Pan Am April 13 Excursion Equipment, Schedule Finalized…

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

BOSTON, MA – March 27, 2013 – Rare mileage aficionados will be sure to be aboard a pair of trips that will cover territory that is today owned by Norfolk Southern and Pan Am Railways, but historically covers trackage from the Nickel Plate, Norfolk & Western, Pennsylvania Railroad, Virginian, and the Boston & Maine.

Beginning on April 6, the special train will be launched from Chicago, Illinois and will traverse Norfolk Southern trackage to Norfolk, Virginia, before heading to Washington, D.C. and on to Boston on the rear of Amtrak train #174.  The original train is reportedly going to consist of Iowa Pacific Holdings-owned private cars: Caritas, Cimarron River, Diner 448, Minnesota River, and the Swift Stream.   Power for this portion of the move is to be a pair of Amtrak locomotives, P42-9DCs if available.

The first leg of the trip, billed as the “Southeastern Explorers”, begins on April 6, when the train departs Chicago, Illinois for Bellevue, Ohio on the ex-Nickel Plate trackage.  Details of the trip are as follows:

  • April 6: Chicago, IL to Bellevue, OH with an overnight planned for Bellevue.
  • April 7:  Bellevue to Portsmouth with an overnight planned in Portsmouth.
  • April 8: Portsmouth to Roanoke. Overnight in Roanoke.
  • April 9: Roanoke to Norfolk, VA, via Abilene, Burkeville, Norfolk Bridge 5. Equipment parks overnight at Amtrak coach yard.
  • April 10: Equipment leaves Norfolk 0430 on Amtrak #174 for Washington, DC and Boston.

After this trip, equipment will lay over in Boston to prepare for the Pan Am Southern trip on April 13.

On April 13, the train will depart Boston’s North Station and run over the Pan Am Southern to Mechanicville, New York and then on to Saratoga, New York.  Billed as the first public ‘fan’ trip through Hoosac Tunnel in decades, the trip will continue with the same equipment as previously mentioned, however will be pulled by the Pan Am Railway’s executive FP9 duo of PAR-1 and PAR-2.  Additionally, two ex-Santa Fe ‘great dome’ cars will be added at Ayer, Massachusetts on the westbound trip, owing to clearance issues east of that location.

The April 13 trip is scheduled to operate as follows:

Lv. Boston, North Station, 0800. Passenger pickup at Anderson Transportation Center (0820) and Ayer (1020).
Arr. Mechanicville, NY 1740
Arr. Saratoga, NY 1900.

Buses will return passengers to Anderson Transportation Center, Ayer, Riverside and downtown Boston.

The equipment will continue to tour on Sunday, making a special trip up the Saratoga & North Creek and return to Albany/Rensselaer to connect with Amtrak #49 for the return trip to Chicago.  The final portion of the schedule is listed as follows:

Sunday, April 14: the Saratoga and North Creek will operate a special train to North Creek and return.
Monday, April 15: equipment moves by special train to Albany/Rensselaer to connect with Amtrak #49 for Chicago.
Tuesday, April 16: arrive Chicago 0945. Trip ends.

 

CSXT Clean-up Complete on KP Sub Derailment…

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

HAYSI, VA – March 26, 2013 – CSX Transportation and contract crews restored service Monday on the company’s Kingsport Subdivision affected by Saturday’s train derailment in Haysi, Virginia, which damaged 18 cars and caused one car to leak some 1,100 gallons of a corrosive acid.

CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan said Monday that the company restored line service Monday morning, some 48 hours after the derailment in Haysi, which occurred as a CSX train was traveling from North Carolina to Kentucky.

During the accident, CSX, state and local officials and emergency responders worked to successfully contain a leak of acid from one of the damaged freight cars. CSX has said none of the leaked material reached the nearby Russell Fork River.

The derailment caused no reported injuries or evacuations.

Metro-North Completes Largest Service Expansion in 30 Years…

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

NEW YORK, NY – March 26, 2013 – The Metro-North Railroad’s schedule change effective on Sunday, April 7 completes the biggest and most ambitious service expansion in its 30-year history. The new timetables will include increased off-peak and weekend train frequencies as well as faster service for many customers.

This second round of service investments provides an additional 187 trains per week in addition to the 56 trains added last October. Together this is an increase of 5.6% in the number of trains Metro-North operates each week.

