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Belleville, Ontario, will receive a new VIA Rail station to help make it "one of the core stops" on VIA Rail’s Montreal-Toronto route, the passenger carrier’s busiest line, according to Member of Parliament Daryl Kramp, who represents the city in Ottawa.

Kramp early this week announced an investment of approximately C$7 million (US$6.3 million) in the new train station as well as other improvements at a press conference. Plans include a new station built adjacent to the existing structure and improvements to the tracks such as two new mainline tracks and a second platform.

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The new station is still in the design process and improvements to the rail line mean both visitors to the city and residents who use VIA will have a new access point to train services, Kramp said.

"Investing in the VIA station here not only creates jobs but it'll also allow VIA to better invest in their customers," Kramp said. "Today we're mixing both the long-term vision for VIA along with the necessary stimulus input for going forward."

Pierre Santoni, VIA Rail senior director for national sales, said the city's existing station -- opened in 1856 -- will be preserved once the new station opens in late 2010 or early 2011. He said VIA recognizes the historic significance of the structure, though it can longer meet the needs of passengers and VIA employees.

Belleville, roughly 125 miles east of Toronto on the CN main line (Kingston Subdivision) to Montreal, already is a significant source of ridership for VIA, reports Railway Age Contributing Editor Greg Gormick. 

--> Belleville, Ontario, will receive a new VIA Rail station to help make it "one of the core stops" on VIA Rail’s Montreal-Toronto route, the passenger carrier’s busiest line, according to Member of Parliament Daryl Kramp, who represents th ...

Pittsburgh-based L.B. Foster Co. has been awarded a $3.9 million contract for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Fern Rock Yard Track Renewal Project. SEPTA is proceeding with the project through the use of federal stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

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The company says New York-based contractor Railworks Track Systems, Inc. is replacing track and contact rail installations dating from 1928 in Fern Rock Yard, using a “wide range of transit products sourced from L.B. Foster.” L.B. Foster has begun delivery of new rail, trackwork turnouts, contact rail, coverboards, insulator assemblies, and bonded insulated joints to SEPTA yards in Philadelphia.

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"L.B. Foster relied on the industry-leading technical support and quality products of our Transit and Allegheny Rail Products team to meet the product requirements of this important project," says Rick Kilpatrick, L.B. Foster's Northeast District manager within the Rail Products Group.

Adds Hakan Eksi, general manager at L.B. Foster's Suwanee, Ga., transit manufacturing and research facilities, "Our transit product line has the depth to fulfill this wide ranging contract with a single source package." 

--> Pittsburgh-based L.B. Foster Co. has been awarded a $3.9 million contract for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Fern Rock Yard Track Renewal Project. SEPTA is proceeding with the project through the use of federal stimulus funding ...

Trade using surface transportation between the U.S. and its NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico was down 31.5% in June 2009 from June 2008, the sixth straight month with a year-to-year decline greater than 27%, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The value of U. S. rail imports dropped 47.2% to $4.3 billion. Exports declined 40.1% to $2.7 billion.

Motor carrier imports dropped 26.8% to $17.9 billion, with exports down 23.9% to $18.9 billion.

Pipeline imports declined 50.5% to $3.7 billion, while exports dropped 50.6% to $219 million.

U.S.–Canada surface transportation trade totaled $31.0 billion in June, down 36.6% compared to June 2008.

U.S.–Mexico surface transportation trade totaled $19.7 billion, down 21.8%.

 

--> Trade using surface transportation between the U.S. and its NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico was down 31.5% in June 2009 from June 2008, the sixth straight month with a year-to-year decline greater than 27%, according to the Bureau of Transport ...

Seminole Electric Cooperative, Inc. announced that it filed evidence Monday with the Surface Transportation Board "demonstrating that since Jan. 1, 2009, CSX Transportation, Inc. has been severely overcharging Seminole, its owner-member cooperatives, and their members' consumers for coal transportation service." CSXT hauls coal from the Illinois Basin and Appalachia to Seminole generating station near Palatka, Fla.

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Seminole initiated a proceeding under the STB's Coal Rate Guidelines, which began in October 2008, challenging rates quoted to meet Seminole's coal fuel requirements. The rates went into effect over Seminole's objection on Jan. 1.

The cooperative said its evidence "shows that the CSXT rates from the Illinois Basin and Appalachia mines are 68% to 101% higher than the maximum levels under the STB`s guidelines. The CSXT rates on certain shipments from Charleston, S.C., are more than 24% higher than the lawful maximum."

jay-rockefeller.jpgSeminole's filing comes at a time when railroads are under attack for what some customers view as monopolistic pricing. In a press statement Monday, Seminole CEO Tim Woodbury said the case "highlights why we need effective regulatory relief from the STB." A legislator familiar with Appalachian coal interests--West Virginia Democratic Senator John D. Rockefeller III (pictured at right)--is chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where legislation addressing the concerns of rail customers is under discussion.

