Railroad News

FRA withdraws proposed train-crew staffing rule

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has withdrawn its 2016 proposed rulemaking that called for federal regulation of train crew staffing.

The FRA determined that such regulation is unnecessary for railroad operations to be conducted safely "at this time," agency officials said yesterday in a rulemaking withdrawal notice.

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TTC increases fare evasion enforcement

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 5/23/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image As part of a fare evasion campaign, TTC will display ads like this one in TTC vehicles, at stations and on platforms.Photo – TTC Youtube

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) last week launched a fare evasion campaign to educate riders about the consequences of not paying fares.

The action follows a month-long investigation into fare evasion in which the Toronto Auditor General found that non-paying riders cost the TTC more than $60 million in 2018, according to a TTC press release. 

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WMATA to replace electrical components after door malfunction

Rail News Home Mechanical 5/23/2019 Rail News: Mechanical
image A electrical component working improperly allowed a 3000-series rail car door to open, unprompted, while the train was moving.Photo – WMATA

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) earlier this week removed 284 rail cars from service in order to inspect a door malfunction. The cars are back in service. 

After inspection, WMATA officials found that an electrical component “didn’t perform the way it was supposed to,” allowing a 3000-series rail-car door to open, unprompted, while the train was moving, The Washington Post reported. 

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California sues Trump administration for canceling high-speed rail funds

Rail News Home High-Speed Rail 5/23/2019 Rail News: High-Speed Rail
image Gov. Gavin Newsom announced yesterday that he reached an agreement with the Trump administration to not redirect the funds to other projects while the state's lawsuit against the federal government moves forward.Photo – CHSRA

California has filed suit against the Trump administration for canceling a nearly $1 billion federal grant awarded in 2010 for the state's high-speed rail program.

State and California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) officials filed the suit May 21 in federal court in San Francisco, according to Reuters. The filing claims the U.S. Department of Transportation lacks authority to withhold the $929 million in federal funds previously awarded to the high-speed rail program.

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MBTA awards North Station signal system contract

Rail News Home Communication and Signal 5/23/2019 Rail News: Communication and Signal
image The project involves replacing the signaling in and around MBTA’s North Station with microprocessor technology.Photo – MBTA

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)’s Fiscal and Management Control Board earlier this week awarded a $26.5 million contract to Fischbach & Moore Electric Group LLC to upgrade the signal system at the North Station terminal in Boston. 

Under the project, the contractor will replace the signaling in and around North Station with microprocessor technology contained within nine new signal houses that control the five major interlocking switching areas at the terminal, according to an MBTA project overview.

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Trump honors DART police officer with Medal of Valor

Rail News Home Railroading People 5/23/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
image The late Brent Thompson, a Dallas Area Rapid Transit police officer who was killed in 2016 while on duty.Photo – DART

President Trump yesterday awarded the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor posthumously to the late Brent Thompson, a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) police officer who was killed in 2016 while on duty.

Thompson, who was 43 at the time of his death, became the first DART police officer to be killed in the line of duty. He was shot by a mass shooter on July 7, 2016, during a protest against police. 

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WSDOT to replace rail cars like those involved in fatal derailment

Rail News Home Mechanical 5/23/2019 Rail News: Mechanical
image The NTSB said the trains were prone to uncouple and rupture.Photo – NTSB, courtesy of Washington State Police

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will replace Talgo rail cars similar to those involved in a fatal 2017 Amtrak derailment near Dupont, local news media reported yesterday.

WSDOT officials made the announcement a day after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the lightweight vehicles didn't meet current crashworthiness standards and were permitted to operate only through a "grandfathering agreement" with the Federal Railroad Administration.

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AAPA: House T-HUD bill includes port infrastructure funds, rail grant increase

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 5/23/2019 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image The House fiscal-year 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) appropriations bill includes $225 million for port infrastructure development and $15 million for marine highway projects, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) announced yesterday.The appropriations for domestic port projects are top priorities for the association, AAPA officials said in an emailed statement.The $225 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program was $68 million below the FY2019 enacted level. However, President Trump's FY2020 budget request did not including funding for the program, AAPA officials said.The bill also includes $350 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program, which is $95 million above the FY2019 enacted level and $20 million above the president's budget request. Additionally, the bill calls for $1 billion for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program, which is $100 million above the FY2019 enacted level and the same level as the president's budget request.The U.S. Senate has not yet announced the markup of its FY2020 T-HUD appropriations bill.

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U.S. railroads registered higher carload volume in Week 20

U.S. railroads logged mixed traffic results for the week ending May 18, with carload activity up and intermodal down compared with volumes during the same week in 2018, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Total combined U.S. rail traffic for the week was 536,358 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.8 percent. Railroads registered a combined total of 267,006 carloads, up 2.2 percent, and a combined total of 269,352 intermodal containers and trailers, down 5.5 percent versus a year ago.

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Product update: Special trackwork

Shown: A 36-pound heavy-haul expansion joint on BNSF Railway Inc.’s Memphis River Bridge over the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee.Photo – Atlantic Trackwork

Compiled By Pat Foran, Editor

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Rail supplier news from Trinity, Balfour Beatty, Hanson, WSP, CII and NRC (May 22)

TrinityRail Maintenance Services Inc., a subsidiary of Trinity Industries Inc., has selected a 2,230-acre site in Shell Rock, Iowa, to construct a new rail-car maintenance services facility by 2020's end. Factors in the site's selection included its co-location with the Iowa Northern Railway Co., optimal access to the Class I network and strategic access to the upper Midwest, according to a company press release.

