Breaking News

STB to UP: Keep us informed

Union Pacific’s plan to implement Precision Scheduled Railroading caught the attention of the Surface Transportation Board, which on Sept. 20 sent a letter signed by Chairman Ann Begeman and Vice Chairman Deb Miller to UP chief executive Lance Fritz requesting that the railroad’s senior management engage in weekly calls with the Board’s Rail Customer and Public Assistance office during the implementation process. The purpose of the calls is “to keep the agency fully informed of UP’s operating changes and impacts to customers and others.”

Fuhrmann joins HDR in Minneapolis

Mark Fuhrmann, a 25-year veteran of Minneapolis’ Metropolitan Council, has joined HDR as a senior project manager based in the Minneapolis engineering office, with responsibility for projects in the Minnesota and Wisconsin region. His first assignment is serving as program manager for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District West Lake and Double Track projects.

Canada revises tank car phase-outs

Transport Canada on Sept. 19 issued Protective Direction 39, which accelerates phase-out of non-jacketed (no thermal layer of protection) CPC-1232 tank cars for crude oil service as of Nov. 1, 2018, 17 months earlier than originally mandated. In addition, non-jacketed CPC-1232 and older DOT-111 tank cars will be prohibited from transporting condensates as of Jan. 1, 2019, more than six years ahead of schedule.

Railroads go nine for ten

In reporting U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Sept. 15, 2018, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) noted that nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. Among them were petroleum and petroleum products, up 4,253 carloads to 13,335; chemicals, up 2,153 carloads to 32,650; and farm products excluding grain, and food, up 1,986 carloads to 16,583. Coal was the only commodity group that posted a decrease, down 3,457 carloads to 85,562.

Opinion

Res Ipsa Loquitur (The Matter Speaks for Itself)

Perhaps former Congressman John Mica had a point, after all, to claim that Amtrak operates like a relic of the Soviet Kremlin? That, and knowing we have the best politicians money can buy, tells a clear story: Beyond the history of outrageous corporate failures due to illegal manipulation of their financial data, like Enron, is their any other example of a company operating in such an egregious manner as Amtrak that defies Congress, lies to states, and spits in the face of the public interest, all the while scooping up even more taxpayer funding?

Why Ian Jefferies?

News item: Ian Jefferies, 42, currently Senior vice President for Government Affairs at the Association of American Railroads (AAR), will succeed Ed Hamberger as President and CEO on Jan. 1, 2019. Most notably, Jefferies will serve as the railroad industry’s chief congressional lobbyist and spokesperson.

The folly of hearings and fines

Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono, writing about the most recent congressional hearing on Positive Train Control, as well as attempts by some Members of Congress to arm-twist the Federal Railroad Administration on granting exemptions, opined, “I’ve said it before many times, but it’s always worth repeating: Politics should not be involved in safety. Why engage in politics at this stage of the game? What is the agenda here? Who or what is behind this?”

PTC Political Circus, Act (fill in the blank)

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Railroad Subcommittee has scheduled yet another pointless, time-consuming “status review” hearing on PTC. The people actually doing the implementation work—railroads, suppliers, consultants, FRA—get to spend another day getting peppered with pointless questions from clueless politicians who obviously don’t bother reading reports or doing basic research, and delight in wasting valuable people’s valuable time to prop up their huge egos and give the appearance of actually doing something useful.