Operation Lifesaver Details 2012 Annual Report Accomplishments…

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – April 3, 2012 – Operation Lifesaver, Inc., (OLI) the rail safety education nonprofit, today released its 2012 Annual Report, which reviews the organization’s accomplishments, according to President and CEO Joyce Rose.

The activities detailed in OLI’s annual report include:

·         Celebrating its 40th anniversary with a leadership summit in Denver;

·         Producing safety education materials for rail commuters, new drivers, school bus drivers and Operation Lifesaver’s 50 state programs;

·         Working with the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Railroad Administration on grants for safety campaigns and other activities in cities and states around the U.S.;

·         Initiating updates to the OLI volunteer education process;

·         Increasing Operation Lifesaver’s social media presence.

“While the last two years have brought changes in Operation Lifesaver’s message delivery model, educational activities, and leadership,” Rose said, “our goal remains the same as it was 40 years ago: to reduce incidents, deaths and injuries at highway-rail crossing and on or around rail property. Saving lives is the mission that unites us.”

MBTA Announces Launch of Weekend Cape Service…

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

BOSTON, MA – April 3, 2013 – Massachusetts transportation officials have announced that they are launching a summer weekend rail service between Boston and Cape Cod under the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Commuter Rail Service.

It will run between Boston’s South Station and Hyannis from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day and connect with Cape Cod bus and ferry services, as well as providing space for bicycles.

State Transportation Secretary Richard Davy and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren were among those at Tuesday’s announcement. Davey said it will give people the option to avoid traffic and open tourist destinations to more travelers.

From May 24 through Sept. 2, customers will be able to purchase one-way tickets between Boston and Hyannis for $20, and round-trip tickets for $35, a Massachusetts Department of Transportation and MBTA statement said. The DOT, which will operate the rail service in conjunction with the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, said it hoped the return of swift public transit will draw tourists to the Cape and reduce pollution.

“The reintroduction of rail service to Cape Cod during the summer will not only give visitors a more relaxing, enjoyable journey but is a project focused on smart economic development and MassDOT’s GreenDOT goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting healthy transportation options for the Commonwealth,” said MassDOT Secretary Richard A. Davey during a news conference at South Station.

Since 1988, when the Cape Cod & Hyannis Railroad stopped Boston-Cape Cod service, buses have been the only form of public transportation between the areas.

The track left over from the old rail line will help make the train, dubbed the “Cape Flyer,” financially viable, said MassDOT spokeswoman Kelly Smith. The operation is designed to be cost-neutral, with ticket sales offsetting operating costs and no additional investment needed to lay tracks, she said.

On Fridays, one train on the Middleborough and Lakeville line will leave South Station at 5:12 p.m. and make the roughly two-and-a-half hour trip to Hyannis, then embark on a return trip at 8:30 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, the train will leave South Station at 8 a.m. and return from Hyannis at 6:30 p.m., the statement said.

Appalachian & Ohio RR Employees Ratify 5-Year Agreement…

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

GRAFTON, WV – April 3, 2013 – SMART Transportation Division-represented train and engine workers employed by Appalachian and Ohio Railroad have ratified a new five-year agreement by a unanimous vote.

SMART Transportation Division International Vice President Dave Wier said the agreement provides for substantial wage increases with full back-pay, provides certification pay for both conductors and engineers, freezes health and welfare contributions for the life of the contract, improves working conditions and seniority moves and provides for extra board regulation.

Wier, who assisted with the negotiations, congratulated Alternate Vice President and GO 433 General Chairperson R.W. “Red” Dare, Vice General Chairperson Danny Kautzman and Local 504 Chairperson David Currence for their efforts throughout the negotiating process.

“I laud the exceptional effort put forth by these officers in negotiating an agreement with dramatic improvements in wages and working conditions. The wage increases, coupled with the certification pay, provide these members with outstanding increases in their daily rates of pay,” Wier said.

The Appalachian and Ohio Railroad, owned by P&L Transportation, Inc., operates 158 miles of rail line between Grafton and Cowen, West Virginia.

NCDOT Names Paul Worley as Rail Division Director…

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

RALEIGH, NC – April 2, 2013 - The North Carolina Department of Transportation named 25-year department veteran Paul Worley as the new director of the Rail Division on February 20.

“Paul brings a depth of experience and proven leadership that will strengthen North Carolina’s reputation for safety and building railroads as we continue expanding and modernizing the state’s railroad system,” said NCDOT Deputy Secretary for Transit Richard Walls.  “He will help us meet the challenges as we move forward toward a more dynamic and faster freight and passenger rail system.”

Worley supervises the day-to-day operations for the division, which collaborates with railroads on safety oversight, strategic planning and freight, and passenger improvements over the 3,300-mile rail system in North Carolina.

