Railroad News

Rail supplier news from Alstom, Transdev, Siemens, VAI, Savage and Transport Strategies (Sept. 18)

Rail News Home Railroading Supplier Spotlight 9/18/2020 Rail News: Railroading Supplier Spotlight
image Alstom has signed a sale and purchase agreement for the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation.Photo – Alstom

Alstom has signed a sale and purchase agreement with Bombardier Inc. and Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ) for the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation. The price range for the acquisition of 100 percent of Bombardier Transportation shares was revised and reduced by $355 million to be between $6.5 billion to $6.98 billion. The proceeds are likely to amount to up to $6.3 billion, Alstom officials said in a press release. Following positive progress on an antitrust regulation process, the closing of the transaction is expected for first-quarter 2021.

Transdev promoted Laura Hendricks to chief executive officer of Transdev U.S. Hendricks previously served as president of Transdev Services. Prior to joining Transdev in 2019, she held executive leadership roles at Coach America, Paint Drop, Merry Maids, Cintas and FedEx. Hendricks succeeds Dick Alexander, who has served in the role on an interim basis since March. Alexander was named special adviser to Thierry Mallet, CEO of the global Transdev Group. In this role, he will focus on strategic projects aimed to expand the company’s global business via acquisitions and partnerships, Transdev officials said in a press release.

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DART to restore light-rail service to near pre-pandemic levels

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 9/18/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image On Oct. 19, Dallas Area Rapid Transit will restore 90 percent of pre-pandemic service levels.Photo – DART

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) yesterday announced it will restore 90 percent of pre-pandemic service levels beginning Oct. 19.

On April 6, DART temporarily reduced service on light-rail and bus services due to lower ridership levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Garneau announces funding for rail safety initiatives

Rail News Home Safety 9/18/2020 Rail News: Safety
image "Our government's renewed commitment to rail safety demonstrates our dedication to supporting projects that keep Canadians safe," said Marc Garneau, Canada's minister of transport.Photo – Transport Canada

Canada's Transport Minister Marc Garneau yesterday announced more than CA$25 million in funding for the Rail Safety Improvement Program.

The funds will support 165 new projects and initiatives that aim to raise public awareness and increase safety at grade crossings and along rail lines, Transport Canada officials said in a press release.

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OIG: Amtrak needs more effective track outage planning

Rail News Home Amtrak 9/18/2020 Rail News: Amtrak
image The Amtrak OIG found that Amtrak doesn't have a multiyear companywide track outage plan.Photo – Amtrak

The Amtrak Office of Inspector General (OIG) found in a recent audit that national intercity passenger railroad has not established certain practices that likely would improve the railroad’s track outage planning and coordination process. As a result, the OIG issued recommendations for Amtrak to adopt.

Following assessment of the effectiveness of the Amtrak’s efforts to plan and coordinate track outages, Amtrak’s OIG found that, starting in 2018, the railroad has built a more disciplined process. The process included implementing new procedures to prioritize capital projects and identify and plan for outages needed to accomplish the projects, according to the management advisory report issued this week.

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Ohio commission OKs two grants for rail infrastructure repair projects

The Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) this week approved grant awards for Cleveland and Cuyahoga Railway LLC (CCRL), an OmniTRAX Inc. property, and Huhtamaki Inc. for rail-related projects.

ORDC approved a grant award of up to $300,000 to CCRL to help repair a stone arch culvert on the railroad's Mahong Subdivision. In June, the embankment adjacent to the culvert failed, requiring the railroad to perform emergency repairs to bring the rail line back into service. Based on the culvert's condition, CCRL took additional action to stabilize the structure and completed the interim repairs. 

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WMATA to consider layoffs, rail service cuts to balance budget

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 9/18/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image WMATA’s board must consider $200 million in spending cuts in the event that federal relief ends.Photo – WMATA Facebook

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) board today voted on cost-cutting measures, including potential service cuts and layoffs, that will be necessary to balance the agency’s budget.

The actions would be necessary if federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding runs out without new revenue.

