CEO of firm that built Ottawa light rail line resigns

News Wire Digest second section for June 23: New member named to NJ Transit board; Belgium to give all residents free 12-trip railpass
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More Tuesday rail news in brief:

CEO of Ottawa light rail builder resigns

The CEO of Rideau Transit Group, which built Ottawa’s troubled light rail Confederation Line, has resigned, the Ottawa Citizen reports. Peter Lauch had led the three-company partnership that built the transit system since 2018, and became CEO of Rideau Transit Maintenance, responsible for repair and maintenance of the system, upon its completion. In a statement, Lauch said he had taken the RTG job to oversee the system as it moved into revenue service, and the second position “to quarterback the restructuring of Rideau Transit Maintenance. It was always my intention to stay on for the time necessary to complete those undertakings.” His last day will be July 10. The departure leaves major questions both for the city’s efforts to address the line’s reliability issues and for the company, which has not been paid since last September because of the ongoing problems. The nine-month-old Confederation Line is shut down this week as repairs continue to its track, catenary, and operating system [see “Ottawa extends closure of light rail line,” News Wire Digest, June 22, 2020].

NJ Transit board fills one of three open seats
Shanti Narra, a Middlesex County freeholder (county legislator) has been named to the NJ Transit board of directors by State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, filling one of the three remaining open seats on the board. reports the New Brunswick resident was a daily commuter on NJ Transit bus service prior to the COVID-19 outbreak; she is an attorney in the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society. Gov. Phil Murphy had named candidates for the two remaining seats on the board, but withdrew their names just before the start of the confirmation process by the state senate without stating a reason. New candidates have not yet been named.

Belgium residents get free rail passes to spur tourism
Every resident of Belgium will receive a free 12-ride rail pass as part of an effort to revive tourism in the country following a COVID-19 shutdown which not only closed the nation’s borders but kept people in their city of residence. Forbes reports the passes provided through the government program will be good for two trips (one round trip) per month for six months beginning in August. Residents can sign up online. The country’s national rail service, SNCB, says it was not consulted by the government about the plan, which it say will cost it more than 100 million Euros ($113 million).


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