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VIA Rail Acquires Brockville Subdivision

November 30th, 2015

Canada’s national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada, has acquired the Brockville Subdivision, 28 miles of single track between Smiths Falls and Brockville in Ontario.

“This acquisition will strengthen our rail network dedicated to passenger trains in the Ottawa region, where VIA Rail owns more than 200 kilometers (140 miles) of track,” said VIA Rail President and CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. “With recent improvements in the region and ownership of the track from Ottawa to Brockville, we are well positioned to improve our reliability and our on-time performance going into and out of Ottawa.”

VIA Rail has invested approximately $20 million in the Brockville Subdivision and has introduced a Centralized Traffic Control system for train movements. VIA Rail has also added two new sidings for train meets. The changes have allowed the addition of two daily round trips and have also resulted in higher speeds and improved trip times. Curve alignments were also adjusted to support increased speeds, and public crossings were upgraded and security fencing was installed.

“VIA Rail will have more agility to make work and infrastructure upgrades in the Brockville Subdivision to improve its service,” Yves Desjardins-Siciliano added. “On the limited infrastructure owned by VIA Rail, punctuality is in the mid-90 percent. Our customers will benefit greatly from this new asset.”

RBMN to Operate Rail Service at Pennsylvania Industrial Park

November 30th, 2015

Beginning January 1, 2016, Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad (RBMN) will own and operate 7.5 miles of rail infrastructure at CAN DO, Inc.’s, Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazleton, Pa. Humboldt Industrial Park is the region’s largest rail-served industrial park with more than 15 industries depending on rail service to the park. In 2014, 4,633 rail cars moved through Humboldt.

CAN DO entered into an agreement in 2012 with RBMN to take ownership of the rail line inside Humboldt at the end of 2016. CAN DO President Kevin O’Donnell  said that negotiations between Norfolk Southern Railroad Company (NS), the park’s current rail provider, and RBMN resulted in the date moving ahead to January 1.

“Rail service is critical to many companies and has been instrumental in the growth of our industrial parks,” stated O’Donnell. “The new provider promises to be an asset in our future growth.”

RBMN Owner and CEO Andrew Muller, Jr. stated that RBMN plans to run a scheduled service but will also provide additional rail switches when business needs warrant them. The railroad will also offer railcar storage and personalized service for each business customer. Muller noted that all traffic to Humboldt Industrial Park will be received at Reading and move directly to Humboldt via Tamaqua. No traffic to Humboldt should move through downtown Hazleton.

RBMN President Wayne Michel remarked, “Each customer will have their own local account representative who can assist them with all their rail needs and any issues that arise. At Reading & Northern the customer comes first and Humboldt customers will learn what our existing customers already know… our service is superior to that of any other railroad.”

“Every Humboldt customer will be visited at least twice before we take over service,” said Michel. “During those visits we will get to understand their needs. We will then design a service plan that guarantees every customer a service window and up to six-days-a-week service that meets their needs.”

“As for potential customers, we will follow-up on all opportunities with our award winning industrial development team,” continued Michel. “Reading & Northern, like CAN DO, has a national reputation for its innovative approach to economic development. We have won national awards for our efforts to attract business to the railroad.”

“We make investments in plant and equipment and we assist customers with their development. We also work to make rail infrastructure decisions easy by charging less for the needed rail work and being more flexible on track design. We have a strong team focused on industrial development and that team will work hand in hand with CANDO,” said Michel.

RBMN serves major businesses in nine Eastern Pennsylvania counties and is headquartered in Port Clinton, Pa. It handles freight to and from all points in the United States.

AAR Reports Decreased Weekly Rail Traffic

November 30th, 2015

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported that U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 21, 2015, totaled 532,532 carloads and intermodal units, a 5.7 percent decrease compared to the same week in 2014.

U.S. carloads, which totaled 267,830 for the week, were down by 9.4 percent compared to the same week last year. U.S. intermodal volume for the week totaled 264,702 units, a 1.7 percent decrease compared to 2014.

Four of the 10 carload commodity groups that are tracked by the AAR posted an increase for the week ending November 21, 2015, when compared with the same week in 2014. Miscellaneous carloads increased 12.3 percent to 9,597 carloads, motor vehicles and parts increased 5.9 percent to 19,105 carloads, and nonmetallic minerals increased 2.1 percent to 35,420 carloads.

Petroleum and petroleum products showed the largest decrease in the commodity groups, with a drop of 25.8 percent to 11,894 carloads. Metallic ores and metals dropped 22.7 percent to 19,782 carloads, and coal declined by 16.8 percent to 92,998 carloads.

For the first 46 weeks of 2015, U.S. rail volume totaled 25,127,111 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1.7 percent when compared to last year. Carloads, with a total of 12,815,842 were down by 4.9 percent, and intermodal, with a total of 12,311,269, was up by 1.9 percent.

On the 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads, combined North American rail volume for the week ending November 21, 2015, was 691,678 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.6 percent.

