Amtrak called on the Federal Railroad Administration Monday to be “bold and unambiguous” in recognizing that “Amtrak's existing national intercity passenger rail system should be recognized in the NRP [National Rail Plan] as the foundation for the development of an expanded network of high speed and conventional rail services spanning key corridors across the United States.”
Amtrak Vice President, Policy and Development Stephen Gardner said, “Amtrak’s current network of high speed services in the Northeast Corridor, short-distance corridor services run in partnership with the states, and overnight long-distance services spanning the nation, is a solid base on which to build a truly 21st century national intercity passenger rail system.
"The NRP should lay out a clear national vision for this network and contain strategies for improving and expanding intercity passenger rail services where such service can advance key national priorities like congestion relief, transportation safety, energy efficiency, environmental protection, and sustainable development,” said Gardner.
In written comments to the FRA, Amtrak said that because it is a company chartered by the federal government, and overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the final NRP should address the department’s views on Amtrak, its future, and its role in delivering the type of modern and efficient intercity passenger rail service envisioned in the preliminary NRP.
Amtrak said it is recommending that “a specific target be set to connect all pairs of metropolitan areas with populations of one million or more, and separated by less than 600 miles, with frequent, reliable, high speed intercity passenger rail service. In addition, matching intercity rail development plans to appropriate markets must be a key aspect of the NRP, [since] in a nation as big as the United States, not all travel markets will require the same levels of service. In some cases, high speed, very frequent rail service may be necessary to create a viable alternative to existing travel options, while conventional intercity service may be more appropriate for other corridors where the market may be smaller.”
AECOM announced Monday that it has won a $4.1 million assignment from GO-Metrolinx to provide detailed design, as well as serve as the engineer-of-record, for the Strachan Grade Separation project in Toronto.
Part of the Georgetown Rail Corridor, the planned infrastructure, which meet existing and future demands for Metrolinx rail service between downtown Toronto and Georgetown, as well as open the way for a new air-rail service between Union Station and Lester Pearson International Airport. The corridor includes the GO-owned Weston and Canadian Pacific Galt subdivisions, and is also used by CN and VIA Rail.
“The Strachan Avenue Grade Separation is the cornerstone project of GO-Metrolinx’s ambitious Georgetown South expansion program, and is the largest civil engineering contract they have ever awarded,” said Bill Hjelholt, AECOM’s North America director of freight rail.
The project will add five new tracks to the existing three-track corridor, including more than 20 switches to integrate traffic into the Union Station rail corridor.
Amtrak says it will award a contract in July to beginremoval of two former passengers stations in Rensselaer, N.Y., just east of thestate capital, Albany, to allow track capacity improvements on the EmpireCorridor.
The removal of the two stations will allow a fourth track toserve the current Albany/Rensselaer station, easing (though not eliminating)train constraints hindering Empire Corridor service, particularly betweenAlbany and Schenectady, N.Y.
Amtrak and the state of New York also seek to add a secondtrack between Albany and Schenectady, a proposal that has been floated for atleast two decades. New York hopes to fund the project by tapping $151 million in federal funds provided in late 2009 by the Federal Railroad Administration to advance high speed rail (HSR) and higher-speed rail (HrSR) throughout the U.S.
Thanks to accelerated work by contractor Bombardier, the 12.5-mile Phase One line of South Africa’s new Gautrain rail system will open for revenue service Tuesday, in time to help handle crowds pouring into Johannesburg for the beginning this week of the FIFA Soccer World Cup games, the first ever held on the African continent.
At a pre-opening official launch ceremony in Johannesburg Saturday, VIP guests traveled on a Bombardier Electrostar train between Marlboro Station and OR Tambo International Airport Station.
The opening of Phase One will have a fleet of five Electrostar trains ready to provide passenger services between the airport and the hotels, shopping, and commercial hub of Sandton, including the intermediate stations at Marlboro and Rhodesfield.
Upon completion of Phase Two, the Gautrain project will be a self-contained system with 50 miles of dual track and 10 stations, connecting South Africa’s economic center of Johannesburg to Pretoria, the nation’s capital, and to OR Tambo International Airport.
Bombardier, a member of the Bombela Concession Co., was awarded a contract by the Gauteng Provincial Government of South Africa in September 2006 to deliver an integrated rail system, including a fleet of 96 vehicles. Bombardier Transportation’s facility in Derby, U. K., supplied 81 of the 96 vehicles as “flat packs” for final assembly in South Africa, with only the first 15 vehicles fully assembled in Derby.
Bombardier is also supplying its CITYFLO 250 train contro ltechnology as well as the track work, power supply and distribution systems, communications systems, automatic fare collection, project management, systems engineering and integration, and testing and commissioning. Bombardier will be involved in maintaining the system during the 15-year operating period following construction.
Norfolk Southern and GE Transportation Monday formally announced GE RailEdge Movement Planner, dubbed “a technology that could change the rail industry by increasing the average network speed of trains by 10%-to-20% or two-to-four miles-per-hour.” The two noted, “One mile per hour in velocity improvement has the potential to save approximately $200 million in capital and expense annually.”
The movement planner is a component of UTC (Unified Traffic Control), the new, distributed dispatching system that GE is supplying to NS. NS is gradually rolling out UTC on several divisions, including former Conrail territory.
RailEdge Movement Planner is designed not just to improve railroad capacity and reliability but also to reduce transportation costs. By integrating railroad logistics with traffic control systems, the technology projects expected track usage, based on train schedules, and then produces an optimized plan to get trains moving faster and more efficiently. By maximizing existing railroad resources, RailEdge also improves railroad crew management availability, the companies said.
“RailEdge optimizes the railroad resources that are already in place —something that only technology can truly help us achieve—by enabling railroads to move more freight faster on their existing networks. This technology increases the capacity of railways worldwide, without laying a single new track,” said GE Transportation President and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli. “A two-to-four miles-per-hour increase might not sound like a lot but in freight rail it is a big leap forward.”
NS pioneered the implementation of RailEdge Movement Planner on a 200-mile section of its railroad in Georgia, and said it now is expanding the technology’s use to its entire 22-state rail network through 2012.
“With railroads, it’s about scale,” said NS CEO Wick Moorman.“GE’s RailEdge supports incremental routing and speed improvements down to the individual train level. That will add up to sizeable efficiency gains on a 2,500-train per day, 21,000-route mile system like ours. When we make the best use of our existing transportation infrastructure, that’s a competitive advantage for our customers and for the country.”