Editor’s Note: The following story was posted on the BizNS area of the Norfolk Southern website. It is shared here in its entirety, with permission. We think it presents a useful example of what the rail industry is doing to protect the employees who keep the trains moving from the COVID-19 pandemic. — William C. Vantuono
Switching & Terminal
The Greenbrier Companies has developed an innovative new way for railcar customers to inspect build quality: Virtual Sample Railcar™ (VSR), which remotely brings customers into the Greenbrier plant from the convenience of a conference room or home office.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 27, boosts unemployment and sickness benefits for railroad workers impacted by the pandemic.
Special Podcast Series: Coronavirus and the Rail Industry – Insight on the Federal Stimulus Package, How the Freight Industry is Battling, and More
Rail Group News editors talk about the federal stimulus package.
On March 3, 2020, Railway Age published my early observations on the COVID-19 pandemic’s potential impact on North America’s freight railroads. In just over three weeks, our world has become a very different place.
This is not a forecast. It’s a prudent warning. The continuing COVID-19 pandemic and our social reaction so far are driving our business culture toward a high-risk economic impact. Stay-in-place warnings and increasingly mandated government requirements will drive down income and gross domestic product (GDP). Fundamentally, the American economy will likely face choosing survival spending tactics.
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.
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.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao recently awarded $7.29 million to the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB) as part of the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant. NOPB said it will use the grant funds for the New Orleans Gateway Rail Fluidity and Capacity Improvements Project.
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.
Listen to Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono’s March 2020 interview with Union Pacific Chief Operating Officer Jim Vena on Unified Plan 2020, UP’s version of PSR, Precision Scheduled Railroading, and how