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Railfan Hot Rail NewsEdited by the Railfan & Railroad staff
We solicit your contributions to this column. If you have original news items
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Track extension for upstate New York salt mine approved
October 10th, 2014

American Rock Salt has all the approvals in place to begin construction of a 1500' addition that will extend loading tracks at their salt mine near Mount Morris, New York, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. The extension will allow the mine to load trains 100 cars long, instead of the 70 cars they are restricted to now. The salt mine is the largest operation in America, supplying de-icing rock salt to municipalities in 12 states. The mine is served by the Rochester & Southern Railroad, a unit of Genesee & Wyoming Industries. Approval was delayed until an agreement could be reached between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Tonawanda Seneca Nation over the handling of any discoveries of Native American burial sites or artifacts, an issue that was handled poorly when the mine was constructed in the 1990s.

—Railfan & Railroad

Canadian Pacific announces sale of Delaware & Hudson at investors meeting
October 2nd, 2014

Canadian Pacific's president and chief executive officer Hunter Harrison announced an agreement to sell Delaware & Hudson Railway to an unnamed party at its annual investors meeting in White Plains, New York, today. While the details of the sale were not revealed at the meeting, Harrison outlined an aggressive program to reduce operating costs and increase shipment velocity and train length. While CP has reduced its workforce and closed facilities, the railroad's stock price has nearly tripled since Harrison and his new management team took over in 2012. According to Bloomberg News, CP will continue to aggressively market its intermodal business and crude oil transport opportunities. It was also announced that Harrison's contract will be extended through 2017.

—Railfan & Railroad

College students work to preserve history of Clinchfield Railroad
September 30th, 2014

Graduate students from the East Tennessee State University held an open house at the Clinchfield Railroad Museum in Erwin, Tenn., so they could establish contacts with those who worked for the railroad. The primary focus of the project is the collection of oral histories, according to the Johnson City Press. The research program was developed in coordination with the railroad museum and county historians. Part of the Appalachia Teaching Project, the oral history project is funded in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The project has two primary goals, including field research of existing documentation and interviews with residents who have some connection the old Clinchfield Railroad, as well as working with community leaders to draft along-term plan to use railroad history to promote local tourism.

The Clinchfield Railroad connected the coalfields of Virginia and Kentucky with the textile mills of South Carolina. The Clinchfield played an important part as a connector between the Chesapeake & Ohio, the Atlantic Coast Line, and the Louisville & Nashville railroads. Clinchfield was merged into Seaboard System in 1983, and is now owned and operated by CSX Transportation.

—Railfan & Railroad

Despite opposition, Kenosha approves streetcar extension
September 24th, 2014

The city council approved an extension of the streetcar system in Kenosha, Wis., last week, despite opposition from those who felt that other areas of city transportation deserved attention first. Federal funds would cover about 80% of the total $10.3 million cost, with Kenosha contributing $2 million. The existing streetcar loop connects the Metra commuter rail station with the marina and waterfront areas, using a collection of vintage PCC trolley cars. The current system has been in operation for 14 years, and has become a tourist attraction for the area as well as driving "transit-oriented development" along its route.

—Railfan & Railroad

2015-2019 Capital Program for MTA includes plans for new Metro-North cars
September 24th, 2014

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority released their 2015-2019 Capital Program  yesterday, which includes spending plans to improve all aspects of transportation and transit in the metropolitan area, including the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad. The proposed $32 billion Capital Program is designed to renew, enhance and expand the MTA network, which moves 8.7 million customers every day.

"The MTA Capital Program is our single most important effort to ensure we can keep the New York metropolitan region moving, so people can get where they need to go, businesses can thrive and the quality of life here can continue to improve," said MTA Chief Executive Thomas Prendergast in a statement.

The latest plan includes a budget for new M-9 electric multiple-unit railcars for the Hudson and Harlem lines, to replace the last of the M-3 cars that were delivered in the 1980s. These cars would also have the ability to operate on the New Haven Line, which would move Metro-North one step closer towards its plan to route some rush hours trains into Penn Station via Amtrak's Hell Gate Bridge route.

New cars for the Subway and the Staten Island Railway are included in the budget, as well as new buses, track and signal improvements, station facility renewal, and bridge and tunnel rebuilding and maintenance. The second phase of Second Avenue Subway construction is also a large part of the 2015-2019 Capital Program.

The 2015-2019 Capital Program can be downloaded from this link.

