William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

With Railway Age since 1992, Bill Vantuono has broadened and deepened the magazine's coverage of the technological revolution that is so swiftly changing the industry. He has also strengthened Railway Age's leadership position in industry affairs with the conferences he conducts on operating passenger trains on freight railroads and communications-based train control.

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RMI, a provider of transportation management software, has announced the release of ExpressYard Barcode Repair Billing, designed to help railcar repair shops simplify data capture, eliminate billing errors, and automate inventory control.

RMI said the ExpressYard Barcode Repair Billing module “dramatically improves the AAR railcar repair billing process by associating bar codes with the correct repair data to provide a failsafe means to simultaneously enter billing repair card line item information and capture inventory part allocation all with one scan.” It works with both custom and standard manufacturer barcodes.

RMI is a portfolio company of The Carlyle Group.

Bombardier Transportation announced Tuesday that it has won a major contract, worth $577 million, for an automatic train control signaling upgrade for London Underground. Bombardier will provide its CITYFLO 650 ATC system, a communication-based train control (CBTC) technology similar to that running successfully on the Madrid Metro.

Bombardier said the full scope of the contract is for the signaling renewal and provision of an ATC system for four sub-surface lines (Metropolitan District, Circle, Hammersmith, and City).

Bombardier will equip the 68 miles of track (28 miles in tunnels), 113 stations, 191 trainsets, 49 maintenance-of-way trains, and six heritage trains by 2018, followed by a two-year warranty period. The main project office will be in London, with Bombardier sites in Bangkok, Helsinki, Madrid, Pittsburgh, and the British cities of Plymouth, Derby, and Reading providing much of the product supply and associated engineering works.

Andre Navarri, President and Chief Operating Officer, Bombardier Transportation, commented: “Bombardier's groundbreaking CBTC technology is installed globally on 13 systems and is proven to significantly increase capacity and quality of service for our customers. We are very pleased to be awarded this new contract by London Underground and look forward to working together on this exciting project to improve the transport network for hundreds of thousands of passengers.”

Wednesday, 08 June 2011 10:38

Team chosen for LA Regional Connector

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) has selected a joint venture of AECOM and Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) to provide conceptual planning and preliminary design for the $1.4 billion Metro Regional Connector Transit Corridor Project, also known as the Downtown Connector or Downtown Light-Rail Connector.

Construction on the connector could begin in 2013 and be completed by 2019, depending on the availability of federal funding.

The project envisions uniting disparate segments of Los Angeles’ rapidly growing light rail transit (LRT) network, as well as tying LRT in more completely with Union Station, served by Amtrak and Metrolink trains. (See map below.) The 1.9-mile-long underground rail connection will link the Metro Gold and Blue lines with the new Expo light rail through downtown Los Angeles, enabling passengers to travel from Azusa to Long Beach and from the Eastside to Culver City.

The Connector will provide major regional north/south and east/west rail line linkages that will give more transit riders a one-seat, one-ticket ride and offer significant travel time savings. The connection itself will save approximately 20 minutes of time by eliminating line transfers through downtown. The project is estimated to provide access to 90,000 passengers daily, and encourage 17,000 new transit riders by 2035.

The Regional Connector will receive partial funding from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by the voters of Los Angeles County in November 2008 as part of the Measure R program, funding transportation improvements totaling $40 billion over a 30-year period.

The AECOM/PB joint venture, known as the Connector Partnership, will be responsible for creating an advanced conceptual plan for the project as well as preliminary engineering, with options for design support during construction and system activation. The joint venture will also assist LACMTA with project controls and risk assessment.


Thursday, 09 June 2011 05:55

Ridership up on Amtrak California trains

Caltrans late Wednesday said ridership on Amtrak’s San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner routes were up significantly in the past 12 months, citing “record numbers.”

amtrakcalifornia_logo.jpgLed by the San Joaquin corridor, which serves California’s Central Valley and linking Los Angeles and Bakersfield with Sacramento and the Bay Area, California’s state supported intercity passenger rail corridors had banner years. Compared to May 2010, ridership on the San Joaquin, the nation’s fifth-busiest rail corridor, shot up more than 12%, with a 19% increase in revenue, Caltrans said.

