Regulatory

CN Publishes Grain Plan, Invests in 1,500 High-Capacity Grain Hoppers

CN plans to acquire 1,500 new-generation, high-capacity grain hopper cars with delivery starting in January 2021. The new railcars aim to “encourage the economic recovery through job creation in the North American manufacturing sector and help CN continue to meet the growing needs of grain farmers and grain customers,” the company said.

LNG By Rail, With Scott Nason, Chart Inc., and David Nahass, Railroad Financial Corp.: Rail Group On Air Podcast

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), issued on June 19 a final rule authorizing the

Primus Nominated to STB

Career Democratic congressional staffer Robert Primus, 49, has been nominated by President Trump to fill one of two vacant seats on the five-member Surface Transportation Board (STB). Primus’s nomination followed a mid-2019 written recommendation to the White House by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. (Chuck) Schumer (D-N.Y.). He is now paired with Republican nominee Michelle A. Schultz, whose earlier Senate confirmation has been stalled nearly three years pending nomination of a Democrat.

Metra, At Odds With UP, Petitions STB

Chicago’s Metra commuter rail agency on July 21 asked the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent Union Pacific from “taking planned steps that would degrade or halt” commuter rail service on the three lines—UP North, UP Northwest and UP West—the Class I railroad operates and maintains equipment under contract. Separately, Metra also asked the STB to rule on whether UP has a legal common-carrier obligation to provide commuter service. “UP maintains that it has no such obligation,” Metra said, adding that it “strongly disagrees” with UP’s position and that “settling that dispute is critical to determining how service will continue to operate on the lines and, more important, what it will cost the public.”

Recovery, Growth, Car Supply Confront Rail

FINANCIAL EDGE, RAILWAY AGE, JULY 2020 ISSUE: On the June 17 Railway Age Rail Insights webcast (held in lieu of the usual conference in Chicago), the path forward for rail and the post-pandemic future of rail loadings was on the mind of presenters and the audience. The rail industry is searching for the bottom and looking for “green shoots” that suggest the market has “bottomed,” and that loadings might start to return to normal levels.

CABT Report: Bigger Trucks a Bad Idea

The threats to public safety, the environment and the nation’s infrastructure created by allowing trucks larger than the current federal limits have been quantified by a new study released by the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT). “Increasing the size and weight limits of trucks on the nation’s highways would divert a potentially huge amount of goods from rail to roads, further damaging the nation’s infrastructure, causing greater environmental harm and undermining highway safety,” the study says.

FRA RD&T Aims to Assist First-Responders

FRA’s Office of Research Development & Technology (RD&T) is sponsoring a research project titled “Assessing the Safety Benefits of a Real‐Time Railroad Crossing Blockage Information System for Emergency Responders.” As part of the project, the agency has contracted Winnipeg, Manitoba-based TRAINFO to develop a model to identify the risk of first responders being exposed to active rail crossings and to quantify benefits of live rail crossing data in the overall emergency response process.