` Hot News!
Railpace Newsmagazine

Hot News!
Edited by Carl G. Perelman
May 23, 2019:

COMMUTER RAIL ANNOUNCES RETURN OF CAPEFLYER SERCVICE TO HYANNIS FOR SUMMER 2019: Keolis Commuter Services (Keolis), the MBTA’s operating partner for commuter rail, and the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) are pleased to announce the return of CapeFLYER train service this summer. CapeFLYER is a weekend train service between Boston’s South Station and Hyannis Station offering round trips Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day. “We are proud to partner with the MBTA and the CCRTA to provide train service between Boston and Cape Cod for the summer,” said David Scorey, General Manager and CEO, Keolis. “This scenic train offers unique amenities, making it a comfortable and convenient way to reach some of the country’s most popular summer destinations. We welcome vacationers, weekenders and day-trippers to skip traffic and spend more time enjoying their journeys.” CapeFLYER service begins at Boston’s South Station and stops in Braintree, Brockton, Middleboro, Wareham, Buzzards Bay, Bourne ending in Hyannis. For the first time, CapeFLYER will provide train service to the ADA accessible Bourne Station. A round-trip ticket from South Station to Hyannis is $40, and children 11 and under with a fare-paying adult ride free. Tickets can be purchased with the mTicket app or onboard. Same day tickets for Sunday travel can be purchased at the South Station ticket office. These special fares are not available onboard and $10 weekend tickets are not accepted on CapeFLYER. Reservations are not required and easy connections to other points of interest on the Cape can be accessed via the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA). “We are very excited as we embark on our 7th season of the CapeFLYER. The new feature of having a stop (Bourne Station) on the south side of the canal will create a much more seamless and efficient transfer for customers getting to their intended destination. Ridership has continued to grow throughout the years and reducing the number of motor vehicles on the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges is an added benefit for the region,” said Tom Cahir, CCRTA Administrator. Bikes are welcome on board thanks to a special bike car, making CapeFLYER a convenient option for those who wish to take advantage of the many paved bike paths on Cape Cod. Dogs are also welcome on board and Blonde on the Run Catering will operate a café car selling food, beverages, beer and wine. The first train of the 2019 season departs Boston’s South Station Friday, May 24 at 5:50 p.m. Continuing a tradition honoring our men and women in uniform, the CapeFLYER is free to active duty service members, veterans and their families on Sunday, May 26 through a partnership with Cape Cod Cares for the Troops. In addition to Memorial Day, trains will operate on July 3, July 4 and Labor Day. Please visit capeflyer.com. for holiday schedules. To purchase tickets or to view schedules and additional fares visit capeflyer.com. . Upon arrival at Hyannis, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority helps connect passengers to ferries and busses for further transit solutions around the Cape. To learn more about these options, visit http://www.CapeCodRTA.org. (Keolis Commuter Services - posted 5/23)

VIRGIN TRAINS USA BEGINS EXPANSION: Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline, has begun contruction of its new extension between West Palm Beach and Orlando, Florida. The route will utilize the Florida East Coast right-of-way from West Palm Beach to Cocoa; then a new right-of-way to the Orlando International Airport. The new line is expected to be completed and in service in 2022, with high speed trains operating between Orlando and Miami. (posted 5/22)

WASHINGTON METRO TO EXTEND YELLOW LINE SERVICE TO GREENBELT BEGINNING MAY 25: Metro today announced it will begin running all Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt more than a month earlier than expected – starting Saturday, May 25 – when the Platform Improvement Project begins at six Yellow and Blue line stations south of Reagan National Airport. The service adjustment, originally scheduled to take effect in July, will allow Metro to provide more reliable service between the airport station, downtown DC and points north during the summer shutdown. “By making this change now, we can better serve our customers impacted by the summer-long closures,” said Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld. “At the same time, customers on the Yellow and Green lines will benefit from the additional service a bit sooner than expected.” The extension of the Yellow Line to Greenbelt was approved by the Metro Board of Directors earlier this year. Nine stations from Shaw-Howard U to Greenbelt will see rush-hour service levels double as a result of the change. During a recent weekend simulation of rail service for the summer project, Metro determined that extending all Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt would improve train spacing, reduce congestion and maintain Metro’s commitment to operate normal service outside of the shutdown area. In addition to local bus services, Metro will provide an extensive network of free shuttles to accommodate customers at all six of the closed stations. Metro is also offering free parking at Franconia-Springfield, Huntington and Van Dorn St stations during the project. Passengers traveling to or from the six closed stations (Braddock Road, King St-Old Town, Eisenhower Ave, Huntington, Van Dorn St, Franconia-Springfield) are encouraged to visit wmata.com/platforms. for additional project information and travel alternatives. (Washington Metro - posted 5/22)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAY 18, 2019: Total carloads for the week ending May 18 were 267,006 carloads, up 2.2 percent compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 269,352 containers and trailers, down 5.5 percent compared to 2018. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018. They included coal, up 5,696 carloads, to 84,256; petroleum and petroleum products, up 2,511 carloads, to 13,165; and chemicals, up 1,794 carloads, to 33,646. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2018 included nonmetallic minerals, down 3,657 carloads, to 37,190; forest products, down 655 carloads, to 9,983; and miscellaneous carloads, down 432 carloads, to 9,422. For the first 20 weeks of 2019, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,031,359 carloads, down 2.1 percent from the same point last year; and 5,339,107 intermodal units, down 1.9 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 20 weeks of 2019 was 10,370,466 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 2.0 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending May 18, 2019, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 373,951 carloads, up 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 356,816 intermodal units, down 4.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 730,767 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 20 weeks of 2019 was 14,094,277 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.3 percent compared with 2018. Canadian railroads reported 85,865 carloads for the week, up 2.7 percent, and 69,605 intermodal units, down 1.8 percent compared with the same week in 2018. For the first 20 weeks of 2019, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,997,461 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent. Mexican railroads reported 21,080 carloads for the week, down 5.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 17,859 intermodal units, up 6.0 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 20 weeks of 2019 was 726,350 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 4.6 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 5/22)

MBTA TO UPGRADE NORTH STATION SIGNAL SYSTEM: The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board voted to award a $26.5 million contract to Fischbach and Moore Electric to rebuild the signal system that controls the movement of Commuter Rail and Amtrak trains in and out of North Station with a state-of-the-art system that will improve efficiency and safety. The signal project, which has been designed to locate critical system equipment above the 500-year flood plain, is part of a larger effort to enhance train capacity at North Station. "Upgrading the signal system at North Station will result in a significant improvement in service for all of our north side Commuter Rail customers," said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. "As we continue to rebuild our core system infrastructure, we’re improving service while also accounting for potential changes in climate." The existing antiquated signaling equipment that controls all tracks in and around North Station will be replaced with microprocessor technology contained within 9 new signal houses. The project will also result in the installation of 2 new crossovers to allow for more train routing options. In addition to increasing train reliability, the new system will provide the flexibility required to adjust to future operational needs at North Station Although the project limits span approximately 1 linear mile, this area consists of a complex network of tracks and switches that serves to connect the station tracks at North Station, 5 major Commuter Rail lines, and Boston Engine Terminal, the area’s principal maintenance and train storage facility. Separately, the MBTA has also initiated a project to replace the drawbridge that carries the Commuter Rail across the Charles River. Combined with the signals upgrade, both projects will allow for the use of all 12 station tracks at North Station. Because of the project’s complexities, initial work will be focused on long-lead items such as the procurement and fabrication of the signal instrumentation houses and its components. Field work is expected to get underway next spring. Overall, the project is expected to take three and a half years to complete. (MTA- posted 5/21)

METRO-NORTH MEETS MILESTONE IN WAY AHEAD PLAN TO TRANSFORM THE RAILROAD: MTA Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi today announced a series of key accomplishments in implementing the railroad’s Way Ahead plan, a roadmap that details actions to enhance safety, service, infrastructure, communications, and transform customers’ day-to-day commuting experience. Metro-North launched Way Ahead six months ago as a proactive response to growing ridership, changing demographics and the evolving needs of customers. Coinciding with benchmarks met in its Way Ahead plan, Metro-North’s on-time performance numbers have been above goal. 2019’s on-time performance through April 30 has been 95.7%, 2.1 percentage points higher than last year. There’s a 74% reduction in cancelled and terminated trains, and a 50% reduction in trains delayed by more than 15 minutes. The railroad’s vision through Way Ahead is to set the standard for safety, reliability and innovation in the delivery of excellent customer service. Metro-North has realized key aspects of its vision, and that means customers can expect safety upgrades, improved communications, reinvigorated stations, renewed infrastructure, which all translates to an overall more positive commuting experience. Since Metro-North was formed in 1983, ridership has boomed from just over 41 million customers a year, primarily to and from “9-to-5” jobs in New York City, to an all-time high of 86.5 million customers in 2017. Way Ahead, a dynamic plan that responds to increased ridership and changes in how customers are using the railroad, sets the foundation for the continued growth and vitality of the railroad. “The transformation of Metro-North Railroad is no longer a plan, it’s happening,” said Catherine Rinaldi, Metro-North President. “Operating from our core principles of safety, integrity and innovation, and all the while listening to commuters, we’re changing the railroad so that riding Metro-North is a more positive experience for our customers. We won’t rest on our laurels, and there’s still much work to be done, but we are all well on our way to developing an even stronger Metro-North for the future.” Highlights of Way Ahead Accomplishments: Safety
  • Expanded TRACKS, Mero-North’s award-winning free community outreach program designed to educate and promote rail safety, to over 100,000 reached in 2018, with the goal to reach 105,000 in 2019.
  • To amplify its safety message, Metro-North launched a poster contest for students in grades K-12 to promote rail safety.
  • All Metro-North Railroad crossings are now identified in the WAZE app. As drivers approach a crossing, a safety message will pop up on the screen.
  • Enhanced 78 grade crossings with LED lights.
  • Enhanced employee personal protective equipment program.
  • Expanded communications skills training for employees, with other 1,100 operations employees trained thus far.
Customer Service
  • Station ambassadors are now in place at the six busiest Metro-North stations: Stamford, White Plains, Harlem-125th Street, Fordham, New Rochelle and Croton-Harmon.
  • Created new Grand Central Terminal customer advocates.
  • Opened New Haven Line trains for travel between Fordham and Manhattan, adding the Fordham station stop to an additional 96 weekday trains.
  • Delivered major station improvements to White Plains, Riverdale, Crestwood, Port Chester, with Harlem-125th Street soon.
  • Improved accessibility by installing new elevators at Grand Central Terminal and a rehabilitated ADA ramp at the Nanuet station.
  • Trackside clean-up in the Bronx, with the removal of 47 tons of waste.
  • 38 more stations now have real-time monitors.
  • New state-of-the-art “big boards” at Grand Central Terminal that are brighter, easier read, can be nimbly updated in response to service changes, and do not compromise the terminal’s historical integrity.
  • More digital real-time information screens at Grand Central Terminal.
  • Hosted eleven “Connect with Us” forums for customers to ask questions and address concerns with Metro-North leadership. Three more “Connect with Us” forums are slated in the months ahead.
  • Metro-North crews replaced the Prospect Hill Road Bridge in Southeast, and the 14th Avenue Bridge in Mount Vernon is underway.
  • Through its new SMARTTRACK program, Metro-North crews are undertaking critical infrastructure work by strategically shutting down continuous segments of track, giving multiple work groups uninterrupted access to maintain and improve the system, crews completed a host of track improvements from Mt. Vernon East to Pelham, including: changing ties, rail and insulated joints, cleaning drains, welding joints, picking up garbage and upgrading switches.
  • Rigorous track work by Metro-North crews resulted in a 46% decrease in maintenance defects since 2014, and an 86% decrease in safety defects since 2014.
Focusing on the Future, What’s Next in the Way Ahead Plan:
  • Arrival of more M-8 cars on the New Haven Line.
  • More station and accessibility improvements.
  • New Grand Central Terminal gate boards and departure boards.
  • Digital screen advertising on-board trains.
  • Continuation of the trackside clean-up effort.
  • Summer SMARTRACK work in the Bronx.
  • Complete New Haven Line catenary replacement.
(MTA- posted 5/21)

MTA ANNOUNCES CONTINUED AND DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENTS IN SERVICE ON SUBWAYS: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced new statistics showing the continued dramatic improvements in NYC Subway performance, with the highest on-time performance numbers in more than half a decade, showing that the Subway Action Plan – passed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature - and Transit’s Save Safe Seconds campaign are working. The full datasets can be found here, starting on page 26. “Month after month we’re making progress in giving our customers the system they deserve, allowing them to spend less time in transit and more time with family, friends, and at their careers,” said Patrick Foye, Chairman and CEO of the MTA. “With an extraordinarily able team heading our agencies, a dedicated and talented workforce, and substantial investment from the state and city through the Subway Action Plan, we’re seeing real improvements – and know that we still have a long way to go.” “I am hugely encouraged by the sustained improvements we’ve had month over month, to the point that we are now at a performance high of nearly six years,” NYC Transit President Andy Byford said. “These improvements were achieved thanks to our intense focus on investments in the system and improving on the basics through the Subway Action Plan and the Save Safe Seconds campaign, and through the dedication of our 50,000-person workforce. Despite these gains, I believe the best is yet to come as we continue to improve our operations, re-signal our system, and improve our decades old infrastructure.”
  • New York City Subway: Subway on-time performance (OTP) for April reached its highest level since October 2013: 79.8%. Major incidents continue to decline steadily, while customer-focused performance numbers are also pointing higher, and track debris fires have significantly decreased. In addition to near-80% on-time performance on the subway, weekday Major Incidents decreased 32% from last April, matching the fewest since measurement began in 2015. Furthermore, Weekday Delays decreased 35% from last April, reaching the lowest level since December 2013. Positive numbers were also realized in NYC Transit's customer-focused metrics, including Service Delivered, Additional Platform Time, Additional Train Time, and Customer Journey Time Performance, as all metrics were better than one year ago and better over the past 12 months compared to the prior 12 months. Most notably, Additional Train Time – the average additional unanticipated time customers spend onboard the train due to various service issues – dropped to a new low of 53 seconds. Customer Journey Time Performance for April was 83.5%, the highest since August 2016, and Service Delivered, or the ability to deliver the service that’s scheduled, reached a new high of 97%. Another contributing factor to the reduction in subway delays has been the significant progress made in reducing track debris fires, which are significantly down since NYC Transit started attacking this problem with new equipment in 2017. This has included clearing debris at an unprecedented rate using new platform-based mobile vacs, and vacuum trains that move around the system picking up trash. Year-to-date, track debris fires have dropped by 52 incidents compared to 2018, to 81 from 133, and over the last 12 months, track debris fires dropped by 128 incidents from the prior 12 months, to 289 from 417.
  • Long Island Rail Road: LIRR on-time performance for April reached its highest level since October 2012, approximately 95.3%. So far in 2019, LIRR on-time performance is 93.7%, four percentage points above this point last year, translating to 1,645 more on-time trains operating in the first four months of 2019 compared to the year before. Further improving conditions for LIRR customers by reducing crowding and the need to stand inside a train, the number of LIRR trains that operated with fewer cars than normal has tumbled 21.4%, with 285 fewer trains operating short so far in 2019. The falling number of short trains is an indication of increased mechanical reliability of the LIRR’s fleet, and a testament to the hard work performed by the LIRR’s equipment maintenance staff. The mean distance between failures on LIRR trains also improved recently. In March, the most recent month for which data is available, the LIRR’s train cars logged an average of 208,687 miles before experiencing a mechanical failure, an improvement of 1.2% over a year ago. Full datasets can be found here, starting on page 149.
  • Metro-North Railroad: Metro-North Railroad’s on-time performance in 2019 so far hasbeen 95.7%, 2.1 percentage points higher than the same period last year. The number of trains the railroad had to cancel or terminate mid-run has been reduced by 74% this year, and the railroad has reduced the number of trains delayed more than 15 minutes by 50%.
(MTA- posted 5/20)

PIONEER RAILCORD ENTERS INTO MERGER AGREEMENT TO BE ACQUIRED BY BRX TRANSPORTATION HOLDINGS: Pioneer Railcorp, a railroad holding company that owns short-line railroads and several other railroad-related businesses including a railroad equipment company and a contract switching services company, and BRX Transportation Holdings, LLC ("BRX"), an entity formed by Brookhaven Rail Partners ("Brookhaven") and Related Infrastructure ("Related"), announced entry into a definitive merger agreement under which BRX will acquire Pioneer for $18.81 per share in cash. The agreement, which has been unanimously approved by Pioneer's independent directors, represents a premium of approximately 100.7% over Pioneer's closing stock price on May 16, 2019, the last trading day prior to the announcement of the transaction. "We look forward to this next chapter in Pioneer's journey and anticipate it will have a bright future under new ownership," said Mike Carr, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pioneer. "We are excited to partner with Related Infrastructure and to have worked with Pioneer's management and board on a transaction that brings great value to its shareholders, its customers, and the communities it serves. Pioneer fits perfectly with Brookhaven's philosophy of identifying opportunities where our hands-on management expertise, proprietary value creation strategies, and deep industry relationships provide us with a competitive advantage and the ability to create value," said Alex Yeros, Principal of Brookhaven. Related Infrastructure, a subsidiary of Related Fund Management which has raised over $5 billion of capital across a variety of different investment vehicles and strategies, invests in companies that develop, operate and service transportation infrastructure throughout the United States. Andrew Right, Managing Partner of Related Infrastructure said, "We are pleased to partner with Brookhaven to build a rail-based infrastructure platform. We appreciate the work Mike Carr and his team have done to create the Pioneer portfolio of rail businesses. We look forward to working with Alex and the entire team at Brookhaven, an industry leading team with over 25 years of experience building businesses in the short-line rail industry to further drive expansion of the platform." Under the terms of the merger agreement, BRX will acquire through merger 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. In connection with the execution of the merger agreement, certain stockholders of Pioneer, together holding a significant portion of the outstanding shares of common stock of Pioneer, have agreed to vote their shares in favor of the transaction under a voting and support agreement. The consummation of the merger is subject to various closing conditions, including approval by Pioneer's shareholders, Surface Transportation Board approval, and operating performance by Pioneer within a specified working capital floor and debt ceiling. The merger is not subject to a financing condition. Subject to satisfaction of the closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019. (Pioneer Railcorp- posted 5/18)

