Amtrak to Continue New York State Fair Trains…

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

ALBANY, NY – August 21, 2014 – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday that Amtrak will continue its tradition of providing train service to the Great New York State Fair, with five trains dropping passengers off daily for the 12 days of the fair, which runs from Thursday, August 21 to Monday, September 1.

At the Governor’s urging, Amtrak and CSX Corporation reached an agreement Monday to continue the service.

“The 2014 State Fair will be an unparalleled opportunity to experience some of the best agricultural products and entertainment that New York has to offer, and this train service will be a convenient and affordable travel option for visitors from all over,” Governor Cuomo said. “I am pleased we were able to work with Amtrak and CSX to make this service possible, and I encourage all New Yorkers – by train, car or plane – to visit the State Fair this year.”

The Governor intervened during negotiations over providing train service to the Fair, which were particularly difficult this year because CSX freight traffic has increased on the Empire Corridor west, already its busiest corridor in the nation. Because Amtrak passenger trains travel on CSX tracks, it makes adding an additional stop for Amtrak trains a dispatching challenge. Amtrak wanted to assure that its passenger trains would not be unduly delayed by the addition of the Fair stop. The Governor’s intervention helped resolve the impasse.

The Fair, which is themed “Summer’s Best in Show,” has a train stop on the fairgrounds at Gate 11, just outside the Horticulture building entrance.

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said, “Governor Andrew Cuomo knows how important a robust transportation system is for mobility and a robust economy. Train service to the Great New York State Fair helps ensure that this great summer tradition is available to everyone.”

The following trains will be serving the New York State Fair:

Daily Service

  • Train 284 Empire Service Eastbound 9:32 a.m.
  • Train 63 Maple Leaf Westbound 12:50 p.m.
  • Train 64 Maple Leaf Eastbound 3:15 p.m
  • Train 281 Empire Service Westbound 3:52 p.m
  • Train 283 Empire Service Westbound 6:59 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 24, and Monday, Sept. 1, only

  • Train 288 Empire Service Eastbound 5:44 p.m.

FRA Awards $350K Grant for Short Line Safety Institute…

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 21, 2014 - U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced today that the Federal Railroad Administration will award two grants totaling $350,000 to support the development of a Short Line Rail Safety Institute.

This initiative will help the short line and regional rail industry mitigate the risks associated with shipping crude oil and other hazardous materials while improving its overall safety record.

The Short Line Rail Safety Institute has been proposed by Senators Murray and Collins as a way to enhance safety in the short line freight railroad industry, including the transportation of crude oil and ethanol.  On May 15, the two Senators sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx expressing support of the Institute, and in June, the two Senators introduced legislation to authorize the Institute. The Senate Transportation Subcommittee Fiscal Year 2015 bill recommends an additional $2 million for the Institute to conduct safety assessments for rail lines that transport crude oil and other highly hazardous cargo.

There are 550 short line railroad companies that operate over 50,000 miles of track, or nearly one third of the national railroad network.  The tracks can be as short as two miles or up to more than 1,000 miles long.

“As we discussed when you testified before our Subcommittee, there is no silver bullet to improving rail safety.  It is a complicated multi-faceted issue involving prevention, mitigation, and response aspects,” Senators Murray and Collins wrote in their letter to Secretary Foxx.  “The proposed Short Line Railroad Safety Institute could be an important part of the larger solution and would help improve the safe transportation of crude oil and other hazardous materials.”

These efforts followed an an April hearing held by Senators Murray and Collins to specifically focus on safety issues related to rail shipment of crude oil.  Secretary Foxx, then-National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman, Director of the Seattle Office of Emergency Management Barb Graff, and Rangeley, ME, Fire Chief Tim Pellerin, who led emergency response efforts after a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in 2013, each testified at that hearing.

Today’s announcement includes a $250,000 grant to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) to begin the pilot phase of safety culture assessments. Pilot testing will begin in January 2015 and will initially focus on the safety of crude oil transportation by rail. With the grant money, ASLRRA will:

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of the existing safety programs on short line and regional railroads (e.g., compliance requirements of FRA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration);
  • Use tools developed by the University of Connecticut to identify areas of non-compliance and help railroads develop a culture of commitment to railroad safety; and
  • Provide access to effective safety training processes, programs and resources.
  • Develop large libraries of training tools, technical materials and other educational resources to assist small railroads in instilling a culture of safety.

