operational and infrastructure hurdles faced in the wake of Hurricane
The passenger railroad has been confronting serious challenges
in the wake of the super storm, including pumping three million gallons of salt
water from the
“We expect to be able to cover our full service load for Thanksgiving,” Boardman told Bloomberg News. “There are a lot of people that want to move.”
An agreement stuck with VIA Rail
While Amtrak has leased extra equipment from New Jersey Transit in the past to supply extra capacity for the holidays, NJ Transit experienced significant fleet damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
Amtrak and New Jersey
Transit announced that repairs to a key Amtrak-owned electrical substation in
Kearny, New Jersey is scheduled to finish up today, restoring power to levels
needed for further service expansion. Flooding
caused by Hurricane
“The expedited repairs to the substation are a direct result of the cooperation and communication between Amtrak and NJ Transit, and will allow our infrastructure to support a near regular service level,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman.
Amtrak and NJ Transit workers have spent the past weeks
inspecting and testing the substation, which plays a critical role in powering
the signal and switching system between
This work has been instrumental in allowing Amtrak and NJ
Transit operations to get on the path to full restoration. Amtrak began running a combined 24 Amtrak and
NJ Transit trains between New York and New Jersey on November 12—roughly 63
percent of normal weekday capacity.
While normal peak levels are approximately 38 combined trains per hour
in both directions, Amtrak had been running only 12 trains per hour between
“This is an example of strong cooperation between the two
agencies, all with an eye toward improving the commute for tens of thousands of
customers following the devastating impact Hurricane Sandy has had on many of
their lives,” said James Weinstein, Executive Director of NJ Transit. “The
repair of this important substation will allow us to operate nearly 90 percent
of our rail network into
Caltrans announced November 9 that it has nearly doubled
bicycle storage capacity on its San Joaquin and Capitol
Corridor trains, enhancing mobility options for
“There’s been a need for additional storage as more and more people ride bicycles on their commute,” said Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) Director Malcolm Dougherty. “By the end of next year, more than a dozen expanded railcars will be available for train riders.”
The San Joaquin and
Capitol Corridor routes—which operate
But this success has brought capacity challenges, especially for passengers who use bicycles to travel between home to train station to work, with bikes often spilling in the aisles
Department of Transportation (MDOT) initiated
testing for six newly refurbished commuter rail cars in southeast
According to MDOT and the Southeast Michigan Council of
Governments (SEMCOG), the six bi-level, stainless steel “gallery” railcars were
purchased from the Chicago-area commuter rail system Metra. The cars were refurbished by Great Lakes
Central Railroad in
Amtrak, Great Lakes Central Railroad, MDOT consultants, and Federal Railroad Administration staff will test the rail cars between Pontiac and Jackson, with a target operating speed of 79 mph.
SEMCOG and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority are working on securing operating funds for the two commuter rail services. Until that time, the commuter rail cars will be used for special events.
The opening day for Norfolk’s new Amtrak service has already proven such a success that the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and Amtrak announced they will add an additional four cars to the first revenue train, freeing up 280 more seats on the sold out train’s first day of service.
“The remarkable demand to ride this new service proves
Hampton Roads is ready to park congestion and ride the train through
The new Amtrak
“It is encouraging to see such strong support for the new
Tickets are now available for purchase from Amtrak.
FEC is planning on turning the property into a modern, two-story train station with an 800-foot platform. The property is currently home to a warehouse.
The company has outlined an ambitious development plan for
its $1 billion All Aboard Florida
train service to local leaders. FEC will
double-track 50 of the 66 miles between
Even with all this work, the railroad has said it’s still on
schedule to begin operations by 2015, with a goal of 16 to 19 stops in
“Money talks,” Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches President Dennis Grady told the Palm Beach Post. “That shows at least a very strong commitment on their part.”
Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) today released its 2013 Most Wanted List on
November 14, identifying full implementation of Positive
Train Control throughout the
The NTSB is an independent Federal agency that investigates
significant accidents in
Positive Train Control (PTC) technology acts as a check
against human error, automatically slowing or stopping a train whose operator
has failed to act in accordance with signals, instructions or operating rules. Amtrak has had a form of PTC technology in
place on the Northeast Corridor for years, and several train operators like
Although legislation enacted in the aftermath of the Chatsworth, California, collision mandated positive train control systems by 2015, as of March 9, 2011, 10,000 miles of track were exempt from this mandate—which is a troubling fact. The Federal Railroad Administration accident database for 2011 attributes human factors issues as causal to most train collisions. Ninety-six head-on, rear-end, and side collision accidents occurred in 2011, and 83 percent of those accidents were determined to be caused by human factors. Positive train control can provide the critical redundancy to compensate for human error.
The statutory deadline for PTC implementation is 2015. While Amtrak has promised to meet the deadline, many freight rail companies have expressed concern at the cost and technical obstacles of implementing PTC on networks that span tens of thousands of miles.
[Read more about NARP’s take on the implementation of Positive Train Control]
The OneRail coalition called for more efficient integration of freight rail plans into state freight plans and state rail plans to utilize rail’s inherent benefits to address key national goals.
The OneRail coalition—of which NARP is a member—is a diverse
group of rail stakeholders who represent freight railroads, passenger rail operators,
rail suppliers, and passengers. OneRail’s
comments were in response to the United States Department of Transportation’s proposed
State Freight Plan Guidance. With rail possessing
a 40.2 percent share of the nation’s freight ton-miles, the coalition argued
that providing state planners with the tools and guidance to create integrated
multimodal plans is essential for the
“Because of rail’s inherent characteristics and efficiencies, the full inclusion of freight rail into State Freight Plans will help States and the USDOT address the USDOT’s strategic goals of improving safety, state of good repair, livability, and environmental sustainability,” stated the document. “Increasing the share of freight that moves by rail will also alleviate highway congestion, help insulate the cost of freight movement from the volatility of gas prices, and help reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.”
OneRail also called for the freight plan to be integrated into the state rail plan, arguing that it would allow planners to better address passenger rail needs.
The full document can be read on OneRail’s website.
As another symbol of America’s growing acceptance of and desire for rail travel – and of the area’s historic attachment to trains and streetcars – the name of the AAA minor-league baseball team in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA was changed from the Yankees to the RailRiders.
The team, a New York Yankees affiliate, chose a porcupine as
its mascot, as the name “Porcupines” got the second-most votes from area fans
in a contest to decide the new name. “All Aboard!” was chosen as the team’s
slogan. The team’s home park,