Latest Rail News

Construction has begun on a BNSF railroad bridge over the Mississippi River in Burlington, Iowa.

The work began ahead of schedule to build a new lift-span bridge that will more than double the navigation channel for barges up to 307 feet.

The Coast Guard has long wanted the bridge repaired because barges frequently hit the span, which has happened 92 times between 1992 to 2001.

Congress allocated $55 million for the bridge work. Officials still haven't decided the full extent of work on the 118-year-old bridge beyond replacing the lift span.

About 30 trains a day cross the bridge and the span opens about 300 times a month for river traffic.

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.

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.

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 gravel.

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.

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.

North 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.

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.

the governing body of HRT, take necessary steps towards getting the study approved and funded.
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 Ledger reports. But they likely won't have New Jersey to blame for raising taxes on gasoline.


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.

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.

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