Happening Now

Hotline #1,084

September 14, 2018

Amtrak Assures Congress Service Will Continue on PTC-Exempt Routes After Jan 1; Southwest Chief and National Network still need your support; Hurricane Florence Forces Train Cancellations; Former Amtrak Presidents David Gunn & Joe Boardman To Address RailNation Miami Attendees; Amtrak Seeks Input On Transformational Food & Beverage Service Models; FRA Issues Notice of Funding Opportunity for PTC; Caltrans Issues 2018 State Rail Plan; MTA Opens Subway Station 17 Years After 9/11

We Need Your ‘Nose For News’! When you see rail-related news stories, op-eds, editorials, or letters to the editor in your communities, send them along to us! We include them in our social media efforts, along with the weekly Hotline. Send your news items to Bob Brady, [email protected], and we will share it with members. Are you holding a rally, a community meeting, or another kind of rail-advocacy event? We can help spread the word if you send them to us. We can put them on the website, here. Please follow Rail Passengers Association on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all things passenger rail.

Amtrak to Congress: Trains Will Run on January 1st

In testimony before Congress yesterday, Amtrak provided its clearest statement yet that train service will continue on Positive Train Control-exempt routes in 2019, contradicting earlier reporting by Trains that the Amtrak Board was requiring PTC on those lines. Amtrak’s statement is good news for passengers that rely on the routes in question, including the Cardinal, California Zephyr, Texas Eagle, Downeaster, Vermonter, Ethan Allen, and City of New Orleans.

In testimony before a House Transportation & Infrastructure Rail Subcommittee hearing on PTC implementation, Amtrak’s Executive Vice President and COO Scot Naparstek said the railroad is developing alternative ways to reach elevated levels of safety.

“While this risk analysis process and mitigation plan development is still underway, let me be clear that Amtrak’s goal is to continue to operate all of our services over all of our current routes come January 1, 2019,” he told the gathered representatives. “Exactly how we accomplish this will vary across our network, based on the specifics of each route, but I want to assure the Committee that, at this time, we believe we will have strategies in place that will permit us to continue operations until operational PTC or PTC-equivalency is achieved for all of our network.”

“It’s good that Amtrak is beginning to demonstrate more transparency to the Congress and to the public about its plans for the National Network,” said Jim Mathews, President & CEO of the Rail Passengers Association. “There’s no denying that the implementation of PTC on 58,000 route-miles is a huge challenge, but it’s a necessary challenge that we must meet. As we go about that task, we can’t afford to forget passenger rail is still ten times safer than driving, and the traveling public will be less safe if we reduce access to train service. As complications arise, we encourage Amtrak to keep the channels of communication open to help passengers better understand the evolution of the Network they depend on.”

This does NOT mean that Amtrak has pulled back from its proposal for a Southwest Chief bus-bridge. Critically, however, Mr. Naparstek’s testimony does appear to undermine one of the central rationales Amtrak has put forward for breaking up the Southwest Chief route with a bus-bridge. In its presentation to local officials, Amtrak stated it would “require PTC for this segment for long-term operation,” with an estimated $23 million in installation costs and $3.5 million in annual operating costs. By identifying “PTC-equivalencies” for main track exemptions, Amtrak is admitting what Rail Passengers has been arguing all year: there are lower-cost alternatives to ensuring the safety of the Chief’s passengers.

Your Rail Passengers staff has learned from our allies on the Hill that House and Senate negotiators began finalizing the details of the Fiscal Year 2019 transportation budget earlier this week. This bill not only funds rail transportation projects and operations across the U.S., but will include policy language that would require Amtrak to preserve that National Network in its entirety--including the Southwest Chief.

Passenger are being heard! Rail Passenger Association’s DC staff is hearing rumblings from allies on the Hill that good things are happening behind closed door negotiations. We can't afford to ease up on our campaign! This is precisely the window to press our advantage—for the sake of communities that depend on the Southwest Chief AND the entire National Network.

Call your Representative and ask them to retain the Senate Moran/Udall language protecting the Southwest Chief and pass the HR 6147 into law with the funding levels and provisions agreed to by the House and Senate transportation committees.

Ahead of Hurricane Florence making landfall in the United States, Amtrak modified schedules and canceled trains south of Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. The storm is currently sending high winds and rain through the Carolinas and it is expected to keep Amtrak trains off the tracks through at least Sunday.
Trains that Amtrak canceled Wednesday through Sunday are the Auto Train, Silver Meteor and Crescent. The Carolinian and Piedmont are canceled Thursday through Sunday. The Silver Star will run only between Jacksonville, Florida and Miami from Wednesday to Sunday. In addition, Northeast Regional trains will not operate south of Washington, D.C.

