Rail Council


AASHTO Liaison
Shayne Gill, Program Director for Multimodal Transportation
sgill@aashto.org

Check back here for weekly factoids about our nation’s rail landscape.  If you would like to receive these updates by email, please contact Shayne Gill .

  • CTrail Hartford Line Service is a new passenger rail service that is operating between New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield, a 62 mile stretch of Amtrak-owned railroad with nine (9) stations. Amtrak previously operated only 6 daily round trip trains between New Haven and Springfield. On June 18, 2018, rail passenger service increased to 17 round trip trains on the weekdays between New Haven and Hartford with 12 of those trips continuing between Hartford and Springfield. The Hartford Line connects commuters to existing rail services in New Haven that allow for easy connections to Boston, New York City, and beyond, including the New Haven Line (Metro-North), Shore Line East, Amtrak Acela, and Northeast Regional services. CTtransit local bus service is also available at most stations along the line, and connections to the CTfastrak bus rapid transit system is available in Hartford. (8/3/2018)
  • Illinois communities are seeing major changes with their train stations as part of a larger Illinois Department of Transportation effort to improve the passenger experience between Chicago and St. Louis. New stations in Dwight, Pontiac, Carlinville and Alton, as well as a renovated station in Lincoln, opened in the last year. The stations, all located in the center of some of the state’s most historic towns, will act as new gateways in their respective communities, promising to increase tourism and economic opportunity. In December, Carlinville was the last new station to open. The stations feature free Wi-Fi, heated and air-conditioned waiting rooms, accommodations for passengers with disabilities, additional parking, and connections to bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Funding for the stations, designed in partnership between IDOT and the communities, came from a federal grant administered by the state to introduce faster passenger speeds and more reliable service on the Union Pacific Railroad between Chicago and St. Louis. For more information, please visit idothsr.org. (1/11/2018)
  • On Monday, November 13, 2017, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) introduced a new schedule that includes service to a new station, Fairfield-Vacaville (FFV). Located approximately five miles east of the Suisun-Fairfield Station (SUI), the Fairfield-Vacaville Station brings the number of Capitol Corridor stations to 18. CCJPA anticipates that the new unstaffed station will serve the growing area well, and potentially ease parking overflow at Davis (DAV) which is one station east. CCJPA incorporated a stop at the new station without increasing overall travel times, by reducing dwell times from two minutes to one minute at four stations (Oakland Jack London, Emeryville, Davis, and Martinez). Situated in busy Solano County, the Fairfield-Vacaville station offers travelers in this area easy access to Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. (12/6/2017)
  • On October 31, 2017, passenger rail service was officially restored to Roanoke, VA for the first time in nearly four decades after an inaugural celebration the day prior. The Amtrak Northeast Regional train left the Star City platform at 6:19 Halloween morning as people flocked to the site for boarding and viewing. The daily service offers passengers multiple traveling options in Virginia and all the way up the Northeast Corridor, including stops in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. The new service will serve leisure and business travelers alike, and as always, Amtrak’s amenities are created for passenger comfort including complimentary Wi-Fi, a cafe car, pet accomodations, and a quiet car. Be sure to check out Virginia.Amtrak.com for more information and ticket purchases! (11/20/2017)
  • In 2016, 85% of crashes at grade crossings occurred at locations equipped with active warning devices. Ohio spends approximately $15 million annually on grade crossing safety projects. The passage of the FAST Act has led to increased flexibility in how ORDC utilizes federal safety funds. (6/27/2017)
  • The GG1, one of the world’s most distinctive locomotives and a mainstay of the Pennsylvania Railroad, served the Harrisburg station on serve to Philadelphia and New York City between 1938 and 1981. No. 4859 pulled the first electrically powered train into the Harrisburg station on January 15, 1938. It was located at the station as a memorial to that service in 1986, designated as the official Pennsylvania state locomotive and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Harrisburg Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) owns and maintains both No. 4859 and the caboose. The GG1 locomotive and caboose were moved in April 2014 approximately 1/4 mile onto a running track so a $36 million project to improve power, signals, track and switches into the Harrisburg Transportation Center could start in the station area. After the improvements were completed, the GG1 was pushed back into the station for display. The upgrades have further improved Keystone service train times, safety, and reliability. NRHS web site with GG1 photos . (6/22/2017)
