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Railfan Hot Rail NewsEdited by the Railfan & Railroad staff
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Canadian Pacific expands St.Paul yard over city objections
September 22nd, 2014

In a plan that has been labeled "controversial" by city officials, Canadian Pacific will begin its project to expand Dunn Yard in St. Paul., Minn., according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The project involves lengthening six tracks to accommodate longer trains and reduce congestion on the main line. The city raised objections because the expansion will increase train traffic and noise levels, and potentially impact a nearby wildlife preserve due to the filling of adjacent wetlands. The yard was originally designed in the 1950s, and the construction will lengthen the arrival tracks from 7,000 feet to 10,000 feet, which is a better fit for today's longer trains.

The city and Canadian Pacific were locked in a months-long dispute over environmental impact statements and an extensive permitting process. The railroad filed a petition with the Surface Transportation Board in July to address the issue. With approval coming from the STB, Canadian Pacific will begin construction soon, though the city of St. Paul promises it will continue to oversee the progress and intervene if public health and safety are threatened. The railroad will be working with the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers to come up with a plan to mitigate the loss of wetlands around the project site.

—Railfan & Railroad

NRHS board votes down "new business model," installs new president
September 22nd, 2014

The board of the National Railway Historical Society voted down a new plan that would have reinvented how the nearly 80-year-old organization conducted business in a day-long meeting that took place over the weekend. Facing mounting financial losses, and a membership that is rapidly graying and aging out of participation, a special five-member committee was tasked with examining the problem and coming up with a new plan to present to the board. The vote was close, with 12 again and 10 in favor of the new plan. The new business model would have transformed the society into a donor-based organization, and the role of chapters would have changed as well. Railfan & Railroad editor Steve Barry was a member of the committee tasked with developing the new business model for consideration.

Al Weber was installed as president during the meeting, an abrupt move that was originally planned to transition in November. However, according to the new NRHS by-laws, the president is supposed to assume office a few weeks after the conclusion of the election. Weber replaces Greg Malloy who has led the organization since 1994. While Weber was one of the members who voted down the new business model, he is looking at implementing many aspects of the plan to help streamline and modernize the organization.

The NRHS was founded in 1935 by a group of independent rail historians and enthusiasts. It has since grown from 40 founding members to include over 13,000 men and women of all ages and professions in every state and many foreign countries, making it the nation's largest rail preservation and historical society.

—Railfan & Railroad

Jeffrey Bliemeister joins Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
September 22nd, 2014

Jeffrey Bliemeister has been named as the new site administrator at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. He joins a staff of 25, an active corps of volunteers and a board of directors of the non-profit Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania to lead the world-class institution.  Bliemeister is expected to assume his duties as Museum director beginning October 6. 

Bliemeister has more than 25 years of professional museum experience. He most recently directed the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum in Galeton, Penn., where he oversaw renovations to and expansion of the visitor center. Additionally, he served as director at the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia, N.Y.; Hyde Hall New York State Historic Site in Springfield, N.Y., and Renfrew Museum and Park in Waynesboro, Penn. Bliemeister also was the founding curator at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, Penn. He has extensive experience in collections management, exhibitions and interpretive programs, community-based fund raising and working with volunteers.

Opened to the public in 1975, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is home to a premier collection of more than 100 historic locomotives and railroad cars, a vast library and archives, a working restoration shop and an immersive education center.

—Railfan & Railroad

Amtrak's "Great Dome" returns to the Adirondack through Oct. 29
September 12th, 2014

Amtrak announced this week that its popular "Great Dome" will be returning to the Adirondack route for five weeks through October 29, thanks in part to support from New York State Department of Transportation. The Great Dome was built in 1955, and remains Amtrak's only full-length dome in regular service. The dome car can be found on the Adirondack running northbound between Albany and Montreal on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Mondays (there are no dome car trips on Wednesdays). Seats are not reserved in the dome section, and are available on a first come, first served basis. The Great Dome was built by Budd for the Great Northern Railway and carried the name Ocean View. It was refurbished in 1985, and again in 1999, and has been used in various Amtrak services around the country.

—Railfan & Railroad via Amtrak

New owners invest $10 million to rebuild tracks of Central Maine & Quebec
September 10th, 2014

When Central Maine & Quebec Railway took over the old Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, they inherited a railroad full of slow orders and a dwindling customer base. President John Giles announced a program that will invest $10 million to rebuild tracks and bring speeds up from 10 to 25 m.p.h., according to the Portland Press Herald. The reconstruction work is expected to be completed by November, and will reduce the trip from Farnham, Quebec, to northern Vermont from two days to one. The sales and marketing staff will also be increased to help sell the railway's improved service to shippers. As per agreement, the railway is prohibited from shipping oil until at least 2016. Fortress Investments purchased the former MM&A at a bankruptcy auction earlier this year. The majority of the system is the former Bangor & Aroostook which went bankrupt in 1995.

