Rail news from Cdr Jim For 4/12/2016


  1. NARP Hotline for 4/8/16



  1. VIDEO: Amtrak sues Kansas feed farm over Southwest Chief derailment



  1. Safety protocols should have prevented fatal April 3rd Amtrak crash






  1. Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley forms rail advocacy group



  1. After huge U.S. opposition, CP ends its bid to merge with NS





  1. Why transit agencies are embracing Uber and Lyft ridesharing apps



  1. FRA to Amtrak: Review safety policies with employees



  1. VIDEOS: BART gives first look at its new rail cars



  1. VIDEO: Construction to begin this year on new MD light rail line



  1. Poland Spring to ship water on rails

The Associated Press

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 3:23 pm

AUGUSTA — Poland Spring Water is increasingly using trains to move its bottled water from Maine to markets in Massachusetts.

The company on Friday will begin shipping containers on trains from a previously unused intermodal facility in Waterville. Trucks will be hauling the containers to Waterville from the company’s bottling plant in Kingfield.

The trains will travel to the Portland waterfront, where railroad crews will add additional Poland Spring containers hauled there by truck from the company’s bottling plant in Hollis.

The train will then travel to Ayer, Massachusetts. There, the containers will be put on trucks and delivered to nearby wholesale suppliers.

The company plans to move 105 containers a week on the railroad, operated by Pan Am Railways. The trains will operate every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

  1. Like BART, DC’s METRO also showing major signs of age



  1. Overall, U.S. rail ridership increased in 2015



  1. 2016’s newest locomotive offerings



  1. UPDATE on MBTA’s Green Line Extension project



15.     From TRAINS Magazine: ‘Sweeps’ part of NYC subway security

By Joseph M. Calisi | April 4, 2016

Joseph M. Calisi

NEW YORK — To the untrained eye, seeing New York police officers on a subway platform might seem ordinary. The reality is that police are performing security sweeps on a great number of subway cars as well as scanning for potential suspects entering the New York City subway system.

In the days and weeks after terrorist bombings in Brussels, Belgium, that affected the European city’s subway system, police around the world are stepping up security. But it is seldom obvious. In New York, the increased measures started soon after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 with the department assigning hundreds of officers to counterterrorism squads.

One method police use to find threats to safety is to place a squad of several officers on subway platforms to look for anything unusual, such as an abandoned package or unusual behavior in a subway car. This is accomplished by positioning the officers on the platform, allowing the subway train to enter the station, open its doors as normally as possible and make a quick visual scan of the subway car interior for a situation they might consider a problem.

The officers also can look at passengers entering the system not only for fare evaders but for people displaying odd behavior. At some stations, officers ask to check subway patrons’ bags for dangerous materials such as knives or illegal guns.

Another method is the use of undercover ‘plain clothes’ officers that mingle with the crowds unannounced and look for any illegal activity. These officers are hard to spot as they work hard not to distinguish themselves they are about to make an arrest or assist another officer.


16.     From TRAINS Magazine: New York City subway offers baseball fans a vintage ride

By Joseph M. Calisi | April 6, 2016

oseph M. Calisi

NEW YORK — Big Apple residents have a soft spot in their urban jungle hearts for legends. The start of Major League Baseball’s 2016 this week allows them to show hearty appreciation for both baseball and railroad greatness as New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Agency fields vintage subway equipment for both New York Yankees and New York Mets opening games.

MTA dispatched a Yankees train to an April 5 home opener that consisted of four “Lo-V” low-voltage cars built in 1917 and 1924 that were as likely to carry New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers fans as Yankees fans in regular revenue service. The trains departed from the uptown express platform of the Interborough Rapid Transit Lexington Avenue Line at the 42nd Street-Grand Central stop and operated non-stop service to 161st Street-Yankee Stadium stop in the Bronx in time for the first pitch.

New York Mets fans have their own nostalgia train special heading to CitiField for the Mets’ home opener on April 8. The vintage “Train of Many Colors,” consisting of 11 cars manufactured between 1948 and 1964, will make express stops from 34 St-Hudson Yards to Flushing-Main Street . Known for the cars’ varying color schemes that represent several different eras in subway history, the “Train of Many Colors” departs 34 St-Hudson Yards at 11:30 a.m. on April 8.

