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Metra Trains Meet On-Time Goal

September 26th, 2016

Metra, the operator of the Northeast Illinois commuter rail system, has reported an on-time performance rate of 95.7 percent for the month of August, compared to the month’s five-year average of 95 percent. Metra’s goal is to operate at least 95 percent of its trains on time.

“We’ve worked hard to minimize delays due to construction activity, but we know that some construction work has impacted our on-time performance this summer,” said Don Orseno, Metra executive director and CEO. “While repairs to our tracks and ties will always be necessary to maintain our system, we continue to find ways to minimize the impact of this work on our customers.”

Metra follows the rest of the U.S. commuter railroad industry in considering a train to have operated on time if it reaches its final destination within five minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled arrival.

This August, Metra recorded 780 of 18,245 trains were late by six minutes or more, with the most common cause being track construction. Human error, mechanical issues and freight interference were other major causes of Metra train delays in August 2016.

Bombardier Delivers First Vehicle to Delhi Metro

September 26th, 2016
Bombardier celebrates delivery of first car to Delhi Metro. Photo: courtesy of Bombardier.

Bombardier celebrates delivery of first car to Delhi Metro. Photo: courtesy of Bombardier.

In a ceremony held at InnoTrans 2016 in Berlin, Bombardier Transportation celebrated the delivery of the first metro car to Delhi Metro from an order placed last year. The ceremony was attended by Benoît Cattin-Martel, president of Bombardier Transportation’s Asia Pacific region, who presented a commemorative metro car key to HS Anand, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd’s (DMRC) director of rolling stock.

Delhi Metro ordered an additional 162 BOMBARDIER MOVIA metro cars in 2015. The new trains will increase the number of DMRC’s existing fleet of BOMBARDIER MOVIA metros from 614 to 776 and make it one of the largest Bombardier metro fleets in the world.

“These new cars are being procured by Delhi Metro for services on its presently operational red, blue and yellow lines,” said Anand. “These cars will be put into service in a phased manner after the mandatory tests and trials. The addition of these cars will go a long way in providing safe and comfortable travel to our valued commuters”

The MOVIA metro vehicles are a six-car configuration, accommodating up to 1,740 passengers. Once configured into eight-car sets, the trains will carry as many as 2,400 passengers, providing a capacity increase on two of Delhi’s main metro lines that serve more than 50 percent of Delhi Metro’s average current ridership of approximately three million passengers a day.

Bombardier is Delhi Metro’s largest supplier of signaling systems and one of its largest suppliers of rolling stock with more than $1.2 billion worth of orders placed since 2007. Bombardier has delivered, or is in the process of delivering, signaling solutions for more than 120 track kilometers for Delhi Metro’s Lines 5 and 6 with extensions and Line 7.

Bombardier Transportation operates a railway vehicle manufacturing site and bogie assembly hall in Savli near Vadodara, Gujarat, and a propulsion systems manufacturing facility at Maneja. It also has a Rail Control Solutions Center for project delivery and product engineering, and an Information Services India hub near Gurgaon, Delhi NCR and an Engineering Center in Hyderabad.

“The high degree of localization executed in the project at Bombardier’s Savli and Maneja sites fulfils the requirements of the Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign and Delhi Metro’s indigenous procurement plan that encourages local manufacturing,” stated Cattin-Martel.

“Our energy efficient trains have helped the city of Delhi improve mobility and manage pollution levels as well as provided effective public transport during the 2010 Commonwealth Games,” added Cattin-Martel. “Our vehicles have also contributed to Delhi Metro receiving UN carbon credits, a world’s first for a metro project.”

Photo: Benoit Cattin Martel and Harsh Dhingra from Bombardier Transportation present commemorative Metro key to HS Anand, DMRC director of rolling stock. 

NY Governor Announces Improvements to Two LIRR Stations

September 26th, 2016

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that improvements will be made to the Hicksville and Jamaica Stations on the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) 40-mile line between Jamaica and Ronkonkoma.

Work has begun on a $121 million project to rebuild, reimagine and modernize the Hicksville station, the busiest station on Long Island. LIRR has also awarded a $64.9 million contract to create a new platform and tracks at the Jamaica station, the LIRR’s central hub and main transfer point. The projects are funded by the Governor’s $27 Billion MTA Capital Program.

“Revamping these two heavily trafficked transportation hubs will provide better, faster and more reliable train service for Long Island Rail Road riders,” said Governor Cuomo. “Time and time again, transportation investment has a ripple effect of progress and economic growth on the surrounding community.”

