Railroad News

Railroad News
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Amtrak Starts Construction to Increase Rail Capacity at Washington Union Station

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Amtrak Starts Construction to Increase Rail Capacity at Washington Union Station
JUNE 25, 2020

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No impact on scheduled train operations

WASHINGTON – A major construction project that will increase rail capacity is underway at Washington Union Station, the second busiest terminal in the U.S. The project is among other improvements to upgrade and enhance the customer experience at the historic transportation hub.

Skanska USA Civil Northeast was awarded the Track 22 Reconstruction Project at Washington Union Station. Under the contract, Skanska will rebuild the platform, rehab and restore the historic columns, and construct a new covered walkway to provide customer access to the platform via a new elevator, escalator, and stairs to the station. The track was previously used as a storage track for equipment with no access for customers...

Amtrak Selects Development Team to Partner in Gray 30th Street Station Redevelopment

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Amtrak Selects Development Team to Partner in Gray 30th Street Station Redevelopment
JUNE 18, 2020

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Financial negotiations and project scoping underway

PHILADELPHIA – Amtrak has selected Plenary Infrastructure Philadelphia (PIP), a team with international expertise to form a master development partnership via ground lease for the renovation of William H. Gray III 30th Street Station. The key team members who will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the station include Plenary Americas USA Ltd., one of the largest dedicated, public-private partnership developers in North America, who has partnered with Gilbane Building Company, Johnson Controls Inc. and Vantage Airport Group Ltd.

“Gray 30th Street Station is the third busiest station in our national network and this partnership underscores Amtrak’s commitment to deliver on its vision of a world-class station experience for all travelers, the station as a grand gateway to...

Amtrak Names Qiana Spain Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer

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Amtrak Names Qiana Spain Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer
JUNE 17, 2020

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WASHINGTON – Amtrak today announced the promotion of Qiana Spain to Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. Spain will report directly to CEO Bill Flynn and will join the Executive Leadership Team, effective immediately.

“Our future depends on us being able to attract, retain, grow and promote our people,” said Flynn. “Qiana is a passionate and powerful advocate for employees, and she has been instrumental guiding us through people issues related to our ever-changing business environment.”

In her role, Spain will be responsible for developing and executing the company’s human resources strategy to support the long-term direction of the company. She will oversee Amtrak’s succession planning, talent management, change management, organizational and performance management, training and development, labor relations and...

Massive Explosion Seen After Train Derails Near Rock Springs, WY

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Massive Explosion Seen After Train Derails Near Rock Springs

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. – A Union Pacific train hauling alcohol and liquid propane derailed near Rock Springs, Wyoming, according to Scott Kitchner, fire chief for Sweetwater County Fire District 1.

Purgatory Resort’s insurance company sues D&SNG

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Purgatory Resort’s insurance company has filed a lawsuit against the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for costs associated with the 416 Fire.

According to the lawsuit, Purgatory Resort sustained financial losses after it was forced to shut down as the 416 Fire burned nearby for nearly two months, consuming 54,000 acres mostly in the adjacent Hermosa Creek watershed.

“Purgatory’s property and business were damaged as a result of the 416 Fire, including but not limited to, smoke and ash flows, loss of business revenue, diminished property values and economic harm,” the lawsuit says.
Chehalis railroad company reopens train rides in Washington
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Chehalis railroad company reopens train rides in Washington

After a month-long delay in wake of novel coronavirus restrictions, a historic Washington train is taking to the tracks once again as passengers journey through the Chehalis River Valley alongside blowing steam and billowing train toots.

The Chehalis Centralia Railroad and Museum recently announced its season start date, inviting friends, families, and railroad aficionados to nab their reservations for a weekend excursion on Saturday, June 20 or Sunday, June 21.
BART releases 15-step plan to welcome back riders as region reopens
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05.27.20
BART releases 15-step plan to welcome back riders as region reopens

BART is working hard to reimagine transit service as the region begins to reopen and riders return. We understand the public is looking to us to provide reassurance that service is as safe as possible and social distancing is followed. To welcome riders back and regain confidence in public transit, BART is taking the following 15 steps while continuing to explore new measures and technologies that could assist in a safe recovery.
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Step 1 – Cleaning
BART is using hospital-grade disinfectant in stations and on-board trains. Train poles are wiped down with disinfectant at the end of the line during service hours. Crews use electrostatic foggers on train cars that spray disinfecting mist that coats and clings to surfaces. Station touchpoints are wiped down multiple times each day.
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Step 2 – Run Long Trains
BART is...

Stadler Hit With $6MM Ransomware, Refused to Pay

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Internal Documents Published After Stadler Refuses $6MM Ransom


Internal documents stolen during a cyber-attack on Stadler’s headquarters have been published online after the manufacturer refused to give in to ransom demands.

Stadler announced the attack on May 7, and said the hackers subsequently demanded a $6 million ransom, to be paid in Bitcoin.

“Stadler is not and was at no time willing to make payments to the blackmailers and has not entered into the negotiations,” the company told IRJ. “As a result, the perpetrators published internal documents of Stadler in order to harm Stadler and its employees.
Amtrak: Supplemental Funding Needed to Maintain Minimum Service Levels
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Amtrak: Supplemental Funding Needed to Maintain Minimum Service Levels
MAY 26, 2020

WASHINGTON – Amtrak submitted a letter to Congress outlining an additional $1.475 billion in supplemental funding needed in FY 2021. This additional funding is necessary for Amtrak to operate minimum service levels across the passenger rail network and continue capital investments for the future. The funds would also support Amtrak’s 17 state partners on the National Network and nine commuter and state partners on the Northeast Corridor.

“As the severity and duration of this pandemic and its economic fallout become clearer, we are seeking supplemental federal funding for the next fiscal year,” said Amtrak President and CEO Bill Flynn in the letter.

