Archive for the ‘Other News’ Category

Congressmen Protest PTC Exemption

June 23, 2018

The decision by the Federal Railroad Administration to grant a positive train control exemption to a commuter operation in Nashville, Tennessee, has drawn criticism from some members of Congress.

The FRA gave the exemption to the Nashville Regional Transit Authority for its 32-mile Music City Star commuter line.

The exemption allows the commuter railroad and its host railroad, the Nashville & Eastern, to dispense with implementing PTC.

Reportedly, the two qualified for the exemption by reducing service.

That prompted four members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committees to write to the FRA to warn it that exemptions were not included in the 2008 law that required PTC implementation.

Exemption authority was included in the FRA’s regulations governing PTC.

“We continue to believe the exemptions provided in the regulations are overly broad — enabling intercity passenger, commuter, and freight railroads to avoid PTC implementation . . .,” the letter states.

The letter also expressed a fear that the exemption granted in Nashville could provide a template for other PTC exemption requests.

“We strongly urge FRA to revise its regulations to tighten PTC exemptions and focus on ways to help railroads comply with the law rather than circumvent it through regulatory carve outs,” the letter states.

It is signed by Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, the ranking member on the transportation committee; Michael Capuano, D-Massachusetts, ranking member on the railroad subcommittee; and Steve Cohen and Jim Cooper, both Tennessee Democrats.

An FRA spokesman declined comment on the letter, but said the agency plans to give a response to the transportation committee.

It is not clear what services have been reduced. RTA continues to operate three morning and three afternoon trains between Nashville and Lebanon, Tennessee.

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Ford Details Plans for Detroit Station

June 20, 2018

Ford Motor Company said Tuesday that it plans to make the former Michigan Central station in Detroit the focal point of the company’s new mobility hub.

Built in 1913 in the city’s Corktown neighborhood, the station will be renovated to provide offices for its autonomous and electric vehicle teams and partners.

The grand hall will be restored to its original appearance and have local shops and restaurants.

The overall mobility hub project will see construction of 1.2 million square feet of space where by 2022 about 2,500 Ford employees will work.

Ford said it will devote 300,000 square feet of space to a mix of community and retail space and residential housing.

In a statement, Ford described development of the Michigan Central Station as critical to its future as it examines how urban areas are changing the overall role of transportation and the revitalization of cities.

An open house will be held in Michigan Central station June 22-23 that will feature exhibits of historic artifacts, self-guided tours through the station’s first floor, and a preview of an upcoming History Channel documentary showcasing Detroit’s comeback and the station’s critical role in the city’s revitalization efforts.

Amtrak ceased using the station in 1988 in favor of an adjacent modular facility. It later opened a station in the New Center neighborhood.

The 13-story office tower of Michigan Central Station stands 230 feet in height. Passenger service at the station began on Jan. 4, 1914.

In recent years, the station had become a symbol of urban decay with all of its windows broken out, and the building being used by the homeless, for criminal activity and by paintball enthusiasts.

Hundreds of antiques have been stolen from the station site over the years.

Kentucky Group Wins NRHS Grant

June 20, 2018

A Kentucky museum is one of eight recipients of a 2018 heritage grant from the National Railway Historical Society.

The Allen County Historical Society and Museum in Scottsville, Kentucky, received a $1,500 grant to be used to help fund the exterior restoration of a former Louisville & Nashville Railroad 70-ton diesel switch engine.

The locomotive, which will be placed on static display next to the under restoration Scottsville passenger station, was the last unit serving Scottsville and the Scottsville branch.

NRHS awarded a total of $21,000 in grants to not-for-profit organizations, including historical societies, museums, and a railway historical society chapter.

N&W 611 Won’t Offer Excursions in 2018

June 18, 2018

In an announcement that was not really much of a surprise, the Virginia Museum of Transportation said over the weekend that there will be no mainline excursions this year for Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611.

However, the 4-8-4 built in Roanoke, Virginia, will be steamed up at a later date and available for public view.

