House Agrees to Reauthorize Amtrak

WASHINGTON — The House today agreed to a nearly $15 bill bill that reauthorizes Amtrak and aims to improve intercity rail. The bill was approved by a 311-104 margin. The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. The bill authorizes $14.4 billion for Amtrak capital and operating grants, state intercity passenger grants and high-speed rail over the next five years. “Nothing could be more fitting to bring before the Congress today, on a day when gasoline has reached $4.05 a gallon across the United States on average,” The Associated Press quotes U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., as saying. Mica,

Commuter Rail Study Discussed in Fla.

WASHINGTON — Commuter Rail proponents will gather in a strategy meeting in support of commuter rail today at the Orlando International Airport to hear the results of a nationwide commuter rail liability report that was reviewed by the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Highways and Transit and Railroads Subcommittees. “It will debunk some of the myths relating to Commuter Rail liability,” U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said. Proponents of commuter rail have cited liability provisions contained in the agreement between the State of Florida and CSX as the major impediment to moving forward with the project. The State legislature

Thames River Bridge Outage Shifted Two Days Until Monday, June 16

NEW YORK — The scheduled replacement of the moveable span of the Thames River Bridge, originally scheduled for June 14 through June 17, has been rescheduled for Monday, June 16, through Thursday, June 19. As a result, virtually all regularly scheduled Amtrak service — including Acela Express trains — will operate Saturday and Sunday, June 14 and 15 throughout the New York-Boston region. Because of the shift in plans, Amtrak has scheduled additional Boston-New Haven-New York Inland Route trains and some connecting bus service to bypass the bridge outage during the four-day period from June 16 through June 19. Work

Second Phase of Track Project Causes More Temporary Amtrak Illinois Schedule Changes

CHICAGO — Amtrak schedules on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, served by Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle, will undergo temporary changes throughout this month, while Union Pacific Railroad carries out the second of two phases of track improvements at Springfield, Ill. Amtrak, which operates Lincoln Service Trains 300-302 & 305-307 under a contract with the Illinois Department of Transportation (Ill. DOT), regrets any inconvenience. Lincoln Service Changes From June 16 through June 24, Train 300, the early morning departure from St. Louis to Chicago and Train 307, the evening departure from Chicago to St. Louis, will only operate between

House to Discuss Amtrak Reauthorization Bill

WASHINGTON — The House was today expected to discuss a bill to reauthorize Amtrak and improve intercity passenger rail. Last month, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved HR 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. The bill authorizes $14.4 billion for Amtrak capital and operating grants, state intercity passenger grants, and high-speed rail over the next five years. Even if the house approves the bill, it faces a tough road since President Bush has said he supports a self-sufficient Amtrak. Major provisions of the bill include: – Authorizing $4.2 billion (an average of $840 million per

Heavy Traffic, Complex Rail Crossing Played Role in 2005 Collision

ELMWOOD PARK, Ill. — The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of an accident that occurred at a highway-railroad grade crossing in Elmwood Park, Ill., was a combination of factors including the intersection angle, the heavy holiday traffic and the complex street and rail pattern and related signal interactions at the intersection. “Despite the efforts of state and local authorities to address the safety concerns at this large and complicated grade crossing with a variety of signage and technology improvements, this accident occurred because these changes still failed to prevent vehicles from being trapped inside the crossing

Senators Want to Look at Proposed CSX Investors

WASHINGTON — Democratic and Republican senators want an investigation into the push that foreign investors are making to take control of CSX, according to a published report. “Very little is known about the investors in the TCI group or those investors’ agenda,” the senators said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, USA Today reported. “They are anonymous and invisible to government regulators” and could be fronts for foreign governments.” TCI is a hedge fund that formed a group to nominate a slate of directors to stand for election at the 2008 CSX annual meeting. In March, CSX filed

Senate Committee Reschedules NTSB Hearing

WASHINGTON — The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation announces that the Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee NTSB Reauthorization Hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. June 5 has been postponed. A new date and time for the hearing will be announced as soon as it is available. The hearing is expected to focus on the activities of the NTSB and its legislative reauthorization proposal. The NTSB’s current authorization expires on Sept. 30. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., will chair the hearing.

Congressmen Oppose CN’s Request for Expedited Review

WASHINGTON — Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., have sent a joint letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) stating their opposition to Canadian National’s request for an expedited environmental review and decision on its pending acquisition of the EJ&E Railroad. “Given the impact of this acquisition on local communities throughout Northwest Indiana, it’s important that the STB have the time for careful consideration of the deal,” Bayh said. “I believe strongly that area residents should be given the opportunity for a thoughtful, public review and the chance to voice concerns and have

Rediscover the Coast Starlight: Enhanced Parlour Cars Debut in Time for Summer Travel Season

OAKLAND — Amtrak is unveiling a new look on the Coast Starlight just in time for the busy summer travel season, officials said. This legendary train, which operates daily between Los Angeles and Seattle, features refurbished Parlour Cars, new Arcade rooms and enhanced amenities. “This is going to be an exciting summer for passengers traveling on board the Coast Starlight,” said Emmett Fremaux, Amtrak’s Vice President, Marketing & Product Development. “The Coast Starlight has long been one of the most popular long-distance trains in our network and we are delighted to bring these upgrades to our dedicated passengers.” The new

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