Regulatory

Hemphill Heading Uinta Basin Railway Project

Rio Grande Pacific Corp. has named rail industry veteran Mark Hemphill to lead development and construction of the Uinta Basin Railway project, a $1.5 billion new-build that, when completed in late 2022 or early 2023, will serve northeastern Utah’s energy, mineral and agriculture industries. The new railroad is being built through a DBFOM (design-build-finance operate-maintain P3 (public-private partnership) comprised of Rio Grande Pacific, Drexel Hamilton Infrastructure Partners and the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition

Be Prepared for Anything

In 1907, Boy Scout founder Robert Baden-Powell, an English soldier, devised the Scout motto—Be Prepared. He published it in Scouting for Boys in 1908. Upon publishing the Scout motto, Baden-Powell was asked the inevitable follow-up question: Be prepared for what? “Why, for any old thing,” he answered.

URCS: Love It or Hate it, We’re Stuck With It

For a sleep inducer, consider working with the Uniform Rail Costing System (URCS), long a general costing system indispensable for determining maximum reasonable rail rates. Worse, its second side-effect is indigestion, as this 30-year-old accounting relic is much like a classic car lacking modern GPS and satellite radio. Practitioners too often become frustrated with its built-in averages from a time when railroads, rather than shippers, owned most of the freight car fleet and line hauls were shorter as the modern merger movement had not yet run its course.

What Happened to Stop, Look and Listen?

The news on July 26, 2019 of the derailment at speed of Amtrak 393 at University Park, Ill., due to a careless truck driver created a PTSD-like reaction for me. Instantaneously, I thought back to the derailment of Amtrak 59 at Bourbonnais, Ill., the night of March 15, 1999. Despite denials, this wreck was due to the overt negligence of a driver attempting to beat fully functional grade crossing warning devices with a truck loaded with 22 tons of steel pipe. Regrettably, the driver’s reckless behavior resulted in 11 people killed; much equipment was destroyed in the ensuing fire.

Alexy named FRA chief safety officer

Karl Alexy has been named the Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety and Chief Safety Officer of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). He was most recently the FRA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety and had responsibility for the Office of Safety Analysis, the Office of Technical Oversight and the Office of Regional Operations.