Research reports on rail attacks can help media formulate stories on Canadian attempt
Mineta Transportation Institute's terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins authored relevant reports
SAN JOSE, Calif., April 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The arrest
by Canadian authorities of two al Qaeda-connected terrorists planning
to derail a passenger train calls attention to the Mineta Transportation
Institute's (MTI) previous research on terrorist attacks targeting
passenger trains. These three recent MTI reports address this issue. All
were authored by international terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins,
director of MTI's National Transportation Safety and Security Center. He
is available for media interviews. MTI is affiliated with San Jose
The 1995 Attempted Derailing of the French TGV (High-Speed Train) and a Quantitative Analysis of 181 Rail Sabotage Attempts
On August 26, 1995, the Saturday of the final and busiest weekend of
France's summer holiday season, terrorists attempted to derail the TGV
(Train a Grande Vitesse) between Lyon and Paris by planting a bomb.
Fortunately, their crude triggering mechanism failed to detonate the
bomb, and subsequent analysis indicates that even had the bomb gone off,
the explosion would not have derailed the train.
The TGV episode, one of a continuing series of case studies by the
Mineta Transportation Institute, points to a continuing problem: Since
1995, terrorists have attempted to derail trains on at least 144
Because of the expansion of high-speed rail systems in Europe, Asia,
and North America, where 13 high-speed rail projects are in preparation
or under way in the United States alone, this case study has been
expanded to include a chronology and statistical analysis of attempted
derailments worldwide. This analysis examines the geographic
distribution of the attempts, the methods used by the saboteurs, and the
outcomes. Although based on a small universe of events, it underscores
both the attractiveness to terrorists of attacking transportation
systems--a successful attack can result in high body counts, significant
disruption, dramatic images, and enormous publicity, all things sought
by terrorists--and the difficulties of achieving success.
Carnage Interrupted: An Analysis of Fifteen Terrorist Plots against Public Surface Transportation
This report examines 13 terrorist plots against public surface
transportation that were uncovered and foiled by authorities between
1997 and 2010 and two failed attempts to carry out attacks. Certainly,
this is not the total universe of foiled or failed terrorist plots in
these years, but they were selected on the basis of what is known about
them and the accessibility of information.
The report focuses on terrorist plots in the West. Seven of the 15
plots took place in the United States, and four occurred in the United
Kingdom. These two countries figure prominently as targets of terrorism,
and in addition, American and British officials have dealt with
terrorist plots through publicized arrests and trials, which provide
Although motive was not a criterion in the selection of the plots, all
but one involve individuals or groups inspired by al Qaeda's ideology
of violent global jihad against the West. The exception is the 1997
Flatbush plot, in which two terrorists, both of whom had connections
with Hamas, angered by events in Palestine, simply wanted to kill as
many Jews as possible to express their opposition to U.S. support for
Israel. Other sources suggest that the Flatbush plotters wanted to force
the release of jailed Islamist terrorists in the United States,
including Ramzi Yousef, who participated in the 1993 World Trade Center
bombing, and Sheik Omar Abdul-Rahman, who was convicted for his
involvement in a plot to carry out additional bombings in New York.
Formulating a Strategy for Securing High-Speed Rail in the United States
This report presents an analysis of information relating to attacks,
attempted attacks, and plots against high-speed rail (HSR) systems. It
draws upon empirical data from MTI's Database of Terrorist and Serious
Criminal Attacks Against Public Surface Transportation and from reviews
of selected HSR systems, including onsite observations. The report also
examines the history of safety accidents and other HSR incidents that
resulted in fatalities, injuries, or extensive asset damage to examine
the inherent vulnerabilities (and strengths) of HSR systems and how
these might affect the consequences of terrorist attacks. The study is
divided into three parts: (1) an examination of security principles and
measures; (2) an empirical examination of 33 attacks against HSR targets
and a comparison of attacks against HSR targets with those against
non-HSR targets; and (3) an examination of 73 safety incidents on 12 HRS
systems. The purpose of this study is to develop an overall strategy
for HSR security and to identify measures that could be applied to HSR
systems currently under development in the United States. It is hoped
that the report will provide useful guidance to both governmental
authorities and transportation operators of current and future HSR
ABOUT BRIAN MICHAEL JENKINS
Brian Michael Jenkins is an international authority on terrorism and
sophisticated crime. He directs the Mineta Transportation Institute's
(MTI) National Transportation Safety and Security Center, which focuses
on research into protecting surface transportation against terrorist
attacks. He is also a senior advisor to the president of RAND. From
1989-98, Mr. Jenkins was deputy chairman of Kroll Associates, an
international investigative and consulting firm. Before that, he was
chairman of RAND's Political Science Department, where he also directed
research on political violence. He has authored several books, chapters,
and articles on counterterrorism, including International Terrorism: A
New Mode of Conflict and Will Terrorists Go Nuclear? Most recently, he
published When Armies Divide, a discussion about nuclear arms in the
hands of rebelling armies. He also has been principal investigator for
many peer-reviewed security-focused research reports for MTI.
ABOUT THE MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE (MTI):
MTI conducts research, education, and information transfer programs
focusing on surface transportation policy and management issues,
especially related to transit. MTI was established by Congress in 1991
as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act and won
national re-designation competitions in 2002, 2006 and 2011. The
Institute is funded by Congress through the US DOT Research and
Innovative Technology Administration, by the California Legislature
through Caltrans, and public and private grants. In 2006 the US
Department of Homeland Security selected MTI as a National
Transportation Security Center of Excellence. The internationally
respected members of the MTI Board of Trustees represent all major
surface transportation modes. Visit transweb.sjsu.edu
Contact: Donna Maurillo
MTI Communications Director
831-234-4009 (available 24/7)
donna.maurillo (at) sjsu.edu
SOURCE Mineta Transportation Institute
/Web site: http://www.transweb.sjsu.edu
22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Union Pacific Railroad
today unveiled an advanced experimental locomotive at its J.R. Davis
Yard in Roseville that will test three emissions-reducing technologies
including exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel oxidation ...
Agencies act to improve railroad employees' safety
Workers Comp Forum
More than 900 whistleblower complaints have been filed in the railroad industry over the past five years, most involving workplace injuries. Federal agencies are asking several railroad and transportation associations to take action to improve ...
Union Pacific brings experimental locomotive to California yard
Yesterday, Union Pacific Railroad unveiled
an experimental locomotive at its J.R. Davis Yard in Roseville, Calif., that will be used to test three emissions-reducing technologies. The “UP 9900” unit will be equipped with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR),
diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) and diesel particulate filter (DPF) systems.
The locomotive will operate in a range of about 200 miles from its Roseville base. The unit is one of 25 locomotives that UP plans to analyze as part of a broad test of various emissions-reduction
techniques in northern and southern California.
UP engineers worked with Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. (EMD) to reduce the standard engine size in UP 9900 to create space for the EGR, DOC and DPF systems.
All three technologies, which will be used simultaneously, are projected to help the Class I further develop a locomotive that meets
the U.S. Environmental protection Agency’s Tier 4 emission standard, UP officials said in a prepared statement.
“This experimental locomotive is designed to advance emission-reduction technology,” said Mike Iden, UP’s general director of car and locomotive engineering.
UP and EMD expect UP 9900 to approach the Tier 4 standard by reducing oxides of nitrogen emissions 45 percent compared with the Tier 2
standard, and cut particulate matter emissions 85 percent based on a preliminary analysis. The Class I and California Air Resources Board
will jointly analyze the locomotive's emissions-reduction capability over the next 18 months.
New York Times
August 26, 2012
The Amtrak Option
by the high cost of gasoline and airline tickets, Amtrak is doing very
well. The railroad recently announced that when given a choice between
air or rail, three-quarters of travelers between New York and Washington
take the train. Between New York and Boston, more than half prefer the
rails. One of the biggest impediments to further growth is the pair of
100-year-old tunnels under the Hudson River — one going in each
direction between New Jersey and New York City. The tunnels operate at
capacity, creating a bottleneck that will only grow worse as the
metropolitan area’s population grows. It’s obviously time for a new
Overall rail ridership is expected to reach 43
million a year across the nation by 2040. To improve service in the
Northeast, Amtrak officials are envisioning a ride of about three hours
between Boston and Washington on high-speed rail with sustained maximum
speeds of 220 miles per hour, comparable to trains in Europe and Japan,
all of which have substantial government support.
leaders understand the need for new investment, many Republicans are
speeding in the wrong direction. Chris Christie, the governor of New
Jersey, scrapped the most recent proposal in 2010, in the process
forfeiting billions of dollars in federal aid mainly to burnish his
political credentials as a cost-cutting Republican. That proposal was
budgeted at about $9 billion. The cost is now estimated at $14.7
The Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has
promised that, if elected, he would cut Amtrak’s $1.5 billion annual
federal subsidy. That is no way to run a railroad, especially one whose
popular East Coast route is vital to the region’s economic prosperity
and, of course, to the state Mr. Romney served as governor.
Romney, Mr. Christie and their Republican colleagues in Washington
should be doing everything in their power to improve train service, not
stand in the way.
Amtrak officials "confident" about future
has had its share of troubled times, but executives at the passenger railroad are "much more confident" of the importance of the role they
play in national passenger rail and have more clearly defined their vision. With funding stable, they have created a strategy they're
convinced will serve passengers well and make everything more efficient. "It's a difficult thing to go from maintaining a railroad to expanding
and improving a railroad," says Stephen Gardner, vice president of NEC infrastructure and investment development. "We're situating Amtrak for
growth and greater customer focus because we all think Amtrak has a much bigger role to play in the decades ahead." Progressive Railroading
Union Pacific Railroad Unveils Experimental Locomotive to Test Emissions ...
Electric's $600 million investment in a new line of Evolution
locomotives focuses on meeting an Environmental Protection Agency
emissions rule scheduled to take effect in 2015. "We've spent a lot of
time with the EPA as we've gone through this," said GE Transportation
CEO Lorenzo Simonelli. "We're very confident that with our global
research center, with the amount of testing we've done, that we've got a
solution that works." Reuters
shippers that import products from Mexico are choosing railroads as a
viable transport alternative due to a decreasing truck capacity along
the border. "We've had to diversify to get sustainable capacity," said
Sonney Jones, Dal-Tile division director of transportation in Dallas.
"That's meant using more rail boxcars in some shorter lanes as a
replacement for intermodal or truck capacity." The Journal of Commerce
Can Railroads Be Relied On To Inspect Their Own
Journal & Topics Newspapers Online
There is a lot of talk in Washington, D.C.---especially on the Right---about reducing the size of government and getting government regulation out of
the way of the private sector. But last month's derailment and bridge collapse in Glenview that killed ...
Railroad will test 25 locomotives with emissions-reducing
Romney threatens to eliminate Amtrak subsidy if elected;
Eno's Schank weighs in on potential implications
By Angela Cotey, Associate Editor
In an Aug. 2 interview with Fortune that was transcribed and posted online yesterday, Republican presidential
candidate Mitt Romney talked about his plan to improve the economy and reduce the deficit. Among his ideas: eliminate Amtrak’s federal subsidy.
Romney didn’t divulge details on the Amtrak plan specifically; it was mentioned as part of a list of subsidy programs he planned to cut.
Still, Amtrak officials and supporters will no doubt take Romney’s threats to heart.
This isn’t the first time a president or presidential hopeful has proposed slashing Amtrak funds. But the odds of
it happening are much more realistic these days, says The Eno Center for Transportation President and Chief Executive Officer Joshua Schank.
“It’s more likely than ever, because there is a huge debt problem and a lot of things are going to be cut at some point no matter who is president,”
he says. “The difference is that I find it very hard to believe that Amtrak would be included in its entirety in an Obama Administration
deficit deal, but I could definitely see it happening under a Romney Administration deficit deal.”
That’s not to say an Amtrak subsidy elimination is a sure thing if Romney is elected. Congressional elections will have an impact, as well.
“If the Dems hold the Senate, or even if the Dems are in a position to filibuster this, then it makes it a lot harder to zero out Amtrak
funding,” says Schank.
But if Republicans win the majority in the Senate, Amtrak cuts are much more likely.
“Amtrak has been a favorite punching bag of Republicans for years,” says Schank. “When push comes to shove, if we have a new wave of
conservatives in Congress … I could see a scenario where Republican senators allowed those long-distance routes that run through their
states to be cut.”
And even if Democrats could engage in a filibuster, there’s no guarantee they’d follow through.
“If there’s a big deficit deal, lots of compromises need to be made,” says Schank. “It’s impossible to predict whether Democrats will hold the line
on cuts under a Republican Senate and Republican administration.”
If Amtrak’s subsidy were eliminated, it would have a drastic impact on the transportation network, particularly in the Northeast. Even though the
intercity passenger railroad recoups its operating costs on the Northeast Corridor, it does not cover capital costs, says Schank, so
operations would have to cease.
“It would reduce the amount of overall travel in the Northeast Corridor because there is not enough capacity on highways and airports to
accommodate all the passengers,” says Schank. “Airlines would increase flights, which would dramatically increase delay times, traffic on the
I-95 corridor would dramatically increase and it would have severe economic consequences.”
Because of those dire outcomes, it’s more likely that a new administration and/or Congress would propose to cut
Amtrak’s subsidy rather than eliminate it altogether, Schank believes.
any president is going to make a big deficit budget deal, he will try to avoid things that have a dramatic impact, so it’s much more realistic
that an Amtrak subsidy would be cut rather than eliminated,” he says.
