Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 24, 2014

Posts in "Rail"

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.

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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July 8, 2014

‘Anxiety’ About Possible LIRR Strike Has Andrew Cuomo Thinking of Congress

cuomo 007 120312 445x294 Anxiety About Possible LIRR Strike Has Andrew Cuomo Thinking of Congress

Cuomo, visiting Capitol Hill in late 2012 to push for disaster relief funding. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is looking to Congress to avert a Long Island Rail Road strike that could cripple New York City’s economy.

Some state legislators have urged Cuomo to bring the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the unions representing LIRR workers to the table and use his persuasive powers to settle their dispute.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 1:08 p.m.
Commuting, Rail

July 7, 2014

Boeing Still Picking Up the Pieces From Montana Derailment Involving Fuselages

Boeing is trying to assess the damage to fuselages for its 737 model that had been on their way to final assembly at a plant in Renton, Wash., but were caught up in a train derailment Thursday.

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July 3, 2014

Jobs at Stake as Amtrak Looks to Buy 28 New Trains for Acela Express

Amtrak is shopping for new trains for its Acela Express. It remains to be seen whether they will be built in the United States.

On Wednesday Amtrak announced that it had issued Request for Proposals (RFP) asking train manufacturers to submit bids by Oct. 1 for up to 28 high-speed trainsets which could meet or exceed current Acela trip-times on the Boston-to-Washington corridor.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 1:47 p.m.
Budget, Rail

Transportation Jobs Up 12 Percent From Recession’s Low Point

The number of Americans working in transportation reached 4,618,500 in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly jobs report released Thursday morning.

That’s a 501,300, or 12 percent, increase from the worst days of the recession. And it exceeds by nearly 58,000 jobs the pre-financial crisis peak in April 2008 of 4,560,600 Americans working in transportation. You can see the rebound in transportation jobs in this chart from BLS:

bls transpo jobs jun14 report1 445x222 Transportation Jobs Up 12 Percent From Recession’s Low Point

The BLS transportation category includes people working in air, truck, and rail transportation, as well as some related jobs such as couriers, messengers, and warehousing.

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