Amtrak said it will waive fees for passengers who change their reservations.

Rail Passengers Launching Station Volunteer Program

Ever since Amtrak de-staffed more train stations this year, there has been an enormous outcry and opposition to the decision and Rail Passengers Association is stepping up to fill the void.

Rail Passengers is launching a Station Volunteer Program in five states. Through the pilot program, that will begin rolling out this Fall, Rail Passengers Association will help concerned members like you and the communities you live in to organize and continue providing that special connection that Amtrak passengers want and need. A knowledgeable and informed volunteer can answer travelers’ questions about Amtrak trains and services, promote rail advocacy, highlight local attractions, foster a spirit of hospitality and promote an inviting atmosphere at the station.

We are piloting in Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Texas. Subsequent rollouts are being planned for Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota and North Carolina. A station volunteer program may be coordinated at the city level, or have a broader state- or route -wide scope that addresses the needs of multiple communities along an Amtrak route.

If you would like to be trained and serve as a station volunteer, please send an email with your interest to [email protected]. Please stay tuned for additional information.

Stuart, FL officials are heavily considering the development of a Brightline station. Stuart Mayor Kelli Glass Leighton said that the city is interested in gathering public opinion before it makes any decisions, and it will host a workshop on September 17 for the community to provide input. Stuart is one of four cities that Brightline officials recently asked to submit proposals for viable locations of rail stations. Stuart officials' immediate response to Brightline's offer was mixed with Interim City Manager Dave Dyess saying the city continues to oppose the train and City Attorney Michael Mortell urging commissioners to at least put together a proposal.

If Stuart officials were to submit a proposal to Brightline, the city would most likely compete with Fort Pierce for the station. Fort Pierce has expressed interest in the station for the H.D. King Site, which is downtown waterfront property currently used for overflow parking. It is unlikely that the cities of Sebastian and Vero Beach will submit a proposal.

Make plans to attend Rail Passengers Association’s RailNation Miami 2018 Advocacy Summit & Meeting in Miami, FL, Friday, October 19 through Sunday, October 21. The host hotel is the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Miami.

JUST ANNOUNCED! - Former Amtrak Presidents Joe Boardman (in person) and David Gunn (via video) will be addressing RailNation Miami attendees! Don’t miss this opportunity to hear their unique perspectives on the future of Amtrak! They will be joined by Gov. Michael Dukakis (via video) and Trains Magazine Colunmist Fred Frailey (via video)!

RailNation Miami Registration Is Open! Space is limited, so register today!

Detailed agenda, programming and speaker information is now available; it will be updated regularly in the weeks leading up to the gathering

Friday will feature a series of local tours & activities, including an exclusive opportunity to ride a chartered trip on Brightline. Complete information & registration for these fantastic tours and trips is now available on the RailNation Trip & Tour Page.

Saturday will include a full day of advocacy presentations, speakers and panels, followed by an evening reception at the MiamiCentral Station complex benefiting The Jim Hamre Scholarship Fund. In addition, a variety of local tours are being offered for spouses while the Saturday sessions are in progress.

Sunday will cap off the weekend with additional presentations in the morning and a closing lunch with a keynote speaker. A trip to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum is being offered in the afternoon (based on sufficient interest).

Discounted group-rate room reservations are now available via this link. The last date to make room reservations at the group rate is September 22! Additional event information is posted on the RailNation Miami 2018 Event Page.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) wants to increase opportunities for passenger rail services that allow for easier access to all rail services within the state. Within the newly released 2018 State Rail Plan, Caltrans is focused on an an integrated transportation system that will allow passengers to easily transfer from local transit services to regional, intercity and future high-speed rail.

"Rail is a key part of the solution for addressing California's transportation challenges," Caltrans Director Laurie Berman said in a press release on the State Rail Plan. "In this rail plan, we lay out the goals and investment strategies necessary in both the short- and long-term for improving access, mobility and efficiency for both our passenger- and freight-rail systems, while also making a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions related to the transportation sector."

Overall, Caltrains said the plan calls for enabling riders to:

  • Travel seamlessly across urban, suburban and rural areas of the state, with more trains to more places more often;
  • Save time with significantly faster trips;
  • Transfer quickly and easily at hub stations;
  • Take an entire door-to-door trip; and
  • Purchase a single ticket using a streamlined trip-planning portal.

