A $1.5 million fund to assist small businesses in St. Paul was announced Tuesday by the Metropolitan Council, in a move to “minimize any disruptive effects of building the Central Corridor light rail transit line.” The interest-free loan program aims to ameliorate negative impacts of LRT construction.
The fund, announced at a news conference by Metropolitan Council Chair Peter Bell, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, and Minneapolis Mayor R.T.Rybak, includes $1 million from Met Council and $500,000 from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. The fund was described as part of a “Ready for Rail” package of services to aid small business as LRT is built.
The loan program will be administered by the city of St. Paul. It was created following discussions with the Asian Economic Development Association and input from other business groups concerned about potential negative impacts small businesses might face during the construction of the Central Corridor.
“The Council and our project partners are doing everything we can to reduce the disruptive impacts during construction,” said Bell. “Through our Ready for Rail initiative, we want to help businesses prepare to survive construction and to thrive once it is completed in 2014.”
Pandrol USA LP said Wednesday it has been awarded a $10 million contract to supply captive fastenings for the concrete tie to wood tie changeout on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Old Colony Lines. Pandrol landed the contract through Montreal-based Stella-Jones Inc., which is supplying the pre-plated wood ties.
Delivery of the 375,000 cast plates with PANDROL FASTCLIP rail fastenings attached is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
MBTA’s Old Colony Lines include three regional rail branches running from Boston, and include the Middleborough/Lakeville Line, Plymouth/Kingston Line, and the Greenbush Line.
Bridgeport, N.J.-based Pandrol USA is a subsidiary of Gennevilliers, France-based Delachaux Group’s Railtech International Group.
Kansas City Southern de Mexico says it expects to reopen its Nuevo Laredo gateway and the mainline to Saltillo sometime this weekend with the completion of the Anahuac Bridge repairs. Service embargoes imposed July 3 as a result flooding caused by Hurricane Alex are expected to be lifted early next week.
“I have just completed my third inspection of the area and am pleased to report that very significant progress has been made,” said David L. Starling, Kansas City Southern Corp. president and chief operating officer, in a statement late Tuesday from Mexico.
KCSM’s Matamoros to Monterrey “F” line, a secondary route that was used to divert limited crossborder traffic, was closed temporarily on Friday as authorities in Reynosa prepared to open flood gates at the Falcon Dam where the water level was at 128% of capacity. As a result, the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande and Salado rivers overflowed and washed out track at two locations near Reynosa on Sunday afternoon.
KCSM said continues to monitor water levels in various areas around the “F” line.
Railroads are calling train crews back to work at a steady pace. Transportation (train and engine) employment reached 59,641 in June, up 7.59% from June 2009 and 0.86% higher than in May 2010.
Total Class I railroad employment climbed to 151,527 in June, 1.28% higher than in June 2009 and 0.41% above the May 2010 figures.
Maintenance of way and structures employment was 34,954 in June, down 1.21% from June 2009 and up 0.59% from May 2010. Maintenance of equipment and stores employees totaled 28,059 in June, down 1.96% from June 2009 and down 0.64% from May 2010.
The number of executives, officials, and staff assistants employed in June was 10.66% below the June 2009 figures and 0.03% below May 2010.
Professional and administrative employment rose slightly to 13,382, up 0.80% from June 2009 and up 0.62% from June 2010.
In addition to providing real-time tracking and tracing of rail equipment and shipments, Railinc’s RailSight™ CLM (Car Location Message) service now offers historical trace capabilities for multiyear analysis.
Railinc said in an announcement Tuesday that the service also now integrates with web services and SAP® supply chain software for “seamless connections to rail fleet and rail event data.”
Among RailSight users are equipment owners, shippers, third-party logistics companies, and transportation management software (TMS) serving the freight rail industry.
Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell has announced a public information meeting July 29, in Hartford, the state capital, to discuss environmental issues surrounding planned higher-speed rail (HrSR) proposed for Amtrak right-of-way linking New Haven and Hartford, Conn., and Springfield, Mass. Hartford’s Union Station will host the meeting.