The University of Connecticut also received a $100,000 grant to conduct initial work that will focus on the development, testing and validation of safety education, training and development for managers and employees.

Hobo and Winnipesaukee RRs Offer Special Trips…

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

LINCOLN, NH – August 21, 2014 – Starting Monday, August 25 and running for five consecutive days through Friday, August 29, tickets at the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln and the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad in Meredith & Weirs Beach, New Hampshire, will be available to everyone ages 3 and up at children’s prices – only $12 in Lincoln for the 1 hour and 20 minute ride, $14 in Meredith for the 2-hour ride and $12 at Weirs Beach for the 1-hour train ride – while ages 2 and under ride for free as always.

“We wanted to offer a way for families to make the most out of the final days of summer by extending discounted pricing”, stated Paul Giblin, Director of Marketing & Business Development for the Hobo & Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads. “With everyone riding as a child, families will have a bit more money to spend on their back-to-school shopping needs – while also enjoying a chance to have some family fun along the way”.

In addition to enjoying reduced train fares, families will receive a voucher good for a $10 Tanger Gift Card and coupon booklet for the 50-plus store Tanger Outlet Center in Tilton, NH to help reduce the cost of back-to-school shopping. The $10 Tanger Outlet Gift Cards will be limited to one per family with ticket purchases in Lincoln, Meredith and Weirs Beach while supplies last.

“Tanger is very committed to serving the communities where we work and live”, mentioned Eric Proulx, General Manager of the Tanger Outlet Center in Tilton, NH. “The Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad partnership is the perfect way to help our families maximize their back to school budgets.”

Hobo & Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad Train Schedule
August 25-29, 2014

Hobo Railroad – Lincoln, NH
Departure Times – One hour & twenty minute excursions: 11:00am & 1:00pm

Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad – Meredith, NH
Departure Times – Two hour excursions: 10:30am & 12:30pm

Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad – Weirs Beach, NH
Departure Times – One hour excursions: 11:00am, 12:00pm & 1:00pm

The Hobo Railroad is located in Lincoln, NH, just off Exit 32 on I-93, left on Route 112, directly across from McDonalds – while the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad is located at 154 Main Street in the lakeside village of Meredith, NH with a satellite ticket booth conveniently located on the boardwalk at 211 Lakeside Avenue in Weirs Beach. Visit them on-line at www.HoboRR.com or call (603) 745-2135.

The Tanger Outlet Center is located just off exit 20 on I-93 at 120 Laconia Road in Tilton, NH. Visit them on-line at www.tangeroutlets.com/tilton or call (603) 286-7880.

Steamtown Railfest 2014 Weekend Events Announced…

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

SCRANTON, PA – August 21, 2014 – Steamtown National Historic Site has announced plans for Saturday and Sunday, August 30 and 31 – Labor Day weekend, when the National Park Service joins with partners to host Railfest 2014.

The annual event is a celebration of railroading past, present and future, with visiting equipment, displays, children’s programs, special tours and shop demonstrations and, of course, train rides on both days of the event.

The fun begins on Saturday at 10 a.m. with the presentation of colors by the Confederation of Union Generals. Park Superintendent Deborah Conway will then host the Opening Ceremony, welcoming special event Grand Marshal Donna Hagen, wife of the late Steamtown Superintendent, Harold “Kip” Hagen.

The Lackawanna Historical Society will also present the 6th annual Alan Sweeney Memorial Award to an individual who has demonstrated unwavering dedication to the heritage of the Lackawanna Valley.

Canadian Pacific Railway, Erie Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society, Norfolk Southern, North Shore Railroad, the Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad, and the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society’s F3A locomotives, painted into the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad’s paint scheme, are planning to provide equipment displays.

