Latest Rail News

On August 24, BART reached another milestone on a major phase of the Warm Springs Extension project that will ultimately bring BART closer to Silicon Valley. BART issued a "Notice to Proceed" to Shimmick Construction Company, Inc./Skanska USA Civil West California District Inc. Joint Venture, which will allow them to begin the extensive construction project that will create and support tens of thousands of jobs and help stimulate Bay Area economy.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says Illinois must do what it can to attract jobs to the state, so he signed a measure encouraging business development along freight rail systems, the Chicago Tribune reports. A new rail transportation hub is intended for the Chicago suburb of Joliet and the measure will set aside some state taxes connected to new jobs created at the facility. The company operating the hub, CenterPoint Properties, can then get some of that money for infrastructure improvement, according to the governor's office.

TriMet's Washington County Commuter Rail in the Portland, Ore., area is in production service and is dispatched through a web-enabled Software-as-a-Service delivery platform provided by RailComm. RailComm's Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) Centralized Traffic Control system is hosted in Rochester, N.Y. RailComm's SaaS platform provides a "pay-as-you-go" model, thus eliminating capital equipment procurement constraints.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger submitted 42 applications for $1.1 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding available through the federal High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program, under which states compete for $8 billion in funding designated for intercity and high speed rail. Federal applications for Track 1, 3 and 4 require focus on improvements to existing passenger rail services for job creation purposes. In adherence to these federal requirements, California's Track 1, 3 and 4 applications focus on improvements to existing passenger rail lines, including the integration of high-speed rail with intercity passenger service. The federal government's Track 2 application focuses on high-speed rail and is due on October 2, 2009.

MTA NYC Transit said that beginning August 24 and continuing until November 13, 2009, there is no express subway service on the 5 line between the 3rd Avenue/East 149th Street station and the East 180th Street station. In addition, during the afternoon rush hour, four of the northbound 5 trains that normally operate to the Nereid Avenue station will terminate at East 180th Street. Customers traveling on these 5 trains will have to transfer to northbound 2 trains at East 180th Street or other Nereid Avenue-bound 5 trains for stations on the White Plains Road line.

Canadian National plans to repair the Hafenrichter Road crossing just southeast of Aurora, in unincorporated Wheatland Township, local newspapers report. The crossing, which lies along the suburban Elgin, Joliet and Eastern tracks, will be shut down for four days next month, from Sept. 21 to 25.

CSX Transportation Inc. will raise and remove bridges and lower railroad tracks throughout Northeast Ohio starting next year as part of its $840 million National Gateway plan, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. The local work includes removing the Park Street bridge in Akron, replacing the Knapp Road bridge in Ravenna and raising the Portage County Hike & Bike Trail in Kent.

As workers finished exploratory drilling for the planned Westside subway extension, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other elected officials said they want to speed up construction of the $4.1-billion transit project, which has been scheduled for completion in 2036, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The first state applications for "shovel-ready" passenger rail projects are due into the Federal Railroad Administration on Aug. 24, and FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo thinks some of the federal grants to follow will need to help freight lines get ready for more and faster passenger trains, reports The Journal of Commerce.

(The following opinion, published Aug. 24, 2009, by the Boston Globe, was written by former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis [also a former vice chairman of Amtrak] and Robert O'Brien, who is executive director of the Downtown North Association and chairman of the North-South Rail Link Citizens Advisory Committee.)

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