The Pacific Surfliner, the second busiest intercity passenger rail route in the nation, links San Luis Obispo with San Diego via Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. It experienced a 4% climb in ridership and a 9% increase in revenue, Caltrans said.

“These incredible ridership and revenue numbers show that by providing reliable, high quality service, Californians will leave their cars to ride trains,” said Acting Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

With five million annual passengers, California has more than 20% of all Amtrak riders. Since 1990, Caltrans has invested more than $1.3 billion in infrastructure and equipment for intercity passenger rail and about $1 billion in operating support.

Thursday, 09 June 2011 06:30

PATCO to expand fare media options

PATCO passengers next week will be able to manage their electronic fare cards on the Internet, and by September will be able to use a credit card, instead of the PATCO-only card, to pay fares on the bistate line, linking New Jersey’s Camden County with Philadelphia. 

The agency also plans to launch a one-year pilot program for credit-card fare payment. San Diego-based Cubic Transportation Systems Inc. is upgrading PATCO's fare gates to read bank cards that have an embedded electronic chip. Cubic will pay the cost of upgrading PATCO's gates and computer operating system, as well as the transaction fees charged by cardholders' banks. The upgrades are worth an estimated $680,000.

PATCO customers currently can use a smart card, but on June 13 can tap use of an online system permitting customers to add value to the cards and view their transaction histories. The system will be available at www.patcofreedomcard.org.

“A lot of eyes will be on our operation,” Cheryl Spicer, assistant general manager of PATCO, said at a meeting Wednesday of the Delaware River Port Authority, PATCO’s parent organization.
Thursday, 09 June 2011 07:03

U.S. railroads join global safety effort

The Association of American Railroads announced Thursday its freight railroad members are joining with the international community to raise awareness among motorists and pedestrians about the dangers of railroad grade crossings.

hamberger_aar.jpg“U.S. railroads operate the safest freight rail transportation system in the world and are honored to share their learning and experiences with the international community as we look to eliminate grade crossing accidents,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger (pictured at left). “For railroads, nothing is more important than the safety of our employees and the communities through which we operate.”

The third annual International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD) features grade crossing safety events in 40 countries around the world, with a focus on the common message: “Act safely at level crossings!” Planned activities include the distribution of flyers at grade crossings, in schools, driving schools, and to scouts; the display of posters and the “Just in Time” video in railway stations and the internet; broadcast ads on radio and television, and a press conference organized with national and local press.

The ILCAD Campaign was established in 2009 by the international railroad community in conjunction with various highway organizations, the European Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), to raise awareness among road users and pedestrians of the risks at grade crossings. To date, more than 40 countries around the world have participated in ILCAD.

ILCAD is jointly sponsored by the International Union of Railways (UIC), the European Level Crossing Forum (ELCF), the Community of European Railway Companies (CER), the European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM), the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) and Operation Lifesaver (OL).

“Saving lives knows no borders,” said Helen Sramek, president of Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing collisions. “We are thrilled to join with our colleagues in the international rail safety community in supporting such an important event.”

Major U.S. freight railroads will host ILCAD events across the U.S. ranging from Officer on a Train to public and private crossing sign inspection trips and grade crossing closure meetings. U.S. railroads have led the international community in promoting grade crossing safety and spend several hundred million dollars each year on grade crossing safety.

More information on International Level Crossing Awareness Day is available at www.ilcad.org.
Oxbow Carbon & Minerals and Oxbow Mining, which ship coal and petroleum coke, have announced that they have filed a suit in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia accusing Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe of “monopolizing and price-fixing illegally to gouge customers with high rates.” Both railroads strongly denied he charges.

“This lawsuit will finally force Union Pacific and BNSF to account, in federal court, for their long history of breaking American antitrust laws,” said Barry Brett of Troutman Sanders LLP, co-counsel for the Oxbow companies in the lawsuit. “The complaint filed describes how the railroads have used monopolization and price-fixing illegally to drive up the price of shipping coal and many other products, and those higher prices affect every business and consumer in the country. Only the power of the federal court can compel the freight railroad industry to fundamentally reform its business practices and stop abusing customers, consumers, and the national economy.”