If that happens, Amtrak officials would be forced to neglect maintenance needs, which would cause the system — and service levels to deteriorate
It’s not an uncommon scenario for Amtrak, which often is under fire for its reliance on government subsidies to provide national passenger-rail
service. But in recent years, funding cut threats have waned as Amtrak received more stable appropriations through the Passenger Rail
Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 and capital dollars through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. (For more detail on
Amtrak’s improved financial picture and plans for the future, read Progressive Railroading’s August cover story, foundhere).
Amtrak’s improved stability also can be attributed to its leadership, Schank believes.
think you have to give some credit to Joe Boardman for keeping Amtrak
out of the news except for when they have a big idea for a big investment. We haven’t heard about big breakdowns or crashes, the
railroad has been very well run over last few years and they haven’t had big appropriations fights, in part because the Democratic Senate has
made it clear they won’t tolerate that,” he says. “I think Amtrak has done a reasonably good job of spending the money it’s had wisely.”
That could come in handy as Amtrak faces a potentially rough road ahead in its annual appropriations quest.
John P. Tolman
Vice President & National Legislative Representative
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
Teamsters Rail Conference
technology in California
The Journal of Commerce Online
Union Pacific Railway will spend $20 million to test 25 locomotives with
emissions-reducing technology in California, as the railroad works to meet
new federal pollution standards thatbegin in 2015.
The experimental locomotives are intermediate line ...
BLET Safety Task Force investigates fatality of UP trainman
BILLINGS, Mont., July 31 - At approximately 3 a.m. today, a trainman
received fatal injuries while performing switching duties at the Union
Pacific yard in Mason City, Iowa.
Brother Tom Hebert (BLET Division 312) has been assigned as STF Primary
Investigator and is en route to assist the National Transportation Safety
Board (NTSB) with this investigation.
Central Valley short line railroads part of larger sale
Central Valley Business Times
The California Northern Railroad, based in Davis, and the San Joaquin Valley Railroad,
based in Exeter, are being swept up in a deal that will see Genesee
& Wyoming Inc. (NYSE: GWR) buy its rival RailAmerica, Inc. (NYSE:
RA), which owns the two ...
prevent rail derailments - Claims Journal
congressmen want federal watchdog agencies to ensure railroad companies
are conducting frequent track inspections to prevent rail derailments ...
Illinois Senators Urge Railroads to Conduct More Inspections
congressmen want federal watchdog agencies to ensure railroad companies
are conducting frequent track inspections to prevent rail derailments resulting from heat-related track buckling, after this month's deadly suburban Chicago accident.
Genesee & Wyoming to buy RailAmerica for $1.39 billion
Los Angeles Times
The combined company will operate 108 railroads in the U.S. and abroad. The deal will diversify what the railroads
carry, offering protection from prolonged weakness in certain shipments
like coal, and make the company less dependent on certain big ...
|Daily Herald: Freight Train Derailments
But other high-profile cases have caused concern, including the July 4 Union Pacific Railroad derailment in Glenview that collapsed a railroad bridge and killed a Northbrook couple; a Nov. 3, 2011, Canadian National Railway derailment near Elgin that ...
|Union Pacific Can Rebuild Bridge With Little Oversight
In the weeks since the July 4 train derailment
and bridge collapse that killed a Glenview couple, many locals have
wondered what the process is for ensuring the safety of a new bridge and
investigating the cause of the derailment. This is of particular
|Here is the latest Illinois news from The Associated Press
Dick Durbin is urging Illinois railroad companies to conduct frequent track inspections to prevent rail derailments
resulting from track buckling due to extreme heat. Durbin's remarks
during press conference today come as investigators continue to examine
Southwest Washington rail line reopens after derailment
Longview Daily News
Those were cancelled Thursday because the Woodland derailment took equipment out of service. Passengers on those routes will be bused. The lead engine of an Amtrak train derailed just before 7 p.m. Wednesday on its way from Portland to Seattle.
|UP: Signal Maintainer Acted Appropriately
The rail worker reported his sighting to a track inspector, who arrived at the scene about the same time as the train derailment
that killed two Glenview residents was happening. According to Union
Pacific spokesman Mark Davis, despite the result of that day's ...
$6B improvement works continue on Los Angeles, Long Beach ports:
ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California are undergoing major
upgrades worth nearly $6 billion in an effort to maintain the estimated
40% share of Asian imports that the two ports combined handle. New
piers, wharves and rail yards are being built. "[I]nfrastructure is an
important aspect of maintaining that advantage," said Gill Hicks,
freight specialist and director of Southern California operations for
Cambridge Systematics. Los Angeles Times
(tiered subscription model)
Los Angeles, Long Beach ports cranked up container volumes in June
The Port of Long Beach,
Calif., boosted both import and export container traffic in June,
helping to nudge up total volume 0.2 percent to 555,359 20-foot
equivalent units (TEUs) compared with June 2011.
Imports rose 3.5
percent to 280,526 TEUs and exports increased 5.6 percent to 133,649
TEUs. The port handled 141,184 TEUs of empty containers — more than in
any other month this year, but still 9.8 percent fewer compared with the
“June was the busiest month [so far in]
calendar-year 2012,” port officials said in a prepared statement.
“Through the first half of the year, overall container traffic is down 5
percent … partly due to the elimination of several niche service
strings that had called at the port last year.”
Meanwhile, the Port of Los Angeles in June handled 696,848 TEUs, up 8.8 percent compared with June 2011.
rose 6 percent to 353,931 TEUs, exports climbed 6.9 percent to 174,418
TEUs, total loaded container volume increased 6.3 percent to 528,349
TEUs and total empty container volume jumped 17.2 percent to 168,499
In the year’s first half, the port handled 4,010,204 TEUs, up 6.5 percent compared with the same 2011 period.
officials order L.A. track, train protection system repairs
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has directed the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority(LACMTA) and Expo Construction Authority to replace a piece of track at the LACMTA Metro Expo and Blue Line junction, and fix an automatic train protection system.
2012 - 07/16/2012 - OSHA, Federal Railroad Administration sign ...
Number: 12-1396-NAT July 16, 2012. Contact: Diana Petterson Adriano
Llosa Phone: 202-693-4681 202-693-4686. Email: email@example.com ...
two agencies “will work closely to develop and implement a plan that
satisfies the concerns of the CPUC,” said LACMTA Chief Executive Officer
Art Leahy and Expo Construction Authority CEO Rick Thorpe in a joint
“Our first step is to correct a defect in a small
portion of the track commonly called the ‘frog’ as it relates to the
junction where the new Expo Line meets the Metro Blue Line at Washington
and Flower near downtown Los Angeles,” they said, adding that that work
was completed July 13.