“These projects are part of this administration’s aggressive and comprehensive plan to revamp the state’s infrastructure and are two more reasons why New York is Built to Lead,” added Cuomo.

Work started this month on the modernization of the LIRR’s 55 year old Hicksville station and the preparation of an adjacent site where the railroad will build a new connection to an existing siding west of the station.

Upgrades to the station include: Wi-Fi and USB charging stations; enhanced interior waiting room; new platforms with glass-enclosed, heated waiting rooms; improved lighting; a translucent canopy roof; improved stairways, escalators, plaza elevators; and a video security system, audio and digital communications systems and better signage. The station will also feature laminated art glass installations by New York-based artist Roy Nicholson. The station work is expected to be completed by the spring of 2018.

At the direction of Governor Cuomo, the construction timeframe was reduced to 22 months, 13 months sooner than originally planned. The Hicksville project is supported by the MTA Capital Program.

“The modernization and expansion of the Long Island Rail Road is critical to the economic growth of our region and thus we commend Governor Cuomo’s historic investments in infrastructure projects like the Third Track and Double Track, as well as the reconstruction of a brand new LIRR station at one of our busiest hubs in Hicksville,” remarked Kevin S. Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association.

Jamaica Station’s new platform will have glass-enclosed, heated waiting areas and Wi-Fi and USB charging stations. It will also feature brightly colored art glass installations by New York-based artist James Little on the station’s westerly bridge, and on the stairs leading from the platform to the AirTrain mezzanine.

The Jamaica Station infrastructure was built in 1913. The new platform and tracks will allow the LIRR to more easily re-route trains, take tracks out of service and support supplemental train service to and from Atlantic Terminal.

“More tracks and platforms mean fewer delays. This award for Phase I of the project, which is funded by the Capital Plan, is great news,” stated MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “It will help speed up what LIRR customers have come to call ‘the Jamaica Crawl,’ introduce new services such as Wi-Fi and USB charging stations, and build on our ongoing commitment to renew, enhance and expand every aspect of the MTA.”

The project is one element of the Jamaica Capacity Improvements Project that began in 2010 and is being carried out in two phases with a projected investment of $442 million by the end of 2019. Funding for Phase I of the project comes from a combination of the MTA’s 2010-2014 capital plan and the 2015-2019 plan.

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks said, “We continue to invest in the upkeep and rehabilitation of critical transportation and infrastructure, guaranteeing a more efficient commute for thousands of New Yorkers. The Hicksville and Jamaica station hubs are two of the busiest locations in the state, and these updates will not only enable us to provide more frequent train service, but dramatically improve the travel experience for our riders, overall. I look forward to the progress of this project, and thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to this issue.”

The investment in the stations are among a number of projects to improve LIRR service on the central spine of the railroad, which lies between Jamaica and Ronkonkoma.

Sound Transit Link Light Rail Service to Angle Lake Begins Tomorrow

September 23rd, 2016

Seattle Area’s Sound Transit Link Light rail service to Angle Lake opens September 24, 2016, with a dedication ceremony at 9:30 a.m. and a City of SeaTac community celebration at 11 a.m.

The Angle Lake Station includes a 1,050-stall garage, 70-space surface lot, van pool parking and passenger drop-off/pickup area. Passengers boarding at Angle Lake can take a four-minute trip to the airport, a 41-minute trip to downtown’s Westlake Station and a 48-minute trip to the University of Washington Station at Husky Stadium.

“Saturday will be a day of celebration for the entire region as we continue to expand Link light rail. This station is the latest addition to a light rail network that is transforming commutes and communities,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “People love light rail, and the Angle Lake Station will be an amazing asset to get South county commuters out of gridlock.”

The dedication ceremony, which is being sponsored by Alaska Airlines, will include remarks by elected officials and project partners, a ribbon-cutting on the station platform and an inaugural train ride to Sea-Tac Airport. The City of SeaTac Community celebration will include entertainment, refreshments and other activities.

By 2018, Angle Lake Station will serve 5,400 each weekday.

BART Finishes Track Repair Ahead of Schedule

September 23rd, 2016

San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has completed a track construction and repair project between Daly City and Balboa Park stations two weeks ahead of schedule. The project was initially slated to cover seven weekends of repair work. All weekend service has now been restored.

