BNSF closing two facilities in Wyoming, cutting 122 jobs

News Wire Digest third section for May 7: MBTA likely to delay hires for expansion, safety programs; West Chicago cancels Railroad Days
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Still more Thursday rail news:

— BNSF Railway will close two facilities in Wyoming, laying off 122 workers, in part reflecting the declining market for coal. The Casper Star-Tribune reports the railroad will close its Guernsey shops in June and its Donkey Creek facility in July. “Similar to the size of our train, yard and engine workforce, our mechanical teams must match the demand for traffic moved by our railroad,” BNSF spokeswoman Maia LaSalle told the newspaper in a statement. “With volumes lower than anticipated due to several factors, including changes in the coal and energy sector, the number of rail cars and locomotives moving on our network and thus repairs needed, have decreased.” In all, BNSF is eliminating 19 salaried and 344 craft positions at locations in seven states. Cuts in Glendive, Mont., and Topeka, Kan., were reported previously.

— The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority could delay hirings tied to its plans to expand rail service, and decrease the number brought in to address safety initiatives, according to a budget proposal presented at the Fiscal and Management Control Board meeting earlier this week. Streetsblog Mass reports that, because of decreased fare income during the COVID-19 pandemic, MBTA Chief Administrative Officer David Panagore advised putting off 88 new bus and rail operators for expanded service, and cutting from 275 to 151 the number of employees hired for safety initiatives stemming from a highly critical review of MBTA operations released late last year [see “Panel’s report says ‘safety is not the priority’ at MBTA,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 10, 2019]. Panagore said those hirings would become a priority the next year if fare revenues rebound or the state passes a new transportation bill.

— The City of West Chicago, Ill., has cancelled its Railroad Days celebration, scheduled for July 9-12, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event, hosted by the city and the Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce, was to include a parade and carnival among other events.

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