Separately, the agencies will ensure the
train protection system is operating as required by the CPUC. The
automatic train protection system has not worked properly since the line
opened in April, according to a July 17 report in the Los Angeles Times.
want to assure the public that Metro and the Expo Construction
Authority have been monitoring these issues for some time, and at no
time was safety every compromised,” said Leahy and Thorpe. “Trains have
made over 10,000 trips through this junction area traveling less than 10
miles per hour. Daily inspections continue while we resolve this issue
with the CPUC.”
Union Pacific Railroad Celebrates 150 Years
the sound of a train means you should be careful; one of Oregon's many
freight trains is going over a crossing nearby. But this is the sound of
a train simulation, a model engine parked outside Portland's Union
station as part of Union Pacific ...
Railroad worker spotted issue before derailment
Ventura County Star
- In this July 6, 2012 file photo, emergency vehicles are seen in
Northbrook, Ill., where a train derailment July 4 caused the collapse of
a bridge, killing two people in a car traveling under the bridge. On
Monday, July 16, 2012, a Union Pacific ...
|Last of Minot derailment money going to charity
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The last bit of settlement money from a class-action lawsuit over a disastrous train derailment in Minot a decade ago will go to charity.
|Full Train Services Restored After Train Derailment, Explosion
Norfolk Southern restores train services after a train derailed, causing an explosion on Wednesday. Get details.
|With fire out, focus now on Ohio train crash cause
The Columbus crash was unusual because it occurred on main line tracks, instead of more common derailment sites such as rail yards or industrial facilities, Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Warren Flatau said. Of the 389 derailments in the U.S ...
|Union Pacific will meet with public on fatal derailment
Representatives from Union Pacific will appear at a community meeting to discuss the July 4 freight train derailment and viaduct collapse that took the life of a Glenview couple.
|Clean-up continues at derailment site near Talbot
Albany Democrat Herald
TALBOT — Crews from Portland & Western Railroad were on the scene of a derailing Thursday, clearing logs from Marlatt Road near Talbot. A P&W train slipped the tracks Wednesday afternoon, spilling logs onto the road and causing several railcars to ...
|Train Derailment Investigation Latest :: Transport News
admin. Friday, July 13th, 2012. Post. Leave a Comment. Add to my
Tracker. More Railroads Discussions ». Article source:
http://www.topix.com/business/railroads/2012/07/train-derailment-investigation-latest?fromrss=1. Categories : Air ...
BLET Safety Task Force to investigate Norfolk Southern derailment in Ohio
CLEVELAND, July 12 - The BLET National Division has dispatched members of
its Safety Task Force to the scene of a major derailment in Columbus,
According to media reports, around a dozen cars of a 98-car Norfolk
Southern freight train derailed near Columbus, Ohio at approximately 2
a.m. on July 11, causing a large fire. Preliminary reports indicate there
were no train crew injuries, but residents within a one mile radius of the
crash site were evacuated. Columbus fire officials have reported to the
media that some cars carrying ethanol ruptured during the derailment.
Carl W. Fields, Coordinator of the Safety Task Force, and Thomas F.
Hebert, Primary Investigator, will be on hand to assist the National
Transportation Safety Board with the investigation.
BNSF helps train first responders on hazmat safety in N.D.
supported a safety event in Mandan, N.D., to teach first responders how
to handle hazardous-materials incidents. "Everybody that came out
today, I know they came away with something and I know they got basic
knowledge now and they understand where to go and where to ask if
nothing else," said Tony Bacino, BNSF Hazmat Department employee. KFYR-TV (Bismarck, N.D.)
$80M rail yard expansion at Calif port. lands $15M federal grant
$80 million rail yard expansion project at the Port of Oakland, Calif.,
has received a $15 million federal grant. The expansion plan is part of
a logistics hub that would increase service to trains, decrease truck
traffic and boost rail capacity at warehouses and logistics centers.
"This is a game-changing project," said Transportation Secretary Ray
LaHood. "It really puts the Oakland port on the map in the 21st
century." San Jose Mercury News (Calif.) (free registration)
Harry Hoglander to serve for another year as National Mediation Board chairman
$1B plan for Calif. army base includes more rail
$1 billion project that would develop a former army base in Oakland,
Calif., has received the OK from the City Council. The project would
develop about 130 acres of the former army base into a logistics and
warehousing center, and work will include infrastructure upgrades,
building a deep-water port and enhancing rail capacity to handle cargo
from the adjacent Port of Oakland. The Oakland Tribune (Calif.)
Federal Railroad Administration Issues Final
Rule on Emergency Notification Systems at Highway-Rail Grade
Union Pacific Railroad rolls out mobile training trailers for engineers, conductors
(Source: Union Pacific press release, June 14, 2012)
Neb. — Union Pacific Railroad, an industry leader in technological
advancements, has built a fleet of mobile classrooms to bring
state-of-the-art operations and safety training to locomotive engineer
and conductor locations across its 23-state system. Throughout the
years, Union Pacific has used existing or rented training facilities
across most its network to prepare employees for their railroad career,
introduce them to new technology and provide them with refresher
courses. The new mobile classrooms will supplement ongoing training
conducted at leading-edge facilities across the Union Pacific network,
where employees are introduced to new technology and provided refresher
Friday, June 15, 2012
- Class I access drives Calif. counties to keep short-line service
counties in California are trying to figure out how to restore and
maintain parts of RailAmerica's San Joaquin Valley Railroad's track that
connects to BNSF and UP. "It connects the business park in the
industrial area in Visalia out to Exeter out to Ivanhoe and Dinuba. It's
our connection to Class I service to Union Pacific and Burlington North
Santa Fe [in Fresno]," said Michael Washam, Tulare County’s Economic
Development manager. The Business Journal (Fresno, Calif.)
Caltrain moves from doom to boom, but forecast could get gloomy -- A
year after a last-minute bailout saved broke Caltrain from shutting
down half its stations and trains, the commuter line is so flush with
cash that for the first time in four years it is adding service and
keeping most fares intact. San Jose Mercury News article
CP trains to start rolling Friday after government ends strike
CP Rail strike can't end soon enough for terminal
California DOT doles out Proposition 1B grants to several transit agencies
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
recently awarded $350 million in grants to help improve transit service throughout the state.
The money will be used to help fund about 80 projects designed to
upgrade transit service, modernize stations, and purchase or
rehabilitate equipment. The grants are being funded through Proposition
1B, a transportation bond measure approved by California voters in 2006.
The bonds are expected to generate $3.6 billion over a 10-year period.