This session will deal with a draft assessment of the project’s environmental impact as well as a more detailed discussion of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield segment of the plan to provide improved rail service (via Vermont) between New York City and Montreal.
“The plans for a high-speed rail line serving commuters and businesses throughout the central ‘spine’ of our state—and eventually connecting with the rest of New England and Canada—are moving full-speed ahead,” Rell said. “This project has tremendous economic development potential for Connecticut and will go a long way to ease congestion on heavily traveled Interstate 91. We want the public to be up-to-date on each step of ou rprogress, which is why these meetings are so important.”
Rell said transportation officials from Vermont and Massachusetts would be present, joining Connecticut Department of Transportation representatives.
The project has been granted $40 million in federal stimulus funds, expected to expand double-tracking along the route. Connecticut has designated $26 million in state bond funds as its share of the double-tracking project; it also is expected to apply for additional money in the next round offederal HSR funding.
Florida officials say they will not seek funding to link Tampa, Fla.’s international airport with the Tampa-to-Orlando high speed rail line, now under preliminary construction. Downtown Tampa will remain the western termination point, at least for now.
According to Nazih Haddad, chief operating officer of Florida Rail Enterprise at Florida’s Department of Transportation, the state will apply next month for $1 billion in additional federal funds, but the application will not include an airport link. “It would take three more years to plan an extension,” said Haddad. Florida received $1.25 billion in federal funding in January for the HSR project, estimated to cost $2.7 billion for the initial leg. An extension from Orlando to Miami is in the planning phase.
Work began Monday along the Interstate 4 median corridor in preparation for laying track, which was defined as “geotechnical exploration.”
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio believes light rail, not HSR, would be a better fit for any airport link with downtown Tampa, saying LRT could serve any HSR station downtown while also better serving local transport needs.
The warmly debated proposal of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway to abandon 233 miles of line in Maine’s Aroostook and Penobscot counties reached another milestone Monday with the release of the Final Environmental Assessment prepared by the Surface Transportation Board's Section of Environmental Analysis. These were its major findings:
* “The proposed discontinuance of service ... would notsignificantly affect the quality of the human or natural environment if the board imposes recommended mitigation measures.”
* “When considering the average size of the shipmentsof all shippers on the rail segments proposed for abandonment, the majority of freight (more than 90%) transported by these shippers already moves by truck. Although some shippers have questioned that conclusion, statewide data shows that freight rail in Maine carries approximately 10% of total tonnage in the state ... This statistic does not necessarily reflect the situation of individual shippers ... But this does not mean that truck transportation is not—or could not be—available to transport the vast majority of shipments at issue in this case.”
* "The increased truck traffic for the worst case scenario ... would have minimal impact on overall highway safety in the region.”
Proposed mitigation measures are designed to minimize impacts to threatened and endangered species and other resources.
The STB board will make its final decision based on the Environmental Assessment plus testimony received at a public hearing on July 9.
Los Angeles Metro announced that its rail ridership in June was up 7.5% over June 2009 with 326,663 average weekday boardings.
The Gold Line recorded 37,270 average weekday boardings in June vs. 24,219 in June 2009, due mainly to the opening of the Eastside Extension between Union Station and East Los Angeles.
Metro posted an 0.2% gain in bus ridership in June with 1,156,866 average weekday boardings.
Wabtec has delivered an MP14B model ultra-low emission, gen-set switcher to GATX’s railcar repair facility in Colton, Calif. The 1,400-hp locomotive was manufactured in Boise, Idaho by Wabtec subsidiary MotivePower, Inc.
“It is a high priority for GATX to be an industry leader in the areas of safety, health and environmental responsibility, and especially to be a good neighbor in the communities in which we operate,” said Jim Earl, GATX’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “The addition of this clean, efficient locomotive is an excellent example of our strong commitment to these goals.”
GATX’s new switcher is expected to reduce emissions of NOx by at least 80% and particulate matter by at least 70%, while providing fuel savings of up to 35%.