Digest: Hearing seeks to keep contractors on Maryland Purple Line project

News Wire Digest third section for Sept. 9: LIRR introduces new ridership tool for app; Indiana tourist railroad won't run holiday trains
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Still more Wednesday morning rail news:

Maryland official says takeover of Purple Line work would require money from other transit services

Money would have to be diverted from MARC commuter trains and other transit services to complete Maryland’s Purple Line light rail project if the construction consortium is allowed to quit the project over contract disputes, according to the head of the Maryland Transit Administration. The Washington Post reports MTA administrator Kevin B. Quinn Jr. also said the 16-mile project would be delayed by at least a year if the state has to take over or find new builders. Quinn’s comments came during an online hearing on the MTA’s request to keep the construction companies on the project. The construction consortium, Purple Line Transit Partners, has sought to quit over unpaid expenses relating to delays and design changes which it says are the state’s responsibility [see “Builders file plan to dissolve partnership building Maryland’s Purple Line,” News Wire Digest, June 24, 2020]. Baltimore Circuit Judge Jeffrey M. Geller issued a temporary order on Aug. 10 keeping the construction group on the job, but it is about to expire and the state is seeking a longer order.

Long Island Rail Road touts new ridership feature for app
The Long Island Rail Road has added a new feature to its smartphone app to help passengers choose less crowded trains for their commute. The new feature on the LIRR TrainTime app provides information on the last seven trips of a specific train to help passenger with social distancing, with station-by-station information for those boarding at intermediate stops. The information comes from onboard sensors that can determine passenger counts. “Our customers will be able to understand the exact ridership trends of their particular trip so that they can make the most ideal decision possible about when to ride with us,” Long Island President Phil Eng said in announcing the new feature. “MTA LIRR TrainTime is first in class and our customers deserve nothing less.” More information, including a video of the app, is available here.

French Lick Scenic's Polar Express off for 2020
Indiana’s French Lick Scenic Railway is the latest to announce it will not operate holiday trains this year, saying in a post on its Facebook page that its Polar Express Train Ride is off for 2020 but plans to return in 2021. After examining safety requirements, the Facebook message says, “the show that would greet you this year would be vastly different than anything you have experienced. ... Personal interactions with your conductor would be very limited. Santa would not be able to stop and greet each guest while posing for a picture. This is just not the show we feel you deserve – the one that many of you have come to know and love.” Those holding tickets for 2020 should be receiving an email and a letter with information on the railroad’s plans.

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