The grants include:
• $69.5 million to the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System to purchase 29 light-rail vehicles;
• $48 million to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for
the Central Subway project, which will extend the T Third Line 1.7 miles
from the 4th Street Caltrain Station to Chinatown;
• $27.7 million to Bay Area Rapid Transit for the eBART project, which will extend the BART system 10 miles to Antioch;
• $21.5 million to the San Diego Association of Governments to purchase
light-trail vehicles for the San Diego Trolley Blue Line;
• $12.3 million to the Southern California Regional Rail Authority to rehabilitate Metrolink equipment and facilities; and
• $9.3 million to the Sacramento Regional Transit District to refurbish light-rail vehicles.
To date, Caltrans has awarded $1.7 billion in Proposition 1B funds,
which have been used to help advance or complete more than 700 transit
NTSB SAFETY RECOMMENDATION
National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594
June 5, 2012
NTSB Safety Recommendation R-12-36
The National Transportation Safety Board makes the following
safety recommendation to the American Public Transportation
Establish guidelines and standards to require that all
existing and new hi-rail vehicles be equipped with an
automatic change-of-direction or backup alarm that provides
an audible signal that is at least 3 seconds long and is
distinguishable from the surrounding noise. (R-12-36)
Canada to appoint arbitrator, force striking CP workers back to work
House of Commons has approved legislation that would force striking
workers at Canadian Pacific back to work by Thursday. The measure now
goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass. A federal arbitrator
will have 90 days to resolve labor issues between Canadian Pacific and
the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference. CP is urging the TCRC to renew
negotiations "and stop the damage the union is unnecessarily causing to
CP customers' businesses and employment levels." The Globe and Mail (Toronto)/Globe Investor
(5/30), Calgary Herald (Alberta)
(5/29), The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Newswires
Canada prepares back-to-work bill in case CP strike continues
the event that the strike at Canadian Pacific may continue, the
Canadian government is prepared to propose back-to-work legislation,
according to Labor Minister Lisa Raitt. "Our best efforts right now are
to help them get a deal, help them settle the matter at the table
themselves, be mindful of the economy, but be ready to go should we need
to do something," said Raitt. CP spokesman reminded people that the
strike will affect customers, the supply chain and "many of the
connecting railways with whom we do business." Financial Post (Canada)
(5/23), The Journal of Commerce
CP faces service disruption in Canada due to union strike
estimated 4,800 workers at Canadian Pacific went on strike early
Wednesday, causing service interruptions to several industries that rely
on freight rail transportation. However, most major commuter lines that
use CP track will be unaffected due to an agreement between the Class I
and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference. Some speculate that the
government could intervene. The strike does have the potential to affect
railroads with whom CP does business, said CP spokesman Ed Greenberg. The New York Times (tiered subscription model)
(5/23), The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia)/The Canadian Press
(5/22), Bloomberg Businessweek
CP faces possible work stoppage
Pacific faces a work stoppage beginning on Wednesday. The Teamsters
Canada Rail Conference informed the railroad of the possible action
following Fred Green’s resignation, citing concern over the possibility
of watered-down pension plans. Canadian Labor Minister Lisa Raitt said
she is looking at alternatives "to minimize disruptions to freight
shipments from any work stoppage." The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
Transportation funding bill to pass by June 30, Sen. Hoeven says
House of Representatives and the Senate will reach a deal on a
transportation-funding bill by June 30, predicted Sen. John Hoeven,
R-N.D. "I think we will pass Keystone as part of the highway bill," said
Hoeven, who is a member of the House-Senate highway-bill conference
panel. The Hill/Transportation blog
| Railroads help bring America back
Railroads are putting out help-wanted signs across
America, aiming to hire 15,000 new workers nationwide this year.
Hundreds of people lined up at a recent job fair in Gary, Ind., to get a
job with "one of the longtime engines of our economy," as this news
report says. "These are jobs that are not going to be outsourced and
shipped overseas. These are American jobs," said Association of American
Railroads President and CEO Edward Hamberger. "They pay well. Once
you’ve been on the job, the average, including benefits, is about
$100,000 a year." ABC News (05/05)
Class I execs: Railroads hiring by the thousands
Thousands of new workers are expected to be hired by
U.S. freight railroads in 2012, according to CSX, Norfolk Southern and
Union Pacific officials. CSX CEO Michael Ward anticipates an 3,000 new
hires. UP's first-quarter payroll count rose 4% year-on-year, according
to Robert Knight, UP's chief financial officer. Since January, NS has
hired more than 800 people and hopes to hire 2,000 more by the end of
the year. More than 15,000 people need to be hired due to attrition and
growing demand, according to AAR. Progressive Railroading (05/2012)
BNSF route, locomotive stars of GE Transportation TV commercial
Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.), The (05/08)
10,000 miles of track won't need PTC, says White House
Railroads won't need to install positive train control
technology on lines that don't convey toxic materials or passengers --
which excludes about 10,000 miles of track from the regulatory
requirement -- according to the Obama administration. "This very fancy
high-tech technology needn't be imposed where the safety risk is very
low," said Cass Sunstein, administrator of the White House Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs. "Ensuring the safest possible
transport of all rail passengers and commodities, particularly highly
toxic chemicals, remains the freight railroads' highest priority," said
Association of American Railroads' President and CEO Edward Hamberger. Bloomberg (05/10) ProgressiveRailroading.com (05/10) Wall Street Journal, The (05/10)
Swift Transportation CEO: Say no to heavier trucks
Jerry Moyes, CEO of Canadian trucking firm Swift
Transportation, told the trucking industry to quit advocating for
heavier truck weights on U.S. roads and instead fight on issues it could
win. Moyes said his heavier trucks have worse safety records than his
normal-sized ones and called statistics the industry uses to tout better
fuel efficiency for heavier trucks "pretty deceiving." Transport Topics Online (05/07)
Benefits of BNSF's $500M L.A. port project are many and obvious
The projected economic and environmental benefits of
BNSF's planned $500 million intermodal facility at the Port of Los
Angeles are more than enough reason for authorities to approve the
project, writes Jim Newton. He emphasizes the need for more support for
the project, which is expected to eliminate as many as 2 million annual
truck trips on Interstate 710. "We think it's a very compelling
project," said BNSF CEO Matthew Rose. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (05/07)
Olsovsky: BNSF's information technology is vital for growth
For BNSF, a sound platform for information technology
is key to making it an even better company, and using technology to
improve service efficiency is important to Jo-ann Olsovsky, the Class
I's vice president of technology services and chief information officer.
"In IT, our charge is to be forward thinkers -- we have to be forward
thinkers -- and good stewards of the technology investments we deploy,"
said Olsovsky. Progressive Railroading (05/2012)
FRA issues Safety Advisory 2012-02 regarding restricted speed
CLEVELAND, May 8 - The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published
Safety Advisory 2012-02 on April 25 to remind railroads and their
employees of the importance of complying with restricted speed operating
BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce strongly condemned the "blame the
worker" tone of the Safety Advisory. He warned BLET members to be on
alert as the Safety Advisory recommends that railroads "...increase the
level of operational testing with regard to the operation of trains on
main tracks at restricted speed."