“We are very pleased to announce that we are engaged in substantive conversations about exciting potential 2019 excursions and special appearances for 611,” said Trey Davis, chairman of the Forward 611 Committee. “We will continue to seek opportunities for the public to experience a pivotal piece of American history firsthand, under steam.”

Museum officials cited Amtrak’s new policies restricting excursions and specials for grounding No. 611.

Amtrak has expressed a willingness to meet with museum officials later this year to discuss future excursion opportunities.

No. 611 is currently at the North Carolina Transportation Museum having mechanical work done at the Spencer shops.

The locomotive is expected to return to Roanoke later this summer amid some public events. Details about those events have yet to be announced.

“We’re working hard to ensure the public continues to have opportunities to engage with 611 and are planning unique events to provide opportunities to experience 611 under steam in 2018,” said Will Harris, president of the VTM board of directors. “The Virginia Museum of Transportation and NCTM are both planning special events with the locomotive in Roanoke and Spencer, respectively.”

One event at which the 611 is expected to appear is the Sept. 29 annual Big Lick Train Tug at which teams of six and 12 people will try to pull the locomotive by hand.

VTM is also raising money to equip the 611 with a positive train control apparatus and to build a permanent home for the locomotive in Roanoke that will also serve as an education center.

Amtrak’s policy changes have also led to the cancellation of planned trips this year by Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 and Southern Pacific 4-8-4 No. 4449.

Ports of Indiana Names New CEO

June 16, 2018

Vanta Coda II has been named CEO of the Ports of Indiana effective July 1. He replaces Rich Cooper, who is retiring after 16 years leading the organization.

Coda has 25 years of experience in maritime and multimodal operations on the Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico and Ohio River.

He most recently served as executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, where he led the completion of $24 million in infrastructure renewal projects, opened the Canadian National Duluth Intermodal Terminal and launched the Duluth Cargo Connect Initiative.

Coda started his career with the Illinois Central Railroad where he later served as director of marketing and sales after it was acquired by CN.

Cooper has served as CEO of the Ports of Indiana since 2005, after being hired as chief operating officer in 2001.

FRA Outlines PTC Non Compliance Criteria

June 13, 2018

Although the Federal Railroad Administration has the authority to shut down a railroad for safety reasons, that is not necessarily going to be the consequence for railroads that fail to meet the Dec. 31 deadline to install positive train control.

An FRA executive said the sanctions on railroads that fail to meet the PTC deadline mandated by federal law will be decided by FRA Administrator Ronald Batory.

However, Carolyn Hayward-Williams, staff director of the FRA’s signal and train control division, told a PTC conference that being shut down is not necessarily going to happen because failing to meet the PTC deadline is not a likely criteria to justify ordering a railroad to halt operations.

Speaking to the  the Transport Security Congress’ seventh annual SafeRail conference, Hayward-Williams said railroads that show sufficient progress toward PTC installation may be granted a two-year extension to get their PTC systems up and running.

She said that railroads that fail to meet the criteria for such an extension and continue to operate will be subject to fines and penalties. They are also likely to face higher insurance costs.

Hayward-Williams said many railroads will not need the extension of time to install PTC and that that those that do have a plan to deliver and meet the qualifications for an extension.

The FRA is working with those railroads to help them come into compliance with federal law.

Installation is just one aspect of PTC. The FRA also will be inspecting railroad operations to check if railroads are in compliance with laws and regulations governing PTC operation.

The agency is working with the railroad industry to address how PTC compliance will be enforced.

“The FRA has a large inspection force to ensure compliance with our regulations. PTC introduces a nice little twist for us, given that it’s a performance-based regulation,” Hayward-Williams said. “We ultimately will need to ensure that the railroads meet the requirements in the safety plan, but we aren’t going to be giving all of our inspectors a 5,000-page safety plan to carry around.”

Night at Museum Set in North East

June 12, 2018

The Lake Shore Railway Historical Society will hold its annual night at the railroad museum event on June 16-17 at the former New York Central passenger station in North East, Pennsylvania.

