Railroad News

San Francisco MTA extends Central Subway completion date

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 9/19/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image SFMTA's Municipal Railway extension in San Francisco was originally scheduled to enter revenue service this year.Photo – SFMTA

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) earlier this week announced it has extended the completion date for the Central Subway project to summer 2021. 

The project, which would extend the Municipal Railway mostly underground from South of Market to Chinatown in San Francisco, was originally scheduled to enter revenue service this year. 

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FTA to fund $19 million in TOD planning

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 9/19/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday announced the availability of $19.2 million in grant funding to support comprehensive planning that improves access to public transit.   FTA will provide the competitive grant funds through a pilot program for transit-oriented development (TOD) planning. The grants aim to encourage mixed-used developments near public transportation to encourage transit access and ridership. To apply for the grants, an applicant must be an FTA grantee — either a project sponsor of an eligible transit project or an entity with land use planning authority in the project corridor, FTA officials said in a press release. Transit project sponsors and land use planning authorities also must partner to conduct planning work.   Applications are due Nov. 18.

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ASLRRA honors short lines for safety performance in Central, Pacific regions

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) earlier this month announced winners of its President's Awards for outstanding safety performance in the association's Central and Pacific regions.

"The recipients of our President’s Award lead our industry in safety, striving each and every day to value safety above all competing priorities,” said ASLRRA President Chuck Baker in an ASLRRA newsletter. "Their impressive performance, with either zero reportable accidents, or the best safety rate below the industry average per man-hour of operations, has led the way to record levels of safety performance for the short line industry.”

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Alaska Railroad issues RFQ for dock replacement project

Rail News Home Short Lines & Regionals 9/19/2019 Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals
image The RFQ, which asks interested parties to describe their capabilities and concepts, stems from an extensive Seward Marine Terminal expansion planning project in 2016-17.Photo – alaskarailroad.com

The Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) from entities interested in pursuing a public-private partnership to replace the aging passenger dock and cruise terminal in Seward, Alaska.

The RFQ, which asks interested parties to describe their capabilities and concepts, stems from an extensive Seward Marine Terminal expansion planning project in 2016-17. The effort resulted in a master plan for developing the railroad's Seward Reserve, including docks, terminal facilities and uplands, ARRC officials said in a press release.

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Minneapolis council awards Green Line light-rail contract to Aldridge-Parsons JV

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 9/19/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Aldridge-Parsons Joint Venture will construct and install overhead catenary lines, traction power and communication systems for the Southwest Light Rail Transit project.Photo – Met Council

The Metropolitan Council yesterday announced that it has awarded the Aldridge-Parsons Joint Venture a $194.4 million contract to build and install systems for a 14.5-mile extension of the Green light-rail line in Minneapolis. 

The contact calls for installation of overhead catenary lines, traction power and communication systems on the Southwest Light-Rail Transit (SWLRT) project, which will connect Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis and serve 16 stations in 2023.

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Class I employment fell in all categories last month

Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends 9/19/2019 Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
image On a year-over-year basis, U.S. Class I employment levels last month declined in all categories.Photo – CSX

In mid-August, U.S. Class Is employed 139,284 workers, down 1.01 percent from mid-July and down 5.98 percent from mid-August 2018, according to Surface Transportation Board employment data.

On a month-over-month basis, all employment categories logged decreases. They were executives, officials and staff assistants, down 0.68 percent to 7,703 employees; professional and administrative, down 0.97 percent to 11,319; maintenance of way and structures, down 0.3 percent to 31,629; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 1.24 percent to 24,627; transportation (other than train and engine), down 0.92 percent to 5,515; and transportation (train and engine), down 1.35 percent to 58,491.

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California high-speed rail board OKs preferred alternatives for northern routes

Rail News Home High-Speed Rail 9/19/2019 Rail News: High-Speed Rail
image The CHRSA board's concurrence of its staff’s route recommendations allows the project to proceed to development.Photo – CHSRA

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) board earlier this week adopted preferred alternatives for the planned high-speed rail (HSR) routes in Northern California. 

The board's action means the authority can move that portion of the project into the development phase, CHSRA officials said in a press release.

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U.S. freight-rail traffic down 3.7 percent so far in 2019

U.S. freight-rail traffic dropped 4.8 percent to 526,734 carloads and intermodal units during the week ending Sept. 24 compared with the same period a year ago, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Carload traffic dipped 6.1 percent to 252,310 during the week, while intermodal volume fell 3.5 percent to 274,424 containers and trailers, AAR officials said in a press release.