President Pierce said: "The NTSB, the Federal Railroad Administration, and
the railroad industry should keep in mind that railroading is a complex
system of operations and simply laying blame at the feet of operating
employees will not get to the root cause of these accidents nor will it
prevent similar accidents in the future. Indeed, everyone can - and
should - go much further than simply conducting additional and burdensome
compliance tests on operating crews."
The Safety Advisory is a follow up to the National Transportation Safety
Board's (NTSB) Safety Recommendation No. R-11-10, issued on January 12,
2012. It also comes on the heels of a NTSB hearing held April 24 regarding
the fatal rear-end collision involving a BNSF coal train and a standing
maintenance of way equipment train in Red Oak, Iowa, which happened on
April 17, 2011.
"Railroad operating rules governing restricted speed require that train
crews be prepared to stop within one-half their range of vision," the FRA
wrote in the April 25 edition of the Federal Register. "During the
previous 12 months, the railroad industry has experienced six rear end
collisions that resulted in four employee fatalities, [and] eight employee
injuries.... It appears these six incidents may have occurred because the
train crews did not properly identify and comply with block and
interlocking signal indications that required operation of their trains at
The Safety Advisory indicates that main line rear-end collisions are
seldom caused by one single factor, but stressed that train crew members
must maintain constant situational awareness while in the cab.
"[E]ven slight lapses in situational awareness, particularly when
operating trains on 'Approach' and 'Restricting' signal indications can
lead to tragedy," the FRA wrote.
FRA also warned against the practice of ''self dispatching.''
"Self-dispatching is the operation of a train based on assumptions about
the locations of other trains. These assumptions are sometimes developed
through overheard radio conversations among other train crew members."
As part of Safety Advisory 2012-02, the FRA issued five recommendations to
railroads. They are as follows:
1. Review with operating employees the circumstances of the six rear end
collisions identified above.
2. Discuss the requirements of restricted speed and related operational
tests at future instructional classes (and also as part of ad hoc coaching
and briefings) for operating employees, with a focus on the railroad's
absolute speed limit for such operations, as well as requirements that
ensure the ability to stop in one-half the range of vision. Special
emphasis should be placed on situations in which the range of vision is
limited (e.g., curves).
3. Evaluate quarterly and 6-month reviews of operational testing data as
required by Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) section 217.9, and,
as appropriate, increase the level of operational testing with regard to
the operation of trains on main tracks at restricted speed. A
representative number of operational tests should be conducted on trains
following other trains into an occupied block, particularly in
high-density corridors. Operational tests should also include a review of
locomotive event recorder data to verify compliance with restricted speed
4. Reinforce the importance of communication between crew members located
in the controlling locomotive, particularly during safety critical periods
when multiple tasks are occurring, including such activities as copying
mandatory directives; closely approaching or passing fixed signals that
require trains to operate at restricted speed; approaching locations where
trains' movement authority is being restricted; and during radio
conversations with other employees or job briefings about work to be done
at an upcoming location.
5. Review with operating employees the requirements of subpart C of 49 CFR
part 220, and reinforce that the improper use of electronic devices during
safety critical periods often leads to a loss of situational awareness and
In his response to the NTSB Safety Recommendation No. R-11-10, President
Pierce informed the NTSB that at least one BLET member is fighting to get
his job back - with the help of his Local Division and his General
Committee of Adjustment - after being dismissed for allegedly delaying his
train by operating too slowly while traveling at restricted speed, in
order to avoid failing a banner compliance test the Carrier had set up
just ahead of his train.
In warning BLET members to heighten their vigilance when operating at
restricted speed President Pierce said, "The FRA was provided a copy of
our response to the NTSB, and I am outraged the agency is recommending
that railroads expose our membership to even further harassment when they
do not toe the line to an 'efficiency above all else' mentality. All BLET
members are urged to exercise extra caution when operating at restricted
speed to protect their safety and their jobs, and I am directing all BLET
Local Chairman to immediately notify my office if one of our members is
charged by a carrier with delaying the train or otherwise operating too
slowly when being governed by restricted speed."
Full copy of FRA Safety Advisory 2012-02:
BLET response to NTSB Safety Recommendation R-11-10 regarding restricted
- Class I employment climbs 3% in March year-on-year
at U.S. Class I railroads increased 3% in March versus year-ago levels,
and 0.81% compared to February levels, according to the Surface
Transportation Board. A total of 160,523 employees were recorded in the
latest data, with each of the employment divisions posting year-on-year
- BNSF transports historic naval guns to Arizona for monument
names of two battleships are known as bookends for the U.S. role in
World War II: The USS Arizona was sunk by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor
in 1941, and the Japanese officially surrendered to the U.S. on the USS
Missouri in Tokyo Bay in 1945. Today, gun barrels from each ship will be
used in a WWII memorial being created in Phoenix. BNSF transported the
barrels to Arizona. "BNSF’s support shouldn’t come as a surprise to
anyone as the company has a long record of supporting veterans," said
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett. "Whether it be taking on
projects like these or the company’s commitment to consider hiring
veterans before other applicants, BNSF exemplifies what it means to be a
good corporate citizen." Mohave Valley Daily News (Bullhead City, Ariz.)
Department of Transportation Opens Bidding for Made-in-America Passenger Rail Cars
U.S.Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
Friday, April 20, 2012
Contact: Kevin F. Thompson
First Multistate Order for Standardized Rail Cars Will Help Boost American Manufacturers
WASHINGTON – Rail car manufacturers across the country will have an
opportunity to submit bids to produce the first American-made,
standardized passenger rail cars, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray
LaHood announced today.
The $551 million Request for Proposals (RFP) to manufacture
approximately 130 new bi-level passenger rail cars in America comes from
a groundbreaking multi-state effort to jointly purchase standardized
rail equipment to be used on Amtrak’s intercity routes in California,
Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, and potentially Iowa. The
funding is being provided by the Federal Railroad Administration’s
High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program.
“President Obama has called on us to invest in transportation systems
that are built to last,” said Secretary LaHood. “This important
opportunity represents a win-win scenario for both workers and the
traveling public by helping to create manufacturing jobs and support
In preparation for orders such as this, the U.S. Department of
Transportation has partnered with the Department of Commerce National
Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)
to connect large car builders and more than 34,000 domestic suppliers,
and help them retool their production capabilities to meet demand. The
MEP connects suppliers with viable business opportunities that may have
otherwise gone to foreign suppliers.
