Railroad News

Rail union warns members about coronavirus exposure

Rail News Home Security 6/24/2020 Rail News: Security
image The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division-IBT announced late last week a rash of positive coronavirus cases among its members at several major railroads. The BMWED estimated 109 members were affected by a coronavirus exposure. Of those,15 individuals tested positive, while the remaining 94 are on required self-contained quarantine, union officials announced in a prepared statement. "The expectation of doctors [is] that several of the 94 in quarantine will test positive in the coming days," they said. "The spread is not slowing, and, in some regions and railroads, appears to be growing." Based on union-obtained data, the BMWED members who were exposed to the virus work for Amtrak, BNSF Railway Co., CSX, CN and Norfolk Southern Railway. Since March, three BMWED members have died from COVID-19, according to the union. Union leaders said members need to take precautions, including practicing physical distancing, not reporting to work if feeling sick, and wearing face coverings. Some railroads, such as CSX, are now requiring the wearing of masks, they said. "One of the COVID-19 cases of this week resulting in quarantine originated from guys meeting together after work in a hotel room and sharing food," the statement read. "Part of being on the road is the camaraderie post-work. But we must be more cautious in a pandemic and we urge everyone to isolate and separate as much as possible. Go outside to hang out. Keep some distance."    

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VIA Rail logged 5 million riders in 2019

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/24/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image In 2019, VIA Rail recorded its highest annual ridership in 30 years.Photo – VIA Rail Canada Inc.

VIA Rail Canada Inc. recorded 5 million riders in 2019, the railroad’s highest annual ridership in 30 years and a 5.5 percent increase compared with 2018. 

Of the 5 million riders, 96 percent used VIA Rail for inter-city travel, 3 percent for long-distance travel and 1 percent for regional travel, according to VIA Rail’s 2019 Annual Report, which was released yesterday.

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Amtrak, Tri-Rail to resume more service

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/24/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Amtrak Midwest's Pere Marquette service was temporarily suspended March 21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Photo – Michigan Department of Transportation Twitter

Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation on June 29 will restore the daily Pere Marquette round-trip service between Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Chicago in response to anticipated ridership demand. 

This Amtrak Midwest service was temporarily suspended March 21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Purple Line consortium threatens to pull out of light-rail project, report says

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/24/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The project calls for a 16-mile light-rail line extending from Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George's County, Maryland.Photo – purplelinetransitpartners.com

Purple Line Transit Partners (PLTP) has filed a notice of termination of a public-private partnership over a dispute with the state of Maryland over delays and cost overruns involving the Purple Line light-rail project.

The notice came two days after the PLTP consortium and its contractor passed a June 20 deadline to reach an agreement over who will pay delay-related costs, The Washington Post reported yesterday.

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SLSI taps Leone to oversee research, organizational development

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/24/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Julia LeonePhoto – Short Line Safety Institute

The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) has hired Julia Leone as manager of research and organizational development.

Leone will be responsible for working with senior leadership to establish and manage priorities and goals for process improvements; building systems to monitor, evaluate and report on progress; and direct efforts to ensure quality and consistency through the application of systematic approaches in its programmatic design and execution. She also will lead the SLSI's research efforts.

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RTD-Denver to open N commuter-rail line in September

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/24/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The 18.5-mile N Line will serve Denver, Commerce City, Northglenn and Thornton.Photo – RTD Facebook

The Regional Transportation District of Denver (RTD) yesterday announced it will open the N commuter-rail line Sept. 21. 

The new 18.5-mile, six-station line will serve downtown Denver, Commerce City, Northglenn and Thornton, and include a stop at the National Western Complex in Denver.

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BNSF adds intermodal option between Seattle, northwest Ohio

Rail News Home BNSF Railway 6/24/2020 Rail News: BNSF Railway
image [Editor's note: The headline on this story was updated at 4:23 p.m. CDT.] BNSF Railway Co. earlier this month introduced a new direct intermodal service option between the Pacific Northwest and northwest Ohio. The new container-only service initially is being offered five days a week for eastbound and westbound freight originating and terminating at BNSF's South Seattle Intermodal Facility. Customers who originate shipments at the Seattle facility now can access some of the fastest growing industrial and consumer markets in and around northwest Ohio, BNSF officials said in a customer notification. The new option stems from the growth of BNSF's direct-rail intermodal service connecting California with the Ohio Valley.    

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BNSF adds intermodal option between Seattle, northwest Ohio

Rail News Home BNSF Railway 6/24/2020 Rail News: BNSF Railway
image [Editor's note: The headline on this story was updated at 4:23 p.m. CDT.] BNSF Railway Co. earlier this month introduced a new direct intermodal service option between the Pacific Northwest and northwest Ohio. The new container-only service initially is being offered five days a week for eastbound and westbound freight originating and terminating at BNSF's South Seattle Intermodal Facility. Customers who originate shipments at the Seattle facility now can access some of the fastest growing industrial and consumer markets in and around northwest Ohio, BNSF officials said in a customer notification. The new option stems from the growth of BNSF's direct-rail intermodal service connecting California with the Ohio Valley.    

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BNSF adds intermodal option between Pacific Northwest, Ohio Valley

Rail News Home BNSF Railway 6/24/2020 Rail News: BNSF Railway
image BNSF Railway Co. earlier this month introduced a new direct intermodal service option between the Pacific Northwest and the Ohio Valley region. The new container-only service initially is being offered five days a week for eastbound and westbound freight originating and terminating at BNSF's South Seattle Intermodal Facility. Customers who originate shipments at the Seattle facility now can access some of the fastest growing industrial and consumer markets in and around northwest Ohio, BNSF officials said in a customer notification. The new option stems from the growth of BNSF's direct-rail intermodal service connecting California with the Ohio Valley.    

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BNSF adds intermodal option between Pacific Northwest, Ohio Valley

Rail News Home BNSF Railway 6/24/2020 Rail News: BNSF Railway
image BNSF Railway Co. earlier this month introduced a new direct intermodal service option between the Pacific Northwest and the Ohio Valley region. The new container-only service initially is being offered five days a week for eastbound and westbound freight originating and terminating at BNSF's South Seattle Intermodal Facility. Customers who originate shipments at the Seattle facility now can access some of the fastest growing industrial and consumer markets in and around northwest Ohio, BNSF officials said in a customer notification. The new option stems from the growth of BNSF's direct-rail intermodal service connecting California with the Ohio Valley.    

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Rail suppliers raise concerns about INVEST Act

Two rail supplier groups last week announced mixed reactions to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's (T&I) multiyear surface transportation legislation known as the INVEST in America Act.

Both the Railway Supply Institute (RSI) and the National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC) expressed support for the committee taking up a surface transportation package, especially with the current legislation — known as the FAST Act — set to expire Sept. 30.

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Sound Transit preps for Federal Way light-rail extension construction

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/23/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Construction of the light-rail guideway for the Federal Way Link Extension — shown in this rendering — will begin later this summer.Photo – Sound Transit

Sound Transit is continuing early preparations for construction of the 7.8-mile Federal Way Link Extension, which will extend the light-rail line from Angel Lake Station in SeaTac, Washington, to a transit center in Federal Way.

Efforts include clearing vegetation and 8,600 trees, as well as relocating conflicting utilities. The work in SeaTac and Des Moines is underway, and will begin in Federal Way on Thursday.

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Metra, BART return some commuter-rail service; WMATA reopens stations

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/23/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image On June 29, Metra will add service on the North Central Service, SouthWest Service and Heritage Corridor lines.Photo – Metra Facebook

Metra in Chicago and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in San Francisco have announced added service on some of their commuter-rail lines to accommodate growing ridership.

On June 29, Metra will add service on the North Central Service, SouthWest Service and Heritage Corridor lines. 

