Railroad News

CN highlights planned infrastructure upgrades in three provinces

Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way 7/7/2020 Rail News: Maintenance Of Way
image The railroad plans to replace more than 60 miles of rail in the three provinces.Photo – CN

CN recently announced plans to spend about CA$105 million in Manitoba, CA$20 million in New Brunswick and CA$10 million in Nova Scotia this year to bolster infrastructure.

Planned track and capital work in Manitoba calls for replacing more than 50 miles of rail, installing more than 150,000 ties and rebuilding six grade crossing surfaces. The work slate in New Brunswick includes replacing eight miles of rail, installing 10,000 ties and rebuilding five crossing surfaces, while the agenda in Nova Scotia includes replacing four miles of rail, installing 30,000 ties and rebuilding eight crossing surfaces.

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Project team seeks input on planned Colorado transit-rail service

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 7/7/2020 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Front Range Passenger Rail project officials last week begun collecting public input on a plan to develop a passenger-rail service along a 173-mile corridor from Fort Collins to Pueblo, Colorado.  Residents along the corridor will weigh in online on how they might use the rail service, and whether they would want faster trains or a service with more stops. The web portal also includes evaluations of potential routes and operations details. The Front Range Passenger Rail project is being overseen by the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, the Colorado Department of Transportation and HDR Inc. Following the comment period, which will run through the end of the month, the team expects to move on to more specific environmental and engineering planning.

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CP broke more grain-carrying records in June, Q2

Rail News Home Canadian Pacific 7/7/2020 Rail News: Canadian Pacific
image The railroad moved an all-time-high 8.41 million metric tons of grain-related products in Q2.Photo – CNW Group/Canadian Pacific

Canadian Pacific today announced it set both a quarterly and June record for the movement of Canadian grain and grain products during what has become a standout crop year for the railroad.

In the second quarter, CP moved an all-time-high 8.41 million metric tons (MMT) of grain-related products, breaking the previous quarterly record of 7.9 MMT set in fourth-quarter of 2019. In June, the railroad moved 2.76 MMT, besting the previous June record of 2.4 MMT set in 2014.

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CP broke more grain-carrying records in June, Q2

Rail News Home Canadian Pacific 7/7/2020 Rail News: Canadian Pacific
image The railroad moved an all-time-high 8.41 million metric tons of grain-related products in Q2.Photo – CNW Group/Canadian Pacific

Canadian Pacific today announced it set both a quarterly and June record for the movement of Canadian grain and grain products during what has become a standout crop year for the railroad.

In the second quarter, CP moved an all-time-high 8.41 million metric tons (MMT) of grain-related products, breaking the previous quarterly record of 7.9 MMT set in fourth-quarter of 2019. In June, the railroad moved 2.76 MMT, besting the previous June record of 2.4 MMT set in 2014.

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Valley Metro boards elect new officers

Rail News Home Railroading People 7/6/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Francisco HerediaPhoto – mesaaz.gov

The Valley Metro Rail Boards of Directors and the Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority (RPTA) last week elected officers for the fiscal-year 2021 term between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. 

Mesa City Council member Francisco Heredia was elected chair of the Valley Metro Rail board, and Kate Gallego, mayor of Phoenix, was elected vice chair. 

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RSI leader O’Malley to step down at month’s end

Rail News Home Railroading People 7/6/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Mike O’MalleyPhoto – RSI

The Railway Supply Institute (RSI) late last week announced President Mike O’Malley will depart the organization July 31.

RSI’s leader since early 2018, he is pursuing an opportunity with a corporation outside of Washington, D.C., where the association is headquartered. 

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In memoriam: Long-time OCTA board member Winterbottom

Rail News Home Railroading People 7/6/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Gregory WinterbottomPhoto – OCTA

Gregory Winterbottom, the Orange County Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) longest-serving board member, died June 26. He was 73. 

Winterbottom began serving as a public member of the OCTA board in 1993. In 2004 and 2013, he served as chairman. Most recently, he was vice chairman of OCTA’s Transit Committee, a member of the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee and a board member for the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, which operates Metrolink.

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Feds approve environmental analysis for Washington state port rail project

Rail News Home Short Lines & Regionals 7/6/2020 Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals
image The Northern Columbia Basin Rail Project in Washington state recently received long-awaited environmental documentation approval from the Federal Railroad Administration, the Port of Moses Lake announced in late June.
 
The work calls for creating a rail connection to the port by building 4.5 miles of track along the Wheeler Industrial Corridor and linking it to a Columbia Basin Railroad line near Moses Lake. Other associated track will be upgraded, modernized or rerouted, and another 3 miles will be built to access industrial land adjacent to Grant County International Airport.The project received $20.9 million in state funding in 2015 and $9.9 million in federal funding — via a FASTLANE grant — in 2016. The federal government added a requirement to update the project’s environmental analysis before releasing the grant funds.That update, along with a public comment solicitation and technical review, took nearly three years to complete, port officials said in a press release.
 