To help offset the impact of revenue losses, Amtrak is taking significant steps to reduce its...

Union Pacific's Bailey Yard lays off workers due to pandemic

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Union Pacific's Bailey Yard lays off workers due to pandemic


The Union Pacific Railroad Tuesday laid off an unspecified number of workers in Bailey Yard’s mechanical department.

Raquel Espinoza, U.P.’s senior director for corporate communications and media relations, confirmed the first job reductions related to the COVID-19 outbreak at the North Platte classification yard, the world’s largest.

“Union Pacific is experiencing volume declines as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the country,” Espinoza said in a email. “We are operating fewer locomotives and rail cars, requiring us to reduce our workforce in the mechanical department today.”

American Heritage says it will work to find a new owner for Mount Rainier Scenic

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American Heritage says it will work to find a new owner for Mount Rainier Scenic


“It is with great regret and sorrow we make this announcement today, as everyone associated with this historic railroad has worked extremely hard to make it prosper and delight guests from all over the world,” said John Harper, general manager of American Heritage Railways, Inc. “With still many financial and operational unknowns to work through, AHR will announce further details in the near future regarding its plans for the facility, including finding a new owner and overseeing the divestiture of its famed locomotives and other important infrastructure assets. In the meantime, we wish to thank all of our loyal employees and volunteers who helped us celebrate the rich industrial history of the Pacific Northwest’s late 19th...

AHR emphasizes that Mt Rainier Railroad Closure is temporary, not permanent

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Because of operating difficulties caused by restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, American Heritage Railways has temporarily ceased operations of another one of its historical railroads, the Mt. Rainier Railroad, for the foreseeable future.

John Harper, general manager of American Heritage Railways, said it is unclear when the Mt...

New York MTA Launches Pilot With COVID-19-Killing UVC

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New York MTA Launches Pilot With COVID-19-Killing UVC

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced an ultraviolet (UV) light pilot program proven to kill COVID-19, with the first phase set to launch on subways, buses and other New York City Transit facilities throughout the system early next week.

The MTA pilot will deploy approximately 150 dual-headed mobile devices from Denver-based startup PURO Lighting to test and evaluate the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of UVC technology in a number of settings across New York City Transit including trains, buses, stations and occupational facilities, using strict protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of the employees and customers. After evaluation, the pilot’s second phase will expand to Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North.

SMART poised to take control of North Bay freight hauling, expanding beyond passenger service

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SMART poised to take control of North Bay freight hauling, expanding beyond passenger service

San Francisco, CA - 5/19/20

A multimillion-dollar deal is in place to have SMART take over North Bay freight rail by buying out the region’s lone hauler, a move that would hand SMART unified control of the local track system and make it one of a small group of agencies nationwide that controls both passenger and commercial shipping service.
Under the proposed deal, Northwestern Pacific Railroad Co. would sell its track rights and equipment for $4 million, and the state would kick in almost $4 million more to repay debt owed to the company by a financially troubled state agency that oversees North Coast commercial rail operations.

Cleanup underway of freight train derailment in East Aurora, NY

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An investigation has begun into why a Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad freight train derailed Monday night in East Aurora.

The traveling from Salamanca to Buffalo derailed at 10:52 p.m. in the vicinity of Main and Elm streets in the village, police said Tuesday morning.

Fifteen of the train's 98 cars, including the engine, went off the rails.

Brake Defects Plague Canada’s Aging Grain Cars

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Hard-to-detect braking system defects have rendered Canada’s aging fleet of grain hoppers a safety hazard, says a former director of derailment investigations for the country’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB), the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. NTSB. Ian Naish, who retired from the TSB in 2009, in a CBC interview posted May 15, declared, “The grain car fleet overall is quite defective.”

Naish’s warning followed his former employer’s Rail Safety Advisory Letter dated April 20, 2020, which said that the standard visual inspection of brake pipe connections and piston applications—the so-called “Number 1 Test” performed by car inspectors prior to trains departing originating yards—is unreliable and does not reveal a high percentage of malfunctioning railcar brakes.

Full Story:

Judge Reinstates Charges Against Engineer in Philadelphia Train Wreck That Killed 8

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Judge Reinstates Charges Against Engineer in Philadelphia Train Wreck That Killed 8

The ruling revived the state’s case against Brandon Bostian, a former Amtrak engineer, who has been charged with more than 200 crimes, including eight counts of involuntary manslaughter.

A judge on Thursday reinstated charges against a former Amtrak engineer who was driving a speeding train that derailed in Philadelphia in 2015, killing eight people.

Full story:

Durango train delays opening into June

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Durango train delays opening into June

Railroad can’t cover costs running below 75% of capacity

$400 Million Connecticut River Railroad Bridge Replacement Takes a Step Forward, Design Details Announced

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$400 Million Connecticut River Railroad Bridge Replacement Takes a Step Forward, Design Details Announced

A significant but relatively little known plan is underway to replace the aging railroad lift bridge that spans the Connecticut River between Old Lyme and Old Saybrook.

The estimated $400 million project, proposed by Amtrak, would construct a new bascule bridge 52 feet south of the existing structure. The original bridge, which dates back to 1907, is an essential link on the Northeast Rail Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. and would remain operational during construction. The existing structure will be largely removed once the new bridge is completed.

UP Shuts Down Cold Connect

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UP Shuts Down Cold Connect


Union Pacific on May 8, 2020 shut down its Cold Connect service for perishables traffic from the West Coast to the East Coast. Cold Connect began in January 2017 with the acquisition from Railex of three cold storage and distribution facilities in Delano, Calif.; Wallula, Wash.; and Rotterdam, N.Y.




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