News from the Americas

5 September 2017

U.S.A.

LONG ISLAND RR In a bid to relieve crush loads on several popular trains the LIRR has leased eight coaches from MARC (the Maryland Area Regional Commuter body) and the number will rise to twenty one coaches during the next three years.

PHILADELPHIA A railcar on the Route 100 light rail line from Norristown to 69th Street crashed into a parked railcar upon arrival at 69th Street just after midnight on 22 August 2017. Forty two passengers were injured. The Amtrak service to Pittsburgh provided by “The Pennsylvanian” is under study with a view to providing additional services on the Harrisburg – Pittsburgh section.

WASHINGTON Federal funding of $900m has been awarded for the construction of the 16.2 mile long Purple light rail line that will link suburbs west and north of Washington. Major activity centres to be linked include Bethesda, Silver Spring, Takoma-Langley Park, College Park, and New Carrolton. It will connect with three WMATA metro lines and three commuter heavy rail lines operated by MARC. There will be 21 stations and 25 LRVs are to be obtained.

HOUSTON, TEXAS This is the fourth largest city in the USA and it relies heavily on a growing light rail network with connecting bus routes. Travel on the 23.8 route miles of Metro lines is remarkably inexpensive – just $1.25 per ride. During 25-26 August 2017 Hurricane (later tropical storm) Harvey poured over 24 inches of rain on the city during a period of 24 hours. Catastrophic flooding resulted and public transport across the city was knocked out of action. The light rail lines remained closed through 27 and 28 August.

CALIFORNIA H-S BIDS Five international teams are competing for contracts to design and obtain equipment, and eventually operate the proposed high-speed system within the State. They are: DS International US with HDR Inc and Alternate Concepts Inc; FS First Rail Group;
Renfe and ADIF; Stagecoach Group plc; China HSR ETO Consortium.

LOS ANGELES The Angels Flight Railway in the Bunker Hill District of the city was reopened on 31 August 2017 after new safety features had been added including an evacuation walkway along the 2’6” gauge track. Opened in 1901 the 298′ 6” long line is a funicular operating up Bunker Hill at a 33% grade. It claims to be the world’s shortest “railway”. The two cars are named Sinai and Olivet and survived after the line closed in 1969. The funicular was rebuilt half a block away from the original and opened on 24.February1996 reusing the original cars.. Closure on 1 January 2001 followed an accident in which one passenger was killed and seven injured. A design fault resulted in excessive wheel wear and after this was corrected test operations starting on 1 November 2008 with reopening on 10.March 2011. Further wheel wear resulted in a derailment and collision on 5 September 2013 and resulted in a close study of why there was so much wheel wear. Finally the California Public Utilities Commission allowed services to resume at the end of August 2017.

CANADA

TORONTO The initial part of the GO Transit network radiating from the Canadian city started in May 1967. Now 50 years later the trains play a vital role in keeping people moving in the suburbs and it is likely that the busier routes will be electrified in the near future.

22 August 2017

U.S.A.

SLEEP APNOEA TESTS The Trump administration has proposed to drop compulsory tests for this serious medical condition which results in the sufferer having their nocturnal sleep broken at frequent intervals resulting in their falling asleep without warning during daytime – a major problem if the subject is in charge of driving any form of railway or railway vehicle. Compulsory testing is being dropped by the new administration which does however express the hope that lorry and train companies will tests their staff voluntarily.

BOSTON The MBTA has ordered from the Chinese firm CRRC an additional 134 cars for service on the Red Line at a cost of $277m. These are in addition to the 132 cars for the Red Line and 152 cars for the Orange Line ordered in the autumn of 2014 at a total cost of $566m. The MBTA has decided not to rebuild the 86 cars built by Bombardier in 1993-4 since by ordering new stock there will be a saving of $310,000 per car.

NE CORRIDOR Siemens has opened a high-tech loco maintenance shop at New Castle, Delaware, from where it will monitor the performance of the seventy ACS-64 locomotives operating along the Corridor. It will be able to detect problems before they lead to a total failure and disruption to the train service.

ATLANTA The transport agency MARTA has held a six-week crackdown on fare dodgers and 536 passengers were arrested. Penalties start with a sixty day ban on using any MARTA bus or rail services. If a fare evader fails to produce valid ID they are automatically lodged in jail.

SAN FRANCISCO The 5.4 mile extension of the BART Fremont line to Warm Springs opened on 25 March 2017. A park for 2,100 cars has been built at Warm Springs.

CANADA

TORONTO The Toronto Transit Commission is pressing the Ontario Government to provide funds to help build the Downtown Relief Line that will ease congestion at Yonge-Bloor station each day. The Yonge Line is used by 700,000 passengers on weekdays, and the Bloor Line by 500,000. A large proportion change lines at Yonge/Bloor with dangerous crowding on the platforms on the busiest days.

BOLIVIA Construction has begun the 42km long Metro in Cochabamba. It will have 43 stations and will help to curb growing congestion in the expanding city. Twelve emus are to be obtained to operate the services. The National Government is funding the $448m cost.

5 August 2017

U.S.A.

NEW YORK Major upgrade work is under way at Penn Station and so that track alterations can be made. Some Amtrak services to/from Albany are being diverted from Penn Station to Grand Central Station during the period 10 July 2017 until 01 September 2017.

PHILADELPHIA SEPTA operates a dense network of bus and trolleybus routes right across the entire city but during the past couple of years an increasing number of riders have switched to the car-sharing services operated by Uber or Lyft. Most bus routes have lost traffic, the overall loss being 2.7% during the past year, but some routes have lost as much as two thirds of their traffic. The increase in people using Uber or Lyft means that an increasing number of cars are using the main highways leading to the city centre producing more and more serious congestion. SEPTA is reviewing its bus/trolleybus provision, cutting frequencies where necessary, but is advertising its network actively in an attempt to bring back riders and find new ones. SEPTA funded suburban rail services have not lost significant traffic during this period.

DETROIT The new tramway – route M-1 Rail – is running without significant incident with services initially every 20 minutes carrying 4,000 people per day, rising to 6,300 by July 2017. The interval between services has now fallen to about 15 minutes since trams no longer call at a stop if no passengers are waiting. Travel is free for an initial period but once a $1.50 single or $3 all-day fare is introduced traffic is expected to fall to about 5,000 per day.

LOS ANGELES The Gold light rail “Metro” line is capturing significant amounts of traffic from the parallel “Metrolink” heavy rail suburban train service and the trend is set to continue as the Gold Line is extended further along the Foothills area. Metro offers more frequent service at a lower cost that the Metrolink trains. The competing lines are run by different agencies which are being urged to co-ordinate their activities.

20 July 2017

U.S.A.

PENN STATION The much delayed upgrade work at New York’s Penn Station in Manhattan is getting under way. This upgrade work has encountered many delays during the past decade. The station is used by 650,000 people daily and handles 1300 trains (Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, Long Island RR, and Subway lines) on weekdays. Federal political opponents to the work believe that this is a business matter for the companies concerned and should not involve Central Government. Over a decade ago Governor Christie of New Jersey pulled the plug on the proposal to build two additional tunnels under the Hudson dubbed “ARC” – Access to the Region’s Core – because he feared that cost over-runs would fall on New Jersey alone. Today the cost of extra tunnels is much higher than 12 years ago. The work being tackled will involve relaying the track at the west end of the station and patching up the over 100 year old tunnels which experts say will fail at sometime during the next two decades. Should train services between New Jersey and Manhattan be halted experts believe that there will be a major effect on the economy of the nation and that therefore central funding is necessary and justified. If two extra tunnels were built it would be possible to take the existing tunnels out of service one at a time and undertake major repair and strengthening. The work is progressing smoothly during late July 2017.

NORTH EAST CORRIDOR While the drama about work at Penn Station continues, the business of operating the suburban services from Penn into New Jersey continues. The 40 year old “Arrow” emus that can run at up to 80 mph are to be replaced by 113 multi-level emu cars capable of speeds of up to 120 mph.

PATCO The rapid transit line operating from Philadelphia into adjacent New Jersey is to install elevators at the six stations which lack this means of reaching the platforms. They will be built two stations at a time. First at Collingswood and Haddonfield, then Westmont and Ashland, and finally Camden City Hall and 12th-13th and Locust Street. The work will be completed by 2021.

LOS ANGELES Engineers working on the Purple Line have unearthed the skull and other bones of someone who lived in the Pleistocene Era – about 11,000 years ago, just before the last Ice Age. The discovery was made at the site of the Wilshire/La Brea station. Other discoveries include a mammoth tusk

CANADA

NEW EXTENSIONS The Alberta Government, the Federal Government, and the City Government will each provide C$1.53bn to build the Green Line light rail route in Calgary linking North Pointe in the northern suburbs with the city centre and Seton in the south east suburbs. Completion is expected in 2026 and it is expected that the line will have 60,000 daily users. Also, in late June 2017, the Federal Government announced financial support amounting to C$11.9bn over next five years for major three light rail line projects. These are for a 41 route mile system in Montreal serving the suburbs and the Airport, a 23 mile long expansion of the O-Train system in Ottawa, and the Finch West route in Toronto.

10 July 2017

U.S.A.

NEW JERSEY The Lindenwold Yard of the PATCo rapid Transit line is to receive a major upgrade costing $36m. The line and Yard have completed 50 years reliable service but replacement of the now elderly equipment is now required.

LONG ISLAND RR Plans to add a third track between Floral Park and Hicksville (9.8 miles) and eliminate seven level crossings along this segment have hit funding problems. In the 1980s the scheme was estimated to cost $17.3m but now a remarkable $1.98bn is thought to be required. Even after taking inflation into consideration the new sum represent a 42 fold increase in the sum. Meanwhile planned work at Babylon (interlocking renewal) and Ronkonkoma – Yaphank (resignalling) has been postponed.

SALT LAKE CITY Funds have been found to create a double track section on the Route S tram system. This will allow the service frequency to be increased to every 15 minutes and enable the rising traffic (8% during the past year) to be accommodated.

28 June 2017

U.S.A.

NEW YORK   Extensive track work on lines approaching Penn Station during the period 10 July 2017 until 01 September 2017 has meant that several peak period trains on the Long Island RR are to be cancelled, diverted to another terminus, or in many cases terminated at Jamaica which is the destination for some of the passengers. This is a holiday period so loads may be lower than at other times of the year but severe overcrowding is probable as many hundreds of passengers attempt to board a virtually full train at Jamaica. Around two thirds of the trains run with twelve coaches – the maximum possible but some eight or ten coach services may be able to be increased to twelve coaches. LIRR morning peak trains each carry between 800 and 1200 passengers and some problems are expected. The station concourse is to be renovated at a cost of $1.6bn. Amtrak, the MTA, and the Port Authority will together provide the funds. The upgraded concourse will be named the Moynihan Concourse in memory of Daniel Moynihan, the Senator who proposed the use of the Farley Post Office building to provide a new concourse for the station in 1993 but died in 2003. The third Parade of Vintage Trains was held on 17-18 June 2017. Four types of stock from 1903-7, 1914-24, 1927-8, and the 1930s operated on the Brighton Line in Brooklyn and it was possible for passengers to ride on them.

DETROIT  The “Qline” tramway is operating smoothly but concerns have been voiced about the poor level of service provided. Trams run half-hourly on Sundays and every twenty minutes during the week. Who will bother to wait for the next tram if they have just missed a service?

CANADA

TORONTO   Alstom is to supply sixty one 48m long Citadis Spirit LRVs for service on tramways around Greater Toronto. The LRVs are 100% low floor. Planning for the 4.6 mile extension of the Yonge Street Subway from Finch to Richmond Hill Center is being supported by C$36m funds from the National Government and over C$50m from the Province of Ontario.

15 June 2017

U.S.A.

AMTRAK ABANDONS SYSTEM TIMETABLE   Just as in the UK where the large complete system timetable has now been abandoned, so Amtrak has stopped producing a timetable showing all of its train services. This amounted to no more than a forty or fifty page paper publication but now there will be just a North East Corridor timetable and individual leaflets for the other trains. The traditional American equivalent of Bradshaw is of course The Official Guide to Railways in North America and Mexico. While this has included main line/long distance passenger trains it frequently omitted suburban services. Today the Official Guide still lists which lines are open for freight traffic together with names of relevant freight agents.

LOS ANGELES Another part of the Pacific Electric network looks set to be re-created. Plans for a line along Whittier Boulevard to Whittier is being planned actively.

31 May 2017

U.S.A.

SAN FRANCISCO The Federal Transit Administration has approved a “Full Funding Grant” of $697m for the electrification of the suburban route to San Jose. This sum will be matched by a similar sum provided by the State of California and is in addition to $100m already allocated from local sources. The total cost of the project is expected to reach $1.98bn and is in addition to the cost of the planned High-Speed railway across the State.

CANADA

TORONTO Alstom is to supply sixty one 100% low floor 48m long LRVs for service on tramways around Greater Toronto.

GO TRANSIT The Ontario-based transport organisation has celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Its first services commenced on 23 May 1967 and during the first year of operation GO carried 2.5m passengers. The range of services has increased steadily and in the past year 70m passengers used the services.

ARGENTINA

BUENOS AIRES  The next section of the Buenos Aires – La Plata route to be electrified (to City Bell) commenced operation on 24 April 2017.

17 May 2017

U.S.A.

CONGRESS   The new President Trump has the aim to slash government spending wherever possible.   However Congress has decided that the present level of funding to the TIGER heavy rail, and local transit operations will remain intact for the time being. (TIGER stands for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery and is assigned by the U.S. Department of Transportation.)

NEW  YORK    Delivery of seventy R179 Subway cars has at last taken place following delays at Bombardier’s plant.   They will enter service on lines J, Z, and C before the end of 2017.   In all 1025 Subway cars are on order for delivery by 2023.    They will have wider doors (58” compared with the 50” of older stock).    640 of the cars will have open ends allowing passengers to move from car to car along the train in order to find a less crowded area.

DETROIT   The 5km long “Qline” light rail route running from the river north through the heart of the city serving office, shopping, and entertainment areas is to open on 12 May 2017.   It is hoped that the new tramway will help to turn the city around from its recent bankruptcy and help attract new investment.    The city used to have a population of 1.8m but this has shrunk to under 700,000.
The six attractive red and white LRVs were built by the Brookville Equipment Corporation and are fully air-conditioned, and equipped with Wi-Fi and security cameras.   They have low floors to aid boarding from the twelve stations all air-conditioned waiting areas.    The cars have lithium ion batteries to power the trams along the 60% of the route that has no overhead wires.   Each LRV can carry 125 people.    This superbly equipped new tramway has low traffic expectations.   Most people reach the city in their auto-mobiles and daily ridership is expected to be just 5 – 8 thousand. In comparison Toronto’s King Street tramway is used by 55,000 each day.   Perhaps the pessimists will be proved wrong and the new trams will help to reduce the number of cars on the roads of the “Auto City”.

DENVER   Construction work on the North Metro Rail Line is making good progress with much of the track laid and the stations taking shape.   There will be seven level crossings on the line and the first of these has been completed recently.

22 April 2017

U.S.A.

BOSTON    The sum allocated for the overhaul of the PCC fleet used on the Mattapan shuttle is $7.9m. Three consortia have been chosen to bid for the extension of the Green Line light rail route that will extend on a elevated structure for 5.4 km from Lechmere to Medford College Ave.   A 1.4km long branch will operate to Somerville Union Square.

NEW  YORK  –  BASEBALL  SPECIALS   Historic rolling stock was brought out to operate special services for the opening home games of the NY Mets  and NY Yankee’s teams.  On 3 April 2017 the ten-car “Train of Many Colors” set ran a non-stop special along Line 7 between Times Square and Main Street Flushing station which is immediately alongside the Mets Citifield Stadium.   A week later, on 10 April 2017 a four-car special of former IRT Lo-V Subway cars was operated non-stop between Manhattan and 161st Street beside the Yankee Stadium.   It operated along the centre track of a three track railway overtaking several regular stopping services.

LONG  ISLAND  RR    Significant improvements are planned to services to the eastern extremity of Long Island.    On the Northern route four trains daily each way are planned to run between Ronkonkoma (the present terminus of commuter services) and Greenport including a very early service at 0349 from Ronkonkoma top Greenport (arr 0504) designed for fishermen who gather in large numbers at Greenport.    On the southern line through the Hampton to Montauk six additional services on weekdays will shift a significant proportion of business commuter traffic off the increasingly congested roads.

8 April 2017

U.S.A.

KANSAS  CITY   The 2.2 mile long city centre tramway linking Union Station and River Market which was opened in June 2016 has proved to be a major success.   At peak hours three of the line’s four trams are in use, the fourth tram sometimes being in service.   Now the company is in discussions with CAF America to obtain a further two trams.

LOS  ANGELES   The city is to purchase 64 new Metrocars for service on the Red and Purple Lines.  They will be built by the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation and will be delivered from early 2021 onwards.

CANADA

TORONTO     Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau announced on 31 March 2017 Federal finance of C$1.8bn towards the GO Transit Regional Express Rail project.    Services will be greatly increased to run all day in most cases and the Lakeshore Route east and west of the city will be electrified.

27 March 2017

U.S.A.

STORM     A violent storm swept up the east coast of USA and continued into Canada on 13 March 2017.    Two feet of snow was dropped over the area and all forms of transport were halted.   Traffic was banned from the Highways, all air services were cancelled, and for much of the time Amtrak and the suburban railways were at a standstill.    However the North East Corridor was soon back in service and considerable publicity was given to shots of trains throwing large quantities of snow over commuters waiting hopefully at stations.

PHILADELPHIA   SEPTA has raised eyebrows at its decision to award the contract to supply 45  bi-level outer-suburban coaches to CRRC – the American subsidiary of the China Railway Rolling Stock Company whose $137m bid was $34m below the nearest rival bid by Bombardier.   Hyundai Rotem had bid $47.2m more and may now close its plant in Philadelphia.   Traffic of the routes around Philadelphia has risen by 52% since 2000 and overcrowding is now a significant problem. CRRC’s new factory in Springfield Mass. will be completed in October 2017 and the firm has already won orders from Boston and Los Angeles – but has still to complete a single vehicle.   The  new coaches for Philadelphia are expected to be delivered from 2019 and there is an option for the firm to build a further 10 cars.  New electric locomotives to haul these coaches have been ordered and will also arrive from 2019 onwards.

CHICAGO   Metra is to rehabilitate 302 Nippon Sharyo coaches that entered service on local lines around the city in 2002-8.   Initially 35 cars per year will be handled at the 49th Street Shops. But these are being enlarged and from 2020 it will be possible to upgrade 60 cars per year.   The cost of each upgrade at 2017 prices will be $700,000.

SAN  FRANCISCO   Sixteen PCC trams are being extensively refurbished by the Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania  and No 1051 is the first to return after completion of the work.   All electric wiring has been replaced, better internal lighting installed, and the propulsion system has been upgraded.   Much of the internal metal sheeting lining the inside of the tram has been replaced.    1050 was rededicated to Harvey Milk, a Supervisor on the system and noted civil rights activist.    The 69 year old tram has started service on Route F and once the upgrade work is completed this route will be the home for the veteran PCCs.

CHILE   Suburban services around Santiago were reorganised and improved on 17 March 2017.  A new route commenced operation starting at Alameda terminus and running to Nos.    Emus operate all day every 6 – 10 minutes.

12 March 2017

U.S.A.

BOSTON   The city council is to consider a proposal to upgrade the elderly PCC trams that operate on the Mattapan-Ashmont shuttle in the southern suburbs.   The upgrade would cost a total of $7.9m and would include a total overhaul, the installation of new propulsion equipment, power supply and brake system.   The many users of the shuttle are strongly in support of the retention of the LRVs  and oppose the introduction of new buses.

DETROIT   The 3.3 mile long streetcar line along Woodward Avenue is to open on 12 May 2017.  The new LRVs are 66 feet long and can hold 125 passengers.   Expected traffic is only 6000 – 8000 passengers per day and many expect much higher levels of business.

DENVER   The new Line R light rail route serving Aurora opened on 10 February 2017 and has attracted heavy and rapidly rising traffic.

