Archive for the ‘Other News’ Category

Dennison Seeks Bids for Steam Loco Restoration

May 22, 2017

The Village of Dennison, Ohio, is seeking bids to remodel a steam locomotive and tender that is now sitting at the former Pennsylvania Railroad station in town, which the village owns.

A published legal notice said that the village has a preferred architect do the planning and specifications. The plans are available from the village for $50 per copy.

Proposals are due by June 14 and bidders are being sought who have at least 10 years of experience.

The remodeling is expected to be a cosmetic restoration rather than a project to return the locomotive to operating condition.

Thomas Returns to CVSR this Weekend

May 19, 2017

Thomas the Tank Engine is returning to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad this weekend with trips from Boston Mill station on Saturday and Sunday.

Thomas will make a return visit on May 26-28, also departing from Boston Mill station.

The CVSR said that only those who have purchased Thomas tickets or a site ticket will be allowed into the boarding and festival area at Boston Mill. A site ticket grants admission to the Boston Mill station area, but does not include the half-hour train ride.

The site will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include magicians, bounce houses, balloon artists, live entertainment and railroad displays.

Fares are $18 for all trips on Friday and $20 or $22 for Saturday and Sunday trips.

The $20 tickets are good for the 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. trips.  The $22 tickets are for the 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. trips.

Passengers are advised to arrive at the site an hour before departure time.

Infrastructure Plan to be Released by Late May

May 19, 2017

Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao told a Senate committee this week that the Trump administration’s U.S. infrastructure revitalization plan will be released before the end of May.

However, Chao said in her testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that it will be fall before a more detailed plan is presented.  She said that will coincide with a congressional timetable.

“In the interim, obviously the president is very impatient, and he has asked that principles be released, so they should be coming out shortly,” Chao said.

She declined when pressed to provide any details other than to repeat earlier statement that the plan will be focused on using federal dollars to attract additional funding from state and local governments, and the private sector.

“The infrastructure proposal is being put together with a much greater view of principles,” Chao said. “Given the decentralized nature of our transportation infrastructure, there will be seeding of federal dollars that, hopefully, will leverage other monies from the private sector, state and local to $1 trillion.

“Federal funding often displaces state and local funds. We believe that the infrastructure needs are so great that all entities need to collaborate,” she said.

Some senators used the hearing to actively promote transportation projects in their states, ranging from transit capital funding to the Caltrain’s Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project to the need to rebuild Northeast Corridor infrastructure.

Some senators also expressed concern about the future of DOT TIGER and FASTLANE competitive grant programs.

Chao acknowledged that TIGER grants were popular with Congress. A Trump fiscal year 2018 budget blueprint has proposed ending TIGER funding, but Chao said it could re-emerge in a different form.

“The thought was that going forward there be a more holistic approach to infrastructure, and these TIGER grants would be recast some way in the future,” Chao said.

Rosen Confirmed for Top USDOT Post

May 18, 2017

Jeffrey Rosen was confirmed this week by the Senate to be deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Rosen becomes the 18th deputy secretary in USDOT’s 50-year history.

“I am delighted to welcome Deputy Secretary Jeff Rosen to the department. His extensive background in transportation, budget, regulatory reform and management will be invaluable as we implement the president’s agenda,” said UDOT Secretary Elaine Chao.

Rosen graduated from Harvard Law School and served as general counsel and senior policy adviser for the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2006 to 2009. He was general counsel at USDOT from 2003 to 2006.

Chao Hints at Infrastructure Plan Contents

May 16, 2017

Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao gave a hint on Monday about the proposed Trump administration’s infrastructure repair plan, saying that it will involve $200 billion in federal funding that the administration expects to attract $1 trillion in private funding over the next decade.

Chao did not say when the plan will be announced other than it will be during the next several weeks.

“There has never been a more exciting time to be involved in infrastructure,” she said at an event marking national infrastructure week. “It’s a national priority, and has growing public support. There is also rare bipartisan consensus that now is the time to act.”

Chao has indicated that the plan will also include steps to streamline the permit and approval process and give the highest priority to states and cities that have already secured funding for local projects.

