Railroad News

From the editor: Trending topics at Secure Rail 2019

To help shape the agenda for this year’s edition of our Secure Rail conference, members of the Secure Rail Advisory Board discussed a range of issues and trends. Among the topics of conversation: the impact of autonomous technologies on railroads, collaboration between local and federal agencies in support of emergency response initiatives, and the increasingly blurred line between cyber and physical security.

As a result of these discussions, the programming for Secure Rail 2019 — which will be held May 1-2 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando — features a greater emphasis on the topics of risk, legal issues, future trends and regulatory updates. Session topics at our fifth annual conference include:

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Colorado DOT names Grauberger project director

Rail News Home Railroading People 3/7/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
imageThe Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger-Rail Commission selected Randy Grauberger as its first project director. Prior to his new role, Grauberger served as senior transportation planning manager at the engineering firm WSP, according to a Feb. 27 commission announcement. He also was employed at the CDOT for more than 28 years, serving in a number of planning positions, including branch manager in the transportation development division. Created in 2017, the commission is charged with developing the Front Range commuter-rail service, overseeing planning, public outreach and implementation strategies. It also is directed to work with Amtrak, BNSF Railway Co., and the states of Kansas and New Mexico to ensure the continuation of Amtrak’s existing Southwest Chief service through southeastern Colorado, according to a press release.

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MBTA opens new commuter-rail station

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 3/7/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The nearly $17 million commuter-rail station officially opened to passengers Feb. 26 after a two-year construction prior that began in 2017.Photo – MBTA

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), state and local officials yesterday marked the opening of the new Blue Hill Avenue commuter-rail station Boston.

Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh joined MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak in cutting the ribbon on the nearly $17 million station yesterday. Construction began in 2017. The station has been open to passengers since Feb. 26.

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Amtrak adds service in Virginia

Amtrak added a second daily roundtrip service to Norfolk, Virginia, as part of the passenger railroad's Northeast Regional service, on March 4. 

The service connects the commonwealth to the Northeast, offering passengers a same-seat trip to and from 17 Virginia stations to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. 

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Short-line tax credit included in proposed tax extenders bill

A House Ways and Means subcommittee will hold a hearing March 12 on a proposed tax extenders package, which includes the 45G short-line tax credit.

The Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee hearing follows the legislation's introduction last week.

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BNSF breaks ground on logistics center near Denver

BNSF Railway Co. announced yesterday that construction is underway on its newest logistics center, located in Hudson, Colorado, near Denver.

The Logistics Center Hudson is designed to help customers more easily reach Denver and surrounding markets through rail-served sites, BNSF officials said in a press release.

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CSX restructures marketing, names two new VPs

Rail News Home CSX Transportation 3/7/2019 Rail News: CSX Transportation
image CSXPhoto – CSX has added two new vice presidents to lead its revamped sales and marketing teams.

CSX has created a new marketing team focused on research and analytics and has expanded its sales team in order to drive “sustainable, profitable growth," company officials announced yesterday.

As part of the restructuring of sales and marketing, CSX will add two new vice presidents and increase its focus on port and short-line development, CSX officials said in a press release.

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BNSF announces capex projects for Illinois, Oklahoma

BNSF Railway Co. on Monday announced plans for $240 million in capital expenditure projects in Illinois and Oklahoma for this year.

In Illinois, the Class I will perform $135 million-worth of maintenance projects to replace and upgrade rail, ties and ballast.

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Maryland seeks federal grant to fund Howard Street Tunnel project

Rail News Home CSX Transportation 3/5/2019 Rail News: CSX Transportation
image The tunnel reconstruction and clearance project would eliminate height restrictions to enable double-stacked intermodal trains to move to and from the Port of Baltimore.Photo – Port of Baltimore

Maryland state officials applied for a federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to help fund the rebuilding of the Howard Street rail tunnel in Baltimore, Gov. Larry Hogan announced yesterday.

The governor's announcement and grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation follows his administration's year-long negotiations with CSX to restore the state and CSX partnership to rebuild the tunnel, state officials said in a press release.

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Reflections on Norfolk Southern’s 2019 Investor Day: Analysis by Tony Hatch

Tony Hatch is an independent transportation analyst and consultant, and a program consultant for Progressive Railroading’s RailTrends® conference.

On Feb. 11 and after an almost 5-year absence, Norfolk Southern hosted an investor conference in its soon-to-be headquarters city of Atlanta, and NS management gave us what the audience and I were seeking: 

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Reflections on Norfolk Southern’s 2019 Investor Day: Analysis by Tony Hatch

Tony Hatch is an independent transportation analyst and consultant, and a program consultant for Progressive Railroading’s RailTrends® conference.