“[We are] relieved to finally receive federal approval to move forward with this project. Several years ago, the community joined together to support this plan because of the opportunities it creates for our region and the benefits to the city of Moses Lake,” said Port of Moses Lake Commission President Stroud Kunkle.Now, the port and project partners need to reach an agreement with the federal agencies on a proposed staged implementation plan, initiate appraisals and acquire right of way along the corridor before construction can begin, he said.

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MARTA deploys new rail-car disinfectant technology

Rail News Home Security 7/6/2020 Rail News: Security
image Delta Air Lines provided MARTA with 50 electrostatic sprayers to disinfect rail car more efficiently.Photo – MARTA

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) last week announced it will begin using electrostatic sprayers to more easily and efficiently disinfect trains and rail stations as the agency prepares for a increase in ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Delta Air Lines provided MARTA with 50 electrostatic sprayers that disperse disinfectant in a fine mist that clings to and sanitizes surfaces without leaving a residue. 

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Fortson assumes gavel as NMB chair

Rail News Home Railroading People 7/6/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Kyle FortsonPhoto – NMB

The National Mediation Board (NMB) last week announced the appointment of Kyle Fortson as chairman effective July 1. She serves on the board with Gerald Fauth and Linda Puchala.

Fortson joined the NMB in November 2017 and previously served as chair from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019. Puchala chaired the board from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

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Virgin Trains USA enters right-of-way agreement for Las Vegas-LA high-speed rail

Rail News Home High-Speed Rail 7/6/2020 Rail News: High-Speed Rail
image Rendering of Virgin Trains USA's proposed high-speed electric train.Photo – Brightline

Virgin Trains USA last week entered into a lease agreement with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to use existing right of way along Interstate 15 in California for the planned high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California, a local news outlet recently reported.

Caltrans officials told the Daily Press that all public comments received before the agreement was signed supported the project.

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Watco to serve six major Dow chemical plants in the U.S., Canada

Rail News Home Short Lines & Regionals 7/6/2020 Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals
image Watco Cos. LLC has reached an agreement with Dow Inc. to acquire the major chemical producer’s rail infrastructure assets and related equipment at six major North American facilities.Watco will provide select rail services at Dow's plants in Freeport and Seadrift, Texas; St. Charles and Plaquemine, Louisiana; and Fort Saskatchewan and Prentiss, Alberta."We are grateful for the confidence Dow has shown in Watco by trusting us with this critical role,” said Watco Chief Executive Officer Dan Smith in a press release. “This represents a revolutionary approach to industrial in-plant rail operations and we're proud to help Dow create value for many years to come."North America’s largest olefins and polyethylene manufacturer, Dow expects to receive more than $310 million in cash as part of the transaction, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter pending customary closing conditions. Fourteen Dow employees and management responsibility for about 400 contract workers are expected to transition to Watco after the transaction closes.Watco’s significant rail expertise and capabilities will generate additional operational efficiencies and provide growth opportunities over time, Dow officials said. The transaction aligns with the company’s strategy to continue to grow core businesses in a capital-efficient manner, they said.“The transaction will liberate cash from our balance sheet that we will use to pay down debt and invest in our core value-generating businesses,” said Dow Chairman and CEO Jim Fitterling. To execute the transaction, Watco plans to partner with the transportation infrastructure group that manages an infrastructure investing strategy and funds for Oaktree Capital Management L.P., a Watco investor.

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Rail supplier news from AREMA, Alstom, SENER, VTG, LRW and SISCOG (July 2)

Rail News Home Railroading Supplier Spotlight 7/2/2020 Rail News: Railroading Supplier Spotlight
image Alstom acquired Ibre, a French manufacturer of cast iron and steel brake discs for trains.Photo – Alstom

The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) will hold its annual conference virtually Sept. 13-17. The meeting was changed to an online event to protect the health and safety of its attendees, AREMA officials announced in an email. The AREMA 2020 Virtual Conference & Expo will include nearly 80 technical presentations, keynote addresses from Kevin Brown and Tony Hatch, panel discussions and virtual meetings with exhibitors.

Alstom acquired Ibre, a French company focused on development, manufacture and supply of cast iron or steel brake discs for high-speed, intercity and regional trains. Ibre has been renamed Alstom Ibre and is now an Alstom subsidiary. The acquisition enables Alstom to reinforce internal capabilities regarding railway braking systems, which are essential to the overall dynamic performance of trains, Alstom officials said in a press release.

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CSX awards contract for railroad car dumper system

Rail News Home CSX Transportation 7/2/2020 Rail News: CSX Transportation
image CSX will use the system for the rotary dumping of loaded rail cars and for the unloading of bottom dump cars.Photo – metso.com

CSX has awarded a contract to Metso for the design, supply and installation of a rail-car dumper system that will be used to unload coal at the Curtis Bay Export Terminal in Baltimore.