For the first 46 weeks of 2015, North American rail volume was down 1.4 percent, with 32,708,896 carloads and intermodal units.

Sound Transit Announces Alignment for Tacoma Link Expansion

November 25th, 2015

Seattle area’s Sound Transit Board of Directors has selected the route, stations, and expanded operation and maintenance facility for the Tacoma Link Expansion, a 2.4-mile light rail extension. The extension will travel from the Theater District to the Stadium and Hilltop neighborhoods.

Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine stated, “By extending light rail to the Stadium Way and Hilltop districts, more people will have better access to jobs, schools, and everyday needs. We’ll also work with residents to make sure that transit supports and enhances the unique character of their communities.”

The Tacoma Link Expansion will run primarily in-street along Stadium Way, North 1st Street, Division Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr., Way. It will include one relocated station in the Theater District and six new stations: Stadium Way and South 4th Street, the Stadium District, and four stations on Martin Luther King Jr. Way at Division Avenue, 6th Avenue, South 11th Street and South 19th Street. Also included in the project is an expanded Tacoma Operations and Maintenance Facility at 824 E. 25th St. next to the existing maintenance facility.

“Today’s board action enables us to complete project design and move forward with this long-awaited expansion,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “Thanks to all the residents, businesses and community leaders for supporting more transit options that will benefit our neighborhoods, local businesses and the environment.”

Sound transit will now advance engineering work on the expansion and refine the preliminary cost estimate of approximately $175 million in year-of-expenditure dollars. Assuming all project funding is secured, construction should begin in 2018.

Wiedefeld Officially Appointed DC Metro GM/CEO

November 25th, 2015
Paul J. Wiedefeld

Paul J. Wiedefeld

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) Board of Directors has unanimously appointed Paul J. Wiedefeld as Metro’s general manager and chief executive officer under a four-year contract, effective November 30, 2015.

Metro Board of Directors Chairman Mort Downey stated, “Paul’s three decades of public and private sector transportation management experience will serve him well as he manages the day-to-day operations of Metro with an eye toward improving the rider experience and restoring credibility with regional stakeholders.”

“Paul has provided sound leadership in his previous roles at BWI and MTA, and the Board unanimously agree that his record proves he is the right person to lead Metro, at this time, into its rightful position as a world class transit system,” added Downey.

Wiedefeld earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Towson University and a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Rutgers University.

“I wake up every morning and go to sleep every night thinking about safety, and we have to make sure that everything we do in between makes Metro even safer,” said Wiedefeld.”I am absolutely confident that we can run our buses and trains safely and get people to work on time.”

Chicago Transit Passes 2016 Budget

November 25th, 2015

The Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Board approved a balanced $1.475 billion operating budget that holds the line on base fares and maintains or improves service, while continuing investment in modernizing the CTA. The 2016 budget projects a 0.7 percent growth in ridership.

CTA Board Chairman Terry Peterson stated, “CTA’s budget demonstrates that the agency continues to operate in a fiscally sound manner while still making unprecedented investments to modernize and improve bus and rail service. CTA provides vital transit services for millions of riders each year, and this budget continues to invest in efforts to better serve Chicagoans across the entire city.”

The agency will continue with the more than $5 billion in system-improvement projects completed, begun or announced by Mayor Emanuel since 2011. The improvements include rehabilitating rail stations and building new ones, modernizing rail and bus fleets, adding new technologies and bringing the agency’s infrastructure into a state of good repair. For a fifth straight year, the CTA will not transfer capital funds to cover operating costs.

“Over the last four years, Mayor Emanuel’s investment in Chicago transit has provided CTA customers with improved, more reliable and affordable transit service, and I am committed to continuing that work,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “Equally important with keeping up with meeting the needs of our customers is to continually find ways to do so more efficiently and cost-effectively. I look forward to continuing the many improvements the CTA has made thus far, and exploring new and even better ways to provide vital transit services to our customers.”

In 2016, CTA will continue to pursue the 7000-series next-generation rail cars, continue to upgrade the Blue Line O’Hare branch with improvements of five more stations and continue the complete reconstructions of the 95th Street and Wilson stations on the Red Line. CTA will also work on the new Washington-Wabash station, improve accessibility to the Quincy Loop ‘L’ station, continue planning for the Red-Purple Modernization and Red Line Extension projects, and improve signals on the Brown and Purple Express tracks between Armitage and the Merchandise Mart stations.

CSX Names Glassman VP Strategy

November 24th, 2015

CSX Corporation has appointed Drew Glassman vice president strategy, responsible for overseeing company-wide initiatives that position CSX for success.

Glassman brings 25 years of experience in corporate finance to his new role. Previously, he served as vice president commercial finance, vice president operations finance and as an assistant vice president for finance, intermodal finance and intermodal marketing. He joined CSX from AT&T in 2004.

“At CSX, we are focused on providing premier transportation services in an increasingly service-sensitive economy, all while becoming more productive and cost-efficient,” said Frank Lonegro, CSX executive vice president and chief financial officer. “This requires us to closely align the company’s financial resources with our strategic vision. Drew’s keen analytical skills, deep understanding of our business and experience delivering detailed analysis and solutions to business issues will help us realize this vision.”

