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September 2021


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United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
$10.38(Incl. tax)
$58.49(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

in this issue

1 min
from the editor

jwrinn@kalmbach.com @TrainsMagazine @trains_magazine On my first trip to Colorado in 1987, I made sure to ride the cog railroad to the top of Pikes Peak. Now, after reading Steve Smedley’s story about the rebuilt Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak, I am ready to go again. Rebuilding the cog to the amount of $100 million is a dream none of us could have imagined. With new track, rebuilt stations, and new and rebuilt trains, the cog is ready to go for decades. We’re fortunate that Colorado has so many great preservation railroads set against the backdrop of the Rockies. We are lucky that there are so many railroaders who are dedicated to seeing that those lines continue for our enjoyment and for those who come after us. See you where 14,000-foot peaks are as…

2 min
stb chief voices service concerns

THE CHAIRMAN of the Surface Transportation Board is concerned pressure from Wall Street is undermining railroad service and has questioned the need for major rail mergers. “Our mandate as an agency … is to ensure and protect a strong national rail network. That’s why we exist. And everything we do should be aimed at that outcome,” STB Chairman Martin Oberman told an investor webcast in late May. The influence of Wall Street — including the push for everlower operating ratios and aggressive share buyback programs — conflicts with the board’s mandate, he says. “There’s been a huge decrease in the level of the workforce over the last few years, I think something like 25%,” Oberman says. Concerned those cuts have left Class I railroads unable to confront a crisis, he wrote all seven…

2 min
new amtrak equipment experiences setbacks

AMTRAK HAS EXPERIENCED SETBACKS with its next-generation equipment on two fronts, but one could see resolution before the summer is out. Several factors led to months-long delays for the Siemens Venture cars built for state-supported service in the Midwest and California, while problems with new Acela trainsets will push back their Northeast Corridor debut by a year. However, an Amtrak official said the first Venture cars could enter service as soon as July. Among the Venture issues: an English supplier’s plan for a U.S. facility to comply with “Buy American” requirements was delayed nearly a year by COVID-19 restrictions. Without that supplier’s tables, which provide passenger restraint in case of an accident, the cars — 88 for Chicago-based regional routes and 49 for California — could not be placed in service. The first…

1 min
amtrak gets first longdistance charger

U.S. STEEL announced it would sell its TRANSTAR affiliate, operator of the steelmaker’s six remaining railroads, to an affiliate of FORTRESS TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTORS for $640 million. The largest line involved is the UNION RAILROAD, which operates 65 miles of main line and 200 miles of yard tracks near Pittsburgh. WABTEC signed a deal with GENERAL MOTORS to use GM’s battery and hydrogen fuel-cell technology in developing power systems for locomotives, allowing it to make use of technology already under development for a variety of highway uses. Florida’s INDIAN RIVER COUNTY ended its long-running lawsuit against BRIGHTLINE, after reaching an agreement for the county, state, and passenger operator to share the estimated $31.6 million in costs to improve grade crossings to allow for 110-mph operation. The county spent about $5 million…

4 min
exploring the legacy of a western giant

briansolomon.author@gmail.com @briansolomon.author Blog: briansolomon.com/trackingthelight/ Podcast: Trains.com When I moved to California in September 1989, the legacy of the Southern Pacific Co. had been a fixture of Western transportation since the 1860s. But the SP I found was a struggling fossil, complicated by contradictions, and hemmed in by more powerful transportation systems. SP’s faded glory made it a functional antique. It had some modern traits, but its 19th-century infrastructure told a different story. Although a few key routes carried heavy traffic, other lines, such as the Donner Pass crossing, were only a shadow of former glory. Yet, SP was a railroader’s railroad: old school in its approach, proud of its long heritage, and offered a tangible link to the 19th century. I was in awe of SP, but recognized its tenuous situation, since it was flanked…

4 min
the pivot to growth myth

bybillstephens@gmail.com @bybillstephens Blog: Trains.com If you believe the storyline, Precision Scheduled Railroading has two chapters. The first is an obsession with costs and efficiency that ultimately results in a railroad that moves its tonnage with far fewer locomotives, freight cars, shops, yards, and people. The second chapter is the so-called Pivot to Growth, in which the lean-and-mean railroad uses its lower costs and more reliable service to capture new business. This narrative is based on how the PSR story unfolded in Canada, where CEO E. Hunter Harrison implemented his operating model first at Canadian National and then at Canadian Pacific. Between 2010 and 2019, Canadian rail traffic grew 47%, according to the Railway Association of Canada. Over the same span, U.S. rail traffic declined 2%, according to the Association of American Railroads. The Big Three…