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UP Makes Nine Leadership Changes to Operating Department

August 29th, 2014

Union Pacific (UP) has announced changes to its operating department, including naming Kenneth Hunt vice president of transportation, naming Shane Keller vice president of network operations and Harriman Dispatching Center, and making seven additional appointments, all of which are effective September 1, 2014.

Hunt has more than 30 years of railroad operating experience and is currently vice president of network operations and UP’s Harriman Dispatching Center. He will lead transportation field operations across UP’s system. He succeeds Randy Blackburn, who is retiring in 2015 after 40 years of service.

Succeeding Hunt, Keller will apply extensive safety and operations experience to his new role leading the company’s centralized train dispatching organization and coordinating operations across the railroad.

Richard Castagna, who is currently assistant vice president of safety, will succeed Keller as regional vice president of transportation for the western region. He will be responsible for overseeing safety and operations for the western third of UP’s rail system, which encompasses 8,900 employees and 10,500 miles of track.

Rodney Doerr will succeed Castagna as assistant vice president of safety, leading the railroad’s safety and operating practices functions. Doerr joined UP’s supply department in 1992 and moved to the operating department in 2004, holding various positions, including his current role as general superintendent of transportation services for the Los Angeles Service Unit.

Roger Lambeth, who is currently superintendent of transportation services for the Livonia Service Unit, will succeed Doerr as general superintendent of transportation services for the Los Angeles Service Unit and be responsible for leading safety and transportation operations over 1,200 track miles in southern California. Lambeth started his career as a trainman and has worked extensively throughout transportation operations for UP and its subsidiary, Insight Network Logistics.

Jamal Chappell, who is currently director of transportation services for the Livonia Service Unit, will succeed Lambeth as the superintendent and be responsible for safe operations of 800 track miles in Louisiana and Texas. He began his railroad career as a dispatcher in 1996 and has extensive field operations management experience.

Phillip Danner, who joined UP in 2011 as assistant vice president of engineering-signal, has been named assistant vice president of engineering-track programs, responsible for track programs across UP’s system.

Neal Hathaway has been named assistant vice president of engineering-signal, succeeding Danner. He will manage the strategy and direction of a safe, efficient signal/train control system to facilitate train movements. Hathaway, who is currently general director of maintenance of way-positive train control, has 23 years of experience in the company’s engineering department.

Grant Janke has been named assistant vice president of network and capital planning, responsible for leading the business planning process, managing capacity and overseeing the railroad’s critical resources to ensure reliable transportation service and network fluidity. Janke began his UP career in 1994 and is currently assistant vice president of strategic planning.

UP Invests in Texas and Kansas Rail Projects

August 29th, 2014

Union Pacific Railroad (UP) has begun construction on two infrastructure projects, extending a second rail line through Sugar Land, Stafford and Missouri City, Texas, and improving the rail line between Topeka and Kansas City, Kan.

The multimillion dollar Texas project, part of an overall plan to improve train operating efficiency, involves the installation of six new track miles from Ulrich Street to Gessner Road in Missouri City. The first construction phase involving preparation activities inside UP’s existing right of way has started, with the second phase of track installation beginning in 2015. Both phases will require temporary railroad crossing closures.

“This project is an indication of growth and economic development,” said Brenda Mainwaring, vice president of public affairs for the southern region. “This capacity expansion project will allow us to serve our customers more effectively and should have a positive impact on the community by improving our operating efficiency.”

Union Pacific is also investing $20 million to improve the rail line between Topeka and Kansas City, Kan., replacing 66,700 railroad ties and installing 42,700 tons of rock ballast. The project also includes renewing the surfaces at 116 road crossings, replacing nearly one mile of rail in various curves, installing more than 11 miles of new rail and changing 13 switches. Construction on the project, which is being funded by UP, began on June 16 and is scheduled to be completed by mid-November.

R. J. Corman Acquires Roadway Worker Training, Inc.

August 29th, 2014

R. J. Corman Railroad Group, a short line rail operator and rail services supplier, has acquired Florida-based Roadway Worker Training, Inc. (RWT), a training and support services provider to the railroad industry.

RWT has four business divisions, RWT Signal Services, Railroad Protective Services, Focal Point Productions and RWT Training. The company has more than 150 employees.

“RWT has long been respected for being the best safety, compliance and technical training provider in the industry,” said RJC President and CEO Craig King. “It is just a perfect fit with our family of railroad services.”

RWT President Dave Oram remarked, “This is an ideal match of two railroad services companies that are driven by delivering the highest quality to their industry. We want employees and customers alike to understand that nothing is changing regarding how we do business.”

Oram was appointed RWT president last week. He has more than 38 years’ experience in the rail industry, including experience in maintenance of way, bridge design and construction, planning, track product work and consulting. He earned a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Lehigh University and has been a registered professional engineer since 1981.

Jim Cashwell, RWT co-founder and chairman, will play a continuing role with RWT and R. J. Corman for the foreseeable future.

