Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor

Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor

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Tuesday, 10 June 2014 09:24

Ports call on rail investment

The Port of Long Beach, the nation's second busiest port, is close to completing the first of several rail projects aimed at adding capacity.

It is no secret that rail infrastructure is expensive to maintain and, for North American transit agencies, many of which are working with strained budgets, every dollar spent on a maintenance program must stretch as far as it can go.

A study released by Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) shows cost estimates for a proposed passenger line between Mooresville and Charlotte, N.C., rose significantly due to new infrastructure needs rather than using existing infrastructure.

Alaska Railroad (ARRC) crews continue to make progress on plugging an 80-foot-long washout following high waters at Skookum Creek (ARRC milepost 59.7).

The incident began about 7:30 a.m. June 17, when high water eroded the trackbed, leaving the track suspended over the water. Alaska Railroad track maintenance crews, heavy equipment and a rockhauling work train have been working round-the clock for three days to plug the gap and re-route a high volume of water.

"Earlier this week, this area experienced significant isolated rainfall that measured as much as a half inch every 10-15 minutes for a sustained period," said ARRC Vice President Engineering Clark Hopp. "We are essentially dealing with a new river channel that did not previously exist."

While freight traffic is not affected, passenger train traffic southbound from Anchorage has been suspended since the incident occurred. A decision to restore passenger service will be made at 7p.m. on June 20 and is based on the progress of the repair efforts.

The railroad has not yet determined the final financial impact of the outage. However, ARRC says revenue losses are expected to reach tens of thousands of dollars due to refunds and cancellations. Track repair expenses will also be considerable, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The California General Assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown reached a budget deal that will includes a $250 million appropriation for high-speed rail in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 13:30

House approves fiscal year 2015 THUD bill

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the fiscal year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill on a vote of 229-192. The legislation includes funding for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other related agencies.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is launching a 45-day focused deep dive safety assessment of Chicago's Metra in response to three incidents that have taken place in the past two weeks.

John Tory, a candidate for mayor of Toronto, ON, Canada, unveiled his One Toronto Transit Plan that he says will help relieve transit and traffic congestion in Toronto within seven years.

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill on May 21 with a vote of 28-21.

An agreement has been reached between the seven Class 1 freight railroads and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding the installation of positive train control (PTC) antennas, but the Association of American Railroads (AAR) says the delay in developing the process has severely impeded PTC implementation and a fully operable system by the 2015 deadline is not possible.

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