Archive for the ‘Railroad News’ Category

Funding Reinstated for ex-Algoma Central Train

April 17, 2014

The saga of the efforts by Canadian National to discontinue passenger service on the former Algoma Central has taken another turn after the federal government agreed to resume paying $2.2 million to underwrite the service that links Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, Ontario.

The funding will keep the tri-weekly train operating through March 31, 2015. It had been scheduled to end on April 29 when a one month reprieve ended.

The federal government had told CN last fall that it would end the Regional and Remote Passenger Rail Services Class Contribution Program grant that had helped keep the train ion operation.

At the time, the federal government said that the route no longer met the criteria as a remote service, but neither CN nor Transport Ministry officials revealed the withdrawal news until late January of this year.

The news brought howls of protests from owners of remote lodges, trappers, and other businesses that said they would suffer a hardship due to he loss of the train.

They applied political pressure on the federal government to reverse its decision.

Though CN had extended the deadline to the end of April, Jeff Watson, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, told a Parliament member from the region on April 4 that the decision by CN to discontinue the service is “a business decision made by a private company. Railway companies are private entities that make their own decisions concerning their operations and which services and routes are offered to their customers.”

“The government is pleased to extend funding for another year to continue operation of [Canadian National’s] passenger rail service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst. The funding will give local stakeholders time to explore long-term solutions for passenger rail service in the area,” the federal government said in a statement.

Mudslide Closed NS Mon Line in Pittsburgh

April 11, 2014

A mudslide described as the size of a football field briefly closed the Norfolk Southern Mon Line in Pittsburgh this week.

The mudslide occurred near West Carson Street and halted rail traffic on Tuesday morning. Trains had resumed operating through the affected area by this afternoon.

The obstruction of the tracks was reported at about 4 a.m. Media reports indicated that the slide was 10 feet deep and 30 feet long. The nearby Duquesne Incline was closed as a precaution.

Bids Sought to Operate the Hoosier State

April 4, 2014

The Indiana Department of Transportation has issued a request for proposals from entities interested in operating the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State.

The train, which is now operated quad-weekly by Amtrak, is currently being funded by InDOT and most of the communities at which it stops.

InDOT and the communities of Rensselaer, Indianapolis, Crawfordsville, Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, and Beech Grove $2.7 million to fund the Hoosier State. InDOT said the purpose of the request is to obtain competitive bids to operate and optimize the service.

If a party other than Amtrak wins the bidding, it would take over the serve when the current agreement with Amtrak expires on Sept. 30, 2014. Indiana’s agreement with Amtrak can be extended through Jan. 31, 2015, by mutual written agreement of the parties. The state and its partners want the selected contractor not only to reduce the cost of operating the train, but also work with INDOT and Hoosier State Partners to improve operations, attract higher ridership and bring in increased revenues, thereby further reducing costs. Bidders have three bid options:

  1. Perform all functions presently performed by Amtrak on the Hoosier State service
  2. Bid on some portion of those functions
  3. Perform all functions presently performed by Amtrak, and add amenities such as Wi-Fi and food service

“The future Hoosier State rail service will connect Indianapolis and other Indiana cities to Chicago with additional trains, increased speed between stations, improved on-time performance, increased ridership, and improved on-board amenities,” InDOT said in a statement that accompanied the request for bids. “The enhanced passenger service will generate more revenue, and reduce the amounts which Indiana Department of Transportation and Indiana Hoosier State Partners are obliged to pay to subsidize this service. The future Hoosier State intercity passenger rail service will reinforce Indiana Transportation goals and objectives by providing safer, more reliable, efficient movement of passengers, in a manner, which is more cost effective. The future Hoosier State service will further alleviate roadway congestion, contribute to economic development, improve energy efficiency and protect environmental quality.”

Bidders must explain what improvements will be made to service quality and how such improvements will be implemented and maintained. INDOT and its partners will be especially interested in any ideas for improvement of on-time performance, the RFP said. The state is interested in a three-year contract, extendable for additional three years, based upon mutual agreement. Amtrak has access rights by law to freight railroad corridors, and Amtrak pays only incremental maintenance costs for this access.

Bidders must show the expected access cost to operate over CSX, CN, Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, Belt Railroad of Chicago, and Metra. Bidders should recognize that the list of railroads could change, since rerouting in the Chicago region is being considered, the state says.

One potential bidder might be Iowa Pacific Holdings whose president, Ed Ellis, told Trains magazine that, “We are evaluating it. We haven’t decided, but it is of great interest, and Indiana is being innovative in their approach.”

Ohio Legislature Honors Toledo CSX Workers

March 27, 2014

The Ohio legislature recently honored CSX Toledo Terminal employees at Stanley Yard, Walbridge Yard, and the Toledo Docks on the occasion of Stanley Yard’s centennial birthday and the team’s impressive safety record.

Stanley Yard’s employees recently marked a two-year, injury-free milestone. Employees at the facility have participated in such community projects as the annual MS Society Bike to the Bay fundraiser, leading the way in team fundraising for the past two years.

