Railroad News

Montreal transit agency launches worker recruitment campaign

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 10/29/2018 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Some of the new employees will operate Montreal's Metro system.Photo – Societe de transport de Montreal

The Societe de transport de Montreal (STM) is launching a workforce recruitment campaign this week as part of an effort to hire several hundred employees by 2020.

The employees will play a "key role" in implementing STM's major mobility projects and operating its rail and bus networks, agency officials said in a press release.

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Abrams to succeed Stephens as South Florida RTA’s executive director

Rail News Home Railroading People 10/29/2018 Rail News: Railroading People
image Steven Abrams will become SFRTA's next executive director. He will succeed Jack Stephens, who is retiring.Photo – SFRTA

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) has named Steven Abrams executive director. He will succeed Jack Stephens, who will retire when his contract expires Dec. 31.

Abrams served on SFRTA's board from 2010 until he resigned in May to enter  the search process for the executive director position. He was chairman from July 2012 to June 2014, and again from July 2017 to June 2018.

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G3 Canada to establish CP-served grain elevator in Alberta

G3 Canada Ltd. on Friday announced plans to build a primary grain elevator near Carmangay, Alberta.

To be served by Canadian Pacific, the state-of-the-art facility will feature the same high-efficiency technology as the company’s other new elevators on the Prairies, which can load 134-car trains in a few hours on a loop track, G3 Canada officials said in a press release. The new elevator will have a storage capacity of 42,000 tons.

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Reading & Northern to appeal court decision on rail authority’s RFP

The Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad (R&N) last week announced its intention to appeal a county court’s decision that granted summary judgment to the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority (JRA) regarding the solicitation of an operating agreement for the authority’s short lines.

R&N challenged the first phase of a request for proposals (RFP), which was issued by the JRA in 2014 seeking qualified operators for its rail lines.

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WMATA leader to seek board approval for operating budget proposal, service changes

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 10/29/2018 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Wiedefeld's recommendations to WMATA's board include increased rail service levels.Photo – WMATA

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld plans to issue several key recommendations to the agency’s board this week, including a fiscal-year 2020 operating budget proposal that calls for no fare hikes and an effort to increase rail service.

Wiedefeld is seeking board approval to expand rush-hour service with more frequent trains later in the morning and evening; charge a flat $2 fare for all weekend Metrorail trips; extend the Yellow Line to Greenbelt to double rush-hour service at nine stations; operate all Red Line trains to Glenmont to double rush-hour service at an additional three stations; lengthen all trains to eight cars; and enhance the value of Metro unlimited rail and bus and passes.

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AASHTO: USDOT to streamline environmental rules to speed up project delivery

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 10/29/2018 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
imageThe U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is expected to issue a final rule today that would streamline environmental requirements in order to speed up the permitting of rail and other surface transportation projects.In a conference call held last week, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) noted that the 131-page final rule would modify certain regulations to include the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), giving it the same flexibility that the FHWA and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have when it comes to environmental procedures under the National Environmental Policy Act, according to a report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).The change should "eliminate confusion and increase efficiency" in terms of documentation requirements, AASHTO officials said.The new rule would reduce duplication of environmental reporting efforts between the FHWA, FRA and FTA. It also would reiterate the ability of state agencies to produce a single environmental document, as well as combine a final environmental impact statement with a record of decision document, AASHTO reported.Moreover, the rule would allow for greater flexibility on projects that occur within the operational right-of-way through the use of "categorial exclusions."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/29/2018


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Several rail suppliers host U.S. representatives for tours, talks

U.S. representatives continued to make the rounds of rail suppliers hosting plant tours and policy discussions this month. Reps. Andy Barr (R-Ky.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Brian Mast (R-Florida) recently visited rail suppliers' facilities in Kentucky, Wisconsin and Florida.

Barr visited R. J. Corman's headquarters in Nicholasville, Kentucky, on Oct. 19. The company's rail group serves all seven North American Class Is, many regionals and short lines, and dozens of industries that use rail.

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California coalition aims to improve coastal passenger-rail service

A California interregional policy board recently formed to study ways to improve passenger-rail service along the state's Central Coast.

Five agencies announced this week they had signed a memorandum of understanding to establish themselves formally as the Coast Rail Coordinating Council (CRCC). They are: the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments; Santa Barbara County Association of Governments; Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission; Transportation Agency for Monterey County; and Ventura County Transportation Commission.

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ARCI: Car orders climbed, deliveries declined in Q3

Rail-car orders in the third quarter totaled 24,972 units compared with 23,788 units in the second quarter and 10,348 units in the first quarter, according to quarterly rail-car statistics released earlier this week by the Railway Supply Institute's American Railway Car Institute Committee. In third-quarter 2017, orders totaled 8,671 cars.

Car deliveries in Q3 declined to 11,221 units versus 13,071 units in the second quarter and 13,098 units in the first quarter. But they were slightly higher than the 11,015 cars delivered in third-quarter 2017.

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California HSR agency, city settle environmental report litigation

Rail News Home High-Speed Rail 10/26/2018 Rail News: High-Speed Rail
image A rendering of a high-speed train.Photo – CHSRA

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) yesterday announced it reached a settlement agreement with the city of Shafter, California, to dismiss litigation over the final environmental impact report (EIR) and statement for the Fresno-to-Bakersfield portion of the authority’s high-speed rail (HSR) program.

The agreement demonstrates the commitment between both parties to work together to bring HSR service to the state’s Central Valley, CHSRA officials said in a press release.

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Coast Guard seeks public input on BNSF bridge project in Seattle

The U.S. Coast Guard is soliciting public comments on BNSF Railway Co.'s plans to build a movable rail bridge across Salmon Bay west of the Ballard Locks in Seattle.