 

--> Seminole Electric Cooperative, Inc. announced that it filed evidence Monday with the Surface Transportation Board "demonstrating that since Jan. 1, 2009, CSX Transportation, Inc. has been severely overcharging Seminole, its owner-member co ...

Caltrain announced Tuesday it has completed a project to reduce the volume of its horns to the previous level.  A regulator valve that allows the volume to be precisely set has been installed on all of Caltrain’s operating locomotives and cab cars.

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The agency said residents close to Caltrain service may continue to notice the horns for two reasons: because the horns are positioned higher on the trains, the sound is dispersed over a wider area; and because engineers are now able to perform the required sequential blast. Caltrain moved the horns from underneath the trains to the top of the trains when it was discovered that the horns could not produce the sequential blasts required by federal law.

Caltrain also said it is working with an independent engineering firm to determine if the horns can be mounted under the train and still meet federal regulations.  In order to accomplish this, a new air supply system must be designed, tested and, assuming that the testing is successful, installed on all of Caltrain’s equipment.  Caltrain estimates it will take about four weeks for work on a prototype to be completed. 
 
“We appreciate the public’s patience as we continue to work toward a long-term solution,” said Caltrain Deputy CEO Chuck Harvey in a statement. 
 
Caltrain operates through 55 crossings (including 11 stations with pedestrian crossings) between San Francisco and San Jose.    --> Caltrain announced Tuesday it has completed a project to reduce the volume of its horns to the previous level.  A regulator valve that allows the volume to be precisely set has been installed on all of Caltrain’s operating locomotives and cab cars. ...

Bolingbrook, Ill.-based Wi-Tronix, LLC marked its five-year anniversary August 23 as a supplier of mobile asset monitoring technology for the rail industry.

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The company was founded in 2004 by Larry Jordan and Michael Heilmann, adding two more principals in 2005: Lisa Matta, vice president of Product Development, and Duane Hong, vice president of Customer Service.

Wi-Tronix currently employs more than 40 full-time employees, servicing rail, maritime, and mining operations requiring the monitoring of high-value mobile assets. 

 

--> Bolingbrook, Ill.-based Wi-Tronix, LLC marked its five-year anniversary August 23 as a supplier of mobile asset monitoring technology for the rail industry. ...
Bombardier Transportation announced that it will supply 99 trams to operating company Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) under a contract valued at  $431 million. ...

The Northstar Commuter Rail line will begin revenue service Monday, Nov. 16, with five inbound trips each weekday linking Big Lake, Minn., with downtown Minneapolis, and five outbound trips from downtown Minneapolis each evening. Interim stops include Fridley, Coon Rapids, Anoka, and Elk River.

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The final schedule for the service has not been finalized, but the Metropolitan Council says trains will be timed to arrive in time for commuters to arrive at work as early at 6:30 a.m. Return trips are expected every half-hour beginning at 3:45 p.m.

Metropolitan Council Chairman Peter Bell said in a statement that the rail line, Minnesota’s first commuter rail service, is one of many public transit improvement projects in the Twin Cities metro area.

Bell cited the extension of the Hiawatha light rail transit service in Minneapolis to link with Northstar service at the Downtown Minneapolis Ballpark Station, and plans to commence construction on the Central Corridor LRT line, linking downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul, beginning next year.

--> The Northstar Commuter Rail line will begin revenue service Monday, Nov. 16, with five inbound trips each weekday linking Big Lake, Minn., with downtown Minneapolis, and five outbound trips from downtown Minneapolis each evening. Interim stops include Fridley ...

Portland, Ore.’s seeming magic touch with rail transit startups is missing from its launch six months ago of WES Commuter rail—at least so far. Average daily ridership is 1,200, just half of the line's projected first-year target, though observers point out that the line still has six months to reach that estimated ridership level.

The service has received good reviews from patrons, but some riders note the commuter schedule–with no trains running between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.–limits options for many people, including some who ride when they can.

Washington County Chairman Tom Brian, who helped spearhead the project in its decade of development, said he's heard people ask for midday service. "One of the things people are concerned about is if they go to work, if they're working part time, or if one of the kids has a problem at school, how do they get home?" Brian said.

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The struggling economy also is blamed for lagging ridership. A WES conductor said he lost 60 riders from one company's layoffs earlier this year. "This service is targeted to commuters, and with record high unemployment, obviously the ridership is lower than we had anticipated and growing more slowly," said TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch. "As the economy begins to rebound, we will restart our outreach efforts."

--> Portland, Ore.’s seeming magic touch with rail transit startups is missing from its launch six months ago of WES Commuter rail—at least so far. Average daily ridership is 1,200, just half of the line's projected first-year target, though observers ...

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., officials, racing to comply with a September 15 deadline set by the U.S. Department of Transportation, are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a motion to seek federal stimulus funding for the city’s $124.3 million, 2.7-mile light rail project.

--> Fort Lauderdale, Fla., officials, racing to comply with a September 15 deadline set by the U.S. Department of Transportation, are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a motion to seek federal stimulus funding for the city’s $124.3 million, 2.7-m ...

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