Archive for the ‘Other News’ Category

STB Won’t Reconsider Rate Reasonable Rule

January 30, 2023

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board last week denied two petitions seeking reconsideration of agency rules that establish a streamlined approach for pleading market dominance in rate reasonableness proceedings.

STB adopted the rules more than two years ago.

At the time, the STB said, “if demonstrated by a complainant, [it] would constitute a prima facie showing of market dominance.”

The factors the STB said it would consider in such cases include the movement has a revenue-to-variable cost ratio of 180 percent or greater; the movement would exceed 500 highway miles between origin and destination; there is no intramodal competition from other railroads; there is no barge competition; there is no pipeline competition; the complainant has used truck for 10 percent or less of its volume (by tonnage) subject to the rate at issue over a five-year period; the complainant has no practical build-out alternative due to physical, regulatory, financial, or other issues (or combination of issues).

The petitions for reconsideration were filed by several trade organizations representing railroad shippers.

Their petition claimed the STB “committed material error regarding four aspects of its final rule adopting the streamlined approach.

Also seeking reconsideration was the Association of American Railroads.

In denying the petitions for reconsideration, the STB said the petitioners had “failed to demonstrate material error, but instead merely disagree with the Board’s decision on these issues.”

SEPTA Names Chief Safety Officer

January 30, 2023

Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has appointed Ronald Keele as its chief safety officer.

He will lead the development, monitoring and necessary adjustment of SEPTA’s plan to “ensure a safe and healthy environment for all employees, riders, and community members,” SEPTA said in a news release.

That includes development of methods to measure the Authority’s safety performance and establish programs to routinely involve executive leadership in safety planning.

Keele comes to SEPTA from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority where he held a similar position as a safety officer.

Surdyk to Present at AOS Event on Feb. 9

January 29, 2023

Marty Surdyk will be among the headliners at the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum winter speaker’s series.

Surdyk, a former Akron Railroad Club president and newsletter editor, will be showing images of excursion trains on the Ohio Central System,

The program opens with excursion trains rains that ran on the line through Sugarcreek when it was still operated by Norfolk Southern and continues into excursions out of Dennison in the Genesee & Wyoming era.

Featured will be the steam locomotives acquired and restored by the late Jerry Joe Jacobson and the excursion trains that they pulled over various segments of the Ohio Central system.

Not to be forgotten are the vintage F units Ohio Central operated including F9A Nos. 6307 and 6313 in their sharp livery that recalled the Pennsylvania Railroad pinstripes scheme.

Jacobson founded the Ohio Central and later created the Age of Steam Roundhouse to preserve his collection of steam locomotives, and vintage railroad rolling stock and diesel locomotives.

The program will begin at 6 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the Roundhouse.

Also slated to be presented at the Roundhouse is the documentary Engineering Tragedy: The Ashtabula Train Disaster.

It will be shown at 6 p.m. on March 9. Attendees will be able to meet the producers, directors and some of the actors of the documentary, which aired on PBS.

The Roundhouse was used in the making of the documentary with former McCloud River Railroad No. 9 used as the stand-in for both of the steam locomotives in different scenes.

The Ashtabula train disaster and bridge collapse was the worst train disaster of the 19th century, and left 97 dead.

It involved the Dec. 29, 1876, collapse of a bridge on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern over the Ashtabula River as The Pacific Express was rolling over it during a winter storm.

The two-hour long narrated documentary explores the events surrounding the disaster, including the engineering, construction, and collapse of the bridge, and the treacherous conditions that hampered the rescue attempts of trapped passengers.

In the wake of the incident, public pressure resulted in the adoption of standards for  bridge construction and inspection that continue to apply today.

L&N Freight House to be Sold at Auction

January 27, 2023

A former Louisville & Nashville freight station in Kentucky was to be auctioned today (Jan. 27)

Located in Hopkinsville, the 1905-built brick facility is owned by the Hopkinsville Water Environment Authority, which has said it no longer needs the building for storage.

News reports indicated the freight house has been vacant for several years. The two-story structure has 5,600 feet of office space and 9,500 feet of warehouse space.

The auction was to be conducted at noon by Bolinger Real Estate and Auction.

The freight house is located across the tracks from the former L&N passenger station, which is owned by a city development agency. The passenger depot has been vacant for the past four years and a local preservation group is seeking to save it.

STB Won’t Stay Rate Arbitration Proposal

January 27, 2023

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has denied a request by four Class 1 railroads to stay implementation of an agency rule issued last month establishing an arbitration mechanism to settle small rate disputes.

The arbitration program would only become effective if all Class 1 railroads agreed to participate.

CSX, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, and the U.S. operating subsidiaries of Canadian National asked the board in late December to delay the deadline for Class 1 railroads to agree or disagree to participate in the arbitration program.