—Railfan & Railroad via Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Canadian Pacific expands St.Paul yard over city objections
September 22nd, 2014

In a plan that has been labeled "controversial" by city officials, Canadian Pacific will begin its project to expand Dunn Yard in St. Paul., Minn., according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The project involves lengthening six tracks to accommodate longer trains and reduce congestion on the main line. The city raised objections because the expansion will increase train traffic and noise levels, and potentially impact a nearby wildlife preserve due to the filling of adjacent wetlands. The yard was originally designed in the 1950s, and the construction will lengthen the arrival tracks from 7,000 feet to 10,000 feet, which is a better fit for today's longer trains.

The city and Canadian Pacific were locked in a months-long dispute over environmental impact statements and an extensive permitting process. The railroad filed a petition with the Surface Transportation Board in July to address the issue. With approval coming from the STB, Canadian Pacific will begin construction soon, though the city of St. Paul promises it will continue to oversee the progress and intervene if public health and safety are threatened. The railroad will be working with the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers to come up with a plan to mitigate the loss of wetlands around the project site.

—Railfan & Railroad

NRHS board votes down "new business model," installs new president
September 22nd, 2014

The board of the National Railway Historical Society voted down a new plan that would have reinvented how the nearly 80-year-old organization conducted business in a day-long meeting that took place over the weekend. Facing mounting financial losses, and a membership that is rapidly graying and aging out of participation, a special five-member committee was tasked with examining the problem and coming up with a new plan to present to the board. The vote was close, with 12 again and 10 in favor of the new plan. The new business model would have transformed the society into a donor-based organization, and the role of chapters would have changed as well. Railfan & Railroad editor Steve Barry was a member of the committee tasked with developing the new business model for consideration.

Al Weber was installed as president during the meeting, an abrupt move that was originally planned to transition in November. However, according to the new NRHS by-laws, the president is supposed to assume office a few weeks after the conclusion of the election. Weber replaces Greg Malloy who has led the organization since 1994. While Weber was one of the members who voted down the new business model, he is looking at implementing many aspects of the plan to help streamline and modernize the organization.

The NRHS was founded in 1935 by a group of independent rail historians and enthusiasts. It has since grown from 40 founding members to include over 13,000 men and women of all ages and professions in every state and many foreign countries, making it the nation's largest rail preservation and historical society.

—Railfan & Railroad

Jeffrey Bliemeister joins Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
September 22nd, 2014

Jeffrey Bliemeister has been named as the new site administrator at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. He joins a staff of 25, an active corps of volunteers and a board of directors of the non-profit Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania to lead the world-class institution.  Bliemeister is expected to assume his duties as Museum director beginning October 6. 

Bliemeister has more than 25 years of professional museum experience. He most recently directed the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum in Galeton, Penn., where he oversaw renovations to and expansion of the visitor center. Additionally, he served as director at the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia, N.Y.; Hyde Hall New York State Historic Site in Springfield, N.Y., and Renfrew Museum and Park in Waynesboro, Penn. Bliemeister also was the founding curator at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, Penn. He has extensive experience in collections management, exhibitions and interpretive programs, community-based fund raising and working with volunteers.

Opened to the public in 1975, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is home to a premier collection of more than 100 historic locomotives and railroad cars, a vast library and archives, a working restoration shop and an immersive education center.

—Railfan & Railroad

Amtrak's "Great Dome" returns to the Adirondack through Oct. 29
September 12th, 2014

Amtrak announced this week that its popular "Great Dome" will be returning to the Adirondack route for five weeks through October 29, thanks in part to support from New York State Department of Transportation. The Great Dome was built in 1955, and remains Amtrak's only full-length dome in regular service. The dome car can be found on the Adirondack running northbound between Albany and Montreal on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Mondays (there are no dome car trips on Wednesdays). Seats are not reserved in the dome section, and are available on a first come, first served basis. The Great Dome was built by Budd for the Great Northern Railway and carried the name Ocean View. It was refurbished in 1985, and again in 1999, and has been used in various Amtrak services around the country.

—Railfan & Railroad via Amtrak

New owners invest $10 million to rebuild tracks of Central Maine & Quebec
September 10th, 2014

When Central Maine & Quebec Railway took over the old Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, they inherited a railroad full of slow orders and a dwindling customer base. President John Giles announced a program that will invest $10 million to rebuild tracks and bring speeds up from 10 to 25 m.p.h., according to the Portland Press Herald. The reconstruction work is expected to be completed by November, and will reduce the trip from Farnham, Quebec, to northern Vermont from two days to one. The sales and marketing staff will also be increased to help sell the railway's improved service to shippers. As per agreement, the railway is prohibited from shipping oil until at least 2016. Fortress Investments purchased the former MM&A at a bankruptcy auction earlier this year. The majority of the system is the former Bangor & Aroostook which went bankrupt in 1995.

—Railfan & Railroad


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