Archive for the ‘Other News’ Category

Heath Hall Named to FRA Post

June 28, 2017

Heath Hall has been named deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administrator.

Hall, whose position does not need Senate confirmation, was named by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who has known him since his days working in the deputy DOT secretary’s office and in the Peace Corps.

Now a vice president in the marketing and external affairs department of non-profit Innovate Mississippi, Hall also manages Pointe Innovation magazine.

He has served as senior vice president of external affairs at the Mississippi Economic Council, the State Chamber of Commerce, and as executive director of Mississippians for Civil Justice Reform/STOP Lawsuit Abuse in Mississippi.

Hall also served as Gov. Kirk Fordice’s director of public affairs, deputy press secretary, and deputy director of communications for Fordice’s re-election campaign.

In federal government service, Hall served as an FRA intern in the public relations office before moving into the USDOT deputy secretary’s office.

During the administration of George H.W. Bush, Hall served as an intern in the White House Office of Political Affairs.

The FRA is still without a permanent administrator. Patrick T. Warren, the FRA’s executive director, is serving as acting administrator.

Railway Age magazine reported that an administrator is unlikely to be appointed before August and that the agency is without an official mandate from the Trump Administration.

Works Continues on Restoring C&O 1309

June 27, 2017

Trains magazine reported on Monday that workers have begun installing the tubes into Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 at the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad shops.

The magazine said other work included workers applying firebox patches and conducting laser scans of the frame.

The locomotive is expected to return to operation later this year although no firm date has been set for its first public excursion.

Once operational, No. 1309 will be among the largest operating steam locomotives in the United States.

Tickets on Sale for NKP 765 Trips on CVSR

June 22, 2017

Tickets are now on sale for excursions behind Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765, which will return to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for two weekends in September.

The Berkshire-type locomotive, which was built by Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio, will pull excursions on Sept. 16 and 23 from Rockside Road station in Independence and on Sept. 17 and 24 from Akron Northside station.

Each trip will be two hours in duration and feature a photo runby at Boston Mill station.

Boarding times will be 9:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. at Rockside Road station and 11:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. in Akron.

New this year will be a Friday excursion that will be open only to CVSR members and volunteers. That trip will depart Rockside station at 5:30 p.m. and feature a 1940s theme. NKP 765 was built in 1944.

Passengers aboard the Friday trip will be served complimentary hors d’oeuvres. A cash bar will be available along with live entertainment from the period. There will be a photo runby during the excursion.

Tickets for the public trips are $25 for coach seating, $30 for an open-window coach, $38 for deluxe seating in dining car, $40 for Silver Bronco first class seating and $50 for Silver Bronco dome section seating.

Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.cvsr.com/steam-valley-rides/

Metro Ports New Burns Harbor Operator

June 22, 2017

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor has announced that Metropolitan Stevedore Company will become its new bulk terminal operator effective July 1.

Metro Ports will manage the loading and unloading of shipments along the port’s East Harbor for port tenants and outside shippers of bulk cargo, including products for steel making, agriculture, manufacturing, energy and construction.

“Having a 165-year-old company like Metro Ports select Indiana to launch its Great Lakes operations is a tribute to our state’s business climate and our extremely successful port system,” said Ports of Indiana Chief Executive Officer Rich Cooper in a news release.

Among the commodities handled at the port are aggregates, potash, coke, coal, cement, fertilizer, borax, bauxite, RoRo, military, steel, wind energy, yachts and project cargo.

Norfolk Southern provides rail service to the port.

AAO Holding Rallies in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo

June 21, 2017

All Aboard Ohio plans to conduct rallies on behalf of Amtrak’s long-distance passenger trains on Friday in Cleveland and Columbus and on Saturday in Toledo.

The rallies are part of a larger campaign by the National Association of Railroad Passengers to drum up public support for continuing federal funding for long-distance trains that the Trump administration has proposed ending in fiscal year 2018.

The Cleveland rally will begin at noon at the Amtrak station. The Columbus rally will start at 11 a.m. at the corner of High Street and Nationwide Boulevard.

The Toledo rally will begin at 3 p.m. at MLK Plaza/Amtrak station.

In a news release, AAO said that cities without passengers trains have fewer jobs, less tourism, lower economic activity, lower real estate values, less healthy people, more traffic congestion, less mobility and fewer travel options.

“Eliminating funding for Amtrak would have a profound negative impact on every intercity, rapid transit and commuter rail passenger in the country. More than 220 communities across the country and over 40 million riders will lose their service,” AAO said.

The AAO news release noted that Columbus has gone more than 13,750 days since losing service when Amtrak’s New York-Kansas City National Limited was discontinued on Oct. 1, 1979.