The rule establishing the arbitration program is to take effect on Feb. 3.

The STB has described the arbitration program as one of two approaches it is taking to create new “rate reasonableness” proceedings that regulators contend will streamline the process for shippers and railroads to resolve smaller rate disputes.

The STB gave Class 1 railroads 50 days from the publication of the rule in the Federal Register to commit to participating in the arbitration program for five years. The rule was published in early January.

If all seven Class 1 carriers agree to that, they will be exempt from the Final Offer Rate Review rate challenge process.

Smaller rates are defined by the STB as rate disputes worth up to $4 million in relief over two years.

Under the new FORR procedure, if regulators find a rate to be unreasonable, they “will decide the rate by selecting either the complainant’s or the defendant’s final offer, subject to an expedited procedural schedule that adheres to firm deadlines.

Under the arbitration program, Class I rail carriers would commit for a period of five years to arbitrate rate disputes, under a similarly expedited schedule.

Pilot Killed in Crash Along Rail Line in Indianapolis

January 25, 2023

The pilot of a small plane was killed on Tuesday afternoon when the craft crashed along a railroad line on the south side of Indianapolis.

The crash occurred about 3:45 p.m. near Weaver Avenue close to the University of Indianapolis campus.

Rail traffic was halted while investigators processed the scene. A Louisville & Indiana train was stopped near the Weaver Avenue crossing.

The rail line was once a Pennsylvania Railroad route between Indianapolis and Louisville, Kentucky.

Most of the route is now operated by L&I, but CSX has retained ownership of the track in Indianapolis.

The plane was reported to be a Cirrus SR-90 that had taken off from Indianapolis Executive Airport.

Lima-Hamilton Switcher Fired up in Indiana

January 20, 2023

An Indiana tourist railroad recently fired up a vintage Lima-Hamilton diesel locomotive to complete a 10-year restoration program, Trains magazine reported on its website.

The Whitewater Valley Railroad, which operates over a former New York Central branch line between Connersville and Metamora in southeast Indiana, operated former Armco A-3080/LS-1000 switcher No. 709 under its own power.

The move was made Jan. 14 in Connersville. The switcher last ran in 2005.

Railroad officials said additional work needs to be done before the 709 can begin revenue service.

The Whitewater Valley owns two other Lima diesel switchers including former Cincinnati Union Terminal A-3149/LS-750 No. 25 and former Baltimore & Ohio A-3170/LS-1200 No. 320.

Program to Feature Michigan Railroads

January 18, 2023

Marion Railfan Society will meet on Saturday (Jan 21, 2023) at Marion Union Station.

The meeting will begin at approximately 7 p.m. and feature a program presented by John Curtright, a Michigan resident.

He will be showing trains in Michigan and in the southern half of the lower peninsula from the past 10 years.

The show will feature trains of Great Lakes Central, Lake State Railway, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Amtrak. 

After the conclusion of the program, meeting host Bill Haines will show a movie of Pennsylvania Railroad trains around Bradford, Ohio, in the early 1960s and train wreck scenes from the Cincinnati area.

Club officials expect there will be enough time for audience members to show slides or digital images during an open projector segment.

PUCO Approves Grade Crossing Projects

January 18, 2023

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has approved grade crossing projects involving two regional railroads.

The Indiana & Ohio will install flashing lights and gates and reconstruct surfaces at the U.S. 68/Broadway Street crossing in Midland and the T.R. 1497/Wilson’s Lane crossing in Berne Township.

The Midland project is fully funded by federal grants totaling $497,009, while the Berne Township project is partly funded by a federal grant of $408,836.

I&O will pay the remaining $65,689 of the project. Both projects are to be completed by Oct. 11, 2023.

Ohio South Central Railroad will install flashing lights at two crossings on Ohio Route 93 in Jackson County by Jan. 11, 2024.

PUCO is providing a grant of $7,500 for the project from the state’s Grade Crossing Protection Fund. The railroad will pay any remaining costs.

FRA Warns Class 1s on Training Programs

January 18, 2023

Federal Railroad Administration head Amit Bose has warned Class I railroad CEOs that the agency will commence enforcement actions against them if their companies fail to follow the agency’s recommended improvements to their engineer and conductor training and certification programs.

In a letter to the CEOs, Bose said a review of the training programs by FRA staff has found that revisions made by the Class 1 carriers barely made incremental program toward correcting deficiencies that FRA inspectors identified.

Some programs have been reviewed by the FRA several times.

“To encourage full compliance please be advised that FRA is committed to pursuing enforcement action if a railroad’s resubmitted certification program continues to fail to address the deficiencies identified by FRA.”