Railroad News

NCTD partners with NASA, FRA on safety reporting program

Rail News Home Safety 8/19/2019 Rail News: Safety
image The purpose of the C3RS program is to improve railroad safety by collecting and analyzing safety reports of “close call” events.Photo – NCTD

The North County Transit District (NCTD) earlier this month entered into a partnership with NASA and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to report unsafe rail conditions as part of the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS) program.

The purpose of the C3RS program is to improve railroad safety by collecting and analyzing voluntary and confidential safety reports of “close call” events from rail staff and contractors. A close call is defined as an unsafe event which may have had the potential for more serious safety consequences, NCTD officials said in a press release. 

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Canada to help fund rail improvements at Pointe-Noire terminal

Rail News Home Intermodal 8/19/2019 Rail News: Intermodal
image Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway serves the port.Photo – Port of Sept-Iles

The Canadian government will invest CA$50 million to improve infrastructure at the Pointe-Noire terminal in Sept-Iles, Quebec, to support the mining industry.

The funds will go toward a project that includes building a conveyor to connect the storage yard to the wharf, which will increase vessel loading speed, Transport Canada officials said in a press release.

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US, Canada expand pre-clearance agreement to include cargo

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 8/19/2019 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image A preclearance agreement to expedite the flow of travel and trade between Canada and the United States is now in force, Canadian and U.S. government officials announced last week. The "Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine and Air Transport Preclearance" went into effect last week. It enables Canada and the United States to expand preclearance for travelers at land, rail and marine facilities in both nations, as well as at additional airports, according to a press release issued by Public Safety Canada.The agreement also opens the door for the preclearance of cargo, agency officials said.Preclearance is the process by which border officers in Canada or the United States carry out immigration, customs and agriculture inspections and other requirements in the other country before allowing the movement of goods or people across the border.The agreement is reciprocal across all modes of transportation, enabling Canadian pre-clearance officers to conduct preclearance in the United States and U.S. officers to conduct pre-clearance in Canada. The authorities granted in the agreement will apply equally to Canadian pre-clearance officers working in the United States and U.S. pre-clearance officers working in Canada.“Preclearance strengthens economic competitiveness and mutual security, and benefits travelers by expediting their clearance into the U.S. before they ever leave Canada,” said U.S. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan.

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Equipment update: Material handling and distribution

The Builtrite 1010-TM truck mounted loader is available with A-frame styled stabilizers or out and down stabilizers.Photo – Builtrite Manufacturing

Compiled by Pat Foran, Editor

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Rising Stars 2019: Devin Rouse

Devin Rouse, 35
Passenger-rail division staff director
Federal Railroad Administration

Nominator’s quote: “Mr. Rouse has a stellar reputation within FRA and the railroad industry. He is an intelligent, hardworking engineer and project manager and is well respected by his staff, his peers, and especially by the railroad rolling stock equipment manufacturers and the leadership of the 28 commuter railroads around the nation. Senior leadership at FRA routinely assign the toughest and most sensitive tasks to Mr. Rouse. They have complete confidence that he will complete the task while professionally representing the policies and the positions of the FRA and the U.S. Department of Transportation.” — Robert Lauby, Federal Railroad Administration

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U.S. Rep. Craig tours Minnesota rail businesses

Rail News Home Railroading Supplier Spotlight 8/16/2019 Rail News: Railroading Supplier Spotlight
image Craig (shown left) speaks with Mike McGee, VP of regional operations for RailWorks Track Services; Craig (shown right) discusses lumber transload at Progressive Rail.Photo – REMSA/ASLRRA

U.S. Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minnesota) this week visited a rail supplier and short-line holding company in Lakeville, Minnesota, to tour their facilities and discuss infrastructure and short-line tax credit legislation.

Craig, who was first elected to Congress in 2018, serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and its subcommittee on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials.

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Rail supplier news from Duos Technologies, BiTA, Garlock, Vacations By Rail, Argus Consulting, Alliance Shippers and Hanson (Aug. 16)

Duos Technologies Inc. has been awarded a $2.3 million contract from a Class I to replace and update an earlier version of its rip® rail-car inspection portal. The Class I was not revealed. The five-year contract includes technical support, development and maintenance of a library of artificial intelligence algorithms with the objective of automating parts of the client’s rail-car inspections, Duos officials said in a press release.

