Archive for the ‘Other News’ Category

Cincinnati Union Terminal Set to Reopen

November 14, 2018

A restoration of Cincinnati Union Terminal will wrap up this week when the 85-year-old art deco station reopens.

The $228 million restoration project took 30 months to complete after getting underway in July 2016.

The project was funded by a sales tax approved by Cincinnati and Hamilton County voters in 2014.

Amtrak’s Cardinal stops at the station and it is home to several museums.

The restoration effort involved rebuilding the structure down to its substructure and restoring the class murals in the rotunda to look the way that they did when the depot opened in 1933.

The neon-lined clock on the front of the building also was rehabilitated.

“This is a monumental achievement for our staff and volunteers and for the entire community” said Cody Hefner, a representative of the Cincinnati Museum Center.

“Everyone who works here, and really everyone in the community, has a story about Union Terminal, either as a train station or as a museum. So to be able to restore a place with such a personal connection, and to do so in such a grand, visible, breathtaking way, is really incredible.”

Amtrak moved its waiting room to an adjacent building during the restoration. It returned to CUT during the first week of November.

During the public reopening on Nov. 17, Hefner said projectors will be used to light the terminal’s exterior with different exhibits each evening.

A large Christmas train display, a tradition at CUT since 1946, will open to the public on Nov. 16.

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Buffalo Terminal Restoration Getting Started

November 14, 2018

Developers have outlined their restoration plans for Buffalo Central Terminal, which will benefit from a $5 million state grant.

The 89-year-old art deco facility hasn’t served passengers since the late 1970s and last housed railroad offices in the 1980s

The abandoned 17-story structure long has been a symbol of urban decay, but now the future is starting to look bright even if officials caution that restoration is expected to cost $100 million.

Plans include making a portion of the depot into a museum that will expand and preserve the station’s legacy.

Mark Lewandowski, director for Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, said most of the grant money will be spent on new glass and lights for the main concourse.

Some funding will also be allocated to restoring the former Gateway Restaurant.

Most of the old glass in the concourse has been victimized by neglect and vandalism.

The arch windows at each end of the concourse include several four-foot square sections of 4-inch thick glass used as walkways between the windows.

Workers are also recreating the light fixtures in an effort to return the concourse to its 1929 appearance.

Much of the rest of the terminal is in poor condition. The only work it has received has included cleaning and weather proofing.

Toledo Council OK Rail Passenger Study Funds

November 13, 2018

An ordinance approved by the Toledo City Council will contribute $30,000 toward the cost of a study of reinstating rail passenger service between Toledo and Detroit.

The funds would come from the Division of Transportation general-fund budget.

The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments earlier agreed to contribute $20,000 to the $50,000 study.

The Toledo-Detroit route has been without intercity rail passenger service since Amtrak discontinued the Toledo leg of the Chicago-Toledo Lake Cities in April 1995.

IANA Says Intermodal Up in 3rd Quarter

November 13, 2018

Intermodal volumes increased by 4.7 percent to 4.8 million units in the third quarter compared with the same period of 2017, the Intermodal Association of North America reported last week.

International intermodal volume increased 4.4 percent on a year over year basis to 2.5 million containers while domestic containers climbed 3.9 percent to 2 million units; and trailers jumped 12.1 percent to 359,850 units.

“We saw some trail off in growth during the third quarter, relative to the first half of the year, but intermodal’s market expansion was still respectable,” said IANA CEO Joni Casey in a statement. “Trailers again performed especially well at the margins. The industry is in a strong position going into the fourth quarter.”

IANA said the seven highest-density trade corridors, which accounted for 62.4 percent of total volumes, were collectively up 3.9 percent.

The Midwest-Northwest, Northeast-Midwest, and South Central-Southwest lanes had growth of 8.4 percent, 7.7 percent and 6.6 percent respectively.  The Midwest-Southwest grew by 0.2 percent.

Higher Fees Might Endanger New River Train

November 10, 2018

A recently announced tariff increase for private rail cars that was announced by Amtrak may endanger the annual New River train in West Virginia.

Officials said the added expense combined with other rule changes on private car handling  being imposed by Amtrak might be too much.

The New River Train, which typically runs with about 30 cars, had already felt the effect of changes that Amtrak implemented last spring, including the elimination of Huntington, West Virginia, as a switching point.

That forced the Colils P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, which operates the train, to have to pay for an expensive deadhead move of the train to Huntington.

The Huntington group would not share costs or its agreement with Amtrak, but said it still wants to operate the train in 2019.

Amtrak’s new tariffs on hauling private rail cars will effective Jan. 1, 2019, rise to $3.67 per mile per car, with additional cars costing $2.81 per mile.

So far this year, the New River Train has been the only excursion train to operate following an announcement that the national passenger carrier was ending special moves and charter trains.

