Latest Rail News
CSXT proposed an $842 million plan to raise roofs on bridges and lower some railroad tracks across the mid-Atlantic so that it could carry double-stacked cargo containers on its trains. The proposal is gaining steam because of its promise of clearing tractor-trailers off the region's congested highways and improving commuter train service.

It also would mean rebuilding some railroad bridges around the region, including the Virginia Avenue tunnel just south of the Capitol. Raising the roof of that tunnel alone would cost an estimated $140 million. The 12 other local projects proposed, including replacing the bridge on Deer Park Drive in Montgomery County's historic Washington Grove, would add millions more.

The freight company would pay about $393 million of the National Gateway initiative, while state and federal dollars would pay the rest. The project is seeking stimulus dollars for some of the costs.
A preliminary report on restoring service on the Amtrak Pioneer route included four options with rail passenger service to Eastern Oregon and Southern Idaho.

Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mike Crapo of Idaho said the report is an important step toward bringing back a passenger rail line that should never have been closed in the first place.

The senators obtained a congressional mandate forcing Amtrak to study restoring the former Pioneer line that ran from Portland, along the Columbia River Gorge and on to Pendleton, La Grande, Baker City, Ontario, Boise, Shoshone and Pocatello to Utah. It was discontinued in 1997.

The preliminary study contains four scenarios about restoring passenger service in Idaho and Oregon. It says "Restoration of the Pioneer would enhance Amtrak's route network and produce public benefits, but would require significant expenditures for initial capital costs and ongoing operation costs not covered by farebox revenues."

A private consultant has estimated annual operating costs for the Pioneer could run between $30 million-$40 million annually, with a third of those costs paid by passengers. Capital and startup costs, including those for locomotives, passenger cars, sleeping and food service cars could exceed $400 million.

Amtrak officials say interested stakeholders have until Oct. 1 to offer comment on the preliminary study. The final report must be presented to Congress by Oct. 15. Congress may have the final say in restoring Pioneer service.

Michigan is vying for its part of the $8 billion federal stimulus to upgrade passenger train service. The state wants $830 million as its part of a Midwest high-speed rail plan.

Contracting giant Balfour Beatty said it has reached an accord to purchase consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff for approximately $618 million, U.K. media report. The agreement is subject to approval by the shareholders of both companies.

The Chicago Transit Authority is inviting the public to meetings to provide input on the proposed Red, Orange and Yellow Line Extensions.  Attendees will have an opportunity to provide comments on the proposed alternatives, the purpose and need for the project, the potential effects and mitigation measures to be considered in the Environmental Impact Study (EIS).

The Frankford elevated line, which was completely rebuilt in the 1980s and 1990s to last for 75 years, needs significant repairs because of a basic flaw in its reconstruction design, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. To prevent pieces of concrete from falling onto cars or pedestrians, SEPTA crews have installed 8,000 metal mesh belts on the underbelly of the El and plan to install 2,000 more, beginning Sept. 21.

Officials of Kansas City Southern are in Laredo again, delivering the latest updates on the possibility of a rail bridge in the Laredo, Texas, area, television station KGNS reported. KCS officials say the project is now one step closer to becoming a reality.

The City of Leavenworth, Wash., and Amtrak said that the eagerly awaited restoration of rail passenger service to the popular Bavarian Village, a destination community in the Cascade Mountains, will begin on Friday, September 25. The first train returning to Leavenworth, one of Washington's most visited attractions, will be Amtrak's Empire Builder, departing Seattle that evening bound for Chicago.

Lynda Frost, a spokeswoman for Montana Rail Link, said trains traveling through downtown Billings, Mont., were supposed to stop sounding their horns Sept. 18, one minute after midnight, according to The Gazette. And those are some big horns, emitting blasts of 96 to 110 decibels, as per federal regulations. A subway train, at a distance of 200 feet, registers at about 95 decibels, while 110 decibels is comparable to a power saw three feet away.

Track maintenance on the Red and Orange lines the weekend of Sept. 20-21 will cause inbound and outbound trains to take turns sharing one track. Customers should add at least 20 minutes of time to their trips. 

 Metrorail customers traveling between the Medical Center and Grosvenor-Strathmore Metrorail stations should add at least 20 minutes to their travel time for their trips because Metro will replace drainage pump cables.

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