Railroad News

North American transit operators form alliance

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/15/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The alliance includes First Transit, Keolis, MV Transportation, National Express, RATP Dev USA and Transdev.Photo – NATA

Last week, six private transit operating firms formed the North American Transit Alliance (NATA) to promote transportation solutions and advocate for transit workers.

Under the alliance, First Transit, Keolis, MV Transportation, National Express, RATP Dev USA and Transdev will work with public transit agencies to help shape a future where public transportation is safe, clean and reliable, NATA officials said in a press release.

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Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority names Scott CFO

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/15/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Kevin ScottPhoto – ACTA, LinkedIn

The Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA), the intergovernmental agency that oversees the dedicated railway that operates in the corridor from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to downtown L.A., has named Kevin Scott chief financial officer.

Scott has had a 30-year career as a public finance investment banker, financial adviser and public policy consultant. He was selected for the position after a nationwide executive search by Stanton Chase in Los Angeles in partnership with the Center for Nonprofit Management, ACTA officials said in a press release.

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T&I Committee to mark up surface transportation bill

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 6/15/2020 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) has scheduled a full committee markup meeting June 17 for the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation Act (INVEST) H.R. 7095, committee staff announced late last week. The bill calls for $494 billion over five years to make "transformative investments" in surface and rail transportation, according to a summary of the legislation. It would provide $411 billion over five years out of the Highway Trust Fund for highway, transit, safety and research programs, a 46 percent increase over current spending levels. About $105 billion would be carved out for transit programs under the Federal Transit Administration and $60 billion for commuter rail, Amtrak and other high-performance rail programs. Last week, American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Chair Nuria Fernandez and President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas sent a letter to T&I Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Mo.) in support of the bill. "The bill recognizes the immediate need for public transit agencies to continue to provide essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic and support our nation's economic recovery," the APTA letter states. T&I Committee Republicans were not included in developing the legislation and are expected to oppose the bill, APTA officials noted in a legislative update to their membership.    

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USDOT to distribute 15.5 million masks to transportation workers

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 6/15/2020 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will send 15.5 million masks to transportation workers to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the agency announced last week. The cloth facial coverings secured by the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be sent out over the coming weeks through the U.S. Postal Service, USDOT officials said in a press release. Distribution will include 4.8 million masks for mass transit and passenger-rail employees, 2.4 million for those in the maritime industry and 2.2 million for freight railroad workers. "Transportation workers are on the front lines of keeping our transportation systems operational during this public health emergency and their well-being and safety is paramount," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

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VTA, BART mark opening of San Jose-Milpitas rail extension

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/15/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image On June 13, the first train with local riders departed from the Berryessa Transit Center (pictured).Photo – BART Twitter

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) and California officials late last week celebrated the opening of a 10-mile BART rail extension into Santa Clara County.

The officials gave congratulatory remarks at the Berryessa Transit Center in San Jose and performed two ribbon-cuttings before the inaugural northbound and southbound trip between the station and Milpitas Station.

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Rail unions seek end to RUIA sequestration

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 6/15/2020 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image Rail labor unions are uniting in a campaign to overturn what they describe as "unfair" sequestration of Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) benefits, which reduces the unemployment and sickness benefits of railroad workers. The unions are represented by the Teamsters Rail Conference and the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD). Late last week, the unions contacted U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and asked them to jointly co-sponsor language consistent with the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act that would eliminate sequestration. The HEROES Act is a $3 trillion bill that would allocate federal funding to help states struggling with their budgets as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as increase pay for front-line workers, extend unemployment measures and provide another round of $1,200 in stimulus checks for Americans. Specifically, the unions are asking the senators to rescind the sequestration of RUIA benefits by amending the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 to include RUIA among other various programs that are not subject to sequestration, according to a press release issued by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET). Portman chairs the Senate subcommittee where a decision on sequestration will be made. "Unlike the average U.S. worker, railroad employees do not receive unemployment benefits through state-administered unemployment insurance programs. Instead, unemployed railroaders receive these benefits through the RUIA program, which is administered by the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). As a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), RUIA are subject to sequestration. No state unemployment insurance benefits in the country are subject to this unfair treatment," stated Teamsters Rail Conference President Dennis Pierce and TTD President Larry Willis. Unemployment and sickness benefits payable under the RUIA have been sequestered or reduced since 2013, as part of a package of automatic spending reductions required by the BCA. Currently, RUIA unemployment benefits are being sequestered at the rate of 5.9 percent, as are RUIA sickness benefits. In the past, these rates have been adjusted annually when the federal sequestration is recalculated. Railroads have seen their benefits sequestered as high as 9.2 percent in the past, union officials said. As part of the campaign, the BLET will try to mobilize in Ohio to urge Portman and Brown to co-sponsor the unions' proposal.

