Railroad News

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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Chicago transit executives praise new state infrastructure spending law

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker late last week signed into law Rebuild Illinois, a $45 billion capital spending plan described by Chicago transit officials as the "largest infrastructure program" in state history.

The new law ends a decade without a capital spending bill in Illinois, according to a joint statement issued by Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, Pace and Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) executives.

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Virginia transportation board OKs rail funding

Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) last month approved fiscal-year 2020 budgets for the Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), and blessed a six-year improvement program that allocates a record $22.9 billion to rail, highway and public transportation programs.

The budgets and six-year program — which take effect today — will advance the commonwealth's commitment to improving and maintaining infrastructure, and building a multimodal platform for the state’s economy, said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine in a press release. The program includes $803 million for rail initiatives and $3.8 billion for public transportation.

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Metrolink approves $330M budget for FY2020

Metrolink's board late last week approved a fiscal-year 2020 budget of $329.7 million, which includes funding to improve service on several lines and invest in safety technologies, but stipulates no fare increases. 

The budget was passed by directors who represent the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Orange County Transportation Authority, Riverside County Transportation Commission, San Bernardino County Transportation Authority and Ventura County Transportation Commission, which comprise the Southern California Regional Rail Authority.

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Congressmen seek longer comment period for LNG-by-rail permit request

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) have asked the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to extend the public comment period on a special permit the administration is considering to allow liquefied natural gas (LNG) to be transported by rail in Florida.

In a June 28 letter to PHMSA Administrator Howard Elliott, DeFazio and Malinowski note that the comment period — set to close July 8 — does not allow the public or Congress enough time to learn where and how Energy Transport Solutions intends to move LNG via Florida East Coast Railway, and how first responders along the route could respond to a leak or explosion.

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PANYNJ seeks fare and capital plan changes, notes latest cargo and ridership records

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's (PANYNJ) board last week initiated public comment measures for the authority's proposed toll and fare increases, and a reassessment of its 2017-2026 capital plan to include $4.8 billion in additional spending.

The board has scheduled six public hearings in July — including three in New York and three in New Jersey — and established a public comment period through Sept. 13.

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Brookfield Infrastructure, partners to acquire Genesee & Wyoming for $8.4B

Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) has reached an agreement with Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP and its institutional partners to be acquired through a transaction valued at about $8.4 billion, including outstanding debt.

When the transaction closes by year end or in early 2020, G&W would become a privately held company. The deal requires approval by G&W stockholders holding 66.66 percent of outstanding common stock, regulatory blessings from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and Surface Transportation Board, and certain competition and antitrust approvals.

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Rail supplier news from Bombardier, Thales, Focused Technology, Appalachian Railcar, Ondas Networks and HNTB (June 28)

Bombardier Transportation won a new contract from the city and county of San Francisco to provide operations and maintenance services for the Bombardier Innovia APM 100 automated people mover (APM) system at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Valued at $220 million, the contract covers 10 years and includes an option for an additional five years. Bombardier has provided operations and maintenance services for the APM since it opened in 2003. The AirTrain fleet of 38 Innovia APM 100 vehicles serve nine stations along 6 miles of elevated guideway, and connects SFO’s terminals, parking garages, rental car center and a Bay Area Rapid Transit station. Under a contract awarded in 2016, Bombardier is providing three additional Innovia vehicles, building a 2,000-foot guideway extension and a new station, and upgrading signals for the APM.

Mosaic Transit Group has contracted Thales to provide the signaling system for the Finch West light-rail project in Toronto. Thales will provide its SelTrac™ communications-based train control system. Mosaic Transit Group was the consortium selected by Metrolinx to design, build, finance and maintain the new 7-mile, 18-stop line, which will be operated by the Toronto Transit Commission. The project is slated for completion in 2023.

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NJ governor signs NJ Transit worker bill, highlights agency's progress

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy earlier this week signed into law a bill that would prohibit New Jersey Transit from asserting sovereign immunity to escape rail worker lawsuits under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) and other federal rail statues.

The New Jersey Transit Corporation Employee Protection Act aims to reverse a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year that determined an injured rail worker could not sue NJ Transit under FELA because the agency is an "arm of the state" and therefore immune to federal lawsuits.

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WMATA hands chairman's gavel to Smedberg

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/28/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
image Paul SmedbergPhoto – Northern Virginia Transportation Commission

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) board has elected Paul Smedberg as chairman.

He joined the board in 2016 as an alternate director representing the city of Alexandria, Virginia, and in January became a principal director representing the commonwealth of Virginia. Smedberg previously served as chairman and member of Virginia Railway Express' operations board.