The Blockchain In Transport Alliance (BiTA) elected Bob Hitt and Richard Greening to serve as chair and co-chair, respectively, of its Bill Of Lading (BOL) working group. The BOL group’s purpose is to create a modern definition of “bill of lading” and an associated data structure specification that can be leveraged across all transport modes for supply chain stakeholders, BiTA officials said in a press release. Hitt is a market manager at Salesforce and Greening is global director of technology of at The DDC Group and its freight-focused division. 

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Ontario’s GO Transit to add midday train service

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 8/16/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Metrolinx will add 84 new train trips, and extend 65 existing ones, across its Ontario rail network.Photo – GO Transit Twitter

Ontario government officials yesterday announced that as of Aug. 31, Metrolinx will add and extend 148 train trips across the GO Transit rail network to accommodate rush-hour, midday and evening service. 

Metrolinx will add 84 new trips across the Kitchener, Lakeshore East and Lakeshore West GO train lines and extend 65 existing trips across the Lakeshore West and Kitchener lines. 

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Chicago's RTA adds Andalcio to its board

Rail News Home Railroading People 8/16/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
image Chicago's Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) announced yesterday the appointment of David Andalcio to the board. He will represent DuPage County, Illinois.Andalcio is chief executive officer of Wynndalco Enterprises LLC. As an RTA board member, he succeeds Patrick Durante, who served on the board with distinction for 20 years, RTA officials said in a press release.“Director Andalcio’s experience in business and government and his entrepreneurial leadership will add a vital and diverse voice to the RTA board,” said RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard.  “He is an outspoken advocate for minority, disadvantaged, and women-owned business enterprises. His appointment is a great addition to the region’s transit leadership.”RTA is responsible for the financial oversight, funding and transit planning for the Chicago Transit Authority, commuter railroad Metra and the Pace bus system.

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NJ Transit renews focus on transit-oriented development

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 8/16/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image NJ Transit officials say the agency is committed to TOD, which combines housing, shopping and dining with easy access to rail.Photo – NJ Transit

New Jersey Transit earlier this week announced it identified additional opportunities for transit-oriented development (TOD) projects and is encouraging community partners to explore them. 

To promote TOD opportunities on and near NJ Transit property, the agency in May launched a website to host project documents for interested bidders to access.  

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BART awarded FEMA grant to expand police patrols

Rail News Home Safety 8/16/2019 Rail News: Safety
image BART's $1.7 million grant will fund another year of deployment of its critical asset patrol team.Photo – BART Twitter

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) earlier this week was awarded a $1.7 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund police patrols on trains traveling through San Francisco. 

The grant will enable BART to fund another year of deployment of its critical asset patrol (CAP) team, and continue to hire new officers to fill 19 additional positions, BART officials said in a press release.

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Hemphill to lead Uinta Basin Railway project

Rail News Home Short Lines & Regionals 8/16/2019 Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals
image Mark HemphillPhoto – Rio Grande Pacific Corp.

Railroad operator Rio Grande Pacific Corp. has hired Mark Hemphill to lead the development and construction of the Uinta Basin Railway project in Utah, company officials announced yesterday.

The $1.5 billion new-build railway will serve northeastern Utah's energy, mineral and agricultural industries when completed in late 2022 to early 2023, Rio Grande officials said in a press release.

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California High-Speed Rail Authority, Kings County settle disputes