Glassman earned a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Connecticut and an MBA from the University of Colorado.

He serves on the Board of Directors of the Florida Theatre Performing Arts Center, Inc.; on the Board of Trustees of St. John’s Country Day School in Orange Park, Florida; and on the Finance Committee of Family Foundations of Northeast Florida, Inc.

Anacostia Announces Management Appointments

November 24th, 2015

Anacostia Rail Holdings, Inc. (ARH) has announced ARH and its operating companies – the Louisville & Indiana Railroad (L&I) and Pacific Harbor Line (PHL) – have filled three management positions.

ARH has appointed David S. Hankins to the newly created position of human resources director, responsible for coordinating human resource activities for ARH and its affiliates. Before joining ARH, he was corporate human resources manager at Eagle Express Lines in South Holland, Ill. He held previous posts at Progress Rail Services and U.S. Road & Rail of St. Louis and served as a logistics officer in the United States Marine Corps. Hankins earned a bachelor’s in personnel management from the University of Texas.

L&I has named William M. Faulkner as a trainmaster, where he will assist in the management of L&I’s train operations. He began his career with Norfolk Southern as a management trainee and advanced to lead trainmaster. Faulkner earned an associate’s degree from Jackson Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University Purdue University of Fort Wayne.

PHL has appointed Kimia Khatami as manager of sales and customer service where she will support business development and government relations, and oversee PHL’s customer service. She previously was account manager at Union Pacific Railroad, responsible for lumber, paper, consumer products, grain and renewable fuel. Khatami earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in business management from Brigham Young University. Don Norton, PHL director of marketing and administration, is retiring but will serve as a consultant.

Maryland Public Service Commission Approves Baltimore/Washington High-Speed Railroad Franchise

November 24th, 2015

Baltimore Washington Rapid Rail (BWRR) and The Northeast Maglev (TNEM), who are working to deploy a Superconducting Magnetic Levitation (SCMAGLEV) system connecting Washington and Baltimore, have announced that the Maryland Public Service Commission (MPSC) has approved BWRR’s application to acquire a passenger railroad franchise. The franchise, previously held by the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railroad Company, was abandoned in 1935 with approval of the PSC.

The high-speed trains would travel between Baltimore and Washington in 15 minutes.

“We are pleased that the Commission recognized the tremendous benefits of the SCMAGLEV system for greater Baltimore and Maryland,” said Wayne Rogers, Chairman of BWRR and Chairman and CEO of TNEM. “The transfer of this railroad franchise is an exciting first step in making this transformational project a reality. We look forward to working with Federal, state and local government officials and other stakeholders to move this project forward.”

BWRR and TNEM have opened a new headquarters located in Baltimore’s central business district, investing in a closed building and renovating a historic site. They will now focus on conducting an Environmental Impact Statement process, which will help determine routes, Federal Railroad Administration safety reviews and Surface Transportation Board construction reviews.

CSX Designates South Carolina’s West Branch Commerce Park Site as Select Site

November 23rd, 2015

CSX has designated a portion of the West Branch Commerce Park in South Carolina’s Berkeley County as a CSX Select Site, which are development-ready properties along the CSX network where standard land use issues and comprehensive due diligence items have been previously addressed. The CSX Select Site covers 362 acres in the southern half of a 689-acre industrial park that is located three miles south of the Town of Moncks Corner and is adjacent to U.S. Highway 52 and CSX’s mainline.

“The State of South Carolina continues to be a magnet for new industry,” said Clark Robertson, assistant vice president, regional development at CSX. “Located 30 miles from the Port of Charleston, this site is ideal for manufacturers with overseas customers or international supply chains and is well-positioned to capitalize on the area’s superior logistics capabilities.”

“As both a CSX Select Site and a South Carolina Department of Commerce certified site, West Branch is ready for the immediate development of rail-served industry and manufacturing along Berkeley County’s prime US-52 growth corridor,” stated Anita Zucker, whose company owns the site.

Select Sites are pre-positioned to meet manufacturers’ needs, significantly reducing the time required to construct facilities. The company introduced the Select Site program in 2012 and partners with The Austin Company, a site selection consulting firm, to screen candidate sites and assist communities with the application and certification process.

To receive CSX Select Site designation, the location must meet a list of criteria, including infrastructure and utility availability, environmental reviews, appropriate zoning and entitlement, and rail serviceability. Certified sites are featured on a web portal that includes promotional materials and direct marketing to site selection professionals.

The West Branch Commerce Park is the third site in South Carolina and the first in the state’s Low Country to be designated as a CSX Select Site.

“Today’s announcement of West Branch Commerce Park being chosen for CSX Select Site certification is a testament to Berkeley County’s highly attractive investment environment – incredible infrastructure, a well-trained labor force and the lowest county government tax rate in the state,” said Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler.