ProRail Nebraska -- Nebraska's Association of Railroad Passengers and Supporters
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Next Meeting: Saturday, March 3, 2018, 9:00 am (Doors open about 8:30 am)
at St. Mark's Episcopal Church on the Campus, 1309 R Street, Lincoln
For more information call Bob Kuzelka (402) 417-9424 (Lincoln) email firstname.lastname@example.org
All ProRail Nebraska meetings are open to the general public!
If you can't attend in person, a conference phone line may be available.
If interested, please contact Bob Kuzelka 402-417-9424 email@example.com
ProRail Annual Meeting - Saturday, May 12 - 9:00 a.m. to Noon
Mark you calendar now!
Location: Second Unitarian Church of Omaha
3012 South 119th St. (SW corner 119th & Westwood Lane)
Agenda will be posted in Mid-April
November 2017 ProRail Newsletter Posted Online
Click here to view a PDF copy of the newsletter.
ProRail Supports Legislative Bill 769
Retain Nebraska's Membership in the MIPRC
On January 23rd ProRail President Matt Roque testified before the Nebraska Legislature's Transportation and Telecommunications Committee in support of LB 769. This bill would retain Nebraska's membership in the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact (MIPRC).
You may recall that during the 2015 Session Sen. Kintner introduced LB 317 that would have withdrawn Nebraska from the MIPRC. ProRail opposed LB 317, but a compromise was reached where Nebraska would remain a member only until July 1, 2018.
At the beginning of the 2018 Session Sen. Quick from Grand Island introduced LB 769 that would eliminate the July 1, 2018 deadline and keep Nebraska in the Compact indefinitely. LB 769 is co-sponsored by Senators Walz, Harr, and Kolowski.
The Compact created the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission which brings together leaders from nine Midwest states (Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin) to promote, coordinate and support improvements to passenger rail and connecting bus services. Nebraska's withdrawal from MIPRC would put our state outside this planning process. Senators Quick and Walz represent Nebraska on the Commission. The Governor hasn't appointed the other two NE representatives to the MIPRC.
In addition to retaining our state's membership in the MIPRC, LB 769 would also allow non-government parties to help pay the annual MIPRC dues which are $15,000 annually.
Click here to read Mr. Roque's testimony (PDF).
Kawasaki gets $1.4 Billion MTA subway car order
Much of the work to be done at Lincoln, NE plant
Railway Age - January 24, 2018
New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority plans to spend more than $1.4 billion to purchase 535 new subway cars to replace the oldest cars operating on its lettered lines.
The initial order with Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. was approved by the agency Board's Transit Committee Jan. 22, and the Japan-based company could eventually design and build a total of 1,600 cars for more than $3.6 billion over the coming decade. They will be built at Kawasaki's facilities in Yonkers, N.Y., and Lincoln, Neb.
The first new R211 test cars are scheduled to be delivered by mid-2020, part of an order that includes 440 standard closed-end cars and 20 open-gangway test cars with through vestibules for NYC Transit, and 75 new cars for the Staten Island Railway. The design for the new cars features wider doors, closed-circuit surveillance cameras, new lighting and color schemes, and improved digital displays.
Reports said that under the terms of the contract to be voted on by the full board Jan. 24, the MTA has an option to have Kawasaki build about 1,100 more cars for $2.2 billion by the end of 2027.
Click here to view more details in Progressive Railroading article Jan. 25, 2018.
Minnesota ends Twin Cities-to-Milwaukee high-speed rail study
Progressive Railroading - January 11, 2018
An environmental study exploring the viability of a high-speed passenger-rail service between Minnesota and Wisconsin has been halted after two Minnesota state lawmakers objected to its funding.
KC Streetcar Get's FTA Permission to Begin
Proposed Extension Project's Development
Progressive Railroading - January 8, 2018
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority will develop
refined capital and operating costs, as well as ridership estimates.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has authorized the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) to move its Main Street streetcar extension into the project development phase.
Presentation By Roger Figard, Executive Director
Lincoln Railroad Transportation Safety District
December 9, 2017 ProRail Meeting in Lincoln
Click here to view PowerPoint slides
Click here to view map of conceptual plan to abandon Amtrak Route in Lincoln, NE
Click here to view map showing proposed Hobson Yard Bypass
ProRail Board Votes to Oppose Abandonment of Lincoln's Amtrak Line
Clyde Anderson - November 3, 2017
The ProRail Board met in Lincoln Saturday, October 28. After discussing the proposal by Lincoln's Railroad Transportation Safety District to abandon a segment of the Amtrak Line that extends from a point just west of the Amtrak Station 7.3 miles southwest to Cobb, the Board voted unanimously to oppose the abandonment. See the news article below for details. The Board opposes closure of the line to through traffic for several reasons:
We hope to have a spokesperson from the Railroad Transportation Safety District at our December 9 meeting.
StarTran has received a
$1.45 million federal grant to purchase two electric buses to replace
heavy-duty diesel buses. StarTran's project was one of 51 projects in 39 states selected for
$55 million in grants from the Federal Transit Administration's low- or
no-emission vehicle program.
Will Lincoln's Amtrak Line Be Abandoned?