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Former CSX exec Kendall joins FRA as deputy administrator

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/28/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
image Most recently, Kendall served as CSX's vice president of state government and community affairsPhoto – www.fra.dot.gov

Quintin Kendall is the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) new deputy administrator, the agency confirmed this week.

At the FRA, Kendall is responsible for providing executive leadership and guidance on policy, budget, administration, regulation implementation, communications, and stakeholder and government relations, according to his biography on the FRA’s website.

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TriMet adopts 2020 budget, anticipates station consolidation plan vote

The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon’s (TriMet) board earlier this week adopted the fiscal-year 2020 budget, which includes $685.2 million for day-to-day operations and more than $300 million for capital projects.

For the seventh consecutive year, the budget does not include adult fare increases. To take effect July 1 and run through June 30, 2020, the budget will bolster security and fare enforcement, improve service and fund various system upgrades, TriMet officials said in a press release.

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Norfolk Southern kicks off TOP21 operating plan

Rail News Home Norfolk Southern Railway 6/28/2019 Rail News: Norfolk Southern Railway
image The new plan is designed to improve service performance for customers and provide network efficiencies.Photo – nscorp.com

Today, Norfolk Southern Railway will begin rolling out its new precision scheduled railroad operating plan known as TOP21, the Class I announced yesterday in a customer service alert.

The new plan is designed to improve service performance for customers and provide network efficiencies, NS officials said in the alert.

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Norfolk Southern kicks off TOP21 operating plan

Rail News Home Norfolk Southern Railway 6/28/2019 Rail News: Norfolk Southern Railway
image The new plan is designed to improve service performance for customers and provide network efficiencies.Photo – nscorp.com

Today, Norfolk Southern Railway will begin rolling out its new precision scheduled railroad operating plan known as TOP21, the Class I announced yesterday in a customer service alert.

The new plan is designed to improve service performance for customers and provide network efficiencies, NS officials said in the alert.

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FTA allocates $60 million grant to DART for platform extensions

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/28/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image DART plans to extend platforms — such as the ones shown — at 28 stations.Photo – DART

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday announced a $60.76 million federal funding grant agreement (FFGA) with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) for platform extensions at 28 stations along the Red and Blue lines.

The $128.8 million project will enable DART to operate longer trains to accommodate more riders, FTA officials said in a press release. The stations currently can only handle two-car trains, but the work will boost platform capacity to three-car trains.

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Alaska Railroad OKs historic pact to build new U.S.-Canada rail connection

Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) and Alaska to Alberta Railway Development Corp. (A2A) have signed a master agreement of cooperation calling for the construction of a 1,500-mile connection between ARRC’s system and Canadian railroads that also would link to the lower 48 states.

The agreement for the proposed $13 billion project (CA$17 billion) was announced yesterday after approval by ARRC’s board.

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MBTA lets contract for improvements at four subway stations

Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way 6/27/2019 Rail News: Maintenance Of Way
image Downtown Crossing is one of four stations set for new signage, paint and and lighting.Photo – MBTA

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's (MBTA) fiscal and management control board has awarded a nearly $30 million contract to Judlau Contracting Inc. to complete upgrades at four busy subway stations.

The work will be performed over a 16-month construction period at the Downtown Crossing, State, Haymarket and North stations, which register the highest passenger volumes in the MBTA's system. The project calls for replacing all signage; repairing walls, ceilings and floors; painting the interiors; cleaning and refinishing benches; replacing lighting; and cleaning in-station artwork.

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Austin's Cap Metro garnered high ridership growth in May

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/27/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image MetroRail ridership rose 3.6 percent in May.Photo – Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Cap Metro) in Austin, Texas, registered total ridership of 2.6 million in May, up 11.8 percent from April's total and 11.5 percent from May 2018's mark.

The year-over-year increase is among the highest of transit agencies nationwide, Cap Metro officials said in a press release.

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South Carolina ports set cargo record in May

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) logged its strongest May on record, with 204,457 20-foot-equivalent container units (TEUs) handled in the month, authority officials announced yesterday.

Fiscal year-to-date TEU volume through May was up 9.7 percent, with 2,192,689 TEUs handled since the fiscal year began July 1, 2018.

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Montreal agency to obtain more AZUR trains from consortium

Rail News Home Mechanical 6/27/2019 Rail News: Mechanical
image STM previously tested Azur trains on its system.Photo – Societe de transport de Montreal

Societe de transport de Montreal (STM) just completed a major train order and now has exercised an option to obtain additional trains over the next two years.

The agency recently received the 54th AZUR train from a Bombardier Transportation-Alstom consortium, capping off an order that was placed in October 2010. STM plans to obtain 17 more AZUR trains through a contractual amendment with the consortium.

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