MARTA Completes Extensive Rail Car Rehabilitation Program

February 28, 2009 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

ATLANTA — MARTA has completed an extensive rail car rehabilitation program overhauling 218 of its oldest cars to extend each car’s life line by 15 years. The cost-effective program has already resulted in an increase in MARTA’s rail service reliability by 22 percent and has also improved on-time performance substantially. MARTA General Manager/CEO Beverly A. Scott unveiled the final two rehabilitated rail cars on Feb. 18 during a special celebration at the authority’s Armour Rail Yard. For a cost of $246 million, MARTA contracted with New York based-Alstom Transportation, Inc. USA to take each vehicle down to its shell and

NTSB to Open Chatsworth Docket

February 27, 2009 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — The National Transportation Safety Board will open the docket on the 2008 Metrolink rail accident in Chatsworth, Calif., at the start of a public hearing on March 3. During the two-day hearing, the Safety Board will hear testimony from witnesses called to supplement the facts discovered during the on-scene phase and subsequent follow-up investigation of the accident. On Sept. 12, 2008 at approximately 4:22 p.m., Metrolink commuter train 111 and a Union Pacific freight train collided.  As a result of this head-on accident, there were 25 fatalities and numerous injuries. The information being released is factual in nature

Federal Budget: High-Speed Rail to Receive $5B

February 26, 2009 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — High-speed trains stand to receive $5 billion under President Obama’s spending plan. “This commitment will be essential as we develop surface transportation authorization legislation this year,” said James Oberstar, D-Minn. “This new authorization will require significant investments to help reduce congestion, eliminate freight chokepoints, mitigate the impacts of our surface transportation system on the environment, reduce roadway fatalities, enhance our mobility and safety through innovation and technology, and provide modal choice for all users. “I applaud the administration’s willingness to work with Congress to transform surface transportation programs to emphasize performance measurement, and put these programs on a

N.J. Transit Signs Funding and Project Agreements

February 21, 2009 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

NEWARK, N. J. — Momentum continued to build toward construction of the Mass Transit Tunnel today with the N.J. Transit Board approving key agreements with partner agencies. The agreements — with Amtrak and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — establish frameworks to ensure coordination and efficiency during the multi-year construction phase and come just one month after the Federal Transit Administration issued a Record of Decision completing the environmental review process and clearing the project for federal funding and final design. The agreement with the Port Authority formalizes the agency’s $3 billion investment in the project.

Buttrey’s Term on STB to End

February 20, 2009 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — Surface Transportation Board Commissioner W. Douglas Buttrey announced that he will conclude his term on the Board on March 13. Buttrey was nominated to serve on the Board by President George W. Bush on Nov. 17, 2003, for a five-year term expiring Dec. 31, 2008. On Aug. 28, 2008, Buttrey announced that he would hold over for a period into 2009 for the Board to complete certain pending matters.  The Board’s governing statute permits a Board member to serve for up to one year after the end of the Member’s term, unless a successor is appointed. Since Buttrey’s

Norfolk Southern 2008 Annual Report Online; Video Stories Highlight Record-Setting Year

February 20, 2009 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk Southern Corp. has posted its 2008 Annual Report online, highlighting a record-setting year in video stories featuring company employees. The report, titled Voices, outlines the company’s 2008 success in receiving the top industry award for workplace safety for the 19th consecutive year and setting records for railway operating revenues, income from railway operations, net income, diluted earnings per share, and operating ratio. In his letter to stockholders, CEO Wick Moorman said 2008 was a successful year for Norfolk Southern in spite of “extraordinary turbulence in our nation’s and the world’s economy.” Moorman said that while the

Chealander Steps Down From NTSB

February 20, 2009 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — National Transportation Safety Board Member Steven R. Chealander has announced his resignation from the Board, effective Feb. 28. Chealander has been a Board Member since Jan. 3, 2007.  During his tenure at the Board he was the Board Member on scene for three major transportation accident investigations – a mid-air collision between two news helicopters in Phoenix, Arizona in 2007, the crash of a corporate aircraft in Owatonna, Minnesota in 2008, and last week’s crash of a turboprop airliner near Buffalo, New York. Chealander testified before the Texas State Senate in April 2007 on sobriety checkpoints, and before

STB Orders $345M in Rate Relief

February 20, 2009 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — The Surface Transportation Boardgranted an estimated $345 million in reparations and rate reductions from the BNSF Railway (BNSF) to Western Fuels Association, Inc. and Basin Electric Power Cooperative Inc. The Utilities had challenged the railroad transportation rates charged by BNSF to haul 8 million tons of coal each year from mines in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin to their electric-generating plant in Moba Junction, Wyo., the STB said. The utility plant is captive to BNSF and provides electricity into grids serving consumers in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, the STB said.

Ridership on Amtrak Cascades Hits All-Time Record in 2008

February 20, 2009 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Ridership on Amtrak Cascades continued to grow substantially in 2008 carrying a total of 774,421 passengers. This represents a 14.4 percent increase over 2007 and the highest annual ridership since the inception of Amtrak Cascades service 10 years ago. “While we suspect high gas prices last summer helped entice people to try Amtrak Cascades, we think the excellent service and convenience for travelers will continue to stimulate even more growth in Amtrak Cascades ridership,” said Paula Hammond, Washington Transportation Secretary. “Amtrak Cascades is a great investment for Washington and provides motorists with yet another travel option.” Compared

Brown: Congestion a Major Problem for Railroads

February 20, 2009 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — Congestion is a major problem across all modes of surface transportation, said Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla. “And as we begin to develop and reauthorize the next surface transportation bill, it is critical that the need for additional rail capacity for both freight and passenger rail be addressed,” Brown said. “The future of ground transportation is on our rails, whether it is taking freight off congested highways or moving people on high-speed rail corridors. “There is no one solution that will solve the congestion problems plaguing our nation,” Brown added. “New and creative ideas from both government and the

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