Weekend shutdowns allowed workers to replace worn rail near Balboa Park, as well as reconstruct a crossover. This crossover is being finished during regular maintenance hours and will likely go into regular service in early October. Crews also installed sound dampers through the area. These will reduce vibration from the trains running overhead, which will help quiet screeching rails.

If crews had not been able to work for the five weekends, the repairs would have taken more than four months, and some of the work would not have been possible.

The project included replacing more than 4,000 feet of rail and 930 old wooden ties; installing 2,800 dampers; reconfiguring power systems; rebuilding a local portion of the train control system; laying 1,600 feet of cable; and removing five dead or dying trees,  which threatened to obstruct the right-of-way.

BART has budgeted $71.5 million for core system reinvestment. Much of its infrastructure, such as rails, power transmission cabling, substations, tunnels, and track circuitry, has deteriorated to the point of needing replacement. BART has placed Bond Measure RR on November’s presidential ballot. If voters approve, Bond Measure RR would be dedicated to helping pay for the cost of capital improvements such as rail replacement.

United Wagon to Open U.S. Subsidiary

September 23rd, 2016

Seeking to expand its exports, United Wagon Company (UWC), a Russia-based manufacturer of freight cars, is opening a U.S. subsidiary, Uniwagon North America Corp., in New Jersey. UWC’s shareholding in the new company is 100 percent.

Uniwagon North America Corp. is intended to facilitate the entry of UWC’s products to the North American market. UWC expects to have the subsidiary registered and to begin operations before the end of September.

“With our expertise and world-class manufacturing facilities, we expect successful export performance,” stated Maxim Kuzemchenko, UWC’s deputy chief executive officer, business development. “The approach we take is to make the most of our powerful engineering and design solutions, global access to components made under a wide range of standards, as well as flexible and highly efficient production processes. Apart from the U.S., we are seeking to expand our exports to Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.”

Earlier, UWC reported its entry into contracts with Wabtec Corporation, a supplier of products for rail industries, and Cardwell Westinghouse, a Wabtec company. The parties agreed on supplying heavy railcar castings (side frames and bolsters) to the United States for the purposes of manufacturing Barber S2HD (America’s most common bogie with an axle load of 30 tf), and high-tensile railcar springs.

FTA Signs Off on METRO Blue Line Extension’s EIS

September 22nd, 2016

The Metropolitan Council, the provider of services for the Minneapolis–Saint Paul (Twin Cities) region, has announced that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has signed off on the METRO Blue Line Extension Light Rail Transit Project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

“The completion of the federal environmental review is an important milestone for the Blue Line Extension LRT Project,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck.

The next step is for the Metropolitan Council to vote on the adequacy of the Final EIS, which it will do on September 28, after which the state environmental review process for the project will be concluded. The Council will then ask the FTA to authorize the project’s entry into the engineering phase.

“The project will be poised then to advance the design over the next year and request federal funding in spring 2017,” Duininck added.

The METRO Blue Line Extension will travel approximately 13 miles from downtown Min­neapolis through north Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park. It will feature 11 new stations and will connect with the METRO Green Line and the Northstar commuter rail line.

CP Calls on Minister of Transport to Implement LVVR

September 22nd, 2016

Canadian Pacific (CP) has joined the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) in calling for the Minister of Transport to implement Locomotive Voice and Video Recorders (LVVR) as soon as possible.

The TSB released “Expanding the Use of Locomotive Voice and Video Recorders in Canada”, a study in which TSB Chair Kathy Fox noted that LVVR data should be “used in the context of a pro-active, non-punitive safety management system” that would help “railways identify and mitigate risks before accidents occur.”

CP reiterates that the true value in LVVR technology lies in shaping behavior and preventing accidents before they happen, and argues that without a pre-emptive disciplinary option, LVVR would do little to improve safety.

“While I commend the TSB for the work they have done on this issue, today’s report does little to improve rail safety,” stated Keith Creel, CP’s president and chief operating officer. “I implore Minister Garneau to show political leadership by implementing LVVR as a preventative, proactive, behavior-changing tool.”

“This technology needs to be implemented, but it needs to be used in a way that reinforces sound safety practices and rewards safe behaviors,” continued Creel. “On one hand, the TSB is saying yes to accident prevention but on the other, it refuses to allow the railroad to take appropriate corrective action, including applying disciplinary consequences, in the event of unsafe behaviors.”

