Railroad News

California coalition aims to improve coastal passenger-rail service

A California interregional policy board recently formed to study ways to improve passenger-rail service along the state's Central Coast.

Five agencies announced this week they had signed a memorandum of understanding to establish themselves formally as the Coast Rail Coordinating Council (CRCC). They are: the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments; Santa Barbara County Association of Governments; Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission; Transportation Agency for Monterey County; and Ventura County Transportation Commission.

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ARCI: Car orders climbed, deliveries declined in Q3

Rail-car orders in the third quarter totaled 24,972 units compared with 23,788 units in the second quarter and 10,348 units in the first quarter, according to quarterly rail-car statistics released earlier this week by the Railway Supply Institute's American Railway Car Institute Committee. In third-quarter 2017, orders totaled 8,671 cars.

Car deliveries in Q3 declined to 11,221 units versus 13,071 units in the second quarter and 13,098 units in the first quarter. But they were slightly higher than the 11,015 cars delivered in third-quarter 2017.

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California HSR agency, city settle environmental report litigation

Rail News Home High-Speed Rail 10/26/2018 Rail News: High-Speed Rail
image A rendering of a high-speed train.Photo – CHSRA

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) yesterday announced it reached a settlement agreement with the city of Shafter, California, to dismiss litigation over the final environmental impact report (EIR) and statement for the Fresno-to-Bakersfield portion of the authority’s high-speed rail (HSR) program.

The agreement demonstrates the commitment between both parties to work together to bring HSR service to the state’s Central Valley, CHSRA officials said in a press release.

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Coast Guard seeks public input on BNSF bridge project in Seattle

The U.S. Coast Guard is soliciting public comments on BNSF Railway Co.'s plans to build a movable rail bridge across Salmon Bay west of the Ballard Locks in Seattle.

The proposed structure would replace an existing bascule bridge that spans the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The bridge is a critical link to BNSF's network to the north, south and east, according to the Class I’s "Inside Track" newsletter. Thirty to 40 trains cross the century-old bridge daily, including Sounder and Amtrak passenger trains.

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Coast Guard seeks public input on BNSF bridge project in Seattle

The U.S. Coast Guard is soliciting public comments on BNSF Railway Co.'s plans to build a movable rail bridge across Salmon Bay west of the Ballard Locks in Seattle.

The proposed structure would replace an existing bascule bridge that spans the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The bridge is a critical link to BNSF's network to the north, south and east, according to the Class I’s "Inside Track" newsletter. Thirty to 40 trains cross the century-old bridge daily, including Sounder and Amtrak passenger trains.

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FTA certifies California, Oklahoma transit-rail safety programs

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 10/26/2018 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The California Public Utilities Commission will oversee the safety of BART's heavy- and light-rail networks, and automated guideway systems.Photo – BART

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced this week that California and Oklahoma have obtained federal certification of their transit-rail State Safety Oversight (SSO) programs.

Federal law requires states with transit-rail systems to obtain FTA certification of their SSO programs by April 15, 2019.

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Private investment group helps International Rail Partners form RailUSA

An investor group headed by private investment firm Equity Group Investments (EGI) that includes International Rail Partners LLC (IRP) recently pooled more than $200 million to help IRP form RailUSA LLC.

The new subsidiary already is helping IRP acquire regionals and short lines. In August, RailUSA completed its first acquisition: Grenada Railroad LLC, which operates a 206-mile line between Memphis, Tennessee, and Canton, Missouri. In cooperation with the North Central Mississippi Regional Railroad Authority, RailUSA plans to restore and re-open the 87-mile southern portion of the Grenada line, which has been closed since 2011.

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Senate bill would provide railroads, ports equal footing for INFRA grants

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) earlier this month introduced S. 3587, a bill that proposes to provide rail, intermodal and port projects a better chance of obtaining federal funding through a transportation infrastructure grant program.

The legislation seeks to improve the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program, which was created as part of Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. The bill would remove the cap on Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grants for multimodal freight projects, and enhance the transparency and administration of the INFRA grant program to ensure the best projects receive funding.

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WMATA to add Shady Grove stairway, eliminate rush-hour service pattern

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) on Tuesday announced plans to add a stairway at Shady Grove Station in its fiscal-year 2020 capital program and eliminate the ”Grosvenor Turnback" service pattern Dec. 17 to double rush-hour service at four Montgomery County stations.

The new stairway is needed to ease platform congestion when trains arrive at Shady Grove Station, primarily during the evening rush hour, WMATA officials said in a press release. The stairs will improve platform egress by creating an additional way for customers to exit the station. Currently, all riders arriving at the station by train take several minutes to make their way to a single descending escalator or use an adjacent existing staircase to clear the platform.

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DCTA installs Holcomb as deputy CEO

Rail News Home Railroading People 10/25/2018 Rail News: Railroading People
image Kristina Holcomb joined the authority in 2007.Photo – DCTA

The Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) has appointed Kristina Holcomb deputy chief executive officer.