LOS  ANGELES   The Angels Flight Funicular which runs up Bunker Hill was opened in 1901 but closed following an accident in 2013.    The incline will reopen in the late summer 2017 after complete reconstruction.   The cars are completely upgraded with an improved braking system and other improvements include the building of an emergency walkway beside the tracks allowing passengers a safe escape route in the event of the unexpected failure of the system.

CANADA

VANCOUVER  (BC)   The Evergreen extension of Skytrain was opened on 02 December 2016.   The 6.83 mile long line connects Coquitlam with Port Moody and Lougheed and interchanges with the Expo Line and the West Coast heavy rail commuter services.

23 February 2017

U.S.A.

DENVER   The “R” light rail line opened on 26 February 2017 linking Aurora, the city centre, with the “A” Line to the Airport.    Over 1200 car park spaces are available along the new route.   A Regional Day Pass is available for $9 and is valid to the Airport 22 miles away.

10 February 2017

U.S.A.

PHILADELPHIA    2016 was not a good year for the substantial suburban network around this east coast city.    Timekeeping has been poor and in July 2016 all 120 Silverliner V cars were taken out of service because of defects in their suspension system.    These trains are back in service and performing well but there too few trains to meet growing and expanding demand.   The operating agency SEPTA has therefore ordered fifteen electric locomotives and forty five bi-level coaches to improve capacity and performance problems.    These new trains will be especially useful on longer distance routes on which traffic is growing steadily year after year.

NEW  JERSEY      N J Transit has taken eleven members of staff off duty because they suffer from sleep apnoea and their ability to drive for extended periods is in doubt.    One such driver was involved in the crash at Hoboken terminal on 29 September 2016 when over 100 passengers were injured and one standing on the concourse was killed after a train ran into the bumping post at the end of the track.    NJ Transit has screened all sleep apnoea sufferers since 2005 and allowed those receiving treatment to continue to drive.    There are suggestions that in this case the driver had fallen asleep at the controls.

WASHINGTON   DC     The DC Transit Agency has dismissed six of the track inspection team for negligence and the submission of falsified records about the state of the track.   A Silver Line train was derailed during July 2016 because of poor track which had been reported as being good.

MINNEAPOLIS – ST PAUL    The building of a light rail network around Twin Cities has resulted in major investment in new businesses along the routes to the NW, SE, and SW and especially along the line running east from Minneapolis towards St Paul.   In all $6.8bn has already been invested or has been actively pledged creating tens of thousands for new jobs.   The value of a modern light rail route to a city is seen more clearly in the Twin Cities than anywhere else in the world.

DENVER   The Regional Transportation District hopes to open commuter route G to Arvada and Wheat Ridge during 2017 but this will depend on the operation of level crossing gates on routes A (Airport) and B (Westminster) being reliable and safe after adjustments have been made.   Line A is now used by 18,600 passengers on each weekday.

COLOMBIA    Two additional train sets have been ordered from CAF to handle increasing traffic on the Medellin Metro.

28 January 2017

U.S.A.

BOSTON   The Mattapan – Belmont PCC shuttle in the southern suburbs is once again under threat of bus replacement.    The service does not cover its operating costs from fare revenue and there are moves to replace it with a bus shuttle cutting costs significantly.   However past experience indicates that when a bus replaces a rail-based service there is always a significant drop in usage and no reduction in the overall loss.

STATEN  ISLAND     The Staten Island Railway has opened a new station at Arthur Kill in Tottenville and this replaces two nearby halts – Nassau, and Atlantic. This is the first new station opened on the line for several decades and has platforms long enough for 4 car trains with good shelter for intending passengers.

NORTH  EAST  CORRIDOR   On Inauguration Day for President Trump on 20 January 2017 massive crowds used trains to reach Washington DC.   Special crowd handling arrangements were in hand at Washington Union Station with separate entrance and exit routes defined, and with catering outlets operating very late but were closed during the actual ceremonies.   Heightened security measures applied all day.    Many passengers transferred to the Metro on which Peak period fares were charged all day.

CHARLOTTE   Construction of a 2 mile long westward extension to the tramway began on 15 January 2017.  Six new LRVs are to be obtained as part of this $150m project.   The extension is to be operating by July 2020.

HOUSTON   The Harrison Overpass Bridge taking both the Green light rail line and heavy motor vehicle traffic over the Union Pacific RR tracks was handed over to the city on 10 January 2017.  The Green Line has now reached the Magnolia Park Transit Center and free rides were being offered on the route until 22 January 2017.

CHILE  The Santiago Metro now has five routes.   Lines 1, 2, and 5 use rubber wheel technology, as in Paris.   Lines 4 and 4A use conventional steel wheel on steel rails technology.

More details can be read at the following link:
Santiago, Chile, metro

17 January 2017

U.S.A.

APPROVED  PLANS     Several transit plans were approved in ballots held across the USA   during the autumn of 2016.   Readers may be interested to see which plans were given support.  Many are parts of larger projects but where fresh funding is necessary a further endorsement by local voters is usually sought.    In the Puget Sound Region voters approved a $54bn 25 year plan to expand light rail services operated by Sound Transit.     Voters in Los Angeles County backed major projects that will cost $120bn.    The single most costly project is the westwards 9 mile long extension of the Purple subway line from Wilshire/Western through Beverley Hills to Westwood, a little short of Santa Monica.  Other projects under way include the 8.5 mile Crenshaw LAX line running south from Exposition Crenshaw stop on the Santa Monica Blue Line to Aviation/LAX on the Green Line.   Also funded is the 1.1 mile long tunnel under the heart of downtown to link together the Blue, Exposition and Gold Lines.    BART, serving the area around San Francisco received the support of the voters for $3.5bn plans to increase services across the area.    In Atlanta a half cent sales tax will raise $2.5bn to part fund rapid transit line extensions.    In Wake County, North Carolina, a half cent sales tax will fund a ten year $2.3bn plan to introduce commuter rail service between Garner, Cary, and Durham.   In addition bus services across the County will be increased significantly.    Around Washington DC two counties, Arlington and Fairfax, were given authority to issue bonds that will raise funds for a variety of transport improvements.

SECOND  AVE  SUBWAY    The first phase of this new line in Manhattan, New York, opened on 1 January 2017 linking 7th Ave/57th Street with 2nd Ave/96th Street with two intermediate stations.  It  will reduce overcrowding on nearby parallel routes.     Three later extensions will take the line along the full length of Manhattan Island.    Planning began 100 years ago and earlier attempts to build this or the next phase to the north ended when the money always ran out.    The service has run smoothly during the first week of operations with many passengers expressing pleasure at being able to use the new line as an alternative to the overcrowded Lexington Ave line.

More information can be read at the following link:
Second Avenue Subway
Scroll down to near the bottom to follow a link to an external video.

LONG  ISLAND  RR     At 0830 a packed peak hour service from Far Rockaway crashed into a bumping post at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn throwing many passengers to the floor.   Around 100 had to receive medical attention, many being taken to local hospitals in a fleet of ambulances.   There were no fatalities.

23 December 2016

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK    A further order for sixty additional M8 emus has been approved by the New York MTA on 16 November 2016.   There is an option for up to a further 34 of the emus.

WASHINGTON  DC   The new tramline along H Street and Benning Road overlaps two bus routes – the X2 and X9.   There were fears that the tram service would take traffic away from the bus routes possibly affecting their viability.   In fact although the trams are carrying 2,800 riders daily – a figure that is rising gradually – the number of bus riders has remained steady at just over 14,000 daily.     The provision of a tram service has resulted in an increase in Public Transport usage along this corridor from 14,000 to almost 17,000.

TWIN  CITIES   Siemens is to supply 27 LRVs for service on the 23.3 km long South West Line with an option for up to 50 more.

8 December 2016

U.S.A.

AMTRAK    The New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has announced that $30m of State funds will be made available to expand Alstom’s plant in Hornell.     Twenty eight “Avelia Liberty” will be built there to upgrade the Acela Express service along the North East Corridor.    These trains will operate at 160 mph compared to the 135 mph achieved by the present trains.   In the future 186 mph may be achieved.

WASHINGTON  DC    Train unreliability on the Metro network is to be improved by the retirement by the end of 2017 of the least reliable trains – the 1000 and 4000 series stock.   The reliability of the 2000, 5000 and 6000 series stock will be increased through a programme of repair and upgrades to the HVAC, propulsion, braking and door operation systems.

LOS  ANGELES  The City Council has approved plans for a 3.8 mile long streetcar line operating across the city centre and serving the Civic Center, the Convention Center and the Fashion District.   Construction could start in 2018 and services could commence in 2020.

28 November 2016

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK   Vintage Subway trains and buses are to provide passenger services during daytime hours during the Christmas holiday period.    The Subway has been hit by a rise in vandalism (a swastika was painted on one carriage during the morning rush hour on 25 November 2016), and a number of racial attacks have been reported between Afro-Carribean and Hispanic travellers.

PHILADELPHIA     SEPTA introduced Positive Train Control (PTC) on the short Cynwyd branch during late October 2016.     PTC is now active along nearly all of the extensive suburban network and the installation will be completed during 2017.

CHICAGO     The commuter railway network, parts of which are electrified, carried their largest ever total of passengers on 4 November 2016.      Every locomotive and coach was pressed into service as 460,000 passengers were carried.   The normal daily total is 310,000.    The Chicago Cubs baseball team had achieved victory in the World Series tournament and a victory parade through down-town was watched by massive crowds.

SAN  FRANCISCO   The Muni transport system was attacked by hackers on 27 November 2016.   Over 2000 ticket machines were put out of action and the hackers demanded $70,000 ransom to have the system returned to normal.   The operation of the subway trains and road vehicles was not affected and travellers were able to make their journeys free of charge until Muni’s computer experts returned the system to normal.

CANADA

VANCOUVER  Local transport planners have approved a C$2bn plan to replace the SkyTrain fleet and increase its service levels by 20%.   Pre-construction work on the Broadway Subway and Surrey – Langley light rail line will go-ahead.

12 November 2016

U.S.A.

NEW  JERSEY    New Jersey Transit is to invest $72m to complete the installation of Positive Train Control on its railway system.

WASHINGTON   The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has announced its plan to bring its finances into balance during the coming year.    Peak service intervals on several Metro Lines will be eased to 8 minutes from the present six minutes.    A single fare off-peak will rise to $2.00 and at peak hours to $2.25.     During the last financial year WMATA had an operating loss of $290m.

LOS  ANGELES    70% of voters have approved plans for a massive expansion of the light rail network.   The plans will cost $121bn at today’s prices and will take two or more decades to complete.     The support of  two thirds of voters was required for this plan to be approved.

SEATTLE    55% of voters have supported a massive plan to expand public transport around Seattle.    The plans are for 62 route miles of new light rail routes and for two reserved busways.

12 October 2016

U.S.A.

NEW  JERSEY     A commuter train ran into Hoboken Terminus too fast and crashed through the station structure at 0830 on 29 September 2016.   Parts of the roof were brought down on crowds waiting in the concourse to transfer to PATH trains or ferries taking them onwards to their jobs in Manhattan.     The station is immediately across the Hudson River from Manhattan Island.    One person was killed and 108 were injured, several critically.    New Jersey Transit closed the station to all further services for the rest of the day.

HUDSON – BERGEN  LINE   An extension is to be built following an abandoned railroad right of way as far north as Englewood Hospital.    This is close to the border of the community of Tenafly, the original planned terminus.    However the voters of Tenafly rejected the proposal to extend the line into their town although the vacant right of way remains available if the voters change their mind in the future.

LONG  ISLAND  RR    A Huntington-bound train side-swiped a work train at around 2100 near Hyde Park station.    Three of the twelve coaches were derailed and 33 of the 600 passengers were injured.    Services through the area were cancelled for over 24 hours.

NEW  ORLEANS   The new tram route from Union Station along North Rampart Street was opened on and from 02 October 2016.

KANSAS  CITY   The new tramway across the city centre is attracting heavy ridership.   Instead of carrying an expected 2,700 passengers each day, at least 10,000 people use the trams daily.   No fare is charged and the tramway is seen as being a means of attracting people to the fading city centre. The city is now ordering a further two trams to expand the initial fleet of four.    Because these trams are not standard cars similar to those used in other cities special parts need to be obtained and      the new trams may not be in service until 2019.    The possible extension of the route into a market area is to be examined.

22 September 2016

U.S.A

NEW  YORK  AREA    Bar cars were for long a popular feature on evening rush hour services on the New Haven Line.   The last were withdrawn as an economy measure on 9 May 2014 since it was felt that the expense of upgrading the cars to modern safety standards could not be afforded.     Now they are to return.      The Governor of Connecticut Mr Dannel Malloy, announced on 10 September 2016 that 60 new M8 coaches were being ordered for New Haven Line services.   Ten   will be modern Bar Cars.

PHILADELPHIA   Fifteen of SEPTA’s Silverliner 5 cars were returned to service after repairs to their bogies but almost immediately had to be taken out of service again.    A second fault had emerged in the bogies – a fault that could have resulted in a total collapse of the bogie with potentially disastrous results.

CANADA

CALGARY    Funding from Alberta and from the Federal Government totalling in all C$136m will allow the purchase of new MACK “C” Train cars so that it will become possible to operate four-car formations holding up to 800 passengers.     Also now funded is an expansion of the Southeastern Bus Rapid Transitway.

6 September 2016

U.S.A.

AMTRAK   The National Carrier ordered in late August 2016 a fleet of 28 high-speed “Avelia Liberty” to operate along the North East Corridor from 2021-2.   They will be built by Alstom in their Hornell and Rochester NY factories giving half-hourly New York – Washington and hourly New York – Boston services.   Capacity will be increased by 30% compared with the existing twenty Acela Express trains.   Each train will comprise a power car at both ends with nine articulated passenger coaches between them.     Up to three additional passenger coaches can be added if traffic on the Corridor rises significantly.

SEATTLE    The number of riders on Sound Transit’s light rail network soared by 77% during the second quarter of 2016 following the opening in March 2016 of the University Link Line.   This serves the Capitol Hill area as well as the University and average daily loadings soon reached 63,577.   Traffic on the heavy rail commuter service has also risen sharply reaching a daily average of 16,186 – a rise of 12% compared with the previous year.    The light rail South 200th Street extension 1.6 miles on an elevated structure from Sea-Tac Airport to Angle Lake will open on 24 September 2016.      There will be a parking garage for 1050 vehicles at Angle Lake.

BAY  AREA   A key component in the new rolling stock that is to take over services on the BART network has overheated and failed repeatedly during test operations of the new stock.   It is probable that the introduction into service of the new rolling stock will be delayed until after the cause of the problem has been identified and corrected.

LOS  ANGELES   The Expo light rail line to Santa Monica opened two months ago and already traffic has soared so much that at peak times some passengers cannot squeeze on board and there is absolutely no room for wheelchairs or bikes.     The 11.5 mile long line is carrying as many people as the Gold Line which is twice as long.    The traffic has outpaced the delivery of rolling stock by Kinkisharyo.     Forty one trams have been delivered so far and are arriving at a rate of one per week.   Thirteen of the trams are still being tested but when ready for service will solve the immediate problem.    Services operate every twelve minutes throughout the day but two car services are provided at the rush hour with the service interval coming down to six minutes.   Eventually it is hoped tp operate three car services every six minutes.   The platforms at the stops are long enough for three cars but not for anything longer.

24 August 2016

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK    Coach 745 of the PATH system became trapped in the wreckage of the World Trade Center Station when the Centre was destroyed in the terrorist attack of 11 September 2001.   The coach was extracted from the largely destroyed station and for the past fifteen years has been undergoing restoration.    It is now on display at the Shoreline Trolley Museum in East Haven, Connecticut.

PHILADELPHIA    Fifth Street subway station has been renamed Fifth Street Independence Hall in order to make it easier for tourists to reach this important landmark.

CHICAGO   Modified services by emus are being provided on the electrified route from Randolph Street to University Park along the main line of the former Illinois Central RR.   During the period 22 August – 01 October 2016 ten thousand sleepers are being replaced along the route between Kensington and University Park together with pointwork at Randolph Street, 18th Street, and at Richton Park coach yard.

LOS  ANGELES  A new pedestrian tunnel costing $22m has created a safer way to interchange between the Red and Orange Metro lines.    Traffic on the Foothills extension of the Gold Line has  exceeded expectations so from 27 June 2016 the service frequency at the peaks was increased to a tram every seven minutes with all services running through between Azusa and East Los Angeles.

SAN   FRANCISCO    It has been confirmed that Balfour Beatty has been awarded the £524m contract to electrify the suburban line between San Francisco city centre and San Jose.

11 August 2016

U.S.A.

NE  CORRIDOR   The introduction of seventy Siemens ACS-64 locomotives on Corridor services has cut locomotive-related delays by 25%.    The locos known as the “Amtrak Cities Sprinters” are built at the Siemens plant in Sacramento, California, to meet with the Federal requirement that wherever possible a high US component must exist especially where Federal funds are used.    The last of the ACS-64 machines rolls off the production line during August 2016.   The new machines  are much more reliable than those that they have replaced and there is an in-cab indication of where a problem exists or is threatened.

NEW  YORK  SUBWAY   The G Line is the only section of the Subway not to serve any part of Manhattan but the localities served have become “in places” in recent years so the trains have become much busier.    When the L Line closes for eighteen months in 2019 a lot of traffic will be diverted to the G trains and as a result the trains are being doubled in length from four to eight cars.

PATH  RECORD     The Port Authority Trans Hudson rapid transit line carried 7m passengers during June 2016, a rise of 3.6% over June 2015.    This was the largest monthly passenger total ever recorded for the line.

PHILADELPHIA    SEPTA hopes to start the return in late August 2016 of its Silverliner V cars to service following the  repair to their faulty suspension system.

CINCINNATI    Pre-revenue operation of streetcars on the new 3.6 mile long, 16 stop, route across the city centre  began on 7 August 2016.    Revenue service will begin on 09 September 2016 provided the test operation has gone smoothly.

ST  LOUIS    A new light rail station is to be built between the Boyle Avenue and Sarah Street stops close to the Cortex Innovation Community site.    It will be funded by a $10.3m TIGER grant.   Construction will start in mid 2017 and take 10 – 12 months to complete.

DALLAS  The 0.7 mile long Bishop Arts District tramway extension is confirmed as commencing revenue operations on 29 August 2016 with free “preview” services commencing on 27 August.

SAN  FRANCISCO    Delivery of the new fleet of cars fort BART is running five months behind the promised schedule and power system failures on the new cars while being tested are happening frequently.    The new trains are expected to enter service during 2017 but a lot of glitches must be sorted out first of all.

ECUADOR   CAF is to supply eighteen 6-car trainsets for Line 1 of the Quito Metro.   Each train will hold 1500 passengers, most of them standing.  Construction of the 22km long line began on 19 January 2016, and services are due to commence in 2019.

ARGENTINA   Line H of the Buenos Aires metro reopened on 4 July 2016 after being closed for one week to allow staff training with a new fleet of Alstom trainsets.     This is the first metro route in the Argentinian capital to be resignalled with Siemens CBTC.

CANADA      Metrolinx, the Regional transport agency for Greater Toronto and the Hamilton Area, has exercised an option to order a further 125 next generation bi-level commuter coaches for service with Go-Transit on heavy rail routes around Toronto.   The option is with Bombardier which will manufacture the cars in its Thunder Bay factory with delivery due during 2018-2020.   A 21  acre public park is to be built over the town railyard in which Go Transit commuter trains are stored between the peaks.   The stock will be sheltered from the winter snows.

29 July 2016

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK      The Subway carried 1.763m passengers during 2015 – the highest level since 1948. The busiest station was Times Square – 42nd Street.

PHILADELPHIA    SEPTA has initiated its “SEPTA Key” stored value card for weekly or monthly season tickets.     Owners can re-load them with a new season when the existing facility expires.

WASHINGTON    The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority is to build a new station costing $66m on the Blue and Yellow rail lines in the Potomac Yards locality.     There will be a large car park and the station is designed to reduce serious road congestion in the area.

DENVER    The Silverliner V rolling stock used on the Airport service is operating without any of the faults that have resulted in similar stock being taken out of service in Philadelphia.    There are small differences between the two fleets and the Denver stock does not contain the flaws that have caused so much trouble in Philadelphia.    Commuter rail line B linking Westminster  with Union Station (6 miles) opened on 25 July 2016.   It connects at Union Station with Commuter Line A (to the Airport), and light rail routes C, E and W.

