Digest: NJ Transit cancels trains, increases PTC testing in effort to meet deadline

News Wire Digest for Aug. 13: Central California city takes aim at impact of high speed rail; UP gets OK to continue repair of Tempe bridge
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A northbound NJ Transit Northeast Corridor train arrives in Elizabeth, N.J., in August 2019. NJ Transit has cancelled trains on the Corridor and two other lines this week as it increases positive train control testing.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Thursday morning rail news:

NJ Transit cancels trains, expands PTC testing as deadline looms
NJ Transit has expanded positive train control testing this week, cancelling dozens of trains in an effort to complete PTC installation by the end of the year — a deadline the Federal Railroad Administration says it is in danger of missing. NJ.com reports that 63 trains did not operate Monday and Wednesday on the commuter agency’s Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast and Raritan Valley lines, as PTC is tested with empty trains prior to the start of revenue service demonstration, the final step in the testing process. An NJ Transit spokeswoman told the news site that the unoccupied trains are being used for PTC testing because ridership remains at just 20% of normal levels. The FRA said in a quarterly update issued Tuesday that NJ Transit and New Mexico’s Rail Runner Express are at risk of missing the Dec. 31 deadline [see “FRA says just two commuter lines remain at risk of missing PTC deadline,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 12, 2020].

California town says high speed rail project could cost it millions in mitigation
The Central California community of Wasco is taking aim at the state’s high speed rail project, saying the city faces millions of dollars in mitigation efforts and could lose Amtrak service as a result. The Bakersfield Californian reports that the city issued a lengthy press release Wednesday saying it could face $5 million to $6 million to demolish a housing complex that has been vacated because of the high speed rail construction. The California High Speed Rail Authority paid to relocate residents but has rejected the city’s request to mitigate demolition costs, city officials say. They also say the authority has failed to address “health and environmental impacts” of the project, and that the authority wants Amtrak service discontinued, which would force Wasco residents to use bus service or autos to access rail travel. The city of 25,000, 24 miles northwest of Bakersfield, has created a web page that it says documents the impact of the project.

UP gets OK for Tempe bridge reconstruction
An Arizona regulatory agency has given Union Pacific the go-ahead to rebuild the section of a Tempe bridge that collapsed as a result of a late-July derailment and fire after the railroad modified its original plan. The Associated Press reports the Arizona Corporation Commission approved the plan after UP agreed to eliminate a piling in the median of the four-lane Rio Salado Parkway. Instead, it will use a prefabricated span that crosses the entire roadway. UP has previously said it could complete reconstruction of the bridge over Tempe Town Lake by Friday. A portion of the bridge dating to 1912 collapsed as a result of the accident on the branch line connecting Phoenix to UP’s Sunset Route main line [see “UP hit by derailment, fire, partial bridge collapse …,” Trains News Wire, July 29, 2020].

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