The Rail Division is in the process of investing more than a half billion dollars in federal funds to modernize North Carolina’s rail corridor from Charlotte to Raleigh.

The Rail Division also operates two state-supported trains, providing passenger travel options as well as efficient and environmentally-friendly transportation.

The division works with communities to make rail-highway crossings safer and more efficient by installing traffic-control equipment, and closing and consolidating high-accident crossings on highways, streets and bridges.  Worley has received numerous industry awards and accolades for his work in that area.

Worley, who is the longest-serving employee in the division, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Campbell University.  He is a Smithfield native.

Amtrak to Host “Sustainability Day” in Washington on April 23…

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 2, 2013 – April is Earth Month and Amtrak is partnering with the Earth Day Network, and Premier Tourist and Landmark Association to host “Sustainability Day” on April 23 at Washington Union Station.

Earth Month activities at Washington Union Station will feature daily event offerings to include exhibits and activities such as an alternative energy show, a youth art contest and the NASA Earth Tent.  Events are free and open to all ages.

The Amtrak event will feature a display of its Auto Train, which helps passengers minimize their impact on the environment by transporting their vehicle between Lorton, Virginia, and Sanford, Florida. The amount of greenhouse gasses reduced each year using the Auto Train is equivalent to taking 3,478 cars off the road for a full year.

“More and more people are recognizing the benefits of traveling by rail, which uses less energy per passenger mile than car or air travel. Amtrak is working hard every day to become a more sustainable company, by taking steps such as reducing energy use at our maintenance facilities and stations,” said Craig Caldwell, Amtrak Environmental Superintendent.

In addition, the Washington Union Station event will feature other green benefits of train travel such as on-board recycling and information on how to offset the carbon emissions footprint generated by individual rail travel through Carbonfund.org.

“The participation of Amtrak in Earth Month 2013 is an important reminder that mass transit and intercity rail service is an important component in getting people out of their cars and to their destinations,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “We are pleased to have them celebrating Earth Month with us at Union Station.”

“Amtrak is an important partner for Union Station serving more than five million passengers annually,” said Roy Staeck, vice president of business development of Washington Union Station. “Recognized as one of the more energy-efficient modes of transportation, Amtrak’s involvement in Earth Month 2013 aligns perfectly with our commitment to spreading a message of sustainability and conservation to worldwide audiences.”

KCS Enhances Conductor Training at Shreveport, LA…

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

SHREVEPORT, LA – April 2, 2013 – Kansas City Southern’s new Transportation Engineering and Mechanical (TEaM) Training Center in Shreveport, Louisana, will soon have three box cars, three tank cars and five couplers in a stationary display adjacent to the Center.

The new interactive displays, constructed in the Shreveport car shop by carmen Larry Kirby and Duane Smith, are expected to be set on track panels very soon.

Superintendent of cars Kyle Salter explained that the two men were given only pictures of similar displays from another training facility.  From these pictures, they were able to recreate the displays in Shreveport.  Kirby and Smith each devoted approximately 60 hours to the project, splitting their time between the project and their regular heavy car repair duties.

“These guys put a lot of time and attention to detail into making sure they got the displays just right,” said Salter.  “We are very proud of their work.”

Until now, new conductors received hands-on training at the yard in Bossier City, La.  The next new class of conductors can walk from the TEaM Training Center to the adjacent tracks where multiple trainees can simultaneously get a hands-on experience with the cars.

Instead of resting on rails, the stationary displays will be bolted to the ties on 40 ft. track panels.  The displays simulate the A and B end of the car and all aspects of the coupler, allowing trainees to climb on the cars, cross the walkways, maintain three-point contact, set handbrakes, couple hoses, apply air, place an end of train device, perform a leakage test, climb on the ladder with a lantern to give signals and engage all safety appliances.

“Any new employee who will be around rail cars can benefit from training on this display.  For example, new carmen must practice inspecting safety appliances,” added Salter.  “The possibilities for using the new displays are endless.”

NS Englewood Yard Expansion Concerns Raised…

Monday, April 1st, 2013

ENGLEWOOD, IL – April 1, 2013 – Norfolk Southern’s plans to add on to the Englewood 47th Street Yard in Chicago is meeting opposition by community environmental groups who are concerned over the proposed increase of more than 500 daily trucks to the facility and air quality in the area.

A non-profit organization named Sustainable Englewood Initiative is planning an April 8 public meeting to discuss how the plans for the Chicago South Side rail yard should be “fine tuned” by Mayor Rahm Emanuel before the City Council vote on April 10.

Under the proposal, the city would sell 105 vacant lots to Norfolk Southern Corp. for $1.1 million so the railroad could to expand its rail yard in Englewood. The lots are in the area bounded by Garfield Boulevard, 61st Street, Wallace Street and Stewart Avenue.