The proposed structure would replace an existing bascule bridge that spans the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The bridge is a critical link to BNSF's network to the north, south and east, according to the Class I’s "Inside Track" newsletter. Thirty to 40 trains cross the century-old bridge daily, including Sounder and Amtrak passenger trains.

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Coast Guard seeks public input on BNSF bridge project in Seattle

The U.S. Coast Guard is soliciting public comments on BNSF Railway Co.'s plans to build a movable rail bridge across Salmon Bay west of the Ballard Locks in Seattle.

The proposed structure would replace an existing bascule bridge that spans the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The bridge is a critical link to BNSF's network to the north, south and east, according to the Class I’s "Inside Track" newsletter. Thirty to 40 trains cross the century-old bridge daily, including Sounder and Amtrak passenger trains.

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FTA certifies California, Oklahoma transit-rail safety programs

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 10/26/2018 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The California Public Utilities Commission will oversee the safety of BART's heavy- and light-rail networks, and automated guideway systems.Photo – BART

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced this week that California and Oklahoma have obtained federal certification of their transit-rail State Safety Oversight (SSO) programs.

Federal law requires states with transit-rail systems to obtain FTA certification of their SSO programs by April 15, 2019.

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Private investment group helps International Rail Partners form RailUSA

An investor group headed by private investment firm Equity Group Investments (EGI) that includes International Rail Partners LLC (IRP) recently pooled more than $200 million to help IRP form RailUSA LLC.

The new subsidiary already is helping IRP acquire regionals and short lines. In August, RailUSA completed its first acquisition: Grenada Railroad LLC, which operates a 206-mile line between Memphis, Tennessee, and Canton, Missouri. In cooperation with the North Central Mississippi Regional Railroad Authority, RailUSA plans to restore and re-open the 87-mile southern portion of the Grenada line, which has been closed since 2011.

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Senate bill would provide railroads, ports equal footing for INFRA grants

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) earlier this month introduced S. 3587, a bill that proposes to provide rail, intermodal and port projects a better chance of obtaining federal funding through a transportation infrastructure grant program.

The legislation seeks to improve the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program, which was created as part of Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. The bill would remove the cap on Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grants for multimodal freight projects, and enhance the transparency and administration of the INFRA grant program to ensure the best projects receive funding.

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WMATA to add Shady Grove stairway, eliminate rush-hour service pattern

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) on Tuesday announced plans to add a stairway at Shady Grove Station in its fiscal-year 2020 capital program and eliminate the ”Grosvenor Turnback" service pattern Dec. 17 to double rush-hour service at four Montgomery County stations.

The new stairway is needed to ease platform congestion when trains arrive at Shady Grove Station, primarily during the evening rush hour, WMATA officials said in a press release. The stairs will improve platform egress by creating an additional way for customers to exit the station. Currently, all riders arriving at the station by train take several minutes to make their way to a single descending escalator or use an adjacent existing staircase to clear the platform.

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DCTA installs Holcomb as deputy CEO

Rail News Home Railroading People 10/25/2018 Rail News: Railroading People
image Kristina Holcomb joined the authority in 2007.Photo – DCTA

The Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) has appointed Kristina Holcomb deputy chief executive officer.

She joined DCTA in 2007 and most recently served as vice president of strategic planning and development. Holcomb now will oversee the execution of the agency’s strategic initiatives, including capital project planning and delivery, and help advance mobility efforts in North Texas. She also will lead DCTA’s regional transportation infrastructure planning, land-use strategy, and state and federal public policy.

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Port of LA receives $21 million grant for rail yard expansion project

Rail News Home Intermodal 10/25/2018 Rail News: Intermodal
image The state grant will fund a significant portion of the project.Photo – portoflosangeles.org

A $21.6 million grant from California's Trade Corridor Enhancement Program (TCEP) will help advance a major on-dock rail yard expansion at the Port of Los Angeles, port officials announced yesterday.

The $34 million Terminal Island Rail Yard Enhancement Project is designed to reduce truck trips, tailpipe emissions and congestion on local streets and freeways, thereby improving safety, Port of LA officials said in a press release.

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AAR honors KCSM's Puente for environmental work

Rail News Home Railroading People 10/25/2018 Rail News: Railroading People
imageThe Association of American Railroads (AAR) yesterday honored Miguel Antonio Flores Puente with the 2018 Professional Environmental Excellence Award, the industry's highest honor for environmental professionals. Puente has been manager of environmental impact for Kansas City Southern de Mexico (KCSM) for nine years. He received the award at the 2018 Railroad Environmental Conference in Urbana, Illinois.“Our winner, Miguel Antonio Flores Puente, has worked closely with partners in the Mexican government to turn the page for many legacy rail facilities and build a more environmentally responsible future across his railroad," said AAR President and Chief Operating Officer Edward Hamberger in a press release.By coordinating with the Mexican Attorney General’s Office for Environmental Protection, Puente’s efforts have mitigated historical contaminations at legacy rail yards now operated by KCSM, protecting not only his railroad’s employees but also surrounding communities, AAR officials said.He is now leading the charge for KCSM to receive certification from the National Environmental Audit Program, they added.In addition to Puente, the following six railroad environmental professionals were nominated for the award: Joseph Winnicki of Amtrak; Russell Light of BNSF Railway Co.; Kari Harris of CN; Scott Croome of Canadian Pacific; William Parry of CSX; and Kim Keeling of Union Pacific Railroad.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/25/2018


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MassDOT to help fund Amtrak grade crossing safety project

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will provide $700,000 to help Amtrak make safety improvements at a hazardous grade crossing in western Massachusetts.

Amtrak, which owns the line and is carrying out the project, will fund the remaining costs, Amtrak officials said in a press release.

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