Opponents of LVRR are concerned about how railways would use the information, commenting that employees have a right to privacy while at work and recordings would be used for disciplinary purposes. CP believes the need to prevent accidents outweighs these concerns and is prepared to implement procedures ensuring a tight control of LVVR information that could only be used within strict guidelines. CP has submitted its views to the Canada Transportation Act Review Panel

“Not allowing LVVR to be used proactively is like giving highway police officers radar guns but not permitting them to hand out speeding tickets,” Creel said. “Without consequences, unsafe behaviors would simply continue.”

“The safety of our communities trumps personal privacy, plain and simple,” concluded Creel. “To put a finer point on what the TSB has issued today, I will say this: I would much rather prevent a death, than explain one.”

CP uses LVVR technology in 15 of its locomotives in the United States. The technology is also being used successfully by others in the United States, with studies showing a 40-percent reduction in collisions per million miles travelled.

NS Highlights Improvements to D&H Line

September 22nd, 2016

Norfolk Southern Corporation (NS) marked the first anniversary of its purchase of 282 miles of Delaware & Hudson Railway Co.’s (D&H) line between Sunbury, Pa., and Schenectady, N.Y., highlighting improvements it has made to the corridor. NS completed its $214.5 million purchase from Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) on September 18, 2015. D&H is a subsidiary of CP.

James A. Squires, NS chairman, president, and CEO, stated, “We set out to improve our competitive transportation offerings between Pennsylvania, New York, and New England, and I’m proud to say Norfolk Southern is well on its way to achieving that goal. Norfolk Southern takes great pride in incorporating this corridor into our safe, reliable, and efficient 22-state freight rail network.”

Since acquiring the line, NS has improved infrastructure by installing 90,000 new ties, resurfacing 84 miles of track, and making improvements to the Belden Tunnel in New York. NS also hired 166 new employees, including 140 former D&H employees with experience working the corridor.

NS has also noted that it improved service on the route, with an average of eight daily trains helping to attract additional rail traffic. NS Intermodal terminals at Ayer, Mass., and Scranton, Pa., have seen double-digit volume growth during the past year.

“Our operation of this corridor not only underscores our confidence in the economy of the region, but also preserves good-paying railroad jobs and revitalizes this important rail line,” said John H. Friedmann, NS vice president strategic planning. “We’re making these investments to provide our customers with freight rail service that helps them thrive, and we continuously look to improve safety for our employees, our customers, and the communities in which we operate.”

NS and New York State are partnering to replace the Portageville Bridge in Letchworth State Park to further improve service to Binghamton, Scranton, Albany, and New England. The new bridge will replace the span, which currently operates under weight and speed restrictions. The bridge is expected to open in 2017.

The D&H line connects to the NS network at Sunbury and Binghamton, N.Y., as well as to its joint venture subsidiary Pan Am Southern at Mechanicville, N.Y. The Pan Am Southern network, which services New England markets, and the former D&H line provide NS with a single-line route linking Chicago and southeastern U. S. markets to the Capital Region of New York.

Weekly U.S. Rail Traffic Down 5.1 Percent

September 21st, 2016

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported that U.S. rail traffic for the week ending September 17, 2016, totaled 537,904 carloads and intermodal units, a 5.1 percent decrease compared to the same week in 2015.

U.S. carloads, which totaled 270,336 for the week, were down by 5.3 percent compared to the same week last year. U.S. intermodal volume for the week totaled 267,568 units, a decrease of 4.9 percent compared to 2015.

Three of the 10 carload commodity groups that are tracked by the AAR posted an increase for the week ending September 17, 2016, when compared with the same week in 2015. Miscellaneous carloads increased 21.2 percent to 11,104; farm products, excluding grain and food, were up by 4.9 percent to 16,544 carloads; and chemicals were up 1 percent to 30,723 carloads.

Petroleum and petroleum products showed the largest decrease in the commodity groups, with a drop of 17.4 percent to 11,633 carloads. Forest products declined by 13 percent to 10,013 carloads, and coal dropped 12.5 percent to 90,369 carloads.

For the first 37 weeks of 2016, U.S. rail volume totaled 18,732,048 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 7.1 percent when compared to last year. Carloads, with a total of 9,191,535, were down by 10.8 percent, and intermodal, with a total of 9,540,513, dropped by 3.2 percent.

On the 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads, combined North American rail volume for the week ending September 17, 2016, was 701,528 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.4 percent.

For the first 37 weeks of 2016, North American rail volume was down 6.8 percent, with a total of 24,496,523 carloads and intermodal units.