She joined DCTA in 2007 and most recently served as vice president of strategic planning and development. Holcomb now will oversee the execution of the agency’s strategic initiatives, including capital project planning and delivery, and help advance mobility efforts in North Texas. She also will lead DCTA’s regional transportation infrastructure planning, land-use strategy, and state and federal public policy.

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Port of LA receives $21 million grant for rail yard expansion project

Rail News Home Intermodal 10/25/2018 Rail News: Intermodal
image The state grant will fund a significant portion of the project.Photo – portoflosangeles.org

A $21.6 million grant from California's Trade Corridor Enhancement Program (TCEP) will help advance a major on-dock rail yard expansion at the Port of Los Angeles, port officials announced yesterday.

The $34 million Terminal Island Rail Yard Enhancement Project is designed to reduce truck trips, tailpipe emissions and congestion on local streets and freeways, thereby improving safety, Port of LA officials said in a press release.

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AAR honors KCSM's Puente for environmental work

Rail News Home Railroading People 10/25/2018 Rail News: Railroading People
imageThe Association of American Railroads (AAR) yesterday honored Miguel Antonio Flores Puente with the 2018 Professional Environmental Excellence Award, the industry's highest honor for environmental professionals. Puente has been manager of environmental impact for Kansas City Southern de Mexico (KCSM) for nine years. He received the award at the 2018 Railroad Environmental Conference in Urbana, Illinois.“Our winner, Miguel Antonio Flores Puente, has worked closely with partners in the Mexican government to turn the page for many legacy rail facilities and build a more environmentally responsible future across his railroad," said AAR President and Chief Operating Officer Edward Hamberger in a press release.By coordinating with the Mexican Attorney General’s Office for Environmental Protection, Puente’s efforts have mitigated historical contaminations at legacy rail yards now operated by KCSM, protecting not only his railroad’s employees but also surrounding communities, AAR officials said.He is now leading the charge for KCSM to receive certification from the National Environmental Audit Program, they added.In addition to Puente, the following six railroad environmental professionals were nominated for the award: Joseph Winnicki of Amtrak; Russell Light of BNSF Railway Co.; Kari Harris of CN; Scott Croome of Canadian Pacific; William Parry of CSX; and Kim Keeling of Union Pacific Railroad.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/25/2018


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MassDOT to help fund Amtrak grade crossing safety project

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will provide $700,000 to help Amtrak make safety improvements at a hazardous grade crossing in western Massachusetts.

Amtrak, which owns the line and is carrying out the project, will fund the remaining costs, Amtrak officials said in a press release.

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United Rail to apply PSR to its short lines

Rail News Home Short Lines & Regionals 10/25/2018 Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals
image United Rail Chief Executive Officer Michael BarronPhoto – United Rail Inc.'s website

United Rail Inc. announced it will implement precision scheduled railroading (PSR) on its short lines, starting with the Winamac Southern Railway in Kokomo, Indiana.

United Rail is the first short-line operator to implement PSR on short lines, company officials said in a press release.

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AAR: U.S. intermodal volume up, carloads down in Week 42

After a long string of weekly carload gains, U. S. railroads registered a decline in the year’s 42nd week. For the week ending Oct. 20, the roads posted 265,776 carloads, down 0.7 percent compared with volume in the same week last year, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

However, their weekly intermodal volume increased 1.6 percent to 289,330 units and total traffic inched up 0.5 percent to 555,106 units.

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UP touts Q3 financial performance, Unified Plan 2020 progress

By Jeff Stagl, Managing Editor

Today, Union Pacific Railroad announced its third-quarter diluted earnings per share reached $2.15, representing a 43 percent year-over-year increase and an all-time quarterly record.

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UP touts Q3 financial performance, Unified Plan 2020 progress

By Jeff Stagl, Managing Editor

Today, Union Pacific Railroad announced its third-quarter diluted earnings per share reached $2.15, representing a 43 percent year-over-year increase and an all-time quarterly record.

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DART re-elects Bauman chair

Rail News Home Railroading People 10/24/2018 Rail News: Railroading People
image Sue Bauman first became chair in 2017.Photo – DART

Dallas Area Rapid Transit's (DART) board has re-elected Sue Bauman as chair for fiscal-year 2019.

Bauman was appointed to the board in 2016 and was elected chair in 2017. She previously served as DART's vice president of marketing and communications until she retired in 2011, when she became an adjunct instructor at Richland College.

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NJ Transit fast-tracks locomotive engineer training

Rail News Home Labor 10/24/2018 Rail News: Labor
image The program cuts the training time for new engineers from 20 months to 12.Photo – NJ Transit

New Jersey Transit last week began a new accelerated training course as part of an effort to address a shortage of locomotive engineers.

The program reduces the training time for new engineers to 12 months from 20. For the program's inaugural run, NJ Transit is teaching 14 assistant conductors to become rail engineers.

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Caltrain reports progress on electrification plans

Caltrain this month entered a new manufacturing phase for its first electric trainset.

Crews have begun preparing the first two car shells for interior installation, Caltrain officials said in an web update on the railroad's electrification plans.

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