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Rail supplier news from Septentrio, ARS, Hitachi, RailComm, ATT and voestalpine Railway Systems Nortrak (Sept. 18)

Rail News Home Railroading Supplier Spotlight 9/18/2019 Rail News: Railroading Supplier Spotlight
image Septentrio is providing global navigation satellite system receivers to Wabtec for its GoLINC™ platform.Photo – Septentrio

Septentrio is providing global navigation satellite system receivers to Wabtec Corp. for its GoLINC™ mobile data center platform operating onboard freight locomotives. The receivers are designed to provide precise positioning information and will be installed on locomotives and on position reference modules along 30,000 miles of track, Septentrio officials said in a press release. 

Appalachian Railcar Services LLC (ARS) has appointed Michael Obertop chief commercial officer to lead sales and business development. Obertop has over 13 years of experience in the rail-car industry, ARS officials said in a press release. Previously, he was vice president of sales and business development for Cad Railway Industries and senior VP of sales and marketing for GBW Railcar Services LLC. He also served for nine years in various roles at American Railcar Industries.

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SkyTrain riders support updated interior for new fleet

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 9/18/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image TransLink’s SkyTrain rider preferences will be considered in the final design of the future SkyTrain fleet.Photo – TransLink Facebook

TransLink SkyTrain riders have weighed in on potential interior layout options for the new fleet of rail cars coming to the Expo Millennium Line in 2023. Slightly more than half of SkyTrain riders have indicated support for forward-facing seating and more flexible-use spaces, TransLink officials said in a press release.

Earlier this year, TransLink surveyed 13,500 riders to prepare for the design and procurement of 200 SkyTrain rail cars that will replace aging Mark I cars and support a fleet expansion, TransLink officials said in a press release.

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North Carolina DOT recognized for multimodal awards program

Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends 9/18/2019 Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
image The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has been recognized nationally for its new initiative to promote investment in multimodal transportation projects.The National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), a network of regional economic development planning groups, honored the NCDOT with the Impact Award for department's new Mobi Awards program.The Mobi Awards recognize North Carolina communities for developing transportation projects that improved their communities. Examples could include new train and bus stations, bicycle and pedestrian paths and sidewalk improvements. NCDOT announced the first Mobi Awards in April.NCDOT's program was one of 100 projects that NADO judges determined had significant impacts and illustrated diversity in services and program delivery, NCDOT officials said last week in a press release."The Mobi Awards are a powerful way to support and celebrate communities that use multiple modes of transportation to connect people to places. As our population grows and changes, a diverse menu of transportation options is critical to encourage continued economic growth," said Julie White, NCDOT's deputy secretary for multimodal transportation.

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Canadian, U.S. transit agencies launch rail suicide awareness programs

Rail News Home Safety 9/18/2019 Rail News: Safety
image The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority and 211 helpline and crisis lines partnered to place posters on Tri-Rail trains to raise awareness of suicide prevention.Photo – SFRTA

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and Distress Centers of Greater Toronto last week launched a new program providing support to those who witness suicides and suicide attempts in the subway.

Distress Centers' trained volunteers will visit subway stations in the days following a suicide or an attempted suicide to be available to people who may have witnessed or been affected by that event on their commute, TTC officials said in a press release.

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Eco-Energy acquires NS-served Stone Mountain rail terminal

Rail News Home Shippers 9/18/2019 Rail News: Shippers
image Eco-Energy, a biofuel and natural gas marketing supply chain company, has acquired the Stone Mountain processing facility and rail terminal in the southern Appalachian region.The Stone Mountain assets were acquired from Continuum Energy Services for an undisclosed sum.Stone Mountain's gathering system is made up of over 600 miles of gathering pipelines that span Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. The system has a design capacity for 60,000 million cubic feet per day (Mcf/d) and collects gas from over 800 wells that supply the cryogenic processing facility before connecting with the East Tennessee pipeline, Eco-Energy officials said yesterday in a press release.The cryogenic processing plant has capacity of 25,000 Mcf/d with a pipeline connection to the Stone Mountain liquids terminal. The liquids terminal is designed to handle y-grade, propane and butane, and has 24 rail-car spots with access to Norfolk Southern Railway."Stone Mountain will be a strategic foothold in the Southern Appalachian market that complements our commercial marketing platform," said Brian Simpson, Eco-Energy's executive vice president of development.