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MARTA OKs FY2021 budget

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/15/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image MARTA’s state-of-good-repair capital budget includes over $200 million for rail improvement projects.Photo – MARTA

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority's (MARTA) board last week approved a $557.9 million operating budget and $599 million capital budget for fiscal-year 2021

MARTA’s state-of-good-repair capital budget includes over $200 million for rail improvement projects, including $62 million for station rehabilitation projects. The program also includes funds for track renovation work, elevator and escalator rehabilitation, tunnel ventilation work, train control system upgrades and new rail car installments.

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Guest Comment: Critical period in truck size, weight issue as House considers legislation

A retired Sheriff of Putnam County, New York, and former president of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, Don Smith is on the advisory board of the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks.

By Sheriff Don Smith (Ret.)

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In memoriam: Benjamin Tarbutton Jr.

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/12/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Benjamin Tarbutton Jr.Photo – Sandersville Railroad Co.

The Sandersville Railroad Co. announced the death of Benjamin Tarbutton Jr., the Georgia short line's former president. He was 90.

Tarbutton worked for Sandersville Railroad for 65 years until the time of his death. During his tenure, he served not only as president, but also as vice president and director. Additionally, his railroad career included service as a director of the American Short Line Railroad Association and founder and president of the Georgia Railroad Association, according to an online obituary.

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Rail supplier news from Keolis, Teleste, Thales, Genetec, Alstom and Cyient (June 12)

Rail News Home Railroading Supplier Spotlight 6/12/2020 Rail News: Railroading Supplier Spotlight
image Hangzhou Metro's Line 16 entered into revenue service in China. The line uses Thales' SEC Transport signal system technologies.Photo – Hangzhou Metro

The supervisory board of Groupe Keolis S.A.S. has dismissed Patrick Jeantet as chairman of the executive board because of “significant strategic differences,” Keolis officials said in a press release. Jeantet took office Feb. 1. Kathleen Wantz-O’Rourke, group executive director of finance and legal, will serve as the executive board's interim chairperson. The supervisory board's role is to oversee the executive board, which is composed of a single member, namely Jeantet, and adjudicate certain strategic decisions.

Teleste Corp. will deliver onboard passenger information and closed-circuit television systems for 20 of Stadler Rail's FLIRT trains for Norwegian State Railways by 2021. The deployment will include video security cameras and video recorders, intercommunication and public address systems, and information displays. 

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CN propane supply chain sets record

Rail News Home Canadian National Railway - CN 6/12/2020 Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN
image The Ridley Island terminal exclusively uses CN's network to transport propane from Alberta and British Columbia for export to global markets.Photo – cn.ca

CN announced yesterday that three vessels carrying Canadian propane destined for international markets departed from the AltaGas Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal in British Columbia, beating a previous record by 50 percent.

The Ridley Island terminal exclusively uses CN's network to transport propane from Alberta and British Columbia for export to global markets. Since it launched in 2019, the terminal has moved more than 1 million metric tons of propane, CN officials said in a press release.

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CN propane supply chain sets record

Rail News Home Canadian National Railway - CN 6/12/2020 Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN
image The Ridley Island terminal exclusively uses CN's network to transport propane from Alberta and British Columbia for export to global markets.Photo – cn.ca

CN announced yesterday that three vessels carrying Canadian propane destined for international markets departed from the AltaGas Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal in British Columbia, beating a previous record by 50 percent.

The Ridley Island terminal exclusively uses CN's network to transport propane from Alberta and British Columbia for export to global markets. Since it launched in 2019, the terminal has moved more than 1 million metric tons of propane, CN officials said in a press release.

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CapMetro OKs rail expansion plan in Austin

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/12/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Project Connect includes plans for four light-rail lines and additional commuter-rail stations on the MetroRail Red Line.Photo – CapMetro Facebook

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (CapMetro) board earlier this week approved the final version of Project Connect, a plan for an expanded rail and bus system in Austin, Texas.

The $9.8 billion plan includes four new light-rail lines and additional commuter-rail stations on the MetroRail Red Line. A key component in the plan calls for construction of a transit tunnel that will separate transit services from street traffic in downtown Austin.

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CIB, Alberta sign MOU for Calgary-Banff Rail study

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/12/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image "The CIB brings expertise and experience needed for a project of this scale," said Alberta Minister of Transportation Ric McIver.Photo – alberta.ca

The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and the Alberta Ministry of Transportation have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to complete a study and due diligence of the Calgary-Banff Rail project, which would create an airport-rail link to downtown Calgary and Banff National Park.

The project would increase tourism while reducing vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and congestion in the travel corridor, CIB and Alberta officials said in a press release.