The New River Train was saved after West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin intervened.

New River Train and other private car operates have expressed alarm that Amtrak has said it will change terms and rates for private rail cars at its discretion with a 60-day notice, thus making it difficult to plan excursions.

In the case of the New River Train, the sponsor will be unable to determine future costs, something it said might put the excursion train out of business.

At a minimum ticket prices will need to increase to cover the added cost resulting from Amtrak tariff increases.

This year’s train charged $179 per person for a coach seat. Premium seats cost $279; and business class was $600 per person.

The New River Train handled about 4,800 passengers during its four excursions in October.

Intermodal Volume up 4.7% in 3rd Quarter

November 2, 2018

Intermodal volumes increased by 4.7 percent to 4.8 million units in the third quarter compared with the same period of 2017, the Intermodal Association of North America reported this week.

International intermodal volume increased 4.4 percent on a year over year basis to 2.5 million containers while domestic containers climbed 3.9 percent to 2 million units; and trailers jumped 12.1 percent to 359,850 units.

“We saw some trail off in growth during the third quarter, relative to the first half of the year, but intermodal’s market expansion was still respectable,” said IANA CEO Joni Casey in a statement. “Trailers again performed especially well at the margins. The industry is in a strong position going into the fourth quarter.”

IANA said the seven highest-density trade corridors, which accounted for 62.4 percent of total volumes, were collectively up 3.9 percent.

The Midwest-Northwest, Northeast-Midwest, and South Central-Southwest lanes had growth of 8.4 percent, 7.7 percent and 6.6 percent respectively. The Midwest-Southwest grew by 0.2 percent.

WMSR Sets up 1309 Club

November 2, 2018

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad has established a new fundraising mechanism known as the 1309 club.

The club is seeking 200 people to donate $1,309.00, which officials say will be almost enough to complete the restoration of former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309.

Officials said about $300,000 is needed to finish the restoration.

Members of the club will receive one cab ride from Cumberland to Frostburg and return, two tickets aboard No. 1309’s inaugural dinner train, and a lifetime coach pass on the scenic railroad.

Although restoration work on the 1309 continues, officials said additional funding is needed to avoid having to interrupt the project as has occurred in the past due to lack of money.

Toledo-Detroit Passenger Rail Restoration Eyed

November 1, 2018

The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Government is contributing $20,000 toward a feasibility study of reinstating intercity rail passenger service between Toledo and Detroit.

The study is expected to cost $50,000 and the City of Toledo has been asked to provide the remaining funds needed.

The study is expected to examine such questions as which route will work out the best and which railroad is most likely to be cooperative.

Toledo and Detroit are linked by routes of Norfolk Southern, CSX and Canadian National.

It is expected that whichever route is chosen will require capital work to bring it up to passenger standards.

The last intercity service between the cities was discontinued in April 1995 when Amtrak ended the Toledo-Detroit leg of the Chicago-Toledo Lake Cities.

Group Rescues ITM Traction Cars

November 1, 2018

A newly-formed organization has rescued a number of traction cars that were left behind when the Indiana Transportation Museum was forced out of its long-time home in Noblesville, Indiana, last July.

The Hoosier Heartland Trolley Company has taken possession of Indiana Union Traction interurban cars Nos. 429 and 437; Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern interurban car No. 81; and Indianapolis Street Railway car No. 153.

No. 153 is the last remaining streetcar from the Indianapolis system. Built in 1935, it operated through 1953.

Although it is a state of advanced deterioration due to having been stored outside for several years, the Hoosier Heartland group is optimistic No. 153 can be restored.

The 429 and 437 were built in 1925 by the St. Louis Car Company while No. 81, a wood car built by Jewett, was built in 1902. It is reported to be the oldest surviving Jewett car.

Hoosier Heartland said it plans to initially restore No. 429 because it in the best condition of its new collection from having been stored inside.

The group hopes to get No. 429 operational by 2025. First, though, it must build a home for its collection.

It has raised about $30,000 thus far toward that end, including receiving $3,500 from Indiana Landmarks.

Minnesota Museum Wants ex-GN Car in Columbus

October 31, 2018

A Minnesota museum is seeking to raise money to move a former Great Northern passenger car from its current location in Columbus.

The Minnesota Transportation Museum wants to move Empire Builder “Ranch” lounge White Pines Lake, which is now sitting at The Depot Event Center in Columbus.

The owners of the car have agreed to donate it to the Minnesota museum when the latter is able to pay to move it.

The museum is trying to raise $50,000 through a Go Fund Me page and grants.

Once funding is secured the car will be moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, by truck and rail.

The museum owns three other ex-GM passengers cars that were built in 1951 for the Empire Builder.