ATLANTA   This is the most spread-out large city in the USA and it has only four Metro routes totalling 50 route miles, and extremely limited heavy rail commuter services.   The building of further Metro routes is now being given serious consideration.

NEW  ORLEANS   Construction of the new 1.6 mile long tramway along North Rampart Street linking the French Quarter and Canal Street has been completed.   Work started in January 2015.

LOS  ANGELES    Use of the various light rail/metro lines is rising sharply the weekday total of users rising from 333,745 in April 2016 to 362,501 in June 2016.    The Blue Line is the busiest with 83,426 passengers on a weekday in June 2016.    The extension of the Expo Line in May 2016 has resulted in an increase in weekday business from 29,047 in April to 45,876 in June 2016.

13 July 2016

U.S.A.

NORTH  EAST  CORRIDOR    The iconic AEM-7 electric locomotives that operated NE Corridor expresses for 37 years have been withdrawn.   A last return trip was operated from Washington Union Station to Philadelphia 30th Street and back again on 18 June 2016 with 450 people on board. The next generation ACS-64 locomotives now handle Amtrak’s NE  Corridor services.

NEW  YORK    The New York City Transit Museum operated a “Parade of Trains” on 25/26 June to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Museum in the abandoned Court Street Station.     Four different trains of historic stock operated the service. Follow the link below for a video of the event.

NEWARK  NJ   New Jersey Transit is enlarging ten LRVs used on light rail services in the Newark area by adding two extra segments to the three segment trams, increasing their length by 37 feet, the  seating from 68 to 102 and doubling the standing space.   NJ Transit approved plans in July 2014 to expand thirty five LRVs – ten on the Newark light railway and twenty five on the Hudson – Bergen Line.     A prototype car has been in service on the Hudson – Bergen Line for three years.

PHILADELPHIA   Major construction work will start during the summer of 2016 to make 30th Street, a key station  in the south western suburbs, accessible to all passengers.   The work will take at least 30 months to complete.   A defect has been found with the Silverliner V regional railcars and they have been taken out of service pending repairs.    A few emus have been leased from Amtrak, MARC, and New Jersey Transit but the system remains very short of usable trains.    The 120 Silverliner V cars were received in 2010-13 and comprise one third of SEPTA’s capacity.     An emergency Saturday timetable with some added peak trains has been introduced.   A key weld has weakened and broken in the main bogie suspension systems  but these are still covered by warranty.     Hyandai Rotem is seeking materials to undertake repairs.    Similar newer cars have just entered service in Denver and remedial action is being taken there before the trains develop serious damage.

BALTIMORE    Part of the Metro will be closed during the period 22 July – 14 August 2016 to allow significant track repairs.

WASHINGTON DC   CAF has won the contract to supply twenty six 5-section LRVs for the future Purple Line that will link Bethesda with New Carrollton in Maryland.   The LRVs will be manufactured in CAF’s plant at Elmira NY.   The 16.2 km long line will have 21 stops and will connect with the Red, Orange, and Green Metro lines as well as MARC commuter heavy rail routes, Amtrak services, and numerous local bus routes.

DETROIT  The $15.5m contractor to operate and maintain the first modern tramway in Detroit has been awarded to Transdev North America.

CINCINNATI   With the opening of the city centre light rail line due on 09 September 2016, test operation of the line is taking place daily to ensure that there are sufficient drivers and that all systems work reliably.     The CAF LRVs have an attractive livery with the body in mostly white with a light grey section along the lowest part, black around the windows.    There is an orange band along the uppermost part of the body, extending down over the four doors per side.     The lowest part of each door is also orange.

ST  LOUIS   A study is being made of three possible extensions to the existing light rail network.  The three routes are (1) – . from Clayton north west to a park and ride site at Westport which is close to an exit from InterState 270.   (2) MetroNorth – from the Airport Line at North Hanley to a park and ride site at Hazelwood which is close to another exit from InterState 270.   (3) MetroSouth.   A new line running south from Shrewsbury 1-44 to Butler Hill Road serving six new stations.

KANSAS  CITY   After two months of operation the two mile long tramway across the city centre is carrying about 6000 passengers each day.

SAN  FRANCISCO   Caltrain has approved $1.25bn of contracts to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure and Stadler US Inc enabling construction to commence on the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project.

CANADA

MONTREAL     The electrified Deux Montagnes line is to be completely upgraded and linked to the Lakeside line creating an automated driverless network measuring 67 km, and operating at 1.5kV dc from overhead catenary.     There will be extensions to Brossard, Trudeau Airport, and Sainte-Anne-de-Belleview.    There will be new tunnels measuring 5.4km together with 16km of new elevated structures.    Nine major bus interchanges and thirteen Park and Ride facilities will be built.    Two hundred new cars will run as pairs off-peak and as four car trains at peak hours.   Station platforms will be fitted with platform screens.      Bids are being sought for two contracts.   One for $C4bn will cover the major engineering work while the other, worth $C1.5bn will be for the rolling stock, stabling and maintenance facilities, and for operations.

10 June 2016

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK   A major fire erupted in a garden supply store underneath the elevated Metro North RR tracks in East Harlem in early May 2016.    Illegally stored canisters of liquidised gas exploded and trains services were halted for the rest of the day.   Engineers inspected the damaged overhead structure and decided that trains could cross if a 10mph speed limit was imposed.   Several days later the restriction was lifted following the completion of repairs.     The 350 foot underground passageway between the PATH station at Ground Zero and the nearest subway station has cost $4.4bn.     It was built by reusing the space of a former very substantial station toilet but the new passageway has no toilet and the design has faced substantial criticism as a result.    Cell phone and wi-fi service are being brought to the Subway network.   All 279 underground stations will be wi-fi equipped by the end of 2016 and all stations will have cell phone service by the end of 2017.   Four coaches used on the E Line have been equipped with wi-fi experimentally and testing commenced from 01 June 2016.

WASHINGTON  DC    Twenty managers on the Metro have been made redundant in a major cost reduction exercise.

CHICAGO   The Federal Transit Administration has approved preliminary engineering and environmental studies for plans to double-track 25 miles of the South Shore Line between
Gary and Michigan City at a cost of $210m.     The provision of double track would permit significant cuts in running times and would be expected to add 5000 – 8000 daily riders to the service.  The South Bend to Chicago journey time would fall from 2hours 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes.    Michigan City to Chicago would take 67 minutes instead of 90.   Services would be increased by around 30% to cope with the higher loads.
The Chicago Transit Authority has created an Historic Fleet comprising (1) two 1923 4000 series cars in their historic range and brown livery:  (2) An 8-car train of 2400 series coaches produced in 1976-8 in the red, white and blue livery; and (3) three buses dating from the 1960s.   The fleet will be maintained by funds generated from the CTA’s on-line Merchandise store.

MINNEAPOLIS     The 14.5 mile long South West light rail project has failed to win $135m in State funds to complete the $845m State contribution which would have released matching Federal funds.   The State Governor has the power to free the funds but he has not yet made any decision.

CALIFORNIA   An additional $211m capital funding has been obtained from several sources and will be spent on preparatory work for the electrification of the San Francisco – San Jose suburban route.

SEATTLE   Sound Transit has proposed that construction of light rail extensions be speeded up during the next 2 – 5 years to complete a Regional system much earlier than planned.    Tacoma would be reached three years earlier and Everett five years sooner.    The Sounder heavy rail commuter service would be upgraded with longer platforms to accommodate two additional coaches per train on services to Tillicon  and DuPont.    A new depot will be built to handle the longer trains.     Traffic on the light rail system rose 27% during the first quarter of 2016 following the opening of new stops on the University Link extension.

CANADA

TORONTO   Free rides will be offered this summer on the two vintage PCC trams operating on Sundays between noon and 1700 on route 509 – “Harbourfront”.    Track laying on the York Spadina Subway extension was completed in May 2016.   The line will continue beyond the Downsview terminus to Vaughan, 6.3 miles.   There will be six new stations, three large new car parks, and a new bus interchange at the new terminus.   The extension will open in late 2017..

BOMBARDIER   Production of new trams for Toronto’s Metrolinx service has been transferred from the Thunder Bay plant to the Kingston factory.    There have been long delays in the delivery of completed orders from the Thunder Bay facility which has completed the building of five new trams for Toronto (all well behind schedule) and the remaining nine trams will be produced at Kingston.   If these are produced on time and showing an adequate standard of quality the building of a further 170 trams will go to the Kingston factory.

MONTREAL     STM, the local transport agency, is poised to introduce its new AZUR trains into passenger service.  Several weeks of test operation showed a need for adjustments to the ventilation system and for an increase in the volume of on-board audio messages.    By 2018 52 nine-car AZUR trains are expected to be in service.

BRAZIL    Test running commenced on 23 May 2016 on the new Metro Line 4 which will serve the  Olympic Village.    The 16km long six station line will commence public services on 5 August 2016 – the opening day of the 2016 Olympic Games in the city.    A fleet of fifteen 6-car trains has been built for the line by Changchun Railway Vehicles of China and it is anticipated that there will be 300,000 riders daily by the end of the first year of services.

23 May 2016

U.S.A.

BOSTON  The MBTA is to proceed with plans for an extension pf the Green Line north for 4.7 miles through Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford.   There will be seven stations and the cost will be around $2.3bn.    The work has been simplified in an attempt to reduce the cost so that the new stations will have shorter platforms, fewer escalators, fewer ticket gates, and less cover over the platforms.    A request for Federal and State funding has been lodged.   If the work which has already been delayed by a couple of years does not proceed now, the total cost will rise significantly.

NEW  YORK    The Subway now carries 1.8bn passengers each year and overcrowding is becoming intolerable with thousands of delays each month due to delays at stations as passengers struggle to leave or join the trains.    However express service is to be restored to the F Line for the first time in three decades.   Express service was ended in 1987 due to the need for extensive track work but “all stations” operation continued after the track upgrade was completed.    Passengers will save up to 15 minutes on their journey once express service is restored but since no extra trains will be operated there are fears that severe overcrowding will occur on the G Train locals

AMTRAK   The Company is to retire the last of its fleet of AEM-7 locomotives which have spent their lives hauling expresses along the North East Corridor.    The were originally 54 locos in the fleet.   The new AC5-64 locomotives have now taken over the work on the Corridor.

CINCINNATI    The new city centre tramway is to open on 1 September 2016 .    Five trams have been built by CAF for the new service.

KANSAS  CITY   Four trams have been delivered by CAF for the new light rail line between Union Station and River Market which opened with celebrations on 6 May 2016.

LOS  ANGELES  The 6 miles long second phase of the Expo Line from Culver City to Santa Monica opened on 20 May 2016.    There are seven stops along this section.   This is the first electric rail transit service in Santa Monica since the old streetcars were discontinued in 1953.  On the north side of Los Angeles the 11.5 mile Foothills extension of the Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa was opened on 05 March 2016.    This line is built on the track bed of a former Aitcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe RR main line.

COLOMBIA

BOGOTA   Planning for the 15km long elevated Metro Line 1 linking Portal Americas with the city centre is nearly complete.    Tenders for its construction will be sought in 2017.

7 May 2016

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK   The Subway system carried the highest number of passengers since 1948 during 2015.    There was an average of 5.7m passengers each weekday throughout the year and on 49 individual days the total topped 6m.      Traffic is being lost on the Third Avenue L because of severe overcrowding with some travellers transferring to the nearby J/Z or M Line services.   There showed a 4.2% increase in their traffic during the year.

NEW  JERSEY   Train services between Newark and Manhattan were suspended for several hours on 19 April 2016 after a raging fire broke out close to the tracks in the Secaucus area.    Amtrak services were held at Newark station, while NJ Transit Midtown Direct trains were diverted to Hoboken.    New Jersey Transit travel tickets were accepted on PATH services.

PHILADELPHIA    SEPTA is testing one of the new Siemens ACS64 locomotives on all of its suburban routes except Airport, Newark/Wilmington, and Fox Chase.

CHARLOTTE  N.C.   The city has announced its decision to replace its small fleet of replica heritage tramcars with sleek modern looking vehicles.    The city authorities believe that the heritage trams give a wrong impression of the city despite the fact that heritage trams have been found to boost the tourist industry as well as the business community in a large number of other cities.   Siemens, Brookville, and Stadler are all in the running to supply a small fleet of the desired “sleek and modern” trams.

MINNEAPOLIS   The actively planned South West light rail line from Minneapolis downtown, an extension of the Green Line from down town St Paul to Minneapolis, will serve 175,000 places of employment with an additional 64,000 anticipated during the next few years.   Heavy commuter traffic in both directions is expected.

KANSAS  CITY    The 2.2 mile long Main Street tramway operating through the heart of the city from Union Station to River Market opened amid continuing controversy on 29 April 2016.   The earlier tramway network closed in 1957 after which there were multiple studies about a new transport system, nine public votes on planned new tramways of which eight failed and the one was approved but was then deemed to be unworkable.   Finally in December 2012 a vote of the city centre dwellers approved the $200m project that has just opened.    Opponents still argue that the line will be used by few people while supporters see it as the start of a city-wide system including suburban trains feeding into the trams at Union Station.    No fares are charged and the tramway is seen as being a helpful way to assist people to get around the central area.

SAN  FRANCISCO     From 23 April 2016 the Embarcadero Streetcar Line (E-Line) began to run every day instead of at the weekend only.    Historic PCC trams can therefore be seen on the city streets every day.     Line-E duplicates Line-F along part of the historic waterfront and the trams have helped to renew interest in this historic part of the city.    (Charlotte NC please note!).

BART   One of the new “Fleet of the Future” vehicles has crashed at slow speed while being tested on 28 April 2016.      Because the brakes had failed the coach ended up in a sand trap.    If the coach had been part of a several vehicle train the fault would have affected only the one coach and the train would have been able to stop in the normal manner.

CANADA

MONTREAL   A 41 mile long light rail line with twenty stops has been proposed for the city of Montreal and adjacent areas.    It would serve the South Shore area, the City Centre, West Island, and the Airport.   Costing $5.5bn, $3bn is already available from city sources.

MEXICO

MEXICO  CITY    Very severe atmospheric pollution in early April 2016 triggered regulations that each day took 20% of the motor cars off the roads.    The Subway system carried an additional 800,000 riders each day.    The Subway’s 195 platforms were busier than usual but the services operated smoothly with no significant delays.    Some additional services were operated at busy times.   The suburban railways carried 7.7% more passengers and a few extra services were run.
The regulations limiting the number of cars that can use the roads remain in force until the end of June 2016.

20 April 2016

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK   Subway Line M linking Middle Village with Myrtle Avenue is to close for several months in 2017 to allow repairs or replacement work on several bridges.

LONG  ISLAND  RR    A proposal to lay a third track along a ten mile section of the Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville at a cost of $1bn is again a live issue.    The two track route was built in 1844 to serve a population of 50,000.   Today 3 million people live in communities along the route and both trains and adjacent roads are grossly overcrowded at peak times.   Plans for a third track were dropped in 2008 following objections from local residents but the congestion difficulties have become so severe that the plan is again being considered.    When completed many additional trains would be able to operate, around 35,000 additional residents would come to live along the route, and the extra property tax revenue would pay for the extra track.

CHICAGO   CSR Sifang America has won the contract to build the next generation of Subway cars.   The initial order is for 400 of the 7000 series cars and a subsequent order could take the total order to 846 vehicles.    The 7000 series cars will replace the oldest cars in the Chicago Transit Board’s fleet, some of which are 30 years old.     The new cars will be assembled at a new plant in Chicago generating 170 jobs and representing an investment of around $40m.

PHOENIX   The 5.2 km long North West Extension was opened on 19 March 2016.

CANADA

TORONTO    The underused Union Station – Pearson Airport shuttle has seen a sharp rise in traffic since the fares were slashed.    Instead of only about 2000 people using the trains per weekday there are now at least 5000 daily users and at peak hours some trains are operating full.

8 April 2016

U.S.A.

NORTH  EAST  CORRIDOR   The southbound “Palmetto” to Savannah carrying 371 passengers and seven crew hit a heavy piece of track engineering equipment obstructing the track at Chester, just south of Philadelphia early on 3 April 2016.   The locomotive was derailed, two railway employees were killed and 34 passengers received minor injuries.    The NE Corridor was closed for much of the day while debris was removed from the site.

BOSTON   MBTA is moving quickly to abandon the use of money as a way to pay for fares on trams, buses, and the metro.    The preferred way will be by the use of credit/debit cards or by using the travellers cell phone.    It will still be possible to use a “CharlieCard” which is a travel card that is pre-loaded by the user to create credit from which the cost of fares can be deducted.    It will not be possible to use old-fashioned money in exchange for a card ticket.

NEW  YORK  SUBWAY    Problems with water leaking into 34th Street-Hudson Yards, the new station in West Manhattan, have resulted in one passenger falling on the slippery surface with  resultant legal action.    The station has the longest escalator on the New York Subway system and water drips continually on to its moving steps as well as on to passages and the platforms.    A specialist firm has been contracted to remedy the problem – they have already solved a similar problem at South Ferry station.

WASHINGTON  DC    A survey of the Metro has shown so many defects that need to be repaired/replaced  that individual lines may have to be closed for weeks or even months while the work is tackled.    There have been widespread complaints about how the system has been allowed to get into such a deplorable state.

25 March 2016

U.S.A.

BOSTON   (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) Government Center station was reopened on 21 March 2016 following work that lasted two years to enlarge the facility and make it more accessible.     The station lobby has been greatly enlarged and many more ticket gates are now provided to help speed the flow of peak-hour travellers.     The station provides the only link between the Green and Blue Lines.

WASHINGTON  DC    A cable fire in the city centre tunnels near L’Enfant Plaza station early on 14 March 2016 halted services on the Orange, Silver and Blue lines for several hours.    The cause of the fire was a fault with a cable that linked an isolated section of third rail.   This was a similar incident to a cable fire on the Yellow Line on 12 January 2015 when the coaches of a stalled train filled with smoke.   One passenger died in the latter incident and many had to be taken to hospital due to severe smoke inhalation.    The Metro operators admit that there are a large number of cables that are now past their safety date but to replace all these cable would take a long period of time with operations liable to be disrupted.      The system was closed for 29 hours while every cable on the system was inspected and tested and significant faults were found at 26 locations.

EAST  TROY    This electric museum railway utilises the last 7.5 miles of a former interurban network and uses former Chicago, South Shore, and South Bend RR stock.    The 2016 season operates between 30 April and 06 November with between three and seven round trips on mainly weekend days between East Troy and Mukwonago.

DENVER   The emu-worked suburban service between Union Station and Denver Airport is to commence public services on 22 April 2016.

SEATTLE    The University Link of the light rail system was opened on 19 March 2016 and serves the densely populated Capitol Hill and University areas.     The Link took 8 years to build and cost $1.8bn, $200m less than budget.     Bus services in the area were reorganised from 26 March 2016 in order to connect better with the light rail services.

BRAZIL    In Rio de Janeiro the trains that work on the Corcovada rack railway are to be replaced.   An order worth Euro 23.7m has been placed with Stadler for six motor cars to be delivered in 2018.   They will cut the time to climb to the top of the line from 20 minutes to 14 minutes.   The number who will be able to use the railway per day will rise by over a third.    Bad news is the likelihood that the new Metro Line 4 which will serve the Jardim Olympico will not be ready when the Olympic Games bring huge crowds  to the city and the stadia in August 2016.

12 March 2016

U.S.A.

LIGHT  RAIL     A remarkable series of extensions to light rail systems are due to happen throughout 2016.    In Los Angeles the Foothills extension of the Gold Line will open on 5 March 2016.     The extension to Santa Monica of the Expo Line will open on 20 May 2016 and efforts are being made to educate motorists on adjacent busy roads what to do if they must take their autos across the new tracks.    19 March 2016 will be a red letter day in two cities as new extensions open for business.   In Phoenix the north west extension opens while in Seattle the University Link will carry its first passengers.   Later in 2016 – the dates are still not confirmed – there will be new lines in Cincinnati and Seattle.    In order to handle growing traffic the ten LRVs on the Newark City Subway, and the twenty five similar LRVs on the Hudson – Bergen Light Railway are being extended from three segments to five.