By adding off-peak and weekend trains and by adding stops at key stations, we are able to increase frequency and provide faster trip times system wide.

Key improvements include: 85 additional weekday and 22 additional weekend trains on the Hudson Line; 65 additional weekday and 6 additional weekend trains on the Harlem Line; and 9 additional weekend trains on the New Haven Line.

On the Hudson Line improvements will:

  • Provide new half-hourly service at Spuyten Duyvil, Riverdale, and Irvington stations during weekday off-peak times and most of the day on weekends. This increase is warranted as ridership continues to grow at these stations. To accomplish this at no additional cost, about 20 trains per day on weekdays and about 30 trains on Saturdays and 23 trains on Sundays will make these additional stops.
  • Provide three trains per hour at Ossining and Tarrytown, which are two of the highest ridership stations on the Hudson Line.
  • Provide additional service at most Hudson Line Bronx stations in the key reverse commuting time periods.
  • Provide additional Upper Hudson Line service on weekdays and weekends at key high-ridership and reverse commuting time periods.

On the Harlem Line improvements will:

  • Provide new half-hourly service at larger stations during the key higher-ridership times of the day on weekdays between Southeast and GCT.
  • Provide additional PM Peak service between GCT and Southeast.
  • Provide three trains per hour during select off-peak hours at Scarsdale and Hartsdale, and four trains per hour at White Plains and North White Plains stations, all of which are the highest ridership stations on the Harlem Line.
  • Provide additional half-hourly service on Sunday between North White Plains and GCT.

In addition, a rock slope remediation project will take place from April 8 through June 2 on the Harlem Line between Pawling and Harlem Valley-Wingdale. To accommodate this project, trains will be replaced by buses between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM on weekdays, and between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM on Sundays. The bus schedules will be included in the April 7 Harlem Line timetables.

On the New Haven Line improvements will:

  • Provide additional half-hourly service on Sunday between Stamford and GCT.

MMA Takes Lease of Ten SD40-2s, CP Leasers to Return…

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

NORTHERN MAINE JCT., ME – March 26, 2013 – The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) will be receiving a total of ten CIT Group-owned six-axle leasers during the next month, with the first group of four set to enter service in the coming week.

With oil business continuing at a steady pace and freight traffic also sustained, the MMA had been short-term leasing Canadian Pacific Railway power but will be returning that power now with the arrival of the CIT-owned units.  The newly-arriving units are a group of former FURX SD40-2s and a group of CEFX SD40-2Rs that are remanufactured with SD45 carbodies.

According to RailWorld President, Ed Burkhardt, the following group has been leased for an undisclosed period of time (said to be ‘medium term’): CITX 3053, 3057, 3071, 3082, 3091, 3097, 3101 and CEFX 3166, 3163, 3172.   The first group of four units, CITX 3053, 3057, 3091 and 3097, have been sent to the MMA Derby Shops in Milo, Maine and are being set up for service.  It is expected that they will be pressed into service immediately upon setup and CP units will start being returned.

Burkhardt indicated that a long-term fix to the motive power situation is still be examined, however would not commit to whether this group would eventually be purchased or if other power was being explored.

Lawmakers Seek to Restore Long-Abandoned LIRR Line…

Monday, March 25th, 2013

JAMAICA, NY – March 25, 2013 – Local New York lawmakers are seeking to restore a long-abandoned rail line – the Rockaway Beach Branch – of the Long Island Rail Road, to add additional transportation options to Queens residents.

Congressmen Gregory Meeks and Hakeem Jeffries have joined Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder in requesting federal funding to restore the Long Island Rail Road’s Rockaway Beach Rail Line with specific focus on providing service to residents who are recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

They say the line could provide coastal areas of Queens with a direct commute to midtown Manhattan and connect Rego Park to the Rockaways.

And the extra line is needed because part of the A train serving the Rockaway peninsula has been out of service since Sandy hit.

“As a result of Sandy, we know that transportation infrastructure is absolutely key. Individuals in the Rockaways for example were stuck and stranded because of the lack of transportation,” Meeks said.

The Rockaway Beach Line was created in the early 1900′s and stopped running in the 1960′s.

