Railroad News

Phoenix names Coleman light-rail administrator

Rail News Home Railroading People 3/8/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
image Markus Coleman has 23 years of experience with the city working on development projects and in transportation.Photo – City of Phoenix

The city of Phoenix has named Markus Coleman as its new light-rail administrator. 

Coleman has 23 years of experience with the city, working on development projects and in transportation, according to a press release. Prior to his new role, he was an engineering technician, plan review coordinator, project manager and had a previous rotation of acting deputy public transit director over transit operations.  

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Congressman's bill would strip California of federal high-speed rail funds

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 3/8/2019 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.)Photo – LaMalfa's Twitter account

U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) earlier this week introduced a bill to require California to return $3.5 billion in federal funds the state received for its high-speed rail program.

H.R. 1515, the High-Speed Refund Act, would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation to retrieve discretionary grant funds provided to California for high-speed rail development and return the money to the federal government for use toward "nationally significant freight and highway projects," according to the legislation.

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Las Vegas convention group, Boring Co. seek approval for autonomous transit system

Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends 3/8/2019 Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
image An artist's rendering of a high-occupancy autonomous electric vehicle that could run between exhibit halls in Las Vegas.Photo – LVDVA

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is seeking approval from its board to select The Boring Co. (TBC) to design, construct and operate autonomous electric passenger vehicles in underground express-route tunnels around the Las Vegas Convention Center, the authority announced in a press release earlier this week.

Upon approval from the board on March 12, the project would have the potential to connect the Las Vegas Convention Center, downtown Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Boulevard Resort Corridor and McCarran International Airport. Following approval, specific plans and contracts would be negotiated in a meeting to be held by June.

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Rail industry reacts to Boardman's death

Rail industry representatives are reacting to the news of former Amtrak leader Joseph Boardman's death, which the railroad announced yesterday.

Boardman, 70, died this week after suffering a stroke while on vacation with his wife and family in Florida, the Rome Sentinel reported. He led Amtrak from 2008 until 2016, when he retired. He also served as administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) from 2005 to 2008 during President George W. Bush's administration.

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California agency awards $13 million in rail project funding

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 3/8/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
imageThe California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) yesterday announced the award of $13.1 million in Senate Bill 1 State Rail Assistance (SRA) funding to help advance nine projects.The projects are "focused investments" to expand intercity rail service across California, reduce air pollution and ease traffic congestion — with an emphasis on emerging corridors, CalSTA officials said in a press release.Projects receiving awards and the amounts include:
• $5.9 million to the Los Angeles-Coachella Valley Corridor/Riverside County Transportation Commission to build the Coachella Festival special event train platform in Indio to allow regular special events service;
• $3.4 million to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for four projects to advance expansion of statewide fleet and maintenance facilities, as well as integrated travel and piloting of new services to fill gaps in Northern California's rail system;
• $1.5 million to Central Coast Corridor/Coast Rail Coordinating Council and San Luis Obispo Council of Governments for pre-construction activities for a King City passenger-rail platform, which will allow service by the existing Coast Starlight and access to Fort Hunter-Liggett U.S. Army Garrison and Pinnacles National Park; and
• $1.4 million to the San Jose-SacramentoAuburn/Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority for pre-construction work of a new siding near Santa Clara-Great America Station.The projects will allow new rail services to be offered that serve the needs of new markets and customers, CalSTA officials said.About $27.6 million of additional program capacity remains until June 30, 2020. Applicants are allowed to propose additional investments on an ongoing basis to supplement those funds.

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UP announces new executive roles for Panzer, Hamann, Grosz

Union Pacific Railroad yesterday announced executive appointments for Jon Panzer, Jennifer Hamann and Gary Grosz.

The appointments take effect April 1, according to a UP press release.

