Edited by Walt Lankenau
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Santa Fe Alco is Donated to Rosenburg Museum
March 7th, 2014
The Gulf Coast Chapter NRHS has donated a historic diesel locomotive to the Rosenberg Railroad Museum in Rosenberg, Texas. The Alco S2 was built in 1945 as Santa Fe No. 2350 which worked in California and the Texas Panhandle before being retired in 1977.
No. 2350 was donated to Gulf Coast Chapter NRHS in 1999 by General Electric International, Inc. It had been used by GE at its Houston heavy equipment repair facility, but became surplus when most rail-related work was moved from Houston to north Texas.
Gulf Coast Chapter NRHS Board Member Tom Marsh said, “Rosenberg has a long association with the Santa Fe Railway, having been established at the junction of Santa Fe’s Texas predecessor Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway and the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railroad. Rosenberg was named in honor of GC&SF President Henry Rosenberg. Our organization is happy that this nearly 70-year-old Santa Fe locomotive has found an appropriate home alongside the tracks of the Santa Fe Railway at the Rosenberg Railroad Museum.”
The donation was arranged in support of the planned move of Gulf Coast Chapter NRHS’s historic railroad equipment collection to the new Texas Railroading Heritage Museum in the Houston area. Gulf Coast Chapter NRHS and Rosenberg Railroad Museum will cooperate in arranging for the movement of the locomotive from Houston to Rosenberg. No date has been set for the move as yet.
— Railfan & Railroad via Gulf Coast Chapter NRHS; 1977 photo by Sid Vaught
SunRail Begins Test Runs
March 5th, 2014
Central Florida's new SunRail commuter rail system has started simulated train operations to test the schedule planned for Opening Day on May 1. Train operations begin shortly after 5:00 a.m. and will continue daily until approximately 11:00 p.m. Testing will continue for several weeks, so that train crews will be prepared to welcome passengers on board, and so that motorists and pedestrians become acclimated to train operations in advance of regularly scheduled passenger service.
—Railfan & Railroad via SunRail
Pennsylvania Funds Rail Improvements
February 26th, 2014
Governor Tom Corbett announced on February 25 that 33 rail freight improvement projects have been approved for funding from three PennDOT-managed programs.
"Pennsylvania has more operating railroads than any other state, and investing in our rail freight network keeps these invaluable assets in prime position to generate economic growth and jobs," Corbett said. "Improving rail networks not only spurs our economy, it also increases safety by helping to ease traffic on our highways."
The State Transportation Commission (STC) voted to approve $33.4 million for 15 projects through the Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) and 14 projects through the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP). RTAP is a capital budget grant program funded with bonds and RFAP is underwritten through the new Multi-Modal Fund, created by Act 89. In November, Corbett signed Act 89, a far-reaching transportation program that clears the way for significant investments in all transportation modes.
Also, the STC approved $1.3 million for four projects from Marcellus Shale impact fees designated for distribution through PennDOT's Bureau of Rail Freight, Ports and Waterways.
Following is a list, organized by county, of approved rail freight projects under the three programs with the state share of funding:
• Allegheny Valley Railroad Co. — $1.2 million to construct 4500 feet of track for a new interchange siding with the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway at Bruceton, Penn.
Berks County • Redevelopment Authority of Berks County — $952,839 to rehabilitate and expand rail resources to accommodate a new rail-shipment customer.
Blair, Centre, Columbia, Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland counties • SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority — $1.8 million to rehabilitate nine bridges on five short-line rail systems to support 315,000-pound cars.
Bucks County • Bucks County Railroad Preservation & Restoration Corp. — $1.8 million to replace rail on the New Hope & Ivyland.
Clinton County • South Avis Realty — $2.5 million to reconstruct the existing rail yard and construct additional track.
Crawford County • Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County — $4 million to construct a 7000-foot unit train loop track and a 400-foot industrial track siding for a new tenant in the Keystone Regional Industrial Park.
Dauphin County • Mittal Steel USA Railways Steelton & Highspire — $1.9 million to rehabilitate 14,242 feet of track, including 27 turnouts.
Lackawanna County • Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Rail Authority — $674,800 to purchase and install 8000 ties and 7715 linear feet of rail.
Luzerne County • Medley Investments — $940,310 to relocate CPR's main line switch, construct a new 1050-foot siding, install a concrete pad for loading and unloading and establish a stone/gravel storage area.
Mercer County • Hodge Foundry, Inc. — $524,514 to construct a new 460-foot rail siding on the CN/Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad main line.
McKean County • Casella Waste Management of Pennsylvania, Inc. — nearly $7 million to construct a rail siding transfer station along the Buffalo & Pittsburgh line.