CSXT Kingsport Sub Derailment Sent Cars Off Trestle…

Monday, March 25th, 2013

HAYSI, VA – March 25, 2013 – A CSX Transportation derailment on the mountainous former Clinchfield Railroad territory near Haysi, Virginia, sent eighteen cars off the rails, most off a curved trestle, spilling an undetermined amount of acid on the ground adjacent to the river.

Crews continue working at the site in the area known as Splashdam, where CSXT train Q697-22 derailed on Saturday morning.  The train was enroute from Hamlet, North Carolina to Russell, Kentucky with two locomotives and sixty-four cars when the eighteen car derailment occurred.

CSXT officials say that approximately 1,100 gallons of propionic acid leaked from the one of the cars but didn’t reach the nearby Russell Fork River.  Propionic acid is used in herbicides, preservatives and other materials.

The cause of the derailment remains under investigation and no injuries or evacuations resulted from the derailment.  CSXT officials advised that the line should be restored at some point today.

 

 

NYA Locos Eyed for GenSet Funding in State Bill…

Monday, March 25th, 2013

FRESH POND, NY – March 25, 2013 – New York and Atlantic Railway stands to gain much needed funding for locomotive upgrades if the New York State budget negotiations prove successful.

A push to reduce air pollution around the Fresh Pond Rail Yard has thus far made it through that grueling process of negotiation, however legislators are working to wrap up the $17 million for the Transportation Committee into the final version of the bill for presentation to Governor Cuomo on Saturday.

The locomotives in question are owned by the Long Island Rail Road and are leased to the New York and Atlantic Railroad. Built in the 1970s, they are grandfathered to emission levels that are more than 40 years old.  They are held to “Tier 0” of federal pollution standards, while any diesel locomotive built or refurbished today would have to met Tier 3 standards.

The current bill would pay to upgrade 10 of the engines over the next 10 years with Genset repowering technology.  Those upgraded after stricter rules kick in in 2015 would be held to higher Tier 4 standards.

If approved and signed by Cuomo, the first upgrade would begin this year.

FEC Shows Off First of Three 2013 “Champion” Repaints…

Monday, March 25th, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, FL – March 25, 2013 –  Some have said it was the “most beautiful locomotive paint scheme ever devised”.  Inaugurated in 1939, The Champion is frequently recognized as the beginning of dieselization on the Florida East Coast and  FEC’s founder, Henry Flagler would have been proud of the modern-day locomotive adaptation of this scheme.

Henry Flagler’s strategy for FEC was to move freight by rail utilizing Florida’s deep water ports in conjunction with a vision for growth generated by the opening of the Panama Canal.  Today’s FEC continues Mr. Flagler’s vision as it expands its infrastructure to meet the demands created by the new Panama Canal opening in 2015.

“FEC is currently building an even stronger infrastructure”, said Fran Chinnici, SVP Engineering and Purchasing.  “We have major construction projects underway to expand rail operations at Port Miami, Port Everglades, West Palm and the Bowden Terminal in Jacksonville to handle the increased demand.  The refurbished locomotives are just one example of FEC’s investment in handling future growth.”

The FEC 714, completed in 2011, was the first locomotive to highlight the Heritage paint scheme.  The recently delivered FEC 703 is the first of 3 locomotives refurbished in 2013 to come out of the Progress Rail (a division of Caterpillar, Inc.) rebuild facility in Patterson, GA with the matching Heritage paint scheme. “Today, the paint scheme signifies the continued growth that FEC aspires to attain as a premier regional rail network serving the east coast”, says Jim Hertwig, President and CEO at Florida East Coast Railway, “and I am proud to incorporate our rich heritage into our future plans.”

Strasburg RR to Restore Juniata-built LIRR 4-6-0 #39…

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

STRASBURG, PA – March 22, 2013 – Another historic steam locomotive may be given a new lease on life at Strasburg Rail Road, as the Railroad Museum of Long Island (RMLI) and Strasburg Rail Road are partnering to restore, operate and maintain the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) G5s Steam Locomotive #39.

After 33 years of failed or abandoned restoration efforts for Engine 39, both parties are excited to move forward with this monumental project. Before the work can start, the RMLI must raise $900,000.00 in 2013 and then transport the remaining portions of the locomotive to Strasburg Rail Road. The Rail Road has agreed to then fund the remaining amount to help complete the three-year restoration project.

