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The Mid-Week brief is an unfettered look at what the press is saying about passenger rail — if you see something you dislike, or know to be inaccurate, don't hesitate to reach out to those responsible for the article by using the comment board of a linked website, or emailing the publication directly.
Amtrak to install inward-facing cameras in train cabs
Amtrak announced Tuesday that it will begin installing inward facing cameras aboard its locomotives, following the fatal crash of Amtrak 188 two weeks ago.
The first cameras will be installed aboard the regional trains that service the Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston corridor, as well as along the Keystone lines into Pennsylvania.
Eventually the cameras will also be installed on Amtrak's high-speed Acela trains, with the goal of getting cameras on all of Amtrak's lines.
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Congress passes brief extension of highway, transit funding
Congress sent to President Barack Obama for his signature a two-month extension of federal funding of highway and transit programs. The surface transportation law known as MAP-21 was set to expire May 31.
The House passed its bill — sponsored by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Bill Shuster and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan — recently, while the Senate passed the bill later.
High-speed rail project survives Texas budget process
Dallas Business Journal
A privately funded high-speed rail project was spared an almost certain death when Texas lawmakers removed a controversial rider to the budget that would have derailed the deal.
The state budget conference committee, led by Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson and House Appropriations Chairman John Otto met into the night before voting 6-4 to remove the controversial provision.
The Cass Scenic Railroad opens for the 2015 season with the Cass RailFan Weekend Spectacular – a weekend of photography and riding opportunities – May 15-17, 2015. The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad operates historic steam-driven locomotives and vintage diesel-powered passenger trains departing three historic depots – Elkins, Durbin and Cass – April thru December.
Amtrak Derailment and Aftermath
Jackson: Senate support for Amtrak gathers little steam
The deadly crash of Amtrak Train 188 should be a "crystallizing moment" that makes Congress realize that an aging national railroad starved for money will only have more accidents, Sen. Bob Menendez argued as he joined a half-dozen other senators to highlight $21 billion in unfunded upgrades on the Northeast Corridor.
"Had Amtrak had all the full resources they needed, they could have deployed positive train control earlier and we may not have seen that accident," Menendez said, referring to automatic braking technology that investigators say would have slowed Train 188 before it entered a curve doing more than 50 miles an hour over the speed limit.
Ample warning before Amtrak disaster
The Herald of Everett
In the public eye, the disaster on the rails in Philadelphia was not only tragic but also shocking. As a crowded Amtrak train approached a bend in the track, it was barreling along at more than 100 miles an hour — twice the mandated speed for that section. The resulting derailment killed eight people, highlighting grave deficiencies in Amtrak's safety system.
But while Amtrak officials may have been devastated, they could not have been surprised: The accident confirmed clear vulnerabilities in the safety system, shortcomings that the rail company's internal watchdog had been warning about for more than two years.
Editorial: Passenger rail safety is costly, requires commitment
The Free Lance-Star
In a train town like Fredericksburg, Virginia, accidents such as the recent Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, as well as the serious freight train incidents that occur, raise immediate concerns about the safety of our community.
Attention is often drawn, for example, to the deteriorating infrastructure—particularly the heavily used train bridges across Caroline, Princess Anne and Charles streets that we are assured remain serviceable despite their age and crumbling appearance.
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All Aboard Florida leader hopes to copy Disney, Denver successes
Palm Beach Post
As All Aboard Florida begins construction on its train station in downtown West Palm Beach, the company's leader is drawing inspiration from a similar project he helped spearhead in the heart of Denver.
Nearly a decade before Michael Reininger was hired to return passenger train service to Henry Flagler's historic railroad corridor, he helped lead a complicated effort to transform Denver's 100-year-old Union Station and its rail yard into a modern transportation hub with rail lines, bus routes and businesses.
North Carolina DOT launches free Wi-Fi on Piedmont train services
The North Carolina Department of Transportation has launched its new Piedmont Connect Wi-Fi service on regional trains.
The NCDOT's rail division has deployed U.S.-based broadband and communication technologies provider ViaSat's managed Wi-Fi services on its Piedmont passenger trains to ensure complete wireless internet services for those traveling between Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Massachusetts Senate approves study on high-speed trains
The Massachusetts Senate has approved a study on high-speed rail passenger trains between Springfield and Boston.
The study by the state department of transportation would look at the cost of expanding rail service.
STB to launch rulemaking proceedings for on-time performance
The Surface Transportation Board will launch a rulemaking proceeding to define "on-time performance" under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, the agency announced Friday.
In making its announcement, the STB granted the Association of American Railroads' petition asking the agency to pursue rulemaking proceedings to define on-time performance. A provision under PRIIA allowed Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration to jointly develop standards for on-time performance of Amtrak trains operating on privately owned freight railroads' track.
Speed control technology part of 110 mph Amtrak service
The State Journal-Register
A high-tech tracking system that automatically would slow trains in the event of human error is among the final components planned ahead of 110 mph Amtrak service between St. Louis and Chicago.
Positive train control, as the system is known, has been in the news as a technology that could have helped prevent the derailment of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia earlier this month. The crash, blamed on a train speed of more than 100 mph in a 50 mph zone, resulted in eight deaths and more than 200 injuries.
Peru and China partner up on transcontinental rail project
Peru and China have agreed to jointly pursue feasibility studies into a proposed transcontinental railway linking Peru with Brazil.
Peru's President, Ollanta Humala Tasso, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang signed a Memorandum of Understanding to carry out preliminary studies into the rail link, which would stretch for more than 5,000 kilometres from the Peru's Pacific Coast to the Atlantic.
The route, which would likely cut through sections of the Amazon, has raised concerns. In a statement, Li Keqiang described the rainforest as a "treasure of the world."
Nevada joins the high-speed rail bandwagon with plans for Vegas, SoCal link
Sacramento Business Journal
A high-speed train to Las Vegas, Nevada, took another step toward to reality as the Nevada Legislature sent a bill to Gov. Brian Sandoval to establish the Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority.
The agency would select a firm to construct and operate a high-speed train from Las Vegas to Southern California and oversee construction if Senate Bill 457 becomes law. The bill passed both legislative chambers with only one dissenting vote.
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