BOSTON   MBTA is to cease the operation of Subway and bus services during the very late hours on Fridays and Saturdays.   These will now cease at 12.30 am instead of 0200 am.   The affected services were poorly used (13,000 during December 2015) and passenger numbers were falling.  The cancellations will save $14.4m

NEW  YORK    The new transit hub at the World Trade Center was opened officially on 3 March 2016 amid loud protests about the waste of money in building a stylish station that in some ways resembles a prehistoric monster.     Opening for the general public followed on 09 March 2016. Known as “The Oculus”, the final cost was $4bn – almost exactly double the planned sum. A very detailed description of the station can be found at the following link:

World Trade Center station

MARYLAND TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION  Construction will commence shortly on the 16.2 mile long twenty one station Purple Line  linking New Carrollton and Bethesda.    The project will cost $2bn and is expected to open in 2022.

CHICAGO   The CTA Board has approved the contracts to replace around one half of the existing rail vehicles.

SOUTH  SHORE  LINE    A very severe blizzard on 25 February 2016 swept across northern Indiana, especially Porter County, bringing South Shore trains to a halt (and a lot of road traffic as well).    The power supply to the railway was knocked out of action so the trains could not move.  The signalling system was similarly knocked out of action and level crossing warning signs and gates could not function.     Services were operating again on 26th February 2016.

SAN  FRANCISCO    BART has introduced a system of fines for passengers who occupy extra seats by leaving luggage on a seat next to their own, or sit sprawled out across more than one seat.   For a first offence the fine will be $100, and $200 for a second offence.    Those passengers fined for a third or subsequent offence will be fined $500.

LOS  ANGELES    The 11.5 mile long extension of the Gold Line to Azusa opened to the public on Saturday 5 March 2016.    Almost 30,000 people took a free trip on the new line – much more than expected.    Fares were charged on and from 7 March 2016 and it was expected that about 13,600 people would use the line each day most of then transferring from their cars to the LRVs.   The Freeways along the San Gabriel Valley are seriously congested during peak hours and any reduction in the number of cars will benefit road users.     We hope to report the number of passengers on the Gold Line in coming weeks.

CANADA

TORONTO   Construction of the Eglinton Crosstown tram/metro route is well under way.   There will be 6.2 miles of route below ground taking the line below key radial roads.   In the open there will be 5.6 miles of the route, mostly placed a central reservation.
The new branch linking Union Station with the Airport terminals has been a spectacular failure with two car trains running every 15 minutes – and most of them nearly empty.    The very high fares charged have been blamed so from 1 March 2016 fares were slashed in an attempt to attract more traffic.    The single fare for passengers holding a Presto Card has fallen from C$18 to just C$9.    Passengers without a Presto card would pay C$12 instead of C$27.50.   Better still was the news that users of the two intermediate stations, Bloor and Weston, will now pay the same fare as charged on GO local trains – C$4.71 for a single stop or C$5.02 for two stops. Within a few days came a further development.    The service was to be taken over by GO Transit and operated as a branch of the GO Trains Network charging the standard GO fares.

22 February 2016

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK   The Canarsie “L” line has seen a 27% increase in passenger numbers during the past couple of years and at times the trains are grossly overcrowded.  The Metropolitan Transit Authority has proposed that three additional power stations be built along the route allowing an additional three trains to run each way per hour on the route.   This would provide an additional 2200 seats each way per hour and would reduce overcrowding significantly.

PHILADELPHIA     As plans are firmed up to build a five mile extension beyond Norristown on the high-speed line from 69th Street terminal serving the growing King of Prussia area so some local residents have drawn up a petition to halt the plans.    They object to the new line running near their homes but despite this there seems to be widespread support for the new line.

WASHINGTON  DC     The first revenue services on the long delayed new streetcar line along H Street and Benning Road took place on 27 February 2016 following the decision of local safety bodies that the new line is safe to operate.

CHICAGO   The last run by the double-deck “Highliner” emus introduced in 1971 on the three routes of the Illinois Central Gulf RR’s suburban operations took place on 12 February 2016.    In their heyday these routes carried 200,000 passengers every weekday but there have been massive changes to the localities, to the industries along the routes, and to travel patterns so that the number of daily users is now around 45,000.     The Metropolitan Transit Authority carried 241.7m passengers during 2015 – up 1.6% compared with 2014.     The 2015 total is a new record high.

PANAMA

Alstom is to supply 70 new Metropolis metro cars so that the trains on Line 1 of Panama City’s metro can be lengthened from 3 to 5 cars.

MEXICO

In Mexico City construction of a 36 miles long suburban railway, the Tren Interubano Mexico – Toluca, is advancing well and is likely to open as planned in April 2018.    Services will operate every 2½   minutes at peak times and the line is expected to carry 230,000 people each weekday.   The trains will take 39 minutes to reach Toluca, half of the time to needed to drive in a car.   13,000 vehicles will be taken off the roads daily and there will be significant improvements to air quality   Privately funded, the project has avoided Government budget cuts that have resulted in plans for a high-speed railway between Mexico City and Queretaro being dropped.

6 February 2016

U.S.A.

SNOW   The heaviest snowfall for a century struck the East Coast of the USA between Washington and New York on 23 January 2016 and these cities simply stopped moving.  Two feet of snow fell during the first few hours.   Air services were the first to be halted but soon both roads and railways ground to a halt.   Subway trains in Washington and New York continued for a short time but the operating staff were soon unable to travel to or from their homes so the subway services were soon closed.      People were advised to stock up on food and other essentials and remain in the safety of their homes for at least three days until the snow storms had moved away.

NEW  YORK    The World Trade Center Hub, known as “The Oculus” is to open for public services during the first week of March 2016.    Initially it will be used by around 100,000 passengers daily, mostly to/from the PATH line.    There will be under cover connections to eleven Subway lines, the Battery Park Ferry Terminal, the World Trade Center Memorial site, and the new still developing World Trade Center.    Ultimately when the Trade Center is fully built there will be about 250,000 passengers daily using the Hub.    Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced plans to build a 16 mile long streetcar route linking Astoria (in Queens) with Sunset Park (in Brooklyn).  It will cost $2.5bn but the expected rush to build apartments, office blocks, and hotels along the route will raise sufficient revenue from rates to pay for the project.

NEW  HAVEN  LINE    The suburban service between New York Grand Central Terminal to Stamford carried 40.3m passengers in 2015 – the highest ever along this route.

WASHINGTON  DC   The plan to build the Purple Line – a light rail line linking several suburbs – has received a boost when a court judgement has ordered households backing on to the ex-railway right of way to remove fences and structures which they had erected taking parts of the right of way into their gardens.   Construction work can now go ahead in the near future.

CHICAGO  The “Highliner” emus that operate the Illinois Central Gulf RR suburban services are to be withdrawn from 12 February 2016 after 45 years of service.   The Chicago South Shore interurban stock which uses the Illinois Central tracks to reach the city centre is now 30 years old.

ROCHESTER   Plans for a high-speed railway (the Zip Line) 100 miles long to Minneapolis and   St Paul have been halted after a considerable amount of preparatory work had been undertaken because there is not enough money for the construction work.   There have been several attempts to build a new railway to the city with the famous pay-what-you-can hospital but all have failed.

BART   The 16 mile extension into the Silicon Valley linking residential and  workplace areas is taking shape and is likely to open in the autumn of 2017.

CALTRAIN   Plans to electrify the San Francisco – San Jose line on which there is a busy suburban service are being pursued actively.   Michael Burns, former CEO of the Santa Clara Transportation Authority, has been appointed to oversee the electrification work and the planning/installation of a positive train control and signalling system.

19 January 2016

U.S.A.

BOSTON   The historic PCC trams, now about 70 years old, are coming to the end of their service lives on the Mattapan shuttle in the south of the city.   The maintenance costs of keeping the trams in service are rising steeply since new spares have to be manufactured individually.

NEW  YORK   Complaints have been voiced following the recent announcement that thirty Subway stations are to be upgraded at great cost.   However nothing will be done at any of them to improve access for wheelchair-bound passengers or children in buggies.    There are no plans for elevators etc at these very busy stations.     The “L” line under the East River linking parts of Long Island and Manhattan, has become extremely busy and three additional substations will be needed to increase the power supply so that an additional two trains can be added to the pool of trains used. However the tunnels under the East River were inundated by millions of gallons of salt water by Hurricane Sandy three years ago.    Much of the equipment in the tunnels have been corroded and will need to be replaced.   This will entail the closure of the service for 18 months or if peak services were to continue services would be restricted for three years.    There is insufficient space on other forms of transport to take the displaced passengers.    The problem is not restricted to the rush hour.    For example trains are packed every evening after the end of performances in the theatres.

9 January 2016

U.S.A.

BOSTON    Record snowfalls during December 2015 caused havoc to suburban rail, light rail in the suburbs, and to subway services under the city centre.    As a result of the delays during journeys and, even worse, days when routes were simply abandoned to the snow, traffic on the city’s public transport network was actually down during late 2015 compared with recent earlier years.

NEW  YORK    The MTA Subway network has been carrying record high ridership despite days in late 2015 when heavy snow caused long delays and sometimes cancellations to routes.    However, despite the high ridership the cost of keeping routes open despite the heavy snow fall, capital funds for necessary improvements to existing routes and the building of the 2nd Avenue Subway have been nibbled away with no obvious source for replacement cash.   A plan has been put forward to build a 17 mile long light rail line passing through the water-front communities along the east end of Long Island costing $1.7bn.   The line would link residential and recreational communities that are poorly linked but it is believed that the line would generate vast new developments generating tax revenue that would cover the construction and operating costs.

PENN  STATION   New York Mayor Andrew Cuomo announced on 6 January 2016 that a $3bn renovation of the city’s most important station was to go ahead.    The Farley Post Office Building across the road from the present facility would be transformed into a world-class transportation hub and the corridors, ticket selling, and waiting areas within the present station would be improved.   The Farley Building would give improved facilities for Amtrak, Long Island RR, New Jersey Transit, La Guardia Airport services and Subway passengers.   The entire hub will be renamed “Empire Station Complex” when the work is completed.

PATCO   The former high-frequency peak service was restored from 2 January 2016 following the completion of the 18 month $103m upgrade project.   The 30 year old track across the Ben Franklin Bridge was replaced together with all the power, signalling, and communication cables.   Trains now run every 4 minutes during weekday peaks and every 12-15 minutes at other times on weekdays.   The weekend frequency has been increased slightly from every 30 to every 25 minutes.

WASHINGTON   Traffic on local suburban rail services and the Metro has fallen by 11% during 2015.    Frequent mechanical failures resulting in services been halted in mid-journey is blamed. A source for additional funds that would allow the system to be given an overall brush and polish has not been found.

EL  PASO    Construction of tram tracks along parts of Stanton Street, Kansas Street, and Father Rahn Avenue commenced on 4 January 2016.   These segments will form the start of the 4.8 mile long line running from the city centre to the University to be served by historic streetcars.   There will be 27 stops along the route.

CANADA

EDMONTON     TransEd Partners are to design, build, operate and maintain stage one of the Valley Line light railway.    This will run from Mill Woods to 102 Street in the city centre.    A later stage will run west from the city centre to Lewis Farms.

22 December 2015

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK   The New York Subway carried a record number of passengers on 29 October 2015 when 6,217,621 people passed through the entry gates.

JERSEY  AVENUE   This rather ramshackle station served by local commuter services and situated on the North East Corridor south of Newark may be demolished and relocated in order to create a coach storage yard that will be flood-proof.

NEWARK  AIRPORT   The “AirTrain” monorail link between the massive car park and the three Airport terminals, later extended four miles to link with local trains on the Northeast Corridor, is to be closed and replaced by a people mover.   The monorail, opened 19 years ago, always had design problems especially when the monorail and coach grippers got clogged by snow.   As the Airport grew steadily busier so the capacity in the small passenger carrying modules became too crowded until the system was declared totally inadequate.

CLEVELAND   This city is experiencing a steady drop in its population which has resulted in a drop in the number of trains required on the heavy and light rail systems.   Forty Red Line sets are required each day to maintain services on the line to the Airport and thirty four light rail trains for the Shaker Heights light rail lines.    In both cases the rolling stock is well past its expected life-span but withdrawn trains are kept safely and are cannibalised to provide spare parts for the operating trains.    When there are no more spares to scavenge a new part has to be manufactured specially – a costly business.     It is reckoned that brand new rolling stock will be required by around 2025 and that will mean placing an order by around 2020.    Planners are looking at the possibility of obtaining a single design capable for use on both local rail lines.

CHARLOTTE   The new city centre light railway opened on 14 July 2015.   It connects with the north – south Lynx Blue Line then runs east for over a mile to the Presbyterian Hospital.   Extensions are planned at both ends.

MINNEAPOLIS   The Metropolitan Council has approved modified plans for the Blue or Bottineau Light Rail Line which will extend through the north west suburbs with 11 stations.   The cost is estimated at $1.496bn and individual towns along the route must now approve the plans by early March 2016.   The line will offer through rides to the International Airport and the Mall of America.

KANSAS  CITY   The new tramway will have a week-long celebration opening during April 2016 but passengers may be able to ride the LRVs from a date in March 2016.

DENVER   Construction of the North Metro Line is proceeding actively along a Union Pacific RR right of way.   Among major civil engineering projects being tackled during the end of year holiday period is the construction of a bridge over 120th Avenue – a major arterial route into the city.

HOUSTON   Metro discovered a fault in several of the new Metro cars that were built by CAF  (USA).    The wheels have started to separate from the axles and fourteen cars have had to stored in sidings while a repair job is arranged with the builder.   CAF (USA) is a firm set up by the European Company because of the “Built in America” rule demanded in major contracts and this offshoot firm has been responsible for a number of significant deficiencies in its products.

PHOENIX   The 3.2 mile long north west extension of the Valley Metro will open on 19 March 2016.   The extension will serve six schools, pensioner residential blocks, and 300 businesses, and is expected to attract around 5000 users each day.

TACOMA     Federal funding has been secured to help finance a 2.4 mile long extension along Stadium Way to Hilltop.    The existing light railway is just 1.6 miles long and operates in the Theatre District.

CANADA

TORONTO    The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is pushing ahead with its decision to introduce the PRESTO electronic fare payment system on its tram fleet.    Individual passengers will use their personal Smart-card into which they can load funds and make fare payments by inserting their card into a terminal on each tram.    The entire working fleet will be equipped by the end of 2015.

5 December 2015

U.S.A.

PHILADELPHIA   Plans to extend the Norristown High Speed Line from Norristown to King of Prussia are again being examined.    Developers wishing to see a major expansion in businesses based at King of Prussia feel that the light rail line will play a vital role in encouraging firms to move to the new developments.     An application for Federal Funding is being assembled.

CANADA

TORONTO   The newest car-house named the “Leslie Barns” house, was opened on 21 November 2015.   It has been designed to handle only low floor streetcars.

2 November 2015

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK  AREA    A start has been made on the $105m project to rehabilitate the signalling and train control systems at the St George terminus of the Staten Island Railway.   This equipment was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 and the opportunity is being taken to replace some track and other equipment.   Work has begun on the construction of access ways for escalators etc to a new terminus for Long Island RR services underneath Grand Central Station.   The project is the largest transport- related job at present being tackled in the USA.   The new terminus will have eight platforms and will be ten blocks long.    The Interborough Rapid Transit Company celebrated the 111th anniversary of the opening of the first section of what became the NY Subway on 27 October 2015.

CLEVELAND   The RTA (Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority) needs $280m to replace its elderly rail fleet for which there is no longer a supplier of spare parts.   New cars will cost about $5m each.   A further $254m is needed for infrastructure repairs and the renewal of the bus fleet.   The RTA purchased sixty heavy rail cars from Tokyu in 1984-5 and forty of these are being renovated with the remainder being scrapped.   Their stainless steel bodies have proved to be relatively durable.  Used on the Windermere – Airport  Red Line, the renovated stock will remain in service until about 2025.     Forty eight light rail cars for the Blue and Green Line light rail stock were built in 1980-1 by Breda but their ordinary steel bodies have been subject to significant deterioration and repairs/upgrades are not easy to achieve. The population of Cleveland has declined and new suburbs are beyond the existing transit routes.   Traffic carried has fallen from 120m in 1980 to just 50m in 2014 although even this lower figure is higher than the traffic handled in many other cities in USA.

CHICAGO   The CTA has awarded a contract worth $180m to reconstruct the southern terminus of the Red Line at 95th/Dan Ryan.   Included are track improvements on the route south from the station to 98th Street Yard.

KANSAS  CITY   The overhead wires for the new tramway will be energised from 28 October 2015 in order to test the 750 V dc electrical systems.    The tramway will operate from River Market to Union Station through the city centre.   The new LRVs have still to be delivered from the CAF factory at Elmira Heights NY.

DENVER   Services between downtown and Denver International Airport are now expected to start on 22 April 2016.    The 23 mile long line will have eight stations, trains will reach 79 mph, and will be known as the University of Colorado A Line.

LOS  ANGELES   The first 12 mile segment of the Transit Authority’s Foothill Extension to Azusa is expected to open on 5 March 2016 provided testing of the new equipment proceeds as planned.   The next 12.3 mile extension to Montclair still requires some funding but work will proceed soon.

CANADA  C$2.8bn is being invested in the Montreal Metro system.  Two thirds of this sum will go towards new AZUR rolling stock which will boost capacity by 8%.    The remainder of the money will go on station improvements and the renewal of some lineside equipment.

COLOMBIA   The 4.3km long Ayacucho Tramway in Medellin was inaugurated on 20 October 2015, having been partially open since 15 October. It will be fully operational on 30 November 2015.   This is a guided tramway using Alstom rubber-tyred trams.      85,000 users are expected each day.

BRAZIL    The Alstom LRV Assembly factory at Taubate, near Sao Paulo, has been equipped with a test track ¼ mile long on which to test the electric equipment on board each completed tram and undertake test running at speeds of up to 25 mph.    The first trams to operate on the track will be the 32 Citadis trams being supplied to Rio de Janeiro.

1 October 2015

U.S.A.

WASHINGTON   Services on parts of the Blue, Orange, and Silver Metro lines were halted on 21 September 2015 following a substation fire at Stadium – Armory.   Dense smoke from the fire filled the tunnels.

MINNEAPOLIS    Concerns have been expressed about the design of the planned South West Line.   Much of the line will follow a railway right of way along which a single freight track will remain in use.    The freight traffic includes large quantities of hazardous materials.    The planned space between the trams and the freight cars is limited and the risks of a collision occurring if there is a derailment are the cause of the concern.

BART (San Francisco)  The downtown station in Berkeley is being upgraded since it is close to the University of California’s Berkeley Campus, a source of steadily growing traffic.

LOS  ANGELES   Work has begun to rebuild Wilshire/Western Metro station as a preliminary to getting under way with the nine mile long Purple Line extension.

PANAMA   A second Metro line is to be built in the Central American city.   21 km long, it will have 16 stations and will be on an elevated structure.   Expected opening date is April 2019.   Twenty one Metropolis trains will be obtained equipped with the Urbalis-Alstom control system allowing trains to operate as close as 90 seconds apart.

4 September 2015

U.S.A.

BOSTON   The local Transit Authority (MBTA) requires $7.3bn in funding if it is to catch up completely with overdue maintenance and repair work.

NEW  YORK  SUBWAY   Siemens and Thales have won contracts to install a communications based train control system on part of the Queens Boulevard Line, which is the longest and busiest line in the system.  It is used by the E,F,M and R lines and both the express and local tracks are having the system installed.  There are plans to convert all the lines that operate within Manhattan and run on into Long Island or mainland NY State.    This work will be phased and is not scheduled to be completed until 2049.

LONG  ISLAND  RR   Track laying has begun on the project to lay double track on the branch between  Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma (18 miles).    This will enable an improved off-peak frequency to be operated on the line.

