Railroad News

United Rail launches Las Vegas Xpress project

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/6/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image United Rail Inc. announced yesterday it has begun work on the Las Vegas Xpress project, a passenger-rail service between Las Vegas and Los Angeles."The Las Vegas Xpress will be a part of a new passenger operations division at United Rail," said Chief Executive Officer Michael Barron in a press release. "Las Vegas Xpress joins the X Wine Railroad wine train excursion, which was acquired in March of this year and our Polar Bear Express excursion trains."The passenger service will operate as a railroad under United Rail's common carrier status with the Surface Transportation Board. Filings will follow, according to Barron.United Rail acquired the X Wine Railroad from Las Vegas Xpress Inc. for $500,000. The rail service began in January 2017 and operates between Los Angeles and the wine region of Santa Barbara and Los Olivos, California.

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Metro-North Harrison Station begins TOD construction

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/6/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image MTA Metro-North Railroad yesterday marked the start of construction on a mixed-used development project at the Harrison Station in Harrison, New York.  The transit-oriented development (TOD) project will be the first of its kind in the railroad’s system, according to a Metro-North press release. AvalonBay Communities, which purchased the parcel of land in April, will construct the project. Housed on 3.28 acres on the station's south side, the TOD will include a garage for commuters and the public, a 143-unit apartment complex, retail space, as well as two pedestrian plazas at the station.  A series of four-story buildings lined with retail stores on the ground floor and apartments on the upper floors will replace an existing parking lot. A mixed-use building on the site's east end will provide 598 parking spaces.

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PUCO approves rail crossing upgrades in Ohio

Rail News Home Communication and Signal 6/6/2019 Rail News: Communication and Signal
image The PUCO approved construction authorization from the Ohio Rail Development Commission directing Norfolk Southern Railways to upgrade to LED lights and improve circuitry at the Waller Street grade crossing in Portsmouth, Ohio.Photo – Norfolk Southern Facebook

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) yesterday approved the installation of lights and other upgrades at three rail crossings in Ohio. 

The PUCO approved construction authorization from the Ohio Rail Development Commission directing Norfolk Southern Railway to upgrade to LED lights and improve circuitry at the Waller Street crossing in Portsmouth by June 5, 2020, and Grand River Railway to install lights and gates at the Headlands Road and Stage Avenue crossings in Lake County by March 5, 2020.

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Lacassine Operating to build blending plant at Louisiana rail terminal

Lacassine Operating Co. will invest $12.5 million to build a catalyst blending plant in Lacassine, Louisiana, to serve oil refineries worldwide, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and the company announced this week.

The plant will become the anchor tenant of the Lacassine Rail Terminal operated by Rail Logix in Jefferson Davis Parish, according to a press release issued by Edwards' office.

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Metra seeks input on transit connection pilot

Metra is gathering public input before creating a pilot program designed to improve connections between its trains and the Pace bus system.

The project’s focus is to improve access to jobs and schools for south suburban Chicago commuters, make transportation more affordable and convenient, and simplify transfers between the trains and buses, according to a Metra press release.

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Amtrak names Gardner, Winbigler to new exec roles

Amtrak has named Tracie Winbigler executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Stephen Gardner chief operating and commercial officer.

Winbigler, who will join Amtrak on June 24, will be responsible for Amtrak's finance, treasury, accounting and control functions. Most recently, she was CFO at Recreational Equipment Inc., where she led the financial, procurement, and asset protection teams for the $2.7 billion cooperative. Before that, she spent three years at National Geographic, joining the company as CFO and later promoted to chief operating officer.

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U.S. rail traffic slump continued in May

Several factors contributed to the 4.1 percent decline in U.S. railroads' combined traffic volume last month compared with May 2018, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported yesterday.

U.S. carload traffic fell 2.1 percent to 1,291,671 units, while intermodal volume dropped 5.9 percent to 1,315,684 containers and trailers in May versus a year ago, according to AAR data. Combined, U.S.railroads logged 2,607,355 carloads and intermodal units, down 110,586 units.