ARG to Operate 26-Mile Rail Line in Washington State

August 29th, 2014

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has chosen ARG Transportation (ARG) of Eugene, Ore., to operate a 26-mile rail line in central Washington on the Othello to Royal City rail corridor. ARG, which owns the Coos Bay Rail Link, was chosen based on its experience reestablishing rail lines and for its business plan to develop competitive rates for shippers.

The short rail line was purchased by Washington State in 1993 to preserve rail infrastructure. The line, which hasn’t been operated since 1994, received $750,000 in state-funded repairs that were completed in 2013. It will be the only rail service to a portion of Grant County where local farmers would use the rail for shipping products to market.

“I, along with the entire community, am excited that after years of work by the Port of Royal Slope and WSDOT, this project is moving towards completion,” said State Rep. Matt Manweller (Ellensburg). “A rail line out of Royal City will be a boon to economic development and another opportunity for local farmers to get their produce to international markets.”

ARG will spend six months determining the interest of prospective shippers. If results are favorable, the company will reopen the rail line.

Watco Names Pacheco GM of SAC

August 28th, 2014

Watco Companies has named Jeffrey Pacheco general manager of the San Antonio Central Railroad (SAC), responsible for the overall performance of the railroad.

Pacheco will also be responsible for reinforcing the company’s continuous improvement culture while driving safety and operational efficiencies.

Pacheco joined Watco in 2012 as a switchman on the SAC. Most recently, he served as conducter and engineer from 2012 to 2014. In May, he became the TS&IC leader for the SAC.

Oklahoma to Make $100 million in Rail Crossing Improvements

August 28th, 2014

Earlier this week, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin joined Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley, Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) Executive Director Mike Patterson and rail company representatives to announce a new $100 million initiative to accelerate the upgrade of safety warning features on as many as 300 rail crossings across the state.

The improvements will be funded by proceeds from the recent sale of the Sooner Sub rail line and from dedicated rail safety funds from ODOT and other partners. The sale of Sooner Sub to the Stillwater Central Railroad, a Watco Company, was finalized earlier this month and includes track improvements and a trial passenger rail service on the line within the next five years.

“First and foremost, this initiative will help to save lives by boosting safety at hundreds of rail road crossings,” said Governor Fallin. “It’s also another step forward for Oklahoma’s rail industry and infrastructure, which is essential to our state’s commerce and economic growth.”

According to ODOT, many of the state’s more than 3,700 at-grade rail crossings have some level of rail crossing safety deficiencies. Many of these have only rail crossing signs or faint pavement markings and no flashing lights or cross arms. ODOT plans to use the new funding to improve rail crossings by adding rail safety infrastructure such as high-visibility signage, cross bucks, gates, hazard lighting and pavement markings.

“The department has long recognized the great need for improving rail crossings on the state, county and local transportation system,” said Patterson. “Now with the influx of funding available from the sale of the Sooner Sub, we are excited to use this money to expedite the process of improving safety along rail systems across the state.”

Previously, ODOT was able to improve about 25 crossings per year with approximately $8 million a year in rail safety program funds. Depending on the specific site, crossing improvements can typically cost between $150,000 and $350,000. The new plan will leverage public and private sector funds to improve as many priority rail crossings as possible while also partnering with rail companies and local entities for long-term maintenance of the improvements.

ODOT expects to complete a preliminary multiyear plan of locations and improvements in early 2015. Locations for improvements will be based on a number of factors, including average daily traffic counts on the roadway and track, accident data, condition of the crossing and regional needs.

KCSR Increasing Train Speed on Gulfport to Hattiesburg Rail Line

August 28th, 2014

The Kansas City Southern Railway Company (KCSR) will increase train speed from 25 miles per hour to 49 miles per hour on sections of its Gulfport to Hattiesburg line, effective September 1, 2014. The company will not be increasing speed on yard limits on either end of the line, inside the city limits of Wiggins and the line south of I-10.

The increase in train speed over certain track segments is due to major track rehabilitation work.

From Gulfport, train speed will remain 25 miles per hour until the lead locomotive passes Morton Road in Saucier northbound, at which time the train speed may increase up to 49 miles per hour.

At Perkinston, train speed will remain 25 miles per hour until the lead locomotive passes Third Street at Perkinston southbound, and then train speed may increase up to 49 miles per hour.

Train speed at Wiggins will remain at 10 miles per hour until the lead locomotive passes MS 26 southbound, at which time train speed may increase up to 25 miles per hour. When the lead locomotive passes Davis Avenue northbound, the train speed may increase to 49 miles per hour.

Train speed at McLaurin will remain at 25 miles per hour until the lead locomotive passes Dunkly Street southbound and Carter Road northbound. Train speed then can increase up to 49 miles per hour.

At Hattiesburg, train speed will increase from 10 to 20 miles per hour from Tatum Industrial Drive to Barkley Road.

KCSR and Mississippi Operation Lifesaver are reminding the public that as train speed increases, regardless of safety measures, motorists and pedestrians are urged to always expect a train.

