Trains July 2018


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Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
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12 Numeri

in questo numero

2 min
ptc’s many holes

In this issue, we take a look at several aspects of positive train control technology. The federal government wants it installed by Dec. 31 so the clock is ticking. But as we get closer to implementation day, we’re learning more about PTC’s many holes. They are startling. At the annual short line and regional railroad meeting in Nashville, Tenn., last spring, I learned that even though PTC is designed to save lives, there will be instances where it will not be operating on passenger or commuter train routes. The reason: It’s not required on railroads with low frequencies of trains or small volumes of freight. That includes the local Music City Star commuter train on the rails of the Nashville & Eastern short line and Virginia’s Buckingham Branch Railroad, which hosts…

5 min
california’s ptc problems

As the timer for positive train control implementation ticks inexorably toward the Dec. 31 federal deadline, two of California’s three biggest commuter railroads are wrestling with software issues in how to get their back-office computer systems to communicate quickly and accurately with each other and the Class I freight railroads with whom they share track. The hardware is installed on Metrolink’s locomotives and cab cars in Los Angeles and along the 341 miles of track it owns. The same is true in San Diego and its 60-mile North County Transit District. While running on track they own, PTC is in play for their trains. But they’re not yet fully interoperable with foreign trains on their property or with the Class I railroads on their track even though they’re all using Wabtec Interoperable-Electronic…

1 min
rail runner to use santa fe tech for ptc

New Mexico’s Rail Runner Express expects to keep running commuter trains into 2019 thanks in part to a nearly 100-year-old safety system. The Federal Railroad Administration denied Rail Runner exclusion from positive train control, so its managers intend to use Santa Fe’s Automatic Train Stop system from the early 20th century, coupled with a safety plan, until they can get a proper positive train control system in place, says Terry Doyle, transportation director of the Rio Metro Regional Transit District. Despite its small stature — 18 weekday trains north of Albuquerque, N.M., 16 south, and minimal freight interference — the agency will need to eventually install PTC at an estimated cost of $50 million, he says. The agency hopes to operate under a plan that includes the 98 miles of ex-Santa…

1 min
brightline’s first miami train arrives at unfinished depot

With the completion of an embankment and viaduct to lift Brightline trains into the company’s massive MiamiCentral facility, test trains can now reach the still-unfinished terminal. The first such train arrived March 29, 2018. Brightline was set to operate a media preview train on May 11. Revenue service to and from the new station was expected shortly thereafter. Interior station construction continues, as does track work and trainset testing between the existing southern terminus at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and downtown Miami. When Trains toured MiamiCentral in January, platform track construction was nearly finished and ballast was being spread on the passenger right-of-way connecting it with Florida East Coast Railway’s active line into the Port of Miami. Brightline is using the break-in period to focus additional community outreach safety efforts along the route where…

2 min
csx reports record earnings, efficiency gains

E. Hunter Harrison’s broad changes at CSX Transportation are beginning to bear fruit with the railroad reporting record financial results for the first quarter as profits nearly doubled thanks to a combination of cost cutting, efficiency gains, and rate increases that more than offset flat revenue and lower traffic volume. CSX’s operating ratio fell nearly 10 points, to an industry-leading 63.7 percent, in what CEO James Foote called a meaningful step toward the goal of hitting 60 percent by 2020. Overall costs were down 13 percent, or 8 percent when adjusting for a restructuring charge a year ago. Labor costs declined 12 percent as the employee head count fell 3,000, or 11 percent, from a year ago. Harrison’s predecessor, Michael Ward, cut nearly 1,000 of those jobs. Other costs declined, too, as the…

1 min
‘city of new orleans’ gets new stop

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans will stop at a new station in Marks, Miss., on the Chicago-New Orleans route made famous in a song by Steve Goodman and recorded by Arlo Guthrie and others. Service in both directions was effective May 5, 2018. Marks, station code “MKS,” is about midway between stops in Greenwood, Miss., and Memphis, Tenn. Northbound, adult fares from Marks to Memphis, start at $20. Developers of Texas’ high speed train have an agreement with Amtrak that will allow passengers to use Amtrak’s reservation system to buy tickets for through travel on both the planned 200-mph, 240-mile, North Texas-to-Houston Texas Bullet Train and Amtrak’s national routes. Texas Central will offer a transfer service connecting riders between Amtrak passenger stations and the planned high speed train stations in Dallas…