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FROM CANADIANS FOR VIA RAIL: VIA Rail ranks amongst the most reputable and trusted companies in Canada according to major studies published recently. The Corporation placed 19th in the Boston-based Reputation Institute’s RepTrack ranking top 50 most reputable companies in Canada. It also swept the first place, as the most reputable transportation company of the list. Additionally, VIA Rail fared well in the ranking of the 50 most trusted brands in Canada in a study undertaken by the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business called the Gustavson Brand Trust Index. Furthermore, it captured first place as the most trusted brand in the University of Victoria business school study’s transportation category. “This recognition from our fellow Canadians encourages us to build upon this momentum in order to be the smarter way to move for an ever-increasing number of people,” notes the President and Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail, Cynthia Garneau. “At VIA Rail, we firmly believe that travelling should be easy, sustainable and enjoyable to meet the needs and the preferences of our passengers. This drives us to listen to Canadians, so that we may innovate and continue to increase the value of the services we offer, consistent with our sustainable mobility plan. It is due to the commitment and professionalism of all our employees that we surpass ourselves every day.” (VIA Rail Canada - posted 5/16)

MBTA TO HALT TRAIN SERVICE BETWEEN ROCKPORT AND WEST GLOUCESTER FOR TWO WEEKS: To accommodate construction activities as part of the Gloucester Drawbridge Replacement Project, the MBTA will replace all weekday and weekend trains from Rockport to West Gloucester Stations along the Rockport Line with free bus service replacement beginning Saturday, June 1, through Sunday, June 16, 2019. “Replacing the Gloucester Drawbridge is a key step toward improving Commuter Rail service on the Rockport Line, along with targeted investments in the Beverly and North Station drawbridges,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “We know service diversions are inconvenient, but doing so allows us to get more work done and shorten the overall project schedule.” During this construction period from June 1 to June 16, the south side of the existing timber trestle will be demolished with ongoing monitoring and testing performed on the remaining north side of the bridge. Previous work in anticipation of this partial demolition has included steel bracing systems and strengthening of the remaining north side of the bridge. Following this construction stage, Gloucester Drawbridge Replacement work will continue with the new south bridge anticipated to be in service in 2021 and the new north bridge anticipated in 2022. (MBTA - posted 5/15)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAY 4, 2019: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending May 4, 2019. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 535,089 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.0 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending May 4 were 268,559 carloads, up 1.0 percent compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 266,530 containers and trailers, down 4.9 percent compared to 2018. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018. They included coal, up 6,712 carloads, to 84,481; petroleum and petroleum products, up 3,367 carloads, to 13,231; and miscellaneous carloads, up 1,295 carloads, to 9,543. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2018 included nonmetallic minerals, down 4,072 carloads, to 37,103; grain, down 2,811 carloads, to 22,287; and motor vehicles and parts, down 2,060 carloads, to 16,491. For the first 18 weeks of 2019, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,505,712 carloads, down 2.3 percent from the same point last year; and 4,799,133 intermodal units, down 1.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 18 weeks of 2019 was 9,304,845 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.9 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending May 4, 2019, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 376,890 carloads, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 357,662 intermodal units, down 2.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 734,552 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 18 weeks of 2019 was 12,638,908 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.2 percent compared with 2018. Canadian railroads reported 88,908 carloads for the week, up 3.3 percent, and 74,194 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week in 2018. For the first 18 weeks of 2019, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,686,804 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 19,423 carloads for the week, down 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 16,938 intermodal units, up 11.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 18 weeks of 2019 was 647,259 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 5.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR- posted 5/15)

FREIGHTERA FIRST TO MARKET WITH FREIGHT SERVICE FROM FIVE MAJOR US AND CANADIAN RAILROADS: Freightera, North America's freight marketplace offering all-inclusive freight rates from hundreds of carriers of all sizes and transport modes, just launched door-to-door full truckload service from Union Pacific, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, three of the largest railroads in Canada and the U.S. This coverage combined with existing service from CSX and Norfolk Southern makes Freightera the only freight platform in North America offering comprehensive coverage from the major railroads. Freightera is currently in the process of obtaining live rates from the remaining two Class 1 railroads. "Intermodal transport by rail is usually the least expensive way to move freight long distances," says Freightera founder and CEO Eric Beckwitt, "but until now, freight shippers were unable to go to one platform and get instant all-inclusive rate quotes from the major railroads. Now they can do that with a click of a button. No phone calls or brokers necessary. They can also compare rail rates with the leading trucking companies' rates and get a clear sense of available services and optimal cost for each shipment." Shipping freight by rail offers many important advantages over trucking. In the Freightera platform, a recent sampling of long-haul full truckload rail rates reveals 45 percent cost savings on average over truck rates with guaranteed availability. In Canada, Freightera rail rates are around 40 percent cheaper than long-haul trucking rates. (Freightera, Randy Kotuby - posted 5/15)

AMTRAK AND NJ TRANSIT JOINT $31 MILLION NORTHEAST CORRIDOR INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT: Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT today announced a joint $31 million investment to improve railroad infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) in New Jersey and to conduct renewal work throughout spring and summer 2019 as part of their ongoing partnership. The work, which will lead to improved conditions for travelers, will be conducted throughout the state from the north end with projects at Newark Penn Station and Portal Bridge to the southern portion of the state with projects in Trenton. This extensive work and significant financial investment serve as the latest example of the cooperative relationship between NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak to enhance the customer experience for both commuter and intercity rail customers. “The bridges and rails that cross New Jersey serve as a lifeline for our state’s economy, and the Northeast Corridor is an indispensable branch,” said Governor Murphy. “I’m proud to stand beside Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT as they work together to keep our infrastructure in good repair and serve as much-needed partners as we work to keep our region’s economy at full strength, ensuring that New Jersey moves in the right direction.” “We are proud to continue our strong and cooperative relationship with NJ TRANSIT. Together, we are improving our shared infrastructure, the safety of the railroad, and our customer experience through projects of every size, from basic track work up to the Gateway Program,” said Tony Coscia, Amtrak Chairman of the Board. “Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT’s commitment to investment in infrastructure would not be possible without Governor Murphy’s support, as he shares our dedication to improving the overall customer experience.” “As I stated back in February alongside Tony Coscia, our partnership with Amtrak is critical to restoring and renewing the infrastructure along the NEC, moving critical NJ TRANSIT capital projects forward like the new Elizabeth Station and expanding our presence in Penn Station New York – all with an eye toward improving the customer experience,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “Through our partnership with Amtrak, the contributions from NJ TRANSIT are being reinvested back into Amtrak’s infrastructure in the state, ensuring our customers continue to enjoy the safe and reliable service they deserve.” Specifics of theinfrastructure improvement projects along the NEC in New Jersey include:
  • Newark Penn Station – Beginning May 20, Amtrak crews will begin a block tie replacement program on tracks 1 and 4 at Newark Penn Station. This includes the total replacement of 95 feet of ties on track 1 and 1,100 feet of ties on track 4. The condition of the existing wooden ties has deteriorated and will be replaced by concrete ties.
  • Portal Bridge – Amtrak crews will perform total timber deck replacement on tracks 2 and 3 on Portal Bridge this summer. This work involves the renewal of more than 500 timbers per track, which will improve current bridge conditions until a new Portal North Bridge is constructed.
  • Fair Interlocking in Trenton – Beginning Aug. 5, Amtrak crews will begin extensive timber and switch replacement work at Fair Interlocking, located in Trenton. This includes the total switch replacement for six switches, upgrading all switch machines from air to electric, installing all new electric switch heaters (from propane) and replacing more than 700 ties and 350 switch timbers.
  • NJ High Speed Rail Program – Amtrak crews are currently working towards completing catenary upgrades to support improved reliability and capacity for Amtrak and NJ Transit trains and the upcoming next-generation Acela fleet which will enter service in 2021. This includes equipment removal, replacement, and new installation of constant tension catenary for all four tracks between County (in New Brunswick) and Midway (in Monmouth Junction/South Brunswick) Interlockings and between Midway and CP Clark (in West Windsor), and between CP Clark and Ham (in Trenton). Benefits include facilitating increasing speeds and improved reliability of the aging infrastructure.
This comes on the heels of a February announcement, whereAmtrak and NJ TRANSIT renewed their commitment to each other and the traveling public after the finalizing of financial arrangements that pave the way to ongoing and future improvements to the infrastructure, customer experience, and safety of our collective customers. (Amtrak - posted 5/14)

NJ TRANSIT RETURNS SERVICE TO BOTH THE ATLANTIC CITY LINE AND PRINCETON BRANCH: On Sunday, May 12 service returned to NJ Transit's Atlantic City Line and the Princeton Branch. Service had been discontinued on both lines during September 2018 due to an equipment shortage. The installation of Postive Train Control has necessitated the removal of locomotives, MUs, and control cars from service. With equipment being returned to service, NJ Transit is now able to restore trains on both lines. ( posted 5/13)

METRO BREEZ AND AMTRAK DOWNEASTER PARTNER TO PROMOTO TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS: Greater Portland Metro and the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) have announced a partnership to improve the promotion of public transportation options between the towns of Portland, Freeport, and Brunswick, locations that are currently served by both METRO BREEZ and the Amtrak Downeaster. In an effort to maximize flexibility for passengers, an integrated rail/bus schedule (see attached) has been developed to provide passengers with all bus and train service options on weekdays and weekends. In addition, both METRO BREEZ and Amtrak Downeaster have coordinated pricing to offer passengers a seamless fare structure with $3 one-way, $27 Ten-Ride, and $90 Monthly passes for regular service. Reduced fare options are also available.“This schedule and fare structure make it easy for passengers to travel on the mode or schedule that best meets their needs. Take the train one-way and the bus the other.” said Natalie Bogart, Marketing Director at NNEPRA. The Amtrak Downeaster makes five round-trips daily between Brunswick, ME and Boston, MA.METRO BREEZ provides express bus service between Portland, Yarmouth, Freeport, and Brunswick with 13 roundtrips Monday – Friday and seven on Saturday. (Amtrak - posted 5/13)

VIA RAIL REPORTS RIDERSHIP AND REVENUE INCREASE FOR A FOURTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR: Benefiting from a four-year upward trend in the number of travellers choosing the train, VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) again posted strong results for 2018. With a vision of being a smarter way to move Canadians, the Corporation provided 4.74 million travellers with an easy, safe, sustainable and enjoyable travel experience. This is an increase of 8% over 2017 and a 25% increase since 2014. Revenues have reached $392.6 million, a 7.4% increase over 2017 and a 40% increase since 2014. “While marking VIA Rail’s 40th anniversary in 2018, we took enormous pride in our strong performance in terms of both revenue and ridership. We were also delighted with the Federal Government’s decision to fund the replacement of our aging fleet with a brand new set of trains in the Québec City-Windsor corridor. We thank the Government of Canada for their trust in VIA Rail and for this historic investment in our sustainable future,” said VIA Rail Chair of the Board, Françoise Bertrand “A fourth year in a row of growth in ridership and improvement in financial performance compared to 2014 is a great way to close out VIA Rail’s 40th anniversary. It is also a testament to the growing popularity of intercity train travel and the dedication and commitment of our employees. In all areas of the business, employees are working hard to attract more passengers, making them feel welcome and well-treated. Thanks in large part to their efforts, the number of passenger miles travelled on VIA Rail has increased by 23% since 2014. The resulting increase in revenue combined with efficient cost management and economies of scale have helped the company reduce the cost of mobility on Canadian taxpayers by 15% (subsidy per passenger mile, excluding pension past service cost).” said VIA Rail President and Chief Executive Officer, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. Mrs. Bertrand added: “A new chapter is now beginning at VIA Rail with the appointment of Mrs. Cynthia Garneau as President and CEO, effective May 9. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wish to thank Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano for his dedication to serving Canadians, and particularly for his clear vision and profound commitment to propel VIA Rail into the future. All of us on the Board, and I am certain all employees, are grateful for his impressive achievements as well as his strong leadership. His accomplishments in the past five years along with the arrival of Ms. Garneau for a five-year mandate allow us to look to the future with confidence and to maintain our momentum towards attaining our vision.” (VIA Rail Canada - posted 5/13)

MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT WILL IMPLEMENT NEW SAFETY SYSTEM ON THE FLUSHING LINE: MTA New York City Transit announced that it completed this week the implementation of “Automatic Train Operation," a technology that helps enable faster and more reliable service, on the Flushing Line in Queens. It is the second such line in the system, after the line. The news comes just months after the introduction of a modern, computerized signaling system called Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) on the line that has already led to dramatic increases in on-time performance and other metrics associated with good service. Automatic Train Operation (ATO) is expected to further improve customer commutes on the line. "I am tremendously proud and excited to announce that New York City Transit train operators are now running the entire Flushing Line using automatic train operation, which will make trips smoother and faster for all our customers on that line” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford. “I am so thankful to our new signals guru Pete Tomlin and the entire NYC Transit signals team, as well as our train operators who are great partners in our efforts to improve service. It’s no coincidence that the two lines with CBTC and ATO have the best performance in the system, and we’re excited about what the future may bring as we explore emerging additional technologies such as ultra-wideband communications, which could revolutionize the way we modernize the system, as envisaged by our Fast Forward plan.” Under manual train operation, individual train operators with varying degrees of experience and confidence control the rates of speed including braking and acceleration. Under ATO, the train is programmed to automatically provide optimal acceleration, braking and cruising speeds, providing more regular and evenly spaced service and smoother, faster trips. Operators continue to instruct the train to depart a station, make sure that tracks are clear throughout the ride, and control emergency braking in the case of obstacles. (MTA - posted 5/09)

NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S NEW STRATEGIC PLAN: Norfolk Southern in 2019 is reimagining possible in all aspects of its business to serve customers better, operate more efficiently, drive growth, and create shareholder value, CEO James A. Squires said today in remarks at the company’s annual meeting of shareholders. “We are moving full speed ahead with a new plan for the future that provides a clear path to continued success – success that benefits our customers, our employees, and our shareholders,” Squires said. Norfolk Southern’s new three-year strategic plan, released in February, is driving transformational changes at the company, Squires said. The plan is based on an operating model known as precision scheduled railroading, and is built on five principles: serving customers, managing assets, controlling costs, working safely, and developing people. “We are transforming our operations, and, indeed, our entire organization,” Squires said. “We’re getting the right people in the right positions and in the right places. We’re looking at old challenges in new ways – and we’re turning challenges into opportunity.” Through a process called Clean Sheeting, Norfolk Southern has streamlined operations at its rail terminals, improving the consistency and reliability of customer service while lowering operating costs and creating capacity for growth. In the third quarter of 2019, the railroad plans to roll out its new TOP21 operating plan to drive improvements in the velocity and fluidity of train movements across the company’s 22-state rail network. “We want to grow our business and our customers’ business, all while operating more efficiently and safely,” Squires said. Over the past three years, guided by the first strategic plan developed under Squires’ leadership, Norfolk Southern has delivered record financial results, including year-over-year improvement in operating ratio, the company’s primary efficiency measure. In 2018, the company achieved an all-time best operating ratio of 65.4 percent. Under the new strategic plan, the company’s goal is to achieve an operating ratio of 60 percent by 2021. The new strategic plan already is delivering results, Squires said. Under the new plan, the company achieved all-time best first-quarter performance in 2019 across a range of financial measures, including net income, earnings per share, and operating ratio. The company also accomplished significant improvements in network fluidity and velocity, increasing average train speed 14 percent and reducing the time that rail cars dwell in terminals by 23 percent. “Norfolk Southern today is operating from a position of financial strength – and we have a plan to grow even stronger,” Squires said. “As we Reimagine Possible, we are building a railroad for tomorrow and for years to come.” (NS, Randy Kotuby - posted 5/09)

SMITHSONIAN MARKS "FORGOTTEN WORKERS" OF TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD WITH OPENING OF 150TH ANNIVERSARY DISPLAY: The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is marking the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad with “Forgotten Workers: Chinese Migrants and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad” and “The Transcontinental Railroad” open May 10 through spring 2020. The new displays offer insight into the backbreaking labor that ultimately connected the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad companies at Promontory Summit, Utah, May 10, 1869. To commemorate the anniversary, Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) will read a Congressional resolution recognizing Chinese railroad workers at the museum May 10 at 9:30 a.m., joined by Representatives Judy Chu (D-Calif.), T.J. Cox (D-Calif.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.); Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton; Lisa Sasaki, the director of the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Program; and descendants of Chinese workers. The event will take place in front of the museum’s Jupiter locomotive in the General Motors Hall of Transportation, and a media tour of the displays will follow. “The artifacts on view will help visitors understand how these forgotten workers often had to endure unfair and hazardous conditions in addition to the backbreaking labor,” said Peter Liebhold, a curator in the museum’s Division of Work and Industry and co-curator of the displays. “Forgotten Workers” will focus on the Chinese laborers whose hard work and sacrifice made possible the completion of one of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects and an amazing engineering feat of human endurance. Objects on view will provide a detailed look into the daily lives of Chinese laborers, such as a pair of chopsticks, a mining pick and a laborer’s conical hat. A large graphic floor map of the United States will show the difficult and expansive terrain that challenged workers and the scale of the project that successfully connected the east and west coasts of the country by land. Visitors will be able to walk the route of the railroad, find the states and territories that it passed through, understand that native peoples were displaced and the impact on the American landscape and environment. Museum visitors can get their hands-on history with two new interpretive carts that will provide facilitated experiences. The “Stereoscope Cart: Building the Transcontinental Railroad” will allow visitors to view historic 3-D images that show the ways people, animals and machines came together in the challenging western landscape to complete the railroad. With the “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” cart, visitors can learn about jobs associated with building and operating the railroad. Among the objects are a tool similar to one employed by Chinese workers to tunnel through a thousand feet or more of solid granite. Visitors can try hefting a 20-pound shovel of coal and imagine the backbreaking labor to do that 400 times in one hour. Programs enhancing the story of the Transcontinental Railroad and the worker’s’ legacy will be presented May 10 and include an Objects-Out-of-Storage presentation, a “Cooking Up History” program about the regional Chinese cooking along the railroad and a performance from San Francisco-based troupe Eth-Noh-Tech that uses theater to tell traditional Chinese stories. “Forgotten Workers” and its companion case “The Transcontinental Railroad” with models of the two locomotives that met at Promontory Summit and a replica spike donated by the Union Pacific Railroad to the Smithsonian in 1958, are part of this larger Smithsonian-wide initiative to commemorate the Transcontinental Railroad’s 150th anniversary. Information on digital content, events and displays can be found at https://americanhistory.si.edu/transcontinental150. Social media users can join the conversation at #Transcontinental150. The museum will also host an online Transcontinental Railroad object group with more than 100 digitized artifacts: https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/object-groups/tcrr. Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000. (Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History - posted 5/09)