Planned programs include:

  • Union Pacific #4012 “Big Boy” locomotive cab tours
  • Norfolk Southern’s Exhibit Car
  • Scranton’s “Confederation of Union Generals” theater presentation
  • “Big Band” performances by Ron Leas’ Band (Saturday only)
  • “Scranton Limited” short train rides
  • Caboose Rides
  • Garden Railroad rides with “live steam”
  • Lehigh Valley #353 Business Car tours
  • Locomotive Shops will be open for tours
  • Tours of the DL&W’s Mattes Street Tower and former Office & Storage Building
  • Railroad Hit Songs by “David Stone: The Johnny Cash Experience”
  • Free Trolley Bus rides to and from the Scranton Iron Furnaces and La Festa Italiana

Planned exhibitors include:

  • Anthracite Hi-Railers “O”-gauge model train layout
  • Mid Atlantic Motorcars Association
  • Operation Lifesaver information table (Saturday only)
  • Meet-the-Author, David Crosby, “The Lackawanna Railroad in Northeastern Pennsylvania” (Sunday only)

Excursions are planned to Moscow, Pennsylvania on each event day, with a historic diesel locomotive. At Moscow Station, ‘‘photo run-bys” are also scheduled. The excursions will depart the Boarding Platform at 12:30 p.m. each day with a planned return to Scranton at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Excursion fares are $24 for adults 17 to 61, $22 for seniors 62 and older, and $17 for children ages 6-16. Children five and younger require a “no-charge” ticket. For reservations, call 570-340-5204.

PAS Conn River Line Officially Purchased by State…

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

GREENFIELD, MA – August 21, 2014 – Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick arrived at Greenfield, Massachusetts on Wednesday aboard the Pan Am Railways Office Car Special train to announce that the state is spending $17 million for the Connecticut River Line’s resumption of Amtrak Vermonter passenger service, scheduled to begin December 29.

The money will buy 49 miles of track between the Connecticut and Vermont borders, once again carrying passenger trains through Greenfield, which was once a hub of freight and passenger train service.

“Every place a train has ever stopped, it’s been good for the local economy,” Patrick said.  “When we invest in ourselves and in our future, we build a stronger and a more promising, more inclusive future,” he told a group of reporters and local and state officials at the Energy Park, built on the site of Greenfield’s last passenger rail station.

Using part of $73 million in federal funding awarded to Massachusetts for acquisition and upgrading of the line, the state is also in the process of building a rail platform onto the John W. Olver Regional Transit Center on Olive Street. It will serve the Vermonter service that would potentially shave 25 minutes off the detour through Palmer and Amherst that has been in place since 1989. Using $30 million from a new state transportation bond bill, the state is also refurbishing MBTA rail cars and locomotives for passenger train service between Greenfield and Springfield that is expected to be up and running in the next couple of years, depending on a state appropriation for operating funds.

“For a long time now, there has been demand and interest in improving Amtrak service on the Vermonter line so that it included the burgeoning activities and the growing population of ‘the Knowledge Corridor’ along the Connecticut River,” said the governor.

Use of the tracks will give flexibility to the state, which plans to contract with a rail operator to eventually begin north-south commuter service, to meet that demand.

“It’s a big deal,” said state Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, who along with Reps. Paul Mark, D-Peru, and Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, were on hand at a press conference at the Energy Park. “It will give the state more control in how it’s used, and it’s set up nicely for the beginning of passenger rail service. I think a lot of people in Franklin County are looking forward to using it.”

The agreement between the state and Pan Am Southern, a joint venture of Pan Am and Norfolk Southern, has largely been completed, according to Mass. Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey.

The 49-mile stretch is now undergoing a major upgrade to allow for more efficient passenger service and better maintenance and enhancement of freight service, the administration said in a written press statement.

“Through this agreement, we are realizing the renewed value this infrastructure can have in creating economic opportunities throughout the region,” added Patrick.

The project will restore the original route of Amtrak’s Vermonter traveling between St. Albans, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., from its current route.

Starting in East Northfield, the restoration runs south to Springfield and includes the construction of three new station platforms in Greenfield, Northampton and Holyoke.

Begun in August 2012, the restoration consists of the replacement of about 95,000 rail ties, new continuously welded rail, new active warning signals and crossing gates at 23 public grade crossings, upgrades to six bridges and the first phase of a new signal installation. The restoration is funded through a $75 million grant awarded by the Federal Railroad Administration and approximately $40 million dollars in state funds. The work is expected to be complete in 2016, after the start of passenger service. These changes will improve safety, increase operating speeds for existing freight train traffic and the Vermonter and enhance capacity on the rail line to accommodate future increased levels of train traffic.

“What’s happening here, in terms of the expansion of the innovation economy, the energy in the collaborations around Greenfield and Northampton, Springfield and Holyoke, is enormously important,” Patrick said.