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SLSI's safety assessment tool 'transferable' to commuter railroads, report says

Rail News Home Safety 9/18/2020 Rail News: Safety
image The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) yesterday shared its recently published study that shows its safety culture assessment (SCA) process is transferrable from freight to commuter railroads. The report also suggests that commuter operations would benefit from SLSI's services, institute officials said in a press release. The SLSI conducted a pilot study with a commuter-rail operator last year by using the SCA process. The study's purpose was to investigate the extent to which the SCA process could be adapted and applied to commuter or transit-rail operations. Two notable changes were made to protocols and procedures to conduct the study. Despite those changes, the study found the SLSI's SCA model is transferable from freight to commuter operations, according to a Federal Railroad Administration report on the study. An analysis of the methodology and results of the SCA conducted at the commuter railroad indicated that the process was able to produce the same result as an SCA performed at a freight railroad. The SLSI assessor team helped the commuter railroad find opportunities for improvement that may ultimately improve safety on its properties, SLSI officials said. "Based on the study results, we are excited about the possibility of providing support to commuter operations, as a demonstrated, strong safety culture is an industry-wide mission [that's] not limited to just freight railroads," said SLSI Executive Director Tom Murta. The SLSI has been conducting voluntary, nonpunitive and confidential SCAs on short-line and regional freight railroads since 2015. The SCA is an evaluation based on the U.S. Department of Transportation Safety Council's Ten Core Elements for a Strong Safety Culture. After the SCA is completed, the institute offers technical assistance to railroads interested in making changes to improve the safety cultures at their organizations.      

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UP awards millions in grants to pandemic-related efforts

Rail News Home Union Pacific Railroad 9/18/2020 Rail News: Union Pacific Railroad
image UP SVP and Chief Administrative Officer Scott Moore is president of the Union Pacific Foundation.Photo – up.com

Union Pacific Railroad's Community Ties Giving Program has awarded $10.2 million in local grants to more than 930 nonprofit organizations across the Class I's 23-state system.

Traditionally, UP awards grants in the company's three philanthropic priorities: safety, workforce development and community spaces. However, this year, nearly $7 million is being awarded to efforts to address needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, UP officials said in a press release.

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UP awards millions in grants to pandemic-related efforts

Rail News Home Union Pacific Railroad 9/18/2020 Rail News: Union Pacific Railroad
image UP SVP and Chief Administrative Officer Scott Moore is president of the Union Pacific Foundation.Photo – up.com

Union Pacific Railroad's Community Ties Giving Program has awarded $10.2 million in local grants to more than 930 nonprofit organizations across the Class I's 23-state system.

Traditionally, UP awards grants in the company's three philanthropic priorities: safety, workforce development and community spaces. However, this year, nearly $7 million is being awarded to efforts to address needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, UP officials said in a press release.

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SCVTA seeks contractor feedback for BART project

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 9/17/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Issuing RFIF’s enables SCVTA officials to hear directly from the construction industry leaders on how best to structure the contracts to deliver the BART Silicon Valley Phase II extension project.Photo – BART Facebook

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (SCVTA) yesterday issued the first of four request for industry feedbacks (RFIF) to gauge contractor interest and gather feedback on the scope of the contracts to be awarded for the SCVTA’s BART Silicon Valley Phase II extension project. 

The contractors and subcontractors ultimately awarded these contracts will complete the design and collectively build the six-mile, four-station extension of the regional Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system into downtown San Jose and Santa Clara, California. 

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Pacific Harbor Line, BLET sign five-year labor contract

Rail News Home Labor 9/17/2020 Rail News: Labor
image Pacific Harbor Line Inc. (PHL) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) have signed a new five-year contract that will take effect Sept. 20. The labor agreement will govern rates of pay, benefits and work rules for 150 of PHL's 189 employees. Included in the contract are wage increases, a matching 401(k) savings plan, a signing bonus and no increases in employee health and welfare contributions for the life of the contract, union and PHL officials said in a press release. The contract was ratified Sept. 4 by a majority of BLET's PHL members and signed Sept. 15. BLET Division 214 in Long Beach, California, has represented PHL members since the railroad was formed in 1998. PHL provides railroad switching services to customers in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.  

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MTA seeks Westbury Station TOD proposals

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 9/17/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The LIRR Westbury Station TOD (rendering pictured) may include mixed-use multifamily residential and public open space with retail or commercial elements.Photo – MTA Flickr

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has issued a request for proposals for a transit-oriented development (TOD) on the south side of MTA Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Westbury Station in New York.

MTA is offering a 99-year ground lease on 1.6 acres. The lease has the potential to raise millions of dollars for MTA, in addition to generating revenue for the local community by creating jobs and enlarging the tax base, MTA officials said in a press release.

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AAR: Carload and intermodal volumes fall in Week 37

U.S. freight railroads logged 474,785 carloads and intermodal units during the week ending Sept. 12, a 9.9 percent decrease compared with the same week in 2019, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Total carloads for the week were 214,142 units, down 15.2 percent, while intermodal volume was 260,643 containers and trailers, down 5 percent.