“We’ve laid a solid foundation in bringing rail equipment
manufacturers and suppliers together so we can make these cars in
America and create American jobs,” said Federal Railroad Administrator
Joseph C. Szabo. “As part of the Obama Administration’s focus on
revitalizing American manufacturing opportunities, building standardized
rolling stock will provide an unprecedented opportunity to leverage Buy
America requirements, ensuring maximum economic benefit for
taxpayer-funded transportation investments.”
The Buy America provision of the RFP requires that all components of
the new bi-level cars are built by American workers: with American
hands, and with American-produced steel, iron and manufactured goods.
The federal government’s investment in passenger rail means more jobs
for American workers and domestic companies.
The new uniform standards will drive down lifecycle costs and allow
more manufacturers and suppliers to compete, fostering a healthy
competition while helping re-establish the U.S. domestic supply chain
for passenger rail equipment and meet Buy America goals. The common
design also makes it easier to train personnel, stock parts, and perform
maintenance and repairs, which also reduces costs and increases
These state-of-the-art cars will be able to operate nationwide,
providing a more comfortable travel experience, and are designed with
improved crashworthiness and other safety features to ensure passenger
safety. The cars will be fully compliant with the Americans with
Selection of the manufacturer will occur in the Fall of 2012. The cars will be delivered starting in 2015.
The effort to purchase standardized equipment is led by the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act Section 305 Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee,
of representatives of interested states, the Federal Railroad
Administration, Amtrak, host freight railroad companies, passenger
railroad equipment manufacturers and suppliers, and other passenger
railroad operators. The Committee has also completed specifications for
high-performance diesel locomotives that can travel up to 125
miles-per-hour and for single level passenger rail cars.
BLET members ratify Union Pacific contract
CLEVELAND, April 17 - By a nearly 4-to-1 margin, members of the
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) have ratified a
new on-property collective bargaining agreement with Union Pacific.
Ballots were counted yesterday and the final tally was 79% in favor of the
proposal and 21% against.
The agreement runs through the end of 2014 and governs nearly 9,000
locomotive engineers who operate Union Pacific freight trains over its
31,900-mile, 23-state route system.
BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce thanked BLET members for
participating in the voting process.
"I am proud of our Union Pacific members for a better than 50% turnout
because our Brotherhood's voice is louder with each additional member who
speaks," said President Pierce.
He also thanked the negotiating team for their hard work at the bargaining
table, including: Union Pacific General Chairmen Jim Dayton (Western
Region), Warren Dent (Southern Region), Bill Hannah (Western Lines), Bruce
MacArthur (Northern Region), Ronnie Rhodes (Central Region), and Mike
Young (Eastern District); National Vice President Mike Twombly; and First
Vice President Lee Pruitt.
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Anoka train fatalities: BNSF must pay $21M, Minnesota Supreme Court says
Posted: 03/28/2012 12:01:00 AM CDT
Updated: 03/28/2012 11:19:17 PM CDT
Minnesota Supreme Court has restored a $21.6 million verdict awarded to
the families of four young people killed when their vehicle collided
with a train in Anoka nearly nine years ago.
The high court denied the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway a new trial.
reversed the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which had ordered a new trial,
saying that an error in jury instructions may have led jurors to base
their decision on incorrect negligence standards when they found against
BNSF. Federal rather than state standards should have been used, the
midlevel appellate ruling stated.
June 2008, the jury concluded the railroad was 90 percent at fault and
the driver of the vehicle, Brian Frazier, was 10 percent responsible for
the crash. The families argued that the crossing gates had not been
20, of Newport, along with three passengers - Harry Rhoades, 19, of
Newport; Corey Chase, 20, of Coon Rapids; and Bridgette Shannon, 17, of
Ramsey - died in the September 2003 crash. They were traveling on
Minnesota 47 in Anoka when they collided with a BNSF train at the Ferry
Supreme Court found that BNSF isn't entitled to a new trial because any
error in the special verdict form and in the instructions to the jury
on the railroad's duty of care didn't affect the fairness or integrity
of judicial proceedings, according to the decision issued Wednesday,
The high court also ruled that the trial court didn't
its discretion in denying the railroad's motion for a new trial on
grounds of new evidence, improperly admitted evidence or the instruction
given to the jury on the adverse inference to be drawn from BNSF's
failure to produce certain evidence at trial.
Brady Gervais can be reached at 651-228-5513. Follow her at twitter.com/bgervais.
03/05/2012 : Buffetts wager on BNSF Railway also paying off in oil industry
03/04/2012 : Union Pacific CEO to Take Medical Leave of Absence
03/04/2012 : Fortune Names Union Pacific Most Admired Trucking, ....
UPRR/BLET Tentative Agreement
AAR reports decrease in weekly rail traffic
Association of American Railroads on Thursday reported a decline in
weekly rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 18, with U.S. railroads
originating 281,989 carloads, down 5.2% compared with the same week last
year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 221,003 trailers and
containers, down 5.6% compared with the same week last year. Read more.
Heavier truck opponents say bridges can’t handle increased weight
shipping companies are pushing for heavier trucks on interstate roads,
but opponents argue that 97,000-pound trucks would hasten deterioration
of an already weak network of U.S. transportation infrastructure.
"Bridges are already in rough shape, and this would make them worse,
speeding up the cycle of decaying infrastructure and making the hole
we've dug even worse," said Curtis Sloan, Coalition Against Bigger
Trucks senior adviser. "A study in 2000 showed that with the increased
weights, we would need to spend another $65 billion on bridges." The Tennessean (Nashville)
Burlington Northern CEO Says US Economy, Freight Volume Growing
Railroads Would Get Until 2020 to Add Crash Systems in Plan
Did You Know... Railroad Companies Are Fighting Safety Improvements? | InjuryBoard Kansas City | RUL
- Obama vows to support businesses that back U.S. workers
Barack Obama pledged in his State of the Union address to spur economic
recovery on several fronts, including streamlining government
operations, bolstering U.S. manufacturing by taxing companies that go
overseas and giving tax credits to those that boost worker training and
education in the U.S. workforce. "An economy built to last is one where
we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country,"
Obama said. National Journal
(1/25), National Public Radio
Obama pushes for more infrastructure spending: President
Barack Obama pushed infrastructure spending in his State of the Union
address, linking it to the country's economic future. He plans to use
half of the funds the U.S. will save from drawing down wars in the
Middle East for infrastructure repairs and will issue an executive order
that would minimize regulations that delay construction projects. Reuters
(1/25), Bloomberg Businessweek
(1/25), Business Recorder (Pakistan)
Obama says corporate tax rate "makes no sense:" President
Barack Obama wants to cut the corporate tax rate for manufacturers and
impose a global minimum tax on corporations as a way to "dissuade
multinationals from sheltering their income in low-tax jurisdictions."