In addition, Stanley employees were among the first to respond in the aftermath of a 2010 tornado that hit Lake Township. CSX volunteers donated time and resources toward the cleanup and rebuilding efforts in the weeks and months following the disaster.

“We have a great team at the Toledo Terminal, in both safety and service,” said Rob Burkett, terminal superintendent. “They are upholding the strong rail tradition in this part of the country on behalf of CSX, our customers, and our communities.”

Built by the Toledo & Ohio Central railroad, Stanley Yard has changed hands several times over the years with railroad mergers, from New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail and finally CSX, which acquired it as part of its share of the Conrail acquisition in 1999.

Combined, the Toledo Terminal handles about 3,000 carloads of freight daily. Stanley Yard handles mostly mixed freight, Walbridge Yard moves predominantly auto freight, and the Toledo Docks handle vessel and rail transfers of coal and iron ore.

“It is an honor to salute the employees of Stanley Yard as they celebrate their centennial year. CSX has played an important role in our local economy for decades and we look forward to many more successes in the future,” said Rep. Tim Brown.

Amtrak Offers Double Points Through May 17

March 27, 2014

Amtrak has announced that its mileage program members can earn additional points during a double days promotion that runs through May 17.

 

Amtrak Guest Rewards members must register online at the program’s website www.amtrakguestrewards.com/DoubleDays.

 

To receive credit for qualifying travel, members need to provide their membership number when making a reservation.

 

Cancelled of refunded reservations and/or tickets are not eligible for bonus points. Double points earning is limited to two one-way trips per day. Other restrictions apply.

 

Normally, program members earn two points for every dollar spent on Amtrak travel, with a 100-point minimum, no matter the price.

PUCO Orders Grade Crossing Upgrades

March 22, 2014

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has approved grade crossing projects in Franklin, Lorain and Medina counties.

CSX and Norfolk Southern were directed to install and interconnect mast-mounted flashing lights and roadway gates at crossings in Columbus while the Wheeling & Lake Erie must install mast-mounted flashing lights and roadway gates at a crossing in Lorain County.

The railroads must complete the work by Dec. 12. The Ohio Rail Development Commission has authorized funding for the upgrades.

PUCO also directed the W&LE to install active warning devices at the Guilford Boulevard crossing in Medina. The latter project will be funded by the commission, city and railroad. It must be completed by March 12, 2015.

NS Unveils Another Commemorative Locomotive

March 20, 2014

Gorail

GoRail and Norfolk Southern recently unveiled a locomotive that commemorates the 10th anniversary of the non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting the benefits of moving freight by rail.

NS SD60E No. 6963 will wear a special design and enter freight service throughout the NS system.

Founded in 2004, GoRail seeks support for policies that would lead to more freight moving by rail.

The SD60E model features a paint scheme combining the infinity lines of the Norfolk Southern livery with the tracks of the GoRail logo.

The lines end in an arrow to depict movement, and the GoRail colors carry through the modified speed lines to show the unity of GoRail and Norfolk Southern, creating the look of land as seen from above and signifying freight movement.

The GoRail locomotive was painted in Altoona, Pa., by 14 Norfolk Southern employees using 60 gallons of primer and paint over a 40-hour period.

The first public view of the GoRail locomotive took place at a reception on March 12 at Union Station in Washington, D.C., the evening before Railroad Day on Capitol Hill.

Siemens Wins Passenger Locomotive Contract

March 20, 2014

Despite protests from EMD, Siemens has won a $225 million contract to build 32 diesel passenger locomotives for a multi-state procurement being led by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The Illinois agency represented departments of transportation from California, Michigan, Washington and Missouri.

Simens will build the 32 locomotives, with an option for 225 additional locomotives, in Sacramento, Calif.

The Tier 4-compliant locomotives are based on Siemens’ Vectron platform already in use in Europe. They will be powered by 4,400 hp Cummins QSK95 prime movers.

EMD, which is headquartered in Illinois, said it has filed formal complaints with the Illinois Procurement Policy Board as well as the Chancery Court in Cook County, Reuters reports.

EMD believe that the IDOT “unfairly evaluated and scored offers and improperly relaxed the specified performance requirements when making its selection,” the report says.
A previous protest filed with IDOT in February was denied.

CSX Grants Pa. Agency Access to Train Data

March 20, 2014

CSX has agreed to allow officials from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to access the railroad’s computer network that tracks rail movements.

Agency officials sought the access to keep track of movements of hazardous materials in the state.

Select staff will be trained by CSX personnel on how to operate the system.

The agency said that the agreement, along with such as the Hazardous Material Emergency Preparedness Grant Program and grant funding for specialized firefighting training, helps local communities increase their level of emergency preparedness.

New Power Gracing NS Trains

March 13, 2014

ns1102h02

ns1102h04arrc1

Brand new EMD ACe No. 1102 goes solo on train 861 at Hudson, Ohio, this past Sunday. Numbers 1100 to 1124 are to be delivered mostly in the second quarter of 2014.

Photograph by Roger Durfee


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