The capital of Ohio was said to be the largest city in the western hemisphere and possibly the world without any regularly scheduled passenger trains whether they be urban light-rail, regional commuter or intercity service.

Cleveland and Toledo are each served by the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited and the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited.

AAO said that Cleveland’s rail transit system faces a half-billion dollar backlog of unfunded repair needs and the viability of its Greater Cleveland RTA rail service is threatened by other proposed federal budget cuts.

FTA Urges States to Enact Safety Programs

June 21, 2017

Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan are among 30 states that have been reminded by the Federal Transit Administration that they must establish a state safety oversight program by April 15, 2019.

The rule was promulgated in 2016 and sets a three-year time frame for states to obtain certification for their SSO programs.

Failure to do so will mean the  FTA will not obligate funds to transportation agencies in that state until certification is achieved.

The FTA said it is encouraging states to act quickly to enact necessary legislation required to meet certification requirements.

Nine states have yet to enact legislation prior to FTA certification. FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes said that by law the 2019 deadline cannot be waived.

“The affected states should act to establish an FTA-certified SSO program that is compliant with federal law and provides the highest level of safety for their rail-transit riders and workers,” he said in a statement.

Waterloo Station to Hold Open House

June 20, 2017

The Waterloo, Indiana, Amtrak station will celebrate its first anniversary with an open house on June 25.

The station is located inside a former New York Central depot that was renovated by the city during a 10-year project.

The project, which was funded in part by a federal TIGER grant, also involved moving the depot closer to the Amtrak boarding platform.

The open house will be held from 2-4 p.m. and feature refreshments, door prizes and historical information about the station.

More than 20,000 passengers board at the Waterloo every year. The station is served by Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.

Steam Locomotive Restoration Group Reaches Pact with MRPS For Use of its Roundhouse

June 19, 2017

A group seeking to restore a Reading T1 steam locomotive has apparently patched up things with the Midwest Railway Preservation Society.

Trains magazine reported last week that MRPS has reached a tentative agreement on a lease with the American Steam Railroad Preservation Association for that group to remain at MRPS facility in Cleveland.

ASR had moved 4-8-4 No. 2100 to the former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse two years ago with the goal of restoring it to operating condition.

Known as a term sheet, the agreement  calls for the lease to last three years and establishes a set of agreements and conditions both sides agreed to meet before signing binding documents. The two parties will have four months to complete any pre-agreement work necessary.

Last spring the MRPS went to court to seek to evict ASR from the roundhouse.

According to Trains, the new agreement allows ASR to use one roundhouse stall and some tracks outside the building.

“Midwest sincerely hopes that we are entering a new and fruitful period for both organizations,” said MRPS President Donald Zeyer says. “Additionally, Midwest also wishes to advise the public that we had nothing to do with any allegations, comments, or arguments that were made on social media. Again, we hope that we are entering a new era of co-operation. We wish ASR nothing but the best in their efforts to return No. 2100 to steam.”

ASR President Steve Harvey said his group is pleased with the roundhouse, noting that it has good access to Class I railroads, short lines, and scenic railroad operators.

Trains quoted a ASR officer as saying that the group plans to focus on rebuilding No. 2100’s firebox and running gear in the coming months and to have locomotive under steam in the next year or two.

Bucyrus Railcar Repairs Expand Facility

June 19, 2017

Bucyrus Railcar Repair has acquired the property of the former American & Ohio Locomotive Crane Company.

A&O recently moved its Bucyrus operations to Duluth, Minnesota, following its acquisition by IPS Cranes.

The A&O facility is located on 25 acres and has 163,000 feet of space under roof. It also has 10 repair spots and a yard capacity of 75 cars.

The transaction included overhead cranes, mobile cranes, a blast and paint booth, rail scale, and fabrication machinery. BRR hopes to soon have the capability of dismantling rail cars

Located south of the BRR plant, the consolidation with the A&O property expands the BRR complex to 60 acres and 330,000 square feet under roof.

BRR is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cathcart Rail Holdings. The Burcyrus facility is AAR M-100, M-970, and M-992 certified, with additional accreditation underway.

The complex is switched by Norfolk Southern but also has access to CSX and the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern.

U.S. DOT Seeking Public Views on Regulations

June 19, 2017

Public views are being sought by the U.S. Department of Transportation on policies, guidance documents and regulations that may create obstacles to transportation infrastructure projects.

The agency is undertaking a review of its existing polices, guidance and regulations that may be unnecessary.

As part of that review, DOT is asking affected stakeholders and the public to help identify non-statutory requirements that should be removed or revised.

Comments should be received no later than July 24.

Instructions for filing comments can be found via this link.