PHILADELPHIA   The visit of Pope Francis to the city on 25-28 September 2015 will result in the closure of numerous highways leading to the city centre during this period.   The Benjamin Franklin Bridge will be closed to all vehicular traffic and maps have been produced to indicate the walking distance from outlying suburbs to the site of public events during his visit..    The entire suburban rail service will be abandoned for the days of the visit, most local stations will be closed, and a special service of fast trains will run between a number of outer suburban stations and the city centre.     It is expected that these special services will be used by anything up to double the normal number of passengers.

CHICAGO   The Yellow Line (formerly known as Skokie Swift) shuttle will remain out of action following the collapse of an embankment about half way along the route.    Around 2900 commuters used the shuttle service each weekday changing at Howard to the Purple or Red Lines “L” service to downtown Chicago.    The 5.1 mile route was built by the North Shore Interurban over a section of land that had been a swamp and the embankment has always been known to be potentially weak.    Buses replace the shuttle trains but only a few hundred people use this replacement service.

MINNEAPOLIS   Both the Green and Blue light rail lines carried over 1m passengers during July 2015 breaking previous ridership records.

SACRAMENTO   The 4.3 mile long extension of the Blue Line to Cosumnes River College opened at 0602 on 25 August 2015.    The date coincided with the start of the new term at several Colleges along the route.   There is a bus interchange at the River College terminus and 2700 car park spaces along the extension which has a total of four new stations.

PHOENIX   Voters have approved a sales tax increase to generate funds for 42 miles of additional tram tracks around the city, and also repairs to 680 miles of roads in the city.

CANADA

OTTAWA    The new east – west city centre (at Blair) to Tunney’s Pasture (12.5km) Confederation light rail line will connect at Bayview with the earlier north – south Trillium diesel light rail line.   Construction of the new line is on schedule for a start to services in 2018.

EDMONTON   The extension to the light rail network from MacEwan to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is to open on 6 September 2015.    Services will operate at half of the normal top speed until the new signalling system, supplied by Thales, has been proven to be reliable.

COLOMBIA   CAF has won the contract to supply an additional twenty three-car Metro train for the Medellin Metro.   CAF is already building sixteen trains.

15 August 2015

U.S.A.

TRAMS  HELP  BUSINESS   The building of a tram system in Portland (Ore) has stimulated $4.5bn of investment in adjacent areas of the city centre.   This substantial sum pales into insignificance when compared with the investment in Phoenix (Arizona) where $8.2bn of new developments have followed the construction of the new tramway.

SHORE  LINE  MUSEUM   This well known trolley museum has received PATH car 745 which had been parked in the station underneath the World Trade Center when the towers were brought down on 11 September 2001.   Car 745 survived despite the total disaster above it.   Local civic authorities were present to give an official welcome to 745.

PHILADELPHIA    SEPTA began to sell its $10 passes to allow travel on the system to see the Pope during his visit to the city on 26 and 27 September 2015.

SEPTA  UPGRADE  PROGRAM    Having obtained sufficient funds from Federal and State sources a massive reconstruction/repair project is under way including the replacement of seventeen miles of 80 year old catenary along the Media/Elwyn route.  In addition many of the masts are being replaced.     Many bridges across the system and the Norristown High Speed line are being replaced or given extensive repairs.   Station buildings, stairways and pedestrian tunnels are being renovated and high level platforms are being installed at many locations.     Track is being renewed along parts of Route 102 – the Sharon Hill light rail line- and in the city centre tram tunnel between 22 and 30 Streets.    The entire signalling system is being upgraded.      As recorded previously 64 new Siemens locomotives have been ordered as part of plans to renew much of the fleet..

CLEVELAND    The new Little Italy-University Circle station on the Red Line was opened on 11 August 2015 – the first new station opened on the system for 46 years.    The station has replaced the outmoded Euclid Avenue and East 120th Street station nearly half a mile away.   The new station is in the very heart of the booming Little Italy District and is within easy walking distance of many large residential blocks.    The opening came just in time for the major Feast of the Assumption Festival which was held on 13-17 August this year and was attended by 100,000 people many of whom had been attracted by the new station.

SAN  FRANCISCO   Historic Streetcar Line E was opened on 01 August 2015.   It runs from Fisherman’s Wharf along Embarcadero to the Caltrain Station at 4th and King Street.    Because there is still no point where trams can be turned, route E is being worked by double-ended PCCs.    A loop is however to be built at 19th Street.    The route passes AT&T Park, the new home of the San Francisco Giants.    The E Line uses existing track of Vintage route F between Wharves and Market Street, and routes N (Judah) and route T (Third Street ).     Route E’s PCCs cannot use the high level platforms used by routes N and T and instead call at separate low-level platforms.    Route E operates on Saturdays and Sundays  only between 10 am and 7 pm but the days and hours of operation may be increased from early 2016.

ARGENTINA   The Chinese company Qingdao Sifang has supplied 709 emu coaches to operate on three of the suburban railway companies around Buenos Aires.   The Sarmiento line has received 225 coaches, the General Roca line 304 coaches, and the Mitre line 180 coaches.    The new stock will replace elderly trains that in many cases are at least 50 years old.

3 August 2015

U.S.A.

PHILADELPHIA    SEPTA has had a successful year (1 July 2014 until 30 June 2015) keeping  within its budget and carrying the highest number of passengers (37,4m) since the creation of SEPTA.     24.8m were carried seven years ago.

DALLAS    Two additional trams have been ordered from the Brookville Equipment Corporation which had earlier supplied the initial two trams for use on the 1.6 mile long starter line.    The two new trams are “off-wire” vehicles and will take their power from on-tram batteries and are needed for use on the forthcoming expansion to the Oak Cliff area.

DENVER  The Regional Transportation District has awarded a $140m contract to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure to design and build the Southeast 2.2 mile long light rail extension.   It will serve two new stops both in rapidly growing areas.   Eight additional LRVs will be needed. To operate the extension which is expected to open in early 2019.

SAN  FRANCISCO   The Bay Area Air Quality Board has allocated $20m towards the electrification of the 51 mile long San Francisco – San Jose suburban line.    This project will cost $1.53bn to be paid for by a mixture of local, regional, state, and Federal sources and electric services are expected to commence during the winter of 2020.

17 July 2015

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK  AREA   Delays in the construction of the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway are causing concern that the planned opening date in December 2016 might not be achieved.    Until the first phase is completed money to fund the second phase taking the line north to 125th Street will not be released.     A collision on 19 June 2015 between a three car Long Island RR emu heading for Ronkonkoma and two motor cars stopped across the tracks at Mill Road level crossing in Riverhead resulted in two injuries among the occupants of the cars.     The cars had apparently collided on the level crossing and had not moved clear of the approaching train.     The 21 passengers on the train were not injured.     This was the second level crossing collision in the New York area in recent weeks and road safety officials are stepping up awareness publicity.     On 3 July 2015 the 1711 from Penn Station to Port Washington was even busier that usual as crowds boarded ahead of the  Independence Day Holiday.    At Great Neck station crowds forced a passenger off the platform resulting in her falling on to ballast between the train and the platform structure.     The power had to be turned off before rescuers were able to reach her but fortunately she suffered only slight injuries.     Belmont Park station, the only station on the LIRR with low-level platforms, was refurbished in time for the horse race season on 4 June 2015.     There are now two high level platforms serving four tracks.    25,583 people took the train to the races and an encouraging 28,947 took the train on their homeward journey.   About one third of the race fans took the train.

PHILADELPHIA  AREA     Proposals for a passenger service from Glassboro to Philadelphia continue to be the subject of debate.     If the route was built as an extension of PATCO using emus through services could be provided from Glassboro giving a travel time of 39 minutes to the city centre.     The cheaper alternative of operating the Glassboro line using slower dmus would entail a change of trains at Camden and give a time of 54 minutes to the city centre.   The diesel option might attract 18,000 daily rider compared with 24,000 if a through service was possible.   SEPTA plans to purchase up to eighteen electric locomotives to replace ageing machines that are used on peak services to Doylestown, Thorndale, Trenton, and Wilmington/Newark routes.   Thirteen ACS-64 Cities Sprinter locos (similar to those in use on Amtrak) are being ordered from the Siemens plant in Sacramento with an option for five more.

DETROIT   The 3.3 mile long Woodward Ave tramway will have no overhead power wires for  about 1.9 miles of the route.    The trams will draw power from 750 V dc rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

CINCINNATI   A turnkey contract has been awarded to Transdev to operate the future Cincinnati streetcar.

CHICAGO   Following the collapse of an embankment the Skokie Swift shuttle had to cease operation on 19 June 2015.    It will take until late October 2015 to repair the damage and restore services.

ILLINOIS  RAILWAY  MUSEUM   The Independence Day celebrations on 4 July 2015 included the operation of twenty three beautifully restored historic trams/LRVs which operated in turn throughout the day before appearing in a Grand Cavalcade.

IOWA  CITY    The Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway, a former interurban but surviving today because of its heavy freight traffic, is undertaking a study to determine whether a passenger service should be restored between Iowa City and the Eastern Iowa Airport.   The upgrade of the railway would cost $21m but the passenger service would run at a deficit of about $5m each year.   Passenger traffic would amount to around 800/day initially rising to about 2000 per day by 2030. The alternative would be to widen Interstate 380 to six lanes at a cost $770m.

LOS  ANGELES   The Blue light rail line – the busiest in the city used by 89,000 passengers each day – is to be upgraded.   The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks interchange station with the Green Line is to receive a major upgrade.    This is just one small part of a massive railway building project that will transform travel around the city during the next couple of decades.     There are five major construction works under way at the moment, three considered so important that the city is handling the work itself.  The other two are in the hands of major construction agencies.   The three schemes handled by the city are 1. the extension of the Expo Line from Culver City to Santa Monica (opens 2016); 2.  the Crenshaw/LAX line to link the Expo Line with the Green Line (opens 2019) with the probability that a people mover will take passengers from Aviation/LAX station to the Terminals; and 3  perhaps the most important of all the underground 1.9 mile long Regional Connector Line which will connect the Gold Line from Pasadena with the Blue Line to Long Beach and connect with all the other lines in Downtown LA.    It will open in 2020.    The projects in the hands of contractors are the Foothill Extension of the Gold Line towards Agua and much later to Montclair and the Purple Line extension along Wilshire Boulevard to La Grenega Bvd and later Westwood.   There are other new lines under discussion or planning but not yet financed.    For a city that is famed for its love of motor cars, the present multiple projects are an eye opener.

SEATTLE   Plans for extensions to the light rail network costing $15bn are to be put to the electorate in 2016.    The money would come from a local sales tax, a property tax, and a car tax. Local voters are required to be given the opportunity to vote for or against such tax increases.    If the vote is favourable the light rail system would be extended to Everett, Redmond, Tacoma, Ballard, and West Seattle.

CANADA

TORONTO   The line between Toronto Union Station and Pearson International Airport opened on 6 June 2015.  Trains operate every 15 minutes and give a 25 minute trip time. Sumitomo built 18 dmus to work the service but these will be able to be upgraded to emus if electrification of the route goes ahead.

1 July 2015

U.S.A.

BOONTON    SEPTA PCC tram 2743 has been magnificently restored to its original condition and was moved on 25 June 2015 to the Rockhill Trolley Museum.

NEW  YORK   The centenary of the Brooklyn – Manhattan – Transit system (BMT) was celebrated during the weekend of 27/28 June 2015 when free rides were given on four sets of vintage rolling stock at Coney Island.    A set of “B Standard” cars from 1917  caught the attention of many people.

PATCO    The Pope is to visit Philadelphia on 26-7 September 2015 and PATCO has estimated that it will have to handle 100,000 passengers on each of these days compared with its usual total of 38,000.    Special fares are being introduced for these two days – $5 for a one day pass and $10 for a two day pass.    These will be available for advance purchase from a date in mid-July 2015.    Normal paper tickets will not be issued during the two days and turnstiles will be left open in an effort to reduce delays in handling the extreme load of passengers.

WASHINGTON   Service frequencies on the Metro have been altered to reduce the long time that Blue Line passengers must wait for a train and also to ease overcrowding on this line.    Blue Line trains will now run every 8 minutes instead of every 12 minutes.   Orange, Green, and Yellow Lines services plus the recently introduced Silver Line will now operate every 8 minutes instead of six minutes.

CALIFORNIA    Contracts worth $1.2bn have been issued by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to build a 60 mile section of the 520 mile high-speed line between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
PORTLAND    Training runs have began on the new MAX Orange light rail line which will open on 12 September 2015.        The 7.3 mile long line will link Downtown with Milwaukie in Clackamas County.

CANADA

TORONTO   The Toronto Transit Commission is experiencing problems with the supply of 204 LRVs ordered from Bombardier’s Thunder Bay plant.   Fifty were to be on the property by June of this year but only seven have arrived.      Some components are of poor quality, including body panels, and do not fit properly,   These were produced at Bombardier’s factory in Mexico.    The accessibility ramp has had to be re-designed so that it can operate with street level or loading platform situations.       Two trams, one of the new Flexity Outlook 5-section cars, and a single section tram from the 1970s collided at the intersection of Spadina Ave and Queen Quay on 27 June 2015 at 1345.

13 June 2015

U.S.A.

CHICAGO   A southern extension of the South Shore Interurban over the tracks of the Monon RR to a point near Crown Point may be going ahead.   Some funding towards this long planned work has been made.    The area served by this extension is sparsely populated but is considered to be the best locality around the city for major investment in housing and industry.

VENEZUELA    The first of the Alstom Metropolis trains for the Los Teques Metro has arrived by sea from France. Visit the Wikipedia link to read more about the Los Teques Metro.

Los Teques Metro

4 June 2015

U.S.A.

NORTH  EAST  CORRIDOR   The Federal Railroad Administration has issued an Emergency Order to formalise the actions that Amtrak must take following the major derailment of train 188 near Frankford Junction.   An action plan to identify risk locations and measures to increase safety must be completed within 20 days of the Order.   Included is a Requirement that Automatic Train Control (ATC) be installed along the entire route.    At present ATC commences immediately beyond the crash site but not at the curve involved in the accident.    Significant speed restrictions must be introduced at all significant curves and the number of lineside signs giving the train crew warning of speed restrictions ahead must be increased considerably.   This work must be completed within 30 days of the issue of the Order.

NEW  YORK  SUBWAY   The theft at twelve sites of a total of 500 feet of costly copped cable during the early morning of 27 May 2015 brought the A and C lines to a stand.    Thousands of passengers from the Rockaways were stranded for several hours until the trains were able to move again at around 1030.

PHILADELPHIA   The first four PATCo cars, rebuilt by Alstom, were welcomed back at a ceremony at Woodcrest station on 28 Mat 2015.     They will be assembled and used as married pairs.

WASHINGTON   A new station is to be built on the Yellow and Blue Metro routes midway between the existing Braddock Road and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stops.   The new station is expected to stimulate massive private sector investments of new business premises giving new jobs for 26,000 people and new housing for 13,000.     Trade Unions are demanding that the completed tramway be opened for public service and that the trained staff who were dismissed for unclear reasons be re-employed immediately.

TWIN  CITIES   Plans for the Blue Line light railway have been modified following public consultation and will take up less space along West Broadway and therefore have less impact on the locality.

ARGENTINA   The Government has announced that the privatised railway network is to be re-nationalised.

CANADA

TORONTO    Trams no longer make special stops at city churches on Sundays.   The first such stops were made in the late 1890s but most were instituted during the 1930s.    No similar stops have ever been made at Synagogues, Temples, or Mosques and the end to church calls recognises the growth in other faiths coupled by a general drift towards secularism in Canada.    Tram authorities will still send out a tram to work a special service to a particular church by arrangement but the availability of such an arrangement is not widely known.    Electrification of the suburban railway network has been announced.   The new branch to Pearson International Airport opens in 2015 with diesel traction but electrification will follow as soon as heavy enough traffic has built up.   Conversion of the Stouffville route and part of the Kitchener line will be completed by 2022-3 followed by the Barrie and Lakeshore lines in 2023-4.

22 May 2015

U.S.A.

AMTRAK DERAILMENT   On the evening of 12 May 2015 Amtrak train No 188 from Washington to Penn Station in New York was derailed negotiating a curve near Frankford Junction in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia.    The train had apparently accelerated powerfully after its Philadelphia 30th Street station call and was reported to be moving at 106 mph as it reached the curve which has a 50 mph speed restriction.   There 238 passengers and 5 crew on board.    The train was hauled by one of the new Siemens locomotives which sustained relatively little damage and the driver was able to walk away from the scene.   The first two coaches were derailed and very seriously damaged, the first being barely recognisable as a coach.   The next three cars were completely off the track and two were lying on their side but  were  less severely damaged.   The 6th car was upright but at right angles to the track and the last two vehicles remained more or less on the track and remained upright, while the last two coaches remained on the rails.    Of the 238 people on board, six were killed and 200 were taken to local hospitals.    The NE Corridor was closed north of Philadelphia for several days and normal services did not restart until the morning of 18 May 2015.

HOUSTON   Two new light rail lines – the Green Line (serving the east suburbs) and Purple Line (south east suburbs including the oldest Afro-American suburb in the city) finally opened on 23 May 2015.

CANADA

TORONTO   The first several of the new LRVs have been taken out of service within a few days and returned to the makers because of extremely poor workmanship affecting almost every part of the structure of the new trams.

EDMONTON   Field training started on 2 May 2015 along the new light rail line running for 3.3 km north from Churchill to 105 Ave at MacEwan University, then Kingsway/Royal Alex before reaching the new terminus at Nait station.    The new automatic control and signalling system is being used along the extension.    The date for a start to public services depends on the success of the trial operation.

8 May 2015

U.S.A.

NEWARK  N J   The 3 mile long Airtrain linking the three terminals at Newark Liberty International Airport to a station on the North East Corridor Main Line is to be closed.   Built 19 years ago at a cost of $354m, it is used by 30,000 people daily, but has proved to be extremely unreliable.   Spares cannot now be obtained and experts have recommended its closure.   It is not clear what will replace it.

SAN  DIEGO   A $200bn transport plan detailing a series of projects that will take until 2050 to complete has been unveiled.   The light rail network will continue to play a major role with a series of extensions.    The first of these will be an eleven mile long route extending north from Old Town alongside Interstate 5 to La Jollo and University City.   Preliminary work is to start this year with completion due in 2019.     Four further additions to the light rail network are:-
1. San Ysidro to Carmel Valley via Chula Vista, south east San Diego, and Mission Valley to University City and Sorrento Valley.
2. Pacific Beach to San Diego State University.
3. Downtown San Diego to San Diego State University via El Cajon Bvd and City Heights.
4. University City along Sorrento Valley to a connection with the diesel “Coaster” commuter
heavy rail service.
The Oceanside – Escondido Sprinter service will be extended south from Escondido to Westfield North County.    The San Diego – Los Angeles main line will be upgraded to increase capacity and the stations will be improved.
To pay for these changes 48% will be raised locally, 34% will be provided by the State of California, and 18% will be a Federal contribution.

CANADA

MONTREAL      The Quebec Government has proposed changes to the bodies that plan and run public transport around Montreal.      The city of Montreal occupies an island in the St Lawrence River estuary and suburbs lie off-island being served by longer distance bus routes and a few suburban railway lines.   Until now AMT (Agence Métropolitain de Transport) has been responsible for planning and operating the suburban railway network but the plans will see it replaced by two bodies.    ART will comprise the mayors of all townships across the Region, plus some transport experts and will manage long-term planning issues.    RTM  will run and manage regional transport including train services in the Metropolitan Area.     Regional transport companies reaching into urban areas will be merged into RTM.     The suburban towns of Laval and Longueuil will retain their local transport planning and operating bodies, STL and RTL, which run existing services successfully.

26 April 2015

U.S.A.

NEW  JERSEY   The running of the New Jersey Marathon on 26 April 2015, an annual event, will involve the halting of services on the North Jersey Coast Line so that the large number of competitors can cross the tracks near Monmouth Park Station.    There are simply too many competitors to squeeze them across a conventional bridge nor underpass and by allowing them spread quite widely over the railway tracks the race can proceed safely and speedily.   Rail services will be halted for two hours between 0715 and 0915.   Several bus shuttles will be operated to replace the trains during this period.

