Railroad News

PTC progress report 2019: Commuter railroads

VRE has provided PTC training to nearly every employee, which has helped many staff members better understand the technology.Photo – Virginia Railway Express

By Michael Popke

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WMATA names Mobbs counsel to inspector general

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/13/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
image Michael MobbsPhoto – WMATA

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has appointed Michael Mobbs counsel to the inspector general, effective Aug. 5. He will report to Inspector General Geoffrey Cherrington.

Mobbs most recently served as general counsel to the inspector general at the U.S. Department of State. Over the past decade, he has served as general counsel to the inspectors general at the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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South Florida RTA to start PTC revenue service demos at Tri-Rail

Rail News Home Positive Train Control 6/13/2019 Rail News: Positive Train Control
image Tri-Rail will test PTC on its corridor between West Palm Beach and Miami.Photo – Tri-Rail

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) yesterday announced the Federal Railroad Administration approved its plan to test Tri-Rail trains equipped with positive train control (PTC) during regularly scheduled revenue service.

On June 29, SFRTA plans to launch revenue service demonstrations on the entire commuter-rail corridor between West Palm Beach and Miami.

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FRA: Short Line Safety Institute's assessment model is 'robust'

In a new report, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) described the Short Line Safety Institute's (SLSI) "safety culture assessment" model to be the most comprehensive or robust approach in the U.S. rail industry's safety evaluation culture, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association announced yesterday.

Since 2015, the safety institute has been conducting voluntary, non-punitive and confidential assessments of safety culture at short lines and regionals. The institute defines safety culture as shared values, actions and behaviors that demonstrate a commitment to safety over competing goals and demands, based on a U.S. Department of Transportation Safety Council definition, according to the FRA's report.

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Washington state to update railroad oil-spill response rules

Rail News Home Safety 6/13/2019 Rail News: Safety
image Railroad tracks near Bellingham, Washington.Photo – Washington State Department of Ecology

The Washington State Department of Ecology is seeking public comments on proposed changes to regulations government railroads oil-spill response efforts in the state.

In 2015, the state began requiring railroads to have oil-spill contingency plans to ensure they are adequately prepared in case of a spill. Based on direction from the Washington Legislature, the department is streamlining requirements and "strengthen response to potential railroad spills," department officials said in a press release.

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NJ Transit lands federal grant for distributed generation project

New Jersey Transit yesterday announced it will receive a $46 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to enter the design and construction phase for the distributed generation portion of the NJ TRANSITGRID project.

The distributed generation work involves the installation of a first-of-its-kind microgrid system designed to provide reliable power to support critical infrastructure during power brownouts or blackouts, agency officials said in a press release.

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U.S. rail traffic slump carries into June

U.S. railroad traffic continued to slide during June's first full week, with combined carload and intermodal volumes falling 8.5 percent to 513,099 units compared with the same week last year, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Total carloads for the week ending June 8 plummeted 9.1 percent to 246,758 units, while intermodal traffic dropped 8 percent to 266,341 containers and trailers.

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BMW opens KCSM-served plant in Mexico

Rail News Home Kansas City Southern 6/13/2019 Rail News: Kansas City Southern
image KCSM operates more than 2,000 miles of track in Mexico, where it expects to serve 14 automotive plants by next year.Photo – Kansas City Southern

BMW Group and Mexican government officials last week marked the opening of the automaker's new plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

To be served by Kansas City Southern de Mexico (KCSM), the more than $1 billion plant is designed to produce up to 175,000 vehicles annually. The facility will be used to produce the BMW 3 Series Sedan, the company's most successful model series, BMW Group officials said in a press release.

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BMW opens KCSM-served plant in Mexico

Rail News Home Kansas City Southern 6/13/2019 Rail News: Kansas City Southern
image KCSM operates more than 2,000 miles of track in Mexico, where it expects to serve 14 automotive plants by next year.Photo – Kansas City Southern

BMW Group and Mexican government officials last week marked the opening of the automaker's new plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

To be served by Kansas City Southern de Mexico (KCSM), the more than $1 billion plant is designed to produce up to 175,000 vehicles annually. The facility will be used to produce the BMW 3 Series Sedan, the company's most successful model series, BMW Group officials said in a press release.

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FRA announces $326M in rail safety, improvement grants

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) yesterday announced the recipients of $326 million in grant funds under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) and the Special Transportation Circumstances programs.