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OmniTRAX adds sites along Georgia & Florida Railway to rail-ready program

Rail News Home Short Lines & Regionals 9/17/2020 Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals
image OmniTRAX Inc. yesterday announced the launch of its Rail-Ready Sites program along the 222-mile Georgia & Florida Railway (GFRR) in coordination with nine counties across south Georgia and north Florida. The company is collaborating with economic development organizations in the counties to market and develop eight initial sites along the GFRR, with parcels ranging from 36 to 458 acres, OmniTRAX officials said in a press release. GFRR has several interchanges with CSX and Norfolk Southern Railway, and works with shippers in the agriculture, energy, manufacturing, construction aggregates, building products and scrap metal processing industries. "We're working closely with our economic development partners to attract new companies to the region that can capitalize on the assets found here," said Justin Strickland, OmniTRAX's director of economic development. "We will continue those efforts by offering a wide variety of supporting logistics services to ensure the success of new and existing businesses." Economic development organizations involved in the effort are in Dougherty, Mitchell, Thomas, Worth, Brooks, Cook and Colquitt counties in Georgia and Madison and Taylor counties in Florida. OmniTRAX's Rail-Ready Sites program connects customers interested in locating on rail-served properties.

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Metra elects Brown as chair

Rail News Home Railroading People 9/17/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Romayne BrownPhoto – Metra

Metra's board yesterday elected Romayne Brown as chair, effective Nov. 1. 

Brown, who represents Cook County, Illinois, on the board, will succeed Norman Carlson. Carlson will remain on the board as vice chair. 

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NJ Transit breaks ground on Raritan Bridge replacement

Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way 9/17/2020 Rail News: Maintenance Of Way
image The new Raritan Bridge will integrate resilient structural designs and materials to withstand future storm surges.Photo – New Jersey Office of the Governor Youtube

New Jersey Transit yesterday broke ground on the construction of the Raritan River Bridge replacement project, which will replace the existing 112-year-old swing-span bridge that carries NJ Transit’s North Jersey Coast Line trains over the Raritan River between Perth Amboy and South Amboy. 

The current bridge was damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and, as a result, has recurring maintenance issues. The new bridge will integrate resilient structural designs and materials to withstand future storm surges and be significantly less vulnerable to severe weather events, according to a press release from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s office. 

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USDOT announces full list of FY20 BUILD grant awards

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 9/17/2020 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoPhoto – dot.gov

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao yesterday announced the award of $1 billion in federal grant awards for fiscal-year 2020 to 70 transportation infrastructure projects in 44 states.

The funds were awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program. The grants are for planning and capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and were awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact. BUILD funding supports roads, bridges, transit, rail ports or intermodal transportation.

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Metrolink partners with sheriff’s departments to encourage crossing safety

Rail News Home Safety 9/16/2020 Rail News: Safety
image Los Angeles and Orange County Sheriff's deputies will conduct education and enforcement operations to encourage safe behavior at crossings.Photo – Metrolink

Metrolink has partnered with the Los Angeles and Orange County sheriff’s departments to reduce traffic and pedestrian violations along Metrolink’s Orange County and Inland Empire-Orange County commuter-rail lines in Southern California.

Sheriff's deputies will conduct education and enforcement operations in Santa Ana, California, to encourage drivers and pedestrians to engage in safe behavior at crossings. Community members will be educated on the importance of safety laws to save lives, Metrolink officials said in a press release.

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Metra rolls out campaign to bolster rider confidence during pandemic

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 9/16/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image “The thrust of this effort is to tell our customers that we’re ready for them when they’re ready for us," said Metra CEO Jim Derwinski.Photo – Metra Facebook

Metra yesterday unveiled a campaign to highlight its pandemic response to show riders that the Chicago commuter-rail service is safe to use.

The campaign will highlight Metra’s previous deep-cleaning efforts on all rail cars and stations; current daily cleaning and disinfecting practices; safety protocols like mask and social distancing requirements; the use of air filters; and the installation of hand sanitizer dispensers on each rail car. 

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MassDOT dashboard tracks COVID-19 impact on transportation

Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends 9/16/2020 Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
image MassDOT is collecting data and monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 on transportation.Photo – MassDOT Mobility Dashboard

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has unveiled its "Mobility Dashboard" to help the public understand the effects of COVID-19 on the state's transportation network.

MassDOT is collecting data and monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 on transportation, including on roadways and transit services. Updated weekly, the dashboard will serve as an interactive roundup of key indicators that reflect how much people are traveling, how they're getting around and where they're going in the state, MassDOT official Klark Jessen wrote on the agency's blog.

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