Detroit QLINE Begins Regular Service

May 15, 2017

The Detroit QLINE began revenue service last week over a 3.3-mile route that cost $180 million to develop.

It was the first streetcar service in Detroit since April 8, 1956.

To celebrate the opening of the streetcar service, Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation are offering $5 one-way fares ($2.50 for children ages 2 to 12) from Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Royal Oak, Troy, and Pontiac to the Detroit station, a half block from the Baltimore Street Q Line stop near the Penske Tech Center maintenance facility in New Center.

The offer is available through May 21.

Merchants along the streetcar line offered special discounts this past weekend. Passengers were able to ride the streetcars for free.

The QLINE uses cars built by Pennsylvania-based Brookville Equipment Corporation that run on batteries at the ends of the routes and draw power from overhead wires in the middle of the system.

The streetcars run between Detroit’s New Center business area and the downtown riverfront district.

Restoration Resumes on C&O 1309

May 11, 2017

Restoration work has resumed on returning former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 to operating condition, Trains magazine reported this week.

The work was paused for two months while the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad worked with state officials to obtain funding.

The WMSR was authorized to receive a $400,000 matching grant from the state, but WMSR General Manager John Garner told Trains that raising $400,000 for a single project, while also trying to run the railroad has made it difficult for officials to maintain a steady cash flow.

Garner said contractors will need eight weeks to complete their work before the 1309 is ready to take the rails.

The remaining work includes preparations for a hydrostatic test for the boiler followed by reassembly work if the test shows the locomotive will safely hold steam and water under pressure.

Railroad officials have not yet said when they expect the 1309, which was built in 1949, to be ready for its maiden trip.

BLET Marks 154th Anniversary

May 10, 2017

A Cleveland-based railroad union marked its 154th anniversary this week. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said in a news release that it is the oldest labor organization in the Western Hemisphere and was the first to sign a contract with a railroad.

The union was formed on May 8, 1863, in Marshall, Michigan. It merged in 2004 with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 2004 to become the BLET.

Among its earliest contracts was an agreement with the New York Central in 1875. The union today has hundreds of contracts railroads.

Intermodal Freight Traffic Grew in 1st Quarter

May 5, 2017

The Intermodal Association of North America said intermodal freight volumes grew in the first quarter of 2017 following a year of declines in 2016.

First quarter international containers rose 2.9 percent to 2.1 million units, and domestic containers climbed 1.3 percent to nearly 1.8 million units compared with first-quarter 2016. Intermodal trailers posted a slight gain of 0.3 percent to 310,393 units in the quarter.

Overall, intermodal volume totaled 4.2 million units, up 2 percent year over year.

“All intermodal market segments showed improvement in the first quarter,” said IANA President and CEO Joni Casey in a statement. “What’s notable about this is that it comes on the heels of 2 percent growth in the same quarter of last year, suggesting real gains, not just a weak comparison.”

IANA said the seven highest-density trade corridors posted a collective 2.1 percent increase in the first quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Those corridors account for 63.4 percent of total intermodal volume.

Traffic gains ranged from a 7.4 percent increase between Eastern and Western Canada, to a 1.3 percent loss in the South Central-Southwest corridor. The corridor with the highest volumes, the Midwest-Southwest, grew 1.7 percent.

Intermodal marketing companies registered a 7.5 percent gain in total loads for the quarter, which IANA said reflected the continued strength of highway shipments.

“These increased 11.6 percent over the same quarter the previous year,” IANA said. “Intermodal loads also gained 3.6 percent after a double-digit drop for the full 2016 year.”

Teen Steamtown Volunteer Wins NPS Award

May 4, 2017

A teen volunteer at Steamtown National Historical Site has won the George and Helen Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service from the National Park Service.

Aiden Schafer was honored for his work, which included 800 hours of service during the past two years.

Steamtown officials described Schafer as a “go-to guy” for many at the park even though he is still in high school.

Acting Northeast Regional Director Joshua Laird said that last year 63,900 volunteers contributed 1,470,300 hours of service in the region and that without them, many projects would not be completed.

“When a volunteer-in-parks  agree to share their talents, skills and interests with the National Park Service, they are paying the organization one of the highest compliments possible by offering a most valued possession — their time,” Laird said in a news release.