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NY/NJ Port Authority Names Marino Director Rail Transit

August 4th, 2015

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has appointed Michael Marino the Director of Rail Transit (PATH). In his new position, Marino will oversee all core functions of PATH, including rail operations, safety, security, asset management, customer service, and administration, as well as the department’s Capital Program.

“Maintaining safety for our passengers and rail system employees, while improving trans-Hudson commuting is a major priority, and I believe Mike’s deep rail industry experience and leadership will be invaluable as we continue to invest in system and safety enhancements across PATH,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye.

Marino, who has more than 40 years’ experience in the industry, served as PATH’s deputy director since 2014 and acting director since earlier this year. Following Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, Marino was instrumental in PATH’s recovery efforts after the system’s tunnels and infrastructure were severely flooded by storm water. He has also played a critical role in the ongoing rebuilding and resiliency efforts since then.

He takes control at a time when PATH is investing significant capital to upgrade its aging signals, stations and other rail infrastructure to accommodate increasing ridership, while continuing to focus on rail safety.

“Mike played a key role in getting PATH back in service after the rail system was devastated by Sandy, and I am confident will provide the leadership and experience PATH needs as it continues an unprecedented period of investment, while maintaining service for more than 75 million passengers who use the system each year,” added Foye.

Marino joined the Port Authority in 2011 following a more than 30-year career with Amtrak and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). He served as the director of Force Account Construction for the MTA, overseeing the extension of the Long Island Rail Road. He joined AECOM as vice president of rail transit, northeast region in 2006, where he led projects such as the Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel Project and the Moynihan Station Development Project. Marino was superintendent of terminal service for Amtrak and was responsible for key elements of the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project.

Marino served in the United States Navy from 1968 to 1972 and in the Naval reserves from 1972 to 1976. He spent time in various commands around the world, most prominently on the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy serving one North Atlantic tour and two Mediterranean cruises during the Middle East conflicts of that period.

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Balfour Beatty to Build Denver Rail Line Extension

August 4th, 2015

The Board of Directors of the Regional Transportation District (RTD), the transportation authority in the Denver, Colo., area, has approved a $140 million two-phased contract award to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc. (Balfour Beatty) to design and build the Southeast Rail Extension.

Design will begin this fall with construction expected to start in spring 2016. The contract commits Balfour Beatty to completing the line by early 2019.

The contract was awarded after the board received recommendations from the RTD staff to move forward with the Balfour Beatty proposal.

The construction phase is dependent on award of a Full Funding Grant Agreement from the Federal Transit Administration.

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New Georgia Inland Terminal to Open in 2018

August 4th, 2015

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), Murray County and CSX Transportation have signed a Memorandum of Agreement to establish the Appalachian Regional Port in the Murray County city of Chatsworth, Ga. The inland port will service North Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and parts of Kentucky.

“This new inland terminal will open the door for economic opportunity and job creation for Northwest Georgia and the region,” said Governor Deal. “By providing a direct link to the Port of Savannah, the Appalachian Regional Port will create and expand international markets for businesses, and further the economic success of the Southeastern U.S.”

The new inland port will be located on 42 acres in Northwest Georgia’s Murray County and feature on-terminal rail. The site is adjacent to U.S. 411 and has easy access to Interstate 75. The facility will handle import, export and domestic cargo.

“I am excited to see this project come to fruition,” said Murray County Commissioner Brittany Pittman. “The inland port will provide important competitive advantages to our existing industries. This development will also bring new jobs to Murray County, not only in logistics, but in support industries and the broader community.”

Operated by GPA, the Appalachian Regional Port will deliver goods more efficiently to GPA’s Garden City Terminal, the second-busiest container port on the East Coast behind New York-New Jersey.

The new facility will create a new intermodal option to and from the deepwater Port of Savannah. Each container moved by rail to the Appalachian Regional Port will offset 355 truck miles on Georgia highways. Port officials estimate the CSX rail route will reduce Atlanta truck traffic by 40,000 moves annually.

