Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor

Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor

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A tentative agreement has been reached between VIA Rail Canada and Canadian National, which will allow VIA Rail's passenger rail service to continue on the Newcastle subdivision. Under the agreement, which must be ratified by their respective boards, VIA Rail will provide funding to CN for rehabilitation work on the line between Nelson Junction and Nepisiquit Junction. Work will be done on 70.8 kilometers (44 miles) of track and represents a CA$10.2-million (US$9.3-million investment for the railroad.

As a result of this agreement, VIA Rail will be able to continue to offer its Ocean passenger rail service between Bathurst and Miramichi three days per week in each direction as part of its Montreal-Halifax service. VIA Rail will hold discussions with the province and municipalities along the subdivision to explore ways they can assist in increasing train ridership.

"Our government is committed to creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. The continuity of VIA Rail's Ocean service on this rail line in Northern New Brunswick is excellent news as it will not only benefit the users, but also each community along the route by maintaining jobs and supporting the local economy," said Canada's Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt.

In other news, the Canadian government has appointed Yves Desjardins-Siciliano as president and chief executive officer of VIA Rail.

Prior to his appointment, Desjardins-Siciliano was VIA Rail's chief corporate and legal officer and corporate secretary. Prior to joining VIA Rail in 2010, he has held executive positions, in a variety of industries, in both Montréal and Toronto.

"As Directors of VIA Rail, we are delighted that the government has chosen to lead Canada's national passenger railway, someone whose career demonstrates a breath of experiences and expertise, an intimate knowledge of our largest markets, an ability to develop new value-creation strategies and a keen understanding of public policy. He can count on our full support," said Paul Smith, chairman of the board.

Desjardins-Siciliano takes over from VIA Rail's Interim President and CEO, Steve Del Bosco. Steve will be resuming his previous role as VIA's chief commercial planning officer. Del Bosco had been in the interim position since January 4, 2014.

 

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has created a Railroad Safety and Security Taskforce, which will develop an action plan to prepare and respond to possible train derailments. The launch of the task force follows the April 30 derailment of a CSX freight train carrying crude oil shipped from the Midwest to Yorktown. The accident occurred in downtown Lynchburg adjacent to the James River.

Denver Union Station reopened on May 9 and is now a multimodal transportation hub that includes a new bus facility and rail connections and will significantly improve transportation options in downtown Denver and beyond.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Metro-North Railroad completed a track reconstruction effort that began in July 2013 on the tracks through the central Bronx used by New Haven Line and Harlem Line trains. The authority says the work results in a safer, smoother ride and improved operating speeds.

Three of Connecticut's representatives to Congress, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Jim Himes (D-CT) and Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) unveiled the Rail Safety Enforcement Act, comprehensive legislation the congressmen say will enhance rail safety.

Amtrak began service to Union Depot in St. Paul, Minn., with the May 7 arrival of the Empire Builder from Chicago. Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Boardman was among several transportation leaders who cut the ribbon for the first-ever Amtrak service in Downtown St. Paul.

Caltrain's Board of Directors appointed Jerry Deal to serve as its representative on the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA), the body responsible for overseeing a new intermodal terminal called the Transbay Transit Center, a rail extension for Caltrain and high-speed rail and adjacent transit-oriented development in downtown San Francisco.

South County Economic Development Council (SCEDC) board members voted to support the reactivation of the San Diego Arizona Eastern Railway at its May board of directors meeting.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Board of Directors certified the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the Fresno to Bakersfield project section of the high-speed rail program and approved a high-speed rail alignment within the Fresno to Bakersfield project section.

Work is expected to begin on May 12 on a North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) project to replace a railroad crossing on Morrisville Parkway with a bridge to carry rail traffic over the road. This is one of a series of projects to improve at-grade crossings along the rail corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte.

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