Caltrans officials worked with state, regional and local stakeholders to develop the plan.

A $300 million loan has been obtained by Texas Central Partners for the construction of the high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston. The loan is backed by Japanese sources, including Japan’'s only public-private fund which specializes in overseas infrastructure. Texas Central plans to use Japanese Shinkansen technology for the train.

Texas Central will use the loan for permitting, design and engineering on the 240-mile train. Texas Central officials also said that the loan would be paid back with interest to the Japanese backers and that it won’t change the train's majority-Texan ownership.

Texas Central officials also said in a statement that the loan will help get the project to a "point at which all of the capital required to construct is fully committed" and construction is authorized.

It is estimated that the project could cost $12 billion to $15 billion.

Share Your Photos, Win Amtrak Guest Reward Points© and Rail Passengers Association Giveaways

We are asking members, friends and family, and the general train-riding public to share their #ViewsFromATrain on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Prizes include Amtrak Guest Rewards Points© and Rail Passengers Association giveaways.

Just use the hashtag #RailPassengers or #ViewsFromATrain and tag @RailPassengers to show us what you see outside your window.

The pictures should be your own, and should depict what you see outside your train window, whether it’s a photo of countryside, oceans, forests or cities. People who submit photos will have an opportunity to win a variety of great prizes, including 10,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards® Points.

So, if have taken a train this summer and captured some great photos, or maybe you plan to this Labor Day weekend, we would love to see them, share and give you an amazing prize.

The Federal Rail Administration (FRA) issued a new notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) for $46.3 million in grants for the installation of positive train control (PTC) in the country’s railroads, including intercity passenger-rail, freight-rail and commuter-rail transportation.

"This expedited solicitation will provide commuter and intercity railroads an additional opportunity to request grant funds for positive train control," FRA Administrator Ronald Batory said in a press release. "By reissuing these funds, FRA is showing our continued commitment to work with railroads and suppliers in fully implementing PTC."

Projects that are eligible to apply by the October 12 deadline and receive funding include:

  • back office systems;
  • wayside, communications and onboard hardware equipment;
  • software;
  • equipment installation;
  • spectrum;
  • any component, testing and training for the implementation of PTC systems; and
  • interoperability.

The funding also represents the balance of the $250 million PTC Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program that remained after selections were announced in August.

Amtrak released a Request for Information (RFI) on August 31st, seeking information on potential transformational service models and industry best practices for managing Amtrak’s diverse food & beverage services.

The RFI states: “Amtrak is interested in exploring unique offerings that have a value-added proposition for the passenger while controlling expenses for the corporation. In identifying new service delivery model(s) and best practices, there are several important considerations, including the following:

  • The proposed models/practices should be transformational for Amtrak
  • The proposed models/practices should offer different levels of travel to include luxury options that are similar to the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada and Via Rails “Canadian” and European luxury trains such as: Golden Eagle (Moscow to Vladivostok), Golden Eagle Danube Express (Budapest, Prague & Sarajevo), Venice Simplon-Orient Express (Paris to Istanbul), Belmond Royal Scotsman (England, Scotland and Wales), Belmond Grand Hibernian (Ireland’s first luxury overnight train service);
  • Best practices used in transportation and/or other relevant sectors such as: technology, processes, product, equipment, brand management strategy, etc.

Amtrak is reviewing its current service model...to identify opportunities to increase revenue and control costs. In doing so, Amtrak wishes to explore alternative service models and industry best practices that could be implemented at Amtrak for existing onboard food and beverage service. Amtrak is interested in learning how respondents might address food and beverage service onboard all trains through examples of similar services offered elsewhere or new and innovative approaches that might fit Amtrak’s environment. Interested respondents should provide their vision and examples of industry best practices to transform and reshape all services on board Amtrak’s trains.”

The RFI sets mid-October as the deadline for responses.

Rail Passengers Association Members’ Online Forum Now Open!

Rail Passengers Association has opened a new forum for members on Google Groups. Members can share their gripes and their applause, and trade information on the latest passenger rail-related issues.

Click THIS LINK to sign up. It's free and open to the public, but users must join the group before they are able to post messages.

Member Benefit: Newsletter Archives Complete

A new feature for Members: every monthly Newsletter this organization has produced since the beginning of publication in 1969, can be accessed by logging in here. If you have trouble logging in, or cannot reset your password, please contact membership services.

Ahead of the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) commenced passenger rail service at the New 1 Subway Station at World Trade Center. The previous Lower Manhattan subway station was destroyed 17 years ago and the new WTC Cortlandt Station was built over where it once stood below the original World Trade Center.

