Railroad News

TransLink logs gradual ridership recovery

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/11/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image From May 31 through June 6, SkyTrain’s Canada Line logged 221,000 boardings compared with 109,000 between April 5 and April 11.Photo – TransLink

TransLink in Vancouver, British Columbia, recorded 2,578,000 systemwide boardings between May 31 and June 6, an 85 percent increase compared with early April when ridership on trains and buses was at a low point due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

From May 31 through June 6, SkyTrain’s Canada Line logged 221,000 boardings compared with 109,000 between April 5 and April 11. The Expo-Millennium Line logged an 87 percent increase in ridership with 697,000 boardings compared with 372,000 boardings during the same period. 

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U.S. freight-rail traffic down 15.6 percent in Week 23

U.S. railroads logged a 15.6 percent decrease in carload and intermodal volumes during the week ending June 6 compared with the same week a year ago, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Railroads posted 192,494 carloads for the week, down 22 percent, and 240,677 intermodal containers and trailers, down 9.6 percent. Combined, traffic totaled 433,171 carloads and intermodal units for the week.

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Metro-North to replace Port Chester rail bridges

Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way 6/11/2020 Rail News: Maintenance Of Way
image MTA Metro-North Railroad will replace two rail bridges on the New Haven Line in Port Chester, New York. Rendering of the future bridge pictured.Photo – MTA Metro-North

In July, MTA Metro-North Railroad will begin major construction work to replace two 130-year-old rail bridges on the New Haven Line in Port Chester, New York. 

The open deck bridges, which carry Metro-North, Amtrak and freight trains over Willet Avenue and Highland Street, will be replaced with ballast deck bridges. The replacement will lessen the noise made when trains go over the spans making it quieter for residents nearby, Metro-North officials said in a press release. 

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TSB calls for research into uncontrolled rail-car movements in train yards

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 6/11/2020 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image Open-top hopper cars staged on the lead track.Photo – TSB report

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has recommended that railroads and their labor representation work with Transport Canada to reduce the number uncontrolled movements in rail yards, specifically those caused by rail cars moved without the use of air brakes.

The recommendation stems from the TSB's investigation of a 2017 incident involving the uncontrolled movement of a rail car at CN's Melville Yard in Saskatchewan. The incident resulted in the death of a CN employee.

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FRA issues notice for $291 million in state-of-good-repair grants

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 6/11/2020 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image All eligible parties should take full advantage of this opportunity to leverage private, state and local investments that boost capital projects," said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory.Photo – fra.dot.gov

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) yesterday issued a notice of funding opportunity for $291 million in state-of-good-repair grants for intercity passenger railroad assets.

The funds will support capital projects that repair, replace or rehabilitate qualified railroad assets to reduce the state-of-good-repair backlog and improve intercity passenger-rail performance, FRA officials said in a press release.

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Caltrain OKs deeper discount for low-income riders

Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends 6/10/2020 Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
image Eligible Caltrain riders will have access to a 50 percent discount on single-rider fares through the use of a Clipper card.Photo – Caltrain Facebook

Caltrain’s board last week increased the discount it will offer to low-income riders who qualify for California’s regional means-based transit fare pilot program, Clipper START.

Under the pilot program administered by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, eligible Caltrain riders will have access to a 50 percent discount on single-rider fares through the use of a Clipper fare card. 

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Congressional hearing highlights COVID-19 impact on transportation workers

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) yesterday held a hearing on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on transportation workers.

In his opening statement, T&I Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) noted that few industries have been hit harder by the pandemic than transportation.

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Doyle named executive director of Baltimore port

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/10/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image William Doyle has been named the Port of Baltimore's new executive director.Photo – U.S. Federal Maritime Commission

Former U.S. Federal Maritime Commissioner William Doyle has been appointed executive director of the Port of Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday.

As commissioner from 2013 to 2018, Doyle represented the United States in numerous global negotiations and facilitated positive outcomes to disputes between maritime industry and labor groups, according to a press release issued by Hogan's office.

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Pandemic update: STM invests in new sanitation technology

Rail News Home Security 6/10/2020 Rail News: Security
image STM will acquire electrostatic sprayers, pictured, to increase the efficiency of disinfecting operations across its system.Photo – STM

The Societe de transport de Montreal (STM) last week announced it will acquire 95 electrostatic sprayers from Dustbane to increase the efficiency of disinfecting operations across the rail system.

A STM committee — formed when the COVID-19 pandemic began to examine new solutions to improve operations — conducted disinfecting tests with electrostatic sprayers on its trains and at its stations. 

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ASLRRA taps Lynch as VP of congressional affairs

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/10/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Tom Lynch, ASLRRA vice president of congressional affairsPhoto – Ice Miller

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) hired Tom Lynch as vice president of congressional affairs.

Along with recently hired Mara Stark-Alcala, Lynch will lead ASLRRA’s efforts to pursue legislative support for issues facing short lines including tax policy, infrastructure grant programs and surface transportation policy, ASLRRA officials said in a press release.

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Virginia Railway Express extends contract with Keolis

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/10/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Keolis will provide locomotive engineers and conductors to operate VRE's commuter trains.Photo – VRE

The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) last week extended its operations contract with Keolis Rail Services Virginia LLC for five years. 

Under the contract, Keolis will provide locomotive engineers and conductors to operate VRE commuter trains between central and northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The company also will manage VRE's claims and reporting for the Federal Railroad Administration.

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OmniTRAX names Diaz Page to industrial development team

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/10/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Federico Diaz PagePhoto – OmniTRAX Inc.

OmniTRAX Inc. has hired industry veteran Federico Diaz Page to join the company's industrial development team. 

Diaz Page will focus on working with economic and industrial stakeholders to bring new business to OmniTRAX properties in Texas and Oklahoma. He will report to Ean Johnson, vice president of industrial development.