Balfour Beatty has completed construction of a 2.3-mile extension of the Regional Transportation District of Denver's E, F and R light-rail lines. Known as the Southeast Rail Extension during construction, the project adds three new stations: Sky Ridge, Lone Tree City Center and Ridgegate Parkway.

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Metra revises BNSF Line service to address crowding

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 5/22/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Beginning June 3, Metra will add two trains to its BNSF Line weekday schedule to relieve crowding on some trains. The BNSF Line is the Chicago commuter railroad's busiest.  A survey of BNSF Line riders taken earlier this year revealed requests for more service and complaints of overcrowding on existing trains.  In response, Metra added a five-car train by using equipment from other Metra lines. The measure won't eliminate all crowding on the line, but Metra has no additional equipment available, railroad officials said in a press release.  In addition, there are capacity constraints in the yards, on the tracks and at Chicago Union Station that prevent Metra and BNSF Railway Co. from adding more trains or cars. Another change to the weekday schedule is the first train of the morning leaving 5 minutes earlier to accommodate riders transferring to Chicago Transit Authority buses in downtown Chicago.  In addition to revised weekday service on the line, Metra will add a train in each direction to the weekend schedule as part of a pilot program beginning June 8 and ending Sept. 2. Trains were also added to the UP Northwest and Rock Island lines' weekend schedules as part of the pilot. 

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BLET reaches tentative contract with M&NA

Rail News - BLET reaches tentative contract with M&NA. For Railroad Career Professionals
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CN recognizes customers for hazmat safety

Rail News Home Canadian National Railway - CN 5/22/2019 Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN
image CN today announced 137 companies received its Safe Handling Award for 2018.Launched in 1992, the award recognizes CN customers that load freight cars with hazardous goods and meet strict standards for safely handling and shipping regulated products. Award winners must meet established criteria according to the total number of shipments of dangerous goods for all facilities."Safety is a core value at CN and we are working closely with our customers to deliver their goods safely and efficiently. With this award, CN wants to recognize its clients who make the safe handling of dangerous goods a top priority," said James Cairns, CN's senior vice president of rail centric supply chain, in a press release.The award is part of the Responsible Care® Program, an ongoing performance improvement initiative in which CN is a partner in Canada and the United States.

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CN recognizes customers for hazmat safety

Rail News Home Canadian National Railway - CN 5/22/2019 Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN
image CN today announced 137 companies received its Safe Handling Award for 2018.Launched in 1992, the award recognizes CN customers that load freight cars with hazardous goods and meet strict standards for safely handling and shipping regulated products. Award winners must meet established criteria according to the total number of shipments of dangerous goods for all facilities."Safety is a core value at CN and we are working closely with our customers to deliver their goods safely and efficiently. With this award, CN wants to recognize its clients who make the safe handling of dangerous goods a top priority," said James Cairns, CN's senior vice president of rail centric supply chain, in a press release.The award is part of the Responsible Care® Program, an ongoing performance improvement initiative in which CN is a partner in Canada and the United States.

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MTA Metro-North meets roadmap milestones

MTA Metro-North Railroad has met key benchmarks in its “Way Ahead” program, railroad President Catherine Rinaldi announced yesterday.

Six months ago, Metro-North launched Way Ahead to enhance safety, customer service, infrastructure and communications. 

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Virgin Trains starts construction of Orlando-South Florida rail line

Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline, yesterday began construction on the company's passenger-rail line between Orlando and southern Florida.

The rail line's second expansion phase involves 170 miles of new track that will run into the completed intermodal facility located in the new South Terminal at Orlando International Airport. The project is estimated to represent $4 billion of private investment, Virgin Trains officials said in a press release.

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Virgin Trains start construction of Orlando-South Florida rail line

Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline, yesterday began construction on the company's passenger-rail line between Orlando and southern Florida.

The rail line's second expansion phase involves 170 miles of new track that will run into the completed intermodal facility located in the new South Terminal at Orlando International Airport. The project is estimated to represent $4 billion of private investment, Virgin Trains officials said in a press release.

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CSX taps Bezar to serve as senior VP, chief of strategy

Rail News Home CSX Transportation 5/22/2019 Rail News: CSX Transportation
image Farrukh BezarPhoto – csx.com

CSX Corp. has appointed Farrukh Bezar senior vice president and chief strategy officer as of May 29.

Bezar joins CSX with more than 25 years of strategic leadership in transportation and logistics. Most recently, he served as founder and managing partner of Lynwood Partners, a transportation and logistics advisory firm.

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CSX taps Bezar to serve as senior VP, chief of strategy

Rail News Home CSX Transportation 5/22/2019 Rail News: CSX Transportation
image Farrukh BezarPhoto – csx.com

CSX Corp. has appointed Farrukh Bezar senior vice president and chief strategy officer as of May 29.

Bezar joins CSX with more than 25 years of strategic leadership in transportation and logistics. Most recently, he served as founder and managing partner of Lynwood Partners, a transportation and logistics advisory firm.

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