Latest Rail News

Union Pacific has raised the roof on 15 of its tunnels over Donner Pass in the Sierra, allowing double-stacked trains to cross the pass and go through Reno for the first time on the way to Chicago, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports. When the recession ebbs, more trains could be coming through Reno and Sparks. Double-stacked trains have been routed through the longer and more difficult Feather River Canyon north of Reno.

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The Port of Vancouver, Wash., will receive nearly $3 million in additional federal funds to help build rail lines for its $137-million West Vancouver Freight Access project, the Portland Business Journal reports. The new allocation comes with the help of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and was included in the final version of the fiscal 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

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Work on Caltrain's Grade Crossing Improvement Program, which will enhance safety at 25 grade crossings in San Mateo County, continues. The schedule includes Maple Avenue, Chestnut Street and Broadway, Redwood City, 8:00 p.m. - 4:00 a.m., Dec. 28-30. Throughout the project area, at least one lane of the impacted street will remain open. Flagmen will direct traffic and pedestrians around the construction.

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The Illinois Commerce Commission has granted approval for the installation of automatic flashing light signals and gates and highway approach grade improvements at the 160th Street crossing of BNSF track located near Galesburg, Warren County. The estimated cost to install the new automatic flashing light signals and gates is $518,729.  The Grade Crossing Protection Fund will pay 95 percent of the warning device installation costs, not to exceed $492,793.  BNSF will pay the remaining warning device installation costs, as well as all future operating and maintenance costs. 

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Norfolk Southern Corp. expects to learn next month whether the U.S. Department of Transportation will provide it with a $300-million stimulus grant as the company works to complete a $2.5-billion rail project, Northern Virginia Daily reports.

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According to government forecasts, freight volumes in the United States will significantly increase by 2020. Unless major transportation infrastructure improvements are made, this could lead to reduced productivity resulting in job losses, higher prices for the goods we buy and reduced worldwide demand for the goods we sell. The National Gateway - an $842-million multi-state public-private infrastructure initiative - will help meet current infrastructure needs and prepare the nation for this projected growth by investing in surface transportation infrastructure improvements.

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(The following opinion piece by Alfred Doblin appeared in The Record in Northern New Jersey.) Last week, Governor-elect Chris Christie met with The Record's editorial board. During the meeting, he was asked about transportation projects and the possibility of a gas tax to help keep the Transportation Trust Fund solvent.



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Mapping the route of a proposed high-speed passenger train between the Twin Cities and Chicago will take a year or more, a Minnesota transportation official said, according to local newspapers. Dan Krom, who made a presentation to Washington County commissioners, said as many as eight routes are under study. One of them, which the commissioners favor, would follow the existing Amtrak route, known in planning circles as Red Rock, through southern Washington County and eastern Dakota County.

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Whether you might take the train for holiday travel in the future might well depend on a $200-million request for federal funds. Missouri Transportation Director Pete Rahn says people are being drawn to rail travel for reasons other than saving money on fuel, local media report.

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The city of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., has received a couple of mighty big gifts totaling $1.4 million in grant money to convert a historic swing bridge into a 670-foot public pier over the Mississippi River, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. And now, as they're getting ready to seek contractors to do the work, city officials say they're expecting that bids could come in 20 to 40 percent lower than anticipated by engineers -- thanks in part to highly competitive bidding during tough economic times.

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