“Union Pacific and BNSF have systematically gouged their customers, and the result is higher prices for everybody — from companies that rely on them to ship their goods to the consumers who buy products shipped on those lines,” said Bill Koch, chairman of the board and CEO of Oxbow.

The suit also says UP and BNSF have conspired with CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern since 2003 to use “deceptive” fuel surcharges to raise prices.

“These companies have a long history of using aggressive tactics to prevent competition and intimidate customers. We stand with our fellow Americanfarmers, miners, and shippers in fighting the railroads’ efforts to deny us competitive prices and services,” said Koch.

In a statement, UP called the complaint a “grab bag of accusations,” and said Oxbow had long warned of litigation unless the railroad came through with “exceptional commercial concessions.”

“Union Pacific values its business relationship with Oxbow and all customers,” the statement said. “However, Oxbow’s complaint contains egregious misstatements of facts, erroneous accusations, and obvious misunderstandings of federal regulation, rail networks, and markets.”

BNSF issued a statement saying it “has not colluded or conspired in violation of any law” and would address the issue further in court.
Thursday, 09 June 2011 07:33

AAR: U.S. freight traffic gains ground

U.S. freight carload traffic advanced 1.1% for the week ending June 4, compared with the same week a year ago, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. AAR noted U.S. intermodal traffic fared even better, up 7.2% compared with the same week in 2010.

aar_logo.jpgAAR said 15 of the 20 carload commodity groups it follows posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. Gainers were led by iron and steel scrap, up 18.7%, coke, up 18.1%, and grain, up 17.4%. Declines were seen in primary forest products, down 15.2% and nonmetallic minerals, down 10.5%.

Canadian freight carload traffic rose a robust 5.2% for the week compared with last year, but intermodal declined 2.8%. Mexican freight carload traffic fell 8.4% compared with the same week last year, but intermodal rose 20.8%.

Combined North American freight carload traffic for the first 22 weeks of 2011 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 2.9% compared with the same point last year, while intermodal was up 7.6% compared with last year.
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 07:27

LaHood praises streetcars at groundbreaking

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Tuesday joined New Orleans officials at a groundbreaking ceremony marking the extension of streetcar service 1.5 miles along Loyola Avenue. The estimated $45 million extension will link Canal Street with Union Passenger Terminal, served by Amtrak.

Full-scale construction is scheduled to commence next month. Regional Transportation Authority staff has recommended Archer Western Contractors of Arlington, Tex., for the job, and RTA’s Board of Directors is expected to approve the deal shortly. Service could begin sometime in 2012.

ray_lahood.jpg“There’s not a lot of money in Washington,” LaHood (pictured at left) said at the ceremony, addressing those in attendance. “So when we give money, we give it to those organizations that have great leadership,” he said, praising RTA for its pursuit of rail transit options. “Streetcars are coming back to America,” LaHood added.

LaHood also announced that the administration has awarded the RTA a $400,000 grant to establish a streetcar maintenance training program designed to create new jobs for skilled workers. Funding comes from the federal stimulus package.
Led by Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari, the Department of Transportation on Monday hosted a roundtable discussion in Washington with transportation, manufacturing, and steel industry leaders to discuss a plan for producing steel streetcar rails in the U.S.

“The Obama Administration is committed to putting Americans back to work making the products our nation needs to compete,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. “We want U.S. manufacturers to supply the rails for U.S. streetcars and today’s meeting was a first step toward making this a reality.”

Porcari said he hopes that the meeting will help determine the potential market size for steel rails and the level of interest among manufacturers, as well as identify obstacles that need to be addressed.

“The Federal Transit Administration is making major investments in streetcars as they've made a real comeback in many cities,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “It only makes sense that the rail they ride on is stamped ‘Made in the U.S.A.,’ because with the ingenuity of the American workforce and industry, we can do it right here at home.”

