The U.S. Department of Transportation has released nearly $80 million in grants as part of the first, $8 billion U.S. high speed and intercity passenger rail program. A portion of Florida’s $1 billion-plus allocation is now in the state’s coffers.
The Sunshine State received $66.6 million for “program management and preliminary engineering on the planned 168 mph high-speed railservice between Tampa and Orlando, Florida,” DOT said in a release. “This project will create jobs and generate economic activity as 84 miles of track are constructed, stations are built or enhanced, and equipment is purchased. Along with California, Florida was the only state to submit plans to the Department of Transportation to create a brand new, high speed rail line.”
Of the remainder, $6.2 million was allotted for track relocation work in California on the Capitol Corridor, which will help bring about fewer delays and faster travel times along a route that connects the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, the state capital. The funds would assist the Golden State’s $44 billion, 700-mile HSR plan only indirectly.
Another $5.7 million is targeted for environmental assessments of planned new stations on the route between Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., aimed to host passenger rail service operating at speeds up to 110 mph. Similarly, $1 million is allotted for improved service on the Empire Corridor in New York, adding more right-of-way cleared to handle 110 mph trains.
CSX Transportation Thursday announced that it has entered into a rail security partnership with the State of Florida that represents a model CSX hopes to use with other states it serves.
Entitled SecureNOW, the partnership formalizes and enhances CSX’s commitment to Florida to share information, resources, and strategies to better protect communities in which the company operates.
The SecureNOW partnership provides Florida security officials with access to CSX’s Network Operations Workstation (NOW) system. This secure online system, developed and used by CSX, allows security and law enforcement officials to independently track the location of CSXT trains and the contents of rail cars in a nearly real-time environment.
“We're pleased to be the first railroad and private corporation to formalize a security partnership with the Florida Fusion Center,” said CSXT Vice President of Public Safety and Environment Skip Elliott. “This partnership allows CSXT and Florida officials to effectively and seamlessly share information and work side by side to safeguard the communities that we serve.”
SecureNOW becomes another resource in the Florida FusionCenter in Tallahassee, the state capital, where state, federal, and local agencies work together to evaluate and act upon potential security threats, CSX said. The fusion center further enhances law enforcement and homeland security efforts.
“CSXT and the State of Florida are committed tosecuring our citizens, visitors and critical infrastructure,” said TomMcInerney, director of Investigations and Forensic Services with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which oversees the Fusion Center. “This partnership is a model for a collaborative public-private security initiative that we hope to replicate with other industries to better serve our communities.”
The Metropolitan Council, the regional transit planning agency for Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Wednesday approved a 14-mile Southwest Corridor light rail line linking Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, Minn.
The locally preferred alternative (LPA) was recommended to the council by the Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority and the communities that the corridor will serve. The route also will serve Minnetonka, Hopkins, and St. Louis Park. The route is projected to cost as much as $1.25 billion.
Met Council amended the region's 2030 Transportation Policy Plan (TPP) to include LRT as the mode of choice for the route, making the project eligible for federal funding.
“World class cities have growing, vibrant transit systems,” said Council Chair Peter Bell. “The selection of the mode and alignment for this corridor is an important step forward. It moves the project to the next level and continues the process of building out the region's rail corridor network.”
The LRT route will link with the existing Hiawatha LRT line at Target Field Station in Minneapolis, offering connections to Northstar commuter rail services at that station and access to the Central Corridor LRT route serving St. Paul, now beginning construction.
Met Council will submit a New Starts applicationto the Federal Transit Administration this summer, asking for permission to begin preliminary engineering on the project. The route is expected to generate 28,000 rider trips per day by 2030, which Met Council says is comparable to current ridership on Hiawatha LRT.
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority Wednesday locked in roughly $1 billion in capital funding by signing an oft-delayed contract with Related Companies, joined by Oxford Properties Group, to develop the MTA’s Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side.
Related and Oxford are making a $21.75 million deposit in conjunction with the signing of the contract, and are expected to make additional deposits of roughly $11 million each, subject to specified fluctuations in economic conditions. Critics of the deal have said MTA should be more stringent in its expectations for payment.
