Railroad News

Union Pacific: PTC operating on 80 percent of route miles

Rail News Home Positive Train Control 5/20/2019 Rail News: Positive Train Control
image UP recently implemented PTC on 582 route miles, bringing required PTC-operated route miles to 13,597.Photo – up.com

Union Pacific Railroad is now operating positive train control (PTC) on 80 percent of its route miles, the Class I announced late last week.

UP recently implemented PTC on 582 route miles, bringing required PTC-operated route miles to 13,597. PTC was implemented on all required passenger routes on track owned by UP in 2018, UP officials said in a press release.

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Secure Rail Conference outlines solutions to physical and cyber threats

By Julie Sneider, Senior Associate Editor

The latest trends in detecting and preventing security threats to rail were discussed at the fifth annual Secure Rail Conference held May 1-2 in Orlando, Florida.

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Rail supplier news from Birmingham Rail, Wabtec, Bombardier, Cubic, Hub and NRC (May 17)

Birmingham Rail & Locomotive Co. (BR&L), a division of A. Stucki Co., has acquired Austintown Rail Supply, a supplier of switching materials and other railroad track products. Austintown Rail Supply will now operate as BR&L’s Austintown, Ohio, location. BR&L retained the company’s 10 employees, and expects to add three or four more employees to support a new crane rail operation, which will supply rail and accessories for overhead cranes, according to a BR&L press release.

Wabtec Corp. has invested in GE Additive’s H2 binder jet printer capabilities to design and produce reliable, low-cost components for current and developmental engines, locomotive, transit and mining programs, according to a Wabtec press release. Additive technologies could be used in the production of up to 250 components for Wabtec product lines by 2025, company officials said.

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SunRail develops trip planning mobile app

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 5/17/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The SunRail app includes train arrival status, a detailed trip planner and an account for ordering and maintaining SunCards.Photo – SunRail Facebook

Central Florida commuter railroad SunRail yesterday unveiled a mobile application that provides riders with trip planning features, service information and account management. 

The app's key features include train arrival status, a detailed trip planner with times, distance and fare information, and a login for ordering and maintaining SunCards, SunRail’s reloadable fare cards for frequent users. 

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CAGTC elects board members, officers

Rail News Home Intermodal 5/17/2019 Rail News: Intermodal
image The Coalition for America's Gateways & Trade Corridors (CAGTC) yesterday elected six people to its board and selected three officers. Darin Chidsey, chief operating officer of the Southern California Association of Governments, and John Murray, chief executive officer and director of the Port Canaveral Port Authority, were newly elected to the board.  Four others were re-elected:  Rick Cameron, deputy executive director of the Port of Long Beach;  Paul Hubler, director of government and community relations for the Alameda-Corridor East construction project of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments;  Glenn Miles, executive director of the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization; and  Thomas Saunders, director of government affairs of Ports America.  Board member Paul Anderson, director of the Port of Tampa Bay, was elected vice chairman; Cameron was elected treasurer; and Hubler, former vice chairman, assumed the chairmanship.

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ACE grade separation projects recognized for construction management

The Southern California Chapter of the Construction Management Association has recognized two recently completed Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) grade separation projects for achievement, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments announced yesterday.

The awards acknowledged the projects for "outstanding achievement in the practice of construction management," council officials said in a press release.

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UP to serve logistics park near Houston

A ceremony was held last month to mark the start of construction on the RCR Hempstead Logistics Park in Hempstead, Texas, RCR Rail Co. announced this week.

Union Pacific Railroad will serve the park, a 137-acre site under development on the northwest corner of State Highway 290 and 6 in Waller County.

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House lawmakers introduce bill to protect U.S. rail-car manufacturers

A bipartisan group of lawmakers this week introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prevent federal transit funds from being issued by transit agencies to procure Chinese rail cars and other rail assets.

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.), the Transportation Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act also would ensure transit agencies develop and implement a cybersecurity plan, Rouda said this week in a press release.

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BRX Transportation to acquire Pioneer Railcorp

Rail News Home M&A 5/17/2019 Rail News: M&A
image Pioneer Railcorp today announced it has entered into a merger agreement under which BRX Transportation Holdings LLC will acquire the railroad holding company for $18.81 per share in cash.  Pioneer Railcorp is the parent company of 17 short lines, an equipment leasing company, two service companies and a contract services switching company. Under the agreement terms, BRX will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Pioneer's Class A common stock. Shareholders other than Pioneer's subsidiary, Heartland Rail Investments LLC, will receive $18.81 per share in cash and the Heartland shares will be canceled without consideration, according to a Pioneer press release. The merger is subject to closing conditions, including approval by Pioneer's shareholders, Surface Transportation Board approval and certain operating performance by Pioneer. The transaction is expected to close in third-quarter 2019. “We look forward to this next chapter in Pioneer's journey and anticipate it will have a bright future under new ownership," said Pioneer President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Carr. BRX was formed by infrastructure and management investment firm Brookhaven Rail Partners and Related Infrastructure. Related Infrastructure invests in companies that develop, operate and service transportation infrastructure throughout the United States. 

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FRA cancels $929 million in California high-speed rail funds

The Trump administration yesterday formally canceled nearly $929 million in previously awarded federal funds to California's high-speed rail program.

In a May 16 letter to California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Chief Executive Officer Brian Kelly, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) said it was terminating its agreement to obligate $928,620,000 in funding to California because the state had not made "reasonable progress on the project."

