Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 30, 2014

Posts in "Rail"

August 1, 2014

Lame-Duck Transportation Bargaining Scenario Fades

On Thursday night the Senate passed by a vote of 81-13 the House bill to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent until next spring. Score it as a win for beleaguered House Republican leaders who were coping with a fiasco after they couldn’t find the votes to pass their version of an emergency spending bill to respond to the southern border crisis.

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July 30, 2014

Tighter Scrutiny Needed for Railroad Disability Claims, GAO Says

The Railroad Retirement Board, which administers the retirement and disability system for railroad workers and dates back to the 1930s, paid $276 million in disability benefits to nearly 13,000 beneficiaries in fiscal 2012. But the Government Accountability Office said this week that the RRB needs to tighten its scrutiny of disability claims.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 5:19 p.m.
Rail

July 29, 2014

Streetcars Keep Winning Scramble for Federal Mass Transit Project Funding

In the competition for urban transit funding, light rail and streetcars are winning and buses remain runners up.

Last week the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) celebrated the opening of the $196.5 million Sun Link Streetcar line in Tucson, Ariz., paid for in part by a $63 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant – a legacy of the 2009 stimulus act, and $19.7 million in other Department of Transportation money.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 1:49 p.m.
Rail, Transit

July 25, 2014

‘Seamless Mobility’: Not There Yet, But Will Pay Off Once We Arrive

Step off your flight, walk a short distance, and board a rail system that takes you to a downtown hotel to start your vacation or your business meeting. That’s an ideal that some American cities, such as Seattle and Chicago, attain but others, such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando, do not.

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July 23, 2014

Much-Anticipated Rail Shipping Rule for Oil Is Unveiled

Ending months of waiting by industry groups and local officials, the Department of Transportation on Wednesday issued its proposed rulemaking on rail shipments of flammable materials, including crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale.

Among other steps, the department would phase out within two years older tank cars for the shipment of certain types of flammable liquids, including most Bakken crude oil, unless the tank cars were retrofitted to comply with new design standards.

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July 22, 2014

Greg Saxton of the Greenbrier Companies on the Need for Safer Rail Tank Cars

In an opinion piece for Roll Call, Greg Saxton, chief engineer for The Greenbrier Companies, a leading railroad industry supplier, argues that the Transportation Department ought to require more robust tank car designs given the risks of explosions and oil spills as newly abundant domestic crude oil is shipped around the country to refineries and terminals.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 4 p.m.
Environment, Rail

July 21, 2014

Foxx Touts Bicycle Commuting and Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications

In a wide-ranging appearance Monday at the National Press Club, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he’d figured out how to bicycle to his office, and he touted vehicle-to-vehicle communications for cars as a technology that will reduce accidents in the future.

But Foxx avoided substantive comment on two of the most pressing current issues: the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine last week, and a pending rule from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on rail shipment of volatile Bakken crude from North Dakota.

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July 18, 2014

For ‘P3s,’ Still Some Confusion About What’s Public And What’s Private

President Barack Obama tried to focus attention this week on public-private partnerships to build infrastructure. Despite the existence of well-established “P3″ projects — concentrated in Texas, Florida, Virginia, California, and Colorado — the public is still sometimes confused about what’s public and what’s private.

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July 16, 2014

Republicans Blame Obama for Blocking Multi-Year Transportation Bill in 2009 (Video)

House Republicans reached back to recent history yesterday to rebut Democratic critics who blame them for not working on a multi-year transportation authorization bill.

Why, they demanded, did President Barack Obama not push for a multi-year transportation bill at height of his power in 2009 when his party controlled both branches of Congress?

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July 14, 2014

Railroads, Not Pipelines, Are the Future for Crude, Argues Bakken Shipper

The head of one of the biggest rail shippers of Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to U.S. refineries made an assertive case Monday for transporting crude by rail, contending that the pipeline system isn’t capable of dealing with today’s complex and rapidly evolving energy markets.

Global Partners CEO Eric Slifka gave one of the keynote addresses at the conference of the Energy Department’s Energy Information Agency.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 12:50 p.m.
Rail

A Crowded Week Ahead for Transportation Advocates and Policymakers

The nation’s capital will be busy with transportation events this week:

On Monday, the Energy Department’s Energy Information Agency starts its annual conference. Among the speakers will be the head of a company controversially involved in rail shipments of Bakken crude oil from North Dakota, Global Partners president and CEO Eric Slifka.

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July 11, 2014

Bakken Oil Shipment Rule: Industry Representatives Meet With OMB

The review of a rule governing rail shipment of Bakken crude oil from North Dakota continued this week at the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, with a meeting between Obama administration officials and representatives from the oil industry.

The proposed rule – formally called “Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains” – comes after a series of accidents and derailments involving Bakken oil, including one a year ago in Lac-Megantic, Quebec in which 47 people were killed in a fiery explosion.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 12:08 p.m.
Environment, Rail

Domestic Oil Boom Helps U.S. Shipyards Rebound

The oil boom that has sparked controversy over rail shipments of Bakken crude from North Dakota has also been a boon for U.S. shipyards.

This week we interviewed Matthew Paxton, the president of the Shipbuilders Council of America, on the health of the U.S. shipbuilding industry. His organization represents small shipyards that build fishing vessels as well as large companies such as Huntington Ingalls and General Dynamics which turn out aircraft carriers and submarines.

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July 9, 2014

A 50th Anniversary Look Back at ‘The Curses of Congestion in Commuting’

Johnson 20th 08 16 99 438x335 A 50th Anniversary Look Back at The Curses of Congestion in Commuting

Although Johnson traveled in style as president, ordinary transit systems were on his mind. (Roll Call File Photo)

If you had a brutal commute this morning– a delayed subway, an overcrowded bus, or gridlocked highway traffic – ponder this statement made on this date 50 years ago: “All of us recognize that the curses of congestion in commuting cannot be wiped away with the single stroke of a pen.”

Those were the words of President Lyndon Johnson as he signed into law on July 9, 1964 the Urban Mass Transportation Act, which for the first time put the federal government in the business of paying for some of the costs of building and maintaining American cities’ train, bus, and subway systems.

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Pressure Grows on Congress to Intervene in N.Y. Commuter Rail Standoff

Another day closer to a potential commuter rail strike that could make life misery for workers who ride into New York City from the Long Island suburbs, Metropolitan Transportation Authority head Thomas Prendergast asked congressional leaders whether they will intervene in the dispute between the MTA and labor unions representing 5,400 rail workers.

Prendergast said a LIRR strike, which could begin as early as July 20, would “paralyze the nation’s largest regional economy.”

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