Montgomery County • Pennsylvania Northeastern Railroad — $539,000 to install 6000 cross ties and surface 16,000 feet of track.
Warren County • Allegheny Eastern Railroad Inc. — $2.3 million to re-establish and upgrade tracks in the Warren yard.
Wyoming County • Procter & Gamble Paper Products Co. — $250,600 to construct track, replace cross ties, replace timber, install ballast and improve the line's surface.
Westmoreland County • Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation — $1.1 million for the first of three phases for a project replacing 2.4 miles of worn rail with rail that will eliminate joints.
Allegheny County • Leetsdale Industrial Corp. -- $700,000 for the last phase of track rehabilitation in the industrial park, including turnout replacement, welding, upgrading rail and rail alignment. • The Techs Industries, Inc. — $229,320 to replace crossties, improve drainage and remove and replace ballast.
Berks, Chester, Lehigh and Montgomery counties • East Penn Railroad LLC — $493,640 to replace ties, rails, ballast and renew rail crossing.
Chester County • Mittal Steel USA Railways, Inc. — $230,790 to rebuild 1598 feet of track and replace two turnouts. • Arcelor Plate, LLC — $197,610 to rehabilitate more than 1500 feet of track and one turnout.
Crawford and Venango counties • Oil Creek Titusville Lines, Inc. — $127,194 to install 1500 new cross ties, and restore proper profile and depth of roadbed.
Lancaster County • Columbia & Reading Railway Co. LLC — $732,200 to add five new tracks, five new turnouts, realign 390 feet of main line track, add four new turnouts and 1350 feet of new track.
Luzerne County • Hazleton Shaft Corp. — $250,000 to construct a new rail spur for access to new anthracite coal thermal drying facility.
Montgomery County • Pennsylvania Northeast Railroad — $507,150 to install 2000 new cross ties and replace and repair two grade crossings.
Mifflin County • Standard Steel, LLC — $700,000 to remove and replace 2600 feet of track and several turnouts.
Northumberland County • North Shore Railroad — $250,000 for the first of two phases consisting of constructing 1500 feet of new track in the yard.
Philadelphia • James J. Anderson Construction Co. Inc. — $476,000 to rehabilitate 5618-foot loop track, including grade crossing and replace cross ties and miscellaneous rail, and to raise line and surface rail.
Schuylkill County • Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad — $700,000 to rehabilitate track in the Buck Mountain tunnel, including replacing 2478 ties.
Westmoreland County • Three Rivers Marine and Rail Terminal LP — $277,088 to rehabilitate grade crossing and connection to Wheeling & Lake Erie railroad and rehabilitate track on Koppers lead main line.
Allegheny County • Pittsburgh, Allegheny, McKees Rocks Railroad Co. — $350,000 to install new turnouts, construct new track and rehabilitate existing track including crosstie replacement.
Bradford and Wyoming counties • Lehigh Railway LLC — $367,500 for various rail improvements and replacing the deck on Wyalusing Bridge.
Beaver County • Youngstown & Southeastern railroad Inc. — $339,500 to rehabilitate track from the Pennsylvania border to Darlington, Penn., and rebuild siding at NOV Tuboscope.
Mercer County • Yourga Trucking, Inc. — $250,000 to install a new asphalt turnout, 700 feet of embedded track and a bumping post for the end of the track.
—Railfan & Railroad via Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
Metrolink Launches Positive Train Control System Demonstration
February 22nd, 2014
On Thursday, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Adam Schiff joined other dignitaries at Los Angeles Union Station as Metrolink launched Positive Train Control (PTC) in revenue service demonstration (RSD) under the authority of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad. "I have spent my entire life around the rail, but this is unequivocally the most instrumental piece of technology ever implemented for train safety,” said Metrolink Board Chair pat Morris, who worked his way through Stanford Law School at the Santa Fe Railway. “PTC will undoubtedly make Metrolink the safest commuter rail system in the country; the invaluable partnership between Metrolink and the BNSF has made today a reality.”
PTC is one of the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) top ten most wanted transportation safety improvements. It involves a GPS-based technology capable of preventing train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, unauthorized incursion into work zones, and train movement through switches left in the wrong position. PTC monitors and, if necessary, controls train movement in the event of human error. PTC may also bring trains to a safe stop in the event of a natural disaster.
