Railroad News

Calgary council OKs Green Line light-rail alignment

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/18/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Segment 1 of the Green Line will connect 16 Avenue North to Shepard Southeast.Photo – calgary.ca

Calgary’s City Council in Alberta earlier this week approved an updated alignment for the first stage of the planned construction of the Green light-rail line, as well as changes to construction staging.  

The approved alignment will connect 16 Avenue North to Shepard Southeast.

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U.S. rail traffic down nearly 15 percent in Week 24

U.S. freight railroads hauled 449,291 carloads and intermodal units during the week ending June 13, a 14.9 percent decrease in traffic moved during the same week in 2019, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Total carloads for the week fell 22.8 percent to 198,437, while intermodal volume fell 7.3 percent to 250,854 units. Only one of the 10 carload commodity groups — miscellaneous carloads — posted an increase during the week, up 1,030 carloads to 10,259.

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Rail supplier news from ENSCO Rail, APTIM and ClearBlade (June 17)

Rail News Home Railroading Supplier Spotlight 6/17/2020 Rail News: Railroading Supplier Spotlight
image APTIM Corp. Northeast Region Sales Director David HechtPhoto – APTIM

ENSCO Rail Inc. has acquired an enhanced user license to the VAMPIRE® Pro vehicle and track interaction software. The software will integrate with the ENSCO Rail Autonomous Track Geometry Measurement System to provide automated vehicle dynamics simulations in near real time to conduct digital twin analytics. As track geometry data is streamed to ENSCO Rail's servers, vehicle dynamics simulations of the client's fleet will automatically be performed. Results are provided in an automated fashion, highlighting locations of concern for ride quality and derailment risk and producing data for track degradation and maintenance planning, company officials said in a press release.

APTIM Corp. named David Hecht director of sales in the Northeast. Hecht has more than 45 years of experience in the construction industry, working for construction management, general contractor and professional engineering firms. He has led program and construction management teams to win some of the Northeast's largest projects, including Amtrak’s $25 billion Gateway program, APTIM officials said in a press release. Hecht also has developed specialized business lines in estimating and scheduling, as well as storm recovery, winning assignments with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and MTA New York City Transit. 

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Amtrak updates essential services plan

Rail News Home Amtrak 6/17/2020 Rail News: Amtrak
image The national intercity passenger railroad noted that various states are undertaking safety precautions at stations for customers arriving from other states. Riders should check with each state for specific guidance.Photo – amtrak.com

Amtrak on Monday announced an update to its essential services plan drafted in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The national intercity passenger railroad noted that various states are undertaking safety precautions at stations for customers arriving from other states. Riders should check with each state for specific guidance, Amtrak officials said in a press release.

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Washington state panel OKs funds for grade crossing safety, trespass prevention

Rail News Home Safety 6/17/2020 Rail News: Safety
image Washington state regulators last week approved more than $20,500 from the Grade Crossing Protective Fund to pay for safety improvements at grade crossings in Lewis County and near tracks in Cowlitz County. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved $20,000 from the fund to partially pay for a project related to trespass prevention in Kelso, Washington. BNSF Railway Co. will contribute an additional $20,000 to the project. The city will oversee maintenance, UTC officials said in a press release. The project calls for replacing damaged chain-link fencing with cut-resistant fencing to prevent pedestrians from trespassing over railroad tracks. Three trespasser fatalities have occurred around the damaged fence during the past 30 months. The commission also approved money to help pay for upgrades at 11 crossings on the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum Line (CCRM) in Lewis County. CCRM plans to use the funds to replace a missing emergency notification system (ENS) sign and correct outdated emergency telephone numbers on ENS signs at 11 crossings.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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MBTA tests new fare option as commuter trends shift

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/17/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image MBTA will offer a fare option good for any five days of travel within a 30-day period.Photo – MBTA

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) on July 1 will begin a commuter-rail fare pilot to test new ways to accommodate riders as their travel patterns change during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Under the pilot, MBTA will offer a fare option good for any five days of travel within a 30-day period. The fare option was designed to coordinate with new staggered work schedules and telework policies that have become more common. 

