April 17, 2014

Update on congressional funding for Amtrak

Amtrak Logo

Here is an update on federal funding to keep Amtrak operating. The House of Representatives in June approved a transportation funding bill — for the 12-month fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 — that includes $1.8 billion for Amtrak (H.R. 5972). This is an almost $400 million increase over fiscal-year 2012 funding that ends Sept. [...]

High-speed rail in Calif., Northeast moving forward

High-speed rail has been given an energy-boosting vitamin B-12 shot by the California legislature and Amtrak for separate projects on the West and East Coasts. In California, the legislature agreed to spend $6 billion to build the first 130-mile leg of a 520-mile high-speed line – with an estimated cost of some $68 billion — that eventually [...]

New surface transport law a mixed bag

capitol

It’s not all we wanted, but, maybe more important, it’s not as bad as it could have been. Given the polarization of this Congress, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – MAP-21 – is as good a new transportation authorization bill as we could have hoped for. Passed by bipartisan majorities in [...]

Passenger rail essential as population grows

joe_szabo_fra

By Joe Szabo – Federal Railroad Administrator It seems like just yesterday, as UTU Illinois state legislative director and mayor of Riverdale, Ill., that I joined other mayors to successfully advocate for more frequent rail service from Chicago to downstate Illinois communities.  At the time, even that modest goal seemed daunting, as conventional wisdom said Americans [...]

Metrolink leading way installing PTC

Metrolink _Train_Only v2

Positive train control (PTC) is modern technology to reduce train accidents, save lives and limbs, improve on-time performance and produce revenue-enhancing business benefits for railroads. PTC utilizes the satellite global positioning system (GPS), wireless communications and central control centers to monitor trains and prevent collisions by automatically applying the brakes on trains exceeding authorized speeds, [...]

Caltrain pact protects UTU members in changeover

Caltrain_Logo

 In preparation for a new operator of Caltrain commuter service in Northern California, the UTU has moved to protect its members who choose to transfer from Amtrak to the new operator. Caltrain operates south from San Francisco to San Jose and Gilroy. TransitAmerica Services, Inc. (TASI), a subsidiary of Herzog Transit Services, will replace Amtrak [...]

FRA amends conductor certification rule

conductor_on_hopper

WASHINGTON – Responding to petitions for reconsideration to its Nov. 9, 2011, final rule on conductor certification, the FRA has delayed for six months the testing implementation dates and clarified other mandates affecting territorial qualifications and the definition of hostlers. The FRA, in a Feb. 8 Federal Register notice, said that because its final rule [...]

FRA proposes new minimum training standards

FRA logo

WASHINGTON – New minimum training and qualification standards are being proposed by the Federal Railroad Administration for rail workers in safety sensitive positions. In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published Feb. 7 in the Federal Register, the FRA said affected employees would have to be trained and qualified in federal rail safety laws, regulations and [...]

NMB vote-change rule survives in new FAA bill

NMB logo; National Mediation Board

WASHINGTON – The House and Senate agreed Feb. 6 on legislation authorizing increased future funding for new air traffic control technology and the Essential Air Service subsidy program to rural airports as part of a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. Lawmakers voted to scrap an attempt by House Republicans to overturn a 2011 National Mediation [...]

FRA seeks new passenger train safety rules

FRA_logo_words

Improvements to existing passenger train emergency systems regulations have been proposed by the Federal Railroad Administration. The improvements are aimed at helping passengers and passenger-train crew members better locate and operate emergency exits during evacuations, and to assist first responders in reaching trapped passengers more quickly. U.S. passenger railroads, including Amtrak and commuter carriers already [...]