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The Association of American Railroads issued the following on December 30, 2009

Intermodal volume was up but both carload freight and total volume as measured in ton-miles slipped from year-ago levels during the week ended December 26, the Association of American Railroads reported today.

The AAR also reported that volume during the most recent week remained sharply below levels reported during the comparable 2007 week. In order to offer a complete picture of the progress in rail traffic, AAR will now be reporting 2009 weekly rail traffic with year over year comparisons for both 2008 and 2007. Comparison weeks from all three years included the Christmas holiday.

Intermodal traffic totaled 141,699 trailers and containers, up 14.2 percent from a year ago but down 10.7 percent from 2007. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume rose 21.6 percent and trailer volume dropped 14.5 percent. Compared with the same week in 2007, container volume fell 4.5 percent and trailer volume dropped 34.4 percent.

Carload freight totaled 197,754 cars, down 1.1 percent from 2008 and 22.3 percent from 2007. In the Eastern U.S., carloads were up 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year, but off 25.2 percent compared with 2007. In the West, carloads were down 2.3 percent compared with 2008, and 20.7 percent compared with the same week in 2007.

Carload volume was down largely because of a more-than 21,000 carload (19.1 percent) drop in coal loadings. Seventeen of the other 18 carload freight commodity groups were up compared with the same week last year, with fourteen reporting double digit increases, including motor vehicles (52.1 percent); lumber and wood products (44.8 percent); grain (31.1 percent); metals (31.7 percent) and chemicals (18.7 percent).

Total volume was estimated at 22.1 billion ton-miles, down 0.9 percent from the comparable 2008 week, and down 17.5 percent from the comparable 2007 week.

For the first 51 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 13,585,290 carloads, down 16.3 percent from 2008 and 18.2 percent from 2007; 9,731,474 trailers or containers, down 14.3 percent from 2008 and 17.8 percent from 2007, and total volume of an estimated 1.47 trillion ton-miles, down 15.4 percent from 2008 and 16.3 percent from 2007.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 55,572 cars for the week, up 33.5 percent from last year, and 30,653 trailers or containers, up 49 percent from 2008. For the first 51 weeks of 2009, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,192,327 carloads, down 18.2 percent from last year, and 2,084,051 trailers or containers, down 14.2 percent from last year.

Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 10,718 cars, up 37.7 percent from the same week last year, and 5,462 trailers or containers, up 53.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 51 weeks of 2009 was reported as 594,083 carloads, down 9.5 percent from last year; and 284,211 trailers or containers, down 12.9 percent.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 51 weeks of 2009 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 17,371,700 carloads, down 16.4 percent from last year, and 12,099,736 trailers and containers, down 14.2 percent from last year.

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While it's not an extreme makeover, over the next year-and-a-half, 42 Metrorail stations will receive a thorough cleaning as part of the agency's station enhancement program.

The station enhancement program, initiated in April 1991, was designed to restore the appearance of Metrorail stations. The $7.5 million program sees each station restored about every four years.

The work is being organized into "mini" and "major" enhancements.

A mini enhancement includes the cleaning of masonry surfaces, painting interior surfaces, repairing interior masonry surfaces, painting exterior surfaces, fabricating, installing or repairing signs, refinishing bus and station platform shelter benches and spot finishing bronze surfaces such as railings. A major station enhancement includes all responsibilities under a mini enhancement but also includes pressure washing the ceilings and walls, and painting interior surfaces.

A major station enhancement takes three months, which is approximately 25 percent longer than the mini-enhancement.

For a list of stations slated to receive a mini or major cleaning enhancement through June 2011, visit WMATA's website by clicking here .

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Rhode Island's planned extension of commuter rail service from Boston and Providence to Warwick and North Kingstown is on track.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), with approval from the State Properties Committee, completed the purchase of property needed for the Wickford Junction train station and parking garage. The purchase price for the land and easements located on Route 102 in North Kingstown, near its intersection with Route 4, was $3.2 million, of which 80 percent came from federal funds.

The Wickford project, along with the Warwick Intermodal Facility currently under construction, will provide the infrastructure necessary to support the initial start-up phase of the South County Commuter Rail Service. This service will extend existing Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority trains through Providence an additional 20 miles with stops at T.F. Green Airport and Wickford Junction. The new service is intended to provide an alternative mode of travel to the already congested I-95 and Route 4 corridor, which is the State's fastest growing region, and provide access to major employment, retail and recreational centers in Providence and Boston. MBTA is expected to add commuter rail stops at T.F. Green Airport in 2010 and at Wickford Junction in 2011.

Once built, Wickford Junction Station, with an estimated construction cost of $30 million, will feature a train station and platform along with a 1,100-space parking garage. It is expected that once construction begins it will take approximately 16 months to build the station and garage. Commuter rail service would start shortly after that. Daily ridership is projected to be approximately 1,750 passengers, with eight weekday round trips planned.

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A new rail shipping terminal in northwestern North Dakota is moving oil from the state's oil patch to Oklahoma.

Houston-based EOG Resources Inc. expects the first shipment from the terminal near Stanley, N.D., on Jan. 4, following a four-day trip. The new terminal is capable of loading 60,000 barrels of oil onto a 100-car unit train each day and unloads in Stroud, Okla., where it is then sent through a 17-mile pipeline to a terminal in Cushing, Okla.

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Encore Rail Systems, Inc., named Tony Chambers Eastern Region Sales Manager based in Ravenswood, W.Va. Chambers brings to this position many years of railroad sales experience from his career with Burke-Parsons-Bowlby Corporation.


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Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Frank Pallone joined NJTRANSIT Executive Director Richard Sarles and other officials at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new 477-space parking lot that more than doubles parking capacity at Edison Station on the Northeast Corridor rail line. The lot opens to customers January 1.

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With the onset of the recession this year, government agencies, private businesses and individual households all faced budget challenges and the Chicago Transit Authority was no exception. Due to the significant consequences presented by the slowing economy, as the CTA developed its 2009 Budget, staff sharpened their pencils and looked for ways to streamline operations and reduce costs without impacting the quality or level of service provided. Despite financial constraints, the CTA continued to innovate in 2009 and apply the best solutions to keep Chicago moving.

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As the result of growing and anticipated demand for passenger rail service to Castleton State College and Lake Bomoseen, Amtrak and the Vermont Agency of Transportation said that state-supported Ethan Allen Express trains will make twice daily stops at the recently renovated Castleton, Vt., station beginning January 2, 2010. The southbound Ethan Allen Express, train #292 scheduled to arrive Saturday at 11:02 a.m., will be the first train to officially stop at the station.

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After a decade, a train may be returning to Snohomish, Wash., by next summer, the Snohomish County Tribune reports. The Port of Seattle purchased the Eastside rail corridor Dec. 21 from BNSF in a deal totaling $81 million. The purchase covers 42 miles of rail line from Renton to Snohomish.

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Two planned Metra stations could transform neighborhoods on Chicago's South and North Sides -- spurring economic development, curbing carbon emissions and making it just plain easier for residents to choose public transportation, proponents say, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune. But when that vision will become reality is uncertain.

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