Railroad News

AAR: U.S. rail traffic tumbled for fifth-straight month in June

U.S. railroads remained in a rut last month. June was the fifth-straight month that their carloads and intermodal traffic declined on a year-over-year basis.

U.S. roads last month originated 1,023,394 carloads, down 5.3 percent, and 1,075,974 containers and trailers, down 7.2 percent compared with June 2018 figures, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

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Rail supplier news from Wabtec, Greenbrier, Eagle Railcar, Birmingham Rail, Alstom and WSP (July 3)

Wabtec Corp. announced that Rafael Santana will succeed retiree Ray Belter as president and chief executive officer. Santana joined Wabtec earlier this year as president and CEO of the company’s freight segment following the merger of Wabtec and GE Transportation, where he served as president and CEO. Santana has 25 years of commercial, product management and executive leadership experience, including more than 10 years in the transportation industry.

The Greenbrier Cos. reported net earnings of $15.2 million, or 46 cents per diluted share, and revenue of $856.2 million in its third fiscal quarter, which ended May 31. Greenbrier received orders for about 6,500 new rail cars valued at $730 million in the quarter. The orders span a range of car types from diverse customers, Greenbrier officials said in a press release. Greenbrier's backlog of 26,100 units valued at $2.7 billion provides cash flow into fiscal-year 2020, they said.

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BART to build new substations in San Francisco

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 7/3/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image BART is also working to replace traction power substations across its network.Photo – BART

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) earlier this week announced plans to build two new traction power substations in downtown San Francisco. 

A combination of the upgraded power system, installation of a new train control system and the addition of more rail cars will allow the agency to increase the number of trains from 23 to 30 that travel between San Francisco and Oakland, California, through the Transbay Tube during peak hours, BART officials said in a press release.

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Houston-area port, UP complete first phase of major rail project

Rail News Home Intermodal 7/3/2019 Rail News: Intermodal
image Several congressmen joined Port Freeport and UP officials at the ribbon cutting ceremony.Photo – Port Freeport

Representatives from Port Freeport, Union Pacific Railroad and other organizations held a ribbon cutting ceremony June 28 to mark the first-phase completion of the $21 million Parcel 14 Rail Development project at the Houston-area port.

On a 250-acre site adjacent to State Highway 36, the port broke ground in August 2017 on the project, which involved the construction of about 21,000 linear feet of track. The work included building a 6,000-foot lead track from a UP mainline that crosses the highway to three, 5,000-foot ladder tracks.

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Puchala to chair National Mediation Board for fifth time

Rail News Home Railroading People 7/3/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
image Linda PuchalaPhoto – NMB

The National Mediation Board (NMB) has installed Linda Puchala as chairman. She will lead the board through June 30, 2020, with Gerald Fauth and Kyle Fortson continuing to serve as members.

Puchala was confirmed as an NMB member in May 2009 and previously served as chairman from May 2009 through June 2009; July 2011 through June 2012; July 2013 through June 2014; and July 2016 through June 2017. She received her most recent Senate confirmation in November 2017.

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MBTA, state officials mark start of South Coast Rail project

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Pollack, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) General Manager Steve Poftak and other dignitaries attended a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for the South Coast Rail project's first phase.

The more than $3 billion project calls for restoring commuter-rail service between Boston and Massachusetts' South Coast, with stops in New Bedford, Fall River and Taunton. The $1 billion first phase includes extending Middleborough Line service to New Bedford and Fall River; reconstructing 17.3 miles of the New Bedford mainline and 11.7 miles of the Fall River secondary; upgrading the Middleborough secondary track from Pilgrim Junction to Cotley Junction covering 7.1 miles; building two new layover facilities; and constructing six new stations.

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South Shore double-track project moves forward in Indiana

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 7/3/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The South Shore Line double-track project includes installation of a second mainline track from Gary to Michigan City, Indiana.Photo – NICTD

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) has requested entry into the engineering phase of the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program for its double-track project along the South Shore Line in northwest Indiana. 

NICTD has already completed the development phase of CIG, which includes an environmental review and an analysis of project alternatives for installing a second mainline track from Gary to Michigan City, Indiana.

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Alberta hires CIBC to help divest the province's crude-by-rail program

Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends 7/3/2019 Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
image Crude by rail should be "in the hands of the private sector," Alberta officials say.Photo – CN

The Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission has contracted CIBC Capital Markets to help oversee the divestment of the province's crude-by-rail program and the transition of that business to the private sector.

Although the future of crude by rail in Alberta is "very bright," that business will continue to grow without government interference, said Alberta Minister of Energy Sonya Savage in a statement issued late last week.

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California High-Speed Rail Authority releases route recommendations

Rail News Home High-Speed Rail 7/3/2019 Rail News: High-Speed Rail
image Identifying preferred alternatives will guide the public to what is most likely to become the selected high-speed rail project, CHSRA says.Photo – California High-Speed Rail Authority

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) yesterday released staff recommendations of the preferred alternatives for the planned high-speed rail (HSR) routes in Northern California. 

The authority recommends that the San Jose-to-Merced section of the route include a blended configuration between San Jose and Gilroy in the existing Union Pacific Railroad corridor before continuing to a dedicated HSR alignment through Pacheco Pass in Santa Clara County.

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LA Metro suspends weekend service on Green Line

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 7/2/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image LA Metro will begin testing rail systems software on the connection between the Green and Crenshaw/LAX lines.Photo – LA Metro Facebook

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) will suspend weekend service on the Green Line between Crenshaw and Redondo Beach stations to begin testing rail system software on the connection between the Green and Crenshaw/LAX lines.  

Beginning July 12, the service will be suspended every Friday night, then resume every Monday morning until work is completed sometime in the fall. The whole process may take more than 10 weekends, LA Metro officials said in a press release.