DOT said industry experts estimate that 18,000 metric tons of steel girder rail will be needed during the next three years to meet the demand of streetcar projects being planned and built in the U.S. That amount is expected to expand to upwards of 33,000 metric tons over the coming decade.

Deputy Secretary Porcari called the meeting following a survey by the FTA and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership that indicated interest among domestic steelwork foundries in manufacturing streetcar rails.

Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley participated Monday in the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new, $97.5 million Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility in McCalla, Ala., part of the railroad’s Crescent Corridor initiative to build a high-capacity intermodal freight rail route between the Gulf Coast and the Northeast.

Scheduled to open in late 2012, the facility will occupy a 316-acre site adjacent to the Jefferson Metropolitan Park. It has a targeted capacity of 165,000 containers and trailers annually.

ns_logo.jpg“The Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility is ideally located to serve the Southeast and is a critical component of our Crescent Corridor,” said Moorman. “We thank Secretary LaHood and USDOT for their efforts to form public-private partnerships to create jobs and economic development opportunities.”

“The Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility will bring significant economic growth to McCalla and thousands of jobs to Alabamians,” said Gov. Bentley at the ceremony.

Norfolk Southern describes the Crescent Corridor as a “program of independent projects and improvements geared toward creating a 2,500-mile intermodal route spanning from New Jersey to Louisiana that touches 26% of the nation’s population and 30% of the nation’s manufacturing output.” The cost is estimated at $2.5 billion for full development.
Monday, 06 June 2011 08:33

Ceremony marks CSX yard expansion

A groundbreaking ceremony Monday marked the start of a $100 million expansion of a CSX freight yard in Worcester, Mass. Gov. Deval L. Patrick and Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray joined state and local elected officials at the ceremonial groundbreaking, hailing the celebration as an important milestone in a rail transportation agreement between the state and CSX involving freight and passenger rail.

csx_logo.jpg.jpgCSX is moving its freight operations out of the Beacon Park yards in Boston to existing rail yards in Central and Western Massachusetts, and plans to make Worcester its freight hub for New England. When completed, the freight yard will encompass 79 acres. The expansion will also permit increased passenger rail traffic between Worcester and Boston.

"Expanding commuter rail service to Worcester is a critical component of our administration’s economic development agenda,” Gov. Patrick said. “Today’s groundbreaking ceremony brings us one step closer to improving transportation service and increasing opportunity for business creation between Worcester and Boston.”

Lt. Gov. Murray said the project it will provide a significantly stronger transportation link between Worcester and Boston, as well as linking job and educational centers along that corridor. He also said it will expand available affordable shipping options for companies in Massachusetts so they can bring their products to market in a cost-efficient manner.

"This has been a tremendous partnership between the Commonwealth, CSX and the city of Worcester," Mr. O'Brien said. "This development is key to the future or our city, linking centers of economic growth and creating jobs. The future does indeed look very bright for our community."

For CSX’s part, "We will be a good neighbor to the city of Worcester and we hope to continue this partnership for years to come," said Lsa Mancini, senior vice president of human resources and labor relations at CSX.
Monday, 06 June 2011 10:41

AREMA warns of show guide scam

AREMA, the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, has posted an alert on its home page, warning of a scam involving Railway Interchange 2011. AREMA is participating in the event, set for Sept. 18-21, 2011 in Minneapolis, in conjunction with its 2011 Annual Conference.

“We are alerting all Exhibitors and Sponsors of an email, mail and/or phone scam wherein a company is claiming to be soliciting ads or ‘upgraded ads’ for the Show Guide for Railway Interchange in Minneapolis,” AREMA says.

“Please be aware that we have not authorized any third party company or persons other than Simmons-Boardman Publishing to solicit ads for this Event. The company doing this unauthorized solicitation is using the name Fair Guide. It may claim to have all of your contact information for the Show. The address on the return envelope is Glendale Heights, Ill., and the other paperwork shows the publisher’s address in Bratislava, Slovakia.