“The opening of WTC Cortlandt returns a subway station to a vibrant neighborhood and represents a major milestone in the recovery and growth of downtown Manhattan,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said in a press release. “WTC Cortlandt is more than a new subway station. It is symbolic of New Yorkers’ resolve in restoring and substantially improving the entire World Trade Center site.”

MTA built the new station with fewer columns to provide direct views and easy access into the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The Hub connects to 11 subway lines and the Port Authority Trans-Hudson service. In addition the new station’s name references, its location at the center of the World Trade Center and Cortlandt Street, which existed above the station location when the line originally opened in July 1918, but was demolished during the construction of the World Trade Center in the late 1960s. Construction of the new station began in 2015.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority voted unanimously to adopt the downtown extension plan along Pennsylvania Avenue. This marks a major milestone for bringing high-speed passenger rail service to downtown San Francisco. The vote approved a plan to dig a subway tunnel connecting the new Salesforce Transit Center and the current Caltrain station at 4th and King streets.

The planned route will cost $6.1 billion, and the alignment was the second most expensive of three possible options reviewed by the board. Although it was second in cost, it also had the least construction on the street level. Construction will affect 12 city blocks with surface construction, as opposed to 53 blocks which would have been impacted by the surface alignment.

The Pennsylvania Avenue alignment has an expected completion date of 2027.

MassDOT Sandbags Passenger Rail

After spending roughly $40 million studying South Station Expansion, MassDOT only committed about $1.5 million to the NSRL study.

When MassDOT initially agreed in 2017 to complete an updated feasibility study of the proposed North-South Rail Link (NSRL), many rail and transit advocates were skeptical. After spending roughly $40 million studying South Station Expansion (SSX), MassDOT was only committing about $1.5 million to the NSRL study (even though the legislature had authorized $2 million). The cynical view was that rather than an honest study, this would be an attempt to paint the project in a poor light, and perhaps kill it permanently. But Arup, the firm retained by MassDOT, had a good reputation, and cooler heads encouraged everyone to trust the process and see it through to completion.

Unfortunately, the early indicators were not good: Arup announced that it would focus mainly on the project’s costs while not spending much time, effort, or money on the project’s potential benefits; they would not be considering new last-mile options such as ride hailing services in their updated ridership models, instead relying on data that is a decade old; advantages for transit-oriented development, as well as additional job and housing opportunities through regional rail, would not be discussed; they promised to hold three public meetings to update the public on their progress, but announced those meetings very late and did little to promote them, ultimately causing rail and transit advocates to grow more concerned.

Last week, MassDOT released their North South Rail Link (NSRL) Feasibility Reassessment Draft Report and are asking for public comment. The comment period will be open through October 19, 2018. Comments can be sent to [email protected] and should include “NSRL Draft Report Public Comment” in the subject line.

Some of the findings are as follows:

  • The NSRL would cost between $12 billion and $22.5 billion to complete. A study done last year by the Rappaport Institute at the Harvard Kennedy School put the project at a range of $3.8B (two-track) and $5.9B (four-track).
  • The inflation of the cost estimates from current dollars to 2028 (midpoint of the construction period) is 41%. The realistic possibility of moving the mid point to 2022 reduces the escalation to 15%, a significant number for the bottom line.
  • A “no build” cost option is not listed. This would need to include the millions of dollars spent annually moving non-revenue trains in and out of the system due to the dead-end nature of the stations.
  • Inevitable improvements to MBTA infrastructure such as double tracking, system electrification, and procurement of new equipment are attributed to the NSRL cost. This proposed plan implies there are no accommodations anticipated for expansion of MBTA or Amtrak service between now and 2040.
  • The future service is based on infrastructure capacity and not estimated service demands. This results in more service than needed and running empty trains. This is not standard planning procedure.
  • Attleboro is omitted from the Gateway cities list, as are potential South Coast Rail connections with Taunton, New Bedford, and Fall River. Better connections to Providence, RI and Portland, ME are also not mentioned.
  • A number of comparison projects are misrepresented in the draft, such as the Second Avenue Subway (NYC) and Crossrail (London).
  • Other than a few Amtrak trains, the need for layover space would be practically eliminated in Boston, that land could be sold for development and the proceeds should be credited to the project. None of the opportunities for economic development (Widett Circle, etc) have been fully explored.
  • No consideration for accommodating freight is included in the development of the future schedules.