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O-Train expands light-rail system with Confederation Line

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 9/18/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The O-Train Confederation Line is a 7.7-mile line that connects west and east Ottawa.Photo – City of Ottawa

Ottawa city officials late last week announced the opening of the O-Train’s Confederation Line, marking the expansion of light-rail across Ottawa, Ontario.

The Confederation Line is a 7.7-mile light-rail line connecting 13 stations from Tunney's Pasture in west Ottawa to Blair Station in the east. Construction began in 2013.

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OmniTRAX railroad to serve new cat litter plant in Colorado

Rail News Home Short Lines & Regionals 9/18/2019 Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals
image Intersand will build a 46,000-square-foot production, packaging and distribution facility at Great Western Industrial Park (shown), which is owned by OmniTRAX.Photo – greatwesternindustrialpark.com

OmniTRAX Inc.'s Great Western Railway of Colorado LLC (GWR) will provide direct rail service to a new Intersand America Corp. plant that will be built in the Great Western Industrial Park (GWIP) in Windsor, Colorado, OmniTRAX announced yesterday.

Intersand is a global cat litter producer. Its planned 46,000-square-foot production, packaging and distribution facility will be the company's first U.S. location and the latest addition to GWIP.

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Lawmakers' bill would require safety review of LNG by rail

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 9/18/2019 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) have introduced legislation that would require a comprehensive review into the transport of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail tank cars.The bill (H.R. 4306) follows President Donald Trump's executive order, issued in April, which called U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to fast-track a process that would enable LNG to be moved through the United States in rail tank cars within 13 months. In June, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) took steps to allow LNG by rail "despite having little information about the possible risks to local communities," DeFazio and Malinowski said Sept.16 in a press release.H.R. 4306 would require the FRA and PHMSA to conduct extensive safety testing of rail tank cars to determine whether existing cars are suitable for the safe movement of LNG, requires the agencies to consider operating conditions and benefits to the public and environment, and upon completion of these examinations, requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct an independent evaluation to ensure all review requirements have been satisfactorily met. DeFazio called the Trump administration's plan to allow trains of up to 100 cars filled with LNG to move by rail “extremely reckless.”"Putting LNG into rail cars and moving it through highly populated communities presents a significant risk to the safety of the public and the environment, with the possibility of catastrophic consequences," he said. "Our legislation ensures full disclosure, thorough scientific analysis of risks before the administration can move forward with their proposal."On June 28, the congressmen sent a letter to the PHMSA requesting additional information and an extension of a public comment period on a special permit the administration is considering to allow LNG to be transported by rail in Florida.While the PHMSA responded and agreed to extend the comment period and provided some information, it did not fully comply with their requests, DeFazio and Malinowski said.Last month, they sent a follow-up letter requesting that the PHMSA comply with the statutory requirements for authorizing a special permit by disclosing adequate information and questioning the rationale for moving forward with a special permit without conducting a "proper" safety analysis.

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Concrete, composite and steel tie update 2019

Available through LT Resources Inc., American TieTek composite ties can be installed with standard equipment.Photo – L.T. Resources

Compiled By Pat Foran, Editor

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Annual wood tie market update 2019

Instead of stacking ties as usual, Stella-Jones is immediately providing many of them to customers.Photo – Stella-Jones Corp.

By Jeff Stagl, Managing Editor

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Amtrak to add amenities on select Acela routes

Rail News Home Amtrak 9/17/2019 Rail News: Amtrak
image Amtrak’s inaugural Acela nonstop trip between New York City and Washington, D.C., will include an at-seat cashless cart service.Photo – Amtrak

Starting Sept. 23, Amtrak will provide exclusive amenities on the inaugural trip of its nonstop Acela service between New York City and Washington D.C.

The two-hour and 35-minute service will include complimentary coffee, tea, water and a light snack, as well as an at-seat cashless cart service offering a limited menu of snacks and beverages. Phone-charging kits will be offered for sale.

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Northern Lines Railway launches renovated locomotives

Rail News Home Mechanical 9/17/2019 Rail News: Mechanical
image NLR No. 421 crosses the Sauk River in Waite Park, Minnesota.Photo – NLR/Mark Muraski

Northern Lines Railway (NLR) has put into service two recently renovated GP15 locomotives to provide customers with more reliable service.

The locomotives have 12-cylinder engines that consume less fuel than the 16-cylinder engines in the GP9 units they replace, NLR said in blog posted yesterday.

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