Friday, July 29, 2011

July 29, 2011 weekly rail news

  • The big news of the last week was the July 22nd high-speed collision near Wenzhou, China. Initial reports were that the first train was disabled by a lightning strike, and a second train crashed into it. It's unclear whether there was a technical failure, human error, or a combination of the two. My first guess was that someone tried to override a fail-safe situation, and that's one of the rumors floating around. We'll have to see if the Chinese can be transparent enough to put together a trustworthy investigation.

  • On Wednesday, the Missouri River Runner returned to its normal twice-daily schedule, after suspending one round-trip per day since July 2nd due to freight congestion. The route has been seeing more traffic than normal due to flooding along other lines.

  • Amtrak's #7 Empire Builder originating in Chicago on July 21st experienced a disruption the next day near Williston, North Dakota. I don't know what the problem was, and never saw anything on Amtrak's website, but the train apparently never made it to the west coast. There wasn't a return #8 on the 23rd.

  • Twin Cities & Western Railroad is celebrating 20 years of operation this week. The company began operation on July 21, 1991 from Minneapolis to Milbank, South Dakota on a segment of the Milwaukee Road's former Pacific Extension to the west coast. Passenger excursions are planned for this weekend.

  • BNSF is requesting permission to build a new bridge across the Missouri River at Plattsmouth, Nebraska. The existing line is used by Amtrak's California Zephyr, as well as BNSF coal trains from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and intermodal trains.

  • BNSF got hit by another washout-related derailment late in the night on Wednesday, July 27th—this time in Blanding, Illinois following a massive downpour of 13 inches of rain. The derailment halted traffic on both tracks. Canadian National also experienced washouts on their main line in Iowa.

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  • The federal tax on on-road motor vehicle fuels will reduce to 4.3 cents per gallon unless extended by September 30th. That's down from the present 18.4 cpg on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel.

  • Streetfilms recently visited the Twin Cities to see how the Nice Ride bike sharing system is expanding.

    Nice Ride MN: Minnesota's Bike Share Expands from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

  • A 2.1-mile streetcar line in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has been approved. The project is expected to cost $64.6 million.

1 comment:

  1. The Milwaukee Streetcar is one for Mpls to watch - similar to the proposed routes here, it will split or duplicate (I haven't been able to figure out which) one of the most popular bus routes in two. I'll be interested to see what happens to ridership on the new orphan or cloned routes.

    Also interesting that they're using existing TIF money to fund it, most of which here goes to neighborhoods or stadiums.