Railroad News

NTSB: Inadequate planning, training led to fatal Amtrak derailment

Failure to provide effective mitigation of a hazardous curve and the inadequate training of the locomotive engineer led to the deadly derailment of an Amtrak train near Dupont, Washington, in late 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced yesterday.

Three of 77 passengers were killed and 65 others were injured on Dec. 18, 2017, when Amtrak Cascades train 501, on its inaugural run on the Point Defiance Bypass between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, derailed on an overpass as the train entered a 30-mph curve at about 78 mph.

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Data analytics is giving rail asset owners new ways to improve their predictive maintenance practices

Amsted offers a wireless intra-train communication system for freight-rail revenue service.Photo – Amsted Digital Solutions

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USDOT's Chao names new members to Drone Advisory Committee

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao yesterday announced appointments to the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Drone Advisory Committee (DAC).

The committee provides the FAA with advice on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) integration issues by helping to identify challenges and prioritize improvements. The committee helps to create broad support for an overall integration strategy and vision, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) press release.

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Survey: New Hampshire residents support passenger-rail expansion

Nearly 76 percent of New Hampshire residents support passenger-rail service expansion from Boston to Nashua and Manchester, New Hampshire, according to a survey conducted by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center. 

The poll indicates that 75.5 percent of residents support the expansion, 14.5 percent oppose it and 10 percent had no opinion. 

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MBTA to extend night service in Boston

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 5/21/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) this fall will begin late-night service on three commuter lines in Boston.  The Greenbush, Kingston/Plymouth and Middleboro/Lakeville lines will have trains leaving Boston daily at 11:20 p.m., or later, according to a Scituate Mariner report citing MBTA officials.  At a MBTA Fiscal Management Control Board meeting last week, General Manager Steve Poftak allowed the proposal to move forward. Poftak said MBTA will review the schedule change after a year of extended service to see if ridership expectations hold up.  Advocates have been requesting the extended service for more than five years, MBTA advisory board member Richard Prone told Scituate Mariner.  The extension is expected to cater to riders who attend late-night concerts and sporting events in Boston. 

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Georgia Ports Authority's board elects McKnight chairman

Rail News Home Railroading People 5/21/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
image The board also authorized an expansion of auto-handling capacity at the Port of Brunswick.Photo – gaports.com

The Georgia Ports Authority's (GPA) board yesterday elected William McKnight chairman to succeed Jimmy Allgood.

McKnight, who has served as vice chairman since 2018, will assume his new role July 1. He is president of his family's construction company in Augusta, Georgia.

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Metro Transit kicks off maintenance facility improvement project

Rail News Home Mechanical 5/21/2019 Rail News: Mechanical
image Renovations to Northstar’s maintenance facility include adding a 26-foot-deep drop table to allow crews to remove rail car wheels more quickly.Photo – Metro Transit

Metro Transit last week began a $4 million improvement project at a commuter-rail operations and maintenance facility in Big Lake, Minnesota. 

The facility serves as a maintenance, inspection and wash station for 19 rail cars and six locomotives that run on the Northstar Line between downtown Minneapolis and Big Lake, according to the Metro Transit website.

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Cape Cod summer train service begins

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 5/21/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The CapeFLYER passenger-rail service runs from Boston to Cape Cod every summer.Photo – CapeFLYER Facebook

The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) on Friday will begin its seasonal weekend rail service on the CapeFLYER

The CapeFLYER passenger-rail service runs from Boston to Cape Cod every summer. This year's season-run will end Sept. 2. 

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Schumer calls on feds to investigate Chinese rail-car manufacturer

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on the U.S. Department Commerce to investigate whether a Chinese rail-car manufacturer that has obtained contracts to build subway cars in major U.S. cities poses a threat to national security.

Schumer wants the federal government to "thoroughly investigate" the Chinese state-owned China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. (CRRC), which was among the winners of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) 2018 design contracts for new subway cars that could include modern train control technology.

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CN announces executive team changes

CN today announced Rob Reilly will become executive vice president and chief operating officer and Michael Foster will be promoted to EVP and chief information and technology officer as of July 1.

Reilly has 30 years of experience in the rail industry, starting in 1989 when he joined the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Co., now known as BNSF Railway Co. His industry experience includes a succession of increasingly senior positions in markets across the United States, most notably in Chicago and on the West Coast.

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CN announces executive team changes

CN today announced Rob Reilly will become executive vice president and chief operating officer and Michael Foster will be promoted to EVP and chief information and technology officer as of July 1.

Reilly has 30 years of experience in the rail industry, starting in 1989 when he joined the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Co., now known as BNSF Railway Co. His industry experience includes a succession of increasingly senior positions in markets across the United States, most notably in Chicago and on the West Coast.

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Metra CEO Jim Derwinski picks up where Don Orseno left off

Jim Derwinski (shown) succeeded Don Orseno as Metra’s chief executive officer and executive director in January 2018.