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From the editor: CN — a century of railroad progress and change

By Pat Foran, Editor

Happiest of birthdays to CN, which will turn 100 next month, as managing editor Jeff Stagl reports in this month’s cover story. While the Class I’s leaders are reflecting on a century’s worth of progress, they’re also focused on the road ahead, as my colleague reports. They say they’re committed to delivering on the better-service promise and driving top-line growth.

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From the editor: CN — a century of railroad progress and change

By Pat Foran, Editor

Happiest of birthdays to CN, which will turn 100 next month, as managing editor Jeff Stagl reports in this month’s cover story. While the Class I’s leaders are reflecting on a century’s worth of progress, they’re also focused on the road ahead, as my colleague reports. They say they’re committed to delivering on the better-service promise and driving top-line growth.

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Capitol Corridor station renamed to honor Hannigan

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority's (CCJPA) Fairfield-Vacaville Station in Fairfield, California, will be renamed the Fairfield-Vacaville Hannigan Station in honor of the late Tom Hannigan, a former state assemblyman who helped establish the intercity rail service. 

In the mid-1980s, Hannigan recognized that with all of the growth along the Interstate 80 corridor, an intercity rail system could transport riders throughout the region, CCJPA officials said in a press release. 

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Texas Central updates ridership study for proposed bullet train

Rail News Home High-Speed Rail 5/16/2019 Rail News: High-Speed Rail
image Texas Central has published the results of an updated ridership study that supports the passenger-rail developer's views that Texas is ready for a privately run high-speed service between the Dallas and Houston regions.Conducted by L.E.K. Consulting, the report builds on a ridership study the firm conducted in 2016, Texas Central officials said in an emailed newsletter.According to the updated study:
• More than 6 million passengers annually are expected to use the bullet train by 2029 and 13 million annually will ride the train by 2050;
• More people are moving to urban regions causing congestion and delays, a trend that supports the growing market for alternative travel solutions;
• The train will save 60 to 90 minutes per trip between Houston and North Texas (Dallas);
• The Houston-North Texas "super economy" is expected to grow by 1.5 percent per year to 2050, nearly twice the U.S. national average;
• About 85 percent of Texans surveyed, who said they had traveled between Houston and North Texas over the past 12 months, indicated they would use the train under the right circumstances;
• 72 percent of frequent travelers and 49 percent of non-travelers said they "probably" or "definitely" would use the high-speed train on their next trip to North Texas or Houston if the bullet train was an option today.Texas Central is in the process of developing, designing, constructing and financing a high-speed passenger train that will connect the Dallas and Houston regions in less than 90 minutes, with a stop in the Brazos Valley.

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Houston METRO restores service after partial shutdown

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 5/16/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Following the break of two overhead electrical wires, Houston METRO crews last week initiated a partial shutdown along the Red Line extension and Green and Purple lines.Photo – Houston METRO

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO), yesterday restored full service on its light-rail system following emergency repairs on three lines earlier this week. 

Following the break of two overhead electrical wires, METRO crews last week initiated a partial shutdown along the Red Line extension and Green and Purple lines to reinforce wires at 79 locations.

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MBTA to suspend some rail service during Gloucester bridge replacement

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 5/16/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The Gloucester Drawbridge carries Rockport Line trains over the Annisquam River in Gloucester, Massachusetts.Photo – MBTA

Due to Gloucester Drawbridge construction, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will replace train service from Rockport to West Gloucester Station with bus service during the first two weeks in June.

The century-old Gloucester Drawbridge, which carries Rockport Line trains over the Annisquam River in Gloucester, is being replaced. During the June construction, the south side of the existing timber trestle will be demolished, and the remaining north side of the bridge will be monitored and tested, according to an MBTA press release. 

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CN, Teamsters OK tentative pact for rail traffic controllers

Rail News Home Canadian National Railway - CN 5/16/2019 Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN
image CN has reached a tentative agreement wit the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference covering 180 rail traffic controllers in Canada, the Class I announced yesterday.Details of the agreement will not be made public until after the contract is ratified, which is expected by early June, CN officials said in a press release.“With this tentative agreement covering our rail traffic controllers, we are pleased to conclude another negotiation furthering long-term labor stability,” said CN President and Chief Executive Officer JJ Ruest. "We are committed to working together with our railroaders and their representatives in a mutually beneficial manner.”

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CN, Teamsters OK tentative pact for rail traffic controllers

Rail News Home Canadian National Railway - CN 5/16/2019 Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN
image CN has reached a tentative agreement wit the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference covering 180 rail traffic controllers in Canada, the Class I announced yesterday.Details of the agreement will not be made public until after the contract is ratified, which is expected by early June, CN officials said in a press release.“With this tentative agreement covering our rail traffic controllers, we are pleased to conclude another negotiation furthering long-term labor stability,” said CN President and Chief Executive Officer JJ Ruest. "We are committed to working together with our railroaders and their representatives in a mutually beneficial manner.”

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Metra to boost summer weekend service on two lines

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 5/16/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image Metra’s pilot program will track if increased service will boost ridership and revenue on weekends.Photo – Metra

Starting June 1, Chicago commuter railroad Metra will increase weekend service on the Rock Island and Union Pacific Northwest lines as part of a three-month summer pilot program. 

In a recent Metra-conducted survey, a majority of riders indicated they wanted more frequent and faster train service. Metra’s pilot program will track if increased service will boost ridership and revenue on weekends, Metra officials said in a press release.

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U.S. rail traffic slide continued in Week 19

The downward trend in U.S. rail traffic continued in Week 19, with railroads reporting 529,263 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

For the week ending May 11, railroads registered 258,641 total carloads, down 3.1 percent, and 270,622 containers and trailers, down 4.3 percent.

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