Metrolink now has the ability to implement PTC on specific trains. The Federal Railroad Administration has authorized Metrolink to operate PTC RSD on BNSF territory using the Wabtec Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS)®. This system has been selected by the four Class I freight railroads and by Amtrak outside of the Northeast Corridor, as well as Metra in Chicago and Coaster in Southern California. Metrolink’s PTC on BNSF track will be implemented on select trains on the 91 Line (between Riverside-Downtown and just east of LA Union Station), Orange County Line (between Fullerton and just east of L.A. Union Station) and Inland Empire-Orange County Line (between San Bernardino and just east of Anaheim Canyon). PTC capability on Metrolink territory is expected to be available later this year, while the entire service area is anticipated to be completed well before the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) mandate of December 2015.
On February 20 Metrolink operated PTC RSD on Orange County Line train 686, while the first revenue service train to offer the advanced technology was 91 Line train 700 on Monday morning. Metrolink will bring additional trains into PTC RSD in the coming weeks and months.
As part of its 512-mile system, Metrolink also operates on track owned and dispatched by the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) and the North County Transportation District (NCTD). Metrolink, BNSF, UP and NCTD, along with Amtrak trains, will all have to install and implement an interoperable system for PTC to be complete in the region.
The RSIA became law in 2008 after a contractor engineer operating a Metrolink train failed to stop at a red signal just north of the Metrolink Chatsworth Station. This action led to a head-on collision with a freight train resulting in 25 passenger deaths and more than 130 injuries. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), sponsor of the Rail Collision Prevention Act which required implementation of Positive Train Control on passenger trains, said “With human error accounting for 40 per cent of all rail accidents, PTC will save lives and the rest of the country needs to adopt these systems as soon as possible.”
The estimated cost for developing, installing and deploying PTC on the Metrolink system including the expansion of the communication network to support the PTC System is $216.3 million. Metrolink secured full funding from local, state and federal sources with the funding split at 50 per cent, 42 per cent, and nine per cent respectively. Nearly 30 grants were secured.
Metrolink's PTC program calls for installing a back-office system (BOS) to replace the current computer-aided dispatching (CAD) system, installing PTC equipment on 57 cab cars and 52 locomotives, installing systems to stop trains at 476 wayside signals, and implementing a six-county specialized communication network to link the wayside signals, trains and a new 24,000 square foot security enhanced building to house the command and control equipment and personnel to dispatch the railroad at all times. The Metrolink Operations Center (MOC) is the dispatching hub for rail providers in Southern California, including other passenger and freight carriers, making it one of the nation's busiest and most complex rail networks.
Denver Union Station to Reopen Next Week
February 21st, 2014
Next Saturday, February 28, Amtrak's California Zephyr will return to Denver Union Station for the first time in more than three years. Amtrak has been using a temporary platform located east of the station since February 1, 2011 as eight DUS tracks and their platforms were being reconfigured to accommodate Regional Transportation District commuter rail in addition to Amtrak trains. The last train to use the temporary station will be westbound Amtrak No. 5 on February 28, and eastbound No. 6 will be the first to return to DUS that evening.
When completed, Denver Union Station will serve not only Amtrak and RTD trains but also regional buses and light rail.
—Railfan & Railroad
Expedited Takeover Is Sought for MMA Lines
February 21st, 2014
The Central Maine & Quebec Railway (CMQR) has asked the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to expedite its acquisition of the bankrupt Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway's lines in Maine and Vermont. CMQR says that on February 12 it notified MMA employees that the new company would be hiring with the goal of a March 31 startup. The STB requires 60-day notice; CMQR says that the railroad's situation is so precarious that it wants to begin operations as early as March 15 and wants the STB to waive the 60-day requirement. The railroad says it hopes to employ a majority of former MMA people and that it expects to begin operations with more staff than is currently active.
In addition, the company has clarified its relationship with Fortress Investment Group. CMQR is a subsidiary of Railway Acquisition Holdings, which is owned by Fortress Worldwide Transportation and Infrastructure General Partnership, an investment fund owned by a Fortress affiliate.
CMQR is headed by John Giles, a former CSX railroader who also ran Great Lakes Transportation and the RailAmerica short line group. GLT was comprised of the former United States Steel railroads and marine facilities which included Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad, Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway, Great Lakes Fleet Inc., and Pittsburgh & Conneaut Dock Co. GLT was purchased by Canadian National in 2004. In 2007, Fortress Investment Group acquired RailAmerica and recruited Giles to lead the company which was sold in 2012 to Genesee & Wyoming Industries.
—Railfan & Railroad via Surface Transportation Board
February 19th, 2014
NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein will step down on March 2. He'll be replaced by Ronnie Hakim, Executive Director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. At the helm since 2010, Weinstein's tenure was tarnished during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, when NJT left dozens of passenger cars and locomotives at low-lying yards in Kearny and Hoboken where high tides and storm surge caused $120 millions worth of damage. The agency also underestimated the number of people it would move to the Super Bowl at the Meadowlands earlier this month; nearly 33,000 passengers used mass transit — about 15,000 were expected.
