AAR: Rail Freight Traffic Down During Holiday Week

December 31, 2008 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — Freight traffic on U.S. railroads was down during the holiday week ended December 27 in comparison with the corresponding holiday week last year the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported today. Total volume was estimated at 21.4 billion ton-miles, down 20.1 percent from the same week last year. Intermodal volume totaled 124,061 trailers or containers, down 21.8 percent from last year, with container volume down 21.5 percent and trailer volume down 23.2 percent. Carload freight, which doesn’t include the intermodal data, totaled 200,365 cars for the week, down 21.7 percent from last year. Loadings were down 26.5 percent

BNSF Postpones Fuel Surcharge Changes

December 31, 2008 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

FORT WORTH, Texas — Due to current volatility in the fuel markets, BNSF is postponing the fuel surcharge changes that had been scheduled to take effect in January and February 2009. These changes would have extended the mileage-based fuel surcharge program and increased the strike price on carload shipments from $1.25 to $2.50 per gallon of Highway Diesel Fuel (HDF). The railroad said it would continue to monitor the state of the fuel markets as the year progresses and provide an update by July 1.

CN: Disappointed in Appeal Court Ruling Sanctioning CTA Grain Rate Reduction

December 31, 2008 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

MONTREAL — CN in November expressed disappointment in a Federal Court of Appeal of Canada ruling that lets stand a Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) decision issued earlier this year to reduce rail revenue entitlement for grain transportation retroactively under the Canada Transportation Act. The CTA in February 2008 cut grain rates by eight per cent under railway revenue caps retroactive to Aug. 1, 2007, to reflect its determination of actual railway maintenance expenditures for government-owned grain hopper cars. CN appealed the CTA decision, saying it was flawed and that its retroactive application was illegal. CN estimates the CTA decision will

Surface Transportation Board Approves Routes for Southwest Gulf Railroad Line

December 31, 2008 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

SAN ANTONIO — Southwest Gulf Railroad (SGR), a subsidiary of Vulcan Materials Co., announced it has received approval from the federal Surface Transportation Board to construct a 9-mile rail line in Medina County, Texas. The STB’s approval allows three environmentally acceptable route options for the SGR line. The approval follows an extensive five-year review of the project that included multiple revisions and improvements, resulting in route modifications that were requested as well as extensive mitigation measures designed to protect the environment and historic resources. SGR said it fully supports these mitigation measures. “We are pleased with the STB’s decision. We

FRA Issues Record of Decision for the Replacement of 100 Year-Old Portal Bridge Over Hackensack River in New Jersey

December 31, 2008 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a Record of Decision for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Portal Bridge Capacity Enhancement Project over the Hackensack River, between Secaucus and Kearny, N.J. The FEIS, prepared in cooperation with Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, considered four build alternatives in addition to a No Action Alternative. The FRA has decided to proceed with the alternative which includes a three-track fixed northern bridge, a two-track moveable southern bridge built on a new southern alignment, and a track over track grade separation to eliminate crossover movements. This alternative is expected

FRA Issues Notice of Intent to Prepare EIS and EIR for High Speed Train System in California

December 31, 2008 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a Notice of Intent that it will prepare the Environment Impact Statement (EIS) and project Environmental Impact Report (EIR) jointly with the California High Speed Rail Authority for the San Francisco to San Jose section of the California High Speed Train (HST) system. The preparation of the EIR/EIS will involve development of preliminary engineering designs and assessment of environmental effects associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the HST system, including track, ancillary facilities and stations. In 2005, FRA completed the first phase of the environmental review process when it approved the

FRA Increases Minimum and Maximum Civil Penalties

December 31, 2008 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a final rule increasing the civil penalties for violations of a railroad safety statute or regulation. The increase incorporates the new maximum civil penalty amounts authorized by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and new minimum amounts required under the Federal Civil Penalty Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990. Specifically, FRA is increasing the minimum civil penalty per violation from $550 to $650, while the ordinary maximum civil penalty per violation will be increased from $16,000 to $25,000 and the aggravated maximum civil penalty per violation, where a grossly negligent violation

FRA Begins Development of Positive Train Control Regulations

December 26, 2008 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is moving forward with developing new rules that prescribe how railroads should implement Positive Train Control (PTC) systems to prevent train-to-train collisions, announced FRA Acting Administrator Clifford C. Eby. “We are acting quickly and without delay because railroads will need guidance on how to create plans to deploy PTC systems by the end of 2015,” Eby said, noting the first deadline mandated by Congress in a new rail safety law is April 2010, when major freight railroads and intercity and commuter rail operators must submit their PTC implementation plans to FRA for approval.

DOT Signs Agreement with Kansas City Southern Railway to Relieve Freight Congestion at Laredo Border

December 25, 2008 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — An alternate route for freight rail traffic to and from the United States and Mexico to improve cross-border goods movement is one step closer to reality thanks to an agreement signed this week by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Kansas City Southern Railway, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced today. The East Loop Bypass project proposes a new rail bridge east of Laredo, Texas, continuing across the border and south into Mexico. “Border congestion creates an unnecessary obstacle to efficient trade with our international partners. Providing alternative routes for freight transport is good for the economy

Five Finalists Selected in Missouri Name the Train Contest

December 24, 2008 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

ST. LOUIS — One of five finalist names will soon provide the moniker for Amtrak’s passenger rail service between St. Louis and Kansas City. Those names are Missouri Rail Blazer, Missouri River Runner, River Cities Corridor, ShowMeMO and Truman Service. Online voting begins today and goes through Jan. 23. Contest judges selected five finalist names from a pool of more than 8,300 name submissions. In cases where duplicate names were submitted, a random drawing was held to choose a finalist. The finalists are: Missouri Rail Blazer — Betty Crancer of Sunset Hills Missouri River Runner — Keith Kohler of Glendale

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