Digest: Amtrak lands operating contract for Metrolink trains

News Wire Digest third section for Dec. 1: Federal judge strikes down Oklahoma crossing law; Britain's least-used station saw just 42 passengers in a year
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An inbound Metrolink Ventura County Line train approaches the Corbin Avenue grade crossing in Northridge, Calif., on Jan. 10, 2020. Amtrak will continue to provide crews to operate Metrolink trains under a new contract.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Tuesday midday rail news:

Amtrak lands contract to operate Metrolink trains

Southern California commuter rail service Metrolink has awarded Amtrak a new contract to operate its services, effective Jan. 1, 2021 and expiring June 30, 2025. As part of the contract, Amtrak provides and manages engineers and conductors to operate Metrolink trains. Amtrak, which was selected from a field of five proposals, was the original operator of Metrolink trains from 1992 to 2005, and regained that role as of 2010. “We are honored to continue serving Metrolink and the communities and residents of Southern California,” Amtrak President Stephen Gardner said in a press release. “We look forward to building upon our many years of partnership and helping the agency achieve its bold vision of growth and improvement.” The decision marks a reversal from a January memo in which Gardner told employees Amtrak would not retain the contract [see “Metrolink to end Amtrak contract for crews,” Trains News Wire, Jan. 13, 2020].

Federal judge strikes down Oklahoma law on blocked crossings
A federal judge has barred the state of Oklahoma from enforcing a law that prevents trains from blocking grade crossings for longer than 10 minutes, saying it is unconstitutional because it runs afoul of federal law. The Oklahoman reports U.S. District Judge Charles B. Goodwin found the state law passed in 2019 “intrudes on the territory” of the federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act by telling railroads how long they can stop their train. BNSF had sued over the law after being cited by police departments in Edmond and Davis, Okla. [see “BNSF sues over Oklahoma blocked-crossings law,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 23, 2019]; railroads have won similar cases in Kansas, Indiana, and Ohio in recent years.

Britain's least-used station, accessible only by foot, sees 42 passengers in a year
A rural station accessible only on foot was named Britain’s least-used rail station in an annual survey by the Office of Road and Rail. The BBC reports Berney Arms in Norfolk had just 42 passengers between April 2019 and March 2020, surpassing the previous year’s least-used stops, Denton in Greater Manchester and Stanlow & Thornton in Cheshire, which each recorded 46 passengers. The station, named for a nearby pub which closed five years ago, is a flag stop.
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