Rail News Home High-Speed Rail 8/16/2019 Rail News: High-Speed Rail
image The California High-Speed Rail Authority and Kings County Board announced yesterday they've reached three major agreements that will clear the way for progress on the state's high-speed rail program in the county and California's Central Valley.Kings County has agreed to drop a lawsuit filed in 2014 against the authority over its  certification of an environmental impact report for its Fresno-Bakersfield rail line segment and the approval of a route alignment through southern Fresno County, Kings and Tulare counties and into Kern County.The authority and Kings County Board also signed cooperative agreements related to coordinating ongoing construction efforts in Kings County and the maintenance of several grade separation projects crossing roads in the county, authority officials said in a press release.High-speed rail work now underway in Kings County is located in a 65-mile construction area that stretches from East American Avenue in Fresno County to 1 mile north of the Tulare/Kern County line. High-speed rail construction is occurring on more than 119 miles in the Central Valley.“Now is the time for Kings County to come together with the Authority to settle disputes and to signal a new phase of cooperation,” said Kings County Supervisor Doug Verboon. “With our agreements in place, the high-speed rail project can move forward, and we can continue to protect the interests of the people of Kings County.”As part of the settlement approved by the Kings county Board yesterday, the rail authority will pay the county $10 million "for reimbursement of staff time, the relocation of Fire Station No. 4 and for general plan updates," the Fresno Bee reported.In addition, the city of Corcoran will receive $1 million for the authority to make up for aesthetic effects resulting from the rail line, the newspaper reported.“Today’s agreements represent a new day for the high-speed rail project and demonstrate the willingness of both sides to put past issues aside and work together towards constructive solutions to move the high-speed rail project forward,” said the authority's Chief Executive Officer Brian Kelly. “We will continue to work closely with Kings County now and into the future to bring clean, electrified high-speed rail to the valley and the state.”

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Rail safety technology update

Cloud-based Boss rail planning software is equipped with a suite of optimization algorithms that can generate feasible, safe and efficient plans, Biarri Rail officials said.Photo – Biarri Rail

Compiled by Michael Popke

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Rising Stars 2019: Shirley Qian

Shirley Qian, 28
Senior planner
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

Nominator’s quote: “Shirley successfully applied for a planning grant and is implementing alternative plans for alignment and construction methodologies for future rail capacity expansion in the sensitive Alviso Wetlands. This process involves finding win-win solutions that restore tidal flow, species habitat and sea level rise resiliency along with rail capacity enhancements involving resources, wildlife and environmental advocacy partners.” — Jim Allison, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

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Amtrak names Stecklair police officer of the year

Rail News Home Railroading People 8/15/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
image Amtrak Police Officer Dean StecklairPhoto – Amtrak

The Amtrak Police Department honored Dean Stecklair with its Officer of the Year recognition for his “significant effort” in keeping riders, employees and the public safe while on duty. 

Stecklair began his law enforcement career in 2010 when he joined the Amtrak Police Department. 

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MBTA launches first new Orange Line train

Rail News Home Mechanical 8/15/2019 Rail News: Mechanical
image The Orange Line rail-car fleet will be replaced by the end of 2022.Photo – MBTA

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) announced yesterday its first new Orange Line train comprised of six rail cars has entered passenger service from Wellington Station in Medford, Massachusetts. 

The rail cars are the first of 152 new cars that will replace the current fleet operating on the Orange Line by the end of 2022, MBTA officials said in a press release. 

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ASLRRA: Fed task force says short-line tax credit worthy of permanence

The 45G short-line tax credit is among two tax credits that have "proven on their merits to receive a permanent extension," the U.S. Senate Finance Committee's Business Cost Recovery Task Force has concluded.

The task force reported more than 40 temporary tax provisions that expired or will expire between Dec. 31, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2019. Among those, the task force evaluated six tax credits, including 45G.

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Sound Transit completes East Link light-rail extension guideway

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 8/15/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Sound Transit crews are now preparing for safety testing and pre-operation checks by 2020.Photo – Sound Transit

Sound Transit contractor crews last week began removing temporary steel columns and beams that were used during construction of the elevated East Link light-rail extension guideway in Bellevue, Washington. 

The project marks the next step in preparing for safety testing and pre-operation checks by 2020, with light-rail operation scheduled for operation by 2023. 

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U.S. freight-rail traffic fell, Canada's rose in Week 32

U.S. freight railroads logged 533,190 carloads and intermodal units for the week ending Aug. 10, a 4.3 percent decrease compared with the same week last year, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Railroads posted 261,194 carloads for the week, down 3.9 percent, and 271,996 containers and trailers, down 4.6 percent, AAR officials said in a press release.

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