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Colorado DOT names Grauberger project director

Rail News Home Railroading People 3/7/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
imageThe Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger-Rail Commission selected Randy Grauberger as its first project director. Prior to his new role, Grauberger served as senior transportation planning manager at the engineering firm WSP, according to a Feb. 27 commission announcement. He also was employed at the CDOT for more than 28 years, serving in a number of planning positions, including branch manager in the transportation development division. Created in 2017, the commission is charged with developing the Front Range commuter-rail service, overseeing planning, public outreach and implementation strategies. It also is directed to work with Amtrak, BNSF Railway Co., and the states of Kansas and New Mexico to ensure the continuation of Amtrak’s existing Southwest Chief service through southeastern Colorado, according to a press release.

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MBTA opens new commuter-rail station

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 3/7/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The nearly $17 million commuter-rail station officially opened to passengers Feb. 26 after a two-year construction prior that began in 2017.Photo – MBTA

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), state and local officials yesterday marked the opening of the new Blue Hill Avenue commuter-rail station Boston.

Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh joined MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak in cutting the ribbon on the nearly $17 million station yesterday. Construction began in 2017. The station has been open to passengers since Feb. 26.

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Amtrak adds service in Virginia

Amtrak added a second daily roundtrip service to Norfolk, Virginia, as part of the passenger railroad's Northeast Regional service, on March 4. 

The service connects the commonwealth to the Northeast, offering passengers a same-seat trip to and from 17 Virginia stations to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. 

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Short-line tax credit included in proposed tax extenders bill

A House Ways and Means subcommittee will hold a hearing March 12 on a proposed tax extenders package, which includes the 45G short-line tax credit.

The Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee hearing follows the legislation's introduction last week.

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PATH adds Sprint to complete cellphone service coverage

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 2/28/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
imagePort Authority-Trans Hudson's riders will now have coverage from all major U.S. cellphone service providers at PATH stations in New York and New Jersey.  Last week, the agency added Sprint to the three other major cell service providers —Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile — in expanding its service across all stations and platforms.  Cell service from the other providers started in December 2018.  The Sprint access completes the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's effort to install cellular connections in all PATH underground stations, port authority officials said in a press release. PATH serves more than riders on weekdays and 150,000 on weekends. Connectivity is available on platforms and throughout stations, but not while passengers are on trains in tunnels between stations. 

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TSB: Broken axle led to CN coal train derailment

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has found that a broken axle on a freight car led to the January 2018 derailment of a CN train near New Hazelton, British Columbia.

The incident occurred when a CN train moving west at 29 mph experienced a train-initiated emergency brake application near New Hazelton. A subsequent inspection determined that 27 gondola cars loaded with coal derailed, with some of the product spilling into a nearby waterway.

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MTA adjusts fares, tolls as part of reforms

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 2/28/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
imageThe Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board (MTA) yesterday adopted a slate of  fare and toll changes following reform initiatives revealed earlier in the week by MTA, as well as reform proposals announced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.  The MTA's base subway, bus and paratransit fares will remain unchanged at $2.75, while yielding a "much needed" MTA revenue of 4 percent, which is below the rate of inflation, MTA officials said in a press release. But as of April 21, the 30-day unlimited ride MetroCard will increase 5 percent to $127, and the seven-day  unlimited-ride MetroCard will increase 3.1 percent to $33. Those increases along with other fare and toll changes are expected to produce an additional yearly revenue of $336 million, according to MTA.   For more information on the fare and toll changes, click here

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ASLRRA names Oelsner AVP data and technology

Rail News Home Railroading People 2/28/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
imageThe American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) has appointed Fred Oelsner assistant vice president of data and technology. He began his duties Feb. 26. Oelsner is a former associate at ASLRRA’s lobbying partner, Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell LLC. In his  new role, he will focus on managing and utilizing industry data initiatives, as well as managing information technology systems.  His hiring follows ASLRRA's selection of Chuck Baker as the association's new president earlier this year.  Baker was formerly a partner at Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell.

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BNSF unveils capex projects for Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska

BNSF Railway Co. yesterday rolled out more of its state-by-state capital expenditure plans for 2019, announcing $445 million worth of projects slated for Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

In Kansas, the Class I will invest $165 million to replace and upgrade rail, ties and ballast. The maintenance program will include 560 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work, as well as the replacement of 30 miles of rail and 120,000 ties. In addition, BNSF plans to begin a multiyear project to install double track on portions of the Emporia Subdivision, which operates between Wellington and Kansas City.

