A drive to offer voters in Virginia Beach, Va., a referendum on light rail transit this November has fallen short, with only 1,083 signatures collected to get the measure on the ballot. At least 25,000 signatures would be required.
Wally Erb, a candidate for City Council, led the fight for the referendum, which he says would better reflect the city’s will on any LRT decision. Erb opposes light rail, and suggested he would continue to fight it. “My campaign issue is going to be, ‘No means no until we have a referendum and say yes,’” he said.
At present, the Virgina Beach City Council has commissioneda study to determine if the city should extend LRT across the Norfolk-Virginia Beach border, in essence adding to “The Tide” LRT project scheduled to begin operating in neighboring Norfolk next year. Virginia Beach voters turned down LRT as an option in 1999, leaving Norfolk to proceed on its own. With traffic congestion rising, however, the city has begun reconsidering its earlier opposition.
Some Virginia Beach council members believe a referendum is desirable, but only after the current study is completed. “Frankly, I didn't think there was any chance of [Erb] getting the signatures because there's not enough information yet for people to make an educated decision, so putting it on the ballot is premature,” said Councilman Jim Wood, a board member of Hampton Roads Transit.
“The Tide” will stretch 7.4 miles through Norfolk, roughly paralleling the Elizabeth River, and will open with 11 stations. Hampton Roads Transit, on its website, says the project is 86.5% complete. Nine Siemens Mobility S70 cars (pictured above left) will service the line.
The Caltrain Board of Directors Thursday scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 2 to receive comment on possible fare increases and service reductions. The service reductions under consideration include elimination of the Gilroy extension service, elimination of weekend service, and elimination of some early morning, midday, and late evening weekday trains.
Proposed fare increases include either a 25-cent increase to the base fare or a 25-cent increase to the zone fare, with corresponding changes to the Day Pass, Monthly Pass and 8-ride Ticket. The public hearing will be held at the September Caltrain Board meeting at 10 a.m. at 1250 San Carlos Ave. in San Carlos, Calif. The fare increase and services change recommendations will be presented to the board for adoption in October. Service changes and fare increases, if approved, would take effect next January.
Community meetings will be held in mid-August to give the public additional opportunity to review proposals, ask questions and provide comment. The time and location of the meetings, which will be held in each of the three counties that make up Caltrain’s service area, have yet to be determined.
A U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit, brought by Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, claiming that Metrolink violated train engineers' rights by installing cameras to monitor their activities.
The cameras were installed after the September 2008 Chatsworth, Calif., accident in which 25 people died and more than 100 passengers were injured when a Metrolink commuter train hit a Union Pacific freight train head-on.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which found that the Metrolink engineer had been text messaging and ran a red light just before the collision, called for all passenger rail systems to install video monitors.
The District Court judge ruled that the union failed to prove violations of federal regulations. A state court case is continuing.
“The cameras are critical to making sure there are no rule violations in the cab area,” said Metrolink Board Chairman Keith Millhouse, a lawyer, adding that he hoped the ruling ends the legal battle.
U.S. freight carload traffic for the week ending June 26, 2010 advanced 11.4% from the corresponding week in 2009, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. AAR categorized the week’s traffic as “steady” since the comparison with the corresponding week of 2008 shows traffic still down 13.2%.
U.S. intermodal traffic gained 20.5% during the week compared to a year ago, and was down just 1.1% compared to the 2008 period.
Seventeen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009, with metallic ores up 172.2%, metals and metal products up 75.4%, and motor vehicles and equipment up 55.2%. Four of the commodity groups—including farm products, metallic ores, and nonmetallic minerals—posted an increase over 2008 levels, AAR said.
Canadian freight carload traffic rose 18.1%, while intermodal gained 22.4% from the comparable week one year ago. Mexican freight carload traffic rose 20.2%, while intermodal jumped 61.7%.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 25 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads was up 10.4% from 2009’s first 25 weeks, while intermodal rose 12.9% compared with the first 25 weeks of 2009.
