Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

House Draft Transportation Bill Due Before Summer

January 11, 2020

A draft surface transportation bill is expected to be released by the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure before summer but not this month as reported earlier.

Committee Chair Peter DeFazio said the committee would “release more specifics in the not-too-distant future.” He did not elaborate on when that would be.

The current law that authorizes spending on highways, transit, and passenger rail programs expires on Sept. 30.

“This is like the beginning of the beginning of the year,” DeFazio said. “We’re talking about the middle of the beginning of the year. That’s earlier than June but later than January.”

In the meantime the Senate Finance Committee has been considering its own surface transportation legislation and has found finding new revenue to be a struggle.

A draft highway reauthorization bill the committee is considering calls for spending $287 billion on highways but stagnant revenue in the Highway Trust Fund means the committee is $113 billion short of paying for the proposed authorization.

Legislation in the Senate reauthorizing public transit and passenger rail is not expected to be drafted until later this year.

FRA Extends Deadline for Passenger Rail Grants

December 24, 2019

The deadline for a passenger rail grant program overseen by the Federal Railroad Administration has been extended to Feb. 5, 2020.

FRA had $24 million in Restoration and Enhancement Grants for “initiating, restoring, or enhancing intercity passenger rail service.”

The money was authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.

The deadline had been Jan. 5, 2020, but was extended by a month after another $1.92 million was authorized by Congress for fiscal year 2020.

That brings the total amount of available grant money for the program to $26.3 million.

Funding in the program can be used for staffing, fuel, electricity, station expenses, rolling stock lease payments, routine planned maintenance, host railroad access costs, train yard operation and administrative costs.

Grants may be awarded to states (individually or collectively), cities and other government entities, Amtrak and other intercity passenger rail companies.

By law the FRA must give priority by application type, including those supporting projects that “foster economic development, expand transportation options in under served communities, and restore former Amtrak routes.”

Maine State Employees To Get Downeaster Discounts

December 24, 2019

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is giving a 15 percent discount to Maine state employees who use Amtrak’s Downeaster for travel within or outside the state.

The discount is available on all Downeaster trains. State employees must purchase tickets three days in advance of travel and reference promotion code v503.

A state identification card is required for travel.

The Downeaster operates five round-trips daily between Brunswick, Maine, and Boston.

More information is available at AmtrakDowneaster.com.

“We hope this discount will encourage state employees to choose a cleaner method of travel for both work-related and personal travel,” said Natalie Bogart, marketing director at NNEPRA. “It also makes travel time more productive and less stressful than driving.”

Pennsylvanian, Keystones all Reserved in Late December

December 10, 2019

Travelers riding Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian between New York and Pittsburgh and its Keystone Service trains between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, will need reservations during the Christmas holiday travel period.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said Nos. 42 and 43 as well as all Keystone Service trains will be all reserved between Dec. 20 and 30.

Reservations will not be required for monthly and 10-ride ticket holders.

On Christmas Day, Keystone Service trains will operate on a Saturday schedule.

Virgin to Start Laying Rails in January

November 27, 2019

Virgin Rails USA had told an Orlando news outlet that is will begin laying rails in January 2020 for its extension from West Palm Beach to Orlando, Florida.

The carrier said it will begin construction in February 2020 of a $70 million, 138,000 square foot maintenance center that it said will create 160 new jobs.

The 170-mile line to Orland will have 55 bridges that will cost $35 million apiece. Virgin projects that each bridge will take 12 to 30 months to build.

“Obviously our goal is to maximize mobility for the Central and South Florida communities,” said Virgin Trains USA CEO Patrick Goddard said. “We are looking at stations. We are in a dialogue with the Treasure Coast, we are in a dialogue with the Space Coast. We would like to see stations every 50 to 60 miles. I think that’s feasible and reasonable to have an express train service so we will continue to pursue to update those as we make progress.”

Virgin said the steel being used in construction of the line is being purchased from American Steel in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Approximately 1,000 will be employed to build the line.

Goddard said before building west of Orlando International Airport that Virgin must reach an agreement on a lease from the Central Florida Expressway Authority and the Florida Department of Transportation.

Virgin plans to build along existing highways between Orlando and Tampa.

Track Work Disrupts Downeasters

November 19, 2019

Track work being performed today (Nov. 19) by host railroad Pan Am Railways disrupted the operations of some Downeaster service.

Train 681, terminated at Wells, Maine, with alternate transportation provided between Wells and Brunswick, making intermediate stops at Portland and Freeport. No alternate transportation was provided to Saco.

Train 684 originated at Wells with alternate transportation provided between Brunswick and Wells, making intermediate stops at Freeport and Portland. No alternate transportation was provided at Saco.

BNSF Track Work to Disrupt Carl Sandsburgs

November 16, 2019

Train 381 will terminate at Macomb, Illinois, with alternate transportation being provided between from Macomb to Quincy.

Train 382 will originate at Macomb with alternate transportation provided from Quincy to Macomb.

Eastbound Bus 3382 will depart Quincy at 4:30 p.m. and operate 60 minutes earlier than the normal train schedule.

Oregon POINT Bus Service Resumes Normal Schedule

October 30, 2019

The completion of a construction project involving Interstate 5 has meant that POINT Bus Service is back to normal in Oregon.

The service connects Amtrak trains in the state and had been disrupted by the I-5 work.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said normal schedules resumed on Oct. 28.

For updates or more information on the highway construction on I-5 and impact for travel, visit https://www.oregon.gov/odot/projects/pages/projectdetails.aspx?project=19831

VIA Holiday Travel Was Up 1.2%

October 19, 2019

VIA Rail Canada said it saw a 1.2 percent ridership increase during Canada’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend compared with the same period in 2018.

For the second consecutive year, more than 100,000 passengers traveled on the network Oct. 10-15 during the long holiday weekend, VIA said in a news release.

Oct. 11 was the busiest day of the weekend, and marked the second-busiest day overall in 10 years, with 22,046 passengers.

The most popular destinations were Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.

The Quebec City-Windsor corridor recorded 97,715 passengers, up 1.4 percent year over year.

Silver Meteor Operating Hour Later Today

October 7, 2019

Amtrak’s northbound Silver Meteor is operating today (Oct. 7) an hour later from Jacksonville, Florida, to New York due to track work being conducted by CSX.

Train 98 is to leave Jacksonville at 6:07 p.m, an later than the published schedule and will operate on the later schedule through to New York.