Class I

Week 38: Intermodal Saves the Day—Sort Of

Intermodal gains mostly offset carload declines for U.S. and North American freight rail traffic for the week ending Sept. 19, 2020, reducing the weekly decline to less than 2%, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported on Sept. 23. Traffic for the year’s first 38 weeks was still down significantly compared to 2019, however.

Rail Safety Week and Infrastructure Investments Go Hand in Hand

As a lifelong railroader, I’m especially pleased to join Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) and others across the nation in observing Rail Safety Week (RSW). In addition to Canada, this year we also welcome our colleagues in Mexico in helping all of us in North America to raise the profile of rail safety awareness.

The North Carolina DOT (pictured) has received a grant to purchase right-of-way that will help it provide future high-speed rail service to the Southeast. It is one of many recently announced as part of the Fiscal Year 2020 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Another Step Closer to North Carolina/Virginia HrSR

A $47.55 million grant has been awarded to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for the purchase of CSX’s S-Line rail corridor from Raleigh to Ridgeway, N.C., near the Virginia state line, which will eventually contribute to higher-speed rail (HrSR) service to the Southeast.

Rail Safety Week Kicks Off—Virtually

Social media and virtual messaging is spreading the word for Rail Safety Week (Sept. 21-27) due to the pandemic. The #STOPTrackTragedies campaign is encouraging safe behavior near highway-rail grade crossings and railroad rights-of-way, and raising awareness of the need for rail safety education.

Cowen: Railcar Demand Recovery in 2021

In the two weeks following Cowen and Company’s mid-September Transportation and Sustainable Mobility Conference, analyst Matt Elkott, with input from colleagues Adam Kramer and Jason Seidl (Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor), noted that railcar inquiries “have ticked up. While translation into orders may not yet be commensurate with inquiries due to election and pandemic uncertainty, there appears to be an improvement in underlying demand” that should carry forward into a recovery in 2021.

For NS, TORFC = Low RCF

During a recent two-year period, engineers from Norfolk Southern (NS) and Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI) evaluated rail performance on four curves on the NS Whitethorne District, near Roanoke, Va., during two periods of 39 to 40 MGT (million gross ton) traffic accumulation. The objective was to document RCF (rolling contact fatigue) development, rail friction, and rail wear as influenced by the TORFC (top-of-rail friction control) materials NS currently uses. The rails were ground at the beginning of the test and again halfway through the test in April 2017, with the intent of producing similar conditions, after which a 39-40 MGT monitoring effort commenced, each with a different TORFC product.(1,2) The curve rails differed by rail mill, age and wear.

Digitalizing Interline Settlements

RAILWAY AGE, SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE: The average freight railroad conducts thousands of interline settlements representing a significant portion of business revenue. Yet, the push to drive down working capital requirements, reduce outstanding and overdue claims mired in lengthy dispute resolution cycles and accelerate revenue recognition faces headwinds related to limitations of legacy interline settlements in most Class I, II and III railroads.

Community outreach is often conducted in person, but COVID-19 has moved much of it online. HDR hosts web-based live chats and telephone town halls, for instance.

How to Build Equity Into Transportation Projects—From the Start

Reaching out to communities early and following up throughout the transportation project planning process is key to building equity. That’s among the takeaways from HDR’s latest “Experts Talk” interview, in which Cathy LaFata shares insights on the environmental justice process and strategies for improving community engagement. She is the Northern California Transportation Planning Section Manager and a Professional Associate at HDR.