Latest Rail News

Track maintenance on the Washington, D.C., Metrorail Red and Orange lines Oct. 30-Nov.2 will cause inbound and outbound trains to take turns sharing one track. Customers should add at least 30 minutes of time to their trips. 

Metrorail customers traveling between the Friendship Heights and Van Ness-UDC Metrorail stations should add at least 30 minutes to their travel time for their trips because Metro will replace rail fasteners that stabilize tracks and make tunnel repairs. Trains will share one track between these locations throughout the weekend from 9:30 p.m. Oct. 30, to closing (midnight) on Nov. 1. 

The board of directors of The Whitmore Manufacturing Company appointed Jeff Peterson, a director of the company, president and Chief Executive Officer effective November 30, 2009. Peterson is Vice President of Capital Southwest Corporation, the principal shareholder of the company, and has closely followed Whitmore for more than eight years. He has gained a breadth of experience, including serving as a director of 14 companies, overseeing the acquisition or direct investments of more than 20 companies and working with rapidly growing businesses. Additionally, he serves in a variety of operational capacities at Capital Southwest and on the board of several industry trade groups, including the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies.

St. Louis regional transit leaders joined with state and local elected officials October 26 to celebrate the grand opening of Metro's new paint facility that will be used to repaint the MetroLink Light Rail Vehicles. Located in East St. Louis, Ill., the new $4.3-million facility enables Metro to prepare and paint the LRVs in an environmentally-controlled area that is healthier for employees and better for the environment.

Many of the 87 Light Rail Vehicles in the Metro System have been in service since the 1990s, clocking an average of 500 miles per day as they carry passengers back and forth along the 46-mile alignment. Not surprisingly, the heavily utilized trains require fresh paint to maintain their structural integrity, extend the life of each vehicle and keep them looking their best. While Metro has been manually repainting the LRVs at its maintenance facility in St. Louis, the new paint booth will improve the process through increased technology, and minimize the environmental impact of maintaining the trains.

Event attendees had the opportunity to tour the new operation and see the features that enhance the process. The new facility is a 9,600-square-foot pre-cast panel structure containing two distinct work areas, one of which is the totally enclosed paint booth. This design enables Metro employees to clean and prepare the trains for painting on one side of the facility, while other trains are simultaneously being painted on the other.

The prep area includes a dust collection system that is one of the "green" features of the operation. Six separate work areas in the prep bay, where employees use various air tools, are tied into a central vacuum system that will collect all the dust and other particles and transport them to dust collection bags in a separate room. 

The paint booth itself is equipped with two automated "lifts" that give the individuals applying the spray paint easy access to all parts of the train. Each lift can accommodate up to two painters, further streamlining the process. The trains are painted with low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint, and an extensive exhaust system helps to further minimize the environmental impact of the process, while also reducing the risk of dust or other particles marring the paint job. Outside air flows in through the ceiling, where filters remove particles from the air before it enters the paint booth. Exhaust fans then return the air to the environment, pulling it through filters in the paint booth pits. The filters are designed to remove paint and other particles so that the exhaust air meets environmental standards.

In addition, 400 energy efficient fluorescent lights illuminate the paint booth, enabling Metro employees to apply the paint with precision, and allowing for careful inspection of the completed paint job before the trains are put back into circulation.

"This facility will allow Metro to effectively and efficiently restore the body of the Light Rail Vehicles, extend the service life of each train and create a consistent image for Metro's customers," notes Ray Friem, Metro's Chief Operating Officer of Transit Services.

Bob Baer, Metro's President and CEO added, "We really appreciate the support for this project from St. Clair County Transit District and the elected officials from St. Clair County."

Plocher Construction Company of Highland, Ill., was the general contractor for the project, which was awarded in September 2008 and included civil site work, utility work and track work, in addition to the building and paint booth construction. Actual construction was completed six months ahead of schedule and approximately 10 percent under the estimated budget of $4,783,821. Funding for the project came from federal formula funds with a local contribution of $246,000 from the St. Clair County Transit District. St. Louis County, Mo., also contributed funds to the facility. The Light Rail Vehicles that will be repainted at the new facility operate all along the entire alignment in St. Louis City and St. Louis County in Missouri and in St. Clair County, Ill.