—Railfan & Railroad
Liberty Liner Returns to Service
February 19th, 2014
The Rockhill Trolley Museum of Rockhill Furnace, Penn., has returned its historic Liberty Liner streamlined interurban trainset to operation. Two of these trains, known as the Electroliners, were constructed in 1941 by the St. Louis Car Co. for the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad, which provided high speed electric service between Chicago and Milwaukee until 1963. The four-car, bidirectional trains were specially designed to provide the most modern comforts of the time yet could operate in the tight confines of the Chicago elevated system and with automobile traffic on the streets of Milwaukee. The trains were studied by the designers of the original Japanese Shinkansen “Bullet” high speed trains in the early 1960s and may have influenced some of their features.
After the North Shore's abandonment, both Electroliners were sold in 1963 to the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co. (commonly known as the Red Arrow Lines) of Upper Darby, Penn. which renamed them Liberty Liners. The trains were refurbished and modified for use with high-level platforms and returned to operation on PSTC’s Norristown division in January 1964; they ran in regular service until 1978. The Museum’s parent Railways To Yesterday purchased train No. 803-804, named Independence Hall, in 1982 and moved it to Rockhill Furnace, where it was returned to operation. The Liberty Liner ran until 1996, when it was taken out of service due to problems with the control system. Museum volunteers again restored it to operation in 2011 for a special event, but electrical problems again sidelined the train in 2012. (Liberty Liner No. 801-802 was acquired by the Illinois Railway Museum and restored in its original North Shore configuration as an Electroliner. IRM [www.irm.org] plans to restore its trainset to operating condition by 2016 to celebrate its 75th anniversary.)
Thanks to a substantial donation, replacement control system components for Rockhill’s trainset were assembled and more than a dozen volunteers from several museum departments worked as a team over the past four months to return the train to operation once again. The Liberty Liner made its ceremonial roll-out and first trip (above) on the evening of February 15, 2014 at an annual gathering of volunteers from many East Coast trolley museums.
The Liberty Liner will be maintained in operable condition and will be operated on special occasions. Donations are being accepted to help defray the cost of restoring and maintaining this historic piece of equipment. You’ll find more information on the Liberty Liner and the Rockhill Trolley Museum at www.rockhilltrolley.org.
Railfan & Railroad via Rockhill Trolley Museum; photo by Bill Monaghan
UP chairman James R. Young (1952-2014)
February 16th, 2014
Union Pacific Corporation Chairman James R. (Jim) Young, who worked his way from an entry-level finance position to chairman, president and chief executive officer, died today after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 61 years old.
A lifelong Omaha resident and the oldest of six children, Young was elected Union Pacific Corporation chairman in January 2007. He served as president and chief executive officer from November 2005 until March 2012. Prior to those appointments, Young was Union Pacific Railroad president and chief operating officer, a position he had held since January 2004. He was elected a director of Union Pacific Corporation in February 2005.
"Jim was an icon at Union Pacific and in the railroad industry, a colleague and great friend," said Jack Koraleski, Union Pacific president and CEO. "Jim's vision and leadership took Union Pacific to unparalleled heights and his civic contributions made positive impacts on many communities across Nebraska and the entire Union Pacific system.
—Railfan & Railroad via Union Pacific Railroad
Details Emerge in Genesee & Wyoming Purchase of Former DME Lines
February 14th, 2014
In a filing with the Surface Transportation Board, Genesee & Wyoming’s new Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern (RPCE) has outlined the major provisions of its purchase of the former Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern (DME) lines west of Tracy, Minn., from Canadian Pacific. The deal protects CPR’s ability to build DME’s proposed expansion into Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal fields and control any coal traffic, as DME (CPR) will retain the exclusive right to handle all coal traffic “to, from, and over” RPCE through the end of 2030. DME (CPR) will also receive trackage rights between Tracy, Minn., and Wolsey, S.D., which will permit DME to continue operating through grain trains with BNSF Railway out of Florence, Minn., and ballast trains to points on DME east of Tracy.
RCPE says it will run two through trains a day into and out of Tracy, three trains a week between Huron and Mankato for Union Pacific interchange, two locals on the Black Hills and Huron Subdivisions and one serving the branches out of Huron. The railroad expects to hire about 180 of the current 215 employees currently working the lines.
—Railfan & Railroad via Surface Transportation Board