CANADIAN NATIONAL ACQUIRES H&R TRANSPORT LTD: CN, through a subsidiary company, has reached an agreement to acquire the intermodal division of the Alberta-based H&R Transport Limited. “H&R is well known in Alberta and across the industry for investing in its people, systems, and assets, as well as its customer centric services and best in class operations, all of which is aligned with CN’s strategy to expand our presence in moving consumer goods,” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer of CN. “With the growing consumer economy requiring more sophisticated transportation solutions, CN’s strategy is to offer more end to end rail supply chain solutions to a wider range of customers.” “The Foder Family was instrumental in establishing this customer focused orientation throughout the history of H&R and we look forward to continuing to provide exceptional service as part of the CN Family,” added David Thiessen, chief executive officer of H&R. “CN recognizes the role of the Foder Family who acquired H&R in the early 1950s and worked to grow the original two tractor operation based in Lethbridge, Alberta,” said Keith Reardon, CN’s senior vice-president of consumer products and supply chain growth. “We have a longstanding relationship with H&R Transport. As a cross country supply chain partner, we know that their continued investments in technology and in their employees has earned them a very enviable reputation.” The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions. (CN - posted 5/09)

FRA ANNOUNCES NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING REVISING LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER REGULATION: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to update the regulation that governs locomotive engineer qualification and certification to make it consistent with the corresponding regulation for conductors. “The proposed revisions would modernize locomotive engineer certification regulations to match those for train conductors, and provide regulatory efficiencies and cost savings without compromising safety,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said. “The proposal would streamline the engineer certification process, and reduce paperwork burdens for the responsible parties.” The proposed rule would adopt the conductor certification regulation process established in 2012 by making conforming amendments to the engineer certification regulation, which was first issued in 1991 and last amended in 2000. Consistent with Executive Order 13771, the proposed rule would reduce overall regulatory reporting and cost burdens for railroads and locomotive engineers. Harmonization of the conductor and engineer regulations would also provide greater clarity to locomotive engineers. The NPRM includes the following five proposed changes to Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 240:
  • Clarifies locomotive engineer certification requirements (Part 240) and aligns them with conductor certification requirements (Part 242) to make it easier for railroad certification managers to become familiar with and administer both regulations.
  • Reduces the reporting burden of a person’s former employer to clarify that only certain listed information in the individual’s railroad service record that directly relates to FRA’s requirements in the certification regulation needs to be shared.
  • Defers the requirement for railroads to seek a waiver from annual testing of certified locomotive engineers when individuals take an extended absence from performing service requiring certification.
  • Modernizes the dispute resolution process by reducing the paperwork burdens for both employees and railroads and allowing for web-based dockets.
  • Simplifies the submission process by which qualification and certification programs are modified by allowing electronic submissions.
The proposed revisions for locomotive engineer qualification and certification ensure that certain provisions are consistent, to the extent possible, with those for conductors. (FRA - posted 5/08)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MAY 4, 2019: For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 535,089 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.0 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending May 4 were 268,559 carloads, up 1.0 percent compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 266,530 containers and trailers, down 4.9 percent compared to 2018. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018. They included coal, up 6,712 carloads, to 84,481; petroleum and petroleum products, up 3,367 carloads, to 13,231; and miscellaneous carloads, up 1,295 carloads, to 9,543. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2018 included nonmetallic minerals, down 4,072 carloads, to 37,103; grain, down 2,811 carloads, to 22,287; and motor vehicles and parts, down 2,060 carloads, to 16,491. For the first 18 weeks of 2019, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,505,712 carloads, down 2.3 percent from the same point last year; and 4,799,133 intermodal units, down 1.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 18 weeks of 2019 was 9,304,845 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.9 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending May 4, 2019, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 376,890 carloads, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 357,662 intermodal units, down 2.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 734,552 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 18 weeks of 2019 was 12,638,908 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.2 percent compared with 2018. Canadian railroads reported 88,908 carloads for the week, up 3.3 percent, and 74,194 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week in 2018. For the first 18 weeks of 2019, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,686,804 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 19,423 carloads for the week, down 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 16,938 intermodal units, up 11.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 18 weeks of 2019 was 647,259 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 5.4 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 5/08)

GOVERNOR MURPHY RECOGNIZES LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER TRAINEES GRADUATING CLASSROOM TRAINING: Governor Phil Murphy and NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Kevin Corbett recognized NJ TRANSIT’s latest Locomotive Engineer Training Class for passing and graduating the Northeast Operating Rules Advisory Committee (NORAC) and physical characteristics exams. The Governor presented each trainee with a certificate of achievement, as the class wraps up its final days of on-the-job training. The 12 trainees completed the 24 weeks of formal classroom instruction and passed extensive testing, including a final exam of nearly 800 questions. The soon-to-be graduates are near the end of the final stage of the 78-week long program. Later this month, each trainee will have to qualify on their division to become certified and qualified locomotive engineers. “The trainees here today are the first cohort of an expanded engineering corps, charged with the great task of moving our residents and commuters safely and reliably across our state every day,” said Governor Murphy. “I applaud each and every trainee, and congratulate them on completing this rigorous classroom training, as they embark on an important and rewarding career on the front lines of building NJ TRANSIT into a world class mass transit agency.” “These trainees have had to digest an immense amount of complex information and pass rigorous exams. I am proud of everything they have achieved so far,’’ said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “I look forward to the near future when they conclude their training and become certified to operate on the railroad.” The completion of this class at the end of the month will help fulfill the agency’s commitment of training and hiring more locomotive engineers. NJ TRANSIT has increased the number of engineer training classes to a record-setting seven classes running concurrently. There are four engineer classes set to graduate in 2019. (NJ Transit - posted 5/07)

MTA NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT BEGINS COMMUNITY OUTREACH FOR STATEN ISLAND WEST SHORE TRANSIT STUDY: MTA New York City Transit and State Assembly Member Michael Cusick today announced that community outreach is beginning for the West Shore Transit Alternatives Analysis to find new ways to enhance public transit options on Staten Island’s West Shore. The study, which is sponsored by NYC Transit in partnership with Assembly Member Cusick, looks holistically at the transportation needs and patterns of West Shore residents, and identifies transit improvements to bring better mass transit options and connections between key locations on Staten Island and Manhattan. Possible options include, but are not limited to, short-term and long-term improvements through additional or enhanced express or local bus service, Bus Rapid Transit, and rail service. It will also build upon previous studies with similar scope or focus on West Shore transit needs. “We have a renewed focus on public transit on Staten Island, particularly after our redesign of the express bus network has proven that we have a vocal customer base with great feedback and on-the-ground knowledge to share with us,” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford. “That is valuable information we need to attract more people to take mass transit, and the West Shore transit study helps us find those residents who live or work within our network and give them a reason to become new customers.” "This is an important first step to alleviate the frustrations Staten Islanders have been facing for years during their commutes,” said Assembly Member Cusick. “Through the funding provided by the state Legislature, we will now be able to move forward in analyzing how to efficiently move commuters along the West Shore corridor.” Over the coming months, NYC Transit staff will conduct customer surveys designed to gather data and information on the community’s travel needs and wishes to better inform possible service improvements and development of travel alternatives. Personnel have started to distribute questionnaires to customers on local and express buses on Staten Island to gather information on current and future travel patterns within and outside the borough. Additionally, NYC Transit will launch a web-based survey targeted at major employers and universities on Staten Island to survey participants on their current travel itineraries, attitudes toward travel options, modes of travel and frequencies to gather insight on opportunities to improve service. NYC Transit personnel will also conduct robust community outreach through meetings with local elected officials and stakeholders through spring 2019, with additional outreach at local events such as street fairs and community open houses planned in the summer and fall to gather public feedback on options identified by the study. The entire study is expected to take a year, with a final recommendation expected in 2020. NYC Transit is committed to improving public transit across Staten Island, such as through the development of a new Bus Rapid Transit system to provide faster travel for thousands of residents along the North Store to and from the St. George Ferry Terminal. That project is undergoing an environmental study that will take approximately 24 months. The communities encompassed by the West Shore Transit Alternatives Analysis include Bloomfield, Travis, Chelsea, Arden Heights, Rossville, Woodrow and Charleston, and includes Staten Island Railway stations from Annadale to Arthur Kill. Assembly Member Michael Reilly said: “I am glad to hear that we are finally taking a serious look at expanding public transportation options on the West Shore of Staten Island. In a place with the longest commute time in the nation, this analysis is an important milestone that will provide meaningful insight on the potential for enhanced transit options for the West Shore, which if implemented could have a profound impact on this borough’s economy. I look forward to seeing the results once this analysis is completed.” (MTA - posted 5/06)

WATCO JOINT VENTURE TO CREATE INLAND TERMINAL: Watco Companies, LLC, recently entered into a joint venture with SCH Services, LLC, (SCH) to create an inland terminal network in the four rivers area of Illinois-Kentucky capable of handling bulk materials. Watco’s Cora Terminal, located on the Mississippi River in Rockwood, Illinois, along with the SCH’s Calvert City Terminal, on the Tennessee River in Calvert City, Kentucky, and Four Rivers Terminal, on the Ohio River in West Paducah, Kentucky, will make up the SCH terminal network. Watco, the former owner and operator of the Cora Terminal, now owns a majority share of the new entity, while the Joint Venture will be managed by SCH’s original owners who have retained a significant ownership position in the two (2) Kentucky Terminals and have purchased a comparable position of ownership in the Cora Terminal. Watco CEO Dan Smith said, “This joint venture will feature the diversity and flexibility of the three terminals and offer a variety of solutions to our Customers needing transloading, blending, and/or storage for a variety of bulk materials.” SCH Chairman John Hunt Sr. said, “Cora Terminal is a world class facility that blends in perfectly with our Kentucky terminals. Our well respected and experienced Management Team can now offer our customers unequaled capacity and flexibility.” The connectivity to all major Class I railroads in the area and the rivers will be advantageous in getting our Customers’ goods to market in the most cost-effective manner possible and offer significant optionality.(WATCO - posted 5/06)

WIRELESS SERVICE AVAILABLE INSIDE TWO-THIRD OF WASHINGTON METRO TUNNELS: Metro and the nation’s leading wireless carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless announce that as of today approximately two-thirds of Metro’s tunnels are now wired for cellular and data service. This marks the near completion of underground wireless service in Virginia, with the addition of the newest tunnel segments on the Yellow and Blue lines that are “wireless ready.” Customers aboard trains between Rosslyn and Van Dorn Street/Eisenhower Avenue can now check emails, send messages and perform other functions using voice and data service underground. Work will continue by the wireless carriers to make adjustments that will enhance the underground wireless network and maximize coverage. Only one short tunnel segment in Virginia remains, between Tysons Corner and Greensboro on the Silver Line. With the completion of the latest segment, wireless voice and data service is now available on tunnel portions of all six Metrorail lines covering approximately 67 miles of Metro’s 100 miles of tunnel track, including the entire Orange and Blue lines, most of Northern Virginia and Downtown DC. (Washington Metro - posted - 5/03)

CP DELIVERS ALL-TIME RECORD MONTH FOR CANADIAN GRAIN: Canadian Pacific is proud to report strong network performance and momentum as it exits a record-setting April. On the strength of CP's service and commitment to innovation in the grain supply chain, including investing in new high-capacity hopper cars, April was an all-time record month for Canadian grain and grain products. CP moved a best-ever 2.643 million metric tonnes (MMT) of Canadian grain and grain products this past month, bettering the previous record from October 2018. This performance took place in a month when workload on CP's network was close to the highest it has ever been. Gross Ton-Miles (GTMs) averaged 817 million per day in April – the second-highest average workload of any month on record. The results are due to the ongoing efforts of the 13,000-strong CP family, the strength of the precision scheduled railroading operating model, and continuous communication and collaboration with customers. "The first month of Q2 sets us up well for continued success this quarter and beyond, but it hasn't been without significant effort from our family of railroaders, customers and the broader supply chain," said CP's Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer John Brooks. "Throughout 2019, the resiliency of our railroaders and our customers has been remarkable. We look forward to continuing to safely deliver for the North American economy in the days, weeks and months ahead." From a train length and train weight perspective, this past month marked the best April performance in CP's history. April train length, excluding local traffic, was an average of 7,576 feet, while train weight, excluding local traffic, was an average of 9,356 tons. (Randy Kotuby, CP - posted - 5/03)

AMTRAK CONTINUES MULTIMILLION DOLLAR INFRASTRUCTURE RENEWAL PROGRAM AT NEW YORK PENN STATION: Amtrak will continue its Infrastructure Renewal program at New York Penn Station this summer by performing state of good repair work on JO railroad interlocking which directs Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and NJ TRANSIT trains heading east and west from the East River Tunnels. “Amtrak has made record levels of capital investment to improve the reliability of our infrastructure and overall customer experience, and we continue to do so in New York Penn Station for all the users of this important station,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. “We appreciate the continued support and confidence from our commuter partners and patience from our customers as we continue to deliver this important work safely, on time and within budget, improving the commutes for the many users of Penn Station.” The total cost of the projects is estimated at $30 million, which will keep this important infrastructure in a state of good repair and benefit all users of Penn Station with an upgraded, state-of-the art railroad and more reliable service. The work on JO Interlocking will occur between Friday, June 28, and Monday, Sept. 2, including the renewal of critical infrastructure such as switches and turnouts at North America’s busiest train station. Amtrak schedule adjustments will include:
  • Northeast Regional Train 110, operating from Washington, D.C. (WAS) to New York Penn Station (NYP), and 127 operating from NYP to WAS will be cancelled.
  • Northbound Keystone Train 640 is terminating at Newark Penn Station (NWK).
  • Southbound Keystone Train 643 is originating at NWK.
  • Southbound Keystone Train 653 is departing NYP early.
  • Cardinal Train 51 will depart NYP early on weekdays only.
  • Maple Leaf Train 63 and Adirondack Train 69 will be combined on the regular time slot for 63 and will split at Albany, N.Y. (ALB).
(Amtrak - posted - 5/02)

LIRR TO ADJUST SCHEDULES THIS SUMMER FOR AMTRAK TRACKWORK: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that, despite additional Amtrak work at Penn Station in July and August, Long Island Rail Road summer service levels will remain consistent with current levels. Starting on May 20, a temporary break in Amtrak’s Penn Station state-of-good-repair trackwork will allow the restoration of 10 Long Island Rail Road trains that were diverted or canceled in January as a result of Amtrak's continuing work at Penn Station. Once Amtrak's work resumes, just before July, services levels will return to current levels. Starting July 1, as Amtrak resumes its work at Penn Station on a complex of switches known as “JO Interlocking,” the LIRR's use of available track space in Penn Station will again be limited, as it was from January through May 19. Senior LIRR officials have been coordinating with Amtrak personnel to ensure the work progresses smoothly, including a commitment from Amtrak to stage response crews at strategic locations to address any issues that may arise, as well as to complete some repairs to tracks and conduct various inspections before work begins to help minimize any further impacts to LIRR customers. Due to Amtrak’s repair work, the LIRR will divert or cancel seven of 144 morning rush trains and seven of 130 evening rush trains starting July 1, and running through September 2. Five trains are being added on the edges of both AM and PM peak periods to provide affected customers with alternative options. The LIRR is lengthening key trains to ensure that the overall seating capacity into Penn Station is in line with current capacity. These changes also include: four morning peak trains to Penn Station will be diverted to Atlantic Terminal; one morning peak train to Penn Station will terminate in Jamaica, and two trains will not operate. In the evening rush, two trains will originate at Atlantic Terminal instead of Penn Station, two trains will originate at Jamaica instead of Penn Station; and three trains will not operate. In both the morning and evening rush hours, stops will be added to trains as necessary to preserve service opportunities from diverted or cancelled trains, and cars will be added to lengthen select existing trains. To help offset these changes and maintain maximum capacity, two trains will be added to Penn Station in the early AM rush, as well as three trains added in the early afternoon from Penn Station. LIRR staff will remain in close communication with Amtrak as it continues its State of Good Repair work, in order to ensure that impacts to LIRR customers remain as minimal as possible. (MTA - posted - 5/02)

AMTRAK PENN STATION WORK PROMPTS NJ TRANSIT SERVICE CHANGES: Beginning June 17, 2019, NJ TRANSIT will be temporarily diverting select Midtown Direct rail service on the Montclair-Boonton Line and one North Jersey Coast Line train to Hoboken, in order to accommodate vital Amtrak repair work that will take two tracks at Penn Station New York (PSNY) out of service. Other temporary service adjustments will include Morris & Essex Line Midtown Direct trains no longer stopping at Newark Broad Street station during the morning and evening peak periods, and a limited number of Midtown Direct reverse-peak trains will operate from Hoboken. Please see below for impacts to specific trains and suggested alternates. The work will require two tracks at PSNY to be taken out of service resulting in fewer tracks for Amtrak, NJ TRANSIT and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). Amtrak will be repairing and renewing two railroad interlockings at the east end of PSNY which direct all three railroads in and out of the East River tunnels connecting to Sunnyside Yard in Queens. Access to Sunnyside Yard is critical to NJ TRANSIT operations at PSNY as it enables the maximum number of trains and number of cars per train to utilize the station platforms. NJ TRANSIT must implement service changes weekdays only between Monday, June 17th and Friday, September 6th. (NJT - posted - 5/02)