CSX Executive Vice President And Chief Commercial Officer Clarence Gooden said, “The public-private partnership established today, which includes direct rail access to the new inland port, will expand access for domestic and international shippers, providing increased options for cost-effective, environmentally friendly transportation services.”

The Appalachian Regional Port will be Georgia’s second inland port facility. The other is Cordele Inland Port facility, which handles cotton, clay, lumber and other agribusiness exports for customers in Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

“This new inland port is located in an industrial belt, which includes the production and export of carpet and flooring, automobiles and tires,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz. “The Appalachian Regional Port will make those commodities more competitive in the global market by saving port customers money on inland transit costs. Moving more containers to rail will also reduce carbon emissions.”

The Appalachian Regional Port will open by 2018 with an annual capacity of 50,000 containers. A 10-year development plan will then double that capacity.

“As part of our Network Georgia initiative, we intend to collaborate with communities and transportation partners for the development of future sites,” GPA Board Chairman James Walters stated. “Our goal is to create the largest inland intermodal complex in the eastern third of the U.S., expanding our reach with more economical shipping alternatives for new and existing customers.”

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Phoenix Light Rail Spurs Economic Development

August 3rd, 2015
Announcement of Phoenix area's light rail economic development. Photo: courtesy of Valley Metro.

Announcement of Phoenix area's light rail economic development. Photo: courtesy of Valley Metro.

Phoenix and Tempe mayors announced that Valley Metro, the provider of public transportation for the Phoenix Metro Area, has reported  more than $8.2 billion in private and public capital investment near the first 20-miles of light rail that extends from Phoenix and Tempe into Mesa. Private developers are also planning $346 million in commercial and residential building in the area.

The announcement was made at Phoenix’s DeSoto Central Market, which intentionally chose its site due to proximity near the Roosevelt/Central Avenue light rail station.

“Big things are happening in Phoenix because of light rail, and big things are going to continue to happen,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Light rail has been transformative for our downtown and our economy. With it we’ve linked jobs, education, arts and culture in a way that would not have been possible otherwise.”

Mark Mitchell, Tempe mayor and vice chair of the Valley Metro Rail Board of Directors, stated, “Investment in transit does more than improve neighborhoods; it improves lives. More than $3.4 billion has been invested in Tempe around light rail since construction began in 2005. Everyone benefits from public transportation.”

Economic Development along the 20-mile light rail includes 204 projects with private capital investment at $5,989,639,864 and public capital investment totaling $2,241,737,632. Ridership that has exceeded original projections has stimulated the growth of economic development within one-half mile of the system. An added $90 million in private and public development has occurred since construction began in June 2012 for the 3.1-mile Central Mesa Extension that is set to open soon.

The first 20 miles of light rail opened December 2008 and seven light rail extensions are planned or are under construction, creating a 66-mile system by 2034.

Photo from left to right: Phoenix Public Transit Director Maria Hyatt, DeSoto Market owner Shawn Connelly, Phoenix Vice Mayor Daniel Valenzuela, Phoenix Community and Economic Development Director Christine Mackay, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Phoenix Councilmember Kate Gallego, Glendale Councilmember Gary Sherwood, Tempe Mayor and Valley Metro Vice Chair Mark Mitchell and Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta.

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Construction Begins at Port Canaveral’s First Inland Port Facility

August 3rd, 2015

Flagler Global Logistics and Port Canaveral executives were joined by local dignitaries and business and community leaders at a celebration to mark Flagler Global Logistics’ groundbreaking on the new Titusville Logistics Center, the first multimodal inland port facility for Port Canaveral.

The Canaveral Port Authority signed a build-to-suit lease agreement last year with Flagler Global Logistics and is the first major tenant at the logistics center. The 246,240-square-foot facility will be completed in early 2016.

Chris Scott, president and CEO of Flagler Global Logistics, said, “The development of Port Canaveral’s inland facility at the Titusville Logistics Center will help further leverage the region’s centralized location and poise North Brevard County as a major national and international cargo hub.”

“The facility has been designed to offer cargo importers, exporters and distributors more storage capacity than any surrounding warehouses on a site with unparalleled connectivity via rail, air and sea,” added Scott.

The new logistics center is adjacent to Space Coast Regional Airport and minutes away from Port Canaveral. It offers direct rail connectivity to the Florida East Coast Railway and easy access to US1 and I-95. The Center will accommodate up to 2.9 million square feet of industrial development, offering flexible warehouse and distribution options.

John E. Walsh, CEO of Port Canaveral, stated, “Our new inland port facility is a critical step in the Port’s overall expansion plan to attract more container business and elevate our strategic value within the national supply chain by offering a more cost-saving, efficient route to move goods throughout the southeast. We partnered with Flagler Global Logistics because of the company’s reputation for developing world-class logistics facilities.”

Flagler Global Logistics is a worldwide logistics company that develops and leases Class-A warehouses and provides supply chain management services, including consolidation and deconsolidation, multimodal transportation, warehouse management, Foreign Trade Zone, and dry and refrigerated cargo services.


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Sacramento CRC Light Rail Extension Opening Ahead of Schedule

August 3rd, 2015

Mike Wiley, general manager and CEO of Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT), has announced that the new Blue Line light rail extension to Cosumnes River College (CRC) will open ahead of schedule and under budget on Monday, August 24, 2015.

Originally scheduled to open September 2015, the Blue Line to CRC will open earlier to coincide with the start of the fall semester for Cosumnes River College and the Los Rios Community College District campuses.

To commemorate the opening, RT will host a pre-opening community celebration on August 23 at Cosumnes River College at noon. The event will feature live entertainment, kids’ activities, prize drawings and giveaways, and preview train rides to tour the new light rail stations.

RT will host the official grand opening ceremony at Cosumnes River College on August 24 at 9 a.m. to welcome the arrival of the celebratory train. Attendees will be treated to refreshments and giveaways.

The Blue Line to CRC extends light rail 4.3 miles from the terminus at Meadowview Road to Cosumnes River College in south Sacramento. The line has four new stations that include Morrison Creek, Franklin, Center Parkway and Cosumnes River College. It features more than 2,700 park-and-ride spaces, two pedestrian bridges connecting neighborhoods to light rail, and a bus/light rail transit center at CRC. The Morrison Creek light rail station will open in 2017 when future development occurs in the area.

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UP Improves Public Safety Rate, Sets Employee Safety Records

July 31st, 2015

Union Pacific (UP) has announced that the year-to-date public safety rate, which measures Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reportable grade crossing accidents per million train miles, improved 11 percent to 1.97 compared to the same time period in 2014.

UP said the improvement in the public safety rate is due to the company’s safety outreach efforts that are driving down incidents at grade crossings in communities across its rail network.

The company hosts hundreds of UP CARES events annually and conducts radio and billboard rail safety reminders. UP also launched its first social media-based campaign in June urging photographers taking high school senior photos to stay off the tracks. In its first month, more than half a million Facebook and Twitter users were reached through the campaign.

The company has also announced that its employees set second-quarter and year-to-date safety performance records, achieving a 0.81 reportable injury rate for the second-quarter, a 19 percent improvement over the same period last year, and a year-to-date 0.82 reportable injury rate, compared to last year’s rate of 1.06. A railroad’s reportable injury rate is the total number of injuries reported to the FRA per 200,000 employee hours, which is equivalent to 100 employees working a full year.

UP’s employee program “Courage to Care”, which is a personal commitment to provide feedback to fellow employees to mitigate unsafe situations and to accept feedback from co-workers, is a contributing factor in the safety rate. Thousands of employees system wide have also participated in a Safety Stand Down in April, stopping work to assess risk and opportunities for improvement in individual work areas. A second stand down is being planned for October.

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AAR Reports Another Week of Decreased Carloads, Increased Intermodal Volume

July 31st, 2015

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported that U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 25, 2015, totaled 557,612 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 2.5 percent compared to the same week in 2014.

U.S. carloads, with a total of 286,660 carloads for the week, were down by 6.7 percent compared to the same week last year. U.S. intermodal volume for the week totaled 270,952 units, up by 2.3 percent compared to 2014.