Davey stated, “The Knowledge Corridor is a rail asset that will play a key role in the region’s transportation system, both by delivering improved customer service in the form of faster travel times, as well as by being built to a standard that can accommodate more freight. Purchasing the line will also allow us to preserve the line’s viability for the long-term, and will position the commonwealth to use this line for increased passenger service that could provide commuters in the region a competitive alternative to driving on I-91.”

Davey said the state has also begun study of extending passenger rail service westward along Route 2 from Fitchburg, and Kulik said that the state’s development of commuter service along the Connecticut River even offers the potential for future rail service to the hilltowns.

LIRR Seven Unions Ratify New Agreement…

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

NEW YORK, NY – August 19, 2014 – The United Transportation Union/SMART has announced that the members of Long Island Rail Road General Committee of Adjustment GO 505 have ratified a new agreement with LIRR management by a 97 percent margin, General Chairperson Anthony Simon reports.

It is the largest margin of approval for a contract in the general committee’s history.

Simon also said the approval rate for the eight-union coalition withstood together in bargaining with the LIRR was 95 percent.

Simon thanked SMART General President Joseph Nigro, General Secretary-Treasurer Joe Sellers and Transportation Division President John Previsich for their financial and material support and counsel.

“This shows with the support of our International and our membership, there is nothing we can not accomplish. I thank President Nigro for giving me the opportunity to speak at the first SMART Convention and for recognizing our delegates and our members on LIRR,” Simon said.

“This truly shows the unity in our merged unions and what we can achieve standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity.

“A special ‘thank you’ goes to my entire committee for there tireless work in such a huge fight. My committee is the best committee I could ever ask for and I am very fortunate to have this team.

“To our members, I asked you to stand with me and trust me and said I would fight to the end to get them a contract they deserve and earned, and our members stepped up, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

“I will never stop fighting for the most professional and hard working members.”

The vote concluded more than four years of battling with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority during a difficult and highly publicized contract dispute.

The MTA had been seeking net zero wage increases, major pension reform, large health care contributions, work rule give-backs and excessive concessions for new hires.

The settlement provided in excess of 18 percent of compounded wage increases over six-and-a-half years. Certification pay was achieved in the amount of $10 per day worked as a conductor and a modest two percent health and welfare contribution was accepted, based on a straight week’s pay. Minor adjustments were made for new hires that extended their requirement to pay four percent toward their pension for five additional years and their current wage progression was extended by just two years. Not a single work rule was compromised.

LIRR Budget Includes Cars, More Trains for Hempstead…

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

NEW YORK, NY – August 19, 2014 – MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast and Long Island Rail Road President Patrick Nowakowski have proposed a package of LIRR service investments including the restoration of weekend service on the West Hempstead Branch and the addition of two cars to six rush hour trains that are at or near capacity.

Some of the service improvements, including restoration of the West Hempstead weekend service, will be implemented as soon as this fall while others will occur in 2015. The $3.4 million package of improvements includes upgrades on Huntington, Port Washington, Babylon, Hempstead, Oyster Bay and Montauk branches as well service to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Barclays Center.

“Long Islanders rely on the LIRR, and adding service for our customers is an important part of our commitment to serve them,” Prendergast said. “More trains, more cars and more service mean fewer cars on the road and more options for everyone on Long Island.”

LIRR President Nowakowski said: “These investments will help address community and customer requests to strategically add service where it is needed most. We are especially pleased to be able to restore weekend West Hempstead branch service.”

The proposals, which are contained in the MTA Preliminary 2015 Budget presented to the MTA Board today, come in response to continuing LIRR ridership growth as the region works its way back from the economic impact of the Great Recession. LIRR ridership has been above the prior year in eight of the last nine months, and in June, the LIRR, the nation’s busiest commuter rail road, carried more customers than it has in any month in almost six years. The trends have been favorable in both the commutation and non-commutation categories.

Weekend Service on the West Hempstead Branch
Starting on Saturday, November 22, weekend service returns to the West Hempstead Branch for the first time in four years with trains running, as they had in the past, every two hours between West Hempstead and Penn Station and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn with connecting service at Valley Stream and Jamaica. Service was cut in 2010 as part of an MTA austerity plan in the face of a large budget gap.

