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.
R.J. Corman Railroad Switching Company announced March 19 that it has begun operations for two new customers: New-Indy Containerboard and 3M.
MTA President Patrick Foye, New York City Transit President Andy Byford and Senior Vice President Subways Sally Librera provided statistics on March 18 to show that the New York subway system has seen a dramatic increase in performance since the implementation of the Subway Action Plan and NYCT’s Save Safe Seconds campaign.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced March 18 that it has partnered with the requisite 30 states to strengthen and certify 31 State Safety Oversight (SSO) Programs prior to the April 15 safety deadline, and is transferring WMATA safety oversight to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC).
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.
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.
Sabrina Drago has joined WSP USA as Sacramento transportation office lead, the engineering and professional services consultancy company announced on March 15.
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.”
New York Air Brake announced March 15 that it has acquired locomotive fueling, servicing and component remanufacturing company Snyder Equipment Co. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Passenger rail in the United States has fallen a long way since it was the dominant mode of long-distance transportation. In a world of competition among cars, planes and trains, the point-to-point functionality of automobiles and the speed of planes means that most trains with existing technologies cannot compete.
“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.