Norfolk Southern wants to expand the rail yard because of traffic volume that has “outgrown our existing facility, and (as a result) we need to expand to improve the yard’s efficiency and reduce rail traffic congestion moving through Chicago,” said Robin Chapman, a spokesman for the railroad.

NS Spokesman Robin Chapman said the railroad met with Jones and his organization on March 14 and followed up with a letter on March 22 outlining its plans for dealing with air pollution.    “Essentially, the letter recapped what was discussed at the March 14 meeting and provided details about the emissions characteristics of current and future equipment and operations at the facility, and other measures we have taken or plan to take to mitigate the impact of our operations or otherwise support the community,” Chapman said.

And when the air quality argument failed the group, they played another card in their efforts to halt the construction, rehashing the fact that a NS predecessor had used slaves more than 100 years ago.

Chapman said Norfolk Southern’s slavery ties are old news.  “This is already a matter of public record. We filed a report with the city in response to an ordinance passed several years ago requiring companies to document the extent of their historical ties to slavery,” he said.

 

NS Adds PRR K-4 4-6-2 to 21st Century Steam Program…

Monday, April 1st, 2013

SCRANTON, PA – April 1, 2013 – The Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, Pennsylvania, along with Norfolk Southern Railroad have announced today that full restoration of the Pennsylvania Railroad K-4 4-6-2 steam locomotive will take place and that the locomotive will be incorporated to the NS 21st Century Steam Program.

Well – if you read that far, you know this is completely an April Fools!  Have a a GREAT April to all of the ERN readers!

*DISCLAIMER:  Any similarities to real life events are completely coincidental and this story was completely fabricated with no information from either Norfolk Southern or Steamtown….

R.J. Corman Enters Signal Systems Market…

Friday, March 29th, 2013

NICHOLASVILLE, KY – March 29, 2013 – R. J. Corman Railroad Group, LLC has announced its entrance into signal system design, wiring, construction, maintenance, packaging and material warehousing/logistics through its newly-formed company, R. J. Corman Signaling, LLC.

“Work on the Nicholasville, KY facility is nearing completion. We have identified a Jacksonville/Orange Park, FL location for a second facility to help us accelerate our early stage growth in engineering and construction”, said Mike Wilson, VP of the new company. “Our short term plans include hiring over 100 new employees to support engineering and the signal shop, although construction and maintenance demands will drive that much higher.”

“Mike joined our company earlier this year to help develop the business plan and strategy of this new segment of our business. His success with other business start ups in the signaling discipline (United Railway Signal Group, Inc. and 10 East Corp.) made him a good fit for building this new business in R. J. Corman fashion”, said Craig King, President of
R. J. Corman Railroad Group, LLC.

CSX Better Positioned Than a Year Ago, says Ward…

Friday, March 29th, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, FL – March 29, 2013  - CSX is a better, faster and more capable company than it was even one year ago, Michael Ward, the company’s chairman, president and chief executive officer wrote to investors in the 2012 Annual Report delivered this week.

Last year the company successfully withstood a significant drop in its coal business by making quick adjustments in its operations and focusing on the mainstays of safety, service and productivity.

“Experience has shown that when CSX does those things well, we can turn good conditions into great results, or bad conditions into better results,” Ward said, noting that employees led the major U.S. freight railroads in safety last year, drove customer satisfaction levels to all-time highs and delivered productivity savings of nearly $200 million.

Looking forward, the company believes that its key businesses other than coal will outpace the slow, steady growth that is expected in the economy in 2013, Ward said, and there is little reason the economy cannot gain momentum if Congress is able to pass more meaningful legislation to improve the long-term fiscal outlook and restore confidence.

“Our customers across many industries believe that America is primed for real recovery, and so do we,” Ward said.

He reiterated CSX’s confidence in the long-term outlook for its industry, which is based on a number of important factors:

  • The inevitable movement of more freight as the population and its consumption rise;
  • The pressing need to deliver freight efficiently between ports and people as global trade continues to build;
  • The increasing congestion on the nation’s highways, driving freight to rails;
  • The re-industrialization of America as the country’s efficient labor force and relatively inexpensive energy combine to create cost advantages for local or regional U.S. producers and demand for exports;
  • The challenges associated with labor, fuel and other costs at trucking companies, which today are partnering with railroads for longer-haul movements; and
  • The nation’s need for more environmentally friendly transportation solutions.

CSX’s rail network connects some of the most active economic centers of the world with small farming towns and seaports alike.  The company plans to invest in that network at a record $2.3 billion level this year, on top of approximately $8 billion invested in the past four years.  Those investments are part of the company’s balanced program of capital deployment overall, including dividends and share repurchases.

Ward concluded his letter by thanking shareholders for their partnership and belief in the company.  “We hope that our quick response to the tough conditions in 2012, and the responsible actions of our 32,000 employees, gave you even more confidence in this team and the investments you have made in the company,” he said.