The site, west of Pennsylvania Station, is among the lastremaining underdeveloped parcels of land in Manhattan, would be developed to include 12 million square feet of commercial and residential space. MTA will lease the site to the developers for 99 years, with purchase options. Construction will occur over ongoing rail operations, which include MTA Long Island Rail Road’s West Side Yard and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.
“This is a tremendously exciting development project that together with the extension of the 7 line [subway] will turn this area into a vibrant residential and commercial neighborhood,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder. “We were also able to maximize value for the MTA and provide a new revenue stream to support many of our vital capital projects.”
Jay Cross, president of Related Hudson Yards, said, “Related and our new partner Oxford Properties Group look forward to continuing the excellent working relationship we have developed with the MTA and LIRR over the last two years as we all work to transform the Yards into New York’s new 21st century neighborhood.”
Russian Railways, Siemens AG, and Russia's Aeroexpress signed a Memorandum on Production, Supply and Servicing of Modern Russian Trains on Wednesday in Sochi, Russia, site of the next Winter Olympics in 2014.
The joint venture will produce new-generation Desiro RU Selectric trains with asynchronous traction drive. These trains will be built by a joint venture in Russia, based on the Olympic electric trains that Siemens will supply to Russian Railways in 2012-2013 under a contract signed between the two companies in December 2009.
Serial production of the modern electric trains is set to begin at the joint venture in 2014, and the share of associated parts and components of the train produced in Russia is anticipated to reach 80% by 2017. The joint venture plans to reach production capacity of 200 vehicles per year.
Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin signed on behalf of the railroad; also signing were Hans-Jörg Grundmann, executive director of Seimens Mobility and vice president of Siemens AG, and Aeroexpress board member Maxim Liksutov.
Moscow-based Aeroexpress Ltd. provides air-to-rail links in several locations within Russia; Russian Railways owns 50% of the company.
Efforts to (re-)establish the first streetcar route in Washington, D.C. were first dashed, then resurrected, in a 24-hour period, as the City Council first cut $47 million in funding, then restored the amount Wednesday following a public outcry, fueled in part by email and blog activity.
The H Street Streetcar, estimated to cost $60 million, already is under construction along its namesake street and on Benning Road in the city’s Northeast quadrant.
Funds originally were cut when D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray said the streetcar line, part of a larger, long-range plan, it needed more planning, including power source options given the ban on overhead wires in much of the city. But news of the cut, reported by the Greater Greater Washington blog, generated substantial public outcry, prompting the council to restore funding.
“What a splendid relief this is,” said Councilman Jim Graham, a supporter of the project. “The streetcars are back on track. We will not have a delay.”
The H Street Streetcar currently is slated to begin service in 2012, though six more streetcars are needed to supplement three cars already acquired from Czech Republic-based Inekon Group a.s.
House Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), considered on of thetop U.S. proponents of light rail transit and streetcars, reportedly called council members urging the body to reconsider any cuts in funding. “We're working with a dozen cities that are in some stage of streetcar programs. None has more promise than the District of Columbia,” Blumenauer said.
The Railway Systems Suppliers, Inc. C&S Exhibition, held May 17-19 in Omaha, Neb., drew 1,712 attendees, “not including spouses,” RSSI said in a statement Wednesday.
Of those attendees, 989 were supplier representatives, while the remainder 723, represented railroad, transit, or government organizations.
The annual event also sported 334 booth spaces, staffed by 164 exhibitors.
RSSI also said its Innovation Theatre had 12 member companies participating “with varying results.” The theatre drew more than 100 participants. “We have had several requests to continue this service,” RSSI said.
RSSI said 32 companies exhibited at the annual event for the first time.
In 2011, RSSI will be joining forces with RSI (Railway Supply Institute), REMSA (Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association) and AREMA (American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-way Association) for the first-ever Railway Interchange
2011 in Minneapolis, Minn,. Sept. 18 - 21. The event will feature
hundreds of exhibits, both indoor and outdoor, and technical sessions with AREMA and CMA (Coordinated Mechanical Associations). For more information, visit www.railwayinterchange.org.
