Railroad News

WMATA leader to seek board approval for operating budget proposal, service changes

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 10/29/2018 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Wiedefeld's recommendations to WMATA's board include increased rail service levels.Photo – WMATA

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld plans to issue several key recommendations to the agency’s board this week, including a fiscal-year 2020 operating budget proposal that calls for no fare hikes and an effort to increase rail service.

Wiedefeld is seeking board approval to expand rush-hour service with more frequent trains later in the morning and evening; charge a flat $2 fare for all weekend Metrorail trips; extend the Yellow Line to Greenbelt to double rush-hour service at nine stations; operate all Red Line trains to Glenmont to double rush-hour service at an additional three stations; lengthen all trains to eight cars; and enhance the value of Metro unlimited rail and bus and passes.

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AASHTO: USDOT to streamline environmental rules to speed up project delivery

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 10/29/2018 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
imageThe U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is expected to issue a final rule today that would streamline environmental requirements in order to speed up the permitting of rail and other surface transportation projects.In a conference call held last week, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) noted that the 131-page final rule would modify certain regulations to include the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), giving it the same flexibility that the FHWA and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have when it comes to environmental procedures under the National Environmental Policy Act, according to a report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).The change should "eliminate confusion and increase efficiency" in terms of documentation requirements, AASHTO officials said.The new rule would reduce duplication of environmental reporting efforts between the FHWA, FRA and FTA. It also would reiterate the ability of state agencies to produce a single environmental document, as well as combine a final environmental impact statement with a record of decision document, AASHTO reported.Moreover, the rule would allow for greater flexibility on projects that occur within the operational right-of-way through the use of "categorial exclusions."

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STB: U.S. Class I workforce steady in September

As of mid-September, U.S. Class Is employed a total 148,171 workers, up 0.02 percent compared with mid-August and up 1.02 percent compared with the same month in 2017, according to Surface Transportation Board data.

Four of six employment categories reflected decreases on a month-over-month basis. Categories that logged decreases since mid-August were executives, officials and staff assistants, down 0.54 percent to 8,414 employees; professional and administrative, down 1.04 percent to 11,852; maintenance of way and structures, down 0.36 percent to 32,493; and transportation (other than train and engine), down 0.67 percent to 5,662.

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American Railcar to be acquired by ITE Rail Fund subsidiary

American Railcar Industries Inc. (ARI) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to merge with a subsidiary of ITE Rail Fund LP in a transaction valued at $1.75 billion.

The merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter. ITE Rail Fund is managed by ITE Management LP.

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California High-Speed Rail Authority OKs EIR for Fresno-Bakersfield segment

Rail News Home High-Speed Rail 10/17/2018 Rail News: High-Speed Rail
image The route will run from Shafter east toward State Route 99 and the existing Union Pacific Railroad tracks before ending in downtown Bakersfield.Photo – California High-Speed Rail Authority

The California High-Speed Rail Authority's (CHSRA) board yesterday certified the final supplemental environmental impact report (EIR) for the Fresno-to-Bakersfield section of the state's plan to build a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The board also approved a high-speed rail alignment between Poplar Avenue in Kern County and the F Street station in downtown Bakersfield. The moves enable CHSRA to take additional steps toward advancing major work on the overall project, agency officials said in a news release.

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CSX reports 'strong performance' in Q3

CSX Corp. yesterday reported third-quarter net earnings jumped 95 percent to $894 million, or $1.05 per share, from $459 million, or 51 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. The per-share earnings beat analysts' estimates for the quarter.

CSX's operating ratio of 58.7 percent set a company third-quarter record. A year ago, CSX posted a third-quarter operating ratio of 68.4 percent.

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Severe weather, proposed tariffs generate uncertainty among tie suppliers

Wood-tie suppliers began 2018 with inventories below optimal levels to meet demand, said Railway Tie Association’s Jim Gauntt.Photo – Gross & Janes Co.