The Strasburg Rail Road Mechanical Shop team will continue its role of preserving history, as Engine 39 is one of three existing G5s class locomotives. The locomotive was built at the Juniata Shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1929. Engine 39 will be the only one of its class in operation and one of only two operating locomotives (out of more than 6,700) built by the Juniata Shops.

“We hope this restoration project will spark interest in railroad history in the northeast, as visitors and rail enthusiasts track our progress and watch Engine 39 being brought to Strasburg Rail Road and transformed back to its original state,” comments Linn Moedinger, President of Strasburg Rail Road.

In order to start the restoration, RMLI must raise the $900,000.00 for the move and restoration of the locomotive. Tax-deductible donations can be made to “RMLI Engine 39″ at P.O. Box 726, Greenport, NY 11944-0726. For more information about RMLI visit www.rmli.org.

FRA Names Illinois to Lead Next-Gen Loco Procurement…

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

CHICAGO, IL – March 22, 2013 – Governor Pat Quinn announced Thursday that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has named Illinois to lead the multi-state procurement of next-generation locomotives for high-speed rail.

With the consent of the partnering states, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will lead the effort to procure at least 35 next-generation diesel locomotives for high-speed passenger trains on behalf of five states – Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington. The announcement is part of the governor’s commitment to bring Illinois’ and our nation’s transportation systems into the 21st century.

“This decision by the federal government is a testament to Illinois’ role as a national leader in high-speed rail,” Governor Quinn said. “This important multi-state procurement is a key to success for high-speed rail throughout the nation, and I have directed my administration to move forward quickly.”

The FRA has allocated $808 million to build the next generation of passenger rail equipment, including 35 new locomotives and 130 bi-level rail cars. As lead agency, IDOT will manage and oversee the procurement, involve the other states in planning and implementing the procurement process, develop a detailed project plan, and coordinate the review of the procurement among the involved states and FRA.

“Following significant analysis and consideration, FRA recommends that IDOT be the lead agency for the multi-state locomotive procurement,” the FRA stated in their decision letter. “We are confident that your team – jointly with the significant contributions from California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington – will manage the procurement process and stakeholder involvement that will lead to a successful contract award.”

“We are thrilled in Illinois to have the confidence of the FRA and Governor Quinn as we move forward with this crucial procurement effort,” Illinois Secretary of Transportation Ann L. Schneider said. “Our goal is to offer 110-mile-per-hour service on at least 75 percent of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor – the segment from Dwight to Alton – by the end of 2015, and these locomotives are the key to achieving that goal. It takes time to build these complex and powerful engines, however, and we are moving quickly to get this procurement under way as soon as possible.”

Last year, IDOT was part of a multi-state procurement of the 130 next-generation bi-level rail cars for high-speed service, an effort led by the state of California. That procurement resulted in the selection of Nippon-Sharyo, which is building the rail cars from its plant in Rochelle, Illinois, including the 88 cars to be used on Midwest high-speed corridors. The Rochelle plant opened in 2012 and has created 250 jobs in Illinois.

Illinois debuted 110-mph service on a 15-mile segment of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor from Dwight to Pontiac in fall 2012, and IDOT is working with the private railroads and FRA to ensure that positive train control requirements and all needed track and crossing improvements are completed in order to expand 110-mph service as much as possible in the years ahead. The FRA in December provided a Record of Decision on the entire Chicago-St. Louis corridor, allowing Illinois to begin in-depth corridor segment studies and specific project studies to move toward high-speed service on the other 25 percent of the corridor as soon as possible, including segments from Joliet to Chicago and from Alton to St. Louis. The segment from Dwight to Joliet is under development and is expected to offer 110-mph service in 2017.

Illinois also is working in close partnership with the state of Michigan to establish 110-mph service from Chicago to Detroit as the next Midwest segment targeted to run at higher speeds.

The state helps fund 28 Amtrak trains serving four corridors including those from Chicago to Milwaukee and St. Louis. The partnership with Amtrak has led to a steady increase in ridership in recent years. The state-supported corridors together carried a record 1.8 million passengers last year. Ridership growth in Illinois has been exceptional, up more than 92 percent overall since 2006, and up on the Chicago to St. Louis corridor by 224 percent.