On a visit Friday to Amtrak’s Beech Grove, Ind., shops, where $32 million in stimulus funding has created 108 jobs repairing passenger railcars, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reaffirmed the Obama Administration’s dedication to creating a new era of fast intercity passenger trains.
LaHood told the assembled workers:
“We don’t know where all the lines are going to go. We don’t know where all the money's going to come from. But the president and his vision and the vice president and his vision for the high speed rail in America is really the opportunity for you to continue to have good work here to make sure we have the equipment so we can implement this program for America.”
Carload traffic on U.S. railroads continued to show “solid signs of recovery” during the week ended March 27, reaching its highest level since November 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads.
U.S. railroads originated 293,114 carloads during the week, up 16.5% from the corresponding week in 2009, though down 11.6% from 2008. Intermodal traffic, at 210,914 trailers and containers, was up 12% from last year but down 5.3% from 2008.
Total volume for the latest week up to 31.7 billion ton-miles, up 17.4% from last year but down 9.2% from 2008.
Eighteen of 19 carload commodity groups posted gains from last year, led by metals, up 63%; waste and scrap, up 37.4%; and metallic ores, up 36.1%. Motor vehicles and equipment traffic was up 28.5%; grain, up 22.3%; coal, up 15.2%; and chemicals, up 14.1%. The only commodity showing a drop was pulp, paper, and allied products, down 11%.
Canadian railroads reported 75,378 carloads for the week, up 24.3% from last year, and 45,647 trailers or containers, up 10.3%. Mexican railroads originated 14,617 carloads, up 26.7% from last year, and 6,608 trailers or containers, up 34.3%.
UP’s No. 2010 Boy Scouts of America Locomotive “was created as a tribute to the organization’s centennial celebration,” said Robert W. Turner, Union Pacific senior vice president-Corporate Relations. “It honors Scouting’s 100-year impact on the nation and the many Scouting enthusiasts in Union Pacific’s work force and communities. Union Pacific and the Boy Scouts of America have played leadership roles in shaping America’s history. With UP No. 2010, we are proud to celebrate 100 years of Scouting, progress, and patriotism. No. 2010 will celebrate the BSA’s centennial as it hauls the freight that supports America across our 32,000-mile, 7,000-community network. Because it is one of the newest and most fuel-efficient locomotives, No. 2010 likely will carry service-sensitive freight such as automotive and intermodal.”
“We are deeply honored by the tribute Union Pacific has given to Scouting through the creation of this commemorative locomotive,” said Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America. “We also owe a great deal of gratitude to our UP employee Scouting alumni base, which has spearheaded the movement to create UP No. 2010. Their efforts mean that for years to come, the locomotive will serve as a reminder of the impact millions of Scouts have had on this country for 100 years.”
No. 2010 is decorated with the national Boy Scouts of America logo; the BSA’s 100th Anniversary logo; the words “100 Years o fScouting,” and ten emblems representing stages of Scouting plus an 11th emblemf or the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. UP has created only 14 commemorative locomotives in its nearly 150-year history.
Photos, from top:
UP No. 2010, a GE six-axle road unit, will celebrate the BSA’s centennial as it hauls freight across the railroad’s 32,000-mile,7,000-community network.
Boy Scout Peter Barber spoke to the crowd about earning the railroading merit badge earlier this year. Seated behind, from left, are Bob Turner, senior vice president-Corporate Relations, Union Pacific; Bob Mazzuca,chief scout executive-BSA; Tom Varnell, president and scout executive-BSA SamHouston Council, and John Gottschalk, national volunteer president-BSA. No tpictured is Judge Ed Emmett, Harris County, Tex.
Bob Turner, senior vice president-Corporate Relations, Union Pacific, presents gifts of appreciation to several UP employees who helped with the development and unveiling of UP No. 2010. From left are Wayne Huddleston, director-Records and Mail Management, Omaha, Neb.; Charles Fennen, manager-Network Planning and Operations, Omaha, Neb.; Stuart Schroeder, dispatcher, Spring, Tex.; and Brian McGavock, general superintendent-Transportation, Spring, Tex.
U.S. railroads reported 144 train accidents in January, down 26.9% from the 197 accidents recorded in January 2009, according to a preliminary report released March 31 by the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis.
