WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration sent model State legislation to the nation’s Governors, which if enacted, would ensure that only people employed by actual railroad carriers, as defined by Federal rail safety laws and confirmed in writing by the FRA Administrator, are commissioned by state authorities to serve as railroad police officers. In addition, the model state law sets forth minimum qualifications required for a person to be commissioned as a railroad police officer including passing a criminal background investigation and submitting fingerprints to the FBI for clearance.
WASHINGTON — Virginia Railway Express, a commuter railroad operating in northern Virginia, is receiving a $72.5 million loan from the Federal Railroad Administration to finance a portion of the cost of acquiring 50 new bi-level passenger railcars. The new equipment will allow VRE to replace old railcars, increase the size of its fleet, add seating capacity to each railcar and improve service for its riders, officials said. The state of Virginia is providing an additional $20 million. VRE is the first commuter rail operator to receive a loan under FRA’s Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan program.
WASHINGTON — America’s freight rail industry dominated the fifth annual America’s Top 50 “Military Friendly-Employers” list published by G.I. Jobs, the nation’s premier career guide for military job-seekers. The magazine named four Class I freight railroads in the top half of the most military-friendly employers for 2007, selecting BNSF Railway as the No. 1 employer of military personnel. Also making the list were Union Pacific, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern. “The nation’s freight railroads maintain a strong commitment to the men and women who serve our country,” said Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads.
CHICAGO — FreightCar America is making several changes in its sales and marketing organization, involving people in Chicago; Johnstown, Penn.; and Plano, Texas. Ted Baun, who has been serving as vice president, sales — western region, has been promoted to the position of vice president, sales. In this new role he will lead FreightCar America’s nationwide sales effort, reporting to Ed Whalen, senior vice president, marketing and sales. Jay Hatfield, formerly manager, coal, emissions and railcar purchasing, with Luminant Energy, has joined FreightCar America to replace Baun as vice president, sales — western region. Hatfield has a B.A. in marketing
WASHINGTON — Anticipating the busiest travel week of the year, Amtrak is planning ahead for Thanksgiving and encouraging customers to do the same. Amtrak is ready to welcome thousands of passengers aboard, especially in the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston, where more trains will be added during peak travel times. The week of Thanksgiving — Tuesday to Monday — is typically Amtrak’s busiest travel period of the year, carrying more than 600,000 passengers last year. On the heaviest travel day of the year for Amtrak, Nov. 21, the railroad expects ridership to reach over 115,000 passengers system-wide — 70 percent more passengers than an average Wednesday
ANOKA, Minn. — Northstar Commuter Rail leaders said they were pleased to hear this week that the conference report for the fiscal year 2008 federal transportation appropriations bill recommends $55 million for Northstar construction. Of the 40 new rail projects in the report, Northstar ranked 10th highest in total recommended dollars. “Northstar’s ranking in the bill demonstrates how important this project is to our country’s transportation system,” said Dan Erhart, chair of the Northstar Corridor Development Authority (NCDA). “We have our Congressional delegation to thank for this good news, primarily Senators Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar, and Representatives Jim Oberstar
WASHINGTON – Donna McLean was elected Chairman of Amtrak’s Board of Directors at the Nov. 8. McLean, who was appointed to the board by President Bush and approved by the Senate in July 2006, had served as Vice Chairman of the Board. She replaces former Chairman David M. Laney, who remains a board member until his term expires in late November 2007. As Chairman of the Board, McLean will lead the board of Amtrak, the nation’s intercity passenger railroad, which operates in 46 states on a 21,000-mile system serving more than 500 stations. A former official at the U.S. Department of Transportation,
CHICAGO — The Chicago Transit Board earlier this month approved a 2008 budget that includes significant service reductions, fare increases and layoffs in order to bridge a projected $158 million “shortfall.” At the same time, board members said they hoped the Illinois General Assembly can reach agreement on a transit funding package to avoid the fare increases and service reductions. Effective Jan. 20, 2008, the CTA will eliminate 81 of its 154 bus routes; lay off more than 2,400 employees; and raise fares to record levels, officials said. In addition, the CTA will close three of its eight garages. Fares
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Waterways and wetlands in McKean and Cameron counties that were damaged in a June 2006 lye spill will benefit from a landmark settlement between the commonwealth, Norfolk Southern Corp. and Norfolk Southern Railway. “We negotiated long and hard to reach this point, keeping in mind the environmental and economic injuries that this region suffered as a result of the spill,” DEP Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said today in announcing the agreement. “This settlement will help heal the ecosystem and provide the needed resources for nearby communities.” A large part of the $7.35 million settlement — approximately $6.76
NORFOLK, Va. — Heavy machinery grinds away brick, concrete and solid rock as a railroad tunnel near Cowan, Va., gets its roof raised to accommodate taller trains. This is the beginning of a three-year engineering project to increase intermodal freight capacity by raising vertical clearances in 28 tunnels on a Norfolk Southern rail line between the port of Hampton Roads, Va., and Chicago known as the Heartland Corridor. The first phase of the tunnel work began in October. When the project is completed in early 2010, containerized freight moving in double-stack trains will be able to shave off about 200