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Port Tampa Bay receives INFRA grant for intermodal project

Rail News Home Intermodal 6/17/2020 Rail News: Intermodal
image The INFRA grant will help the port complete its Berth 214 project, an effort to expand the port's container complex.Photo – Port Tampa Bay

Port Tampa Bay in Florida has received a $19.8 million federal grant to construct a 1,300-foot berth and a 30-acre container yard as part of a larger project to improve intermodal transportation.

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued the grant as part of its Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program. The INFRA grant will help the port complete its Berth 214 project, an effort to expand the port's container complex.

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LIRR launches seat-tracker app feature to support social distancing

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/17/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The MTA LIRR’s seat tracking app function allows riders to view the number of seats available in each railcar.Photo – MTA Flickr

MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) yesterday unveiled a train capacity tracker on its TrainTime mobile application to show riders where seats are available on its trains.

The seat tracking function enables riders to determine the number of seats available in each rail car so that they can decide where to sit according to social distancing guidelines.

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Virgin Trains selects Wabtec for PTC implementation

Rail News Home Positive Train Control 6/17/2020 Rail News: Positive Train Control
image Wabtec will install its Interoperable Electronic Train Management System on Virgin Trains USA’s rail corridors between Miami, West Palm Beach and Orlando, Florida.Photo – Wabtec

Virgin Trains USA awarded Wabtec Corp. multiple contracts worth $120 million to implement positive train control (PTC) signaling and train control systems on the intercity passenger-rail service in Florida.  

Under the contracts, Wabtec will install its Interoperable-Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS®) PTC safety overlay in two phases.

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Norfolk Southern to idle Bellevue hump yard

Rail News Home Norfolk Southern Railway 6/17/2020 Rail News: Norfolk Southern Railway
image Norfolk Southern's Bellevue yard is located in northern Ohio.Photo – nscorp.com, BizNS Winter 2015 issue

Norfolk Southern Railway has notified workers that it will close its Bellevue hump yard operation in northern Ohio, The Toledo Blade reported yesterday.

"Due to declining car volumes, NS will idle the yard's hump and begin flat switching rail cars," NS spokesman Jeff DeGraff told the newspaper. "This alteration will allow for greater efficiencies and customer service that achieves the goals set forth in the company's strategic plan."

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Norfolk Southern to idle Bellevue hump yard

Rail News Home Norfolk Southern Railway 6/17/2020 Rail News: Norfolk Southern Railway
image Norfolk Southern's Bellevue yard is located in northern Ohio.Photo – nscorp.com, BizNS Winter 2015 issue

Norfolk Southern Railway has notified workers that it will close its Bellevue hump yard operation in northern Ohio, The Toledo Blade reported yesterday.

"Due to declining car volumes, NS will idle the yard's hump and begin flat switching rail cars," NS spokesman Jeff DeGraff told the newspaper. "This alteration will allow for greater efficiencies and customer service that achieves the goals set forth in the company's strategic plan."

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TTl, longshore workers set cargo movement record

Rail News Home Intermodal 6/16/2020 Rail News: Intermodal
image Workers transferred 17,080 containers that arrived last week on the MSC Sveva container ship at the port in Long Beach, California.Photo – Port of Long Beach

Longshore workers at Total Terminals International (TTI) in Long Beach, California, set a North American record last week for the highest volume of container movements during a single call, while working the MSC Sveva container ship.

Workers transferred 17,080 containers, the equivalent of 30,744 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs). International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) crane operators worked seven ship-to-shore cranes, handling more than 250 containers per hour to reach the record, Port of Long Beach officials said in a press release.

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Pandemic update: TransLink promotes face mask use

Rail News Home Security 6/16/2020 Rail News: Security
image TransLink employees will distribute 15,000 TransLink-branded masks to riders.Photo – TransLink

TransLink yesterday launched a campaign to promote rider use of face coverings while using the system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the “Wearing is Caring” campaign, TransLink employees will distribute 15,000 TransLink-branded masks to riders. 

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LA Metro completes decking project ahead of schedule

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/16/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image LA Metro accelerated the installation of hundreds of steel beams below Wilshire Boulevard, rendering pictured.Photo – LA Metro

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) earlier this week completed decking for the planned Wilshire/Rodeo subway station on the Purple Line extension seven months ahead of schedule.

The project completion was expedited due to a two-and-a-half-month street closure made possible by reduced traffic as a result of the countywide COVID-19 stay-at-home order.

