Latest Rail News

Close to 70 people from a wide array of business, economic development and state and local organizations joined forces July 7 to implore members of the federal Surface Transportation Board to refuse to allow Maine, Montreal & Atlantic Railway to abandon 233 miles of tracks that run through Aroostook and Penobscot counties, the Bangor Daily News reports.

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The long-running commercial rail saga in North Charleston, S.C., has taken another turn, and a resolution could finally be in sight, the South Carolina Business Journal reports. The Business Journal has learned that the city has drafted a memorandum of understanding with development firm Shipyard Creek Associates and railroad operator CSX Transportation that, if approved by City Council, would eliminate rail service to the former Navy base from the north in favor of a new southern line.

City Council will be presented with the memorandum during its 7 p.m. meeting July 8.

A southern line would satisfy a 2002 memorandum of understanding penned by North Charleston and the S.C. State Ports Authority in which the SPA agreed to "use rail access exclusively from the south end of the property." That document has been a source of contention among city leaders, who backed the agreement, and state officials, who claim the memorandum didn't pertain to them.

Under the latest proposal, CSXT would abandon rights of way from a to-be-determined point between Clement Avenue and Viaduct Road northward to just past the intersection at Braddock Road. In return, North Charleston would assist CSXT in acquiring city-owned property making up the new route. North Charleston would also pay CSXT between $3 million and $5 million in tax-increment financing revenue for the old rights of way.

Shipyard Creek Associates, meanwhile, would move ahead with construction of an intermodal facility on its Macalloy property, a project it's been pitching for years. That Macalloy site is located practically adjacent to the container terminal being constructed by the State Ports Authority on the former Navy base and would serve as a rail yard for CSXT.

In the past, officials from the state and CSXT's chief rival, Norfolk Southern, have claimed that such an arrangement would be unfair. Those officials have trumpeted the need for dual access to the port terminal and said that Norfolk Southern would be at competitive disadvantage if it had to pay CSX for access to its tracks.

The threat of northern rail access loomed, but North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey is now close to vanquishing that possibility. He said that the proposed memorandum provides dual access.

"Is it equal dual access?" Summey said. "I don't know if that's available at any port."

The new plan relies heavily on federal grant financing and the "existence of sufficient property tax revenues to permit bonding against city TIF districts."

Summey said that a series of federal grants over a period of several years would be needed to pay for the project and that the parties involved will move ahead in seeking those funds if the memorandum of understanding is approved.

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In Austin, Texas, a new piece of equipment intended to keep trains on the track may have contributed to two recent freight train derailments, including one July 7 that forced the cancellation of all morning MetroRail trains and blocked Seventh Street traffic for several hours, Capital Metro officials told the Austin American Statesman.

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TÜV Rheinland®, a leader in global market access, has acquired Rail Sciences, Inc. (RSI), a rail industry consulting firm and train dynamics specialist headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., with an advanced testing and metallurgical analysis laboratory in Omaha, Neb.

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Electro Switch Corp. has acquired Arga Controls, a producer of precision measurement and control instrumentation. Based in Monrovia, Calif., Arga Controls will operate as a unit of Electroswitch.

 


 

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The National Gateway has launched its FacebookTM and TwitterTM social media channels.

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In January, President Obama announced that Maine was awarded $35 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority. On July 7, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the U.S. Department of Transportation and the State of Maine have finalized a grant agreement allowing work to begin on the rehabilitation and expansion of the popular state-supported Downeaster Amtrak intercity passenger service.

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Intergraph Corp., a provider of engineering and geospatial software, has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by Hexagon AB, a measurement technology company, in a transaction valued at approximately $2.125 billion. Upon closing of the transaction, Intergraph will operate as a separate Hexagon division under the Intergraph name and branding.


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Bentley Systems, Incorporated has acquired a minority interest in Charlotte, N.C.-based BLUERIDGE Analytics , Inc., provider of SITEOPS, site-design-optimization technology that utilizes cloud computing to save substantial time and cost while improving land development outcomes. SITEOPS, a patented web-based application, empowers civil engineering professionals, real estate developers and land planners to quickly perform site configuration simulations, produce preliminary cost estimates, optimize site designs, and reduce overall costs.

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With temperatures expected to reach the upper-90s or higher through this week, Philadelphia's SEPTA is taking a number of steps to prevent heat-related disruptions to customers. SEPTA officials are monitoring the system for potential infrastructure-related issues that can be caused by excessive heat, such as sagging overhead power lines and track buckling. To help prevent these problems, SEPTA is slightly reducing the maximum speeds for some trains. This adjustment also reduces the amount of electricity needed to run the trains, which helps cut down SEPTA's overall draw on the region's power system. In addition to this effort, SEPTA is taking all possible measures to minimize energy consumption at its maintenance facilities, offices and stations.

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