Archive for the ‘Other News’ Category

United Boosting Cleveland Flights This Winter

October 10, 2021

United Airlines said last week it will add seasonal service to Cleveland that will boost service to Florida and restore flights to Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The service expansion from Hopkins Airport is part of a broader schedule change that will see the carrier increase system wide service to 3,500 daily domestic flights or 91 percent of the capacity it offered in December 2019 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Cleveland, United will operate about 200 flights a week for an average of 30 per day, its highest level of service since the airline closed its hub at Hopkins in 2014.

Hopkins officials said United last flew to Las Vegas in 2016 and to Phoenix in 2014. The flights to those destinations will begin in mid December and run through late March.

Currently Frontier Airlines flies between Cleveland and Phoenix with Southwest Airlines flying the route on Saturdays.

Frontier and Spirit Airlines fly the Cleveland-Las Vegas route with Southwest also operating Saturday flights.

United said it will resume daily flights from Cleveland to Tampa on Oct. 31, the same day it adds a second flight to Orlando. Second daily flights will be added from Hopkins to Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 16.

Seasonal service between Cleveland and Nassau in the Bahamas also is slated to begin this winter.

Airline officials said United continues to emphasize domestic leisure flights because the pandemic continues to hinder the demand for business travel.

A United spokesman said searches for holiday season flights in December on its website are up 16 percent compared with December 2019.

In addition to the service increases in Cleveland, United said it will restart service to Fort Myers from Columbus, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, as well as add new service to Orlando from Indianapolis.

N&W 611 to Remain at Strasburg for Winter

October 9, 2021

Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 will continue its stay at the Strasburg Rail Road in Pennsylvania through the winter.

The J class locomotive is owned by the Virginia Transportation Museum but will undergo an annual inspection and any needed maintenance in Pennsylvania.

That includes a Federal Railroad Administration mandated inspection of the boiler’s flexible staybolts and caps.

The 611 has been at the Strasburg since May and hosted excursions and other events throughout the summer.

A news release announcing 611 is staying at the Strasburg did not indicate any future plans for the locomotive.

SEPTA Increases Use of Social Workers

October 9, 2021

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will launch efforts to assist those who take refuge on its public transit system.

SEPTA plans to use social workers from Merakey Parkside Recovery, Eagle Staffing and One Day at a Time to assist those experiencing homelessness, addiction and mental illness.

The workers will expand the reach of SEPTA’s Safety, Cleaning, Ownership, Partnerships and Engagement program that began earlier this year.

The SEPTA Transit Police Department will assign a  officer with a social worker for patrols in order to provide additional resources.

PennDOT Taking Grant Applications

October 9, 2021

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is accepting unsolicited proposals for transportation projects from the private sector through Oct. 31.

The submission period applies to PennDOT-owned projects and infrastructure, the agency said in a news release.

Proposals should offer innovative ways to deliver transportation projects across a variety of modes including roads, bridges, rail, aviation and ports.

This could include more efficient models to manage existing transportation-related services and programs.

Instructions on how to submit a project and information on the unsolicited proposal review process can be found on the state’s P3 website, www.P3.pa.gov.  

STB Nomination Continues to Languish in Senate

October 9, 2021

The nomination of Karen J. Hedlund to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board continues to languish in the U.S. Senate.

Hedlund, a Democrat, was nominated by President Joseph Biden to fill the seat now held by Republican Ann D. Begeman whose term has expired and who by law must leave the Board by Dec. 31. Begeman continues to be a voting STB member with holdover status.

The nomination of Hedlund was sidetracked on Oct. 6 when Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) objected to Hedlund on the Senate floor.

Lee responded after presiding officer Senate Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) asked if Hedlund could be confirmed by unanimous consent of the senators present without a recorded vote.

Last August, Lee was the lone senator to vote against Hedlund when her nomination was considered by the Senate Commerce Committee.

Lee apparently has placed a “hold” on the Hedlund nomination, using a parliamentary procedure to prevent a motion from reaching a vote on the Senate floor.

Railway Age columnist Frank Wilner has reported that Hedlund has become a political pawn in an effort by the Utah congressional delegation to pressure the STB into supporting the efforts of a private-public partnership to build an 85-mile intrastate railroad in Utah.

The railroad, known as the Unita Basin Railway, would haul crude oil extracted from fracking operations to a connection with Union Pacific at Kyune, Utah.

Because it will connect with the national rail system, the UBR needs an STB certificate of public convenience and necessity.

STB Chairman Martin Oberman has expressed concern as to the financial viability of the project and the effects on the environment that it might create.

Wilner has written that some in Utah hold against Hedlund her prior professional associations with Oberman when she was practicing law in Chicago and Oberman was chairman of commuter operator Metra.