AMTRAK CELEBRATES 48 YEARS; LOOKS TO THE FUTURE: Continuing its FY18 success, Amtrak is on track for its best year as the company celebrates its 48th year of operations. Fiscal year ridership is up 1.3% through March over FY18, and Amtrak is heading toward breakeven on an operating earnings basis by FY21. Amtrak has committed to investing billions in modernizing infrastructure, fleet, and facilities to meet the growing needs and ensure a continued, bright future for passenger rail service across the nation. Following the enactment of the Rail Passenger Service Act in 1970, Amtrak began serving customers on May 1, 1971, taking over the operation for most intercity passenger trains then operated by private railroads in exchange for access to their respective networks, thus preserving intercity passenger rail service across America. With demonstrated success under new leadership and growing demand for passenger rail, it’s a pivotal time for America’s Railroad® to reinforce the promises made 48 years ago and to reassess Amtrak’s network for the next 50 years. “We are changing intercity passenger rail to meet the needs of America – modernizing our trains and stations, improving on-time performance, and adding contemporary amenities – making it the preferred mode of travel for customers,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. “We are experiencing record growth, and we look forward to working with Congress to further invest in our rail infrastructure to better serve the changing landscape of our nation.” With much of Amtrak’s infrastructure dating to the early 1900s and most of Amtrak’s equipment nearing the end of its useful life, considerable investments are needed to address increased highway congestion, rapid urbanization, and the threats posed by our changing climate. Additionally, millennials and aging populations are changing the overall travel landscape, forming new markets, with many of the fastest growing markets having limited or no intercity passenger rail service. “We have been building a successful company over the last several years: best-ever operating performance, record ridership and revenue, and the highest ever capital spend,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia. “We have the potential to meaningfully enhance how this country moves in the future, to provide frequent and reliable, city-to-city passenger rail service.” Last month, Amtrak submitted its 5 Year Plans which provide a comprehensive strategic and financial view of the services that Amtrak provides its customers along with its General and Legislative Annual Report to Congress. Amtrak is preparing to transmit a comprehensive reauthorization proposal to Congress later this year as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act is set to expire. (Amtrak - posted - 5/01)

PENNSYLVANIA ANNOUNCES 2019 RAIL FREIGHT PROJECTS: Governor Tom Wolf announced the approval of 27 rail freight improvement projects that will help create and sustain 255 jobs across Pennsylvania. "Keeping goods and services moving across Pennsylvania’s more than 5,000 miles of freight track is vital to the state’s economy," said Governor Wolf. “These investments in our rail infrastructure will continue to support business development and create new jobs throughout the state." "Advancing rail freight projects will preserve, improve, and create additional services for the industries and customers," Secretary Richards said. "Governor Wolf and I are committed to ensuring economic competitiveness, improving safety, and strengthening the multimodal transportation system." Following is a list of the 27 approved rail freight projects with the state share:
  • Allegheny County: Leetsdale Industrial Corporation -- $400,000 to construct approximately 0.5 miles of storage tracks to increase rail car capacity and efficiencies.
  • Allegheny and Washington counties: Allegheny Valley Railroad -- $1.9 million to rehabilitate approximately 34 miles of track on the W&P subdivision by raising, lining, and resurfacing the track.
  • Blair County: Curry Rail Services -- $700,000 to expand and rehabilitate yard tracks at their facility to increase capacity and support their new business line; Millennium Rail, LLC -- $693,357 to rehabilitate yard tracks at the Hollidaysburg Tank Car Shop by replacing ties, turnouts, and ballast to increase the yard’s capacity and efficiency; Mineral Manufacturing Corporation -- $700,000 to construct an unloading pit, acquire unloading equipment, and rehabilitate nearly one mile of yard tracks; and D Holdings -- $1.4 million to rehabilitate yard tracks at the Hollidaysburg Transload Facility and construct a new siding to serve existing and future businesses.
  • Bucks County: East Penn Railroad -- $210,000 to rehabilitate approximately two miles of track on the Bristol Line and extend a rail siding by 1,000 feet.
  • Bucks and Montgomery counties: Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority -- $700,000 to acquire and install positive train control (PTC) equipment on four Pennsylvania Northeast Railroad locomotives.
  • Cambria and Clearfield counties: RJ Corman -- $2.8 million to rehabilitate approximately 56 miles of track on the WBV subdivision, including the replacement of ties and bridge timbers and surfacing track.
  • Centre County: Happy Valley Blended Products -- $250,000 to construct an unloading pit and acquire unloading equipment to increase rail service at the facility.
  • Chester County: •Mittal Steel USA Railways -- $1.6 million to rehabilitate a railroad bridge, five turnouts, and more than one mile of track to increase yard operation efficiencies and East Penn Railroad -- $500,000 to rehabilitate approximately 27 miles of track with new ties and rail on the Octoraro Line.
  • Clinton County: Nittany & Bald Eagle -- $309,880 to construct a 500-foot double-ended side track to increase capacity and efficiency.
  • Crawford County: Ainsworth Pet Nutrition -- $2.3 million to expand rail facilities, construct new siding, and purchase unloading equipment.
  • Fayette County: Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad -- $1.5 million to rehabilitate and improve approximately 2.6 miles of track on the FM&P Subdivision by installing continuous welded rail and realigning and surfacing track.
  • Fayette and Westmoreland counties: Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation -- $1.5 million to improve the Radebaugh Subdivision, including rehabilitating approximately 0.5 miles of track, replacing two turnouts, and constructing two sidings.
  • Greene County: Greene Spur, LLC -- $551,691 to rehabilitate and extend two yard tracks, construct a retaining wall, and purchase unloading equipment to increase rail service.
  • Lackawanna County: Delaware Lackawanna Railroad -- $683,200 to rehabilitate approximately 20 miles of track by replacing ties and rail; and Valley Distributing and Storage Co. -- $329,350 to rehabilitate a siding and switch to increase efficiency.
  • Lancaster County: Landisville Railroad -- $488,740 to rehabilitate approximately 0.25 miles of track and two at-grade crossings.
  • Lawrence County: New Castle Industrial Railroad -- $682,500 to rehabilitate approximately 1.8 miles of track with continuous welded rail.
  • Lycoming County: John Savoy & Son, Inc.-- $204,835 to construct a new rail siding and unloading dock to enable new rail service; and Lycoming Valley Railroad Company -- $531,727 to rehabilitate approximately 3.5 miles of track by replacing ties and surfacing track.
  • McKean County: American Refining Group, Inc. -- $2 million to construct an additional track and purchase unloading equipment to receive product by rail; and Glenn O. Hawbaker -- $158,865 to rehabilitate approximately 0.75 miles of track, including installing new ties, surfacing track, and constructing a 60-foot retaining wall.
  • Union County: Union County Industrial Railroad -- $253,500 to construct a 1,700-foot siding and two turnouts to increase capacity and efficiency.
  • Westmoreland County: Noble Environmental -- $250,000 to construct a side track to their facility to enable rail service
(PennDOT - posted 5/01)

AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR APRIL AND THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 27, 2019: U.S. railroads originated 1,041,544 carloads in April 2019, down 0.9 percent, or 9,130 carloads, from April 2018. U.S. railroads also originated 1,056,146 containers and trailers in April 2019, down 3.9 percent, or 42,832 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in April 2019 were 2,097,690, down 2.4 percent, or 51,962 carloads and intermodal units from April 2018. In April 2019, six of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with April 2018. These included: petroleum & petroleum products, up 11,758 carloads or 29.5 percent; coal, up 5,732 carloads or 1.8 percent; and metallic ores, up 1,161 carloads or 5.0 percent. Commodities that saw declines in April 2019 from April 2018 included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 10,750 carloads or 10.1 percent; grain, down 4,605 carloads or 4.7 percent; and motor vehicles & parts, down 3,875 carloads or 5.4 percent. “Rail traffic in April was significantly improved compared with March, in part because railroads affected by severe flooding in the Midwest were able to return their operations more toward normal,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy & Economics, John T. Gray. “It appears that some of the economic uncertainty that was prevalent earlier in the first quarter has dissipated, although concerns about trade issues may still be having an impact on rail volumes. However, as long as the economy continues to show life, it’s reasonable to think that rail traffic volumes will continue to improve in the coming months.” Excluding coal, carloads were down 14,862 carloads, or 2.0 percent, in April 2019 from April 2018. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 10,257 carloads, or 1.6 percent. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first four months of 2019 was 4,237,153 carloads, down 2.5 percent, or 109,930 carloads, from the same period last year; and 4,532,603 intermodal units, down 1.4 percent, or 62,724 containers and trailers, from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 17 weeks of 2019 was 8,769,756 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.9 percent compared to last year. Week Ending April 27, 2019 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 533,190 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 27 were 267,316 carloads, up 0.4 percent compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 265,874 containers and trailers, down 6.7 percent compared to 2018. Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018. They included petroleum and petroleum products, up 2,775 carloads, to 13,666; coal, up 2,127 carloads, to 80,870; and chemicals, up 1,130 carloads, to 34,039. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2018 included nonmetallic minerals, down 3,648 carloads, to 37,389; motor vehicles and parts, down 1,482 carloads, to 15,793; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 705 carloads, to 15,518. North American rail volume for the week ending April 27, 2019, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 376,507 carloads, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 354,981 intermodal units, down 4.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 731,488 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 17 weeks of 2019 was 11,904,356 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.2 percent compared with 2018. Canadian railroads reported 88,748 carloads for the week, up 5.4 percent, and 71,660 intermodal units, up 4.8 percent compared with the same week in 2018. For the first 17 weeks of 2019, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,523,702 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.4 percent. Mexican railroads reported 20,443 carloads for the week, down 4.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 17,447 intermodal units, up 0.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 17 weeks of 2019 was 610,898 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 5.8 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted - 5/01)

MBTA MOVES AHEAD WITH OVERHAUL OF 27 ADDITIONAL COMMUTER RAIL LOCOMOTIVES: The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board voted to exercise a contract option to initiate the overhaul of 27 additional Commuter Rail locomotives. Under an existing contract, the MBTA is in the process of overhauling 10 F40 models of the so-called “legacy fleet” of Commuter Rail locomotives. The additional overhauls are part of a strategy to improve locomotive reliability in the near term while simultaneously studying ways in which the entire Commuter Rail network can function in the future through Rail Vision. Originally approved in June 2017, the ongoing contract with Motive Power, Inc. returned the first of the overhauled F40s to passenger service in March 2019. The second F40 is scheduled to return to service this week while the remaining eight will return on a rolling basis with the all 10 expected to return by the end of August 2019. “Our investments in our core system continue to increase and are starting to show real results for our customers,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “These locomotives will be crucial to improving daily reliability and allow us to operate the system while we plan for the future of Commuter Rail.” The program consists of completely rebuilding and refurbishing the F40 models with additional upgrades, including remote monitoring and diagnostics, forward-facing and cab cameras, and modern brake and control systems. The option to overhaul the 27 additional locomotives is expected to cost approximately $78.3 million. The first of the option units is expected to be returned to the MBTA by November 2020 with the last of the 27 to be completed by late fall 2021. The MBTA originally purchased F40s in two segments: the first segment included 25 locomotives that were put into service between 1987 and 1988; the second segment of 12 locomotives joined the MBTA’s fleet in 1991. (MBTA - posted - 4/30)

TRACK RENEWAL PROJECT SCHEDULED ALONG SEPTA'S ROUTE 10 TROLLEY LINE: SEPTA will conduct a street track renewal project on its Route 10 trolley line from May 5 - July 20, 2019. The project will take place from 54th Street and Lansdowne Avenue to Girard and Lancaster Avenues on the eastbound and westbound tracks. The street structure supporting the tracks has deteriorated due to weather, traffic and the age of the road surface. SEPTA crews will excavate and replace track, including the curve and switches at 52nd and Lancaster, and repave the track area. The new track will result in reduced sound and vibration because the new rail is encased in an insulated rubber boot. The new and improved track components will make for a smoother ride and allow SEPTA to continue to provide safe and reliable trolley service. Buses will replace trolleys along the Route 10 from 63rd and Malvern to 33rd and Market Streets for the duration of the project, beginning May 5. Passengers can board any Route 11, 13, 34, or 36 trolley for service between 33rd and Market Streets and Center City. Passengers traveling toward Overbrook can board any Route 11, 13, 34 or 36 trolley in Center City and transfer to buses at 33rd and Market Streets. The project will start at 54th and Lansdowne and progress east to Lancaster and Girard in three block increments. Through lanes in the construction areas will be closed to all traffic, with the exception of emergency vehicles. Delivery and trash removal vehicles will have limited access. All side streets in the construction areas will be closed to thru traffic, but local traffic will be permitted up to construction site. Parking will not be permitted in the area or adjacent to the tracks being reconstructed, however, exceptions will be made for those with special needs. Walking access for businesses will be arranged. Traffic will be detoured around the area where work is in progress. The intersection of 52nd and Lancaster will be closed to all vehicular traffic except emergency vehicles and trash pick-up May 28-June 7. Construction hours will be 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday. Weekend work may be necessary. (SEPTA - posted - 4/30)

LUKE MILL, ALONG CSX'S GRAFTON LINE, TO CLOSE: Verso Corporation today announced it will permanently close its paper mill in Luke, Maryland, in response to the continuing decline in customer demand for the grades of coated freesheet paper produced at the mill, along with rising input costs, a significant influx of imports, and rising compliance costs and infrastructure challenges associated with recent environmental regulation changes. The closure, which is expected to be complete by June 30, will reduce Verso's coated freesheet production capacity by approximately 450,000 tons, reducing total annual paper production capacity to approximately 2.7 million tons. "It is unfortunate that we had to make the decision to close the Luke Mill, but the continuing decline in demand for the grades of paper manufactured there left us no choice but to close this facility that has struggled with profitability for a number of years," said Verso Interim Chief Executive Officer Leslie T. Lederer. "The company explored the possibility of producing alternate grades of paper products but the conclusion remained the same – we could not achieve profitability at the mill in today's market environment. Consistently matching the supply of our graphic paper products with customer demand for these products, reducing our costs and rapidly diversifying our product portfolio into growing markets remain essential drivers for Verso's long-term success, and we continue to vigorously pursue these objectives." Most of the Luke Mill's paper grades are already qualified to be produced on other Verso paper machines, and the company is working to assure all customer needs are met, according to Verso President of Graphic and Specialty Papers Michael A. Weinhold. "Because Verso is continually evaluating the best use of our highly flexible manufacturing system to assure we deliver the quality, reliability and value our customers depend on, our Luke Mill customers can remain confident in Verso's ability to meet their needs now and in the future," he said. "We will be working closely with our customers to assure they continue to receive the high quality products and exceptional service they have come to expect from Verso." Approximately 675 employees will be impacted by the closure of the Luke Mill. Employees were notified in accordance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act that their last day of employment with Verso is expected to be June 30. Eligible hourly employees will receive a severance allowance in accordance with local collective bargaining agreements, and the company will begin effects bargaining with the local unions soon. Salaried employees will receive a severance allowance in accordance with Verso's established severance policy. In compliance with the WARN Act, Verso sent notification of the decision to close the mill to the appropriate authorities in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia, and will continue to work with state and local officials to help Luke Mill employees take full advantage of all available support resources. "The decision to close this mill that has been in operation for more than 130 years was an extremely difficult one, and is in no way a reflection on the dedicated men and women who work there," Lederer said. "We know that this will be an extraordinarily emotional and challenging time for our Luke Mill team, and Verso is committed to treating them with fairness, respect and dignity during this difficult time. We will also do our utmost to ensure employee safety during the transition. I want to thank each and every member of the Luke team for their hard work and dedicated service to the mill, to Verso and to our customers." (Verso - posted - 4/30)

PHILLIPSBURG RAILROAD HISTORIANS ANNOUNCE SUMMER OPEN HOUSE ON MAY 11: The Phillipsburg Railroad Historians have announced a revised date for their Summer Open House. It will be held on Saturday, May 11; not May 18 as previously published. Location is at 10 Pine Alley, corner of Cross St. just off South Main St. Phillipsburg NJ behind the Noto-Wynkoop Funeral Home. 10:00 am to 4 pm-Sunshine or rain. Join us for a day of train rides, equipment tours and mainline trains on Norfolk Southern. Visit our updated and newly-renovated museum and gift shop loaded with hard to find items and our expanded library. The Centerville & Southwestern is growing in size each season; enjoy unlimited rides and board from our new brick platform. See our General Electric 25 ton diesel and the Chestnut Ridge Mack Railbus on display outside the engine house. See our latest restoration; Lehigh & Hudson River caboose # 18 and take a step aboard. Stroll the grounds and see our trackside displays. Antique classic cars will be there. Admission is always free, so bring the family. Museum info-line 908-859-1146 or more details at 610-826-2580. (posted - 4/27)

NEXT PHASE OF L PROJECT CONSTRUCTION BEGINS: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that the next phase of the L project will begin tonight, April 26, as planned. The improved construction plan and schedule will avoid a complete shutdown of service and maintain regular weekday and peak hour service for 90% of the line’s customers, as weekday and peak hour service are unchanged. The project will also minimize construction-related disruption to riders and communities near the work sites while yielding cost savings due to the revised work plan in which total demolition of a concrete structure called the bench wall has been reduced by 99 percent, and provide robust alternate subway and bus service to New Yorkers throughout construction. MTA New York City Transit previously planned to close the entire L train tunnel to demolish and reconstruct the tunnel’s infrastructure, which had been badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The current plan employs new construction methods and technology that have been used effectively in transit systems around the world and several industries, however never before integrated in a similar project in the United States. The methods proposed by the top faculty of two leading engineering schools, Columbia and Cornell Universities allow NYC Transit to operate subway service in the tunnel throughout the work so that the bulk of L customers can continue their regular weekday commutes between Manhattan and Brooklyn, including during the busiest times of subway service. The new and improved L Project provides a number of improvements and benefits, including:
  • Keeping the L train’s Canarsie tunnel open throughout the course of the construction project, providing service to more than 275,000 L customers between Manhattan and Brooklyn, including morning and evening peak periods.
  • Eliminating the removal and replacement 35,000 feet of bench wall and the installation of 126,000 feet of power cable and 176,000 feet of communications cable inside the bench wall. Instead, the bench wall will be secured by heavy-duty fiber-reinforced polymer used to carry heavy loads on bridges, and cables specially wrapped for fire resistance will be suspended on the side of the tunnel rather than burying them inside the concrete bench wall. This will allow greater access for staff inspection or future upgrades, and will physically raise these critical components to mitigate the effects of potential flooding.
  • A fiber optic-based “smart sensor” system will be installed in the tunnel, allowing for continuous monitoring of the structure’s integrity.
  • With the new bench wall approach, the only demolition being carried out will be the removal of a separate wall duct contained long disused ConEd power cables, and the trimming and removal of manholes and their concrete flares, which will allow trains to move faster due to increased clearance.
  • All previously planned upgrades to the pump system, power infrastructure, and tracks remain, while the project reduces demolition of the Canarsie tunnel’s bench wall by 99 percent. This will significantly decrease the amount of debris and demolition materials that need to be removed from the site. Despite this reduction, the contractor will engage in rigorous dust control activities, including: using tools with HEPA filter vacuum attachments and hoods to capture dust at the source; using air scrubbers with HEPA filters to capture airborne dust;
  • installing temporary containment barriers to keep dust from spreading into the tunnel or into public areas; and using water misting and tools with water hose attachments to precipitate dust for containment and collection by wet vacuums.
  • The new approach will provide $10 million in savings, while maintaining penalties for delays and incentives for early completion.
  • The reduced amount of construction in the new project has allowed much of the needed work to already be underway. In addition to already having replaced both sets of tracks in the tunnel’s two tubes, one of two pipes that carry pumped water out of the tunnel has been replaced. Two new such pipes will be added for additional storm resiliency.
  • The MTA has also applied its own in-house innovation to the new project. The MTA team overseeing the construction, after trying different methods during planned track outages in January and February, developed a way for the fiber-reinforced polymer to be pre-fabricated offsite instead of in-place in the tunnel, further reducing the amount of work needed to be done on nights and weekends.
  • When successfully completed, these innovative construction methods can be applied to other projects, and revolutionize the way all MTA agencies plan future rehabilitation and construction projects. The L Project began in July 2017 with limited disruption to train service during preparatory, maintenance, and station improvement projects designed to fortify alternate service plans. Much of the project’s construction, and related work, is underway. These projects included capacity and accessibility improvements at 14 subway stations, track maintenance on nearby subway lines, including the L line, and the construction of three new power substations that will enable NYC Transit to operate more trains once the L Project is complete. During this next phase of the project, service will be:
    • Exactly the same during the day on weekdays and rush hours.
    • Reduced in both directions between Manhattan and Brooklyn on weeknights and weekends, running every 20 minutes (normal service was always every 20 minutes between 1:30 and 5 a.m., so service during that time period is unchanged).
    • Every 10 minutes in both directions within Brooklyn on weeknights from 10pm to 1:30 a.m. and on weekends from 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., thanks to the creativity of NYC Transit planners who developed a way to turn trains within the borough.
    To avoid crowds and have faster journeys on weekends and weekday evenings, NYC Transit is encouraging customers to take advantage of extensive and robust options in its alternative service plan. These options include:
    • Enhanced subway service on , and lines on weeknights and weekends, including extended service.
    • Enhanced bus service on 14th Street, including additional weeknight and weekend M14A bus service that will be extended to connect with the Delancey/Essex St station for links to , , and train service. NYC Transit will launch Select Bus Service on 14th Street this summer to provide faster bus service for Manhattan crosstown customers.
    • A new weeknight and weekend bus service, called Williamsburg Link, will operate on two routes as the B92 and the B91. They connect with subway stations at Bedford Av, Metropolitan Av-Lorimer St, Marcy Av and Hewes St. The Williamsburg Link buses began service on Thursday night, April 25.
    • Free subway transfers to make connections easier between Livonia St and Junius St , and from Broadway to Hewes St or Lorimer St .
    • A dedicated website on the L project, with trip planning tools, information on the project and travel guides for stations from 8 Av to Lorimer St.
    • A weekly email newsletter on the L project to keep customers and affected communities informed about the progress of the work and a way to reach Transit staff with feedback or questions.
    • For more information, visit https://new.mta.info/l-project. .
    This new phase of the L Project is expected to take 15 to 18 months, with penalties and incentives to encourage timely completion. Hundreds of NYC Transit, MTA and NYPD personnel will be out this weekend along the L line and where alternate service is being provided, in order to help customers as they get accustomed to the new service patterns. Officials will constantly monitor the new service and work closely with partners such as NYPD and NYCDOT in order to ensure good operations. (MTA- 4/26)

    AMTRAK CLUBACELA RECEIVES MODERN MAKEOVER: Amtrak customers traveling to and from Washington Union Station can now enjoy the newly-renovated ClubAcela as part of a lounge station refresh initiative at select stations around the U.S. ClubAcela is still in its convenient location near the platforms for easy boarding access, and features new carpeting, new and more comfortable seating, and contemporary furniture. Additional improvements include updated all-in-one touchless washbars in the restrooms, new light fixtures, and upgraded selection of snacks and beverages. A Metropolitan Lounge will open, and replace ClubAcela, as part of a larger Union Station renovation. The lounge at Washington Union Station has long offered customers a comfortable and quiet place to relax before, after or during stops on their journey,” Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson said. “This effort to re-brand and upgrade our lounges is aimed at improving the overall travel experience and providing modern amenities that our customers expect.” At Washington Union Station, ClubAcela operates between 4:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 5 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The lounge is available for Acela Express First Class, sleeping car customers, Single-Day Pass holders, Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus and Select Executive members. Complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, Internet access, fax and photocopy services, conference room access, newspapers, periodicals and television are provided. Attendants are available to assist with reservations, ticketing and local information. The Metropolitan Lounges have been updated at Chicago Union Station, Boston South Station and William H. Gray III 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Work will soon begin to upgrade ClubAcela at New York Penn Station. In 2021, the Moynihan Train Hall in New York will feature a new Metropolitan Lounge. (Amtrak- 4/25)

    WASHINGTON METRO SELECTS NEW OFFICE LOCATIONS IN MARYLAND, VIRGINIA AS PART OF MAJOR CONSOLIDATION PLAN: Metro announced today that it has selected two sites—one in Prince George’s County, Md., and one in Alexandria, Va., as homes for new office buildings that will accommodate the majority of the transit authority’s professional workforce. The announcement is the next major milestone in Metro’s regional office consolidation plan, which will reduce the number of Metro office buildings from 10 to four, saving an estimated $130 million over the next 20 years. The Prince George’s County location is adjacent to New Carrollton Metrorail Station, and the Alexandria location is near Eisenhower Avenue Station. Both buildings will be new construction on Metro-owned land and will contribute significantly to neighborhood development surrounding the selected sites. The buildings will be designed with the goal of achieving LEED Platinum certification to benefit the environment and reduce long-term operating costs. The new Maryland and Virginia buildings will join Metro’s future DC headquarters near L’Enfant Plaza as primary office facilities. All three locations are within a five-minute (1,500-foot) walk to the nearest Metro station. Metro’s New Carrollton office building will be one of three new buildings to be developed by the transit agency’s selected development partner, Urban Atlantic. Urban Atlantic won the rights to develop the New Carrollton station area in 2016 and plans to transform several acres of Metro-owned land into more than two million square feet of usable space. The station is one of the region’s most significant transit hubs and is served by Metro, MARC, multiple local and regional buses, Amtrak and Greyhound, and the future Maryland MTA Purple Line. The Alexandria office building will be located at 2395 Mill Road, adjacent to the Hoffman Town Center and will become part of the larger redevelopment of the Eisenhower Avenue corridor. Last fall, Metro announced the selection of L’Enfant Plaza as the location of its new DC headquarters to replace the outmoded Jackson Graham Building (JGB) near Gallery Place. Earlier this month, Metro put the JGB site on the market for a long-term ground lease, a prime opportunity to redevelop the site for future high-density office, residential, hotel or mixed-use development. Metro plans to retain ownership of the property under the long-term lease, meaning any development would have the potential to generate sustained revenue for Metro to support bus and rail operations, help keep fares affordable, and contribute to the transit agency's long-term financial stability. (Washington Metro- 4/25)

    CANADIAN NATIONA PLANS TO ELECTRIC POWERED DELIVERY: CN announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Lion Electric Co. for the conception, design and manufacturing of eight tandem axle, Class 8, zero-emission, electric trucks as part of its larger sustainable strategy to reduce emissions through innovation. The trucks will be deployed in cities across the CN network such as Vancouver, as well as the Greater Toronto, Montreal, and Hamilton areas. They will be tested for different tasks from urban delivery, container shuttle service, to port operations, and cross-town service. The trucks are custom-built and engineered in Quebec to withstand North American weather and road conditions. The trucks will also produce no noise pollution and each truck will remove 100 tons of GHG from the road annually. “This project is an example of CN’s commitment to sustainable business practices,” said Mark Lerner, Vice-President of Marketing and Business Development at CN. “By using these zero-emission trucks in different settings, we want to identify where these trucks can make the most impact on how we serve our customers and reduce our emissions. Over the last 25 years, CN has already reduced greenhouse gas emissions from its locomotives by 40% and we are constantly looking for innovative ways to continue down that path.” “We are very pleased to support CN in its commitment to sustainable mobility,” added Partick Gervais, VP Marketing and Communications at The Lion Electric Co. “By purchasing zero-emission trucks from Lion, CN is also promoting local innovation and jobs. Lion Electric will have 200 employees by the end of 2019 and more than 1,000 within the next 10 years thanks to agreements like this one.” Delivery of the trucks is expected in the summer of 2020. The terms of the MOU were not disclosed. (CN- 4/25)

    AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 20, 2019: Norfolk Southern Corporation today reported first-quarter financial results. First-quarter net income was $677 million, up 23 percent year-over-year, a result of a 16 percent increase in income from railway operations and an increase in other income. Diluted earnings per share were $2.51, up 30 percent year-over-year and a first-quarter record. "Our first-quarter results reflect the initial steps in the implementation of our new strategic plan that are transforming our company," said James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern chairman, president and CEO. "We set company records for many financial measures in the first quarter, while improving our service product for our customers. We are intensely focused on the execution of the initiatives in our strategic plan that will drive shareholder value." First-quarter summary
    • Railway operating revenues of $2.8 billion, a first-quarter record, increased 5 percent compared with prior year, due to an increase in revenue per unit, resulting from increased rates as well as higher fuel surcharge revenue.
    • Railway operating expenses were $1.9 billion, a decrease of $8 million, compared with the same period last year as fuel price declines and lower compensation and benefits expenses were offset by increased purchased services and rents.
    • Income from railway operations was $966 million, an increase of 16 percent year-over-year, and a first-quarter record. The railway operating ratio, or operating expenses as a percentage of revenues, was 66.0 percent, also a first-quarter record.
    (AAR- 4/24)

    NORFOLK SOUTHERN'S FIRST QUARTER FINANCIAL RESULTS: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 20, 2019. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 526,141 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 20 were 262,011 carloads, down 0.9 percent compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 264,130 containers and trailers, down 3.9 percent compared to 2018. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018. They were coal, up 3,738 carloads, to 84,216; petroleum and petroleum products, up 3,536 carloads, to 12,889; and miscellaneous carloads, up 313 carloads, to 9,654. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2018 included nonmetallic minerals, down 3,814 carloads, to 35,562; metallic ores and metals, down 2,174 carloads, to 21,849; and motor vehicles and parts, down 1,707 carloads, to 16,403. For the first 16 weeks of 2019, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,969,837 carloads, down 2.7 percent from the same point last year; and 4,266,729 intermodal units, down 1.0 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 16 weeks of 2019 was 8,236,566 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.8 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending April 20, 2019, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 362,707 carloads, down 0.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 349,315 intermodal units, down 1.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 712,022 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 16 weeks of 2019 was 11,172,868 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.2 percent compared with 2018. Canadian railroads reported 83,068 carloads for the week, up 3.2 percent, and 70,789 intermodal units, up 10.7 percent compared with the same week in 2018. For the first 16 weeks of 2019, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,363,294 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.3 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,628 carloads for the week, down 16.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 14,396 intermodal units, down 14.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 16 weeks of 2019 was 573,008 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 6.0 percent from the same point last year.(AAR - 4/24)

    VIA RAIL AND ALVÉOLE PARTNER TO HELP SAVE THE BEES: To celebrate Earth Day, VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) has committed itself to furthering its environmental protection efforts by establishing a partnership with Alvéole, a young Canadian company that merges beekeeping with education and local communities. In doing so, VIA Rail reiterates its commitment to the environment by branching out into a new area of environmental stewardship: contributing to the development of greener cities. This partnership with Alvéole involves the installation of beehives on the rooftops of four VIA Rail stations: Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Québec City. By teaming up with Alvéole, VIA Rail aims to help raise awareness among urban populations of the decline of bees and the impact it has on the environment. In the high season, each station will be home to two hives hosting up to 100,000 bees. Hives will be installed in May at the Vancouver station, and in June at the Winnipeg, Ottawa, Québec City stations. By the end of each season, the total output of all hives will allow for the production of 800 honeypots, 400 soap bars, 400 candles and 400 lip balms, which will be offered to charities in each of the cities. In the winter, the beehives will be closed to allow the bees to hibernate. By promoting environmental awareness among urban populations, this partnership aligns with VIA Rail’s mission to help protect and preserve the environment. VIA Rail reiterates its commitment to sustainable mobility every day by working to reduce its carbon footprint, minimize waste and use resources efficiently. This new initiative enables VIA Rail to promote environmental awareness all while helping to offer a sustainably-sourced product to local organizations. “Earth Day is an important day for VIA Rail. Our decisions are always guided by our desire to mitigate the impacts of our operations and of our passengers on the environment. While we see the importance in celebrating this annual event, we feel that every day is Earth Day at VIA Rail. It is through partnerships like the one with Alvéole that we are able to build the foundations of a conscientious and responsible society. This project has a significant educational component, aiming to reconnect urban populations with fauna and flora. Like our partners at Alvéole, we want to generate a positive and sustainable impact for future generations. These beehives are the symbol of our commitment to lead Canadians towards a more sustainable future.” Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer, VIA Rail (VIA Rail Canada - 4/23)

    U.S. TRANSPORTATION ANNOUNCES $900 MILLION IN INFRASTRUCTURE GRANT FUNDS: The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has formally announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to apply for $900 million in discretionary grant funding through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program. “These BUILD Transportation grants will provide needed infrastructure investment to better connect rural and urban communities around our nation,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. Fiscal Year 2019 BUILD Transportation grants are for investments in surface transportation infrastructure and will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects that will have a significant local or regional impact. BUILD funding can support roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation. To reflect the Administration’s ongoing effort to rebalance past under-investment in rural America, DOT intends to award up to 50% of BUILD Transportation grant funding to projects located in rural areas that align well with the selection criteria. The FY 2019 BUILD program’s selection criteria gives special consideration to projects that emphasize improved access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation for communities in rural areas. This includes projects that improve infrastructure condition, address public health and safety, promote regional connectivity, facilitate economic growth or competitiveness, deploy broadband as part of an eligible transportation project, or promote energy independence. Selection criteria encompass safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, state of good repair, innovation and partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 made available $900 million for National Infrastructure Investments, otherwise known as BUILD grants. For this round of BUILD grants, the maximum grant award is $25 million, and no more than $90 million can be awarded to a single State. (USDOT - 4/23)

    AMTRAK NAMES DENNIS NEWMAN EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF PLANNING AND STRATEGY: Dennis Newman has been appointed to the position of Executive Vice President, Planning & Strategy responsible for corporate planning and strategy, schedule & consist planning, Amtrak’s services and host railroad groups, and the company’s participation in the Gateway Program. “This expansion of Dennis’s responsibilities will help us further grow our business and strengthen our network,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. “He and his team will lead the company’s planning efforts to modernize our fleet, rebuild and expand our infrastructure, and evolve our network to meet growing demand across the U.S.” With this move, the Corporate Planning & Strategy functions led by Dennis Newman and the Commercial and Marketing functions headed by Roger Harris will become separate organizations within the group led by Stephen Gardner, Senior Executive Vice President, Commercial, Marketing and Strategy. Previously, both of these functions reported into Tim Griffin, the Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer who reported to Gardner, and recently retired from the company. Newman had previously served as Vice President, Planning, Strategy & Research. Newman joined Amtrak in December 2017 from Dish Network, where he was Vice President, Sales. Prior to that, he worked at Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines for more than 17 years, in a series of significant planning and scheduling roles. (Amtrak - 4/22)

    MTA LAUNCHING NEW SOLAR ROOF INITATIVE TO GENERATE GREEN ENERGY AND NEW REVENUE: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced today that it is launching a new initiative that will generate clean, emission free, solar electricity as well as begin to open up a new frontier of previously untapped revenue: the leasing of potentially millions of square feet of industrial roof space to companies interested in generating solar power. Thanks to a steady fall in capital costs of solar panel and non-roof penetrating installation technologies, it is increasingly commonplace for industrial and warehouse buildings in the New York metropolitan region to place solar panels on their rooftops. This practice has also spread to buildings in public-sector portfolios, including universities and City buildings. The MTA, the largest public transportation agency in the United States, has identified more than 100 bus depots, train yards, repair shops, and commuter lots across all MTA agencies – totaling more than 10 million square feet of industrial roof space – which would be suitable for solar development. Fully realized, these properties present an opportunity to develop more than 100 megawatts of emission-free electricity for New Yorkers – enough to power 18,000 households. The MTA hopes to achieve a significant new revenue stream from this activity, with little to no capital investment of its own, by way of leasing the valuable real estate to companies that would use it to install solar panels and generate clean electricity to sell back to the municipal grid. “Green energy always had a dual benefit – it can help save the planet and it can be a big money-maker as well,” said MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber. “The MTA is already one of the nation’s leading forces in reducing carbon emissions. The recently approved Central Business District Tolling system will also reduce emissions and generate funds for the MTA, and this common-sense, innovative new program will further help the environment while generating a significant amount of new revenue for the MTA.” “The MTA’s operations avert annual greenhouse gas emissions of more 17 million metric tons, and this initiative will take our environmental leadership to a whole new level,” said Projjal Dutta, MTA Director of Sustainability. “We have contributed to the Earth’s wellness by keeping millions of daily commuters out of cars and engendering compact development. With the Solar RFP the MTA will also become New York’s newest home for significant renewable power generation.” A Request for Proposals goes public on Earth Day 2019. It proposes the solar development of seven MTA properties, belonging to NYC Transit, LIRR and Metro-North Railroad, generating an estimated 6.5 megawatts of emissions-free electricity for thousands of New York households. This RFP includes locations uniquely chosen to serve as a representative combination of existing roofs and parking lots:
    • Ulmer Park Bus Depot | NYCT Department of Buses
    • Queens Village Bus Depot | NYCT Department of Buses
    • Coney Island Maintenance Facility | NYCT Department of Subways
    • Jamaica Maintenance Facility | NYCT Department of Subways
    • Hillside Support Facility | Long Island Rail Road
    • Cortlandt Station Parking Lot | Metro-North Railroad
    • Wassaic Station Operations Lot | Metro-North Railroad
    All locations were carefully selected in partnership between the MTA Department of Environmental Sustainability and Compliance, MTA Real Estate, and the individual operating agencies. Chosen rooftops and parking lots fit the necessary requirements of having new roofs/new pavement, large quantities of unobstructed roof space, and local energy demand (MTA - 4/22)

    AMTRAK TO INCREASE WEEKEND ACELA EXPRESS FREQUENCIES: Weekend travelers will soon have more high-speed rail options along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., as Amtrak expands its popular Acela Express service with an additional round trip on Saturday. These changes will go into effect beginning on May 4, 2019. Tickets are now available for sale at Amtrak.com, via the mobile apps, and through other sales channels. “Amtrak continuously works to be responsive to customer feedback and looks for opportunities to expand our highly popular Acela Express service between Boston, New York, and Washington,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. The increase in Acela Express service on Saturdays is in direct response to customer requests. Beginning on May 4, Train 2252 will depart Washington, D.C. mid-morning and Train 2255 will depart Boston in the early afternoon, filling gaps in the current schedule. Regular, scheduled service on the weekends will continue. “These additional departures aim to serve our customers’ needs as we prepare for the roll-out of our next generation Acela Express service beginning in 2021,” added Anderson. The new Acela Express fleet, scheduled to begin entering service in the NEC in 2021, will provide travelers with world-class accommodations and amenities, along with a smoother and even more comfortable ride. Additionally, the new modern trainsets will accommodate 386 passengers, an increase of nearly 30%, while preserving the spacious, high-end comfort of the current Acela Express service that customers enjoy today. The prototype of the new trainsets, in production at Alstom’s manufacturing plant in Hornell, N.Y., are scheduled to be ready this year, with the first train entering service in 2021. All the trainsets are expected to be in service by the end of 2022. (Amtrak - 4/21)

    GOVERNOR MURPHY, NJ TRANSIT ANNOUNCE ATLANTIC CITY RAIL LINE AND PRINCETON DINKY TO RESUME MAY 12TH : NJ TRANSIT has accelerated the restoration of service on the Atlantic City Rail Line (ACRL) and Princeton Branch (Dinky), announcing that both rail services will resume on Sunday, May 12th. The new date is nearly two weeks ahead of the agency’s target date and fulfills the commitment to have these services operating prior to Memorial Day weekend. “Our economy relies upon our residents getting where they need to go reliably and safely, and Governor Christie’s nearly decade-long mismanagement of NJ TRANSIT undermined the capacity of NJ TRANSIT to fulfill that responsibility,” said Governor Murphy. “That is why I’m so pleased to announce the early restoration of the NJ TRANSIT Atlantic City Rail Line and the Princeton Branch Dinky Line, which will allow our commuters to get to work, school, and back again, free of disruption. I applaud NJ TRANSIT’s leadership for their efforts to improve safety and restore service. Our residents and commuters deserve nothing less.” “The importance of these rail lines was made abundantly clear during our town hall meetings. The needs of our customers remain our highest priority. I am pleased that we were able to restore reliable services to these regions ahead of schedule,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “I am pleased we are able to restore service sooner than projected. I know how critical these services are to those who rely on them,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “I did not want these rail lines to remain out of service for a minute longer than necessary, and I’m grateful that we’re able to resume service nearly two weeks ahead of schedule. I want to acknowledge our employees’ hard work that made this possible, and thank our customers for their patience while we were able to successfully meet our interim 2018 Positive Train Control (PTC) requirements and complete necessary track replacement work on the ACRL.” As part of an effort to provide more reliable and frequent service for Atlantic City area commuters, the ACRL will resume with an improved schedule to better match service with customer demand. In response to customer feedback gained through NJ TRANSIT’s listening tour and enhanced customer focus, the new schedule includes an adjustment to a weekday a.m. peak period roundtrip which fills a gap in arrivals at Philadelphia 30th St. Station during the morning rush hour. The Agency will now offer five trains that arrive in Philadelphia prior to noon, up from three, and reduce wait times between trains to a maximum of two hours throughout the service day. Similar adjustments have been made to the weekend schedule. Princeton Branch (Dinky) service will resume with a schedule similar to its previous operation prior to the temporary suspension. (NJ Transit - 4//21)

    NHTSA AND FRA LAUNCH RAIL CROSSING SAFETY CAMPAIGN: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today relaunched a $5.6 million public safety awareness campaign – Stop. Trains Can’t. – urging Americans to take greater care at highway-rail grade crossings. In 2018 alone, 270 people were killed at railroad crossings. Of those, 99 people died after the driver went around lowered crossing gate arms – a 10-year high. “So many fatalities at highway-railway crossings are preventable, and this campaign is key to raising public awareness and saving lives,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. Every four hours in America, a person or vehicle is struck by a train at a rail crossing. Over the past five years, 798 people have died while trying to drive across railroad tracks. Stop. Trains Can’t. reminds drivers about the potential risks of an approaching train when crossing railroad tracks, especially when active warning devices such as flashing lights or gate arms are descending or lowered. Given their size and weight, neither freight nor passenger trains can stop easily to avoid cars or other vehciles on the tracks. Trains cannot swerve out of the way, and a freight train traveling 55 mph can take more than a mile to stop, even when emergency brakes are applied. “We are pleased to collaborate with our colleagues at NHTSA to improve driver behavior at highway-rail crossings and reduce preventable injuries and deaths,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “Rail safety isn’t just about the safe movement of passenger and freight trains; it’s also about helping the American public be safe near railroad tracks.” “Road safety is NHTSA’s mission, and too many lives are lost every year when drivers disregard safety warnings at rail crossings,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi R. King. “Working with Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and FRA, we want every American to understand the danger surrounding rail crossings and to act with safety in mind. Trying to save a few minutes can cost you your life.” The campaign’s targeted advertising will run from Tuesday, April 16 through Sunday, May 12. It includes video spots that will run on digital and social platforms, radio advertising, and social media messaging, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The new Stop. Trains Can’t. campaign video can be viewed here. While national in scope, ads will be targeted to high-incident communities in the following states: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas (USDOT - 4/21)

    AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 13, 2019: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 13, 2019. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 528,167 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 13 were 260,800 carloads, up 1.0 percent compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 267,367 containers and trailers, down 3.2 percent compared to 2018. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018. They were coal, up 6,284 carloads, to 82,065; petroleum and petroleum products, up 3,736 carloads, to 13,387; and chemicals, up 395 carloads, to 32,355. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2018 included nonmetallic minerals, down 3,675 carloads, to 34,173; motor vehicles and parts, down 1,120 carloads, to 17,704; and grain, down 1,006 carloads, to 21,640. For the first 15 weeks of 2019, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,707,826 carloads, down 2.8 percent from the same point last year; and 4,002,599 intermodal units, down 0.8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 15 weeks of 2019 was 7,710,425 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.8 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending April 13, 2019, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 364,377 carloads, up 0.1 percent compared with the same week last year, and 356,390 intermodal units, down 1.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 720,767 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 15 weeks of 2019 was 10,460,846 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.2 percent compared with 2018. Canadian railroads reported 84,785 carloads for the week, essentially unchanged from 2018, and 74,039 intermodal units, up 10.2 percent compared with the same week in 2018. For the first 15 weeks of 2019, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,209,437 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.0 percent. Mexican railroads reported 18,792 carloads for the week, down 10.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 14,984 intermodal units, down 15.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 15 weeks of 2019 was 540,984 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 5.4 percent from the same point last year. (FRA - 4/21)

    NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY PERFORMANCE CONTINUES TO SHOW DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENTS: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye, Managing Director Veronique Hakim and NYC Transit President Andy Byford today announced new statistics showing the continued dramatic subway performance improvements that have been achieved since the launch of the Subway Action Plan and the Save Safe Seconds campaign. On-Time Performance continues to be significantly improved over 2018, and major incidents are declining steadily, while customer-based performance numbers are also pointing higher, and track fires have significantly decreased. MTA officials today said that these results show the Subway Action Plan and NYCT’s Save Safe Seconds “back-to-basics” approach are continuing to pay dividends for riders across the system. The improved performance statistics are being felt by subway customers. The latest quarterly customer survey results to be reported in next week’s Transit Committee meeting at MTA headquarters will show that subway customers say they are seeing positive changes, with improvement in overall service ratings. The Subway Action Plan was launched at the direction of Governor Andrew Cuomo? in July 2017, and funded by the governor, legislature and city, with the goal of taking extraordinary measures to stabilize and improve the more than 100-year old subway system. “These latest performance results are another reminder that investment in the system, and smart operations by dedicated, hard-working professionals, yield real, tangible results,” said MTA Chairman Patrick Foye. “They’re also an assurance that the additional funding we’ll be getting through central business district tolling will be money well spent – we’re showing the potential our team has, and a huge new capital boost will only drive performance up even further.” “We have a long way to go, but getting back to the basics of both maintenance and operations through the Subway Action Plan and Save Safe Seconds campaign is bringing the subway up to a much better baseline from which to modernize the system,” said NYCT President Andy Byford. “We are working to squeeze every drop of performance we can out of this system and the funds promised by central business district tolling will ultimately allow us to deliver the service that New Yorkers need and deserve.” Weekday On-Time Performance (OTP) for March was approximately 78.2%, a significant increase from 65.2% in March 2018, and the highest OTP since November 2013. MTA officials noted that Weekday Major Incidents totaled 50 for the month of March, down 40% from 84 in March 2018. Weekday Delays in March were 37,667, a reduction of 40% from March 2018. This reduction meets President Andy Byford’s recently announced goal of reducing average monthly delays by 18,000; the previous goal was 10,000. Positive numbers were also realized in many of NYCT’s customer-focused metrics, including Service Delivered, Additional Platform Time, Additional Train Time, and Customer Journey Time Performance. All trended higher than March 2018 and higher than their 12-month averages. Most notably, Additional Train Time – the average additional unanticipated time customers spend onboard the train due to various service issues – dropped 27% from March of last year. Customer Journey Time Performance for March was 82.9%, an increase from 79.3% last March. A contributing factor to the reduction in delays has been the significant progress made in reducing track debris fires, which are significantly down since NYCT started attacking this problem with new equipment in 2017. This has included clearing debris at an unprecedented rate using new platform-based mobile vacs, and vacuum trains that move around the system picking up trash. Year to date this year, track debris fires dropped 42% compared to 2018, from 111 to 64, and over the last 12 months, track debris fires dropped 34% from the prior 12 months, from 444 to 294. Since the mobile vacuum effort began in 2017, mobile vacuum crews have removed 350,000 bags of dirt and trash weighing over 8.75 million pounds by heavy scraping and cleaning. Furthermore, the overall effort to improve track cleaning resulted in increase of trash and debris collection from 11.4 million pounds in 2016 to an average of 15.5 million pounds per year since then. The effort has included cleaning of all 418 miles of underground subway track by the end of 2018. Overall service satisfaction, obtained by asking customers to evaluate individual subway lines and then weighting the results by ridership, increased by 6.1 percentage points to 61.4% this quarter. More detailed results from the quarterly “Customer Counts” survey will be available in the Transit Committee report to the MTA Board later this month. (MTA - posted 4/10)

    AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 6, 2019: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 6, 2019. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 510,192 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending April 6 were 251,417 carloads, down 3.9 percent compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 258,775 containers and trailers, down 1.6 percent compared to 2018. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018. They were petroleum and petroleum products, up 1,711 carloads, to 11,610; nonmetallic minerals, up 493 carloads, to 36,059; and motor vehicles and parts, up 434 carloads, to 17,557. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2018 included coal, down 6,417 carloads, to 75,048; grain, down 3,525 carloads, to 21,815; and chemicals, down 1,347 carloads, to 32,358. For the first 14 weeks of 2019, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,447,026 carloads, down 3.1 percent from the same point last year; and 3,735,232 intermodal units, down 0.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 14 weeks of 2019 was 7,182,258 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.8 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending April 6, 2019, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 360,674 carloads, down 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 349,699 intermodal units, up 0.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 710,373 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 14 weeks of 2019 was 9,740,079 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.3 percent compared with 2018. Canadian railroads reported 88,569 carloads for the week, up 6.4 percent, and 72,970 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent compared with the same week in 2018. For the first 14 weeks of 2019, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,050,613 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.8 percent. Mexican railroads reported 20,688 carloads for the week, up 0.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 17,954 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 14 weeks of 2019 was 507,208 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 4.9 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 4/10)

    LIRC HONORED AS 2019 SHORT LINE OF THE YEAR: The Louisville & Indiana Railroad (LIRC) was honored Tuesday, April 9 as 2019 Short Line of the Year at the American Short Line and Regional Railroad’s “Connections Convention” in Orlando, Fla. Anacostia Rail Holdings (ARH) President and CEO Peter Gilbertson and LIRC President John Goldman accepted the coveted award, which is administered by Railway Age--the rail industry’s oldest trade publication dating to 1856. In announcing LIRC as this year’s award winner, Railway Age Editor-in-Chief Bill Vantuono wrote, “2018 marked the culmination of a significant physical transformation for LIRC, as the direct result of a creative partnership with CSX Transportation that began more than five years ago. It’s a remarkable story of vision, patience, transformation and execution.” Railway Age reported LIRC upgraded its entire 106-mile main line between Louisville, Ky. and Indianapolis, Ind. by installing heavier 136-lb. continuous-welded rail and replacing a 119-year old bridge across the Flat Rock River in Columbus, Ind. Completion of a second 10,000-ft. passing siding next year will expand capacity and finish the $100 million project. Coincidentally, the 2019 Short Line award comes on the 25th anniversary of Louisville & Indiana’s start-up March 12, 1994. LIRC-President John Goldman noted, “The Short Line of the Year award is very special, because it reflects success for the entire organization from bottom to top, side to side, and all points in between.” Goldman added, “This award reflects the dedication, vision, hard work and perseverance of so many people including the Anacostia corporate team and our contractors.” Gilbertson observed, “The upgrade has created a much better railroad for both LIRC and CSX, which will be able to accommodate a significant increase in train traffic more safely and more efficiently over an important rail corridor serving mid-America. But LIRC is much more than this upgrade. It reflects the efforts of an innovative and dedicated group that has consistently grown revenue while conducting safe operations ” The LIRC is headquartered in Jeffersonville, Ind. and is one of six railroads operated by Anacostia Rail Holdings. The railroad connects with CSX, Norfolk Southern, Indiana Rail Road, and Paducah & Louisville. Anacostia's other lines are the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad, Gulf Coast Switching Company, New York & Atlantic Railway Company, Northern Lines Railway, and Pacific Harbor Line. (Anacostia Pacific - posted 4/09)

    READING & NORTHERN PROMOTES TWO TO VP: Reading & Northern announces the promotions of Daren Geschwindt to Vice President Distribution Services and Dustin Berndt to Vice President of Motive Power. Dustin Berndt joined the Reading & Northern (RBMN) in 2000, when he started working in the locomotive shop. In 2012 Dustin was named Assistant Vice President Motive Power in recognition of his hard work and dedication to improving RBMN’s locomotive fleet. During his tenure in the locomotive shop, Dustin has seen the Reading & Northern’s locomotive fleet grow from fifteen engines when he was hired in 2000 to the forty plus locomotives his shop now manages on a daily basis. Along with the engine house crew of seven mechanics and two electricians, Dustin ensures the safety and efficiency of the locomotive fleet through scheduled inspections and routine maintenance in addition to identifying new locomotives for purchase as well as mechanical upgrades to the Reading & Northern’s fleet. Dustin was born and raised in Oley, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Oley Valley High School, and the Berks Career and Technology Center in Oley. Dustin is married to Denise Berndt, and he has two sons, Dylan and Devin. Dustin is interested in how locomotives and aircraft operate and he likes being involved with and attending his son’s sports activities. Dustin reports to Executive Vice President of Operations Tyler Glass. Daren Geschwindt started working at the Reading & Northern twenty-five years ago in 1994 when he was hired as an Assistant Traffic Clerk. During his career Daren worked on the Transportation side of the railroad working as a dispatcher and a conductor from 1996 through to 2001. In 2001 he also received his engineer license and was promoted to Manager of Operating Rules and Safety. Two years later he was named Director of Operations Compliance and then in 2009 he became Assistant Vice President of Operations Planning. In 2012 Daren returned to the commercial side of the company when he was appointed Assistant Vice President Customer Service Operations. In 2016 he was asked to take on a number of special assignments including the transition to becoming an interline railroad and managing the transload operations as Assistant Vice President Merchandise Traffic. In that capacity Daren also was point on the acquisition and restoration of service to RBMN’s new Ransom Warehouse as well as trucking operations for the company. In his new position as Vice President Distribution Services, Daren will be managing the Reading & Northern’s transload operations, including the warehouse as well as overseeing the operations of the Reading Railroad Transfer, LLC. (NJ Transit - posted 4/08)

    Daren graduated from Hamburg Area High School in 1994 and is married to Ann Geschwindt, and has three sons, Tyler, Travis, and Connor. Daren’s interests include railroad history, genealogy, transportation and nature photography, and attending his children’s sporting and school events. Daren reports to RBMN President, Wayne Michel. In announcing their recent promotions, Michel said, “It is always a pleasure to promote home-grown talent. Dustin and Daren have been with us for the better part of the last two decades. They have both shown tremendous growth. Dustin proved himself both a master mechanic and an excellent supervisor. As our locomotive fleet grew, Dustin grew with it. Now we have close to fifty locomotives and we have a superb leader in Dustin. Daren is an example of our efforts at cross-training. Daren has moved back and forth over his career between the commercial and transportation sides of the company. That varied experience makes him an invaluable part of our company’s future. His recent efforts in managing our warehouse and transload business have shown he is capable of taking on great challenges and succeeding. With Daren and Dustin as our two most recent examples of RBMN-trained and developed management we know we are on the right track for a great future..” (Reading & Northern Railroad - posted 4/09)

