Digest: MBTA details increase in COVID-19 cases that led to reduction of commuter rail service

News Wire Digest for Jan. 12: Eau Claire, Wis., to consider forming commission to develop passenger service; Saskatoon advances bridge plan, but council member wants to try again on line relocation
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A westbound Boston-Worcester MBTA train arrives at Framingham, Mass. MBTA commuter operator Keolis experienced a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases among its workforce in December, leading to service cuts.
Scott A. Hartley

Tuesday morning rail news:

Dramatic increase in COVID cases led to reduction of MBTA commuter rail service

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s December reduction in commuter rail service reflected a dramatic upswing in COVID-19 cases among the workforce of contract operator Keolis. State House News Service reports that the rail operator, which had 43 reported cases in the first seven months of the pandemic, had 40 more in November and 92 in December, the MBTA’s director of commuter rail, Rob DiAdamo, told a Monday board meeting. The cuts, which began Dec. 14 [see “Digest: MBTA to cut commuter rail service …,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 11, 2020] are slated to continue through Jan. 23, when the MBTA introduces a revised schedule.

Eau Claire, Wis., to consider formation of passenger rail commission
Eau Claire, Wis., is considering formation of a rail commission to help develop passenger service between the city and St. Paul, Minn. WQOW-TV reports the Eau Claire City Council will vote tonight on a resolution supporting development of the Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission, which could include other municipal and county governments along the 80-plus mile route. The proposed service would use existing Union Pacific tracks and could have stops in Meonomie, Baldwin, Hudson, and Stillwater; the commission would pursue grants and help develop public-private partnerships, among other duties. The resolution is available here; the meeting at which it will be considered begins at 7 p.m. CST and can be accessed here.

Saskatoon advances grade-crossing separation plan, but council member wants to try again on line relocation
The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, City Council’s transportation committee has approved a plan to seek construction of three overpasses to provide railroad grade-crossing separation, sending the proposal to the full council, but one council member wants to revisit the idea of relocating Canadian Pacific’s line away from downtown. CTV News reports the committee will recommend giving priority to planning for overpasses at Marquis Drive, 11th Street West, and Preston Avenue. However, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix reports that council member David Kirton is calling for “high-level” meetings with CP executives to negotiate a deal to get CP to reroute its line. Last year, CP and Canadian National both rejected a city proposal that would have both railroads share the CN line south of the city [see “Digest: CP, CN shoot down Saskatoon’s concept …,” Trains News Wire, Sept. 4, 2020].

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