Hedlund is a former deputy administrator and chief counsel at the Federal Railroad Administration, a former chief counsel at the Federal Highway Administration, and most recently vice president and national strategy adviser at WSP USA.

Some in Utah fear that Hedlund will view the UBR project in the same way that Oberman does, although he also has said he does not currently oppose the project, but rather wants the STB to seek additional information about it.

The UBR project has already been before the STB already. In January 2021 the Board voted 2-1 that it meets the statutory standard for fast-track approval.

Oberman was the dissenting voter and dissented again on Sept. 30 when the Board voted 3-1 to deny a motion for reconsideration of its January decision. It is unclear when the STB plans to hold a final vote on awarding a certificate of public convenience and necessity to the UBR project.

Transportation Authorization Caught in Political Gridlock

October 7, 2021

Seeming lost amid the ongoing developments in the U.S. House of Representatives over the infrastructure bill and next fiscal year’s spending plan was the expiration of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act on Sept. 30.

The law authorizes funding for various federal transportation programs including funding for highways, public transit funding and Amtrak.

As has happened in other years, including 2020, Congress has approved a temporary extension of the FAST Act.

That legislation was signed by President Joseph Biden on Oct. 2 and maintains funding for road and transit programs for a month.

However, the extension won’t provide any new funding to state departments of transportation and some U.S. Department of Transportation workers will be temporarily furloughed.

The Senate’s five-year transportation authorization is included in the infrastructure plan

Cleveland RTA Completes Track Work Project

October 5, 2021

Greater Cleveland RTA said it has restored all service on its Blue and Green lines that had been suspended for the past eight weeks due to track construction.

The track work took place between the Buckeye-Woodhill Station and Shaker Square.

The project involved replacing 7,000 ties, 29,600 e-clip fasteners, 54,800 spikes, 27,400 feet of rail and 12 turnouts.

The agency spent $8 million on the work and said that last time this segment of the track had been repaired was in the early 1980s.

Open House Set for Restored N&W Business Car

October 5, 2021

An open house has been set for Oct. 9 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Valparaiso, Indiana, to mark the completion of restoration of Norfolk & Western business car 300.

Built in 1917 by the Pullman Company for the United States Railroad Administration, the N&W purchased the car in 1920.

It operated for N&W successor Norfolk Southern through 1987 when it was deemed surplus and sold.

The restoration has been overseen by current owner Norfolk & Western Business Car 300 Preservation Society.

The restoration work included interior work as the car sat on a siding in Valparaiso.

Bryan Lalevee of the society spent three years negotiating with the previous owner of the car who eventually agreed to donate it to the society.

Lalevee also created a plan for its restoration. “It has been intensely gratifying to save a piece of railroad history that really deserved to be saved,” Lalevee said. 

The car had been rebuilt in 1988 to meet Amtrak standards but had been placed in storage in 1991.

Although the car’s exterior was described as being in excellent condition, the interior had sustained mold damage.

Volunteers stripped the interior, painted it, installed in new flooring and carpet, and restored the window shades.

They also restored the generator to enable lights and other appliances to be able to operate again.

The open house will be held

 “It was so awesome to know that this car was alive again,” he said. 

The car will be moved later this month to the Little River Railroad in Coldwater, Michigan, which plans to operate it on excursion trains.

Directions to the open house site can be at www.nw300.org./oenhouse/

Surdyk to Present RRE Program on Friday

October 3, 2021

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts will meet Friday (Oct. 8) in Westlake.

Marty Surdyk will present a slide show titled Something Old, Something New.

The meeting will begin at approximately 8:15 p.m. at the Western Cuyahoga Lodge 25 of the Fraternal Order of Police. At 26145 Center Ridge Road.

The club said that dues for 2022 are due and will be collected at the meeting. Dues are $20.

Upcoming meetings include the Nov. 12 meeting at which Jerry Jordak will present a digital program.

The December meeting will be the annual pizza party and member’s night and will begin at 7 p.m. Members are invited to bring slides or digital images to show.

On Thanksgiving morning (Nov. 25), RRE members will gather in Berea for the annual Turkey Shoot railfan outing.

Berea Train Show is This Weekend

October 1, 2021

The Great Berea Train Show will be held Saturday and Sunday at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Middleburg Heights-Berea.

Show hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days. Admission is $8 with children under 18 admitted free with a paid adult admission. A two-day pass is available for $10.

The show features 700 vendor and display tables with dealers selling model railroad supplies and equipment as. There will also be sellers of railroad memorabilia and railroad historical societies. Several model railroad layouts will be in operation.

The event is sponsored by the North Coast Division (Division 4) of the Mid-Central Region of the National Model Railroad Association. This year marks the 47th year of the event although the 2020 show was cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic.