Tag Archives: railroad

Rail News Roundup

Being the “New Kid on the Block” (I mean on the “BLOG”) , now have the honor to prepare a healthy portion of railroad news. Enjoy!

Caltrain to purchase surplus rail cars, solicit public input on future electric trains

Caltrain will purchase 16 surplus Metrolink rail cars to extend trainsets and provide more capacity for peak-hour trains. The Bombardier bi-level Generation 2 cars will be purchased from the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, which operates Metrolink. The cars have been phased out of Metrolink’s system, but are similar to the Bombardier vehicles that Caltrain uses, Caltrain officials said in a press release.

The total cost of purchasing and renovating the equipment is $15 million. The majority of funding will be covered by a farebox revenue bond, while Caltrain will cover the remaining funds by reinvesting surplus firebox revenue into the rail-car purchase. Nearly four straight years of record-setting ridership growth also has resulted in record-setting farebox returns, allowing the agency to set some of that funding aside to help address the capacity issues.

East Japan Railway eyes bid on California high-speed rail project

East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) plans to participate in the bidding process to supply rail cars for California’s high-speed rail line, according to a Sept. 6 report in The Japan Times.

Citing JR East sources, the news site stated the company intends to market its Shinkansen technology and participate in the rail-car bid with six other Japanese companies, including Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Hitachi Ltd. and Sumitomo Corp. 

The companies hope to obtain a contract that would include rail cars and track signals, according to the report.

Because California is often hit by earthquakes, JR East will promote its track record on disaster recovery and the speed at which it restored rail service after an offshore earthquake hit Tohoku in 2011, JR East sources told The Times.

NARP resolution supports proposed Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail line

The National Association of Railroad Passengers’ (NARP) board has endorsed the Texas Central Railway’s (TCR) proposed high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston.

The association supports the development of the 200 mph-plus high-speed rail system as a national objective and board members believe the Texas Central Railway — which is working with Central Japan Railway on the project — is poised to deliver the service, NARP officials said in a press release.

NARP officials plan to encourage congressional leaders — who are preparing to draft the next passenger-rail reauthorization legislation — to ensure that Texas Central Railway will have the “regulatory flexibility” that it needs to begin constructing the line, they said.

“It’s clear that Washington is struggling to address our nation’s infrastructure challenges. While Congress must get its act together, this political gridlock means it is all the more important for private companies and states to take the lead and show innovation in improving their transportation systems,” said NARP Chairman Bob Stewart.

To learn more about the Texas project, read KC Jones article Texas Central Railway’s plan to build a Dallas-to-Houston bullet train is gaining speed or read this article published in Progressive Railroading’s June issue.

MTA repairs Sandy-damaged subway tubes; NJ Transit fixes damaged Montclair-Boonton track

MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) yesterday resumed regular weekday service on the G Line between Long Island City and the Greenpoint Tubes after completing resiliency repairs to the tubes that were damaged during Hurricane Sandy nearly two years ago.

The tubes had been closed since July 25 so that crews could repair the structures, which were flooded with salt water to a height of 15 feet during the October 2012 storm.

MTA Department of Subways crews installed communication lines, installed new track and third rail, repositioned signals, rebuilt tunnel infrastructure and rehabilitated stations.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Transit restored regular rail service yesterday on the Montclair-Boonton Line following an Aug. 19 disruption caused by a slow-speed derailment.

The derailment occurred between Bay Street and the Walnut Street stations in Montclair, N.J. Since then, emergency track repairs were completed between the Bay Street and Montclair State University stations, NJ Transit officials said in a press release.

To accommodate the repairs, all Montclair-Boonton Line trains operated on a single track on a portion of the line.


Gov. Dayton calls on STB to take more measures to address grain-car backlog in Minnesota

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton last week sent a letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) urging the agency to use its authority to gain more clarity about what BNSF Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific are doing to eliminate the backlog of grain-car shipments.

Dayton called on the STB to bring all parties together to find “an urgently-needed resolution” because the severe backlog is impacting Minnesota farmers, he said in a press release. 

A study released in July by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture found that farmers in the state lost an estimated $109 million due to rail shipping delays and higher transportation costs, said Dayton. The governor asked the STB to include the study in the agenda for a National Grain Car Council meeting to be held Sept. 11 in Minnesota.

Farmers continue to store more corn and other ag products in the Midwest due to low grain prices, problems with rail-car availability and trucking bottlenecks occurring at elevators.

HSR: Illinois to invest $102 million in upgrades to Chicago-St. Louis line

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced late last week a $102 million investment from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program to improve system performance and reliability on a key segment of the Chicago-to-St. Louis high-speed rail line.

The funds will allow the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Union Pacific Railroad to move forward with construction of a new bridge over the Kankakee River near Wilmington, as well as complete other safety and capacity enhancements along the busy corridor between Joliet and Dwight, Ill., Quinn and IDOT officials said in a press release.

The funding will pay for a second set of tracks to be built between Mazonia and Elwood, including the new bridge to accommodate the increased capacity. The work will be performed by the UP crews and managed by IDOT in 2016 and 2017. 

Once completed, the improvements will immediately trim about five minutes off the travel time between Joliet and Dwight in anticipation of the eventual double-tracking of the remainder of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, IDOT officials said. The double-track then will allow more daily roundtrips at increased 110-mph speeds.