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A2A Rail Canada names Gladu president

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/23/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image The Alaska-Alberta Railway Corp. (A2A Rail) officials yesterday announced they've brought Jean Paul "JP" Gladu on board as president of A2A Rail Canada. Gladu has considerable expertise on a wide range of Indigenous, environmental and energy issues, said A2A Rail Chairman and founder Sean McCoshen in a press release. "JP's success in actualizing opportunities for Indigenous communities across Canada is a testament to his steadfast commitment to empowering an Indigenous economy while balancing the need to protect his people, culture and traditions into the future," he said. "I am confident JP's experience, coupled with his passion for his people, will serve both A2A Rail and the communities across western Canada well." Most recently, Gladu served more than seven years as president and chief executive officer at the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB). While at CCAB, he focused the organization on "generating wealth through the lens of reconciliation," a phrase he coined. In doing so, Gladu moved non-Indigenous and Indigenous business and communities toward sustainable partnerships and sustained economic prosperity, A2A Rail officials said. Anishinaabe from Thunder Bay, Gladu is a member of Sand Point First Nation, located on eastern Lake Nipigon, Ontario. A2A Rail was established to build, own and operate a railway connecting the Alaska Railroad and Alaska's tidewater to northern Alberta, Canada.

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Canada, Ontario invest in 10 Waterloo transit projects

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/23/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Projects being funded include installation of digital information displays and mobile payment validation machines at light-rail stations.Photo – Grand River Transit

Canadian and Ontario government officials last week announced funding for 10 public transit transportation projects in Waterloo, including some related to its light-rail system.

Rail projects include installation of 39 digital information display systems, 36 mobile payment validation machines and 25 point-of-sale units across Grand River Transit’s ION light-rail system. 

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NYCT surpasses 2 million ridership mark

Rail News Home Security 6/23/2020 Rail News: Security
image NYCT recorded a significant increase in ridership since the start of the pandemic, however the figure still represents a decline normal weekday ridership levels.Photo – NYCT Facebook

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) last week surpassed more than 2 million weekday combined riders on the New York City Transit (NYCT) subway and bus system for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. 

While a significant increase in ridership since the start of the pandemic due to the gradual reopening of the city, the figure represents a decline of 74 percent from normal weekday ridership levels of 7.6 million combined riders, MTA officials said in a press release.

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Amtrak selects developer for Philadelphia station project

Rail News Home Amtrak 6/23/2020 Rail News: Amtrak
image Gray 30th Street Station, named after the late U.S. Rep. William Gray III, is the third-busiest station in Amtrak's national network.Photo – Amtrak rendering

Amtrak has selected Plenary Infrastructure Philadelphia (PIP) to form a master development partnership via ground lease for the renovation of William H. Gray III 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. 

The key members who will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the station include Plenary Americas USA Ltd., which has partnered with Gilbane Building Co., Johnson Controls Inc. and Vantage Airport Group Ltd.

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Class I workforce continued to shrink in May

Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends 6/23/2020 Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
image All six employment categories logged month-to-month and year-over-year decreases.Photo – BNSF Railway Co.

Class Is employed 118,880 employees as of mid-May, down 4.46 percent percent from April and down 16.84 percent from May 2019 levels, according to Surface Transportation Board data.

All six employment categories logged month-to-month decreases. They were: transportation (train and engine), down 10.27 percent to 43,660 employees; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 1.93 percent to 21,289; transportation (other than train and engine), down 0.59 percent to 5,206; executives, officials and staff assistants, down 0.57 percent to 7,626; professional and administrative, down 0.41 percent to 10,594; and maintenance of way and structures, down 0.04 percent to 30,505.

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San Diego agency to test new fare enforcement approach

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/22/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image In September, SDMTS will implement a fare enforcement pilot program with reduced fines.Photo – SDMTS

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s (SDMTS) board last week approved a fare enforcement pilot program that reduces fines and provides fare violators new options for paying citations. 

In early September, SDMTS will implement the pilot program to provide more flexibility for passengers who receive citations for not having a valid fare while riding trolleys.

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OCTA properly administering funds, oversight panel finds

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/22/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Pictured, rendering of OCTA's future OC Streetcar.Photo – OCTA

The Orange County Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee earlier this month found that OCTA has administered its Measure M half-cent transportation tax appropriately for the 29th consecutive year.

The committee found that the California agency is following the ordinances that were first approved by votes in 1990 and then renewed in 2006, OCTA officials said in a press release.

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