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FRA solicits applicants for suicide prevention grant funds

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 6/10/2020 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) yesterday announced the availability of $293,000 in competitive grant funds for Railroad Trespassing Suicide Prevention Program projects. The agency is soliciting grant applications from organizations that focus on suicide prevention or mental health assistance to implement activities that reduce railroad-related suicide. Nonprofits and railroads may apply for the grants. Projects eligible for funding will implement specific actions narrowly tailored from reducing suicides that involve railroad trespassing. Examples include training staff to identify at-risk individuals and intervene, raising awareness of services and launching public awareness campaigns. Selected grant recipients will be awarded a maximum of $100,000.  "Every year, hundreds of people attempt to commit suicide using the U.S. rail system, and data analysis suggests that 50 percent or more of fatal trespass incidents are suicides," said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory in a press release. "We believe that allied organizations working together can reduce such incidents. These grants will strengthen existing partnerships and create new ones to help deter and prevent needless tragedies." The notice of funding opportunity exemplifies approaches outlined in the FRA's National Strategy to Prevent Trespassing on Railroad Property

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Rail supplier news from RR Mergers, Milman, VTG Rail, Carbo Rail, HUBER+SUHNER and Masabi (June 9)

Rail News Home Railroading Supplier Spotlight 6/9/2020 Rail News: Railroading Supplier Spotlight
image HUBER+SUHNER has been named the preferred cable partner for Bombardier Transportation.Photo – HUBER+SUHNER

RR Mergers & Acquisitions announced the sale of OWS Rail Car Inc. and OWSA Rail Car Inc. to Diesel Electric Services, a division of Milman Industries Inc. OWS provides general purpose and high-pressure tank car repairs and qualifications, while OWSA provides mobile rail-car repair services. The acquisition expands Milman's services to U.S. and Canadian railroads, Milman officials said in a press release.

VTG Rail Logistics GmbH has acquired a majority stake in Carbo Rail, a Slovakian railway company. Carbo Rail’s operating licenses, 25 locomotives and 150 employees will be integrated into VTG’s Retrack railway company. Carbo Rail will operate under the name Retrack Slovakia. “Its operating licenses for Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary make Carbo Rail a sensible complement to our Retrack network that sustainably reinforces our presence in Central and Eastern Europe,” said Gunther Ferk, head of VTG Rail Logistics Europe, in a press release.

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IANA cancels 2020 EXPO

Rail News Home Intermodal 6/9/2020 Rail News: Intermodal
image The Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) announced yesterday it has canceled the 2020 Intermodal EXPO due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was scheduled to take place Sept. 13-15 in Long Beach, California.
"This decision was not easy to make but we recognize that holding the event, given all the uncertainties, would have been impossible," said Kevin Lhotak in a prepared statement. The association also announced it has scheduled the next Intermodal EXPO for Sept. 12-14, 2021, in Long Beach. The EXPO's cancellation is the latest rail-related annual event this year that has been called off, postponed or converted to virtual events to slow the spread of COVID-19. Last month, IANA reported first-quarter 2020 intermodal volumes fell 6.7 percent compared with Q1 2019 volumes.     

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Santa Clara VTA sets sustainability targets

Rail News Home Sustainability 6/9/2020 Rail News: Sustainability
image To meet its fleet energy consumption goals, VTA will consider using renewable energy sources for electricity used to power light-rail vehicles.Photo – VTA

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s (VTA) board last week approved a sustainability plan to guide the California agency's actions through fiscal-year 2040. 

The plan outlines key performance indicators with short-term and long-term targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, criteria air pollutants, building and fleet energy consumption, water usage and waste diversion.  

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NRF: Pandemic's impact on imports easing

Rail News Home Intermodal 6/9/2020 Rail News: Intermodal
image Port of SavannahPhoto – Georgia Ports Authority

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on major U.S. retail container ports appears to be easing slightly, with projected imports remaining below last year's levels but not as much as previously forecast, the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates announced yesterday.

"The numbers we're seeing are still below last year, but are better than we expected a month ago," said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a press release. "It may be too soon to say, but we'll take that as a sign that the situation could be slowly starting to improve. Consumers want to get back to shopping, and as more people get back to work, retailers want to be sure their shelves are stocked."

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NJ Transit unveils 10-year strategic plan

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/9/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The NJT2030 plan outlines more than 100 initiatives for the agency to achieve and implement by 2030.Photo – NJ Transit

New Jersey Transit yesterday unveiled a strategic plan to guide the agency's decisions over the next 10 years.

Dubbed NJT2030, the plan outlines more than 100 initiatives for the agency to achieve and implement by 2030. 

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FTA announces $3.5 million in grants for 'mobility' pilot program

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 6/9/2020 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) last week announced $3.5 million in grants for 17 projects in 16 states to improve mobility and access to public transportation for older adults, people with disabilities and individuals of low income. Funding is provided through the FTA's Mobility for All Pilot Program. U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the funding opportunity in October 2019. Selected projects support coordination among programs funded by the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility, an interagency partnership that includes representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation and 10 other federal agencies. Among entities receiving funding is the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, which received a $79,016 grant to develop an online directory of transportation services to expand information about options for Virginia residents. "Through improved coordination of transportation services and enhanced partnerships, these projects will provide more efficient service to people in rural and small urban areas and individuals affected by health care challenges such as the opioid epidemic, veterans and Medicaid recipients," said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams in a press release.  

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MTA launches 13-point reopening plan

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/9/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image MTA's 13-point action plan was designed to ensure the safe return of riders as New York City’s business and industries reopen.Photo – MTA NYCT Facebook

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) yesterday began implementing its 13-point action plan to ensure the safe return of riders as New York City’s business and industries reopened.

The action plan includes:

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