By Clyde Anderson - October 3, 2017
According to an article in the September 10 Lincoln Journal Star, Lincoln's Railroad Transportation Safety District is concerned about grade crossing safety on BNSF's Hastings Subdivision between Lincoln's Amtrak Station and Cobb, a junction about 7.3 miles southwest of the City. This single-track line is used by the daily pair of Amtrak California Zephyr trains daily plus several BNSF freight trains.
The Safety District is concerned about accidents at seven grade crossings on this line within Lincoln. This concern was heightened when two 17-year olds were killed August 18 when they drove around the lowered crossing gates at the West South St. crossing and were struck by a westbound Amtrak train.
Although the Safety District has considered creating a quiet zone that would include the seven crossings on the Amtrak Line within Lincoln City Limits, it is also considering a second option: abandonment of part of the line and rerouting through trains on an alternate route.
Creating a quiet zone would cost about $5 million according to a recent study. This involves changes at each crossing including additional warning signals at and raised medians that prevent vehicles from driving around lowered crossing gates. This eliminates the need for engineers to blow train horns approaching the crossings -- thus the name quiet zone.
At Cobb there is a junction with BNSF's Freight Cutoff used by most freight trains to reach Hobson Yard. It's the green line in the map above. If part of the Amtrak Line is abandoned, the Safety District proposes to reroute the through trains off that line to BNSF's Ravenna Subdivision from Downtown west to Cushman, junction with the Freight Cutoff to Cobb. This proposal involves building a new signalized main track along the south side of Hobson Yard and upgrading the Freight Cutoff to Cobb to passenger train standards. Estimated cost: $25 to $35 million. Since BNSF sees no benefit to rerouting the traffic, the cost would have to be borne by the City, State, and Federal governments.
Abandoning the Amtrak Line as a through route is a bad idea. In addition to providing a more direct and faster route for the Amtrak and BNSF intermodal trains that use it, the route provides an alternate path when the route via Hobson Yard is blocked by a derailment, natural disaster, or maintenance. Our railroad network is already plagued by past abandonment decisions that eliminated route redundancy, something railroad managers often regret!
Click here to view the excellent illustrated Lincoln Journal Star article.
KC Streetcar Authority advances riverfront extension plans
Progressive Railroading - October 2, 2017
Conceptual rendering streetcar's riverfront extension.
The Kansas City Streetcar Authority (KCSA) late last week approved advancing to the next phase of technical work for a streetcar extension to the Missouri River.
NDEQ designated to administer Nebraska VW Trust, public input invited
September 25, 2017
Governor Pete Ricketts has designated the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) as the lead agency to administer the funds that are allocated to the state in the Trust (approximately $12.25 million). NDEQ will now begin seeking input from the public on the development of a plan to best use these funds to improve air quality and support local projects in Nebraska. A press release on the announcement is available at http://deq.ne.gov/Press.nsf/pages/PR092117.
A web page has been established on the NDEQ website to provide more information about the Trust and the agency's efforts to craft the initial Mitigation Plan. This page can be found at:
http://deq.ne.gov/NDEQProg.nsf/OnWeb/AirVW. The page provides a link to download a Request for Public Comment on VW Mitigation Plan Development (PDF file), which provides background information on air quality in Nebraska, a summary of the eligible mitigation actions, and a list of specific questions about how Nebraska should structure its Mitigation Plan.
Colorado explores Front Range commuter line
Railway Age - Wednesday, September 06, 2017
A Colorado commission is exploring plans for a commuter rail line connecting cities along the state's Front Range.
The commission, which includes government representatives from Denver to Trinidad, has until Dec. 1 to submit a detailed plan including funding options to the Legislature.
Warren Buffet: Invest some of Berkshire's $100 billion cash
in electrifying your railroad!
Clyde Anderson, PRN Director, District 2 - August 25, 2017
Instead of acquiring more companies, why doesn't Warren Buffet consider investing some of Berkshire's $100 billion cash [Berkshire Cash Pile: $100 Billion in Friday, Aug. 11 Omaha World-Herald Money Section] in its existing companies? I'm sure capital investments can be found that would generate new products and revenues or lower expenses.
Meet Omaha's new, faster bus to downtown: ORBT
Omaha World-Herald - August 17, 2017
The people of Metro transit hope a newly minted name and logo will create a hip image for their planned new bus service.
Click here to read the full article and related coverage in the Omaha World-Herald.
BNSF, Twin Cities & Western agree to share corridor with light rail
Progressive Railroading - August 16, 2017
The Metropolitan Council on Monday
[8/14] reached agreements with BNSF Railway Co. and the Twin Cities & Western Railroad to permit
light-rail operations along the same corridor as freight operations.
Results for Nebraska Railroad Survey
ProRail requested UNL's Bureau of Business Research to add four passenger rail-related questions to its Nebraska Annual Social Indicator Survey (NASIS) which was conducted last Fall. Responses to the four questions were favorable indicating a strong support for rail passenger service by Nebraska residents. Click here to view the summary.
Results will be available for use in our legislative work in the 2017 Unicameral Session.
We think trains need more prominence in the U.S. because:
(above courtesy National Association of Railroad Passengers)
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