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Indiana port processed gargantuan gantry cranes for CSX terminal

Rail News Home Intermodal 7/2/2019 Rail News: Intermodal
image Served by Norfolk Southern Railway, the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handles international ships via the St. Lawrence Seaway.Photo – Ports of Indiana

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor recently handled two large rubber-tire gantry (RTG) cranes that were destined for CSX's Chicago-area intermodal terminal in Bedford Park, Illinois.
 
It was the first time in its nearly 50-year history that the port processed such large cranes, Ports of Indiana officials said in a press release. Designed to hoist loads up to eight containers wide, the RTG cranes will replace two older units at the CSX terminal, which handles domestic and international freight.

"Our proximity to Burns Harbor allowed us to receive our cargo quickly and efficiently," said Tom Tisa, head of marketing and strategic development for CSX. "The new cranes are uniquely suited to support our evolving intermodal operations."

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Houston METRO board approves security initiatives, adds member

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of Harris County’s (METRO) board last week approved funding for security-related initiatives, including the addition of 20 part-time metro police officers. 

The new positions will report in various police units, including rail, patrol, criminal investigation and K-9. 

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North Carolina Railroad faces public records disclosure lawsuit

The Southern Environmental Law Center has filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina Railroad Co. (NCRR) claiming it refused to produce public documents for review under the North Carolina Public Records Act.

The law center had requested records from NCRR relating to the proposed Durham-Orange light-rail project, which Go Triangle cancelled earlier this year.

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TriMet explores potential for Portland light-rail tunnel

The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) and Portland Oregon Metro have opened a public comment period to gather feedback on a proposed MAX light-rail tunnel under downtown Portland.

As a first step, the agencies need to determine the necessary studies and resources to create a tunnel from Lloyd Center to Goose Hollow in Southwest Portland. To do so, public comments will aid the agency in identifying opportunities, challenges and viable alternatives for additional study, TriMet officials said on the project website. 

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Canadian Transportation Agency seeks feedback on regulated interswitching rates

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 7/2/2019 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) late last month launched consultations on its approach to setting regulated interswitching rates. The CTA is inviting key stakeholders to share their views to help ensure the rates are compensatory, consider the long-term investment needs of railroads, and are commercially fair and reasonable to all parties, agency officials said in a press release.The CTA plans to hold bilateral consultation sessions from July 12 to Aug. 20. Written submissions are due by Aug. 21.Prior to participating in a consultation, stakeholders can review a discussion paper that focuses on such issues as developing interswitching rates for short lines, regional and commodity specific interswitching rates, interswitching zones up to 19 miles and railroads' long-term investment needs.The paper also addresses volume discount rate categories, contributions to fixed costs, productivity factors, and the transparency of regulated interswitching rates and methodologies.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/2/2019


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San Joaquin rail authority releases feasibility study for Valley Link

The Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority’s board last week released a feasibility study for Valley Link, a proposed commuter-rail service that would connect the San Joaquin Valley communities in California with Bay Area Rapid Transit’s (BART) and Altamont Corridor Express’ (ACE) systems.

The report includes alignment options; an overview of stations and facilities; system integration options with BART and ACE; proposed vehicle technology; projected capital and operating costs; a funding and financing plan; and a recommendation for project management and delivery.

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CN's grain traffic maintained record pace in June

Rail News Home Canadian National Railway - CN 7/2/2019 Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN
image Western Canadian grain movements were at high ebb through 11 months of the 2018-19 crop year.Photo – CN

CN today announced its western Canadian grain movements in June exceeded 2.3 million metric tons (MMT) compared with 1.99 MMT in June 2018.

The cumulative tonnage moved by the railroad through 11 months of the 2018-19 crop year was on record pace at 25.5 MMT — 1 million tons ahead of the previous record-setting pace — despite the restrictions on Canadian exports to China, CN officials said in a press release. The three-year average of grain movements per month is 1.80 MMT.

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CN's grain traffic maintained record pace in June

Rail News Home Canadian National Railway - CN 7/2/2019 Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN
image Western Canadian grain movements were at high ebb through 11 months of the 2018-19 crop year.Photo – CN

CN today announced its western Canadian grain movements in June exceeded 2.3 million metric tons (MMT) compared with 1.99 MMT in June 2018.

The cumulative tonnage moved by the railroad through 11 months of the 2018-19 crop year was on record pace at 25.5 MMT — 1 million tons ahead of the previous record-setting pace — despite the restrictions on Canadian exports to China, CN officials said in a press release. The three-year average of grain movements per month is 1.80 MMT.

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NCTD to receive state funding for bluff stabilization project

Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way 7/1/2019 Rail News: Maintenance Of Way
image The Del Mar Bluffs area experiences natural erosion that has led to six bluff failures since the summer of 2018.Photo – NCTD

The North County Transit District (NCTD) this year will receive $6.13 million in California funding for its Del Mar Bluff stabilization projects. 

NCTD, Amtrak, Metrolink, BNSF Railway Co. and PacSun operate on the LOSSAN coastal rail corridor and through the Del Mar Bluffs area, which experiences natural erosion that has led to six bluff failures since last summer, NCTD officials said in a press release. The state funding is critical for NCTD and the San Diego Association of Governments to complete two projects to stabilize the bluffs, they said. 

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TransLink explores effects of late night SkyTrain service

TransLink last week released the results of a year-long independent study exploring the feasibility of operating an extended late-night SkyTrain service on Fridays and Saturdays.

The study found that in order to operate later at night, significant operational changes would be required, including a reduction of SkyTrain operating hours during weekdays and full closures of the system on some holidays, TransLink officials said in a press release. 

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