22.7 billion to large and small urban areas and $2.2 billion to rural areas.Photo – dot.gov

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday announced a total of $25 billion in federal funding allocations to help public transit agencies respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Funding is provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which President Donald Trump signed March 27. The act allocates $22.7 billion to large and small urban areas and $2.2 billion to rural areas. 

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Rail supplier news from Gradall, MacAllister, FreightCar America and SENER (April 2)

Rail News Home Railroading Supplier Spotlight 4/2/2020 Rail News: Railroading Supplier Spotlight
image Gradall Industries named MacAllister Railroad Machinery an authorized distributor for Gradall TrackStar Railway Maintenance Machines.Photo – Gradall

Gradall Industries Inc. has named MacAllister Railroad Machinery as an authorized distributor for Gradall TrackStar Railway Maintenance Machines, as well as factory-authorized parts and service.

FreightCar America temporarily shut down rail-car production at its Shoals, Alabama, manufacturing facility after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. Employees will return April 7 after the company completes its cleaning protocol. The suspension of production is being done out of an abundance of caution, said FreightCar America President and Chief Executive Officer James Meyer in a press release .

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Metra to begin Itasca Station platform project

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 4/2/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Metra's Itasca Station platform rehabilitation will increase accessibility for riders with disabilities.Photo – Metra

Metra on April 4 will begin a project to rehabilitate platforms at the Itasca Station on the Milwaukee District West Line in Illinois. 

The project is designed to increase accessibility for riders with disabilities, Metra officials said in a press release.

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