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.

Special Podcast Series: The Coronavirus and the Rail Industry

Listen to the newest podcast from RT&S Editor-in-Chief Bill Wilson.

CREATE Receives $12.9MM Grant for Pullman Junction Project

The CREATE partners received a $12.9 million federal grant for the Pullman Junction project in the south Chicago communities of Burnside and Cottage Grove Heights.

MaaS Appeal: Urban Transport’s Near or Distant Future?

INTERNATIONAL RAILWAY JOURNAL, MARCH 2020 ISSUE: (MaaS) Mobility as a Service has been touted as the natural next step in the advancement of urban and intercity transport. But while strides have been made in the development of many of the integral aspects needed to make MaaS a reality, implementation is still lacking. Why this is the case, and what needs to change?

SRB Opens Second Location

Stucki Roller Bearing (SRB), a division of A. Stucki Company, recently opened a second location in Lincoln, Neb. SRB supplies reconditioned bearings for freight car, locomotive and transit applications.

Fitch: Five Transit Agencies on “Rating Watch Negative”

Fitch Ratings has placed the ratings of five large U.S. public transit agencies on “Rating Watch Negative.” Fitch said it “expects widespread and sharp declines in transit ridership and fare revenues to create significant near-term stress in the U.S. public transit sector with the [agencies] identified here at the greatest risk. Some transit agencies in major urban areas that have already been impacted by the pandemic are reporting ridership declines of as much as 70% to 90% amid efforts at social distancing, a widespread shift to telecommuting and shelter-in-place orders.”

A “Sully” Moment For Amtrak’s Anderson

As America increasingly is sheltering in place, losing unprecedented numbers of jobs and retirement savings, fearful of COVID-19, and facing a stress level unfamiliar except to those who have endured war zones, Amtrak and its workforce face only unpleasant choices if the railroad and their jobs are to survive. Fare-paying passengers have vanished—almost entirely on Northeast Corridor Acela trains; significantly on all others.

FRA Issues Amtrak Performance Metrics NPRM

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) for measuring the performance and service quality of Amtrak intercity passenger trains that operate on host freight railroad trackage. The proposed rule “would define Amtrak intercity passenger train on-time performance, and would set forth—on average—a minimum on-time performance standard of 80%,” FRA said.

“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.

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