Switching & Terminal

Baker to Congress: Short Lines Have “The Right Stuff”

Chuck Baker, President of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), on Dec. 5 testified before a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing entitled “Where’s My Stuff?: Examining the Economic, Environmental, and Societal Impacts of Freight Transportation.” Two subcommittees—Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials and Highways and Transit—jointly hosted the hearing.

STB: Heed Seriously the Yak Fat Ghost

On 74 acres in central Virginia, there graze for commercial production some two-dozen Himalayan yaks—a largely fat-free, shaggy, handlebar-horned and oft cantankerous animal first imported to North America during the 19th century. If the connection of yak and its fat to transportation economic regulation is not obvious, blame your youth, as more than half a century has passed since the Great Yak Fat Caper of 1965 entered railroad lore—a dirty-trickster’s fraud now indelibly stained on the Interstate Commerce Commission’s (ICC) reputation, and, by association, its Surface Transportation Board (STB) successor.

FTS Opens New Headquarters

Focused Technology Solutions, Inc. (a Marmon/Berkshire Hathaway Company) has relocated to a brand new executive office and manufacturing facility in Hackettstown, N.J. The new headquarters is described as “a cutting-edge research and development site instrumental for the company as it looks to expand and reach manufacturing goals in 2020 and beyond.”

Railway Age 10 Under 40 Awards Open for Entries

Railway Age is now accepting entries for its fourth annual “Fast Trackers” 10 Under 40 awards, in which we will profile ten individuals under the age of 40 who have made an impact in their respective fields or within their company. Nick Little, Director of Railway Education at Michigan State University’s Center for Railway Research and Education, will judge the entries. Those that represent the “best of the best” will be featured in Railway Age’s February 2020 issue and recognized at our Railroader of the Year Dinner, March 10, 2020, at the Union League Club of Chicago.

FRA: PTC at 92.4%

Based on self-reported Third Quarter 2019 (Q3) PTC (Positive Train Control) Progress Reports, which were due to the Federal Railroad Administration by Oct. 31, 2019, the majority of the 42 railroads subject to the statutory implementation requirement are operating PTC systems in revenue service or in advanced field testing known as a revenue service demonstration (RSD).

Is the Alameda Corridor in Trouble?

There are reports that the Alameda Corridor, the heavily used, 20-mile-long, grade-separated railroad intermodal corridor connecting the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach with the BNSF and Union Pacific main lines, has been seeing year-over-year maritime container volume drops, with a resulting decrease in rail traffic. The Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA) oversees the corridor, which was built through a public/private partnership (PPP) and opened in 2002. One outlook is that perhaps “if current trends continue, ACTA will experience significant cash flow deficits beginning in 2024 … growing in size out toward 2038.”

FRA Part 243 NPRM Good for Small Roads, Contractors

The Federal Railroad Administration on Nov. 22 published an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) requesting comments regarding extending the dates for Class II and III railroads that are not intercity or commuter passenger railroads with 400,000 annual employee hours or more to comply with existing Part 243 Training Rules, “Training, Qualification, and Oversight for Safety-Related Railroad Employees.”