Breaking News

Branson buys into Brightline

Florida’s Brightline private higher-speed passenger rail service has a new investor, Virgin Group, headed by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson. Virgin Group will make a minority investment in Brightline, which will be managed and operated by Brightline’s executive team and affiliates of Brightline parent Fortress Investment Group. Brightline will rename itself Virgin Trains USA in November and transition to Virgin Trains USA branding in 2019, “leveraging the Virgin brand and marketing expertise for existing and future developments.”

Moldova taps GE for new power

Moldovan Railways (CFM) has ordered 12 GE Transportation Evolution Series TE33AC locomotives, along with parts, training and services. This is the first locomotive order in Moldova for GE Transportation, as the country seeks to upgrade its existing fleet to haul freight trains that primarily carry grain and ore, as well as passenger trains.

More delays for ION LRT

The Kitchener-Waterloo ION light rail system in western Ontario Province, Canada, will miss its most recent revenue service startup date in December. The opening, which was originally scheduled for December 2017 and then postponed until April 2018, has once again been pushed back until at least spring 2019, due to LRV-related delays. No specific date has been scheduled.

CSX taps Trainyard Tech for Selkirk Yard upgrades

CSX Transportation has contracted with Trainyard Tech, LLC for a CLASSMASTER™ hump yard process control system and ROUTEMASTER™ receiving yard NX system at Selkirk Yard (former New York Central/Penn Central/Conrail), near Albany, N.Y. “This will bring Selkirk Yard up to 2018 standards and beyond for increased throughput, safety and user-friendly control and reporting,” Trainyard Tech said.

Opinion

A failure of public enterprise?

From the November 2018 issue of Railway Age: Were Amtrak a business school case study, it would be advertised as “The Failure of Public Enterprise”—users receiving services for which they don’t pay the full cost; taxpayers subsidizing the difference; a failure to follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), as if Bernie Madoff were Amtrak’s chief accountant, and conflict of interest collaboration with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to impede entry by more efficient private-sector competitors.

Who will protect the French Fries?

Financial Edge, November 2018: In mid-September, CSX filed a report to the FRA stating that its June 2018 derailment near Princeton, Ind., (about 150 miles south of Indianapolis) was caused by buckled track. The derailment included 23 freight cars and caused the evacuation of nearby homes (within a radius of about one mile from the crash site) as a precautionary measure. Some of the derailed cars were carrying liquid petroleum gas (LPG or NGLs) and liquid propane (LP). 60,000 gallons of liquid NGLs were released. One tank railcar filled with leaking propane was on fire.

Amtrak’s Anderson not a random choice

Watching Washington, November 2018: When a 1978 labor dispute hobbled Northwest Airlines, North Dakota Gov. Arthur A. Link ventured to Minneapolis with a request of Chief Executive Donald Nyrop. Would Northwest—the lone east-west airline serving the state in the pre-deregulation era—withdraw an objection to competitor North Central temporarily providing the service?

A failure to communicate—again

I began using a CPAP machine in 2008—four years before I retired from my career as a locomotive engineer—and I continue to do so religiously. I didn’t have to be badgered or threatened. It wasn’t made a condition of my continued employment. My motive was and remains strictly self serving: I want to live.