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OCTA approves 2021 budget

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/12/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The budget includes $32 million to continue construction of the OC Streetcar (rendering pictured).Photo – OCTA

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) earlier this week approved a $1.4 billion budget for fiscal-year 2021, which begins July 1.

Major initiatives in the budget include advancing capital improvement projects, including allocation of $32 million to continue construction of the OC Streetcar in Santa Ana and Garden Grove, California.

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FTA funds transit-oriented development planning

Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends 6/12/2020 Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
image The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded a total of $22.97 million to 23 organizations to support projects that improve access to public transportation, including rail. The funds are from the FTA’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning pilot program, which assists communities that are developing new or expanded mass transit systems to improve access, encourage ridership and spur economic and mixed-use development, FTA officials said in a press release. Of the 23 organizations, 12 will use the funds for TODs near rail stations. Those awards include:  $2 million to the city of Phoenix to plan for TODs at nine stations of the proposed Capitol/Interstate 10 West light-rail extension; $2 million to the Bay Area Rapid Transit District in San Francisco to plan for TODs at six existing heavy rail stations in the Richmond BART corridor; $2 million to Sound Transit in Seattle to plan for TODs at six stations of the planned light-rail extension from Lynnwood City Center to downtown Everett, Washington; $1.75 million to the city of Seattle to plan for TODs at up to 14 stations as part of the West Seattle Ballard Sound Transit Link light-rail extension; $1.58 million to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in California to conduct detailed planning for TODs at the proposed 28th Street, downtown San Jose and Santa Clara heavy-rail stations of the BART to Silicon Valley Phase II extension; $1.2 million to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District in Illinois and Indiana to plan for TODs at existing commuter-rail stations along the South Shore Line and proposed commuter-rail stations in the West Lake corridor; $1.2 million to Portland Metro to plan for TODs at 13 stations of the proposed Southwest Corridor light-rail project; $1 million to Dallas Area Rapid Transit to plan for TODs at five stations along the Dallas Central Business District Second light-rail alignment project; $700,000 to the Riverside County Transportation Commission in California to plan for TODs at eight stations of the Perris Valley Line commuter-rail line; $700,000 to Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District in Oregon to plan for TODs on the proposed west extension and east portion of the MAX Red Line light-rail service; $600,000 to the Denton County Transportation Authority to plan for TODs at six potential commuter-rail stations along a 25-mile segment of the existing Kansas City Southern freight rail line in Denton County, California; $275,000 to the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) to plan for TODs at four stations of the proposed UTA TRAX light-rail extension from Draper to Lehi; and  $250,000 to UTA to plan for TODs at three stations of the proposed FrontRunner South commuter-rail extension from Provo to Payson.  

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CSX EVP Harris to retire Aug. 1

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/12/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Ed Harris, who will retire from CSX on Aug. 1, has spent 50 years in the railroad business.Photo – CSX, Twitter

CSX Corp. announced yesterday that Executive Vice President Ed Harris will retire Aug. 1.

A 50-year industry veteran, Harris joined CSX in January 2018. As EVP, his responsibilities have included oversight of safety, performance metrics, operational planning and other key functional areas, according to his biography on csx.com.

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BART tests new swing style fare gate

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/11/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The new fare gate, right, is designed for riders who need extra space and time to pass through the barrier.Photo – BART

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) last week began testing a new accessible fare gate prototype at the station in Richmond, California, that represents the next generation of fare gates BART will install across its system.

BART’s Accessibility Task Force — which includes members of the public — tested out the prototype gate, which includes two 5-foot-high swing-style barriers that discourage users from pushing through, jumping over or maneuvering under the gates. 

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MBTA Gloucester drawbridge replacement work requires full closure into 2021

Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way 6/11/2020 Rail News: Maintenance Of Way
image MBTA is in the process of replacing the Gloucester drawbridge. Rendering of the future bridge pictured.Photo – MBTA

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) earlier this week announced that the Gloucester drawbridge replacement project will require full closure of the structure through summer 2021. 

The project includes full replacement of the structurally deficient Gloucester drawbridge, which carries Rockport Line trains over the Annisquam River in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

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RCR Rail marks groundbreaking for Taylor Logistics Park

Rail News Home Logistics 6/11/2020 Rail News: Logistics
image The RCR Taylor Logistics Park is scheduled to open in September.Photo – RCR Rail Co.

A reception was held last week to mark the start of construction at the RCR Taylor Logistics Park near Austin, Texas.

The 750-acre RCR Taylor Logistics Park will be located west of Taylor in Williamson County to serve the manufacturing, storage and logistics industries of the Austin area and central Texas. It will offer direct access to BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad lines, state highways 70 and 130 and Interstate 35.

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