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Georgia Ports Authority elects board officers

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/16/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Will McKnight was elected to a second term as the port authority's chairman.Photo – gaports.com

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) announced yesterday its board has elected officers for the coming year, selecting Will McKnight to serve a second year as chairman.

Also elected was GPA Secretary-Treasurer Joel Wooten Jr. as vice chairman and member Kent Fountain as secretary-treasurer.

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New York GOP leaders call for additional MTA funding

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/16/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image A coalition of New York State and Federal Republican leaders last week wrote to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to urge Congress to deliver another $3.9 billion relief package for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in the next coronavirus stimulus bill.  The nearly $4 billion directed to the MTA under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act has been “crucial” in allowing the agency to continue running service, the leaders wrote. But it is ultimately not enough to meet the full need, they continued.  The letter cited the large financial impact of the pandemic on the agency, saying the MTA’s financial future is “at risk” without additional federal funding. The leaders also stressed how the MTA will be vital to not just New York's economic recovery but the nation's as well. “The system connects more than 15 million residents across New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Connecticut with employment and educational opportunities that help drive the downstate economy, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of the national GDP. It would stunt both the New York and national post-pandemic recovery to let the agency flounder,” they wrote. To learn more about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected MTA, read this feature article in Progressive Railroading's June issue.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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South Louisiana Rail Facility to develop rice mill

Rail News Home Logistics 6/16/2020 Rail News: Logistics
image SLRF will develop the new rice mill at the Lacassine Industrial ParkPhoto – slrf.org

The South Louisiana Rail Facility (SLRF) will develop an $11.6 million rice mill at the Lacassine Industrial Park in Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, Gov. Bel Edwards announced last week.

SLRF will invest $10 million to equip the new 15,000-square-foot facility, with construction slated to begin in September and wrap up by January 2021. The state is providing $1.6 million to the SLRF for the project through the state's Economic Development Award Program, Edwards administration officials said in a press release.

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OmniTRAX elects Scott chairman

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/16/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image OmniTRAX Inc.'s board has elected former Union Pacific Railroad executive Cameron Scott chairman. Most recently, Scott served as UP's executive vice president and chief operating officer. He joined the OmniTRAX board in 2019 after retiring from the Class I. Scott will help OmniTRAX shape its new growth strategy, as the regional and short-line operating company accelerates its adoption of rail-based supply chains, OmniTRAX officials said in a press release. OmniTRAX's growth was capped by a record-setting 2019 in which the company added three new rail properties. Global events present additional opportunities, as customers seek optimized supply chain efficiencies and manufacturers explore onshoring strategies and increased domestic production, they said. "As our customers ramp up for increased demand consumption and new supply chain models, our focus is on growing carload volume to support those expanded needs, as well as investing in our assets and the communities we serve," said OmniTRAX Chief Executive Officer Kevin Shuba. "[Scott's] record of optimizing rail operations and his extensive network of contacts provide the ideal guidance to meet the needs of a changing marketplace." OmniTRAX has 23 properties that interface with seven Class Is throughout North America. "Coming from Union Pacific, I recognize OmniTRAX's unique ability to work with Class I railroad partners to develop growth using proven methods that resulted in its current position in the marketplace," said Scott. "The company's deep industrial development capabilities and unparalleled expertise delivering complete rail-based solutions makes OmniTRAX uniquely positioned to grow American communities." 

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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MBTA, Keolis extend commuter-rail contract through 2026

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/16/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The four-year extension will bring MBTA and Keolis’ original operating contract to its full term of contract options.Photo – Keolis

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Fiscal and Management Control Board yesterday extended its commuter-rail operating contract with Keolis Commuter Services LLC through June 30, 2026. 

The contract includes incentives for on-time performance, measures to address fare evasion and investments in rail infrastructure.

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Caltrain, SDMTS increase rail service in California

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/15/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Caltrain will operate 70 six-car trains per weekday, up from 42 since March.Photo – Caltrain Facebook

Caltrain in San Francisco and the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (SDMTS) today increased weekday rail service to accommodate more riders as shelter-in-place restrictions ease in California.

Caltrain will operate 70 six-car trains per weekday, up from 42 since March. The commuter railroad will also increase service frequency to three trains per hour during the peak commute times.

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