PHILADELPHIA   The 105 year old 69th Street Transportation Center serving the Market – Frankford rapid transit line, the Norristown High-Speed line, light rail routes 101 and 102, and numerous local bus routes, is being upgraded so that it can handle higher levels of traffic.  Ramps to various platforms are being reconstructed, the South Platform is being reconstructed, canopies improved, and new lighting and improved information systems are being provided.

PATCO   At long last the first eight trains of the stock built in 1968, rebuilt in 2013 in the Alstom plant at Hornell NY, has been accepted for service.   The trains were tested throughout 2014 but many faults were found and it has taken until April 2015 for these trains to be considered fit for service.   When the entire fleet has been upgraded the trains will be 50 years old.

WASHINGTON  DC    Automatic operation of the Metro Red Line was restored on and from 13 April 2015.   The system had been dropped after a collision between two trains in 2009 but after system upgrades and prolonged testing the revised automatic system has been declared safe.   The first of the sixty six Kawasaki 7000 series trains was to enter service on the Blue Metro Line on 14 April 2015.

DALLAS   The 1.6 mile long tramway between Union Station in downtown and the employment hub at Oak Cliff was opened on 13 April 2015.   The trams take power from the overhead wire via a pantograph except for the section where the line runs on the historic Houston Street Viaduct.    On this unwired section the trams use battery power – the first electric streetcars to use battery power for part of their journey.

CANADA

TORONTO  The Scarborough light rail line is 30 years old and has reached the end of its planned life but no decision has been made as to what to do next.   Two train sets were overhauled as part of celebrations for the anniversary and the line will be closed over two weekends, 25/26 April and 3/4 May 2015 to allow upgrades to the infrastructure.   More information has been released about Metrolinx’s plans (formerly the Greater Toronto Trasportation Authority) to develop suburban railway services radiating from the city.   The Kitchener and Stouffville routes are to be electrified along with the Lakefront lines.   At present 1500 trains are operated each week and this will rise to 2200 within five years.   After electrification projects are completed (by 2024) and 15 minute frequencies are introduced along the busiest sections plus weekend and evening services on all routes there will be 6000 trains per week.   A new light rail line is now planned in the towns west of Toronto.    The 14 mile long, 26 station line will link the town centres of Mississauga and Brampton and will connect with the heavy rail routes between Toronto and Kitchener, Milton and the Lakeshore West radial lines. For more information follow the link below.

Metrolinx in Toronto

ARGENTINA

BUENOS  AIRES   The extensive commuter railway network was re-nationalised on 2 March 2015.  The electrification of the Roca Railway lines is proceeding.   The Government has ordered 300 coaches and the first of the new emus was displayed to the public on 5 March 2015.

10 April 2015

U.S.A.

BOOMING  BUSINESS   Traffic on urban light rail systems across the USA continues to show strong growth.    The Minneapolis system’s traffic grew by 57.4%  during 2014 largely due to the opening of additional lines.   Traffic in Houston, San Diego and Denver rose by 17.9%, 15.3% and 12% respectively. The New York Subway carried 4% more traffic.

PHILADELPHIA   SEPTA has announced that it intends to purchase a new fleet of tramcars but not immediately.   The present Kawasaki LRVs do not comply with the conditions laid out by the Disabilities Act and they cannot be converted in an economical way.   They are not yet old enough to be taken out of service.

WASHINGTON  DC    The first series 7000 subway trains built by Kawasaki USA is to enter service on the Blue Line on 14 April 2015.    There continue to be delays in getting the initial street tramway line open for service.   Trams on test operations have been involved in a series of accidents mostly due to bad driving or parking by motor vehicle owners.   So a tram has clipped a motor car’s projecting mirror, or has rear-ended a car that has nipped in front of the tram before stopping abruptly at a red traffic light.    In most incidents it is clear that the fault lies with the motor vehicle but many are calling for the tramway to close before it has opened because the trams are deemed to be dangerous!  The short initial tram line is the first of a much larger planned network but the omens are not good further lines to be built.

25 March 2015

U.S.A.

SOUTH  SHORE  LINE    In a bid to increase peak hour travel from South Bend and Dune Park, express services were introduced on the South Shore interurban from 16 March 2015.   A new 0600 from South Bend Airport reaches Randolph Street in downtown Chicago taking just 1 hour 55 minutes.    This trains makes three calls and deposits passengers at Van Buren then Randolph Street. Three other morning trains have slightly different calling patterns.    In the reverse direction a new 1557 from Randolph Street takes 1 hour 59 minutes to reach South Bend Airport having picked up at three city stops, 57th Street, East Chicago then Dune Park before running fast to South Bend Airport.   The existing 1602 from Randolph Street to Carrol Avenue omits two intermediate calls that are served by the 1557.

9 March 2015

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK   Construction of the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway in Manhattan makes good progress with work well advanced on the stations at 96th Street, 86th Street and 72nd Street.   The first part of the line, linked at each end to other routes, will open in December 2016.   The second phase of construction will extend the route north to 125th Street in Harlem and funding for this is probably secured.   The final phase is however in doubt.   This would take the 2nd Ave Subway south to the tip of Manhattan Island but this part of the project will be dropped if the funds are not in place when the earlier work has been completed and construction teams are ready to move to Phase Three.   There will be no hanging around for years until money surfaces.   It will be “build now or scrap”.

DALLAS   The brand new 1.6 mile long street tramway, parts of which are “overhead wire-free” is to open for public service on 13 April 2015.    The new line links Oak Cliff, where there is a large car park, and Downtown.    There will be no charge to ride the trams which are provided to reduce the number of cars driving into the city centre.

SAN  DIEGO   Fully restored PCC tram 530, built in 1946, has entered service on the tourist “Silver Line” on 02 March 2015.    The Silver Line is a 2.7 mile long loop around the city centre which operates on three days per week.

BRAZIL    Alstom”s new tram building plant at Taubate started production of Citadis trams during February 2015.   The factory is to handle orders from Latin America and the first order is for 32 Citadis trams for Rio de Janeiro.

28 February 2015

U.S.A.

BOSTON    A further 16.2” of snow fell in a few hours on 14 February 2015 bringing the entire public transport system to a standstill.   Herculean efforts by staff and volunteers got limited services running on 15 February 2015.

HONOLULU    Construction of the 20 mile long elevated railway following the waterfront is making steady progress.    Two miles of the elevated structure were completed by early February 2015 involving 84 individual spans.     There will be 20 stations on the completed system.

CANADA

WATERLOO (Ontario)   Construction is starting on the first phase of the light railway between Conestoya Mall in Waterloo and Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener.    There will be some disruption to normal traffic for up to 18 months especially along King Street, the main highway between the two shopping areas, but access will always be available to key locations along the route including the University of Waterloo, and the Grand River Hospital.     Fourteen five-segment LRVs have been ordered to provide services along the new railway.

14 February 2015

U.S.A.

BOSTON    Following the third major blizzard in three weeks, the operation of all suburban railway services was halted on 10 February 2015 until the lines could be cleared.

NEW  YORK    A collision occurred on 3 February 2015 at 1830 between a Metro North RR train carrying 800 commuters and a SUV stuck on the tracks on a level crossing at Valhalla on the Harlem Line.   The impact was violent and the Jeep burst into flames.  The third rail was ripped up and the resultant flash set the first coach of the train alight.     The driver of the SUV and six people on the train were killed and twelve were injured.    The barrier to close the road came down correctly but  crashed into the roof of the road vehicle which had driven on to the crossing and was waiting for congested traffic to move.   The train had left Grand Central Station at 1745 and was bound for Wassaic, the northern terminus of the Harlem Line.

More details about this accident can be found at the following link:

Valhalla crossing accident

MILWAUKEE   Approval by city authorities and the award of a substantial Federal grant means that construction of a 2½ mile long tramway across the city centre can commence immediately

NEW  ORLEANS   A start has been made on building a 1.6 mile extension to the tramway network to North Rampart Street/St Claude Ave that will link the French Quarter to Canal Street.  No extra tramcars will be needed.

29 January 2015

U.S.A.

BLIZZARD    The north east coast of USA from Philadelphia in the south to the Canadian Border in the north was threatened by an extreme storm on 26 – 27 January 2015.    The nation is accustomed to dealing with snow lying up to 3 feet deep but this storm was complicated by unusually strong winds of up to 100 mph.    All forms of public transport were halted including much of the New York Subway which “never” shuts down.     The Broadway Theatres were closed many shops and office complexes did not open for business on 27 January and an order from the Municipal Authorities banned all movements of private cars except when there was a real emergency.   The situation began to ease late on the 27th as the wind died down and snow clearing teams made progress.    The snow fall in New Jersey State was much lighter than expected and transport was able to operate much better than expected.

NEW  YORK   A former power station used when Penn Station was altered in the 1960s and an active church containing relics of St Padre Pio stand in the way of an Amtrak plan to increase capacity for commuter traffic at Penn Station.  A new tunnel under the Hudson allowing one of the existing tunnels to be taken out of use for repairs and a new Penn South commuter station to take commuters out of Penn Station proper to leave more room for Amtrak services are planned.    Strong moves are under way to have both buildings “listed” as historic places but Amtrak does not want to re-plan their improvements.   Governor Cuomo has proposed that a branch 1.5 miles long be built from the Long Island RR to serve La Guardia Airport – the only major airport serving New York that has no rail service.

CINCINATI      The first of the overhead wires for the new 750V dc street tramway was strung on 28 January 2015.

ATLANTA    There is no charge to ride the recently opened city centre tramway but hardly anybody is riding it – except the homeless who find the trams a welcome source of comfort and heat.

16 January 2015

U.S.A.

WASHINGTON  DC    A fire on a train operating on the Yellow Line on 12 January 2015 filled the train with smoke which extended also into L’Enfant Plaza station.    Large numbers of passengers on the train and the station had to be evacuated and sadly one woman passenger was overcome by the smoke and died before she could be rescued.

CHARLOTTE   The opening of the new tramway has been put back from January 2015 to June 2015 because construction has not been completed within the agreed time frame and a 700 feet section has to be rebuilt because of faults in the completed work.   The contractors are being fined $1,000 per day from 25 December 2014 until the work is completed ( in February or March ?) after which testing, driver training, and trial running has to take place.

CALIFORNIA     A contract worth $1.4bn has been awarded for the construction of a section of the planned high-speed line south of Fresno.   Meanwhile vigorous protests have been made against proposals to route the line through 35 miles of the Los Angeles Forest – part of which is a popular resort area.    An alternative route would place the new railway parallel to the Route 14 Freeway.

CANADA

VANCOUVER  B.C.    Workers on the 12 mile long Canada Line – the automated rapid transit system linking the city centre with Richmond and the International Airport – have voted to strike if a new labour agreement is not agreed by 19 January 2015.   The line carries 120,000 riders daily.

MEXICO   The bidding process to construct a high-speed railway between Mexico City and Queretaro (130 miles) has been re-opened.    The earlier bidding process resulted in just one bid by a Chinese-led consortium.    The new railway would link the cities in under one hour compared to a 2½  – 3 hour journey in a car along congested roads.

8 January 2015

U.S.A.

BOSTON   Public transport usage rose during 2014 despite a 5% fare increase.   Heavy rail suburban trains carried 5.6% more people, light rail services 1.6% more, and the ferries 8% more.  Only buses lost traffic with a fall of 9%.    A new suburban rail service is to be introduced to Foxborough in the south western suburbs.   The New England Patriots National Football club’s Gillette Stadium is located beside the new Foxborough station and special services are planned to operate from Boston South station to carry crowds to home games.    A Federal Grant of $996m will enable work to start on a 4.7 mile long extension of the Green Line from a relocated Lechmere Station to Somerville and Medford (Union Square).   There will be six stops along the extension and 24 additional LRVs will be required.

NEW  YORK  AREA    The after effects of Hurricane Sandy will be felt for at least the next two years as damage to the tunnels under the East River are gradually repaired.   The Long Island RR closed two of its four tunnels under the East River during the weekend of 6/7 December 2014 to undertake a detailed engineering study of the tunnels.    Renewal of the wrecked signalling system began soon after at Harold Interlocking and will include new work for the planned link into Grand Central Station.   Work to repair other damage to these tunnels will require each to be closed for a period of around a year during which time delays to LIRR services can be expected.    Further west in New Jersey plans have been approved to cover over the rail yards close to Hoboken terminal with new office building 22 stories high replacing earlier plans for a structure of 70 stories.   The train shed over Hoboken terminal may also be covered by new office or residential buildings.
The Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) metro line route to the south Manhattan terminal at the World Trade Center reopened on 20 December 2014 after a year of repeated closures in connection with tunnel repair work.    Now repairs can switch to the tunnels serving the northern branch to 33rd Street within which a recent cable fire has complicated work to repair Sandy-damaged signalling.

PHILADELPHIA  Delays continue at the Alstom plant where the 120 PATCO cars are being rebuilt.  The eight cars so far delivered back to PATCO have failed their acceptance trials that require the stock to complete just 500 miles of operation without any breakdowns.   SEPTA has introduced a new pre-holiday schedule on its rail lines.    Because workers are increasingly setting off for home at lunchtime before the start of an official holiday, one pm peak train on nine routes has been  re-timed to operate instead between 12.00 noon and 12.35pm.

BALTIMORE   Plans are being examined actively to replace the 140 year old twisting tunnels that carry the NE Corridor below the city with a completely new straight  tunnel 2 miles long.  The existing tunnels cause trains to slow significantly causing frequent delays to the 85 Amtrak, 57 MARC suburban services and 2 freight services that run each day.   The tiny volume of freight traffic on the route is quite significant.  Concerns are being expressed about the vibration effect on 100 year old buildings above the new tunnels.   Also (a rather British sounding concern) bats live in the old tunnels and these eat mosquitoes that would otherwise cause problems for nearby residents.

WASHINGTON   Local public transport services always run on a financial knife edge and operator WMATA is seeking a 10% increase in subsidies from all eight counties that make up the city area to prevent service reductions.

ATLANTA  The opening ceremony of the city centre tramway was held at 11.00 am on 30 December 2014.

OKLAHOMA  CITY    Four builders are competing to supply an initial five light rail cars for an initial 4.6 mile long street car line in the city centre

DENVER   The first four of sixty six emus went on public display at Union Station on 3-6 December 2014.    The emus are very similar to the Silverliner V sets operating around Philadelphia.   The emus will commence public services on routes to Denver International Airport, Arvada/Wheatridge, and Westminster which are expected to open in 2016 with a fourth line to the northern suburbs starting operation in 2018.

SAN  FRANCISCO   Environmental studies for the planned electrification of the busy commuter lines from Downtown San Francisco to San Jose has raised significant public concerns about the proposal to erect support pillars for the overhead wires along both sides of the double track railway.   Many trees would have to be felled to make this possible.   An alternative plan would see a single line of masts between the two running tracks saving many trees although the need to widen the right of way to create space for the masts would still see some loss of trees.

HONOLULU   Track is now being laid along the 20 mile long rapid transit route which is planned to open in 2017.    Services are planned to run between 04.00 and midnight seven days per week with a 5 minute peak frequency eased to 11 minutes during off-peak hours.

This is the official website of Honolulu Rail Transit:

Honolulu rail transit

CHILE  In Santiago a new Metro Line, No 7, is planned and will relieve severe congestion on Line 1.   A 5km extension to Line 2 in the southern suburbs is likely to go ahead. While still under construction 22 km long Line 3  is to be extended by a further 5 km.

For more information please click on the link below:

Santiago Metro

and a YouTube video about the system:

23 December 2014

U.S.A.

BOSTON   The Green Line service between Fenway and Kenmore was halted on 13 December 2014 because of serious flooding in the Fenway area following torrential rain.

NEW  YORK  AREA      Federal funding of $300m is sought to undertake infrastructure improvements on the Canarsie L Line which links Manhattan and Brooklyn  via the Canarsie locality.   This area of Brooklyn has seen the greatest population rise in the entire New York area.   The line has 300,000 daily users – double the figure carried in 1998.  Capital works planned include additional entrances at stations so that there will no longer be crowds unable to enter the stations during the peaks, and elevators at many of the stations enabling them to meet the requirements of the Disabilities Act.  Red Bank station on the North Jersey Coast line which was placed on the Register of Historic Places in 1976 has just received a $2.5m restoration process to stabilise the building and recreate it original appearance.

LOS  ANGELES   Initial train testing on the Gold Foothills line between Pasadena and Azusa   (11.5 miles) took place between 8 and 19 December 2014 at locations including Arcadia, Monrovia and Duarte.

13 December 2014

U.S.A.

BOSTON   Federal funding of nearly $1bn has been pledged to meet 43% of the cost of the planned 4.7 mile long extension of the Green Line from Lechmere to Somerville and Medford.

NEW  YORK    New signalling has been installed at Harold Interlocking, the busiest junction in the USA used by commuter services of the Long Island RR, NJ Transit, and Amtrak as part of the East Side Access Project.    When completed the Project will allow LIRR trains to operate into Grand Central Terminal and the East Side of Manhattan Island.    South Ferry subway station was rebuilt in 2008 so that 10 car trains could use the station but it was inundated by 15m gallons of salt water during the storms linked to Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 destroying all electrical and mechanical equipment including escalators, turnstiles and signalling.    The original 1905 South Ferry station had been mothballed but was able to be reopened with all its inadequacies.   Now funds have been found to rebuild the new station.    It will be able to be shut off by massive doors across the tracks when there is a flood danger and the station will become wheelchair accessible.

CALIFORNIA    The State of California has made grants towards three major upgrades to local railways.   In Los Angeles a grant of $106.3m has been made to the Mid-City/Exposition light rail tunnel which will add 7.8 miles of new line between Culver City and Santa Monica.   In nearby Orange County a grant of $43.5m will help build an underpass on Raymond Avenue.   The railway here is used by BNSF freights and Metrolink suburban services which cause delays on the busy road when very long freight services come trundling across the existing level crossing.   In San Francisco $81.8m is being made available for the Central Subway light rail line between a point just south of Market Street to Chinatown (1.7 miles) on which traffic is expected to reach over 42,000 per day.

CANADA

MONTREAL     The sixth suburban railway service radiating from the city was opened on 1st December 2014 operating from Central Station through the Mount Royal Tunnel and then along CNR metals through Montreal Nord (to which a sparse commuter service did operate many years ago) and then switching to CPR metals by means of a new link line to reach the growing suburban town of Mascouche.    A fleet of diesel and electric hybrid locomotives is used with electric power used through the Tunnel and as far as Ahuntsic at the start of the Montreal Nord section then diesel power for the remainder of the run.

MEXICO   The plans to build a high-speed railway are to be reopened for tenders.    Only one bid was received first time round – from a Chinese Consortium with four small local firms.   This was accepted until suggestions that it had involved corruption resulted in the award being cancelled.
The Chinese Consortium has indicated that it will submit a fresh bid and the Mexican Government hopes that other bidders may participate this time.

1 December 2014

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK   The damage done by Hurricane Sandy is gradually being tackled.   The R Train subway service has returned to normal following a 13 month closure of the East River Tunnel for repair work.   Now it is the turn of the Cranberry Street Subway Tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan used by Subway Routes A and C.     The tunnel will be closed for 40 weekends between the Spring of 2015 and early 2016 while repairs are made to the electrical systems including the lighting in the tunnel, and communication cables.    During the closures routes A and C will be diverted through the Rutgers Street Tunnel.

NEW  YORK  STATE   One of the heaviest snow falls on record brought the State to a standstill on 19-20 November 2014.    Travel on the roads, railways, and by air was brought to a standstill.

NORTH  EAST  CORRIDOR   In recent years the 104 year old Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River in Newark NJ has been a frequent cause of delays to Amtrak expresses and NJT commuter trains.   Because the river is used by numerous commercial boats and the railway crossing is too low to allow sufficient clearance for the shipping the Bridge is a swing bridge meaning that when a boat requires to get through trains are halted for up to 20 minutes.    The swing mechanism is worn out and the solution is seen to be the building of a new fixed high-level bridge costing $940m.  This will allow an increase in train speeds through the area from 60 mph to 90 mph    Everyone is now waiting to see if a Federal grant will be made allowing work to start.  Just east of the bridge there is another problem – the twin tunnels under the Hudson River which need repair and need to be joined by another pair of bores – but the solution will take even longer to find.