Norfolk Southern has unveiled preliminary environmental data that will serve as the foundation of its proposed intermodal terminal in Fayette County, where cargo containers will be transferred between trucks and trains, The Daily News reports.

Canadian Pacific Railway sold its historic Windsor Station in Montreal as the country's second-largest railway continues to look at ways to improve its cash position in face of declining volumes, the Montreal Gazette reports. CP said it had sold the station and significant other related real estate, to Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd. for C$86 million.

The city of Virginia Beach, Va., has released the final draft of its comprehensive plan, which is a blueprint for how the city will grow in the future, Inside Business reports. Included in the plan is a section on light rail and how it could fit into the city's transportation master plan.

Frankfort, Ill., is moving full speed ahead before the freight trains really get rolling along the Canadian National Railway tracks in its community, the Southtown Star reports. Village officials have been working with engineers and residents to soften the blow of what is expected to be 28 daily freight trains.

Trustees recently approved a quiet zone feasibility study detailing safety improvements at every crossing from Harlem Avenue to 116th Avenue. It now goes to the Federal Railroad Administration and the Illinois Commerce Commission for approval. Village administrator Jerry Ducay said if all goes well with that approval process, work could begin in the spring and be completed by this time next year.

Once all work is completed, train engineers would not be required to sound the horn at each intersection unless there is a danger present. CN is paying for all improvements.

Ducay said he has seen no increase in rail traffic and figures CN has been operating four to six trains a day.

To date, the village also has issued $400,000 out of a $2.7-million pot provided by the rail company to landscape homes near the tracks to further reduce the noise level. Homeowners are allowed to pick their own landscaping contractor, but must submit a plan for approval and a building permit from the village.

To distribute the funds among 300 homeowners, the village developed a four-tier system, with payments ranging from $1,000 to $12,000.

"Our goal is to spend $500,000 this season and gear up again in the spring," Ducay said. "Most people will have all winter to prepare."

Even though the village has five years to spend the money, Ducay said officials hope to use it all within two years. Sound mitigation funds must be spent on landscaping walls, fences, berms, trees, evergreens, shrubs, perennials and mulch or stone. While some homeowners wanted a sound wall, it was not financially feasible, Ducay said.

Funding levels for Frankfort homeowners impacted by the Canadian National Railway:

Tier 1: $10,000 to $12,000 for properties adjacent to the railroad tracks.

Tier 2: $6,000 to $8,000 for properties separated by ComEd lines.

Tier 3: $4,000 to $5,000 for properties separated by another parcel.

Tier 4: $1,000 for properties separated by a street.

The Association of American Railroads awarded the 2009 Environmental Excellence Award to CSX Transportation employee Paul Kurzanski. A 30-year veteran of the railroad industry, Kurzanski currently serves as manager of environmental remediation with CSXT in Jacksonville, Fla. The award was presented at the annual Railroad Environmental Conference at University of Illinois, Urbana.

Union Pacific and CSX Transportation launched RailChem Connect, a coordinated rail service for expedited transport of chemicals between the Texas Gulf Coast region and the Southeast. The new RailChem Connect service is the result of increased coordination and re-designed interline service by the two railroads for their chemicals market customers. The service allows shipments to bypass smaller rail yards for expedited transit between major hubs. These changes, along with increased operations coordination between the railroads, increase reliability of east- and west-bound service between Union Pacific-served chemical markets such as Houston, southern Texas and Louisiana, and CSXT-served consumption markets in the southeastern states. RailChem Connect offers more consistent transit times, faster equipment turns and a shorter route than previously available for chemical shipments in this corridor.

Following five years of construction and coming in on budget with a flawless four-million-plus-hour construction safety record, the Edward R. Roybal Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension from Union Station downtown to East Los Angeles will open to the public on Sunday, Nov. 15.

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