We are asking you to review the MassDOT documents and show your support, and to raise any further concerns, for the project by submitting public comments highlighting the need for a more comprehensive EIS/EIR study that would take many of the necessary items that are missing from this current draft report into account. We are also asking MassDOT to hold a public meeting during this comment period.

The North-South Rail Link is a transformative project that has far-reaching benefits for the Boston metro area, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the whole of the Northeast. Travelers and commuters deserve far better than the one-sided and fatally flawed study MassDOT commissioned.

Again, the comment period will be open through October 19, 2018. Comments can be sent to [email protected] and should include “NSRL Draft Report Public Comment” in the subject line.

Until community concerns are resolved in Glenview and Lake Forest, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will not move forward with the expansion of Amtrak's Hiawatha passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Chicago. The proposed expansion on Amtrak's Hiawatha route would increase service from seven to 10 round trips per day between Milwaukee and Chicago to accommodate over-capacity conditions during peak travel hours. Adding three routes would require substantial track upgrades and the addition of a third train to run on the route.

The concerns have arisen based on local officials saying the scheduling of the additional round trips do not address overcrowding on the Hiawatha route. Local officials also said the expansion would affect freight rail service and create safety and environmental issues.

As a result, IDOT, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration, will have to revise a current environmental analysis of the expansion project that takes into consideration the concerns raised by local communities. The study was set to be released earlier this year.

Upcoming Regional Rail Passenger & State Association Member Meetings and Other Events:

Please contact Bruce Becker to have a state or regional event or meeting added to the Rail Passengers Association calendar of upcoming events!

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has allocated $100 million in Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program funds to Sound Transit in Seattle. The funding is for fiscal year 2018 and is specifically for the transit agency’s Link extension to Lynnwood, WA. This funding is in addition to the $100 million appropriated by Congress in fiscal year 2017.

“This is a very positive step toward securing the $1.17 billion full funding grant agreement we need to start building Lynnwood Link next year,” Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said in a press release. “Residents across our region are urgently awaiting transportation relief and are making historic investments in Lynnwood Link and other transit infrastructure.

Sound Transit said that the agency officials and the FTA will need to finalize a $1.17 billion full funding grant agreement (FFGA) before Sound Transit can receive the first two installments of the funds.

The USDOT is still sitting on $1.7 billion in available transit funding and many advocates calling for speedier distribution.

Amtrak's Office of Inspector General (OIG) said that the passenger railroad’s information technology (IT) management capabilities need to be improved in order to reduce and avoid IT service issues. The OIG shared the information in a newly released audit, which reviewed Amtrak's business continuity planning and testing efforts in IT. The OIG compared its findings to private and public sector IT management control standards issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and ISACA.

The audit said that since 2015, Amtrak has spent more than $12 million to minimize the possibility and effects of IT disruptions. Through its efforts Amtrak's IT department has developed continuity plans for the applications hosted on its mainframe, which is consistent with IT management control standards. However, the audit said that the department lacks IT continuity plans for some applications that are essential, including tools used to sell tickets, and maintain train equipment and railroad infrastructure. These types of service disruptions could result in about $3 million in lost revenue and productivity for Amtrak.

Passenger Rail Service Notices

Current and upcoming service notifications that could affect affect upcoming train travel include:

Track Work To Effect Downeaster Service

  • A series of track improvement projects between Brunswick, ME and Dover, NH will cause changes and interruptions to Amtrak Downeaster passenger rail service through mid-October. The number of Amtrak Downeaster trains operating on weekdays will be limited, and Downeaster passengers traveling to or from stations between Brunswick, ME and Dover, NH on can expect a portion of their journey to be operated by bus.
  • All trains are expected to operate on weekends, however passengers should anticipate construction-related delays. Most Downeaster fares have been reduced for impacted passengers during the construction period. The work includes rehabilitation of several grade crossings and the replacement of 15,000 ties.

Track Work To Effect Carolinian, Silver Star and Piedmont Service

  • Track work being performed by Norfolk Southern and North Carolina Department of Transportation will affect Carolinian, Silver Star and Piedmont service on select dates between September 10 and September 23. These include:
    • Monday, Sept. 10 through Thursday, Sept. 13: Carolinian Service Trains 79 and 80 will run between Raleigh and Charlotte, only. Trains are cancelled between New York and Raleigh with no alternate transportation provided.
    • Sunday, Sept. 16: Train 92 will operate as Train 1092 and will depart Miami at 9:05 am, 2 hours and 45 minutes earlier than currently scheduled. Train 1092 will operate earlier through to New York.
    • Monday, Sept. 17: Carolinian Service Trains 79 and 80 are cancelled with no alternate transportation provided between New York and Charlotte. Piedmont Service Trains 73, 74, 75, 76, 77 and 78 will be cancelled with no alternate transportation provided between Raleigh and Charlotte. Train 91 will operate normally.
    • Tuesday, Sept. 18: Carolinian Service Trains 79 and 80 will operate between Raleigh and Charlotte, only. No alternate transportation provided between New York and Raleigh.
    • Wednesday, Sept. 19: Piedmont Service Trains 74 and 75 will be cancelled with no alternate transportation provided between Raleigh and Charlotte.