    BRIGHTLINE DEBUTS VIRGIN MIAMICENTRAL MARKING ITS FIRST MAJOR TRANSITION TO VIRGIN TRAINS USA: Richard Branson and Virgin Trains USA President Patrick Goddard unveiled Virgin MiamiCentral this morning and revealed the first visuals for Virgin Trains USA. Branson and Goddard, along with City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami-Dade County Commissioner and Chair of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Esteban Bovo, Jr. gave remarks at the ceremony that touched on topics including transportation, mobility, the future of train travel and Virgin Trains USA, economic impacts and more. The celebration marked the first significant moment in Brightline's transition to Virgin Trains USA. Virgin MiamiCentral is the hub for all things transportation, business, dining and entertainment in downtown Miami. Connecting Metrorail, Metromover, Brightline and soon, Tri-Rail, the destination offers unparalleled transportation options for the millions of commuters, visitors and travelers who will be accessing the station. Virgin MiamiCentral also features Central Fare, Downtown Miami's food hub that will soon debut, a Citi Bike share and designated drop-off-and-pick-up zone for Lyft, Brightline's official rideshare partner. “Virgin MiamiCentral is the central hub for all things transportation and mobility. With the addition of the Virgin brand we solidify ourselves as the premier live, work and play environment in downtown Miami.” said Patrick Goddard. “Virgin MiamiCentral is the only destination that connects Miami-Dade County through its various transit systems, and with the combination of Brightline and Tri-Rail, connects the entire southeast region. Mobility continues to be key as our region and population grow - and we are meeting the demand.” In November 2018, Brightline announced a strategic partnership and trademark licensing agreement with the Virgin Group, one of the world's most recognizable brands in travel and hospitality. Executing a phased approach to the rebrand to Virgin Trains USA in 2019, Virgin MiamiCentral is the first element to feature the new Virgin branding. The station's new Virgin branding comes in advance of the opening of Central Fare, a collection of restaurants and bars that is housed within the development. “Virgin has a long history of changing industries for the better and inspiring enduring loyalty through outstanding customer experience,” said Sir Richard Branson. “Today marks the first step in that journey with Virgin Trains USA as we unveiled the beautiful Virgin MiamiCentral station. I'm very excited to see the transformation of our service and the plans for the next phase of the project to Orlando.” Poised to reinvent train travel in the United States, Virgin Trains USA is the express inter-city passenger rail service that currently connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with expected future service to Orlando and Tampa, and between Las Vegas and Southern California. (Brightline - posted 4/05)

    NORTH WALES STEAM TRAIN EXCURSION: The borough of North Wales, Pennsylvania will be turning 150 this year, and the New Hope Railroad is proud to join in the celebrations with four special train rides powered by New Hope & Ivyland 2-8-0 40. Climb aboard for one day only as No. 40 thunders between North Wales and Gwynedd Valley over the rails of the Bethlehem Branch, a line that once connected the City of Philadelphia with the Lehigh Valley and the all important anthracite coal mines beyond. The train will be made up of passenger cars that are original to the route over which you will travel, with both standard Coach and upscale First Class service available. While on board, a live narrator will relate many interesting stories and facts about the railroad and its history. This will be the first time in 28 years that a steam locomotive has operated over this railroad, and the first time since 1985 that our number 40 has left the northern end of the New Hope Branch to stretch its wheels on the mainline. Come be a part of living history, enjoy a cold beverage, as the sights and sounds of our vintage consist transports you back to a simpler time in Montgomery County’s past. Passengers may choose how they ride, enjoying rich mahogany interiors, open windows and plush upholstered bench style seating in coach, for a $29.99 round-trip fare; or upgrade to first class where you’ll experience a beautiful solid mahogany and brass interior, carpeting, tables and dining chairs, along with modern day air conditioning and full bar service (for additional purchase), all for a $39.99 round-trip fare. Seating is very limited and advanced reservations are strongly suggested. There will be terrific photo opportunities creating life-long memories for all ages. Expect a ton of excitement, with entertainment, food, music and cap it all off with a Spectacular Fireworks Display at night! This event is made possible in cooperation with the Borough of North Wales, SEPTA and Pennsylvania Northeastern Railroad.
    • DEPARTURE TIMES 10:30 AM, 12 PM, 1:30 PM & 3 PM
    • DEPARTURE STATION This excursion departs from the SEPTA North Wales Station. The North Wales Train Station is located at: 605 Beaver Street & Wissahickon Avenue North Wales, PA 19454
    Tp purchase tickets visit https://www.newhoperailroad.com/buyeticketsnorthwales/. (NH&I - posted 4/04)

    AMTRAK TO INVEST $90 MILLION FOR BALTIMORE PENN STATION IMPROVEMENTS: Amtrak has reached commercial close for Baltimore Penn Station with the execution of a Master Development Agreement with Penn Station Partners to redevelop and expand the historic station. Amtrak plans to invest up to $90 million in improvements to the historic station as part of the deal, including expansion and modernization to accommodate passenger growth and significantly improve the customer experience. “By investing in the modernization of Baltimore Penn Station, Amtrak seeks to transform central Baltimore into a premier regional transportation hub that will provide new amenities and transit connections,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. “This work is part of Amtrak’s ongoing efforts to improve the customer experience and grow passenger rail.” Planning and development due diligence have been underway since January 2018, following Amtrak’s announcement of Penn Station Partners as the selected Baltimore Penn Station Master Developer. The Baltimore-based developer partnership is led by Beatty Development Group and Cross Street Partners, along with a local and international team of highly qualified planning, design, and construction firms. Penn Station Partners was selected through a competitive procurement process based on their proposal, and commitment to partnering with Amtrak and the City of Baltimore to transform the area into a vibrant multi-modal hub featuring the historic station at its center. “I am very excited that Amtrak and Penn Station Partners have taken the next critical step toward ensuring that Penn Station can finally achieve its full potential – and I am thrilled to learn that Amtrak will be committing significant capital to support revitalization of this Baltimore landmark,” said Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. “I will continue to work closely with Amtrak, Penn Station Partners, and the entire Baltimore community to ensure that this project reflects our local priorities, creates opportunities for local minority- and women-owned businesses, and enables Penn Station to be both an inviting gateway and an economic engine for our City.” Amtrak and Penn Station Partners are currently advancing a Vision Plan for the station and surrounding Amtrak properties in partnership with local stakeholders and the community, called Next Stop Baltimore Penn Station. “This is an important project for the city of Baltimore and one that we need to get right,” said Michael Beatty, President of Beatty Development Group. “It’s so important that we stay engaged with the community and get their continued input. The first public meeting in July 2018 provided us with so much useful, insightful feedback. We are looking forward to holding additional public meetings over the next six months now that commercial agreement has been reached.” Bill Struever, Principal of Cross Street Partners, added “We want the redeveloped Penn Station to be treasured by neighborhood residents in addition to commuters and Amtrak personnel.” The first phase of rail infrastructure work at Baltimore Penn Station includes the renovation of an existing platform to bring it back into service and the construction of an additional platform. For more information, visit BaltimorePennStation.com. The development framework and station area improvements in Baltimore will leverage additional Northeast Corridor infrastructure and capacity improvements, including the new Amtrak high-speed rail expansion effort currently underway. This project also complements ongoing Amtrak improvements at New York Penn Station; opening the new Moynihan Train Hall in New York; and further development of stations in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. (Amtrak - posted 4/04)

    SEPTA ANNOUNCES NEW ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM FOR FARE EVASION & QUALITY OF RIDE VIOLATIONS: SEPTA today announced a new enforcement program for fare evasion and quality of ride violations that aims to discourage incidents and focus on repeat offenders, while taking a common-sense approach to how cases are handled. SEPTA police will continue to apprehend individuals who commit summary offenses under the Authority's new Administrative Enforcement Program. But, there will be changes in how these violations are processed, and to the fines and penalties. For an initial offense, instead of issuing a criminal citation and requiring a court hearing, SEPTA Police will process violators administratively and assess a $25 fine. This streamlines the process for handling these incidents, which frees up more time for SEPTA Police officers to focus on their core patrol and enforcement duties. It also helps reduce the caseload on the court system, and removes the stigma of a criminal charge for a one-time offender. Repeat offenders, however, will face bans from the system and criminal charges. "SEPTA is committed to providing safe service and a clean travel environment for our customers, and enforcement of fare policy and quality of ride violations is critical to this mission," said SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III. "The new Administrative Enforcement Program delivers a more efficient process for handling these violations. It imposes a reasonable fine to someone who makes a mistake and wants to be able to pay it, move on with their life and not have a criminal charge on their record. At the same time, it enables us to focus more on chronic offenders - and should send a message to all would-be violators that SEPTA is serious about enforcement." The policy, which was developed in cooperation with the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, holds all offenders accountable. By handling initial offenses administratively, SEPTA police will be able to better track repeat offenders. The Administrative Enforcement Program also sets clear guidelines on the penalties for individuals who continue to violate fare evasion and quality of ride policies. An individual who receives four violations and does not pay the fines will be considered a chronic offender and banned from entering SEPTA property or using transit services for one year. Those who violate this stay-away order will be arrested for misdemeanor defiant trespass. (SEPTA - posted 4/04)

    NEW TENANTS TRANSFORMING METR0-NORTH STATION HOUSES AT PURDY'S, HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, MT. KISCO, PEEKSKILL, AND TARRYTOWN: The Mt. Kisco, Purdy’s, Hastings-on-Hudson, Peekskill and Tarrytown stations are being reinvigorated, becoming more vibrant, welcoming places for commuters and residents, thanks to a renewal initiative by MTA Metro-North Railroad. Metro-North has granted leases to new tenants who will bring dining and shopping options, commuter and community services, as well as improvements to these station house buildings. These five leases are providing $193,000 annually, and growing, to Metro-North, and because the tenants will be responsible for building cleaning and upkeep, the railroad will save another estimated $90,000 per year, bringing the total value that the leases bring to Metro-North to $283,000 annually. “A welcoming station house that offers customers an inviting spot to grab a bite or a cup of coffee, wait for a train, unwind after work or meet up with family and friends can only make commuting a more positive experience,” said Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi. “New restaurants and services at the Mt. Kisco, Hastings and Purdy’s stations not only benefit customers, but enhance local communities. I’m delighted to welcome our new tenants to these Metro-North stations.” “With these deals, we’re enlivening the stations, meeting customer needs, and – because the tenant takes over responsibility for upkeep and maintenance -- cutting costs,” said MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber. “That’s a home run for our customers, and for the MTA. “
    • Mt. Kisco Station: Earlier this month, Locali Kitchen & Bar opened in the Mt. Kisco station building, a 2,890-square foot space that includes an office loft, basement and an outdoor plaza adjacent to the building. Locali assumed the lease in 2016 after a transparent and competitive request for proposals to license the space. Locali, known for its vast menu and dishes with vibrant flavors and textural contrasts, is co-owned and operated by Joe Bueti, who also runs the Village Social Kitchen & Bar in Mt. Kisco, Locali Pizza Bar & Restaurant in New Canaan, Connecticut, and a wood-fired pizza truck that operates at various locations in the tri-state area. The owners plan on bringing specialty pizza and northern Italian cuisine to the Mt. Kisco station. Customers can choose between bar seating, tables or sofa seating. Customer-friendly renovations to the station building include a recently constructed counter and bar area, new seating and fixtures, as well as upgraded restrooms, and heating and air conditioning systems.
    • Purdy’s Station: The Purdy’s station building been vacant since June 2017, but that will soon change. Hayfields LLC., which operates as Hayfields Market, responded to a 2018 request for proposals to license the 240-square foot stand-alone building at the station. The MTA Board approved Hayfield’s lease in March. Hayfields Market, a well-known staple in the North Salem area, will offer customers a wide array of dining options, fresh produce, dry goods, beverages, and even small gift items, gardening décor and flowers. Commuters will be able to enjoy the convenience of a menu of take-out foods like pastries, sandwiches, soups, “to-go” breakfast, lunches and dinners, ice cream and packaged snacks, and beer and wine. The services offered at Hayfield Market will center around the needs of Metro-North’s customers, and as an added benefit, Hayfields plans to offer a concierge service, which may include: dry cleaning, shoe repair and car detailing. The lease holder is also responsible for renovating and refurbishing the station building’s interior space and will install new trade fixtures, counters, racks and displays. Hastings-on-Hudson Station: The incoming tenant at the Hastings-on-Hudson Station house, The Good Witch LLC, will operate a full-service bakery and a “to go” café. The space has been vacant since July 2018, and the MTA Board approved the lease to revitalize the space in March. The principal for The Good Witch LLC, Joanna Prisco, has operated a roaming pop-up shop around the river towns of the Lower Hudson Valley for the past year and a half, appearing at farmers markets, kids concerts and flea markets. Her vision is to transform the Hastings station house into a community gathering place by offering a rotating calendar of events that will attract both children and adults. The family-friendly coffee shop will serve internationally inspired pastries and sandwiches. The tenant’s planned improvements to the building that will create a more modern, airy feel. Metro-North will reserve rights for use of the waiting area and restrooms for its customers during the minimum hours of 6 a.m. 10 a.m., and at any other time that the café is open. Both The Good Witch and Hayfields Market are slated to open within the next year.
    • Peekskill Station: A reimagined concept for the Peekskill station is currently under construction. Louis Lanza, who heads Hudson Hospitality Group, is converting the current waiting room into a fast, casual eating experience. Customers can select from a variety of Italian specialty foods, breakfast items in the morning, and enjoy fresh brewed coffee and take-out items at any time during the day. The station building will become home to Stazione Peekskill, a casual Italian restaurant with a wood burning pizza oven and will offer appetizers, light entrees, full bar service and an extensive wine selection. Customers and residents can unwind and dine in the outdoor patio area. The station building will become a central and convenient welcoming point for visitors to the Hudson Valley, providing information to customers about the many outdoor, cultural and dining excursions that the area has to offer. With its aim of attracting customers to venture the short distance from the city to begin a day or weekend excursion in the Hudson Valley, the new Peekskill station house will contribute to the region’s growth and economic vitality.
    • Tarrytown Station: Building plans are currently under review for The Bakehouse Inc. - which also runs the Riviera Bakehouse, a well-known bakery located in Ardsley New York - to operate a full-service bakery and restaurant at the station, offering customers both take-out and sit-down menus. The ticket office will remain at the station house, along with the public use of the waiting area and bathrooms. The station building is currently underutilized, housing a ticket agent booth and small concession stand. Under the proposed plan, the interior will be reconfigured and refurbished, while maintaining the building’s existing charm and integrity. A new seating area will be installed near the ticket window, creating a more appealing waiting area for over 3,200 customers who board trains at the station on an average weekday. Early morning commuters will be able to enjoy the convenience of a full coffee bar and breakfast items right at the station. A large counter area will have display cases for cakes, pies, cookies, breakfast items and breads, and nearby informal seating will cater to customers on the go. Forgot your lunch? No time to make dinner? No problem. Just reach-in to one of the self-service cases for carry out/ready-made meals.
    • Bronxville, Rye and additional stations The MTA Real Estate Department has recently offered leasing opportunities at the Bronxville station and the Rye station and anticipates submitting terms for transactions at both locations to the MTA Board in the coming months.
    (MTA - posted 4/04)

    AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR MARCH AND THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 30, 2019: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 30, 2019, as well as volumes for March 2019. U.S. railroads originated 957,144 carloads in March 2019, down 8.9 percent, or 93,616 carloads, from March 2018. U.S. railroads also originated 1,065,790 containers and trailers in March 2019, down 1.5 percent, or 16,387 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in March 2019 were 2,022,934, down 5.2 percent, or 110,003 carloads and intermodal units from March 2018. In March 2019, four of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with March 2018. These included: petroleum & petroleum products, up 8,290 carloads or 21.1 percent; motor vehicles & parts, up 1,215 carloads or 1.8 percent; and nonmetallic minerals, up 927 carloads or 6.3 percent. Commodities that saw declines in March 2019 from March 2018 included: coal, down 64,804 carloads or 19.1 percent; grain, down 11,837 carloads or 12.6 percent; and crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 8,732 carloads or 9.1 percent. Excluding coal, carloads were down 28,812 carloads, or 4.1 percent, in March 2019 from March 2018. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 16,975 carloads, or 2.8 percent. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first three months of 2019 was 3,195,609 carloads, down 3.1 percent, or 100,800 carloads, from the same period last year; and 3,476,457 intermodal units, down 0.6 percent, or 19,892 containers and trailers, from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 13 weeks of 2019 was 6,672,066 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.8 percent compared to last year. Week Ending March 30, 2019 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 509,958 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending March 30 were 241,906 carloads, down 8.9 percent compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 268,052 containers and trailers, down 0.4 percent compared to 2018. Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018. They included petroleum and petroleum products, up 2,756 carloads, to 12,658; miscellaneous carloads, up 1,175 carloads, to 10,579; and chemicals, up 102 carloads, to 33,809. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2018 included coal, down 21,769 carloads, to 60,984; nonmetallic minerals, down 2,409 carloads, to 34,494; and grain, down 1,487 carloads, to 22,565. North American rail volume for the week ending March 30, 2019, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 348,723 carloads, down 5.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 358,001 intermodal units, up 1.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 706,724 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 13 weeks of 2019 was 9,029,706 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.3 percent compared with 2018. Canadian railroads reported 84,425 carloads for the week, up 3.0 percent, and 72,703 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent compared with the same week in 2018. For the first 13 weeks of 2019, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,889,074 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.4 percent. Mexican railroads reported 22,392 carloads for the week, up 10.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 17,246 intermodal units, up 19.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 13 weeks of 2019 was 468,566 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 5.5 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 4/03)

