Latest Rail News

Due to an unexpected change in Congressional scheduling, Railroad Day Organizers must reschedule the 2011 Railroad Day on Capitol Hill. The event will now take place Thursday, July 14, 2011.

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Caltrain, the 55-mile commuter railroad serving the San Francisco Peninsula, has an ongoing commitment to safety. The agency uses a multifaceted approach, addressing safety issues on three fronts: engineering, education and enforcement.

Engineering improvements include upgrades to crossings, such as pedestrian gates, and grade separation projects that separate vehicle and pedestrian crossings from the train tracks.

This year marked the start of construction on the San Bruno Grade Separation Project. The $147-million project will elevate the Caltrain tracks above three existing at-grade street crossings at San Bruno, San Mateo and Angus avenues. A new elevated Caltrain station will be constructed between San Bruno and San Mateo avenues, replacing the existing station at Sylvan Avenue. And pedestrian underpasses will be built at Euclid, San Bruno and Sylvan avenues.

At the Santa Clara station, a $40-million modernization project will add a new wider, longer center-boarding platform to the station. A new pedestrian underpass will allow passengers to move safely from one side of the platform to the other.

A $5.8-million project will improve safety for motorists and pedestrians at eight crossings in Santa Clara County. The improvements include signalized pedestrian gates, crossing panels and, where appropriate, center medians to keep vehicles from driving around lowered crossing gates.

In September, as part of Railroad Safety Month, the agency installed the first of 250 suicide prevention signs with a hotline number to a local crisis intervention agency. The signs are part of national study to test the effectiveness of signs in preventing suicides on railroads.

The signs will be posted along a 10-mile stretch of the right-of-way between Menlo Park and Mountain View. The hotline number on the new signs is routed directly to the Youth and Family Services Crisis Intervention Center in San Carlos. The calls will be tracked to determine if the signs are an effective tool for suicide prevention.

Caltrain is a member of Operation Lifesaver, an internationally renowned organization promoting rail safety. First organized 38 years ago, the organization has helped reduce the number of train/vehicle collisions from a 1972 high of roughly 12,000 annual incidents to a 2009 record low of approximately 1,900 incidents. This past year, Caltrain has given Operation Lifesaver presentations to more than 1,300 people. Audiences have included students, community groups, police and fire officials, elected officials and civic leaders. The presentation can be targeted to specific audiences and includes videos and handouts.

Caltrain's Transit Police represent the enforcement component of Caltrain's rail safety program. The Transit Police Bureau, comprised of San Mateo County Sheriff's officers, is responsible for policing Caltrain property, including stations, parking lots and railroad right of way. These highly-skilled law enforcement professionals are familiar with railroad operations and the conditions at rail grade crossings. Whenever a vehicle or pedestrian collision occurs along Caltrain's rail line, the Transit Police respond.

The Transit Police target locations where people may engage in unsafe behavior, such as trespassing along the rail line and walking around lowered gates at stations or grade crossings. As of October, Transit Police had issued 560 citations.

Transit Police deputies also receive specialized Crisis Intervention Training. This training helps deputies recognize people who may be a threat to themselves or others in the vicinity of Caltrain's railroad. As a result, the Transit Police referred 17 people to treatment programs this year.

Caltrain is committed to its role as a safety advocate and will continue to communicate safety messages with the goal of increasing public awareness and ending tragic collisions, fatalities and injuries at grade crossings and on the right of way.

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Fort Worth & Western Railroad said that Steven George would retire in the first quarter of 2011 as president and chief executive officer of the Fort Worth-based 276-mile regional railroad. Succeeding him will be Thomas Schlosser, former chief executive officer of Global Rail Systems, Inc., Marlin, Texas, and chairman of the American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association from 2007 to 2010.

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The rough railroad crossings throughout the town of Fairfield, Maine, are a source of constant complaints to local officials, the Waterville Morning Sentinel reports. But because the railroad is privately owned, the town can't repair the crossings. The la ...

Koppers Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koppers Holdings Inc., said that it has completed a transaction to acquire the rail joint business product line and related manufacturing facility of Portec Rail Products, Inc. for a purchase price of $10.1 million less certain assumed liabilities, subject to certain working capital and other adjustments. The purchase price was funded with cash on hand.

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Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig said that a historic public-private partnership agreement on high-speed rail development is in place to bring Illinois one giant step closer to achieving high-speed passenger service between Chicago and St. Louis by 2014.

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L. B. Foster Company announced the expiration of the subsequent offering period offered by its wholly-owned subsidiary, Foster Thomas Company, for its cash tender offer for all outstanding shares of common stock of Portec Rail Products, Inc. The subsequent offering period expired at 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on December 21, 2010.

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MTA NYC Transit reopened the Rockaway Park-bound platforms at the Beach 105th Street-Seaside and Beach 90th Street-Holland stations. The rehabilitation of these stations is part of a $117-million project encompassing nine stations on the Rockaway Peninsula.

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Tracks between San Juan Capistrano and Oceanside, Calif., remain closed due to mudslides. Trains are only operating as far south as Laguna Niguel. Metrolink is continuing to provide bus transportation between Oceanside and Laguna Niguel.

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With a new majority in the House, a new chairman and many new members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as a changing national economic picture, it is worth asking the question, "What's ahead for transportation in 2011?"  The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has compiled a list of very distinct - and pressing - issues that loom at the local, state, and federal levels.

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