Other Proposed Service Improvements:

Montauk Branch:

  • There will be 10 weeks of extra weekend service on the Montauk Branch to response to demand from customers who continue to extend leisure and tourist travel on the South Fork beyond the traditional summer season. So, beginning in October, the LIRR weekend service to the Hamptons and Montauk will feature one extra eastbound train and one extra westbound train through the Thanksgiving Weekend. Then in 2015, the extra trains will be added to the schedule in May.
  • Beginning in September 2015, the LIRR will make extra summer weekend service between Babylon and Patchogue the norm in recognition that the village’s booming entertainment and restaurant activity has made it into a popular year-round weekend destination.

Oyster Bay Branch

  • Beginning in September 2015, the LIRR will add two trains to the weekend schedule on the Oyster Bay Branch, one in the morning and one at night to service city-bound customers.

Adding Cars to 6 Crowded Rush Hour Trains 
Beginning in November, the LIRR will add two cars to the following peak period trains to address crowding issues. These trains currently run between 91% and 99% of capacity every day. Train lengths will be increased on the following trains:

Hempstead Branch

  • The 7:36 AM train from Hempstead to Atlantic Terminal Brooklyn will go from six to eight cars.

Ronkonkoma Branch

  • The 7:58 AM train from Bethpage to Penn Station will go from 10 to 12 cars.

Babylon Branch

  • The 8:03 AM train from Babylon to Penn Station will go from 10 to 12 cars.
  • The 8:35 AM train from Babylon to Penn Station will go from 10 to 12 cars

Huntington Branch

  • The 5:46 PM train from Penn Station to Huntington will go from 10 to 12 cars.

Port Washington Branch

  • The 7:01 PM train from Penn Station to Port Washington will go from 10 to 12 cars.

Service to Atlantic Terminal & Barclays Center
The railroad currently provides evening service to Atlantic Terminal specifically for events at the Barclays Center to meet the expanding schedule of New York’s fastest growing entertainment venue. The July financial plan now will reflect the additional cost of providing the added service to Barclays events 250 days a year.

NRHS Announces Vermont Rails 2015 Convention Plans…

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

PHILADELPHIA, PA – August 19, 2014 – The National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) has announced plans for the “Vermont Rails 2015” convention in Rutland, Vermont, which includes multiple excursions over the Vermont Rail System and the Saratoga & North Creek Railroad.

Vermont Rail System, the Saratoga & North Creek Railroad and timeless New England scenery will headline the 2015 NRHS convention in Rutland, Vermont. Plans are being finalized for the June 14-20 convention, where members can choose from seven days of rare excursion trains and historic tours.

Convention trains currently include the following:

  • A Vermont Rail System “photo freight” from Rutland to Ludlow and return, powered by a classic Alco RS-1 engine, through the scenery of the Green Mountains (June 14).
  • A Saratoga & North Creek passenger trip from Saratoga Springs, NY, to North Creek and return, following the scenic Hudson River and led by rare BL2 diesels (June 15); passengers will have the option of riding Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express between Rutland and Saratoga Springs.
  • A VRS passenger trip from Rutland to Bellows Falls and return over the Green Mountain Railroad and the former route of the original Steamtown excursions (June 16).
  • A VRS passenger trip from Rutland to Burlington and return, including a two-hour layover at the Burlington waterfront or a three-hour tour of the famous Shelburne Museum (June 18).
  • A rare mileage trip from Rutland to the Omya processing plant on the remains of the original Clarendon & Pittsford Railroad near Florence, VT (June 19).
  • A VRS passenger excursion between Rutland and North Bennington/Hoosic Junction and return, passing the one-time home of Norman Rockwell and the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln and the president of Pullman Palace Car Company (June 20).

Tickets are expected to go on sale in mid-September; watch for updates on NRHS.com and the NRHS Facebook page. Dome, lounge and business car seating will be available, as well as coach and table seats; premium seating tickets will be limited.

Public tickets will also be sold for an afternoon “Father’s Day” excursion (June 21) on the Green Mountain Railroad between Rutland and Ludlow, passing Summit station, the site of the driving of the final spike on the Bellows Falls-to-Burlington route. These tickets will be sold by both NRHS and VRS. The train’s 4 p.m. return to Rutland will allow passengers to easily transfer to Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express bound for New York City.