One of the 10 carload commodity groups that are tracked by the AAR posted an increase for the week ending July 25, 2015, when compared with the same week in 2014. Grain increased 10.9 percent to 22,091 carloads.

Metallic ores and metals showed the largest decrease in the commodity groups, with a drop of 14.9 percent to 24,609 carloads, and miscellaneous carloads were down 13.9 percent to 8,512 carloads. Coal declined by 10.9 percent to 103,588 carloads.

For the first 29 weeks of 2015, U.S. rail volume totaled 15,684,771 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 1 percent when compared to last year. Carloads, with a total of 8,017,322, were down by 4.2 percent, and intermodal, with a total of 7,667,449, was up by 2.6 percent.

On the 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads, combined North American rail volume for the week ending July 25, 2015, was 726,994 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.1 percent.

For the first 29 weeks of 2015, North American rail volume was down 0.3 percent, with a total of 20,476,086 carloads and intermodal units.

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Bombardier to Provide Vehicle Maintenance for Toronto’s Light Rail Line

July 31st, 2015
BOMBARDIER FLEXITY Freedom light rail vehicle. Photo: courtesy of Bombardier.

BOMBARDIER FLEXITY Freedom light rail vehicle. Photo: courtesy of Bombardier.

Bombardier Transportation was awarded a contract worth approximately $308 million to provide 30-years of maintenance on the BOMBARDIER FLEXITY Freedom light rail vehicles it will provide for the new Toronto Eglinton Crosstown line. The new line is a 19-kilometer project for Toronto’s Metrolinx light rail network.

“This is another expression of our commitment to Ontario,” said Raymond Bachant, president, Bombardier Transportation, Americas Division. “This new agreement strengthens Bombardier’s leadership position as a provider of passenger rail services in North America and worldwide.”

According to the contract, Bombardier will deliver its Automated Vehicle Inspection System (AVI System) and its BOMBARDIER ORBIFLO monitoring system in order to automatically inspect the vehicles and provide predictive maintenance capabilities.

Bombardier Transportation was subcontracted for the vehicle maintenance by the Crosslinx Transit Solutions Maintenance General Partnership, which is acting as the maintainer of the system on behalf of the consortium designing, financing, building and maintaining the transit line.

“Our strong services portfolio complements our innovative products and technologies, allowing us to form a true partnership with our customers throughout the entire product life cycle and to ensure the highest levels of safety, customer service, on-time performance, fleet availability and reliability,” Bachant added.

Bombardier will deliver the BOMBARDIER FLEXITY Freedom light rail vehicles to Metrolinx through a separate manufacturing contract signed with the transit agency.

The project is under the authority of Metrolinx, the Government of Ontario agency responsible for transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, and it is part of an investment of C$5.3 billion in construction costs for the Crosstown light rail transit line.

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Ontario’s Brockville Station Renovated

July 30th, 2015

Member of Parliament for Leeds-Grenville Gord Brown, Brockville Mayor David Henderson, and Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, president and CEO of VIA Rail Canada, attended a recent inauguration ceremony to celebrate the completed renovation of Brockville Station in Ontario.

“VIA Rail is proud to offer more modern facilities to the 53,000 passengers who travel from and to Brockville each year,” said Desjardins-Siciliano. “This investment, made possible through funding from the government of Canada, will help ensure that travelers enjoy the best possible service as traffic continues to grow in the Ontario-Quebec corridor.”

The C$1 million renovation modernized the building, which dates to 1872, while highlighting its historical character with a new brick finish and bull’s-eye–style windows at each end of the building replicating the original structure’s look. The renovation included a new display system for train schedules, an historical interpretation site, a new passenger shelter and relocation of an outdoor mural.

As part of the project, the Brockville station also received a new roof, new building envelope, a new lighting system, new finishes, and doors and windows were replaced. An automatic door was installed and other improvements were made to support building accessibility for mobility impaired passengers.

The work was part of a larger project to modernize the national carrier’s facilities and infrastructure. Since 2007, the Government of Canada has invested C$370 million in the Brockville to Oshawa region in order to improve passenger services.

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