There is no additional fare to ride these special subway train rides.

As an added bonus, Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road trains are being added to make it easier for suburban commuters to reach the respective stadia in time for the first pitch as well as for the trip home after those games.

More information is available from local stations or the MTA website.


17.     From TRAINS Magazine: Source: Backhoe was fouling track without permission when ‘Palmetto’ hit it

Equipment was one piece of a larger track project along the Northeast Corridor Sunday morning

By David IbataAl DiCenso | April 4, 2016

TRAINS: Brian Schmidt


PHILADELPHIA — A backhoe struck by an Amtrak train in a fatal accident Sunday on the Northeast Corridor apparently did not have clearance to occupy an active track.

Two maintenance-of-way workers — reportedly, the backhoe operator and a supervisor — died after train No. 89, the Palmetto, struck their machine near Chester, Pa. The train was en route from New York to Savannah, Ga. Officials have yet to release the victims’ identities.

The train, with about 330 passengers and a crew of seven, derailed but stayed upright. Approximately 30 people, including the engineer, suffered cuts and bruises. The accident happened shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday. Amtrak stopped passengers trains between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del., from the time of the accident until early afternoon. Limited service then resumed. On Monday, Amtrak trains resumed their regular schedules, with residual delays between Philadelphia and Wilmington.

A source tells Trains News Wire that, at the time of the accident, track No. 2 had been taken out of service for track work. 

“The gang had been fouling the other tracks at times and had received permission from the dispatcher to do so,” the source says. “Sunday morning, there was a shift change. The night foreman gave up all fouls (alerting train crews to the work), and the day shift foreman had not asked for any fouls.”

Yet the backhoe was fouling Track No. 3, an active track, when the accident occurred.

“We don’t know whether they thought they still had a foul or if they were just trying to make a quick move and got caught,” the source says of the workers using the backhoe. “In any case, the rules require the use of supplemental shunting devices (to trigger track-occupancy circuits) when equipment is used to foul a track for more than five minutes. No supplemental shunting devices were used.”

A LORAM Maintenance of Way Inc. official confirmed one of the company’s Railvac ballast excavation machines was working a job for Amtrak in Chester, but the backhoe — though part of the work at hand — belonged to someone else. 

No LORAM employees were injured, Tom DeJoseph, LORAM’s senior adviser for industry relations tells Trains News Wire.

“They were using the backhoe basically in conjunction with our machine,” DeJoseph says. “We have an annual contract with Amtrak to do various ballast maintenance jobs. So that machine — I don’t know how long it was in that area — was directed by Amtrak.”

DeJoseph could not say what led to the accident, referring inquires to the National Transportation Safety Board. Amtrak similarly referred callers to the NTSB. Messages left with an NTSB representative Monday afternoon were not returned.

Transportation consultant Russ Quimby calls the incident “a major safety failure.”

“Although it looks like the safety board launched a full team from D.C. to cover all the aspects of the accident investigation, this accident’s focus will be on maintenance-of-way and train-control operator procedures and coordination,” he says.

Amtrak has required maintenance-of-way equipment to be equipped with shunting cables since a similar mishap on the Corridor in the 1980s, Quimby says. 

So far, officials have yet to say what role, if any, Amtrak’s Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System played in the accident. The system would have detected shunting cables and marked the track occupied, if the crew used shunting cables correctly.

If fouled-track warnings still existed on dispatchers’ panels, then there could be a weakness in the ACSES positive train control system, which is designed to accommodate such situations. Alternatively, if track supervisors removed the fouls Sunday morning, then responsibility for the accident would rest outside PTC. Amtrak recently finished installing ACSES between New York and Washington, D.C., as part of a safety-enhancing action following the May 2015 wreck of Amtrak Northeast Regional No. 188 north of Philadelphia.

“From what I understand, the backhoe was a contractor’s backhoe on the wrong track,” Quimby says. “There should have been an Amtrak liaison on site with the contractor to do safety briefings and training, to ensure proper location, and to handle or coordinate any problems as they might arise.”

“Somehow, it looks to me like somebody failed to follow established procedures. This looks like a classic miscommunication or misunderstanding,” Quimby says.

UPDATE: Clarified headline. April 4, 2016, 6:17 p.m. Central time.


Comments are closed.