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NJ Transit to restore full service of Atlantic City Rail Line in May

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 2/28/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
imageNew Jersey Transit will resume full service of the Atlantic City Rail Line (ACRL) and the Princeton Branch (Dinky) on May 24 after being closed since September 2018 for positive train control installation and maintenance inspections, the agency announced today. ACRL and Dinky have been subject to temporal service adjustments, including use of shuttle buses as an alternative service. In January, New Jersey Assemblymen Vincent Mazzeo and John Armato wrote to NJ Transit officials asking for a reopen date. The details of the line closures were not previously disclosed leading to the frustration of many commuters who have “endured crowded daily bus rides and length commutes for months on end,” they wrote.  “We understand that providing this timeline is so important to our customers’ ability to get their lives back to normal,’’ said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “We know that customers were inconvenienced by the service disruptions to the ACRL and the Dinky and I’m pleased that those disruptions will be ending soon.'’  

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U.S. rail traffic down a bit in Week 8

A dip in intermodal volume led to a 1.1 percent decline in total U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 23 compared with the same week a year ago, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

U.S railroads moved 522,630 carloads and intermodal units during the week. Of that, carload volume was 256,954 units, up 2 percent, but intermodal volume was 265,676 containers and trailers, down 3.9 percent compared with 2018's levels.

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Amtrak to provide matching funds for Southwest Chief route

Rail News Home Amtrak 2/28/2019 Rail News: Amtrak
image Amtrak will use the newly available federal capital funding to continue needed work on the next route segment of the Southwest Chief in New Mexico.Photo – amtrak.com

Amtrak will provide a $3 million matching grant to help upgrade track on its Southwest Chief route in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico, the railroad announced yesterday.

The announcement follows the passage of the federal government's fiscal-year 2019 Appropriations Act, which included funding for Amtrak and intercity passenger rail.

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Rail supplier news from RailWorks, Cubic, TRIG, STV, Sassar and KAI (Feb. 27)

RailWorks Corp., a rail track construction and maintenance company, announced it will restructure its leadership team into two divisions: large projects and track maintenance and service group. Led by John Young, the large projects division will focus on large-scale track construction and signal projects for railroads and transit operations. Young has over 20 years of experience in heavy civil works projects for the U.S. Army and several contractors. Led by 30-year railroad industry veteran Richard Carney, the track maintenance and service group division will be responsible for growing the company's regional and maintenance business, as well as the maintenance of way division. Promotions following the restructure include Jason Lauffer from vice president of business development to chief strategy officer, and Glenn Hartick to vice president of procurement. Chris Maynard joins RailWorks subsidiary HSQ Technology as senior vice president. Maynard has 20 years of experience in IT at Siemens Mobility. 

Cubic Corp., Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s technology service provider, appoints Kevin Eagan to senior vice president and chief digital officer. In this role, Eagan will oversee the new contactless fare payment system — coming to New York City subway riders in March — that is designed to replace metro fare cards by 2023. Eagan has 30 years of executive leadership experience at IBM and Microsoft in new product development, IT modernization and creation of digital business models.

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WSDOT, Sound Transit to expand small business mentoring program

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 2/27/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) partnered to begin their mentorship program between small businesses and transportation companies this spring. Launched in July 2018 under the Mentor Protege Program name, WSDOT and Sound Transit will rename the effort to the Capacity Building Mentorship Program. Now in partnership with Sound Transit, the program is designed to foster mentorships among successful large enterprises and emerging small and diverse businesses, according to a WSDOT press release. The program will be geared toward construction and transportation firms, providing opportunities for participates to improve their business practices, grow their firms and develop relationships with other companies. In fall 2017, WSDOT hired THOR Cos., a minority-owned construction company, to develop, support and implement WSDOT's mentorship program. This program is part of WSDOT's diversity roadmap and one of the highlighted efforts of Gov. Jay Inslee’s subcabinet on business diversity.  

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