The Metropolitan Railway Club of New York has announcedapplications are available for the Richard J. Collins Memorial TuitionScholarship. “Dependents of club members are eligible to apply for this tuitionscholarship if the club member has been in good standing for the last two yearsas of April 1, 2009,” the club said in a statement.
Applications must be submitted with a postmark no later thanMay 1, 2009, addressed to Metropolitan Railway Club of New York, c/o Mr. JohnHyland, 400 West 31st Street, New York, N.Y. 10001. Applicantsselected by the club in June will receive a minimum $500 award, to be availableprior to the fall semester. The club notes that applicants are not eligible to receivethe scholarship in consecutive years.
For more information, contact the club at www.metrailclubny.com/index.html.
Robert A. Nelson, 89, a teacher and transportation authority who pushed for high speed rail in the Northeast Corridor and was known as "the father of the Metroliner," has died following complicationsresulting from Alzheimer's disease.
Nelson pursued rail as a high speed option for the Northeast Corridor during the 1960s, despite a recommendation from an MIT study advocating Boston-to-Washington service using jet-propelled trains in vacuum tubes. In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson created the Office of High Speed Ground Transportation, which Dr. Nelson headed for four years.
Nelson pushed the Pennsylvania Railroad, owner of the NEC at that time, to cooperate in a demonstration project using lightweight passenger cars manufactured by the Budd Co. Metroliner trains made their debut on the NEC in 1968, and the tube-shaped stainless steel coach outlines were replicated for successor Amtrak’s first railcar order, Amfleet I cars, most of which still are in service today. Amtrak’s current high-speed Acela service eventually supplanted Metroliner service.
After leaving government service in 1969, Nelson worked as a transportation consultant and volunteered his expertise on Northern Virginia transportation issues.
In a first for “The Old Dominion State,” Virginia will provide $25.2 million in state funding to run two round-trip Amtrak trains serving Washington, D.C., over a three-year period. One train would link the nation’s capital with Lynchburg, Va., adding a second frequency over Norfolk Southern right-of-way used by Amtrak's Crescent. A second round trip would add more Amtrak service between Richmond and Washington, over right-of-way owned by CSX Transportation.
Current plans call for Lynchburg service to begin Oct. 1, with the added Richmond trains beginning operations on Dec. 15.
Amtrak’s Board of Directors is expected to approve the move at its next meeting in April. At a meeting March 12 in Washington with members of the Railway Supply Institute, Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman noted that Richmond was, in some ways, becoming “the true southern terminus” of the Northeast Corridor.
Virginia will pay Amtrak $17.2 million to operate the tworound-trip trains, while $8 million will be used to rehabilitate cars and locomotives for the new service. Each train will consist of up to eight passenger coaches, a business-class coach, and a café car.
State officials anticipate ridership of 42,000 for the added Richmond frequency, and 51,000 per year on the Lynchburg service. Both trains will depart from their respective Virginia cities bound for Washington during the morning, returning from Washington in the evening, as part of Amtrak’s Northeast Regional service reaching as far north as Boston on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.
Though Amtrak provides eight trains each way per day between Richmond and Washington, early-morning northbound service from Richmond to Washington is covered only by the Silver Meteor, a long-distance train originating in Florida, departing at 5:09 a.m. when on schedule. The next train northbound departs at 12:37 p.m. The proposed new morning train from Richmond, originating and departing from Staples Mill Station at 7:00 a.m., likely could provide a more punctual alternative for potential "short-distance" Amtrak customers, especially business and day-trip riders traveling to and from Washington.
Virginia is the 14th state to assist Amtrak intercity passenger in some fashion. Amtrak expects the new services to generatesignificance “induced demand”: Virginia will get revenue credit for any ticket purchased for the new services, even if the purchase occurs outside of Virginia from any portion of the NEC.
Amtrak employees will receive 100% of their back pay on May 1, according to Amtrak President Joseph Boardman, who informed UTU International President Mike Futhey of the move Thursday. Boardman said the action has the full support of Amtrak’s Board of Directors; the funds come from Amtrak’s appropriations budget.
The current contract covering Amtrak agreement employees provides for a wage-increase and lump sum retroactive payment package totaling $573 million. Amtrak, citing budget constraints, is paying out the sum over a two-year period. Amtrak so far has funded some $428 million of the $573 million contract settlement, leaving the balance of $145 million to be paid May 1.
Amtrak has designated May 1 as "Employee Appreciation Day."
Claude S. Brinegar, an oil industry executive who served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and became a persuasive advocate of federal funding of mass transit, died in Palo Alto, Calif., on March 13.
President Nixon named Brinegar to succeed John A. Volpe as DOT Secretary in December 1972. Volpe, a construction company executive who was known as "the concrete builder" when he came to DOT, surprised his critics when he turned into an ardent backer of mass transit. Brinegar carried on his work and helped Nixon push through the landmark Federal Aid Highway Act of 1973, which allowed the Highway Trust Fund for the first time to be used for public transit.
Brinegar is also remembered for his role in forming Conrail out of several bankrupt Northeast railroads, and for pushing legislation creating a nationwide 55-mph speed limit.
U.S. freight traffic for the week ended March 14 fell 15% from the comparable week a year ago, the Association of American Railroads reported, though traffic was up 1.5% from the previous week. Loadings fell 14.2% in the West and 16.1% in the East. U.S. intermodal volume dropped an even steeper 18.3%. Eighteen of AAR’s 19 carload freight commodity groups declined from 2008 levels.
Total volume was estimated at 29.6 billion ton-miles, down 14.0% from the comparable week in 2008.
Canadian freight traffic fell 21.4% for the week compared with year-ago levels, while intermodal declined 11.3%. Mexico’s two major railroads, however, reported freight traffic rose 15.2% for the week compared with a year ago, while intermodal declined a relatively modest 4.3%.
For the first 10 weeks of 2009, U.S. freight traffic fell15.7% from the comparable 2008 period; Canadian freight fell 18.7%, and Mexican freight declined 10.0%. U.S. intermodal declined 15.8%, Canadian intermodal fell 11.6%, and Mexican intermodal dropped 19.9%, for the 10-week period compared with 2008.
Combined North American rail volume for the first 10 weeks of 2009 on 14 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 3,464,158 carloads, down 16.1% from 2008, while intermodal fell 15.2%.
The Indiana Rail Road Co. says it has signed an agreement with Peabody Energy to construct a 5.2-mile rail spur to Peabody’s new Bear Run Mine in Sullivan County, Ind., which it says is the largest surface coal mine in the eastern U.S.
Construction will proceed once approval is granted by the Surface Transportation Board. Rail officials expect to have the new line completed by early 2010. Peabody already has announced its plan to invest up to $500 million to develop the coal site, and expects to produce 8 million tons of coal annually after 2010.
Indiana Rail Road initially will invest $17 million, with at least $5 million in additional improvements planned thereafter to accommodate increased traffic volume generated by the facility.
The regional railroad, based in Indianapolis, operates a 500-mile route system based primarily in Indiana and Illinois, with terminals in Chicago, Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Ind., and Louisville, Ky.
The St. Paul, Minn., City Council Wednesday approved the proposed $914 million, 11-mile Central Corridor light rail line linking downtown St. Paul with Minneapolis and the existing Hiawatha Line LRT. The approval makes it more likely that the project will remain on schedule and also receive federal funding.