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Rail supplier news from Greenbrier, Alstom, Veea Systems, Angel Trains, Geotab, Cubic and Schneider (June 5)

The Greenbrier Cos. Inc. has appointed Adrian Downes chief financial officer. Previously, Downes was acting CFO and senior vice president. Downes joined Greenbrier in 2013 as chief accounting officer and has more than 30 years of accounting and finance experience in a variety of industries, according to a Greenbrier press release. 

Alstom unveiled its proposed train design for HS2 Ltd.’s high-speed railway in the United Kingdom. The train is designed to be modern and provide smooth operation on the conventional rail network, as well as the new HS2 infrastructure, according to an Alstom press release. In a separate announcement, Alstom provided integrated systems, tracks, catenaries, telecommunication and signaling systems, substations and ticketing equipment to Enterprise du Metro d’Alger’s tramway line extension in Constantine, Algeria. The extension's first phase, currently in commercial service, connects the existing Zouaghi Station to the entrance of Ali Mendjeli. 

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MTA NYCT updates train service status

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/5/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) announced yesterday that by the end of the week the system’s subway service status notices will provide more detail.  Under the old system, the service status of multiple subway lines is grouped  by corridor, making it difficult for riders to tell at a glance exactly what line is affected by a service disruption, according to an MTA press release.  Under the new system, service status will be conveyed by individual line and categorized into seven categories that will indicate exactly how the line is affected, whether it be a rerouted train or a skipped station.

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Modesto short-line's Bienvenu elected chair of Beard's board

Modesto & Empire Traction Co. President and Chief Executive Officer John Bienvenu has been elected chairman of the short line's parent, Beard Land and Investment Co.

Bienvenu has been on Beard's board since May 2011. As chairman, he succeeds Richard Sipos.

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TransLink names Ladrak president of BC Rapid Transit

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/5/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
image British Columbia Rapid Transit Co. Ltd. President and General Manager Michel Ladrak.Photo – Transdev

TransLink has appointed Michel Ladrak as president and general manager of the British Columbia Rapid Transit Co. Ltd. (BCRTC) to succeed Haydn Acheson, who will retire Aug. 15.

Ladrak has over 20 years of experience in transportation. Currently, he is managing director for Auckland Transit Metro Rail in New Zealand, which is managed by Transdev on behalf of Auckland Transport. 

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LA Metro reaches halfway mark on first section of Purple Line Extension construction

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/5/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image The project will extend the route 9 miles west of the line’s current terminus and add seven new stations in 2023.Photo – LA Metro

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) announced that construction on the $3.1 billion, 4-mile subway section between Koreatown and Beverly Hills, Cailfornia, has reached the halfway mark.

The subway section includes three stations and is one of three sections to be built as part of LA Metro’s Purple Line Extension. The project will ultimately extend the route nine miles westward of the line’s current terminus and add seven new stations in 2023.

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League of Railway Women seeks 'Woman of the Year' nominees

The League of Railway Women (LRW) has opened nominations for its 2019 Railway Woman of the Year Award, which is co-sponsored by Progressive Railroading.

For two decades, the LRW has recognized women who have made significant contributions to the rail industry through their leadership, dedication and vision. Women working in the North American rail industry are eligible to receive the award, LRW officials said in a press release.

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AAR responds to Supreme Court's decision on metrics, standards

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 6/5/2019 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image Ian JefferiesPhoto – aar.org

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the Association of American Railroads' (AAR) challenge to a federal statute that allowed Amtrak to help set Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) performance and scheduling standards on the nation's railroads.

The court denied the AAR's petition for writ of certiorari that sought to reverse the District of Columbia Court of Appeals' July 2018 decision that granted Amtrak a say with the FRA in determining on-time performance metrics and standards for passenger trains.

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House Appropriations OKs FY2020 THUD bill

Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation 6/5/2019 Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
image The U.S. House Appropriations Committee yesterday approved the fiscal-year 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) bill, which would boost public transportation and passenger-rail funding to $16.2 billion.In total, the legislation provides $137.1 billion in funding, a $6 billion increase above the 2019 enacted level and $17.3 billion above President Trump's budget request, said Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) in a press release."The Department of Transportation should prioritize safety, and this bill would equip the Department to fund safety upgrades on our roads and rails as well as safety research,” Lowey said. "The bill also would provide adequate funding for the federal share of one of the most important transportation projects in our country to advance commuter safety and the economy — the Gateway tunnel between New Jersey and New York."The bill includes:
• $1 billion for national infrastructure investments under the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program, a $100 million increase above the 2019 enacted level and equal to the president's budget request;
• $3 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), $96 million above the 2019 enacted level and $877 million above the president’s budget request;
• $350 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair, $50 million below the 2019 enacted level. The president’s budget request proposed eliminating this program;
• $2 billion for Amtrak, $50 million above the 2019 enacted level and $1.1 billion above the president’s budget request;
• $700 million for Northeast Corridor Grants, $50 million above the 2019 enacted level and $375 million above the president’s budget request;
• $1.3 billion for National Network Grants, equal to the 2019 enacted level and $681 million above the president’s budget request;
• $13.5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, $60 million above the 2019 enacted level and $1.1 billion above the president’s budget request;
• $2.3 billion for Capital Investment Grants, equal to the authorized level, $251 million below the 2019 enacted level, and $797 million above the president’s budget request; and
• $750 million for Transit Infrastructure Grants, $50 million above the 2019 enacted level and $250 million above the president’s budget request.Also included in the bill is a measure that prohibits the FRA from recovering funds provided to the California high-speed rail program.

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Transit industry veteran Stephens dies

Rail News Home Railroading People 6/4/2019 Rail News: Railroading People
image Jack Stephens retired as SFRTA's executive director in December 2018.Photo – South Florida Regional Transportation Authority

Jack Stephens, who retired in December 2018 as executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), died June 2 of natural causes in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the transit agency announced yesterday. He was 71.

Stephens — who held leadership positions in the public transportation industry for more than 30 years — joined SFRTA in 2003 as deputy executive director and became executive director in 2014 to succeed Joseph Giulietti, who departed to become the leader of MTA Metro-North Railroad. The authority operates Tri-Rail, Florida's commuter-rail system.

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VIA Rail posts Q1 ridership, revenue growth

Rail News Home Passenger Rail 6/4/2019 Rail News: Passenger Rail
image VIA Rail’s first-quarter results represent the company’s 13th consecutive quarter of increased ridership.Photo – VIA Rail Canada Inc.

VIA Rail Canada Inc. reported first-quarter 2019 rail ridership increased 5.1 percent to 1,145,000 riders and passenger revenue rose 8.4 percent to CA$77.6 million compared with the same quarter a year ago, the company announce yesterday.

The results represent the company’s 13th consecutive quarter of ridership increases and the 20th straight quarter of revenue growth, according to a VIA Rail press release.

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Amtrak upgrades track between DC, Baltimore

Rail News Home Amtrak 6/4/2019 Rail News: Amtrak
image The improvement project is designed to increase track capacity, improve the ride quality and offer greater reliability that will benefit Acela and other Amtrak riders and commuters.Photo – amtrak.com

Amtrak crews are upgrading 31 miles of track between Washington Union and Baltimore Penn stations as part of infrastructure improvements along the Northeast Corridor, the railroad announced yesterday.

The improvement project is designed to increase track capacity, improve the ride quality and offer greater reliability that will benefit Acela and other Amtrak riders and commuters along the corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston, Amtrak officials said in a press release.

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TriMet awards $80M fleet overhaul contract to Siemens Mobility

Rail News Home Mechanical 6/4/2019 Rail News: Mechanical
image Siemens Mobility will overhaul 79 of TriMet’s Siemens SD660 light-rail vehicles, which are at mid-life.Photo – TriMet Facebook

Siemens Mobility has entered into a contract worth $80 million contract to overhaul part of the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon’s (TriMet) light-rail fleet. 

Siemens will overhaul 79 of TriMet’s Siemens SD660 light-rail vehicles, which are at mid-life. The work will allow the fleet to retain safety, performance and passenger comfort standards, according to a Siemens press release.

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RailUSA acquires CSX line in Florida

RailUSA LLC has acquired a 430-mile Florida Panhandle rail line and related real estate from CSX Corp., the independent freight railroad and rail services holding company announced yesterday.

Now named Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railroad (FGA), the line operates from Baldwin to Pensacola, Florida, and passes through Tallahassee, Florida, with a connection to Attapulgus, Georgia.

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