U.S. Class I railroad employment totaled 149,749 in mid-April, up 1.21% from March but down 2.93% from April 2009, according to a Surface Transportation Board count posted Wednesday on STB's website.
The biggest numerical increase in April was in the transportation (train and engine) category, where the number of operating crew members on the job increased 1.74% to 58,814.
The biggest percentage increase was in the maintenance of way and structures group, where employment rose 2.2% to 34,202.
The April Class I roster also showed 24,170 maintenance of equipment and stores workers on the job, up 0.48% from March; 13,155 professional and administrative, down 0.66; 8,935 executives, officials, and staff assistants, down 0.68%; and transportation (other than train and engine), 6,473, up 0.86%.
Bombardier Transportation said Wednesday it has signed a cooperation agreement with the Augsburg Transport Authority (Stadtwerke Augsburg Verkehrs GmbH) to “install the contactless and catenary-free BOMBARDIER PRIMOVE system for trams as apilot project in the city of Augsburg,” Germany.
The Primove system will be installed on a 0.8-kilometer(one-half mile) section of Line 3 to the Augsburg fairground. The pilot project intends to demonstrate the technical capability and electromagnetic compatibility Primove offers light rail vehicles in an urban environment, where overhead wires are deemed impractical or otherwise undesirable. Installation work will start this summer.
Bombardier says Primove involves cables laid beneath theground and connected to the power conditioning and supply network. They are only energized when fully covered by the vehicle, which ensures safe operation. A pick-up coil underneath the vehicle turns the magnetic field created by thecables in the ground into an electric current that feeds the vehicle traction system.
We are delighted to extend our long and successfulpartnership with the Augsburg Transport Authority to include this innovative development in electric mobility. The Primove catenary-free technology is now mature for installation into a demanding urban tram network. Over timecatenary-free operation will become a standard element of light rail systems and we are confident that Primove will be the clear choice for many cities inthe future", said Eran Gartner, president, Systems Division, Bombardier Transportation.
Josef Doppelbauer, chief technical officer, Bombardier Transportation, said, "By dispensing with the need for overhead catenary, the PRIMOVE system will open upnew opportunities for urban planners in the design of integrated transportation systems for cities.”
Norbert Walter, managing director of Stadtwerke Augsburg, said, "Our expectation for the Primove pilot project is to gain further insights into newdevelopments in energy management and energy savings in tramway operations. Wewill also cooperate with the Augsburg University of Applied Sciences for this. Public transport stands to benefit from this innovative project in the field of electric mobility."
Bombardier already has a contract to supply a fleet of 27 Flexity Outlook vehicles to Augsburg Transport Authority; delivery began in 2009 andwill continue through to the end of 2010.
The Chlorine Institute (CI) isn’t yielding any ground on a CI-sponsored Positive Train Control cost-benefit study purporting to show that contrary to railroad arguments, the government-mandated installation of PTC by 2015 will provide strong economic benefits to the rail industry.
If its findings are accepted by the Federal Railroad Administration, the study would seriously undercut the railroads’ position that the federal government should help pay the multibillion-dollar bill for installing the safety system. It could also relieve shippers of hazardous materials from responsibility for indirectly funding PTC through higher rates.
CI on Tuesday sent the FRA what it called the final report of the study, which it said confirms that a regulation implementing the mandate “vastly understates the technology’s benefits to the railroad industry and public.”
Based on initial findings of the study, the institute asked the FRA in March to reissue the rule with a new cost-benefit analysis. CI said Tuesday that while it “strongly supports PTC, the faulty cost-benefit analysis in the current rule fosters a situation that could allow railroads to impose on shippers of chlorine and other toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) chemicals an unfairly large share of the costs of applying PTC technology.”
The CI study was conducted by L. E. Peabody & Associates, Inc., Alexandria, Va.