ATLANTA   The new tramway is expected to open on 6 December 2014.    There have been two collisions in the space of one week between trams during test running and motor vehicles whose drivers are taking time to learn that the trams must stay on the rail and cannot move out of the way.

HOUSTON   The opening of the new Green and Purple Lines, serving respectively the eastern and south eastern suburbs, has been delayed by four months until 4 April 2015.   There will not be enough LRVs to work the new services until then.    Thirty nine new cars have been ordered but it is expected that at least fourteen of them will be fully tested and ready for service by April.   The full service on the new routes may not begin for a few weeks when more new trams will be available. Similarly planned service improvements on existing routes will not happen for a few more months.

DENVER   The Denver Regional Transportation District showed off its new 2-car emus at Union Station on 3  – 6 December 2014.   Sixty six vehicles are being obtained to operate four suburban/outer suburban routes – the East Rail Link to Denver International Airport, The North West Rail Link to Westminster,  The Gold Line to Arvada and Wheat Ridge and the North Rail Link to Thornton.     The coach bodies are manufactured at the Hyundai Rotem plant in South Korea and are then fitted out in an industrial unit in Philadelphia.

BART  AREA    A people mover served by four three-car trains now links the BART Coliseum Station with Oakland International Airport.    The journey takes 8 minutes and the trains operate at 30 mph.

SAN  DIEGO    Plans for the 11 mile long light rail extension to La Jolla and University City were  approved by local officials in mid November 2014 following the final environmental study.  Work can now start on moving utilities along the route and construction work will take place during 2016 and 2017.

20 November 2014

U.S.A.

BOSTON   The Massachusetts Governor announced on 21 October 2014 an order for 248 metro cars  to be supplied by CNR Changchun.   152 cars will be for the Orange Line, and 132 for the Red Line.   They will be assembled at the old Westinghouse plant in Springfield MA to meet the “Buy America” requirements.

BRANFORD    A new tram barn has been built at The Shore Line Trolley Museum in Branford, East Haven, CT.     This is at a higher level above sea level and will enable the oldest and most delicate trams to be stored safely when stormy weather is liable to cause flooding in the main part of the museum.    The first trams to use the barn moved there on 8 November 2014.

NORTH  EAST  CORRIDOR    This 457 mile long corridor linking Washington and Philadelphia with New York and Boston is the busiest inter-city route in North America but lacks investment which the States served cannot afford to tackle.    The Federal Railroad Administration has discussed the problem and identified the work that must be done so demand can be met.    Much of the infrastructure is 100 years old and upgrades will be essential soon.    The building of two additional tunnels between New Jersey and Manhattan must somehow be achieved but there is even more uncertainty about when/if this can be achieved with the Republican Party having won the recent elections.

NEW  YORK   Two “Nostalgia Trains” were operated on lines 2 and 3 between Times Square/42nd Street and 96th Street on Sunday 26 October 2014, as part of the events celebrating the 110th birthday of the system.    On Sundays only from 25 November until 30 December 2014 vintage R1/9 stock will operate on the 6th Ave Line between Queens Plaza and 2 Avenue.    Vintage stock is operated on the Sundays leading up to the Festive Season every year.

PRINCETON   New Jersey Transit opened the new station at Princeton University on 21 November 2014.   The new building gives twice the space of the old building and the University requested that the station be moved 500 feet south of the old terminus to create space for a new Arts Complex.   A frequent shuttle by a two-car emu (nicknamed “The Dinky”) links the University with Princeton Junction on the North East Corridor with connections towards both New York and Washington.   The 2.9 mile trip takes just four minutes making this the shortest regular passenger service in the USA.  The building at the former terminus has been retained and will become a restaurant.

DETROIT   Six low-floor vehicles are to be built by the Inekon Group to work the initial section of the long-planned Woodward Ave light railway.   The trams will be capable of operating along the considerable section of the route that will not have an overhead wire.   The route will operate through an aesthetically sensitive area which precludes the installation of a network of overhead wires.

CHICAGO   We are grateful to Dick Lukin for informing us of the death of Jayne Byrne on 14 November 2014 at the age of 81 years.    She was the only woman to attain the post of Mayor of Chicago and made a significant impact on the city’s transport.    Mrs Byrne cancelled plans for yet more Expressways and instead diverted the money to create the Orange Metro Line to Midway Airport.   She created various special events to bring more people into Downtown and arranged for a three-car set of historic “L” cars to run round and round the Downtown “Loop” during some events.    There was no charge to ride these special Loop trains.

LOS  ANGELES   Work as begun on the first of three phased extensions of the Purple Line from Wilshire/Western towards Beverly Hills.    The 3.9 miles long segment will open in 2020/1 and the later extensions are planned to open in 2026 and 2035.     Laying the track along the 11.5 mile long Foothill Gold Line route extension was completed on 19 October 2014.    This new line will link Pasadena and Azusa.    620 poles for the overhead wires have also been erected.   Construction of a 1.9 mile long downtown subway to link the Blue, Gold, and Expo Lines has begun.    It will operate between Union Station and 7th Street station serving three new stations:- 1st Street and Central (in Little Tokyo);  2nd Street and Broadway;  2nd Street and Hope Street.    Completion is expected in 2020 and it will then be possible to operate through from Azusa to Long Beach.

BART (San Francisco)   The new station to serve Oakland Airport opened on 22 November 2014.

CANADA STM (Société de transport de Montréal) has outlined a $2.5bn programme to replace equipment when it reaches the end of its service life over the next several years.    The  plans include the acquisition of 468 new “Azur” cars for the Subway.     Three quarters of the finance will come from the Quebec and Canadian Governments and the city of Montreal.   The remaining 25% will come from STM itself.

MEXICO   Just days after awarding a $3.75bn contract to a Chinese consortium for building a planned high-speed route the contract was withdrawn to allow local firms an opportunity to bid for the work.     China Railway Construction had been the only bidder for the contract while American construction firms had objected to the process and had not made bids.    The Ministry of Transport decided that it would reopen the process for six months to allow American firms to enter the contest if they now wished.

7 November 2014

U.S.A.

MANHATTAN  TUNNELS   The pair of tunnels running below the Hudson River taking the North East Corridor  Amtrak and New Jersey commuter services into Manhattan sustained severe water and salt damage when Hurricane Sandy struck the area.    Repairs will cost $700m and would require one tunnel to be taken out of service at a time for work that will last a year.   450 trains use each tunnel every day and the often suggested additional tunnels would not be ready until 2026 even if work started today.     A similar problem exists in the tunnels linking Manhattan with along Island passing under the East Rivers.    There are four tunnels so the closure of one at a time would not have the same devastating effect as the closure of one of the Hudson Tunnels.

NEW  YORK   Services on the Lexington Avenue Line were  disrupted for a short time on 29 October 2014 after a track worker came into contact with the live third rail and received serious burns.

PHILADELPHIA   Train crew unions and SEPTA management came to an agreement over proposals for a wage and conditions plan on 13 October 2014 ending a threat of strike action that had hung over the suburban rail services since early summer.    There had been a one day stoppage in June 2014 but a court order forced the crews to go back to work while negotiations continued.

DURHAM  N.C.     Triangle Transit is pushing ahead with its much delayed plans to build a 14 mile long light railway linking East Durham and Chapel Hill serving en-route Duke University, Duke Medical Center, Downtown Durham and the North Carolina Central University.    The population served is rising rapidly and is expected to reach 1.4m in a few years from now.

TWIN  CITIES    The Green Line light rail route connecting the downtown of both St Paul and Minneapolis was opened on 14 June 2014 and already carries over 37,000 riders each day.  The total for September 2014 topped the million mark, well ahead of expectations.    Traffic at the stop for  University of Minnesota has been especially heavy.

DENVER  Steady progress is being made in the FasTracks program to modernise transport around the city.    Several projects have now been completed including the W Line (the light rail line between Union Station and Golden), the transformation of Union Station from an almost disused hulk into a magnificent progressive transportation interchange and the bus rapid transit scheme.  Projects to open in 2016 include a commuter rail line to Ardvada and Wheat Ridge, the I-225 light railway linking Aurora to the city centre and then on the Airport serving also Fitzsimons Medical Centre and the Technical Centre,  the NW rail line from Union Station to Westminster, Bus rapid transit to Boulder.   The north MetroRail line to Thornton is expected to open in 2018.

HOUSTON    Traffic on the light rail lines has risen by 12% during the past year.   Two new extensions are to open in April 2015.

BRAZIL  Ten Alstom Metropolis trams have been supplied to SuperVia, the operator of the tramway system in Rio de Janeiro.   The first 15 trains for Metro Line 4 have been rolled out from the Chang-Chun Railway Factory in China and will arrive in Rio in December.

ARGENTINA  Siemens has won the Euro 30m contract to install the Trainguard train control system on Metro Line C.

10 October 2014

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK   Off-peak services on the New Haven Line are to be increased following a sustained rise in traffic.  From 09 November 2014 local services between Grand Central Station and New Haven will be increased to half-hourly.    Services on the Waterbury branch are also to be improved once some infrastructure improvements have been made.

ATLANTA   Test running of the first of the Siemens S70 LRVs for the new Town Centre tramway commenced on 16 August 2014. The three section trams are in an attractive dark blue livery plus broad green and light blue stripes across the body of the end sections.

SAN  FRANCISCO    The outer part of a wheel fractured and fell off a moving evening peak BART train late in August 2014.     An immediate check was then made on every coach on the system and twenty three wheels with a similar fault were found on twenty of the coaches and all were taken out of service immediately.  Massive rush hour overcrowding was the immediate consequence but each of the faulty wheels could have broken up at any time.  Repairs were started using a modest stock of spare wheels and by 11 September 2014 thirteen of the coaches had been repaired and most were back in service.  Ten coaches however will have to await the delivery of new spare wheels and meantime some peak hour overcrowding continues. Muni is to order a further 85 LRVs for use on its on-street network bring the total of trams in use to 250.  They will be manufactured at the Siemens plant.

SAN  DIEGO   Patronage on the tramway network jumped an incredible 42% during Fiscal Year 2013 to reach 39.7m

28 August 2014

U.S.A.

NORTH EAST CORRIDOR       Amtrak is retiring the last of their fifteen HHP-8 electric locomotives which have proved to be very unreliable.     Eight have already been withdrawn and as soon as sufficient   new ACS-64 locomotives have entered service the last of the HHP-8s will go.   Although built as recently as 1998-9 they have proved to be bad news almost from day one.

NEW  YORK  SUBWAY   An uptown A train ended up on the downtown track on 11 August 2014.  Because of a signalling fault trains were backing up and the controller directed a downtown train to reverse direction and return to the starting point.   The driver set off immediately but did so before the points could be altered and the train had run through one station before the lights of an approaching train alerted the driver.    She had expected to be taken over a crossover some way ahead to reach the correct track.    Anxious instructions by radio from the controller were apparently not heard.     The train crew are now moved to desk jobs while a full investigation is held including a check on the new on-train radio system to identify any “black holes” in the tunnels.

STATEN  ISLAND   The last car of a four car train was derailed at 1400 on 7 August 2014 with 90 passengers on board.    They had to be escorted along the tracks to the adjacent Ferry Terminal.

NEW  JERSEY  TRANSIT    NJT services were swamped by many more passengers than expected before and after the football match between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on Superbowl Sunday, 3 August 2014.    Plans had been made to carry 13,500 fans to and from the event but 28,031 took the train to the match and 35,264 chose the train afterwards.  There were long delays for some passengers, buses were brought out to help eventually, but Secaucus Junction station proved equal to the task.

PHILADELPHIA  SEPTA, the local transportation Authority has revealed that it has 17,659 surveillance cameras in use throughout its system.    An unexpected benefit from these is a reduction in injury claims amounting to $11m over the period 2012-13.    In many cases where claims are made for an injury blamed on SEPTA the cameras have shown what actually happened.  Fraudulent claims can now be identified and rejected and as a result there has now been a sharp drop in the number of claims.

MINNEAPOLIS  &  ST PAUL   The new tramway between the city centres was carrying 30,000 passenger daily just a month after opening – a little ahead of the number expected after one year. The Metropolitan Council has been given Federal approval to start planning the Blue Metro Line extension into the north western suburbs.    The 13 mile long line will start in Minneapolis at the downtown Target Field station interchanging with the Green line and bus routes before running through the Golden Valley District and terminating at 97th Ave.   There will be three park and ride stations along the new line which will serve a growing area containing many poor immigrants.  It will serve the Target North Campus and the Hennepin Community College.    Federal funds will cover about half of the near $1bn cost with the rest coming from various local agencies.

DALLAS DART launched the Orange Line light rail service to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on 18 August 2014.   The Orange Line operates from the Airport to the City Centre, the Southern Methodist  University and on to Plano.

HOUSTON   Construction of the Purple and Green light rail lines has been completed and after testing is finished they are expected to open shortly before Christmas 2014.

CALIFORNIA   Construction of BART’s Berryessa extension reached a milestone on 11 August 2014 with the reopening of Warren Avenue in Fremont.      After two years of planning and  construction two deep trenches under Warren Avenue for the future BART lines and parallel existing freight lines were completed eliminating the need for level crossings.

CANADA

TORONTO   The first articulated 100% low floor tram is being introduced to the public as it enters service on route 510 to Spadina on 31 August 2014.     These beautiful five-segment single deck trams have a beautiful sleek European appearance.   204 are being built over the next five years to replace completely the operating tram fleet by 2019.    Quiet and smooth riding, the trams have many safety features including flashing lights along the bodies to warn motorists that loading and unloading of passengers is taking place.   There are four doors along the side and the double door on the second segment can be used by disabled riders since ramps can be lowered to allow access for wheelchairs etc.   There is space for bikes during off-peak hours.   The next route to receive the new trams will be 511 Bathurst followed by 509 Harbour Front and 505 Dundas.

CALGARY    The 2.5 km extension of the Red Line into the north west suburbs to a new station at Tuscany was due to open on 28 August 2014.   The extension follows the median strip of the Crowchild Throughway and Tuscany has an island platform reached by a footbridge from both sides.    There is insufficient space for escalators but stairs and an elevator are provided.  There are car parks on each side of the main road each with around 290 spaces of which 6 are for disabled passengers.   Services operate every 4-7 minutes at peak hours and 10-15 minutes at other times.

5 August 2014

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK   The G Train Subway line was closed at 10.30pm on 25 July 2014 to allow engineers tackle a  further tranche of repairs to make good the massive damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.    A number of bus routes serve parts of the area involved.  G Trains resume operation on 2 September 2014.

SEPTA   Although usage of public transport in Philadelphia fell slightly during the year 2013-14, the heavy rail suburban railways were used by 30.7m people – setting a new record for SEPTA.

WASHINGTON  DC    The first 11.7 mile long segment of the new Silver Line was opened on 26 July 2014 serving five new stations – four in Tysons Corner and one in Reston.   A further 11 miles will open in 2018 when the line will at last reach Dulles International Airport.

MINNEAPOLIS    The new light rail line (Green Line) linking downtown St Paul and Minneapolis has got off to a reasonable start with over 30,000 passengers using the trams every weekday.  Timekeeping has however been a major problem and connections with many bus routes are being missed every day.    The problem seems to be traffic lights along the route.   The trams are expected to have priority over other road traffic but this is not happening and trams sit for several minutes at some intersections with all the roads clogged with traffic.

ARGENTINA    The Buenos Aires to La Plata suburban route of the Roca Railway (52.6 km) is to be electrified at 25kV 50 Hz.    The entire infrastructure is to be refurbished and this will include the raising of platforms to match the 300 new Chinese emu cars.  The trip time from Plaza Constitution terminus in Buenos Aires to La Plata will be cut by 20 minutes and service frequency doubled to a train every 12 minutes.

16 July 2014

U.S.A.

HIGH  SPEED    Amtrack and the California High-Speed Authority have ended their plans to work together and purchase a common fleet of trains that would replace the Acela trains on the North East Corridor and operate also new services along the California Coast route.    The plans for two locations are so different (160 mph in the north east, 220 mph in California) that different trains will now be obtained by each of the two Authorities.

NEW  YORK    A little progress has been made with plans to re-use the old Farley Post Office Building to provide a much needed larger building for Penn Station.   Agreement has been made to sell the air rights of the parts of the Farley building not required for the enlarged station for $500m providing a useful sum that will help pay for the new works.

PHILADELPHIA     Traffic on the PATCO line into South New Jersey has dropped by 6.4% during June 2014 compared with the traffic carried one year earlier.   Civil engineering work on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge taking the line into the city centre has caused delays.    Single line operation across the bridge is necessary to allow major demolition and reconstruction work to be undertaken below, first the south track and then the north track resulting in significant peak hour delays.    During the winter of 2013-4 the extreme cold knocked the motors of several trains out of action resulting in significant delays and overcrowding.     The upgrade of the rolling stock is being undertaken by Alstom at its Hornell NY plant but this has slipped a year behind the earlier schedule so that services are being provided by a smaller fleet than is required .

ROCKHILL   MUSEUM    The museum has successfully moved LRV 1019, now withdrawn from service in San Diego, and reassembled it.  The tram moved under its own power on 26 June 2014.   The Museum is in the town of Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania, near Altoona.

ATLANTA        Buckhead station on the MARTA system is built on a bridge spanning a major road – the Georgia State Route 400.     Pedestrian access has been somewhat complicated but now a new footbridge has been built across the highway giving easy access from both the east and west side of Highway 400.

DALLAS   The extension of the Orange Metro line to Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport is due to open on 18 August 2014.

SAN  FRANCISCO    MUNI has decided to replace its fleet of Breda LRVs with a new fleet that will be built at the Siemens factory in nearby Sacramento at a cost of $1.1bn.

BRAZIL   A new manufacturing plant for LRVs will be opened by Alstom in Taubate before the end of 2014.   It lies alongside an earlier Alstom plant dealing with general engineering.   The new factory is expected to handle orders from Brazil and Latin America.

CHILE   Alstom has won the contract to fully modernise the Metro network in Santiago at a cost of 220m Euros.

1 July 2014

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK    It has been revealed that the derailment of an “F” train in Woodside, Queens, on 2 May 2014, was on a section of track that had been plagued by many broken rails since 2005.   There were plans to relay this entire section of the track and weld the rail joints to provide greater strength and work was due to begin in 2015.   Nineteen passengers were injured during the recent incident but fortunately there were no fatalities.

NEW  JERSEY    The new dual mode diesel electric/electric locomotives are making possible direct services from the High Bridge outer suburban line to Penn Station, and also throughout the summer season a direct Penn Station – Bay Head service without the need to change locomotives en route.  This saves about 25 minutes on each journey.

PHILADELPHIA    A two-year project has begun to undertake structural repairs to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and completely replace the tracks taking the PATCO service into the city centre.

WASHINGTON  DC    The opening of the new streetcar line has been delayed again.    An early summer opening was put back to autumn during the spring 2014, but now has been further delayed until “the end of 2014”.  On the Metro the first section of what is now called the Silver Line (the Dulles Airport line) opens for public service on 26 July 2014 between Largo Town Centre and Wiehle-Reston East.

16 June 2014

U.S.A.

BOSTON   CAF has been awarded the £118m  contract to supply new LRVs for the Green Line. They will be assembled at CAF’s plant at Elmira Heights NY.

NEW  YORK    The Metro-North RR and Long Island RR tied as the busiest companies serving the city during 2013.   Both carried 84.3m passengers – a rise of about 2%.    The New Haven RR’s New Haven Line was the busiest individual route with almost 40m users during the year.

WASHINGTON    Politicians from both major political parties have joined in calling for the renaming of Union Station to Harry S Truman Station  to coincide with the ex-President’s 130th birthday.    The station housed US Car 1 – the presidential coach – which Truman used on many trips across the nation.      Work may begin soon on the Purple Line – between Bethesda and Silver Spring for which Federal Funding is now recommended.    The associated trail for joggers etc running alongside a four mile section of the Purple Line has been promised by the local administration which will have to fund it.    Construction of Silver Spring Transit Center, a future hub for Metrorail and bus services is well behind schedule and over budget.     The structure has a strange cluttered appearance and parts are stated to be unsafe and in need of expensive repairs.  Bits of the concrete structure have fallen off and could endanger passengers.        The 2.4 mile H Street tram line is to open in late July 2014 but controversy continues over the planned Arlington County line along the Columbia Pike and every delay means a further hike in costs.    The new suburban service on Saturdays along the NE Corridor has proved to be so popular that the three coach trains have been lengthened to four or five coaches.