The grants will fund 45 projects in 29 states. Authorized by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the CRISI program funds projects that improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of intercity passenger- and freight-rail systems.

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Transit agencies develop multimodal mobile apps in response to on-demand call

To better serve on-demand transportation needs many transit agencies are adapting their mobile application offerings.Photo – Shutterstock

By Vesna Brajkovic, Associate Editor

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Amtrak's Empire Builder route turns 90

Amtrak yesterday marked the 90th anniversary of the Empire Builder route, which travels across the northern United States from Chicago to Seattle and Portland.

Inaugurated by the Great Northern Railway (GN), the first westbound Empire Builder departed Chicago on June 10, 1929. It was christened the next day in St. Paul, Minnesota, where the GN had its headquarters and where its mainline to Seattle began, Amtrak officials said in a press release.

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Orange County authority OKs FY2020 budget

The Orange County Transportation Authority's (OCTA) board this week approved a $1.5 billion budget for fiscal-year 2020.

To take effect July 1, the budget advances a number of capital improvements, including the OC Streetcar and Interstate 5 and 405 projects in Orange County, California. OCTA has allocated $48.5 million for ongoing streetcar construction and $366.4 million for the freeway work.

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Utah Transit Authority completes major construction project in one month

In May, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) completed one of its largest construction projects over the past 10 years, and in a speedy fashion.

The agency replaced 18-year-old tracks and switches at two Main Street locations in 27 days, work that typically would take two months to complete.

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Coos Bay Rail Line rehabs 37 timber bridges

Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way 6/12/2019 Rail News: Maintenance Of Way
image There are 121 bridges along the entire 134-mile rail line.Photo – Coos Bay Rail Line

The Coos Bay Rail Line has completed a $2.3 million rehabilitation project on 37 timber bridges along its line, which is owned and operated by the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay.

The port contracted Scott Partney Construction to complete the bridge work. Engineering firm Stantec Inc. will conduct the final inspections, port officials said in a press release.

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LA Metro installs new senior team members, announces Wiggins' departure

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) announced that Chief of Security Alex Wiggins has resigned to accept the chief executive officer position at the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority.

In addition, the authority announced a series of appointments to fill Wiggins' post and other vacancies on the senior leadership team. Metro named Nadine Lee chief of staff; James de la Loza, chief planning officer; Yvette Zoe-Robles Rapose, chief communications officer; Jonaura Wisdom, chief civil rights programs officer; and Aston Greene III, interim chief systems security and law enforcement officer.

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Louisville & Indiana Railroad, malting company to open transload facility

Rail News Home Short Lines & Regionals 6/12/2019 Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals
image The new transload facility is located at LIRC's yard in Jeffersonville, Indiana.Photo – anacostia.com

Louisville & Indiana Railroad (LIRC) and Great Western Malting Co. have developed a new 33 rail-car transload facility in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

The rail-to-truck transfer facility, which will open tomorrow, features a covered, open-ended structure enclosing a 90-foot section of track with a concrete pad. A concrete pit below allows conveyors to load trucks for delivery of malting grain to customers.

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FRA awards grants for CREATE project, rail upgrades in Florida and Michigan

The Florida Department of Transportation will receive a $17 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program grant from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to improve safety at seven grade crossings in Jacksonville.

The $35.2 million project also involves CSX, Florida East Coast Railway and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA). The partners aim to address conflicts between freight trains and vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic at major arteries in downtown Jacksonville, including the heavily used San Marco Boulevard interchange. Crossing delays can last from several minutes to several hours due to the lack of appropriate storage track, communications and signaling, and switching infrastructure in the area, the project partners said.

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ASLRRA: House majority cosponsors short-line tax credit bill

A bill that would make the 45G short-line tax credit permanent has received support from a majority of U.S. House members, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) announced yesterday.

As of yesterday, 219 representatives are cosponsors of the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act, which would make permanent the tax credit that short lines and regionals can receive for investing in infrastructure maintenance. The credit expired in December 2017 and has not yet been extended.

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Genesee & Wyoming: On the industrial development fast track

In May, the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad began serving a $150 million Ringneck Energy ethanol plant in Onida, South Dakota.Photo – Genesee & Wyoming Inc.

By Jeff Stagl, Editor

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