“Simmons-Boardman Publishing, the publishers of Railway Track & Structures and Railway Age magazines, is the official publisher of the Event Guide for Railway Interchange 2011.

“If you are contacted, we urge you to end the phone call immediately, delete the email, or discard the mailing and not to provide any credit card/data or secure information,” AREMA recommends.

A similar warning has been posted on the Railway Interchange 2011 website

Tuesday, 07 June 2011 05:13


Atlanta-based TÜV Rheinland Rail Sciences, Inc. says it has upgraded and moved its Omaha testing and metallurgical analysis laboratory to a new facility in nearby La Vista, Neb., about 12 miles southeast of the company’s previous facility.


The company says the new facility will allow TÜV RSI to continue to offer a range of applied mechanical and materials engineering services, along with additional offerings, including advanced chemical analysis, among others.

“We feel our new lab will provide significant benefits to our customers,” said Gary Wolf, president of TÜV Rheinland Rail Sciences, Inc. “We have moved from crowded, shared space into a new dedicated facility with easier access to major transportation routes, enhanced work-flow paths and upgraded equipment. Our customers will immediately notice our faster turn-around times and the increased services we will provide.”

Testing services the laboratory provides include: failure analysis; metallography; non-destructive testing (NDT); SEM and optical microscopy; mechanical (tensile, fatigue, impact) testing; corrosion analysis; and chemical analysis. Advanced chemical analysis services will be offered shortly after the laboratory’s new glow discharge spectrometer is installed, expected within the next two to three months.

Additional services offered through this facility include finite element analysis (FEA), on-site testing and data acquisition, mechanical and materials design services, new product development assistance, supplier validation, quality control, accident reconstruction and expert witness testimony.

Users of the laboratory’s services typically include: original equipment manufacturers; aerospace, automotive and general industrial manufacturers; materials and component manufacturers; pressure vessel manufacturers; railways and railroad suppliers; and others.

TÜV RSI is a subsidiary of TÜV Rheinland North America Holding Inc., itself part of Cologne, Germany-based TÜV Rheinland AG.

Tuesday, 07 June 2011 05:27

RailComm lands Denver RTD contract

Fairport, N.Y.-based RailComm said Tuesday its Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) train control system has been chosen for use in Denver Regional Transportation District’s West Corridor.

railcomm_logo.jpgRailComm’s DOC® is a next generation computer-aided dispatching system that will be used to centrally control the CTC signal system and the OCS (Overhead Catenary System) electrification sub-stations.

The DOC® software-based control system is an advanced command, control, communications and information (C3i) server-based platform that supports a wide variety of integrated solutions for indication, control, access and distribution of critical operational data across the corporate enterprise.
Bourque Logistics, Inc., which provides logistics software for industrial shippers, is introducing RAILPort™, a web-based tool that allows casers to create and distribute custom reports. RAILPort™ utilizes current data pulled from the Bourque Logistics database.

“RAILPort™ is extremely user-friendly, allowing users to quickly build reports from pre-written queries that span loading and shipment status, railcar profile and compliance, and freight cost and payment templates across all BL software modules,” Bourque said in an announcement Tuesday.

With RAILPort™, a user can select and filter data fields, re-size and sort columns and their order, and set breaks and totals. Users can then define a distribution schedule to others via email PDF, Excel, or “Live-Link”connects that re-query on demand.

“RAILPort’s Live-Link function provides the most recent data that ‘canned’ reports do not,” commented Steve Bourque, president, Bourque Logistics.

Hoping to prompt resolution between CSX Corp. and New York State, the Empire State Passengers Association (ESPA) on Monday declared it supported CSX’s proposed 90 mph speed limit for CSX’s route between Buffalo and Schenectady.

New York’s Department of Transportation, in negotiations with CSX to establish higher-speed rail (HrSR) service upstate, has sought a top speed of 110 mph, prompting objections from CSX, based in part on concerns over crew safety.

espa_logo.jpgIn a statement, ESPA President Bruce Becker said, “The immediate needs of New York state's rail passengers are for reduced trip times and improved on-time performance reliability.” He added, “It is critical that New York state and CSX finalize the agreements necessary to allow the currently funded incremental improvement infrastructure projects to proceed forward as quickly as possible, particularly the vital, 110 mph second main track between Albany and Schenectady.”