Both he and Republicans say the tax code needs a rewrite. "[C]ompanies
that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates
in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it," said Obama in
his State of the Union message. Currently, the corporate tax rate in the
U.S. is 35% -- among the world's highest. The Washington Post/Ezra Klein Blog
(1/25), Chicago Tribune
(1/25), The Telegraph (London)
hope to convert the 330-acre Oakland Army Base in California into a
freight transfer facility for trains, ships and trucks. Infrastructure
work alone could cost as much as $1 million per acre. Developers will
invest $300 million for the $800 million project, but raising the
balance will depend on a state grant and the approval of a sales tax by
Alameda County voters. "It's a very practical, very pragmatic industrial
plan to make the port more competitive and bring jobs to thousands of
people," said Pat Cashman, project manager for the city. San Francisco Chronicle
(1/25), KGO-TV (San Francisco)
& Sisters – Warren Buffet didn’t buy the BNSF and his buddy Bill
Gates buy 10 percent of the CN because there are foamers:
Freight rail industry enjoying 'new golden age' thanks to intermodal service
By McClatchy Newspapers
Sunday, January 22, 2012
— It's a Sunday afternoon and there's a huge traffic jam on a bridge
that crosses the Susquehanna River, with truck trailers and containers
on both sides waiting to get to their final destinations in the densely
But this gridlock isn't occurring on a highway.
it's on the century-old, stone-arch bridge that now carries the trains
of Norfolk Southern Railway to far-flung destinations such as Chicago,
New York, New England, Baltimore and Atlanta. Half a century ago, most
of those trains would have carried coal, ore and manufactured goods
stuffed into old-fashioned boxcars. Many still do, actually.
what's causing the traffic jam is something else: The "boxcars" belong
to trucking and shipping companies, such as UPS, J.B. Hunt and Schneider
International, filled with consumer products bound for the shelves of
big-box stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot.
If you buy stuff at any of those stores — and most of us do — it got there by train.
than three decades after the federal government deregulated freight
railroads, the industry is enjoying "a new golden age," said Frank
Wilner, the author of several books on railroad economics. After being
left for dead in the 1970s, railroads reinvested nearly $10 billion in
themselves last year alone, according to industry figures, and they
haven't received taxpayer bailouts.
Need a job? They're hiring, and if you're a veteran, they want you.
They can't send jobs overseas because their business is literally bolted to the ground.
"They are more efficient than trucks are at moving quantities of freight," Wilner said.
Interstate Highway System eroded railroads' freight business starting
in the 1950s. Railroads tried to win back some of the business by
putting truck trailers and containers on flatcars — intermodal service,
it's called, because the merchandise can move by road, rail and water —
but with a tradition of moving heavy freight at slow speeds, they
weren't very good at it.
I started, railroads were the laughingstock of intermodal service,"
said Mark B. Solomon, senior editor at industry magazine DC Velocity and
a transportation author and expert who has covered the industry for 30
years and formerly handled public relations for UPS.
only is trucking freight rail's biggest competitor, it's its biggest
customer. In 2003, intermodal service overtook coal as the leading
source of revenue for the freight rail industry.
and other transportation experts said truckers are losing their edge
because of highway congestion, higher fuel costs, driver shortages and
pending safety regulations. In the meantime, railroads have made a huge
bet on intermodal service, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on
new facilities and upgraded tracks to handle the increasing traffic
trucking industry has a problem," said Larry Kaufman, a former
transportation journalist, industry analyst and communications chief,
and author of "Leaders Count," a book about the Burlington Northern and
Santa Fe railway.
"Smarter truckers and smarter railroads are seeing this as a synergy," he said.
Solomon said, the advantage goes to freight railroads. The low pay and
difficult, on-the-road lifestyle makes it hard for trucking to attract
"When the economy picks up, you're going to have the worst driver shortage in history," he said.
Hunt made its first rail shipment more than two decades ago, after its
founder rode a Santa Fe Railway intermodal train from Chicago to Kansas
City with Santa Fe's president. Recently, the Lowell, Ark., trucking
company reported that intermodal operations generated 59 percent of this
year's third-quarter revenues.
Matt Rose, BNSF's chief executive, said this isn't your grandfather's railroad business.
"The railroad of today is not the railroad of yesterday," Rose said. "We're a great kaleidoscope of the U.S. economy."
isn't the only one who thinks so. In 2009, billionaire investor Warren
Buffett spent $26 billion to buy BNSF in what he described as "an all-in
wager" that the economy would come roaring back from recession.
While a robust recovery hasn't materialized, BNSF profits rose 14 percent in the second quarter of 2011.
32,000-mile railroad network, based in Fort Worth, Texas, blankets the
western two-thirds of the United States, often within a stone's throw of
its archrival Union Pacific — "a great competitor," Rose said of the
slightly larger Omaha, Neb., company.
haul more than 40 percent of the freight in the United States, and
they're a pretty good indicator of the health of various sectors of the
economy. Rose said it's a mixed picture.
the housing bust means that BNSF is hauling less lumber and other
construction materials, Rose said the energy sector is a bright spot in
the railroad's portfolio. That not only includes an oil- and
gas-drilling boom, but also "green" energy such as wind — the railroad
transports turbines to sites where they're assembled to generate
electricity. BNSF also remains one of the country's top coal haulers;
the railroad says it moves enough to power one out of every 10 homes in
a member of President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Rose
sits alongside several U.S. business leaders, including Facebook's
not an Internet-age company, but very much an industry that helps to
allow large segments of the economy to grow," Rose said.
By Justine Sharrock, Laurie Udesky and Stuart SilversteinFairWarning.org
Less than four years after a California train disaster spurred passage
of major safety legislation, railroad companies are pushing hard to
relax the law’s chief provision. They have won over key Repub …
week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued two safety
recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration to address five
rear-end collisions that occurred last year because crew members failed
to operate trains at required restricted speeds, according to the board.
- Boxer pushes for passage of surface transportation bill
Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chose a grade-separation project in California
as an example of why Congress needs to pass a surface transportation
bill called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century. The project
reduced congestion, improved safety and created jobs. "MAP-21 will
enable states and local governments across the country to build grade
separation projects through a new freight program that will increase the
efficiency of the movement of goods,” Boxer said. “MAP-21 will also
substantially increase funding for the Highway Safety Improvement
Program to address critical safety issues at rail crossings.” ProgressiveRailroading.com
Amtrak sets agenda -- will upgrade tracks, build electric locomotives
plans to spend $764 million to build 70 new electric locomotives and
130 long-distance rail cars to strengthen its fleet and show "commitment
to long-distance service," particularly in the Northeast Corridor,
according to Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman. Major projects are also
planned, including building new stations and upgrading tracks to enhance
reliability and allow trains to go faster in some areas. The Boston Globe (tiered subscription model)