Latest Rail News

Environmental approvals for the proposed $4-billion DesertXpress high-speed rail project between Las Vegas and Southern California are taking longer than expected, but executives with the project said March 25 they expect construction to begin this year, the Las Vegas Sun reports.

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(This column by Bob Riley, Haley Barbour, Ed Rendell, Phil Bredesen and Bob McDonnell was published March 26, 2010, by The Washington Post. Bob Riley, a Republican, is governor of Alabama. Haley Barbour, a Republican, is governor of Mississippi. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, is governor of Pennsylvania. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, is governor of Tennessee. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, is governor of Virginia.) At the White House jobs summit in December, President Obama told dozens of corporate leaders that he is looking for "every demonstrably good idea" to put Americans back to work.

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The plan to electrify Caltrain will achieve a major milestone pending certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report and Project Adoption on April 1 by the Board of Directors. Approval by the board completes the environmental process for the Caltrain Electrification Program, a major element of the plans to modernize the Peninsula rail system, and positions the railroad to seek federal and state funding.

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Amtrak is awarding a $37-million contract to PCL Construction Services, Inc., of Bellevue, Wash., for Phase I and Phase II of a major upgrade of its Seattle King Street Coach Yard Maintenance Facility. The facility supports Amtrak operations and maintenance agreements in the Pacific Northwest, including for the Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, Amtrak Cascades, and Sounder commuter trains.  

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All Sounder north commuter rail trains between Seattle and Everett, Wash., will end at Mukilteo due to a mudslide north of Mukilteo. The Sounder north line normally serves stations in Edmonds, Mukilteo and Everett. Sounder will operate as normal from Seattle to Edmonds and Mukilteo.

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Passengers riding Minnesota's new Northstar Commuter Rail depend on well-maintained trains for a fast, safe and reliable commute along the 40-mile run between downtown Minneapolis and the northwest suburbs. The MTU Onsite Energy standby power system serves the line's only maintenance facility, where trains are serviced, repaired and even washed.

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Unless agreement can be reached in two weeks, $131 million meant to separate railroad tracks in Colton will go to other Southern California projects, and leave the region's two freight railroads without a project they say is critical to moving goods out of the region, The Press-Enterprise reports.

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Lemont, Ill., officials would like to see more commuter train service for residents this year, and believe it is a real possibility, according to the Lemont Reporter. But a number of things must happen first before the hope comes to fruition, including increased signalization and additional bi-passes along the railroad line to improve safety and ease freight congestion. There also is the construction of a train station in Romeoville and the approval from the railway that owns the tracks.

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The Alaska Railroad Corporation Board of Directors has appointed ARRC Chief Finance Officer Bill O'Leary to serve as acting Chief Executive Officer of the Alaska Railroad, effective April 1, 2010. The decision came after the Board met March 25 to discuss the way forward in terms of railroad leadership after current President and CEO Pat Gamble asked for some transition time to prepare for his new job as University of Alaska system president, effective June 1, 2010.

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Metra, the commuter rail service operator in northeastern Illinois, has unveiled a mobile website that is streamlined to be compatible with iPhones, Blackberries and any other portable web-enabled devices. The mobile site offers the most popular features of our regular site in a format that is easy to view on a portable device. Anyone using such a device to go to Metra's website at www.metrarail.com will automatically be routed to the alternative mobile site, although they will have the option of going to the regular site if they so choose.

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