Digest: Department of Transportation announces expanded financing program for shortline, regional rail projects (updated)

News Wire Digest for Nov. 1: NS derailment spills coal into Roanoke River; CN announces another record for Canadian grain movement
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Sunday morning rail news:

DOT announces expanded loan program for short line, regional rail projects

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday announced an expanded version of the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program to provide loans to short line and regional railroads. The Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Express program will increase loan amounts from $50 million to $150 million, include more types of programs, increase the option to finance the amount of the loan from 40% to 75% of the total cost of the project, and provide increased flexibility in considering different categories of environmental review. The program will also include expedited handling of loan requests. The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association welcomed the announcement, with ASLRRA president Chuck Backer saying, “The modifications combine to form a robust and significant improvement to the program and should allow for more short line projects to be presented and selected for funding. These projects will in turn allow short lines to better serve their thousands of shippers and the largely rural and small town communities that they serve with safe, efficient, reliable and environmentally sustainable freight rail service.” More information on the program is available here.

NS derailment sends coal hoppers into river (updated)
A Norfolk Southern train derailed along the Roanoke River near Salem, Va., late Friday, sending at least a dozen cars into the river. The Roanoke Times reports the derailment, upstream of Salem’s main water intake from the river, led the city to draw water from groundwater wells temporarily while water samples are analyzed. The derailment occurred about 10:15 p.m. Friday, according to a Norfolk Southern spokeswoman. There were no injuries. A Roanoke County news release says 22 cars derailed, and that the accident occurred when a bridge collapsed as the train passed over.

For eighth straight month, CN sets record for Canadian grain movement
Canadian National said in a press release that it had set its eighth straight monthly record for Canadian grain movement in October, having surpassed the previous record of 2.88 million metric tons set in October 2019. The railroad also announced it has begun receiving cars in its most recent order of 1,500 high-capacity grain cars, with 100 already in service and another 500 expected to be in service by the end of 2020. The 55-foot, 5,431-cubic-foot cars can carry approximately 10% more grain than older cars.

— Updated at 12:20 p.m. with additional information from Roanoke County on NS derailment.

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