Saluki Train 393 To Depart Later Monday through Friday

  • Tuesday, Sept. 4 through Friday, Sept. 21: Train 393 will depart all stations one hour and 15 minutes later on weekdays only, due to track improvements being performed by the Canadian National Railway. Train 393 will run on this later schedule from Chicago to Carbondale.
    • Please note: The schedule for Train 393 will not change on Saturdays and Sundays.

Downtown Denver Light Rail To Shutdown

  • The Regional Transportation District will be doing repairs to its downtown Denver light rail network, necessitating the shutdown of four of those lines for 10 days starting Friday evening.
  • The D, F, H and L lines will be closed starting 8 p.m. Friday until 3 a.m. September 24, as work crews replace tracks and components associated with RTD’s original light rail service.
  • The work will cause the suspension of light rail service between the 30th and Downing and the Theatre District/Convention Center stations. Shuttle buses, supplemented by charter buses, will substitute for the trains during the 10-day closure.

Amtrak Cascades Trains 508, 511 and 513 Equipment Substitution

  • Between September 12 and 17, 2018 several trains will be withdrawn for upgrades. This includes:
    • Trains 508 from Eugene to Portland
    • Trains 511 from Portland to Eugene
    • Trains 513 from Portland to Eugene
  • Replacement equipment will be single-level cars which are different from trains typically used. These changes will not allow for the usual amenities of the Amtrak Cascade service:
    • There will be no checked baggage or bicycle space available.
    • Business Class will not be available – passengers currently booked will have accommodations changed.
    • Amtrak Cascades Wi-Fi service will not be available.
    • Food and beverage service will have abbreviated offerings

WMATA officials have awarded a $213.7 million construction contract for the development of the new Potomac Yard Metrorail Station in Alexandria, VA. The contract has been awarded to a Halmar International and Schiavone Construction Co. joint venture.

“We look forward to the construction of the Potomac Yard Metro Station, an exciting project that will provide jobs and expand transit options for the fastest-growing part of the Alexandria community,” Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a press release. “Once complete, the station and surrounding development will create a thriving community, connected by transit, where people can enjoy seamless access to jobs, education, stores, restaurants and entertainment options – both on site and throughout the region.”

The station will be built between the existing Braddock Road and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stations, which run on the Yellow and Blue lines. A focus of the project is to provide walkable access to regional transportation systems for northeast Alexandria neighborhoods, which have seen growth in recent years. Construction is set to begin in spring 2019, with an opening of the station in 2021 or early 2022.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has outlined a process to transfer primary responsibility for federal safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) metro system to the new Metrorail Safety Commission (MSC). The MSC was created by D.C, Maryland and Virginia, and it will act as the designated state safety oversight (SSO) agency for WMATA's rail system. The FTA had taken temporary and direct safety oversight for the metro system in October 2015. During the transition, MSC staff will shadow FTA inspectors and investigators in the field to increase familiarity with WMATA's rail system.

Before the transfer is official, the MSC must submit its SSO program certification to the FTA. This must be done by April 15, 2019.

Openings Available For Rail Passengers Association State Council Representatives

The following vacancies now exist for state representatives on the Rail Passengers Association Council of Representatives: Alabama (1 opening); California (7 openings); Idaho (1 opening); Illinois (1 opening); Louisiana (1 opening); Massachusetts (1 opening); Minnesota (1 opening); North Dakota (1 opening); Ohio (2 openings); Pennsylvania (1 opening); Washington State (1 opening); Wyoming (1 opening)

If you are interested in becoming more involved in passenger rail advocacy and serving in a Rail Passengers Association leadership role, this is your opportunity to be considered for an appointment by the Board of Directors to an open state representative seat. There is no deadline to apply and submissions will be considered on a rolling basis as they are received.

Please review the position responsibilities & required qualifications and complete & submit a Candidate Information Statement if you would like to seek a position.