By Daniel Niepow, Associate Editor

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Operation Lifesaver taps Puchala for communications, marketing role

Rail News Home Railroading People 10/16/2018 Rail News: Railroading People
image Jessica PuchalaPhoto – Operation Lifesaver Inc.

Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) has hired Jessica Puchala as director of communications and marketing.

She has more than 20 years of experience in communications and project management in the corporate, nonprofit, state government and media sectors.

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LA Metro marks design milestone on Airport Metro Connector

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 10/16/2018 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The Airport Metro Connector will provide transfers between local light-rail lines and Los Angeles International Airport's planned automated people mover system.Photo – LA Metro's blog

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is 60 percent finished with design plans for the new Airport Metro Connector station, agency officials reported in a blog post yesterday.

The station will provide transfers from the Green Line and the future Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line to Los Angeles International Airport's new $4.9 billion automated people mover system.

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U.S. rail traffic up a bit in Week 40

U.S. rail traffic rose 1.2 percent to 554,238 carloads and intermodal units for the week ending Oct. 6 compared with the traffic during the same week a year ago, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Railroads reported 269,634 total carloads for the week, up 0.7 percent compared with the same week in 2017. Intermodal volume inched up 1.8 percent to 284,604 containers and trailers compared with a year ago, according to an AAR press release.

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Rail supplier news from Siemens, Transplace, RailPros and Brookville (Oct. 10)

Rail News Home Railroading Supplier Spotlight 10/10/2018 Rail News: Railroading Supplier Spotlight
imageThe Societe du Grand Paris, owner of the Grand Paris Express subway project in France, has awarded a contract to Siemens Mobility-Thales to deliver an automated train control system using wireless communications-based train control technology (CBTC). Siemens will design and implement its CBTC fully automated technology, while Thales will design and implement operating control centers and trackside equipment for the new lines 15, 16 and 17. The agreement includes 12 construction and commissioning phases, with the first one scheduled to be completed in 2024. The remainder will wrap up by 2030, according to a Siemens press release, which did not disclose the contract's financial value.Transplace has acquired Yusen Logistics (Americas) Inc.'s intermodal marketing company and over-the-road freight brokerage group. The acquisition expands Transplace's North American intermodal capabilities and further supports its commitment to strategic growth as it works toward meeting the supply chain needs of it "growing customer base," company officials said in a joint press release. A subsidiary of Nippon Yusen Kaisha, Yusen Logistics (Americas) Inc. is a global logistics and transportation provider with offices in 44 countries and regions. The transaction's financial details were undisclosed.RailPros has promoted Ken Koff to chief executive officer. He succeeds CEO and founder Johnny Johnson, who will become executive chairman. Before the promotion, Koff served as chief operating officer. He came to RailPros three years ago with more than four decade of rail industry experience, including railroad management at Class I and regional railroads. For his part, Johnson will remain "actively involved and continue to drive strategic growth for the company," RailPros officials said in a news release.Brookville Equipment Corp. last week was named manufacturer of the year at the 12th annual Global Light Rail Awards in London. The award is a "testament to the trust and confidence our customers have in us as a transit vehicle manufacturer," said Brookville Vice President of Business Development Joel McNeil in a press release. The company has built streetcar fleets for Dallas Area Rapid Transit and Detroit's QLINE streetcar system. Brookville also is manufacturing streetcar vehicles for Oklahoma City and Milwaukee. The company this year is marking its 100th anniversary.

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U.S. High Speed Rail Association names Richard chair

Rail News Home High-Speed Rail 10/10/2018 Rail News: High-Speed Rail
image Dan Richard currently chairs the California High-Speed Rail Authority.Photo – California High-Speed Rail Authority

The U.S. High Speed Rail Association (USHSR) has selected Dan Richard as chair of its advisory board.

