Latest Rail News

Despite the loss of $3 million in state funding promised in July 2008 by then-state Sen. Joseph Bruno, a $40-million rail-yard project in Mechanicsville, N.Y., is still in the works, local newspapers report. The new facility is to be built by Pan Am Southern LLC, a joint venture of Pan Am Railways, formerly Guilford Transportation and before that the Boston and Maine Railroad, and Norfolk Southern Railway. Boston and Maine once operated extensive rail yards here, connecting with the Delaware & Hudson Railway, but those yards were gone by the 1980s.

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The city of Winter Haven, Fla., is moving forward on the Integrated Logistics Center to be developed in conjunction with the CSX Intermodal Terminal planned for the southern portion of the city, The News Chief reports. The planning commission discussed during a workshop Feb. 2 a change in future land use from Institutional-2 as designated by Polk County to industrial-business park center for the approximately 932 acres. The city annexed the property in 2005 but didn't assign a land use designation or zoning.

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High-speed rail may be coming down the tracks one day, but the Stanislaus County, Calif., Board of Supervisors entered into an agreement to plan and develop a regional commuter rail system that could soon share those tracks, the Turlock Journal reports. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding to enter a working group to collaborate with the California High-Speed Rail Authority that will see the county partner with more than 20 regional entities from Sacramento County to Merced County.

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It's gotten a little quieter for residents living along the Canadian National Railway in three western suburbs, the Chicago Tribune reports. A long-anticipated quiet zone in Berwyn, Riverside and North Riverside, Ill., went into effect Jan. 28, preventing trains from sounding their horns at nine crossings except in emergencies.

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Balfour Beatty Rail has taken delivery of an Amberg Technologies GRP Track Measurement System. The system was purchased from Amberg's North American distribution partner, the Kara Company of Countryside, Ill. Widely used throughout the rail industries of Europe, Asia and many other parts of the world, the GRP track measurement system is the most advanced technology available in its class, Amberg notes, and just recently made available in North America.

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A consortium of Invensys Rail Corp. (formerly Safetran Systems Corp.), Siemens Mobility and D/A Builders, LLC, will install ATC utilizing advanced Communications Based Train Control technology plus a back-up conventional signaling system on the entire PATH main line network including all central office, wayside and car borne equipment locations.

 

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ARINC Incorporated has been awarded a major contract to provide new rail control and passenger information systems for the 77-mile Caltrain commuter rail line, serving the San Francisco peninsula and California's Santa Clara Valley. The contract was awarded in December by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, the regional authority operating Caltrain.

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MARTA has closed a majority of its escalators and is conducting a comprehensive and independent system-wide review of all 149 escalators in its system. This action is being taken after MARTA recently discovered that a private contractor had intentionally bypassed safety controls on an escalator at the Dunwoody rail station.

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An independent team of consultants charged with looking at competitiveness in the U.S. rail industry has found that railroad rates have been steadily increasing since 2004, with a particularly steep increase in 2008. But Christensen Associates, Inc., of Madison, Wis., found that the rate increases were driven by fluctuating fuel prices and other costs and did not appear to reflect a greater exercise of railroad market power over captive shippers.

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A national environmental group with deep pockets and specialized legal expertise is joining the effort to block a permit for one of the area's biggest development projects, The Kansas City Star reports. The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit Feb. 1 to halt the environmental permit issued for a rail yard proposed for southwest Johnson County.


The lawsuit is separate from one brought by Hillsdale Environmental Loss Prevention Inc. and several other plaintiffs. Unlike the earlier lawsuit, BNSF Railway is not named as a defendant.

 

The defense council's entrance into the case is significant because of the hefty resources at its disposal. During 2007-08, the organization raised $108 million, according to its tax returns from that year. As of mid-2008, the group had assets of $186 million.

 

Its decision to join the legal dispute "guarantees there will be some funding at least for the plaintiffs," said John Ragsdale, who has taught environmental law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

 

Groups like the council have national constituencies with dues paid by thousands of people, enabling the groups to assemble lots of money with small donations, Ragsdale said.

 

"Many of these groups have staffs of attorneys ... that are very, very competent and skilled," Ragsdale said. "They can bring a strong force to bear."

 

BNSF wants to build what's known as an intermodal hub for transferring freight arriving on West Coast trains to trucks for shipment elsewhere. The railroad plans to develop the hub on 492 acres while a private developer builds a nearby distribution and warehouse complex to store some of the incoming freight. Overall, the project promises the creation of 13,000 jobs when fully built in about 20 years.

 

BNSF is seeking $50 million in federal stimulus money to get the project started.

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