Breaking News

NFTA Denied FTA New Starts Qualification

There is bad news from Washington D.C. concerning federal support for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s (NFTA, Buffalo, N.Y.) proposed $1.4 billion Metro Rail Amherst Light Rail Extension project. According to the Federal Transit Administration New Starts Report for the upcoming Federal Fiscal Year 2021 (Oct. 1, 2020-Sept. 30, 2021), released earlier this month, the project did not qualify for a New Starts grant under the first step known as “Project Development.”

Trinity: “Meaningful Progress in 2019”

Trinity Industries, Inc. released its 4Q19 and full-year 2019 earnings, which show it saw quarterly total company revenues of $850.7 million, reflecting growth of 15.7% year-over-year, but also quarterly earnings from continuing operations per common diluted share (EPS) of $.18, a yearly decrease of 5%.

Keolis Receives APTA Nod for MBTA Sustainability Work

Keolis Commuter Services, the MBTA’s operating partner for Commuter Rail, earned the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Gold Sustainability Award for its commitment to and organizational enhancements focused on environmentally friendly business practices. Keolis is the first private commuter rail operator in the United States to earn the APTA Gold Sustainability Award.

Opinion

Improving Rail Hazmat Safety

After each major crude oil train or hazardous commodity freight train accident anywhere in Canada or the United States, there is a rush of safety-related outcries. Quite a bit of fear is expressed. The poster children for rail freight safety are hazardous materials like crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG), which has been proposed. Yet to those who examine the evidence, rail freight is unquestionably the safest mode to ship these materials.

Rail Union Ordered to Bargain on Crew Consist

This is about a railroad labor union committed to serving its dues paying members, and a rail industry losing its core revenue traffic—coal—and now facing off against omnipresent low-cost, non-union truckers for the trailers and containers comprising much of the railroads’ future traffic base. It’s about new technology—the product of knowledge that for centuries has transformed the nature, quality and quantity of work. In this instance, the technology is Positive Train Control (PTC), a safety overlay system substituting artificial intelligence for engineer inattention or distraction. PTC, as does most new technology, creates job redundancies.

Fewer Freight Cars on the Horizon?

True or false: Freight rail growth might require fewer cars in the future. As Class I railroads reported their 1Q2020 and full-year 2019 quarterly financial results, the expectation set by the individual railroads was that returning customers will help spur volume growth. Though 2020 is starting out slowly, most senior railroad executives and shipper logistics managers are talking about a possible recovery in the second half of the year. However, there is little statistical economic data published yet to support that optimistic outlook.

Two Tickets to Pittsburgh—And Back

How can the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania be freed from Amtrak’s abusive monopoly on intercity passenger rail service? This editorial is based on my Dec. 17, 2019 testimony before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Transportation Committee, during which I spoke about creating viable rail passenger opportunities for Western Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia-Harrisburg corridor that could serve as a template for other states currently paying for Amtrak service under the bizarre federal legislation called PRIIA.