The museum will open at noon on Saturday and remain open all night and through 4 p.m. on Sunday.

There will be a night photo session with several smaller scenes set up with artificial lighting. The session will cost $20 per photographer.

No details about the scenes to be staged have been listed on the museum’s website or Facebook page.

There will be a public program starting at 8 p.m. focused on Operation  Lifesaver and presented by Scott Daley.

New this year will be a food truck at the museum site. Speeder cars will also be operating on Saturday and Sunday.

Ford Buys Detroit Michigan Central Station

June 12, 2018

Ford Motor Company has purchased the former Michigan Central Station in Detroit and plans to make it the centerpiece of an advanced automotive technology development in the Corktown neighborhood.

The station had been owned by the Moroun family since 1995 and had managed to survive a 2009 order of the Detroit City Council to raze the dilapidated structure.

Ford also acquired an adjacent building known as the Roosevelt Warehouse, which had previously been used as a schoolbook depository.

The 18-story Central Station has long symbolized urban blight in Detroit with its vacant offices and broken windows. It is surrounded by razor wire and a chain link fence.

Amtrak used the station from its 1971 inception until moving to a nearby modular facility in January 1988. Amtrak later built a station in the New Center neighborhood of Detroit that it began using in May 1994.

Matthew Moroun declined to disclose the sale price of the depot. “The deal is complete,” he said. “The future of the depot is assured. The next steward of the building is the right one for its future. The depot will become a shiny symbol of Detroit’s progress and its success.”

Ford plans to share information about its plans for renovating the station at a reception on June 19.

Reports that Ford was negotiating to purchase the station have circulated since March.

Based in suburban Dearborn, Ford has transferred 200 workers on its mobility team into a nearby former factory site and is actively seeking other properties in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest surviving neighborhood and located just west of downtown.

Opened in 1913, the Beaux Arts-style Michigan Central Station was at the time the world’s tallest train station.

Although the Morouns failed to demolish the station, they did install more than 1,000 new windows, restored a working elevator and cleaned up the interior.

“The Ford move to the train station is the right play at the right time,” said Robert Kolt, a professor of advertising and public relations at Michigan State University, in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. “Many university grads want to work and live in cool places with an energetic vibe. Ford can remake the area and rebrand what the company does with this type of bold move.”

“I think it’s smart,” Robert Davidman, partner at the Fearless Agency in New York told the Free Press. “If you really want to attract the top talent, you go to where they are. And this allows Ford to take a piece of history and reinvent it. This makes them forward thinkers. Ford is breathing life into something that once was — Ford is going back to their roots, back to where it all began. And it brings back the luster.”

Ford’s plans for the complex it is developing in Corktown include making it the focal point of the company’s efforts to shift toward self-driving, shared and battery-operated cars and logistics.

Corktown is located seven miles down Michigan Avenue from Ford’s world headquarters in Dearborn.

NEORHS to Meet on June 16

June 11, 2018

The Northeastern Ohio Railway Historical Society will hold a picnic on June 16 at the former Wheeling & Lake Erie depot in Hartville.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. and last through about 10:30 p.m. Attendees are asked to bring any slides or digital images of spring and summer 2018 activities to show during the program, which is expected to begin at 8 p.m.

Pizza and snacks will be available with attending asked to make a donation and to bring drinks and snacks to share.

For more information Contact: David Mangold at 330-947-3685 or at             davemangold@hotmail.com

Rail Festival Set in Dayton on June 23-24

June 11, 2018

The 13th annual Rail Festival at Carillon Park in Dayton will be held on June 23 and 24.

There will be live steam engines, historical exhibits, railroad collectables vendors, free miniature train rides and food vendors.

Carillon Park Rail & Steam Society operates a 1/8th scale railroad as a working, interactive exhibit of the Carillon Park Historical Museum. There is no charge for train rides during the festival.

Admission to the festival is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors (age 60 and above) and $5 for children ages 3 to 17. Children age 3 or younger are admitted for free.

The park is located at 1000 Carillon Boulevard. Further information is available at http://railfestival.com/