Three passenger projects receive $22 million in FRA grants

News Wire Digest third section for May 6: Four short lines honored for business development efforts; MTA testing cleaning products that could guard against virus for months
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The eastbound Empire Builder crosses the Mississippi River at Hastings, Minn., on Sept. 23, 2018. The project to start a second train on the Chicago-Twin Cities portion of the Builder's route has received an FRA grant for more than $12 million.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Wednesday afternoon rail news:

— Three projects touching eight states have received more than $22 million in grants as part of the Federal Railroad Adminstration’s Restoration and Enhancement Grants Program, announced earlier this week. The largest grant, $12.6 million, goes to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for the project to add a second daily passenger train between Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul via Milwaukee, serving 12 stations and supplementing the existing service offered by the Empire Builder over the entire route and the Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha service.  A grant of $5.45 million will go to the Southern Rail Commission for the effort to restore service along the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., with four intermediate stops in Mississippi. Finally, $4.4 million will provide for two additional weekday trains on the CTrail service between New Haven, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., filling a current gap in the morning schedule, as well as adding a customer service representative at Hartford Union Station.

— The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association has honored four railroads — the Ann Arbor, Delmarva Central, Indiana Rail Road, and Reading & Northern — with its annual Business Development Award, which honors member operations for outstanding activities to grow shortline business. “This year we had a record number of submissions,” ASLRRA President Chuck Baker said in a news release, “a testament to the ingenuity, flexibility, and commitment that the short line industry shows again and again. … These four award winners demonstrate the best of how short lines grow with their customers.” The Ann Arbor was recognized for partnering with Fiat Chrysler to create a new distribution center for finished automobiles; the Delmarva Central for partnering with suppliers of liquid chicken feed ingredients to ship to the railroad’s transload facility in Seaford, Del., converting traffic from trucks; the Indiana Rail Road for joining with trucking company Venture Logistics to build a 406,000-square-foot distribution center in Indianapolis, which handled 2,600 carloads in 2019; and the Reading & Northern for opening transload facilities in West Hazleton and Ransom, Pa., and bringing the trucking portion of transloading in-house, providing control of all aspects of the operation.

— As part of its overnight shutdown of New York subway service, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is testing products that could protect trains against the COVID-19 virus for months at a time. Newsday reports that experimental antimicrobial disinfectants from several companies that say they could kill the virus from 30 to 90 days with one application. “We are testing and piloting these things on an aggressive time frame,” MTA chairman Patrick J. Foye said, “and we will be reporting to the board, and the public, and the media as to our progress.” If the products are effective, they will be used throughout the MTA, including on Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North commuter trains.


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