If the new Amtrak management team is sincerely trying to improve safety, we ought to all support what they are doing. But if Amtrak is only using safety as a stalking horse to pursue another agenda (such as discontinuing L-D trains, as is believed in many circles), it should be called out on it.
Financial Edge, September 2018: According to the good people at Railinc (a perennial speaker at the annual Rail Equipment Finance Conference, www.railequipmentfinance.com), as of July 1, 2018, 12,581 tank railcars had been retrofit to the DOT117R standard. In the first seven months of 2018, 5,349 tank railcars were retrofit (an average of 764 per month). If retrofits continue at the same pace for the remainder of the year, the total number of retrofit cars completed in 2018 would be more than double the total number of retrofits completed by the end of 2017.
Watching Washington, September 2018: If two congressional directives are not aptly labeled “Cheech and Chong Provisions,” why is their sum “420” and their consequence a seeming hallucinatory decade-long cavort through the federal court system whose clashing opinions have pinged and ponged as if a Super Mario arcade game?
Short lines Chicago Rail Link and Illinois Railway recently received federal grants to aid in the deployment of Positive Train Control technology.
A white paper issued by the Rail Passengers Association, “Amtrak’s Route Accounting: Fatally Flawed, Misleading & Wrong,” contends that Amtrak’s fully allocated cost methodology “grossly exaggerates the cost of operating the national passenger train system. This, in turn, has lead to the conclusion adopted by many elected leaders and other affected stakeholders that abandonment of key long-distance trains will save Amtrak significant sums and lead to a more financially secure national passenger operation.”
Watching Washington, August 2018: Human life is measured in scores of years, stars in billions of miles, the national debt in trillions of dollars—all remarkably miniscule numbers compared to the petabytes of data (numbers containing 15 zeroes) generated by artificial intelligence in our increasingly knowledge-based society.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has awarded more than $200 million in funds to assist with the deployment of Positive Train Control (PTC), with a second solicitation expected soon for a remaining $46 million. As well, the agency released its second-quarter 2018 PTC progress report, which shows “significant improvement.”
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) provided a second-quarter 2018 update to progress the commuter rail industry has made toward implementing Positive Train Control (PTC).
Dan Elliott, who served as Chairman of the Surface Transportation Board from 2009 to 2017 and is now with Washington D.C. law firm Conner & Winters, is hosting the inaugural Railroads + Shippers = Solutions conference on Oct. 3 in Washington, D.C.
The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) has named Sam Cotton as Senior Manager, Safety and Operations, replacing Mike Long, who recently accepted a position with the Federal Railroad Administration. Cotton will be responsible for management of SLSI’s Safety Culture Assessment program, a “voluntary, non-punitive and confidential five-to-ten-day onsite process with a rigorous methodology that includes an online survey of staff, discussions with management, and observations of a railroad’s daily practices.”