Non-rail events will include heritage tours covering the New England Maple Museum, Cabot Cheese, Quechee Gorge State Park, the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site, the Vermont Marble Museum and more. Also taking place are the NRHS annual membership meeting and banquet, plus history seminars about regional railroading.

The convention will be based at the Rutland Holiday Inn, which will host all convention meetings, seminars and the annual banquet. The hotel is offering a special room rate of $99 for one person, $119 for two, $139 for three and $159 for four, which includes a free hot buffet breakfast offered in advance of event departures.

GRLW to Benefit from Petroleum Pipeline, Terminal…

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

GREENVILLE, SC – August 19, 2014 – Greenville & Western Railway Company, LLC (GRLW), a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Carolina Railway Service Corporation, is pleased to announce that Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, LLP (Kinder Morgan), has announced a proposed project to expand the capacity of its existing pipeline between Baton Rouge, LA and Belton, SC, as well as the construction of a new pipeline from Belton, SC to Jacksonville, FL.

As a part of the announcement, Kinder Morgan has indicated that the project would provide capacity to move petroleum products as well as purity ethanol between Belton, SC and North Augusta, SC, Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL. The project could be complete and operational as early as July 1, 2017.

Kinder Morgan owns and operates the GRLW-served fuel transload terminal in Belton.

Kinder Morgan’s Press Release states: “The approximately $1 billion project has a design capacity of 167,000 barrels per day and would consist of a segment of expansion capacity that Palmetto would lease from Plantation Pipe Line Company between Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Belton, South Carolina. A new 360-mile pipeline from Belton, South Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, would also be constructed as part of the project.

The Palmetto Project would provide access to new markets in the Southeast for pipeline shippers looking to move refined petroleum products from the Gulf Coast,” said Ron McClain, president of Products Pipelines for KMP. “Pending customer commitments from the open season and timely regulatory approvals, the project could be in service by July 2017.”

RBMN Announces Bridge Project from PA Grant…

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

PORT CLINTON, PA - August 19, 2014 – The Reading & Northern Railroad has been awarded a $10 million State Capital budget grant to build a new railroad bridge over the Lehigh River near Nesquehoning in Carbon County.

The project cost is in excess of $14 million with Reading & Northern investing the balance.

The new bridge will provide Reading & Northern with an efficient and safe north/south route connecting the Philadelphia region to New England and eastern Canada. Reading & Northern will offer the use of this route to both Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific railroads; both of whom already use part of the Reading & Northern’s mainline track today.

According to Andrew Muller, Jr., owner and CEO of the railroad, this Bridge will enable Reading & Northern to provide improved service to dozens of its existing customers. It will be the fastest and most economical route into the Marcellus Shale territory in northeast Pennsylvania, and it will assist the development of the Port of Philadelphia allowing unit trains of in double-stack intermodal containers to flow in and out of the Port of Philadelphia to points in the northeastern United States and Canada.

Muller said other public benefits would result from this project by keeping heavy trucks off Pennsylvania roads, improving highway safety, congestion mitigation and air quality, while reducing highway wear and tear and fuel usage. He noted that rail is three times more fuel-efficient than trucks.

Under the terms of the August 15 grant, the State funds will be made available over two fiscal years; 2014 and 2015; $5,000,000 will be released each year.

Muller noted that over $6 million of domestically manufactured materials would be produced for this bridge. During the 18-month construction period 140 direct jobs will be created plus numerous indirect jobs created by the producers of purchased materials.

Mr. Muller said, “This grant would not have happened without the support of Governor Tom Corbett, Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch, and dozens of state and federal elected officials. I want to publicly thank Senators Joseph Scarnati, David Argall, John Yudichak, Pat Browne and John Rafferty; State Representatives Mike Carroll, Doyle Heffley, Jerry Knowles and Mike Tobash; Congressmen Lou Barletta and Charlie Dent, and all of the County Commissioners in Carbon and Berks Counties.”

“I have been working for almost two decades to bring this bridge and resulting new route to fruition. This bridge will enable us to better serve our customers and it will bring economic development and jobs to northeastern Pennsylvania. We are proud to work with PennDOT and our elected officials in bringing this important project to fruition.”

Reading & Northern is the largest privately owned railroad in the Commonwealth. It operates a 320-mile regional rail system in nine counties in eastern Pennsylvania and employs over 180 employees at the railroad and related businesses. In 2013 over 85,000 carloads moved over Reading & Northern railroad lines.