On Feb. 11 and after an almost 5-year absence, Norfolk Southern hosted an investor conference in its soon-to-be headquarters city of Atlanta, and NS management gave us what the audience and I were seeking: 

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Canadian Pacific renews funding of heart research

Rail News Home Canadian Pacific 3/4/2019 Rail News: Canadian Pacific
imageCanadian Pacific is renewing its pledge of CA$1.5 million for heart research over the next three years, the Class I announced late last week.The contribution is part of CP's partnership with the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada to improve Canadians' health. Forged four years ago, the community partnership is dubbed "CP Has Heart."CP's support for heart and stroke research began in 2015, when the "CP Has Heart Cardiovascular Awards" were rolled out, providing funding for 13 researchers across Canada. The awards supported a range of research queries, CP officials said in a press release."Through our ongoing CP Has Heart activities and contributions, we will continue to further cardiovascular research, get the best equipment to cardiac patients and spread awareness of the issue," said James Clements, CP's vice president of strategic planning and transportation services.

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Viterra acquires General Mills' stake in North Dakota grain facility

Rail News Home BNSF Railway 3/4/2019 Rail News: BNSF Railway
image BNSF serves the grain facility in Northgate, North Dakota.Photo – bnsf.com

Viterra USA LLC closed last month on its acquisition of General Mills' 50 percent ownership stake in a BNSF Railway Co.-served grain facility in Northgate, North Dakota.

In addition to the grain facility, Viterra's presence in the state includes special crops facilities in Ray and Minot, as well as a grain elevator in Grand Forks.

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BNSF slates $95 million for Minnesota projects

BNSF Railway Co. has budgeted $95 million for capital expenditure projects in Minnesota this year, the Class I announced earlier this week.

Most of the railroad's capex plan in the state will focus on replacing and upgrading rail, ties and ballast, BNSF officials said in a press release.

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PATH adds Sprint to complete cellphone service coverage

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 2/28/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
imagePort Authority-Trans Hudson's riders will now have coverage from all major U.S. cellphone service providers at PATH stations in New York and New Jersey.  Last week, the agency added Sprint to the three other major cell service providers —Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile — in expanding its service across all stations and platforms.  Cell service from the other providers started in December 2018.  The Sprint access completes the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's effort to install cellular connections in all PATH underground stations, port authority officials said in a press release. PATH serves more than riders on weekdays and 150,000 on weekends. Connectivity is available on platforms and throughout stations, but not while passengers are on trains in tunnels between stations. 

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TSB: Broken axle led to CN coal train derailment

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has found that a broken axle on a freight car led to the January 2018 derailment of a CN train near New Hazelton, British Columbia.

The incident occurred when a CN train moving west at 29 mph experienced a train-initiated emergency brake application near New Hazelton. A subsequent inspection determined that 27 gondola cars loaded with coal derailed, with some of the product spilling into a nearby waterway.

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TSB: Broken axle led to CN coal train derailment

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has found that a broken axle on a freight car led to the January 2018 derailment of a CN train near New Hazelton, British Columbia.

The incident occurred when a CN train moving west at 29 mph experienced a train-initiated emergency brake application near New Hazelton. A subsequent inspection determined that 27 gondola cars loaded with coal derailed, with some of the product spilling into a nearby waterway.

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MTA adjusts fares, tolls as part of reforms

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 2/28/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
imageThe Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board (MTA) yesterday adopted a slate of  fare and toll changes following reform initiatives revealed earlier in the week by MTA, as well as reform proposals announced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.  The MTA's base subway, bus and paratransit fares will remain unchanged at $2.75, while yielding a "much needed" MTA revenue of 4 percent, which is below the rate of inflation, MTA officials said in a press release. But as of April 21, the 30-day unlimited ride MetroCard will increase 5 percent to $127, and the seven-day  unlimited-ride MetroCard will increase 3.1 percent to $33. Those increases along with other fare and toll changes are expected to produce an additional yearly revenue of $336 million, according to MTA.   For more information on the fare and toll changes, click here

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ASLRRA names Oelsner AVP data and technology

Rail News Home Railroading People 2/28/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
imageThe American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) has appointed Fred Oelsner assistant vice president of data and technology. He began his duties Feb. 26. Oelsner is a former associate at ASLRRA’s lobbying partner, Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell LLC. In his  new role, he will focus on managing and utilizing industry data initiatives, as well as managing information technology systems.  His hiring follows ASLRRA's selection of Chuck Baker as the association's new president earlier this year.  Baker was formerly a partner at Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell.

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BNSF unveils capex projects for Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska

BNSF Railway Co. yesterday rolled out more of its state-by-state capital expenditure plans for 2019, announcing $445 million worth of projects slated for Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

In Kansas, the Class I will invest $165 million to replace and upgrade rail, ties and ballast. The maintenance program will include 560 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work, as well as the replacement of 30 miles of rail and 120,000 ties. In addition, BNSF plans to begin a multiyear project to install double track on portions of the Emporia Subdivision, which operates between Wellington and Kansas City.

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