CHICAGO   The delivery of the new fleet of 7000 series cars for the “L” is unlikely before 2019.   These coaches will replace the entire existing stock apart from coaches which are being delivered this year.   The “L” management have made so many changes to the initial specifications that the construction work has been delayed significantly.

ATLANTA   The 2.7 mile long downtown Streetcar loop will open for public service in the Autumn of 2014. It could be the first part of a 63 route mile network.      The fact that there will soon be this distributor route in downtown has stimulated $700m of new developments along the route.

DALLAS   A group of business executives has made substantial progress with plans for a 240 mile long high-speed railway to Houston.    Trains would take 90 minutes for the journey and fares would undercut the rival air service.   The Central Railway of Japan is giving advice and the line will use bullet trains of a Japanese design.   By being a private enterprise project expensive involvement of State planning organisations has been avoided.   The Texas Department of Transportation is however now planning their own connecting H-S Line from Dallas to Fort Worth

TUCSON      The 3.9 mile long Sun Link Streetcar is to open in late July 2014.

TWIN  CITIES    The Green Line linking the centres of St Paul and Minneapolis opened as planned on 14 June 2014 amid extensive celebrations.

SEATTLE   Construction of the 2.5 mile First Hill Street tram line commenced in April 2012 and should be ready to open this autumn.

3 June 2014

U.S.A.

BOSTON   The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has issued a contract worth $118m to CAF USA to build new rail vehicles to operate the Green Line extension.

NEW  YORK   A tunnel 800 feet long is being built with Federal funds under the west side of Manhattan Island.   At present this new tunnel goes nowhere but eventually may link with planned new tunnels under the Hudson River to carry much needed additional commuter services from various points in New Jersey.    Six skyscrapers, the tallest with 80 floors, are to be built on land above this section of tunnel and it would be extremely difficult to build the tunnel after the new buildings are in place.   It is widely hoped that since Federal money has made this first section of tunnel possible, more funds may be released soon for the next section under the river.  Traffic on the elevated “L” line between Manhattan and Brooklyn rose 5.3% during the past year resulting in the already overcrowded trains becoming impossibly busy.   Service frequencies at weekends and during weekday evenings are being increased.

PHILADELPHIA    SEPTA is relaying much of the track along tram route 11.  Old noisy jointed track is being replaced by new welded rail laid on a rubber base.   In future the trams will make much less noise as they run along the route.

DETROIT   The much delayed plan to build a light rail line for 3.3 miles along Woodward Avenue is at last edging towards reality with much initial engineering work now completed.   A design of the LRVs has yet to be agreed.

ATLANTA    A 2.7 mile long street tramway will open on an east – west route across central Atlanta during late 2014.    It will link future commuter railway services and regional light rail routes with hotels, academic institutions and other city centre venues.    Fare revenue is expected to cover all operating costs.    Starting on 27 May 2014 train lengths on the MARTA Red and Gold lines were increased from four to six cars on weekdays.   This is part of a response to rising loads which will include an increase in service frequencies.

LOS  ANGELES    Obtaining funds to build a 3.9 mile extension of the Purple Subway line to link downtown LA with Beverley Hills is under way.       The US DOT has made a capital award of $1.25bn, and provided a loan of up to $856m.   In addition grants from DOT and the FTA of $12.2bn have been received.      President Obama hopes to create funding that will generate new jobs and the Subway extension will employ up to 22,000 during work on the extension.

SEATTLE    Traffic carried by Sound Transit during the first quarter of 2014 showed strong growth compared with 2013.   The light rail system carries 30,000 passengers per weekday (up 15%), suburban railway services 12,000 per weekday (up 5%), and the bus network carried 59,000 per weekday (up 7%).

CANADA

CALGARY   A non-profit private organisation has proposed to plan, build, and operate a high-speed (250 mph) railway between the city of Calgary and the Rocky Mountain resort of Banff..

13 May 2014

U.S.A.

NORTH  EAST  CORRIDOR  Detailed studies of proposals to replace the 108 year old Susquehanna River bridge between Wilmington and Baltimore are under way.   Amtrak and MARC passenger trains use the bridge together with significant freight traffic for the Port of Baltimore. Ideally the present two-track bridge would be replaced by a four-track structure to remove a bottleneck.

LAST  BAR  CAR   The last bar car on a suburban train in the USA made its final trip on 9 May 2014 on the 1934 to New Haven  from New York’s Grand Central Terminal.      It had become politically incorrect to be able to purchase an alcoholic drink on the journey home from work and the number of trains providing this facility was gradually reduced until only the 1934 remained.  There were fears that some passengers might drink to excess on the journey so a service that was actually profitable has been consigned to history.

NEW YORK   The derailment of an “F” train between Northern Boulevard and 65th Street stations in Queens at 1030 am on Friday 2 May 2014 happened because a new rail laid just a few weeks earlier snapped unexpectedly.    Nineteen of the approximately 1000 passengers on board the train had minor injuries.    Teams of engineers managed to remove the derailed coaches and repair the track in time to restart the local service on the 4th May and the express service in time for the morning rush hour on 6 May 2014.    A check was made immediately at the locations where the same batch of new rail had been laid but no immediate problem was discovered.

PHILADELPHIA   New funding approved  by the State of Pennsylvania will allow SEPTA to proceed with major repairs or replacement of the century-old Darby Creek, Ridley Creek, and Cobbs Creek Viaducts on the Media/Elwyn Branch.   Work will begin during 2014/5. If the repairs had been delayed any longer the busy passenger service on the line would have been discontinued.

MINNEAPOLIS   Planning for the 15.8 mile long south west Metro line has completed preliminary stages and the outline plans showing the route and main structures involved are now open for inspection by local residents and businesses.    There has been concern that the design of one of the tunnels has been changed from what had been agreed with the City planners but the problem is likely to be resolved through discussions.      There will be 16 stations (a 17th near the central area has been eliminated) and the cost is expected to be $1.68bn.    If there are no major problems from local people etc, the planning process will go ahead to final detailed stages in the autumn.

ATLANTA   MARTA’s rail and bus service frequencies were progressively cut during 2008 – 12 as cost cutting exercises and fares rose by 40%.  Ridership fell significantly and the image of public transport around Atlanta was damaged.   With a new CEO in the post efforts to turn things around have been introduced starting in December 2013  with an increase to evening rail services.    It is planned to double peak hour frequencies this summer, and measures will be taken to reduce fare evasion.

DENVER  Construction of the first 20 km long phase of the North Metro commuter railway began on 20 March 2014.   The route will start at Union Station and follow BNSF and UP rights of way to a station at 124th Avenue with five intermediate stations.    A further 9km to 162nd Ave/Highway 7 with one intermediate station will be built later when the necessary money is obtained.   The new route will use overhead electrification so that emus similar to those on the Airport route can be used.

28 April 2014

U.S.A.

NEW  YORK   The 63rd Street tunnel was designed back in the 1970s assuming that it would be used by the 1960s M-1 single deck coaches.    So now being built decades later it will be unable to accept double deck trains which are becoming increasingly common on the surface suburban railways.    The LIRR has plans to extend its third rail electrification to Kings Park, Yaphank, and Speonk if a source of finance can be found.    Adjacent to the Kings Park terminus would be an emu yard on the site of a former hospital but neighbours have mounted loud objections to this proposal.

NEWARK  AIRPORT   The monorail linking trains from Penn Station in Manhattan with the three Airport terminals is to close from 1 May 2014 for about eleven weeks to permit substantial repairs. The connecting heavy rail shuttles to Penn Station will also be halted and a bus service to/from Manhattan will operate instead.

PRINCETON    The shuttle service between Princeton and Princeton Junction on the North East Corridor,  lost 10% of its traffic since the terminus situated beside the famous University was shifted to a temporary spot 1200 feet down the line.    Eventually a new permanent station 460 feet from the former terminus will open but with traffic down to 1000 passengers daily some are expressing doubts about the “Dinky’s” viability.    A bus shuttle from the centre of Princeton to the Junction station was introduced at the same time as the station move and one encouraging sign is that the use of public transport to the Junction has actually risen significantly.

PATCO   A package of improvements costing £7.5m equivalent was approved by the PATCO Board on 16 April 2014.    Passengers have endured delays, overcrowded trains, broken escalators and defective lifts and now these failings are to be put right.   New cameras are to be installed on platforms and in car parks replacing outdated older cameras which are prone to failure and very costly to maintain.

WASHINGTON  DC  TRAMS   The tram route along H Street closed in 1949 but a new service operating for 2.4 miles along the same highway is expected to start during the summer of 2014 once the new staff have been trained.    H Street is the heart of an important shopping area and it is hoped that the tram will attract new customers and halt the steady decline in business in the area.   If the trams prove to be a success in this regard up to 37 route miles of new tramways could be built over the next decade.

CHICAGO   The Skokie Swift shuttle was introduced on 18 April 1964 and celebrates its Golden Jubilee this year.   The service over a short section of the former Milwaukee Interurban was a successful attempt to restore a service to the local community which had formerly enjoyed a good interurban service.      Transport Police have started to use cameras at metro stations and elsewhere to catch graffiti and other vandals and have made 60 arrests during the first few weeks of their use.

LOS  ANGELES   The L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has conducted an experiment in the Red Line tunnel to see if a significant amount of wind energy produced when a train passes along the line can be captured and used.   Mass Airflow Collection Equipment (MACE)  installed at one point in the tunnel managed to produce enough electricity to meet the needs of about twelve houses.

CANADA

TORONTO   The Ontario Government has announced a “Moving Ontario Forward” plan to electrify the Lakeshore route between Oshawa and Hamilton via Toronto.  Additional stations would be opened and double deck “Regional Rail Express” trains would operate at least every 15 minutes.

8 April 2014

U.S.A.

CAF    The assembly plant at Elmira Heights NY is being enlarged substantially in order to create space for the building and testing of the new fleet of LRVs for Houston.    The factory is also assembling LRVs for Cincinnati and Kansas City and is building new coaches for Amtrak.

HARRISBURG     GG1 loco 4859 which hauled the first electric train into Harrisburg on 15 January 1938 was hauled from its display position under the overall roof at Harrisburg Station       on 6  April 2014 to allow an 18 month long modernisation project of the track and signalling to begin.    It will be shrink wrapped during this period and when the project is completed will return to a prominent position under the roof.

CHICAGO    It has been confirmed that the accident in the early hours of 24 March 2014 at O’Hare Airport station was caused by the driver falling asleep and that she has been fired.

DALLAS   The light rail station at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is to open on 19 May 2014, four months ahead of schedule.   The station is at the end of a five mile long branch of the Orange Line.

TUCSON   Most of the $197m cost of building the new tram system is covered by Federal or Regional grants leaving about $26m for the city to contribute.   Construction costs are in fact declining and the city hoped that this, combined with grants from other sources might mean that the city might not need to make any contribution.    However the extra grants have not materialised and future budgeting means that a significant increase in employee pay must be incorporated into the equation.   The city is having to face the fact that it may not be able to get its new trams without having to pay for them.

CANADA

TORONTO   The tramway system is to be re-equipped with a single design of LRV during 2014-18.    The new trams will be five segment low floor and single ended.    Fares will be paid before the passengers enter the tram so all doors will be able to be used speeding the overall speed of the service.   There will be only one cab to create space for additional seating.   This will allow a slight  cut in peak frequencies – for example on route 511, Bathurst, trams will operate every 5 minutes  rather than every 4 minutes 15 seconds.  The off-peak 5 minute frequency will remain unaltered.

VANCOUVER    The shuttle service between Cambie (near the VIA and Amtrak station) and Granville Island ceased operations in 2012.  It was operated mainly as a tourist attraction and used two British Columbia Electric Railway interurban cars but it has now been decided that it cannot restart because of Health and Safety regulations.

MEXICO   Tendering for the 58km electrified line between the western end of Metro Line 1 and Toluca has begun.   There will be four intermediate stations and is expected to open in December 2017.    Very frequent services would take just 39 minutes and around 270,000 passengers would be carried each day, most of them taken from the adjacent extremely congested roads.

PANAMA    The 13.7 km long Metro Line 1 between Albrook and Los Andes in Panama City was opened on 5 April 2014.     Nineteen 3-car Metropolis trains built at Alstom’s Santa Perpetua factory in Spain      run every 3½  minutes at peak periods.   A 24 km long second line is planned.

ARGENTINA    Delivery has begun of the 25 nine-car emus ordered for use on the Sarmiento Railway suburban services in Buenos Aires.

CHILE   Alstom is to supply twelve emus for use on the new Santiago – Rancagua Xpress line and a further eight for the suburban service in Valparaiso.

24 March 2014

U.S.A.

WASHINGTON  DC    The opening of the first section of the new Silver Line (leading eventually to Dulles Airport) has been set back significantly by the finding of problems with the train control systems.   The entire system already installed on the trains may have to be scrapped and a totally new system designed then installed at significant cost.       Meanwhile construction of the Purple light rail line across the western suburbs is delayed because local residents fear that a nearby colony of Hay’s Spring shrimps may be disturbed.      It is not just the British who turn things upside down to save anything rare

CHICAGO   A significant accident occurred on the Chicago Metro at about 0300 on 24 March 2014.   An 8-car train failed to slow down or stop at O’Hare Airport station and crashed through the “bumping post” (equivalent of buffers) at the end of the track.    The first coach ran some distance up the escalator running up from the platforms to the concourse and sustained significant damage.  The second coach was also badly damaged.   32 passengers sustained injuries but apparently most were relatively minor.

BRAZIL    Line 1 of the Rio de Janeiro Metro was extended 1.1km to Uruguai on 15 March 2014.  The new station is the first on this Metro to have passenger Wi-Fi installed and low energy LED lighting.   Uruguai is expected to be used by 36,000 passengers each weekday.

CHILE    Alstom has been awarded the Euro 220m contract to modernise the entire Metro network in the city of Santiago.

5 March 2014

U.S.A.

SEVERE  WEATHER    North America experienced its coldest spell for many decades during January 2014.    Road, rail and air were halted as deep snow fell and the temperature fell to zero.    Three Amtrak trains were trapped over night in deep snow near Chicago.  Even Florida experienced freezing conditions.   On the New York Subway trains were stored overnight in tunnels rather than risk becoming snowed-in on their usual open-air yards.

AMTRAK   Amtrak ordered 70 electric locomotives from Siemens in October 2010 for use on the North East Corridor.    Built at the Siemens Sacramento plant, the “Cities Sprinter” locomotives are powerful enough to haul 18 coach trains at 125 mph.   The first completed and delivered loco ceremonially entered service at 30th Street Station, Philadelphia on 6 February 2014 in the presence of Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

NEW  YORK    Four passengers were killed and 63 injured when the 0554 Hudson Line service from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central was derailed at 0720 on 1 December 2013 while negotiating a sharp bend at 82 mph near Spuyten Duyvil station.   The bend had a 30 mph speed limit and it was thought that the driver had experienced a black out rendering him unable to control the train.   Five of the seven coaches were derailed and some nearly fell into the adjacent river.    The line between Yonkers and Grand Central was closed and bus shuttles provided between Yonkers and 242nd Street Subway station.   Two extra sets were utilised on the subway to boost capacity until the Hudson Line reopened on 4 December 2013.   Metro North RR was ordered to have two staff in the cab where the permitted operating speed drops by at least 20 mph until improved signalling is introduced to ensure that trains speeds fall to the necessary level.   There is no communication between the train locomotive so the train conductor could not become the second person in the cab.

For all home games of the NY Giants and NY Jets on Sundays special services start at New Haven running to Penn Station when they take up the times of advertised trains to Trenton . Some are equipped with new M8 stock and others by an ALP locomotive propelling Comet coaches.

NEW JERSEY   On 20 December 2013 the 20.00 NJ Transit train for Trenton carrying 800 people became stuck in the Hudson Tunnel  and had to be rescued by a diesel Loco and was hauled back to Penn Station at 22.00.   PATH services were erratic during the early winter of 2013 due to the failure of decades-old signalling equipment which have been due for replacement for several years.

PHILADELPHIA   A local Senator has proposed that the Broad Street Subway be extended south by over a mile to ser4ve the Navy Yard area which is now a business centre.   SEPTA has presented to the City Council its “Catching Up” programme of power supply, bridge and track renewal requirements if mass closures of the system are to be avoided.

PATCO  Rebuilt cars 247 and 248 renumbered 1047 and 1048 were delivered by road on 11 November 2013.  They are now equipped with chopped control and on-board diagnostics equipment but they cannot work with the unmodified stock.   After intensive testing they will enter traffic during 2014.

WASHINGTON   The first 8-car train of the new 7000-series stock commenced trials on 6 January 2014.

CHARLOTTE (NC)  Construction of the Blue line which will run 9.3 miles to the University of North Carolina Charlotte Campus began in March 2014.    Twenty two LRVs are being obtained from Siemens – a number sufficient to operate some three-car services during the busiest periods.

CINCINNATI   Construction of the new tram route in the city centre was halted briefly by the new Mayor, who had long opposed the line, while detailed studies are undertaken into the value of such a system.    After further talks construction work was able to re-start.

CHICAGO   A major upgrade of the Blue Line rapid transit line to O’Hare Airport is being undertaken    The track, signalling system, and many stations will all be made because traffic has risen by 25% during the last five years creating severe overcrowding.    The South Shore Line halted services on 6 January 2014 following very heavy snowfalls.  If a train became stuck in snow drifts it might prove impossible for rescue vehicles to reach the train.

MINNEAPOLIS & St PAUL    The eleven mile long “Green Line” linking the centres of Minneapolis and St Paul will open on 14 June 2014.

SALT LAKE CITY   The S-Line tramway linking the TRAX light rail system with points across the city centre was opened on 8 December 2013.

HOUSTON   The Northside extension to the light rail network opened on 21 December 2013 with free rides on the opening day.

PHOENIX   Valley Metro provided free travel on New Year’s Eve 2013 to keep drivers off the road.   The highest-ever Saturday traffic was recorded on 7 December 2013 when 33,964 people used the trams.  The City Council has approved a five mile extension to Baseline Road serving an area that has never before had a tram service.

LOS ANGELES    Construction of the 8.5 mile long Crenshaw light rail line commenced on 21 January 2014.    The route will nominally serve the Airport but in fact the stop will be over a mile from the terminals.    There are proposals to link the two by means of a people mover.

PORTLAND (OR)   The massive Union Pacific RR “Steel Bridge” that is used by all four light rail lines was closed to all traffic on two weekends during February 2014 to allow maintenance work.  The closures were on 15/17 and 22/24 February 2014.

CANADA  The Province of Ontario together with Metrolinx are seeking proposals to design, build and operate the proposed Eglinton Crosstown light rail line of which six miles will be in tunnel and six at grade.   Fifty Toronto trams had to be taken out of service on 6 January 2014 during the extreme cold weather.   The brakes had been put out of action due to ice forming in the pneumatic air lines.    CN has sold the Deux Montagnes suburban line to to AMT, the government agency that oversees all public transport around Montreal.

MEXICO   Detailed planning is under way for three new passenger railways in a nation which largely abandoned passenger trains a decade ago.   The roads around Mexico City are experiencing logjams due to rising numbers of tourists.  The three lines will link Mexico City with Toluca (47 miles), Queretaro (147 miles) and Between Merida and Cancun (200 miles).   The Toluca line is expected to carry 250,000 people daily and will be in effect a Metro-style route.   The other two routes may carry 12,000 – 15,000 people daily.

BRAZIL     A 13.6 km long light rail line is to be built from Goiania to Anhanguera and 30 LRVs are being obtained.  Planned weekday ridership is 240,000.   Alstom is to establish a tramcar production factory in Taubate, between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.   It will handle the growing demand for LRVs in South and Central America.    The first order is likely to be for 32 Citadis trams for Rio de Janeiro to be in service in time for the next Olympic Games.

CHILE  CAF and Thales have been awarded the contract to supply rolling stock and signalling equipment for the planned Metro Lines 3 and 6 in Santiago.

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