Richard currently chairs the California High-Speed Rail Authority — a position Gov. Edmund Brown appointed him to in 2012. Under his leadership, the agency has begun building the United States' first "true" high-speed rail network, USHSR officials said in a news release.

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TriMet taps Sewell to head labor relations, human resources

Rail News Home Railroading People 10/5/2018 Rail News: Railroading People
image Sewell previously served as director of TriMet's legal services.Photo – TriMet

The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) has promoted Kimberly Sewell to executive director of its labor relations and human resources division.

For the past seven years, Sewell served as director of TriMet's legal services. Before that, she was TriMet's deputy general counsel.

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APTA, UITP sign pact on joint programs, training

Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends 10/5/2018 Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
image APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas (left) and UITP Secretary General Mohamed Mezghani signed the MOU in Nashville, where APTA recently held its annual meeting.Photo – UITP

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and Union International des Transports Public (UITP) last week signed an agreement to work together on mutual areas of interest, the organizations announced today.

UITP is an international network of 1,500 members, which include public transportation authorities, policy makers, research institutes and the transit supply and service industry.

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TriMet names Blagg head of safety and security

The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) has appointed Marla Blagg executive director of safety and security effective Oct. 22.

Blagg will succeed Harry Saporta, who plans to retire in early 2018 after eight years leading the agency's safety and security efforts.

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New Orleans port, railroad advance Avondale Shipyard project

Rail News Home Intermodal 9/24/2018 Rail News: Intermodal
image The agreements outline collaborative opportunities geared toward Avondale's development as a "vibrant maritime and logistics hub," port officials said.Photo – portnola.com

The boards of the Port of New Orleans and New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Corp. last week approved separate resolutions that authorize nonbinding cooperative endeavor agreements between the port, the short line, Jefferson Parish and Avondale Marine LLC to facilitate the proposed redevelopment of the former Avondale Shipyard.

The port will issue a jurisdictional permit to Avondale Marine for use and development of a port and intermodal facility. When the rail extension is completed — at Avondale Marine's expense — New Orleans Public Belt Railroad will connect and provide service that will ensure the site has neutral access to Class Is operating in the New Orleans gateway, port and railroad officials said in a press release.

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NTSB: Cold meds at the root of SEPTA's 2017 trolley collision

A Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) trolley operator's repeated use of antihistamine medications likely played a role in two trolleys colliding with each other in January 2017, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

On Jan. 4, 2017, a SEPTA trolley traveling on Route 10 struck a stopped trolley unloading passengers on the same line. The striking trolley was moving at about 10 mph, NTSB investigators wrote in an accident brief.

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NTSB: Cold meds at the root of SEPTA's 2017 trolley collision

A Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) trolley operator's repeated use of antihistamine medications likely played a role in two trolleys colliding with each other in January 2017, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

On Jan. 4, 2017, a SEPTA trolley traveling on Route 10 struck a stopped trolley unloading passengers on the same line. The striking trolley was moving at about 10 mph, NTSB investigators wrote in an accident brief.

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NS Foundation to donate $100,000 to hurricane recovery

Rail News Home Norfolk Southern Railway 9/19/2018 Rail News: Norfolk Southern Railway
image "Many of our Norfolk Southern employees, facilities, and customers are located in these affected areas," said NS Corp. Chairman, President and CEO James Squires.Photo – nscorp.com

Norfolk Southern Foundation will donate $100,000 toward Hurricane Florence recovery efforts in North Carolina.

The foundation will direct $50,000 to the American Red Cross and $50,000 to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina relief efforts.

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Cleveland RTA to mark 50th anniversary of airport service

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 9/18/2018 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Cleveland was the first city in the Western Hemisphere to offer direct rail service between its central business district and an international airport.Photo – GCRTA

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) in November will mark the 50th anniversary of its Red Line rail extension to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

When the extension opened in 1968, Cleveland became the first city in the Western Hemisphere to offer direct rail service between its central business district and an international airport, agency officials said in a news release.

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