Miami-Dade approves negotiations over Brightline commuter rail proposal

News Wire Digest for June 3: Judge throws out Durango & Silverton motion to end lawsuit over fire; Canadian Pacific sets grain record
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Wednesday morning rail news in brief:

Miami-Dade OKs negotiations over Brightline commuter operation

While the area’s commuter railroad and mayor voiced opposition, Miami-Dade county commissioners have endorsed negotiations with Virgin Trains USA for proposed commuter-rail service on the southern end of Brightline’s route between Miami and West Palm Beach, Fla. The Miami Herald reports that commissioners indicated that even supporters of the concept called the original plan too expensive, but asked the administration of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to try to negotiate a better deal for the proposed five-station service over 14 miles between Miami and Aventura, Fla. Steven Abrams, head of Tri-Rail, the commuter operation between Miami and West Palm Beach, said his agency could operate the service at a substantial savings and expressed concerns that the privately owned, for-profit Brightline service “will not offer tickets the average person can afford.” Gimenez said he was ready to negotiate, but the Virgin Trains proposal was too costly.

Judge dismisses Durango & Silverton motion to end federal lawsuit
A federal judge has thrown out the Durango & Silverton’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit over the costs of the fire which shut down the railroad for in June and July 2018. The Durango Herald reports that U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn dismissed the motion, citing the recommendation of a magistrate that the U.S. government had legal standing to try to recover $25 million in costs for fighting the blaze, known as the 416 Fire. The move means the suit, which named the railroad as the cause of the fire when filed in July 2019, will continue. [See “Federal government blames Durango & Silverton for 2018 wildfire,” Trains News Wire, July 2, 2019.] Still pending is another suit by more than 50 residents who experienced property damage and businesses that suffered lost sales because of the fire; that trial, scheduled for September, has been pushed back to March 2021 because of court delays caused by COVID-19.

Canadian Pacific sets may grain record
Canadian Pacific set a May record for Canadian grain movement, handling 2.8 million metric tons to beat the record set in May 2014 by more than 300,000 metric tons, the company announced. As of the end of May, CP has moved 24.17 million metric tons of grain in Canada. The company notes that new higher-capacity grain hoppers are helping the process; an 8,500-foot train using the new cars can carry more than 40% more grain than previous 7,000-foot trains using older equipment. CP’s announcement came a day after Canadian National said it had set a grain-movement record for the third straight month.


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