Latest Rail News

A civil engineer with an extensive railroad engineering background is the Federal Railroad Administration's new deputy associate administrator for safety, regulatory and legislative affairs. Dr. Magdy El-Sibaie succeeds Grady Cothen in the post, following an extensive nationwide search to fill the position. Cothen announced his retirement in late 2009, but is remaining at the FRA through March to assist El-Sibaie in the transition.

Most recently, El-Sibaie was acting associate administrator for hazardous materials safety at DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Until October 2009, he was the FRA's director of research and development, following a successful tenure as the agency's chief of track research, where he managed the FRA's track inspection technology development program that created improved systems for measuring track geometry at high speeds.

El-Sibaie earned a doctorate in engineering mechanics from the University of Delaware in 1986, and was recruited by the Association of American Railroads as a researcher at the industry's Chicago Technical Center, where he is credited with pioneering new methods of computer modeling to measure the dynamic behavior of track under varying loads, speeds and conditions. For that work, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers honored him in 1980 with its Rail Transportation Award.

In 1989, he was reassigned by the AAR to its Transportation Test Center in Pueblo, Colo., where he worked on vehicle/track interaction modeling and testing, in-train stability and wheel-load dynamics. He returned to the Chicago Test Center in 1993 to lead the AAR's track assessment and test program.

El-Sibaie joined the FRA in 1995 as a senior program manager in the Office of Research and Development, chairing a government-industry working group that formulated the first set of safety standards for U.S. high-speed rail service. He also worked with rail suppliers and Amtrak to establish standards for Amtrak's high-speed Acela trains operating on the Northeast Corridor.

As deputy associate administrator for safety, regulatory and legislative affairs, El-Sibaie will lead FRA initiatives that develop and implement industry safety regulatory strategy. These efforts include leading the Rail Safety Advisory Committee in studying emerging safety issues, including the incorporation of new technology into the rail environment, as well as risk reduction strategies and close-call reporting.

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When it comes to attention-grabbing covers, the title "Great Rail Disasters" with an illustration of a train wreck is tough to beat for creating a sense of danger and drama, Ted Jackovics wrote in the Tampa, Fla., Tribune website. Inside, the 44-page American Dream Coalition report focuses on "foolish investments" and "pork barrel spending" in a critique of rail as a passenger transportation alternative.

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(The following column by U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) appeared on the Williamson Daily News website on January 23, 2010. He represents West Virginia's 3rd District.)

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When the workers laboring to raise the roof of the old Cooper Tunnel on the Norfolk Southern main line in Mercer County, W.Va., see daylight, it's about time to call it a day, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports. NS is on the home stretch of the Heartland Corridor project that started in the fall of 2007 and is on track to be finished later this summer. When it's done, the Heartland Corridor will enable NS to move double-stacked freight cars from Lambert's Point (near Hampton Roads, Va.) on the Atlantic coast all the way to Chicago on the Lake Michigan shore.

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Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Transit Authority President Richard L. Rodriguez announced a significant development in the agency's ongoing effort to enhance safety and security on its rail and bus system. With the installation of cameras at 24 Green Line stations, the CTA's rail system now has 1,657 cameras at 73 rail stations.

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Two bridge projects that were put on hold about two months ago are back on track, The Medina County, Ohio, Gazette reports. Bob Sullivan, spokesman for CSX Transportation, said the company is working to secure funding to proceed with work on the bridges over the tracks at Rivers Corners Road in Homer Township and at Pawnee Road on the border of Homer and Harrisville townships. The project includes rebuilding the bridge at Rivers Corners to allow for taller, double-stack trains to pass underneath, and demolishing the bridge at Pawnee and vacating the road with a detour at Simcox Road.

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North Shore construction work will cause much of the intersection of Allegheny Avenue and Reedsdale Street in Pittsburgh to close starting Jan. 25. The closing is due to the ongoing construction of the North Shore Connector light rail project. The intersection is scheduled to remain partially closed through Feb. 10.


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Work on Caltrain's Grade Crossing Improvement Program, which will enhance safety at 25 grade crossings in San Mateo County, will continue at the following locations: Main Street, Redwood City, Jan. 24-25; Watkins Avenue, Atherton, Jan. 24-25; Fair Oaks Avenue, Atherton, Jan. 25-28; and Oak Grove Avenue, Menlo Park, Jan. 24 - 25 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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Axion International Holdings, Inc., a next-generation technology company utilizing recycled plastic for high-load industrial products, said that demolition has begun of the current structures at the Ft. Eustis Army Transportation Corp. military base in Virginia in order to replace those spans with two new railroad bridges made almost entirely from Axion's 100-percent recycled plastic structural products.


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Illinois DOT I setting up the first ever business exchange with Chicago area small businesses to connect small disadvantaged businesses (DBEs), many minority- and women-owned enterprises, with the CREATE partners and the rail industry to explore opportunities for near-term and future business partnerships.

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