    AMTRAK NAMES ROGER HARRIS CHIEF MARKETING AND COMMERCIAL OFFICER: On Friday, March 29, 2019, the Amtrak Board of Directors appointed Roger Harris to the position of Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, responsible for corporate marketing, sales distribution, network and consist planning, market research and pricing and revenue management, along with the Northeast Corridor, State-Supported and Long-Distance Service Lines. Harris will succeed Tim Griffin, who has elected to retire from Amtrak on April 12. “Roger’s mix of transportation experience makes him a great fit for this position,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. “He will continue to advance the customer-focused strategies that are driving the company to the next level of ridership and revenue performance.” Harris joined Amtrak in January 2019 as Vice President, Long-Distance Service Business Line after more than 25 years of experience in the transportation industry. Before joining Amtrak, Harris served as Senior Vice President of Revenue, Distribution & Alliances for Aeromexico, which is Mexico’s No. 1 domestic airline with $3 billion in annual revenue. Prior to Aeromexico, Harris held leadership roles at Delta Air Lines, Sun Country Airlines, GMAC Financial Services, Northwest/KLM Airlines and Chrysler Motors. (Amtrak - posted 3/29)

    TRANSPORTATION FUNDING REPORT ISSUED TODAY URGES LAWMAKERS TO ACT NOW: The Southeast Partnership for Mobility, a collaboration between Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), today issued a sweeping report that calls on state and local officials to act now to address the looming transportation funding crisis driven by changes coming to Act 44 of 2007. The report can be found at www.PaMobilityPartnerships.com. "There are two challenges addressed in this report: First, the current statewide funding system is just not sustainable; second, even at current funding levels, economic growth is limited," said SEPTA Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. "A statewide solution to Act 44 is needed. Southeast Pennsylvania and local communities need enabling legislation to help raise regional revenues to invest in transit and Turnpike projects to accommodate and accelerate regional growth." In recent weeks, risks to state transit funding have been recognized across the commonwealth, along with concerns about the impact of pending litigation and untenable debt at the PTC. Transit agencies were notified that their state capital funding will drop dramatically next year, and operating funds will remain stagnant while system costs rise each year. Reduced and unstable funding will lead to more project and procurement delays and ultimately impact service levels for SEPTA riders. A cross-sector Advisory Council of regional business and civic leaders, major employers, elected officials and transportation agencies guided the development of the report. Members of the council emphasized the importance of a robust public transportation network that can meet current and future needs. "Access to public transportation is one of the most important assets that Drexel University possesses with approximately 26,000 students and 8,000 employees who are completely dependent on high quality public transportation to get to and from school and work every day," said John Fry, President of Drexel University. "We are witnessing the city's fastest annual growth in a half-century with rapid population and job growth occurring across the region, yet transportation is at risk of lagging way behind," said Jerry Sweeney, President and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust. "With critical urban developments like Schuylkill Yards and the continued rise of suburban business areas like King of Prussia, we need to ensure easy access, transportation and mobility to support and accelerate sustainable long-term economic growth." "Transportation is critically important when it comes to delivering patient care, and increased capacity on SEPTA lines is a necessity," said Madeline Bell, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway is unpredictable, and public transportation is sometimes overcrowded causing patients to be late for appointments and severely delaying employees who are coming to and going home from work. Addressing transportation is integral to our growth strategy." The Partnership was led by Turnpike Chair and PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards and Chairman Deon. "With the aid of regional leaders, we assembled a report that provides a clear picture of the vision and challenges facing our transportation system and a menu of options to address them. The thoughtful guidance and wisdom of the Advisory Council is reflected throughout the report," Deon said. "Without sustainable state funding and new sources of revenue, SEPTA will not be able to expand its system to keep pace with the region's tremendous growth," Deon added. "Significant projects such as high-speed rail to King of Prussia, added capacity to trains on the Market-Frankford Line, new Regional Rail cars and modernized trolleys will simply not happen." "We are at a critical juncture in understanding just how damaging and deep the risks to our statewide transportation funding pool really are," said Richards. "This report demonstrates the importance of our mass transit assets now and into the future." The report also details how the region is a critical driver of the statewide economy and the role that SEPTA plays, noting that southeast Pennsylvania generates 41 percent of the state's total economic activity and is home to 32 percent of its population on just 5 percent of its land. The Philadelphia region has grown by more than 100,000 new residents since 2010. This level of density and economic productivity is only possible with a high-capacity, efficient network to keep the region moving. "Companies and employees view mass transit as a key differentiator in choosing where to locate their businesses and where to work," said Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin. "We need to continue growing capacity across the commonwealth so that we can support economic growth and compete with regions like New York and Washington D.C. to attract new business." Act 44 required the PTC to provide PennDOT with $450 million annually for highways, bridges, and public transit, and Act 89 of 2013 modified the payments to dedicate the full amount to transit. In 2022, PTC payments to PennDOT for transit will be cut to $50 million and then $450 million will be provided from the state's General Fund. The report makes it clear that the state's current system for financing transit statewide, which is dependent on Turnpike tolls, is at risk. The PTC needs to provide relief to its customers from excessive toll hikes and make critical investments in new interchanges to power economic growth across the state. As a result of Act 44, the PTC has been forced to raise toll rates for 11 straight years and driven the agency's debt levels to more than $11 billion. In addition, the agency has reduced its rebuilding program by 13 percent and cannot consider potential expansion projects, including new interchanges in Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties. Last spring, trucking and motorists' groups challenged Act 44 in federal court. Due to the uncertainty that the litigation created, the PTC has not made a payment since last April. While PennDOT has used reserves and reprioritized projects in the current fiscal year, SEPTA has had to put 40 projects on hold. To learn more about the Southeast Partnership's vision for regional mobility, transportation investment and financing options, go to www.PaMobilityPartnerships.com. (SEPTA - posted 3/29)

    !-- UPDATE ABOVE DATE! -->

    MBTA ANNOUNCES YAWKEY STATION ON FRAMINGHAM/WORCESTER LINE WILL BE RENAMED LANSDOWNE: Effective Monday, April 8, Yawkey Station on the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail Line will be renamed Lansdowne Station. Following the name change of a municipal roadway in the vicinity of the station, the MBTA selected Lansdowne as the station’s new name. The selection was made in accordance with the MBTA’s station naming policy, which includes guidance to prioritize local geography such nearby streets, squares, or neighborhoods; the policy also emphasizes the selection of names based on simplicity, brevity, and distinctness. In an effort to avoid potential confusion, the MBTA selected April 8 to ensure the name change takes effect prior to the first Red Sox home game of the season. Customers should also note that the name change has no effect on Commuter Rail schedules. In the coming days, the MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services will be updating station and system signage, as well as schedule information on MBTA.com, the Commuter Rail app, and mTicket (MBTA - posted 4/01)

    AAR REPORTS WEEKLY RAIL TRAFFIC FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 23, 2019: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 23, 2019. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 503,017 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending March 23 were 236,817 carloads, down 10.9 percent compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 266,200 containers and trailers, up 2.1 percent compared to 2018. Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018. They were petroleum and petroleum products, up 2,233 carloads, to 12,132; and motor vehicles and parts, up 422 carloads, to 17,102. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2018 included coal, down 22,096 carloads, to 65,317; chemicals, down 3,110 carloads, to 30,682; and metallic ores and metals, down 2,327 carloads, to 19,978. For the first 12 weeks of 2019, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,953,703 carloads, down 2.5 percent from the same point last year; and 3,208,405 intermodal units, down 0.6 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 12 weeks of 2019 was 6,162,108 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.5 percent compared to last year. North American rail volume for the week ending March 23, 2019, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 340,310 carloads, down 7.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 352,422 intermodal units, up 1.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 692,732 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 12 weeks of 2019 was 8,322,982 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.3 percent compared with 2018. Canadian railroads reported 82,708 carloads for the week, essentially unchanged from 2018, and 71,236 intermodal units, up 0.5 percent compared with the same week in 2018. For the first 12 weeks of 2019, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,731,946 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.2 percent. Mexican railroads reported 20,785 carloads for the week, down 1.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 14,986 intermodal units, down 7.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 12 weeks of 2019 was 428,928 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 7.0 percent from the same point last year. (AAR - posted 3/29)

    100% PASS RATE FOR FIRST PHASE OF PILOT LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER TRAINING PROGRAM: All 14 Assistant Conductors that enrolled in NJ TRANSIT’S pilot conductor-to-engineer training program have successfully completed classroom instruction and testing. The first class of its kind at NJ TRANSIT, 100% of the Assistant Conductors will be moving onto phase two to begin on-the-job training in the field. “This class of Assistant Conductors did an incredible job of learning an immense amount of material,’’ said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “The hard work and dedication this class has shown is evident by their impressive success rate. I wish them well on the second phase of their training and look forward to having them operating their own trains in revenue service before the end of this year.” The pilot training program leverages the existing railroad knowledge of Assistant Conductors, who are already familiar with complex rail rules and regulations, as they seek to become Locomotive Engineers. This program helps fulfill the agency’s commitment to speed up the training of Locomotive Engineers. NJ TRANSIT has increased the number of engineer training classes to a record-setting six running concurrently. There are four engineer classes set to graduate in 2019 including this pilot class. (NJ Transit - posted 3/29)

    NORFOLK SOUTHERN BREAKS GROUND ON NEW ATLANTA CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS: Norfolk Southern, joined by Georgia state and city leaders, today held a groundbreaking ceremony to launch construction of its new corporate headquarters building in Atlanta. “This is an exciting day for Norfolk Southern: We break ground on a new headquarters building, and equally important, begin a new chapter of our railroad’s proud history in Atlanta,” said James A. Squires, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Today, we celebrate the start of an exciting era of collaboration and alignment for the NS corporate team that will benefit our employees, our customers, our shareholders, and the communities we serve.” Among state and local leaders joining Squires for the event were Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Both the state and the city worked closely with Norfolk Southern on development agreements that contributed to the company’s decision, announced in December, to relocate its corporate headquarters from Norfolk, Virginia, to Atlanta. “Norfolk Southern is especially appreciative of support received from the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Invest Atlanta, who share our commitment to business growth that generates good-paying jobs and economic prosperity in Atlanta and across the state,” Squires said. “In addition, Norfolk Southern thanks the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Central Atlanta Progress for their efforts in promoting our headquarters relocation.” “It’s a great day in Georgia when a Fortune 500 company returns home to its Atlanta roots and breaks ground on a beautiful new headquarters building in Midtown,” said Gov. Kemp. “Today’s celebration is a direct result of the hard work and commitment of many partners in the public and private sectors who supported this relocation project, including Gov. Nathan Deal. Georgia’s leading logistics infrastructure is among our greatest economic development assets, and this announcement is a testament to the critical role our logistics network plays in creating jobs and investment opportunities in every corner of our state. Norfolk Southern is an outstanding employer and civic partner, and I look forward to seeing them grow and prosper here in Georgia.” “I would like to thank CEO Jim Squires and the entire Norfolk Southern team on their decision to make Atlanta their new home,” said Mayor Bottoms. “This relocation is not only a testament to Atlanta’s thriving, inclusive business community and talented workforce; it exemplifies the power of public-private sector teamwork in our city. We look forward to continued work with the Norfolk Southern team as they begin to transition to Atlanta.” Norfolk Southern has engaged Atlanta-based Cousins Properties to oversee construction of the new headquarters complex. Located on a 3.4-acre property at 650 West Peachtree St., between Ponce de Leon Avenue and Third Street, the two-tower glass structure will feature approximately 750,000 square feet of office space. A campus-style hub will connect the two towers, serving as a destination for employees to work and socialize throughout the day. Outside, a lush entry plaza will welcome employees, guests, and neighbors into the building’s main lobby, where they can enjoy soaring ceilings, beautiful views, and a bustling coffee shop open to the public. “Cousins is thrilled to partner with Norfolk Southern to develop their new corporate headquarters in Atlanta,” said Colin Connolly, president and chief executive officer of Cousins Properties. “We share their vision in creating an iconic project that will have a positive impact on the Midtown community and the Norfolk Southern team.” Norfolk Southern and Cousins Properties are designing a campus that reimagines the employee work environment and experience. Amenities to help employees thrive will include a vibrant on-site dining facility, an adjacent rooftop garden and private greenspace, a comprehensive fitness center, state-of-the-art conference and training facilities, on-site child-care, and a variety of individual and shared workspaces to serve employees’ diverse needs while promoting interaction and collaboration. The headquarters site is in “Tech Square,” a hub of innovation, technology, and talent in the heart of Midtown Atlanta with close ties to Georgia Tech, a continual source of talent for Norfolk Southern’s management trainee program. In addition, with easy access to MARTA, highways in every direction, and a world-class airport, Norfolk Southern employees will be close to home, close to the Norfolk Southern rail network, and just a step from partners and customers in North America and across the globe. Plans call for the building to be completed and occupied by Norfolk Southern in the third quarter of 2021. (NS - posted 3/26)

    GREENBRIER ANNOUNCES NEW RAILCAR ORDERS AND PRELIMINARY RESULTS FOR FISCAL SECOND QUARTER: The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. today announced that it had received orders for 3,800 new railcars with an aggregate value of nearly $450 million during its fiscal second quarter ended on February 28, 2019. Orders for the quarter include tank cars, automobile-carrying railcars and covered hopper cars, and were consistent with Greenbrier's expectations for the period. New railcar backlog of 26,000 units valued at $2.7 billion continues to be diversified across railcar types. Separately, Greenbrier today announced preliminary financial results for its fiscal second quarter. Greenbrier expects revenue of approximately $650 million and unadjusted EPS of $0.07 to $0.09 per share. Challenges in Romania, Gunderson and railcar repair operations impacted results by $0.29, including one-time charges of $0.14 related to loss contingencies on certain railcar contracts, primarily in Romania, along with facility closure costs in the railcar repair operations. (Greenbrier, Randy Kotuby - posted 3/25)

    DOVER & DELAWARE RIVER TO BEGIN OPERATIONS NEXT SATURDAY: Chesapeake and Delaware, LLC is please to announce the start of Dover and Delaware River Railroad operations on Saturday March 30, 2019. The Dover and Delaware River Railroad - reporting marks DD - will operate approximately 109 miles of track in Warren, Morris, and Passaic Counties, serving customers in the communities of Phillipsburg, Washington, Hackettstown, Dover, Denville, and Mountain View, on track leased from Norfolk Southern and over trackage rights on New Jersey Transit. DD will interchange with Norfolk Southern at Phillipsburg, NJ, the Morristown & Erie Railway at Lake Junction, NJ, and with sister company Dover and Rockaway River Railroad at Chester Junction and Wharton, NJ. Operations will be at least six days per week. Chesapeake and Delaware, LLC was formed in 2016 for the purpose of owning, leasing, marketing, operating, and managing short line railroads and related businesses. For more information on the Chesapeake and Delaware-owned Dover and Delaware River Railroad, Dover and Rockaway River Railroad, or our affiliated lines in New Jersey, including the Belvidere and Delaware River Railway and Black River & Western Railroad. (C&D - posted 3/24)

    MTA ANNOUNCES CONSTRUCTION OF NEW MERILLON AVENUE LIRR STATION: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that construction of station enhancements at the Long Island Rail Road's Merillon Avenue in Garden City has begun as part of the LIRR Expansion Project that will make the railroad safer, more reliable and allow for increased capacity and flexibility. The platforms at the station will be extended to accommodate 12-car trains – the current platforms accommodate only 10-car trains – which will enable customers to more easily board and disembark. In turn, this will help to decrease dwell times at the station, and get customers where they need to go more quickly. To help facilitate this work, the western halves of the Merillon Avenue station’s platforms have closed as part of the complete reconstruction of the station. Two new elevators from the Nassau Boulevard sidewalk will also be installed, making the station fully ADA accessible for the first time. The rebuilt station will include improved pedestrian access, new stairs, ramps, railings and canopies, new digital displays, improved lighting, new platform furnishings including benches, shelters and signage, security cameras for improved safety, and free WiFi and USB charging stations. The station improvement will also include repaving of the north parking lot, tree planting and landscaping throughout the station area, along with new bike racks and art installations. The new station at Merillon Avenue, which was originally built in 1912, will be completed in 2020. "The LIRR Expansion Project addresses many LIRR customer needs: from more track capacity to accommodate more trains, to increased safety and reliability for better train service, and upgraded stations bringing ADA access and well-thought-out amenities," MTA Chief Development Officer and President of MTA Capital Construction Janno Lieber said. "The updates coming at Merillon Avenue Station will not only completely transform the customer experience here, but the attractive design will be an aesthetically pleasing addition to the Garden City landscape." While the western sections of the platforms are closed, passengers wishing to detrain at Merillon Avenue will be asked to use the first six cars of the train. During this time, the Roxbury Road entrance to the eastbound platform will be closed. All other access points to eastbound and westbound platforms will remain open. Customers have been and will continue to be informed about the closure through flyers handed out in parking lots and platforms as well as station and train announcements. The demolition of western sections of platforms will be followed by their rebuilding beginning in the spring. This process will be repeated for the eastern sections of the platforms beginning in the fall. The station is scheduled to be fully reopened to the public following installation of the elevators, by late spring 2020. “This in just one element of the LIRR Expansion Project that will make the railroad more convenient, reliable and safer for our customers,” LIRR President Phil Eng said. “It is one project of nearly 100 that will modernize the LIRR and create a true 21st century commuter experience that LIRR customers want and deserve.” The LIRR Expansion Project will add a third track along nearly 10 miles of LIRR right-of-way from Floral Park to Hicksville, reducing train congestion and delays, increasing capacity, and enabling true bi-directional service during peak hours. This transformative work includes several related projects, including the construction of additional parking garages and improved station access, retaining and sound attenuation walls, improvements to rail bridges and the removal of the seven street-level railroad crossings in the corridor. Construction is being handled in a way to minimize the impact on daily routines, with extensive mitigation and public outreach efforts being planned in conjunction with local communities. The LIRR Expansion Project is part of a multibillion-dollar modernization of the Long Island Rail Road, the largest investment the railroad has received in decades. Once the work is complete, the LIRR will have increased its capacity by nearly 50 percent. Together, the upgrades will help transform transportation across the region and provide a reliable, state-of-the-art rail system for Long Islanders. (MTA - posted 3/22)

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