The Metso Twin Cage Tandem Rotary Car Dumper System will include two complete dumper barrel assemblies, a complete hopper system with grizzlies, a unit train positioner operation and installation. The system is expected to be operational in October 2021, Metso officials said in a press release.

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BLET, Indiana Southern reach tentative pact

Rail News Home Labor 7/2/2020 Rail News: Labor
image The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) earlier this week reached a tentative agreement with the Indiana Southern Railroad (ISRR).  The tentative agreement governs rates of pay, benefits and work rules for 17 members, including locomotive engineers and conductors. Ballots were mailed June 25 to active members of the BLET employed by the ISRR who are eligible to vote in the ratification of this agreement. Ballots are due July 21.  The BLET's ISRR membership belongs to Division 270 located in Washington, Indiana, which is a part of the CP Rail-U.S. General Committee of Adjustment.  The BLET organized the ISRR in September 2002. A Genesee & Wyoming property, the ISRR operates 196 miles of track between Indianapolis and Evansville. It handles primarily coal and agricultural commodities. 

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CSX awards contract for railroad car dumper system

Rail News Home CSX Transportation 7/2/2020 Rail News: CSX Transportation
image CSX will use the system for the rotary dumping of loaded rail cars and for the unloading of bottom dump cars.Photo – metso.com

CSX has awarded a contract to Metso for the design, supply and installation of a rail-car dumper system that will be used to unload coal at the Curtis Bay Export Terminal in Baltimore.

The Metso Twin Cage Tandem Rotary Car Dumper System will include two complete dumper barrel assemblies, a complete hopper system with grizzlies, a unit train positioner operation and installation. The system is expected to be operational in October 2021, Metso officials said in a press release.

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Canada to invest in Vancouver rail infrastructure

Rail News Home Intermodal 7/2/2020 Rail News: Intermodal
image The Canadian government will invest CA$17.5 million to expand and improve the Ray-Mont off-dock transload facility in Richmond, British Columbia.Photo – Ray Mont

The Canadian government earlier this week announced it is investing more than CA$28 million in three projects that will increase transport capacity and efficiency at three facilities in greater Vancouver, British Columbia. 

Funding for projects includes:

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House passes $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill

The U.S. House yesterday passed the $1.5 trillion Moving Forward Act, H.R. 2, a massive infrastructure bill that includes $500 billion to reauthorize surface transportation programs over the next five years.

At the center of the legislation is the Democrats' INVEST in America Act, which has received mixed reviews from the railroad industry. The legislation would succeed the current surface transportation law known as the FAST Act, which will expire Sept. 30.

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Iowa Interstate Railroad opens Duggan Bridge

Rail News Home Short Lines & Regionals 7/2/2020 Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals
image The new structure, which crosses the Raccoon River west of Des Moines, replaces a 119-year-old bridge.Photo – Iowa Interstate Railroad Instagram

The Iowa Interstate Railroad Ltd. (IAIS) earlier this week opened the new William J. Duggan Bridge in Booneville, Iowa, to freight-rail traffic. 

The structure, which crosses the Raccoon River west of Des Moines, replaces a 119-year-old through truss bridge. The bridge now consists of eight steel beam spans set in concrete piers, with two concrete bents supporting a concrete box beam.

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KCS shuffles leadership to carry out PSR strategy

Rail News Home Railroading People 7/2/2020 Rail News: Railroading People
image Kansas City Southern yesterday announced several organizational changes designed to support the Class I's ongoing precision scheduled railroading (PSR) strategy and provide development opportunities for several KCS leaders. Mike Walczak, currently vice president of mechanical operations, will move to a newly created role in finance, reporting to Executive VP and Chief Financial Officer Michael Upchurch. In his new role, Walczak will lead service design, car management, fuel management, treasury and tax. He will work with EVP of PSR Sameh Fahmy to continue carrying out the company's PSR strategy, KCS officials said in a press release. Darin Selby, VP of intermodal and automotive operations, will assume responsibility for mechanical operations. Selby has extensive leadership experience in sales, marketing and operations, and will lead KCS' mechanical organization as it continues to right-size equipment fleet, increase staff productivity, minimize failures and train delays and invest in new technologies to improve the reliability of company assets, company officials said. Olivia Daily, assistant VP of service design, will become VP of purchasing. She will succeed Bill Blaise, who will retire Sept. 1. Blaise, who has been with KCS since 2007, will assist in the transition of the purchasing organization. "Kansas City Southern is focused on providing consistent and reliable service, building a more resilient and dependable network, facilitating industry-leading growth, and continuing to improve asset utilization and our cost structure," said President and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Ottensmeyer. "These organizational changes will help us build on the significant train and crew efficiency gains made during the COVID-19 pandemic." Two of the KCS leaders whose positions are changing have been designated "Rising Stars" in the railroad industry by Progressive Railroading. Selby received the Rising Stars Award in 2016, while Daily will receive the 2020 award later this month.  

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