In response, a CSX spokesman said, “CSX appreciates the comments from the Empire State Passengers Association as we continue to work with the state toward solutions that will provide safe, efficient rail passenger service while ensuring CSX's ability to deliver safe, efficient, green, and economically vital freight rail service to the region.”

The right-of-way in question is part of Amtrak’s Empire Corridor, with current top speeds of 79 mph. Amtrak trains on the Empire Corridor south of Albany can reach 110 mph over short spans of the route.csx_logo.jpg.jpg 

ESPA’s Becker said accord on a 90 mph speed limit would trigger needed upgrades along the route, including a third track being discussed by CSX and the state to increase capacity. “That, from the passenger's perspective, would increase reliability,” he said.

New York recently received federal funds, reapportioned from Florida’s rejection of high speed rail money, that is target to various portions of the Empire Corridor east of Schenectady, including the second track on the Empire Corridor between Albany and Schenectady, and a fourth track to expand capacity at Rensselaer Station.

Late Tuesday, Amtrak, in a statement, said, “Amtrak has and will continue to work with its partners at the State of New York and the host railroads to provide support and lend its expertise tothe further development of any high speed rail initiatives in the region.”


Wednesday, 08 June 2011 06:16

Bombardier wins new business in Australia

Bombardier Transportation has a stake valued at $265 million in a $1.1 billion contract that the Queensland state government has awarded to the GoldLinQ consortium to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the first stage of the Gold Coast Rapid Transit light rail system in an 18-year public-private partnership.

bombardier_logo.jpgBombardier said in a statement Wednesday that as a member of the consortium, it will supply 14 BOMBARDIER FLEXITY 2 light rail vehicles, signaling and control systems, communication systems, electrification including traction power supply substations, and overhead line equipment, as well as project management and systems engineering.

The Gold Coast Rapid Transit system is designed to handle 50,000 passengers a day with provisions to expand capacity to 75,000 passengers per day.

Sixteen stations are planned for the 13-kilometer (8-mile) LRT route, which will serve the new Gold Coast University Hospital, Griffith University, and commercial, retail, and recreational centers of Southport, Surfers Paradise, and Broadbeach. Revenue service is scheduled to begin in 2014.

San Francisco's Transport Workers Union Local 250-A is pressuring MUNI to seek repeal of Proposition G, a voter initiative funding improvements to light rail and bus operations and infrastructure. The union's effort appears aimed at strengthening its bargaining position in upcoming talks.

muni_logo.jpgRepeal of the proposition reportedly could jeopardize $2 billion in federal funding for the capital projects involved. Lawyers for the union, which represents roughly 2,000 MUNI rail and bus operators, complained to the Department of Labor earlier this week that the initiative violates a Federal Transit Act guarantee of fair bargaining rights for employees.

A union spokesman said labor officials could bar MUNI from receiving federal transit funds until it complies with federal labor standards. Such funds comprise the bulk of many MUNI capital projects.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which operates MUNI, already faces a $2.2 billion shortfall in its capital budget.

In another matter, SFMTA on Thursday said that, effective immediately, folding bicycles are allowed on all MUNI vehicles, except cable cars.
New Jersey Transit will repair or “renew” three grade crossings this summer on its Pascack Valley Line, which traverses eastern Bergen County, according to spokeswoman Courtney Carroll.

njt_logo.jpg“The work includes ripping up the old crossing, replacing ties and rails, resurfacing the track and repaving,” Carroll said. “In addition to the grade crossing work on weekends, we will be doing maintenance elsewhere on the line during the week.”

The work will require the closure of three local grade crossings in Montvale, Park Ridge, and Oradell, each on a different weekend during June. Weekend rail service will not operate during these times.

NJT also says service on the Pascack Valley Line will be curtailed to accommodate maintenance work along the entire line from June 4 to June 26.
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