by Bill McCaffery


Railpace reports that Pan Am Railways is selling or retiring most of their EMD locomotives except business train locomotives PAR1 and PAR2. The freight hauling fleet will be mostly GE locomotives (all bought used).
Speaking of General Electric locomotives, Railway Age reports that GE will cease production of locomotives at its Erie PA plant. This will result in the loss of 575 jobs. GE will now build locomotives at its facility in Fort Worth TX. The Erie plant will continue to operate in design, engineering, prototype development and components production.
TRAINS Magazine reported that Norfolk Southern’s net profit climbed 23 percent for the second quarter as traffic and revenue growth combined with productivity gains to help the railroad set an all-time record for operating ratio.
NS reported its revenue rose 7 percent, to $2.6 billion, as gains in coal and intermodal traffic led to a 6-percent increase in volume. Income from operations was up 15 percent, to $888 million. The railroad’s operating ratio improved for the sixth straight quarter, to 66.3, down from 68.6 a year ago. (When it comes to operating ratio lower numbers are a good thing.)
NS has seen an increase in coal traffic and has benefitted from the fact that the widened Panama Canal has caused more international containers to come into East Coast ports rather than West Coast ports. So far NS has seen only a small amount of business come to them from the turmoil at CSX.
Progressive Railroading reports that Amtrak and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) have reached a new agreement for the operation, maintenance and use of the 37.9- mile Attleboro Line between Boston and the Rhode Island state border. Under the contract, Amtrak will provide maintenance-of-way and dispatching services through 2021. For its part, the MBTA will be responsible for directing the line’s capital program. In addition, Amtrak will allow the MBTA to use the South Station’s system for dispatching of south-side branch lines. Amtrak will charge the transit agency for its use of the facilities based on a proportionate sharing of facility and system costs, Amtrak officials said in a press release.
“The joint effort of Amtrak and MBTA to reach this new agreement demonstrates our shared recognition of the importance of continued investment in the rail infrastructure in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and throughout the New England region,” said Tom Moritz, Amtrak assistant vice president of infrastructure access and investment. This resolves a dispute between Amtrak and the MBTA on cost sharing. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts owns the Massachusetts portion of the Northeast Corridor.
Railpace had some commentary about the new General Manager of the MBTA, Luis Ramirez. Mr. Ramirez was a General Electric Co. executive at the time of his appointment by MA Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack. He has no transit or rail experience. Here is a quote “Officials said throughout the process that a higher salary ($320,000) would help the MBTA attract qualified candidates. Except it appears that the current selection is not particularly qualified, with no experience in public transit.”
State Street Station in New Haven, CT is getting a new 400-foot platform. This will allow Hartford and Springfield trains to stop there. [Railpace]
Railpace reports that CSX has closed the hump at the large classification yard at Selkirk NY. CSX has decided that flat switching is cheaper than a hump at all but the very largest yards. Selkirk has served at least four owners: New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail, and CSX. It has long had a major role in classifying freight cars coming to and from New England.
You might find this web site to be fascinating. Check out https://ASM. It has a map of the United States and Canada showing the current location of all Amtrak and VIA trains. It lets you know if a train is on time or late. It is not perfect, since there are occasional errors.
On July 18 an Amtrak inspection train ran from St. Albans VT to Montreal. This train was to allow Amtrak officials to determine what track improvements are needed to resume service from Vermont to Montreal. There has been no service from Vermont to Montreal since the Montrealer stopped running in 1995. [Railpace]
Chicago’s Metra unveiled a new locomotive wrap to commemorate 40 years of continuous passenger service with its EMD F40PH locomotives. The agency started off with 28 of those units and eventually grew the fleet to 118. EMD developed the model and produced more than 500 of the units for the North American market. [Progressive Railroading]
Washington State has announced that beginning 12/18/17 two more round trips will be added to the Cascades route between Seattle and Portland OR. In addition, the running time will be reduced by 10 minutes to 3 hours and 20 minutes. The new route runs parallel to Interstate 5. It eliminates some scenic waterfront running which was the cause of freight train interference in the past. Washington State’s new Charger locomotives are used on this route. []
Tragedy at an Indian Rail Station: Twenty-two people were killed and thirty-nine injured in a stampede on a pedestrian bridge at a Mumbai station. There was an unusually large crowd at a time of heavy rain which had not been predicted by weather forecasters. [The Indian Express]
Bloomberg Businessweek ran a story about Canadian transportation equipment maker, Bombardier, in the October 2, 2017 edition. After months of secret talks about merging with Germany’s Siemens AG the proposed merger died when Siemens instead teamed up with France’s Alstom SA. This leaves Bombardier to compete on its own against Chinese giant CRRC which controls about half the global market including some sales in the USA. The rest of the article was about Bombardier’s aircraft division and its major battle with Boeing.
The first China-made subway cars tailored for Boston’s Orange Line rolled off the production line October 16 in Changchun, capital of northeast China’s Jilin Province. The cars are due in Massachusetts in December. The cars are part of an 84-car order signed by CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). These prototypes were built in China but most of the cars will be built in Springfield MA by American workers. []

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Revised: Dec, 2017