Renovations Completed at VIA Rail Canada’s Cobourg Station

August 28th, 2014

VIA Rail Canada’s Chairman of the Board Paul G. Smith was joined by VIA Rail President and CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano and other local officials last week to officially open the new overhead walkway and heated central platform at Cobourg Station in Ontario.

“VIA Rail is proud to offer passengers travelling through Cobourg greater comfort, better accessibility, and increased security,” stated Smith. “This walkway, made possible thanks to financing from the Government of Canada, is an important asset from which everyone will benefit.”

The construction project, which began a few years ago, has improved accessibility. The new walkway is equipped with elevators to access the new heated central platform.

Smith added that the renovation project created jobs and demonstrated the company’s commitment to increasing passenger rail transport in the region. “This new walkway will respond to increased demand for, and ridership on, our trains.”

The $14 million project was funded in part through a Government investment in VIA Rail of more than $1 billion. Canada’s Economic Action Plan funded $1 million of the $14 million for the project.

DC Metro’s Silver Line Extension Receives $1.28 Billion TIFIA Loan

August 27th, 2014

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has received a $1.28 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan for construction of Phase Two of the Metrorail Silver Line extension. This delivers part of an approximately $1.87 billion combined commitment of TIFIA loans for Phase Two of the Silver Line extension through Washington Dulles International Airport to Loudoun County, the largest TIFIA assistance for a single project in the program’s history.

“The first phase of the Silver Line has been an overwhelming success, and we look forward to ensuring the second half is just as successful, with the help of this $1.28 billion loan from the federal government,” said Secretary Foxx.  “When complete, the Silver Line will help residents and visitors get where they need to go safely, quickly and affordably. It’s the kind of project we’d like to see more of, and one way to do that is if Congress will support our GROW AMERICA Act to provide long-term funding for transit systems, roads and bridges nationwide.”

Phase Two of the project includes construction of 11.4 miles of track from Wiehle Avenue station to Route 772 in Virginia’s eastern Loudoun County. Six stations are planned for the new line at Reston Town Center, Herndon, Innovation Center, Washington Dulles International Airport, Route 606 and Route 772. A new service and inspection yard will also be built at the airport. The new line is expected to serve approximately 85,700 daily riders by 2030.

“Completion of the Silver Line project will provide a critical link to Dulles International Airport and gives residents in the rapidly growing Northern Virginia region more transportation options,” said Sylvia Garcia, chief financial officer and assistant secretary for budget and programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The first phase of the Silver Line, which opened last month for service, extended the Metrorail from Falls Church, Va., through Tysons Corner to the Reston area of Fairfax County, Va. The Silver Line is being constructed by MWAA and operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

AAR Reports Increase in Weekly Rail Traffic

August 27th, 2014

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported a 4 percent increase in total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending August 16, 2014, when compared to the same week in 2013, with 574,592 carloads and intermodal units reported.

U.S. carloads, with a reported total of 304,276 for the week, increased 2.8 percent compared to the same week last year. U.S. intermodal volume increased 5.4 percent for the week, with a total of 270,316 units reported.

Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups that are tracked by AAR posted increases compared with the same week in 2013. Petroleum and petroleum products showed the highest increase, up 19.5 percent, with 15,653 carloads. Metallic ores and metals increased 11.6 percent, with a total of 28,142 carloads, and nonmetallic minerals increased 7.4 percent, with 39,394 carloads. Grain increased 7.1 percent, with 17,916 carloads. Coal posted a decrease of 3.3 percent, with 118,954 carloads.

U.S. railroads reported a 4.7 percent increase in total combined traffic for the first 33 weeks of 2014 when compared to the same period in 2013, with a total volume of 17,991,205 carloads and intermodal units. U.S. carloads increased 3.7 percent, with a reported total of 9,526,136 carloads. U.S. intermodal volume, with a total of 8,465,069 units, increased 5.8 percent.

Canadian railroads reported an increase of 4.4 percent in carloads and an increase of 10.1 percent in intermodal units for the week ending August 16, 2014, when compared to the same week in 2013. Weekly 2014 totals were 81,707 carloads and 62,175 intermodal units.

For the first 33 weeks of 2014, Canadian railroads reported a cumulative volume of 2,603,815 carloads, an increase of 1.5 percent when compared to the same time period last year. An increase of 6.9 percent was reported for intermodal units, with a total of 1,865,701 units.

Mexican railroads reported decreases for both carloads and intermodal units for the week ending August 16, 2014, compared to the same week in 2013. Carloads dropped by 2.9 percent, with 16,375 carloads reported. Intermodal units saw a 1.1 percent decrease, with 11,490 units reported.

For the first 33 weeks of 2014, cumulative carload volume on Mexican railroads increased 1.9 percent when compared to the same time period in 2013, with a reported 517,594 carloads. Intermodal units increased 3.7 percent, with 337,248 units reported.

On the 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads, combined North American rail carload volume for the first 33 weeks of 2014 was 12,647,545 carloads, an increase of 3.2 percent compared with the same time period last year. Intermodal trailers and containers totaled 10,668,018 units, up 5.9 percent.