By Julie Sneider, Senior Associate Editor

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Report: Hitachi must retrofit HART's rail cars

Rail News Home Mechanical 5/20/2019 Rail News: Mechanical
image Hitachi Rail must retrofit HART’s rail car floors with a thin layer of stainless steel to ensure they pass fire testing.Photo – Hitachi Rail

Hitachi Rail Italy must retrofit the floors of 24 rail cars provided to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) following a failed roof and floor testing in February, according to a Star Advertiser report citing HART officials. 

Following the retesting of the failed rail car by Hitachi Rail, the company found that it would need to retrofit the rail car floors with a thin layer of stainless steel to ensure they pass fire testing. 

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Ohio agency OKs grade crossing projects for NS, Wheeling & Lake Erie

Rail News Home Communication and Signal 5/20/2019 Rail News: Communication and Signal
image The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) last week approved construction authorization from the Ohio Rail Development Commission, which is calling for Norfolk Southern Railway and Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad to make improvements at rail crossings in Medina and Stark counties.NS has been directed to install upgraded LED lights, new gate mechanisms and two bells at the Market Street grade crossing in Canton, located in Stark County. Wheeling & Lake Erie will install lights and grates at the Old Mill Road crossing in Spencer Township, Medina County.NS and Wheeling & Lake Erie must complete their work by Feb. 15, 2020, PUCO officials said in a press release.PUCO is responsible for evaluating Ohio's public grade crossings to determine the need for installing active warning devices. Since it began the evaluations, the annual number of train-motor vehicle crashes in Ohio has decreased from 356 in 1990 to 66 in 2018, agency officials said.

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WMATA moves up plan to offer Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt

[Editor's note: This story has been clarified to reflect that the timeline for running Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt, Maryland, was moved up to May 25 from an original date in July.]

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will begin running all Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt, Maryland, on May 25, more than a month earlier than expected, when the platform improvement project begins at six Yellow and Blue line stations south of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

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WMATA moves up timeline for platform work on Yellow, Blue lines

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will begin running all Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt, Maryland, more than a month earlier than expected when the platform improvement project begins at six Yellow and Blue line stations south of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

The trains will begin running to Greenbelt on May 25, WMATA officials said in a press release.

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Cleveland RTA begins $6.4M track improvement

Rail News Home Maintenance Of Way 5/20/2019 Rail News: Maintenance Of Way
image The project calls for rehabbing 3.6 miles of track between the West Part Station and the airport tunnel.Photo – RTA Facebook

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) last week began a $6.4 million track upgrade project funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transit Preservation Partnership, a funding program to support public transportation services.

The project — which calls for extending 3.6-miles of rail between the West Park Station and the airport tunnel — will replace 12,275 timber cross ties, improve track drainage, add signal systems, repair the Puritas Station platform and provide for a full rehabilitation of the railroad track, said RTA’s Interim Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Flounsay Caver in a press release.

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MTA logs on-time performance improvements

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 5/20/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) logged on-time performance improvements on the subway, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and Metro-North Railroad.  New York City Transit's subway on-time performance in April reached nearly 80 percent, its highest level since October 2013, according to an MTA press release.  Major incidents on the subway system also decreased by 32 percent and weekday delays decreased by 35 percent from April 2018. Meanwhile, LIRR logged a 95 percent on-time performance in April.  LIRR’s on-time performance is four percentage points above this time last year, translating to 1,645 more on-time trains operating in the first four months of 2019 compared with 2018's level. LIRR also reduced the number of trains operated with fewer cars than normal by 21 percent. The falling number is an indication of increased mechanical reliability of the fleet, MTA officials said. Metro-North Railroad’s on-time performance in April was 95 percent, compared with 91 percent at the same time last year. The number of trains the railroad had to cancel or terminate mid-run has been reduced by 74 percent this year, and the railroad has also reduced the number of trains delayed more than 15 minutes by 50 percent.

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Cimarron Valley Railroad obtains state grant to upgrade locomotive fleet

Rail News Home Short Lines & Regionals 5/20/2019 Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals
image The upgrade will benefit CVR's rural customer base.Photo – Cimarron Valley Railroad

Cimarron Valley Railroad (CVR) has received a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) to help cover the cost of replacing the railroad's 13 aging locomotives with a "more modern and efficient fleet" of seven engines.

The upgrade will benefit CVR's rural customer base through lower fuel costs, enhanced service and better reliability, CVR officials said in a press release. In addition, the newer locomotives will offer a significant increase in hauling capacity, they said.

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Ontario seeks expedited federal transit funding

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 5/20/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The Ontario government is seeking expedited approval from the Canadian government to fund an extension of the Yonge Subway Line in the greater Toronto area. "For months, we've heard the federal government ask us to be quicker sending them projects for approval," said Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton in a press release. "We have nominated our 54th project to the federal government. The ball is now in their court. We are looking to them to say yes so we can get shovels in the ground and get people moving." Last week, McNaughton formally requested funding for the $5.6 billion project Yonge project that would extend the subway line about 4.6 miles north from the Finch Station in Toronto to the Richmond Hill Center in Richmond Hill.  That request follows a list of four other projects sent for approval May 6, including the Ontario Line, the Bloor-Yonge capacity improvement project, the three-stop Scarborough Subway Extension and the SmartTrack Stations program.

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