Derailments declined 27.1% to 102, and collisions were down 82.4% to three. The number of yard accidents dropped 28.6% to 65.
Taking exposure to risk into account, the rail accident rate was down 23% in January from January 2009, and the yard accident rate dropped 20.7%.
There were 43 reported fatalities in January, an increase of 7.4% from January 2009. Reversing a long downward trend, trespasser fatalities increased 33% to 24. Continuing a trend, rail-highway crossing fatalities dropped 5.6% to 17. Two employee fatalities were recorded, compared to four in January a year ago.
Voters in St. Louis County (Mo.) going to the polls April 6 will address the status of Proposition A, levying a half-cent sales tax to support the region’s Metrolink light rail, Metrobus, and call-a-ride services.
Voters rejected a similar proposal in November 2008, and Metro Transit-St. Louis subsequently cut transit service in March 2009. Advocates of Proposition A say its passage will head off any additional service cuts.
Adella Jones, spokeswoman for citizens group Advance St. Louis, is optimistic on the latest measure’s passage due to the impact of the previous measure’s rejection on everyday service. "If you go back to the service reductions that were put in place … people began to understand the value of Metro," Jones said. "Now people see that it doesn't matter if you ride. Someone in this community who has no other [transportation] access does ride."
Supporters of Propostion A include local universities, preservation groups, tourist attractions, and many mayors and cities within St. Louis County, as well as Advance St. Louis and the Greater St. Louis Transit Alliance.
If the measure fails to pass, Jones said, Metro may have to halve its current service.
For a price of C$168 million (US$164 million), Canadian National has sold a section of track west of Toronto Union Station to Metrolinx, an Ontario government Crown Corporation responsible for delivering an integrated, multi-modaltransportation network in the Greater Toronto Area.
Metrolinx’s jurisdiction extends from the York and Durham regions through Toronto, the regions of Peel and Halton, and the city of Hamilton. GO Transit, the operating division of Metrolinx, provides regional rail and bus services in the GTA.
“The transaction will give Metrolinx ownership of a critical section of its busiest GO Transit corridor and one that links Union Stationand GO Transit’s Willowbrook rail equipment facility in southwest Toronto,” said CN in a statement Wednesday. “The transaction allows CN to preserve certain operating rights over the line segment, which will enable the company to maintain service for its freight customers.”
Denver’s Regional Transportation District and BNSF Wednesday signed an agreement, worth $144 million, allowing RTD to acquire existing railroad right-of-way and relocate BNSF facilities to allow expansion of the city’s FasTracks program. RTD’s Board of Directors approved the agreement on March 23.
RTD, in a statement, said the accord includes a Purchase and Sale Agreement for acquisition of property from Denver Union Station toapproximately 71st Avenue in Westminster, Colo.; a Relocation and Construction Agreement for relocation and construction of BNSF facilities required to make the acquired property available to RTD for use on the Eagle P3 and other commuter rail projects; and a Joint Corridor UseAgreement with the BNSF governing ongoing operations between the two entitiesin the shared corridors.
“It is great to celebrate yet another major step forward in the FasTracks program,” said RTD General Manager Phil Washington. “Our partnership with BNSF is a successful example of how a transit agency and a railroad entity can work together for the best interests of the whole region.”
“BNSF has a cooperative history of working with commuter rail agencies to provide access to our right-of-way for passenger service while also preserving our capacity to serve freight rail customers,” said BNSF Assistant Vice President of Passenger Operations DJ Mitchell. “We look forward to continuing to work with RTD in their efforts to bring commuter rail service to the Denver region.”
A group led by Vinci SA has won a $9.7 billion contract to build and operate 186 miles of high speed rail between the French cities of Tours and Bordeaux. The deal, expected to be signed during the second half of the year, also includes consortium partners Axa SA and Caisse des Depots et Consignations.
The five-year project is expected to commence construction in 2011, according to French National Railways (SNCF). The concession runs to 2060.
Local authorities will finance half of the public/private partnership, while the Vinci-led consortim and French railroad operator Reseau Ferre de France will finance the other half. “It’s one of the biggest PPPs in the world,” said Pierre- Denis Coux, head of the project at Reseau Ferre de France.