• News

CSXT, Massachusetts submit rail pact for review

The state of Massachusetts submitted a comprehensive
multiyear rail transportation agreement with CSX Transportation for federal
review with the Surface Transportation Board.

CSXT has also reached an initial agreement with the
Massachusetts Coastal Railroad to take over freight rail activities on the
former CSXT South Coast Lines, which is being purchased by the state. The
agreement is a step is an important process toward bringing rail service to the
South Coast and will enhance local freight rail service to that region.

The deal with CSXT was announced in September and could mean
more passenger trains on the Worcester line. In the deal, CSXT agreed to help
defray the MBTA’s liability insurance cost and pay the deductible on liability
insurance if a collision occurs involving a freight train and CSXT is found at
fault because of willful misconduct.

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Florida considering dedicated funds for Tri-Rail

In an effort to secure billions of dollars in federal
stimulus money, Florida state legislators are trying to call a special session
to demonstrate the state’s commitment to Tri-Rail and SunRail, the proposed
commuter rail system in Orlando. Legislators want to dedicate more money to
Tri-Rail, as well as reduce taxpayers’ exposure to potential SunRail lawsuits
should CSX be at fault in an accident. If a tentative deal is reached on both
issues, leaders hope federal officials will view the state’s request for
stimulus money with a kinder eye.

The Florida Department of Transportation has applied for
more than $2.6 billion in stimulus funds and an additional $268 million to add
passenger service on Florida East Coast Railway, which does not run passenger
service in South Florida.

SunRail lost labor backing from the AFL-CIO, which said the
bill being drafted for the potential special session doesn’t protect railroad
workers’ rights.

Tri-Rail serves more than 13,000 passengers a day and has
seen it’s budget drop from $61.6 million in fiscal year 2008 to $57 million in
the current fiscal year.

  • News

Rail freight traffic reaches highest level this year

Freight traffic on U.S. railroads reached its highest level
so far this year during the week ended November 21, the Association of American
Railroads reports.

U.S. railroads reported originating 287,087 carloads for the
week, down 6.8 percent compared with the same week in 2008 and down .7 percent
from the same week in 2007. Volume was up 2.1 percent from the previous week
this year. 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 comparisons
for both 2008 and 2007. Note that the comparison weeks from both 2007 and 2008
included the Thanksgiving Holiday.

In the West, carloads were down 8.8 percent compared with
the same week last year, and 4.8 percent compared with 2007. In the East,
carloads were down 3.8 percent compared with 2008, but up 6 percent compared
with the same week in 2007.

Intermodal traffic totaled 213,382 trailers and containers,
down 3.1 percent from a year ago but up 11.5 percent from 2007. Compared with
the same week in 2008, container volume rose 3.4 and trailer volume dropped
26.8 percent. Compared with the same week in 2007, container volume rose 19.4
percent and trailer volume dropped 16.6 percent. Intermodal traffic was up 2.6
percent from the previous week this year.

While 13 of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were
down compared with the same week last year, increases were seen in nonmetallic
minerals (26.5 percent), grain (8.1 percent), chemicals (8.1 percent), waste
and scrap metal (6.5 percent), grain mill products (6.4 percent) and food and
kindred products (.4 percent). Declines in commodity groups ranged from .3
percent for petroleum products to 22.1 percent for crushed stone, sand and

Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Nov. 21,
2009 was estimated at 32.1 billion ton-miles, down 6.1 percent compared with
the same week last year but up 4.9 percent from 2007.

For the first 46 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported
cumulative volume of 12,325,563 carloads, down 17.3 percent from 2008 and 18
percent from 2007; 8,801,968 trailers or containers, down 15.6 percent from
2008 and 17.9 percent from 2007, and total volume of an estimated 1.32 trillion
ton-miles, down 16.4 percent from 2008 and 16.5 percent from 2007.

  • News

MTA Chairman to re-open R/W Cortlandt Street Station

Years after it was closed for what was supposed to
be a six-month project, the Cortlandt Street subway station is partially
reopening Nov. 25, local media report. Northbound R and W trains will resume
service beginning around 3 p.m. that day. Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and
Chief Executive Officer Jay Walder and other elected officials will be on hand
for the station’s opening.

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NCTD’S SPRINTER Rail Line wins national “Project of the Year” Award

County Transit District’s SPRINTER rail line in he San Diego area, Calif., area
has won the 2009 "Project of the Year" from the American Public Works
Association, an international professional association of public agencies and
private companies. APWA cited the SPRINTER as the Transportation Project of the
Year for projects valued over $75 million.

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Chesapeake seeks to study joining light-rail line

The Chesapeake, Va., City
Council is curious about light rail and whether it could connect to Chesapeake,
the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot reports. So on Nov. 24, the council voted 8-0 to
pursue a federally funded study on the possibility of extending light-rail
service to the city.

governing body of HRT, take necessary steps towards getting the study approved
and funded.

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N.J. to N.Y. rail project could gain from national gasoline-tax boost

Drivers may have to pay
more at the pump so train riders can have an easier commute into New York City –
as well as improved highways and repaired bridges, the Newark, N.J., Star
reports. But they likely won’t have New Jersey to blame for raising
taxes on gasoline.


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Tinley Park studng new 80th Avenue Metra station design

Rebuilding Metra’s fourth
busiest stop, the 80th Avenue station in tinley Park, Ill.,, has been near the top of that suburb’s wish list for years, according to the Chicago Tribune. More than $7 million in
Metra, federal, state and local funding was budgeted for the station overhaul,
and Tinley Park officials had a host of things they wanted done.

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Connector track promises fewer train delays

Greenville, N.C.,
officials will break ground on a railway connector track Nov. 30 that should
relieve the majority of traffic backups caused by the railroad switching
station, The Daily Reflector reports.  Vehicles are held up as often as three times daily on
Arlington Boulevard, 14th and Evans streets while trains change direction in
that area.

  • News

Freight trains will stop for cars

Unlike a normal railroad
grade crossing, at which cars must stop to let trains go by, the one proposed
for the rail spur leading into the Calverton Enterprise Park would be just the
opposite, the Riverhead, N.Y., Times Review reports. A freight train using the
spur would come to a complete stop prior to crossing River Road, a conductor
would get off and check for any cars, and would then signal the train to cross
the street.