UPDATED MARCH 27: Stimulus Bill—Signed Into Law—CARES For Rail

President Trump on March 27 signed H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, into law, following swift passage in the House of Representatives by voice vote, and one day after the U.S. Senate passed the bill in a unanimous 96-0 vote. The CARES Act is a $2 trillion stimulus package that addresses the devastating economic and societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes many funding measures that directly benefit the railway industry—all modes, freight and passenger.

FRA, Responding to Industry Joint Petition, Issues Emergency Waiver

In response to a Petition from the Association of American Railroads (AAR), American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) and American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a 60-day emergency waiver for certain requirements of FRA’s rail safety regulations, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The petitioners, on behalf of their member railroads, requested relief from certain requirements of 49 CFR Parts 213, 214, 217, 218, 219, 220, 228, 229, 232, 234, 236, 239, 240, and 242.

“Saving America”

A Union Pacific locomotive engineer based in the Pacific Northwest who had just received his notice of exemption from travel restrictions proudly told Railway Age Contributing Editor Bruce Kelly, “We’ve gone from building America to saving it.” This UP field employee in Train & Engine Service has embraced his railroad’s slogan, “Building America,” and his heartfelt statement takes it to a higher level—from motto to mantra.

S-B Rail Group Staff Report: UPDATED APRIL 6—Global Railway Industry Response & Impacts, COVID-19 Pandemic

Following is a staff report from the editors at Railway Age, Railway Track & Structures and International Railway Journal that will be continuously updated with the latest developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the global railway industry, the most significant posted up top.

PTC’s Less-Obvious Problems

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently released its Congressionally mandated quarterly report on 42 railroads’ progress implementing Positive Train Control (PTC). Missing from media coverage and other commentary on that report is an in-depth review of the challenges that stand in the way of passenger railroads meeting the Dec. 31, 2020 PTC deadline. These are challenges that have repeatedly been documented in assessments by the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO), and that neither the FRA nor—at this juncture—more financial resources can overcome.

RECo Marks 40th Anniversary

Railway Equipment Company (RECo) in 2020 is marking 40 years in business. “Since our humble beginnings in 1980 developing switch heaters for local Minneapolis railroads to innovating crossing gate arms and lamps for the industry, RECo has lead the charge in developing new technology,” Chief Operating Officer Russ Gehl notes.

PTC at 96.3%: FRA

The Federal Railroad Administration Fourth Quarter 2019 PTC Progress Report on railroads’ self-reported progress toward fully implementing Positive Train Control (PTC) by the Dec. 31, 2020 statutory deadline shows that, of the 42 railroads required to implement PTC, most are operating their systems in revenue service, or in advanced field testing known as revenue service demonstration (RSD).