—Railfan & Railroad

Iowa Pacific introduces "The Varsity" to connect Chicago and Madison
September 8th, 2014

Pullman Rail Journeys, a subsidiary of Iowa Pacific Holdings, will introduce special event weekend service between Chicago and Madison in October. According to the Chicago Business Journal, The Varsity will carry football fans to two big University of Wisconsin games in October. Passengers will have the choice of $99 round-trip in coach, or $199 round-trip in first class. This new special event service represents some of the first regularly scheduled first class passenger trains on the Chicago-Madison route since 1971.

Trips in October and November will also open up a new charter route between Chicago and New York City, expanding upon Pullman Rail Journeys' success with their Chicago-New Orleans route.

—Railfan & Railroad

Southern Railway 4501 to debut at Chattanooga Railfest
September 5th, 2014

Southern Railway 4501 is about to emerge from a multi-year restoration and rebuild and will debut at the Tennessee Valley Railfest in Chattanooga, Tenn., on September 6 and 7, according to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and WGNS-AM. Built in 1911 for Southern Railway by Baldwin Locomotive Works, it was sold in 1948 to the Kentucky & Tennessee Railway. The 4501 was purchased by Paul Merriman in 1963 and was used for occasional excursions on the Southern Railway, and three years later became the official ambassador for the railroad's steam program. The locomotive was retired by Norfolk Southern in 1994, and briefly ran excursions at TVRM until it was pulled from service in 1998.

The venerable excursion locomotive was stripped down for a boiler inspection in 2008, and restoration and repair work began in 2010 thanks to the support of Norfolk Southern and their new "21st Century Steam" program. For the last three years, 4501 has been transformed inside the shop at TVRM, and now is ready to make its debut under steam. Norfolk Southern announced the 4501 will be added to the schedule of steam excursions for the 2015 season. 

Railfest is an annual celebration of railroading at the massive Chattanooga train museum, where actual engines and rail cars fill the massive complex. The September 6th and 7th gala includes train rides, special exhibits, model railroads, children's activities, live entertainment, and more.
Tickets for Railfest are on-line: $20 per day for adults and $15 children. Visit www.tvrail.com for details.

—Railfan & Railroad via WGNS-AM

Vermont Rail System, Amtrak, to bring special displays for Glory Days celebration
September 5th, 2014

The 22nd Annual Glory Days celebration will feature displays from Vermont Rail System as well as Amtrak's Exhibit Train during the special event held in White River Junction, Vermont, on Saturday, September 13. Attractions at the festival include a model train show, LEGO train show, vintage cars and tractors, carnival rides, children’s stage with performers and entertainment, and the main stage with musicians from around New England. Plenty of food will be available, including a traditional barbeque.

The Vermont Rail System excursion train will be at the festival, taking passengers on a 45-minute ride along the scenic Connecticut River. Excursions run on the hour beginning at 10:00 a.m. Train tickets are only $10 and will be available at the event through the Hartford Parks and Recreation Department.

Glory Days will also feature a display of train equipment from many of the railroads that currently serve the region. A highlight of this year’s railroad display will be the Amtrak Exhibit Train. Climb on board this special train to learn about Amtrak’s history and catch a glimpse into the company’s future. Displays include vintage advertising, past menus and dinnerware, period uniforms, photographs, and other items of memorabilia from Amtrak’s creation in 1971 to a model of today’s modern-sleeping accommodations and high-speed rail service displays. Interactive displays include railroad horns, trivia questions, workable signals and an engineer’s stand.

The event will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and admission is free. For more information visit the event website: www.vtglorydaysfestival.com.

—Railfan & Railroad via Vermont Rail System

SEPTA Market East Station becomes Jefferson Station
September 4th, 2014

In a landmark multi-million dollar deal with Jefferson Health System, SEPTA's Market East Station in downtown Philadelphia will be renamed "Jefferson Station," according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. This is not the first station in the SEPTA system to be re-branded in a naming rights deal, since the naming rights for Pattison Station on the Broad Street Subway were sold to AT&T in 2010 for $5.4 million. The details of the deal with Jefferson Health System have not yet been revealed.

SEPTA is also in discussions to possibly sell the naming rights to nearby Suburban Station, the other major downtown commuter terminal in Philadelphia. 

The subterranean Market East Station opened in 1984 upon the completion of the Center City Commuter Connection which linked the former Pennsylvania Railroad and Reading Railroad systems and allowed the closure of historic Reading Terminal and its elevated approaches. The old terminal is now part of the downtown convention center.

—Railfan & Railroad

Amtrak asks for investigation into CN delays on Illinois route
September 3rd, 2014

Plagued by delays on its Chicago-Carbondale route, Amtrak has asked federal regulators to investigate whether or not actions by owner Canadian National are at fault. According to Crain's Chicago Business, while the fight over the delay extends back to 2012, Amtrak and CN have had "productive discussions" in an effort to resolve the matter. Amtrak's average on-time performance has been between 57.7 and 41.6 percent, though CN claims improvements since the worst of the delays incurred during winter. According to federal law, passenger trains are supposed to have priority except in case of emergency. Regarding Amtrak's September 2 filing with the Surface Transportation Board, CN had no comment.

—Railfan & Railroad


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