The Surface Transportation Board's Section of Environmental Analysis (SEA) released an Environmental Notice Thursday on the proposed joint use agreement by CSX Transportation and the Delaware & Hudson between Rouses Point Junction, N.Y., and Fresh Pond Junction, N.Y.
SEA said is distributing the notice “to certain agencies and communities, as well as all of the parties on the board's service list to encourage public review and comment on the conclusion of the applicants that the transaction would not have a significant effect on the human environment, and does not require further environmental or historic analysis ... After the close of the comment period, SEA will consider all timely comments, conduct its own independent review of all available environmental information, and then recommend to the Board whether there is a need for formal environmental review in this case.”
SEA is providing a 20-day period “for all potentially interested parties to submit any comments on potential environmental issues that they might have.”
Comments may be filed on the board's web site, www.stb.dot.gov, by clicking on the E-FILING link.
Registration is now open for the 2010 Railway Tie Association’s 92nd Annual Conference, set for Oct. 12-14 at the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel in Branson, Mo.
Speakers on the program agenda include: John Gray, senior vice president of Policy & Economics, Association of American Railroads; Richard Timmons, president of the American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association; Chuck Baker, executive director, National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association; and numerous speakers from the major Class I railroads.
Leisure activities include the RTA Golf Tournament October 12, a fly-fishing event, and RTA’s “first-ever trap shooting tournament.”
For more information, contact RTA by calling (770) 460-5553, or by email at email@example.com. Online registration is available at www.rta.org.
Global Railway Industries announced Wednesday that its lenders have agreed to further extend the company’s credit facilities.
On March 31, Global's lenders agreed to amend the terms of the credit facilities to provide an extension on the condition that the company complete, by June 30, either a sale of one or more of its subsidiaries or a debt or equity financing of not less than $5,000,000, including a minimum equity injection of $2,500,000.
On June 30, the company and the lenders entered into an amending agreement providing a further extension of existing credit facilities to Oct. 31.
The company said it continues to evaluate financing alternatives to enhance its liquidity and overall financial position, including a debt or equity financing and/or replacement credit facilities.
RailAmerica announced Wednesday that it has agreed to buy acquire Atlas Railroad Construction Co. and related assets for $21.5 million in cash, plus closing adjustments for working capital estimated to be approximately $2.5 million.
Atlas was formed in 1954 as an engineering, construction, maintenance, and repair company operating mainly in the Midwest and Northeast. Its principal customers are public transit agencies, short line and regional railroads, and industrial railroads.
RailAmerica President and CEO John Giles said: “We expect the next several years to see a dramatic increase in spending on railroad infrastructure driven by government stimulus programs and increased investments by North American railroads upgrading and improving their rail lines. Acquiring Atlas, a quality company with established relationships in the transit and freight rail sectors, positions Rail America to benefit directly from this spending.”
Giles said that during the next 12 months, Atlas will generate approximately $25 million in revenue, $3.5 million in operating income, and $2.1 million in depreciation and amortization. RailAmerica intends to use cash on hand to finance the purchase.
Owens Corning has named Union Pacific the only railroadrecipient of its 2009 Global Logistics Carrier Excellence award recipient. UPwas recognized only railroad to receive the award, was recognized forsuperior on-time performance.
“It is quite an honor to receive this recognition from OwensCorning,” said Eric Butler, Union Pacific vice president—IndustrialProducts. “We constantly look for ways to add value for our customers bylistening to their needs and providing the most efficient and effectivetransportation solutions.”
Owens Corning notes that “in addition to providingsuperior service, award-winning carriers also help Owens Corning achieve itswaste-free sustainability goal through involvement with the SmartWay™Transport Partnership and impressive safety record.” SmartWay™ isa partnership between freight industry sectors and the U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency (EPA) that establishes incentives for fuel efficiencyand reducing greenhouse gas emissions.