  • North Dakota has a revolving rail loan program available to short line railroads and local public agencies to continue or expand rail service or facilitate economic development. As of early 2017, this program has provided $41.3 million on 49 projects and rehabilitated over 680 miles of branch line track. (6/6/2017)
  • The final transfer of dispatching from Norfolk Southern to Amtrak and commissioning the double track between Ypsilanti, Michigan, and Dearborn, Michigan occurred on May 10, 2017. This is on the 135 miles of former Norfolk Southern track that Michigan DOT purchased as part of the Detroit-Chicago corridor program. (5/23/2017)
  • Recognizing the need to minimize locomotive air pollution, in 2016 the NCDOT Rail Division became the nation’s first rail agency to install a specialized selective catalytic reduction system, known as a blended after treatment system (BATS), onto NCDOT Locomotive 1859. The system chemically reduces locomotive emissions before they enter the environment. (5/16/2017)
  • Indiana has a state-funded program that awards up to $40,000.00 per grant to local public agencies and short line railroads for non-train activated warning projects at public rail-highway intersections through the state. (5/9/2017)
  • Richmond, Virginia’s Staples Mill Amtrak station is the busiest in the South. 4 state supported and 3 long distance trains served 356,000 passengers in 2016. (5/2/2017)
  • Illinois (4/25/2017)
    – Illinois is the only state in which all Seven Class I railroads operate.
    – Chicago is the nation’s busiest rail freight gateway and the third largest intermodal container/trailer port in the
    world, following only Singapore and Hong Kong
    – Illinois has approximately 6,986 miles of railroad track, the 2nd largest rail system of any state in the nation.
    – Over 500 million tons (1 trillion pounds) of freight move on Illinois’ rail systems each year which is the most of any
    any state in the nation.
  • The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority helped host the 2017 CA Pass Rail Summit this week (April 8-19) and during the event showcased the new Siemens Tier 4 Charger locomotives at a media event. The Chargers have been through acceptance testing and are ready to begin revenue service testing in May 2017. (4/20/2017)
  • The Cap-and-Trade funded Transit and Intercity Rail Program released its second round of grant awards on August 16th, awarding over $390 million statewide to 14 projects, including $136,662,000 in funding to 5 intercity and commuter rail projects (Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, ACE, Redlands, and LOSSAN).  The intercity and commuter rail projects include a great deal of matching funds from other sources.  Total project value of the 5 projects is over $2.69 billion. (8/30/2016)
  • On Dec. 15, 2014 the new Dearborn Amtrak Station was dedicated, serving both the city of Dearborn, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.  It is the first station in Michigan to have a double platform, a retractable platform edge, and platforms 15 inches above the top of rail on a main line.  All other platforms in Michigan are 8 inches above the top of rail, except the new Grand Rapids Vernon J. Ehlers Amtrak Station, which also is 15 inches above the top of rail. (8/30/2016)
  • Since the inception of Florida’s Strategic Intermodal System program in FY 2005, the State has spent just over $472M on freight rail capacity projects. (8/23/2016)
  • You may not be able to see it – but some passengers will be very aware of the recently reconstructed Milwaukee Intermodal Station concourse’s state-of-the-art hearing technology.  The new ListenLoop system allows transit users with hearing assists to clearly hear station announcements and get where they want to go without worry. This concourse is the first in the US to have 100% coverage with hearing loop technology. (7/27/2016)
  • According to the Ohio Rail Development Commission’s most recent state rail plan Ohio has more rail lines per square mile than any other state. (7/20/2016)
  • In response to the Rock Island Bankruptcy Trustee’s decision to liquidate all the rail assets in the early 1980’s, the state of Oklahoma purchased 542 miles of railroad for $23 million dollars.  95% of those lines are still in revenue service today providing rail service by short lines and Class I’s all over the state of Oklahoma and the state of Oklahoma has been repaid for every cent invested. (7/13/2016)
  • The LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency recently launched a new transit transfer program that allows Pacific Surfliner passengers to make free connections to 12 local bus and transit services and offers discounted 1-day passes for bus and rail transit services in Los Angeles and San Diego for sale onboard in the café car.  The Pacific Surfliner is the Amtrak’s second busiest corridor, with annual ridership of 2,827,134 in FFY 2015. (7/6/2016)
  • The San Joaquin Corridor began its 7th Daily Roundtrip between Bakersfield and Oakland, CA.  Amtrak’s 7th busiest corridor had ridership of 1,177,073 in FFY’ 2015. (6/21/2016)