Breaking News

OLI offering rail transit safety education grants

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) announced March 14 that the application period is open for its Rail Transit Safety Education Grants. The grants offer $175,000 in funding for transit agencies, other government entities that provide transit service and state Operation Lifesaver programs to conduct rail transit safety education and public awareness initiatives.

LRT expansion under way in Ottawa, Edmonton

Ottawa (Ontario) City Council, in a landmark 19-3 vote, has approved Stage 2 of the city’s Confederation Line LRT project, as well as a crucial extension to the Trillium Diesel Multiple Unit operation. This represents the largest capital project in the National Capital’s history. However, Stage 1 of the Confederation Line continues to experience delays. Meanwhile, in Alberta Province, the Government of Canada, through its agency Infrastructure Canada, recently announced federal funding totaling more than C$1 billion for two Edmonton LRT projects.

Heavy weather impacting BNSF operations

BNSF is engaged in service recovery efforts in multiple areas across its network in the northern and central Plains following another major winter storm. Blizzard conditions, with wind gusts to near 70 mph in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota have caused significant train delays since March 14. With the temperature rising, BNSF is now confronting major flooding issues in the region, particularly in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, as multiple subdivisions are currently out of service due to track washouts.

Drago joins WSP

Sabrina Drago has joined WSP USA as Sacramento transportation office lead, the engineering and professional services consultancy company announced on March 15.

AAR: STB rulemakings need cost-benefit analyses

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) on March 14 petitioned the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to incorporate cost-benefit analysis into rulemaking proceedings. AAR urged that, “in the spirit of good government, such analysis should include the most current and reliable data possible, and that the Board should consider the cumulative impact of regulations when proposing and adopting new rules.”

ASLRRA to Congress: Make 45G permanent

On the heels of Tuesday’s House Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee hearing on Temporary Policy in the Internal Revenue Code, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association President Chuck Baker submitted comments to Congress to take action on tax-extender policies that include the 45G Short Line Tax Credit.

Opinion

“At Amtrak, It’s No Longer 1950”: An analysis

First, a salute to Railway Age Capitol Hill Contributing Editor Frank Wilner for finally obtaining an interview with a senior officer at Amtrak, Executive Vice President Stephen Gardner. From my perspective, this article offers interesting revelations; yet, it’s still like pulling a thread from a sweater to slowly unwind the backstory as to why Amtrak conducts itself in such a secluded, secretive style, operating in a bubble seemingly oblivious to expressed concerns.

Fuzzy math, politics and railcars

THE FINANCIAL EDGE, MARCH 2019 – On Feb. 19, the Alberta government announced that it had entered into transportation (and some logistics) contracts with CN and Canadian Pacific to begin to move Canadian oil sands crude from the Albertan province down to the Gulf of Mexico. The province intends to move 20,000 barrels per day (BPD) by rail beginning in July 2019, increasing to a total number of 120,000 BPD by midyear 2020.

At Amtrak, it’s no longer 1950

WATCHING WASHINGTON, MARCH 2019 – Amtrak seemingly operates in the shadow of a Bat Signal over Gotham—that specially modified searchlight displaying the emblem of a bat, and intended, when lighted, to summon superhero Batman. Rather than Batman, the Amtrak sentinel, with a passenger train emblem, summons self-appointed management surrogates—hopefully helpful railfans; well-intentioned but cash-strapped lawmakers from federal, state and local government; and, surely, the snoopy press corps.

UPDATED: In trying times, wise railroaders shouldn’t clam up

“HOW SAFE ARE AMERICA’S RAILROADS? Lesley Stahl reports on a recent string of crashes on U.S. railroads and the delay in implementing life-saving technology that could have prevented them.” Oh brother. I think you know what CBS 60 Minutes reported on March 3. It’s not pretty. But in my humble opinion, the rail industry can take most of the responsibility for what turned out to be a damaging report, because no one in the rail industry wanted to go on camera. More on that later. Here, after the fact unfortunately, is my attempt to shed light on some of the misconceptions and negative picture of our industry the 60 Minutes program perpetuated.