A Year After the Amtrak Crash, Casey Calls for More Money for Train Safety

Bob Casey - Chris Jagodzinski - Jeff Knueppel

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey speaks at 30th Street Station Friday morning, flanked by Amtrak’s Chris Jagodzinski (right) and SEPTA GM Jeff Knueppel. | Photo by Dan McQuade

Flanked by officials from Amtrak and SEPTA, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey today called for more money for safety measures on train lines across the country. Earlier, he had been briefed on progress implementing positive train control, a measure that most likely would have prevented the derailment of Amtrak 188 a year ago.

“We need to invest more in safety,” Casey said under the Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial angel statue. “So that Amtrak and any other rail system has the resources they need … the technology allows a measure of safety that we didn’t have a few years ago.” Read more »

Possible NJ Transit Strike Looms Later This Month

NJ Transit Northeast Corridor train

Northeast Corridor NJ Transit trains connect with SEPTA trains at Trenton. (Photo by Adam E. Moreira; used under a Creative Commons License

NJ Transit rail operators may strike later this month. The transit agency is releasing contingency plans later today.

A court-ordered “cooling off period” ends March 13th; at that time rail workers can walk off the job or NJT can lock them out. A coalition of 11 rail unions has been working without a contract since 2011.

“The last thing we want is a strike,” the coalition said in a release. “Our settlement proposal is modest and fair. All we are asking is what has been recommended by two expert neutral panels.” Read more »

FRA Has Plans for a Rail Tunnel Under Center City to the Airport

northeast-corridor-940x540

The Federal Railroad Administration, having come up with three plans for the future of the Northeast Corridor (NEC) came back to Philadelphia yesterday to gather public comment on each of the plans.

Most of those who commented had this message: If you really want to transform the NEC, you’d better cut out a lot of the gold-plating on that top-drawer plan.

The FRA’s three plans, and their price tags, are: Read more »

The Politics of Amtrak Funding (Or: Why Conservatives Hate Trains So Much)

Amtrak train | Richard Thornton / Shutterstock.com. Ayn Rand stamp | catwalker / Shutterstock.com

Amtrak train | Richard Thornton / Shutterstock.com. Ayn Rand stamp | catwalker / Shutterstock.com

The House Appropriations committee made a curious move yesterday just hours after the deadly Amtrak derailment: It voted to cut $252 million in funding from Amtrak.

Just because there was a horrible train crash does not mean rail funding should be increased (or even kept the same). But, obviously, a lot of people were angry at the vote — especially after reports that a safety measure called positive train control would have prevented the train from traveling so fast around the curve. (Amtrak has begun installing PTC on the Northeast Corridor, but federal officials said it is not yet operational.) Let’s take one angry comment at random: Read more »

Gov. Wolf to Obama: Help Prevent Oil Train Accidents

Photo Credit: AP Photo | Jacqueline Larma

Photo Credit: AP Photo | Jacqueline Larma

Every week, as many as 70 trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken formation pass through Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf says. Many are en route to Philadelphia.

Wolf wrote a letter to President Barack Obama Friday, asking him for help preventing a tragic accident involving the trains. Here’s the letter:

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Hell Is Other People on the SEPTA QuietRide Car

Illustration by Hawk Krall

Illustration by Hawk Krall

“I wish you were going to Vegas,” says the girl in the bright orange tank top. There’s something both infuriating and admirable about her tone. The way her declarative statements bend upward in pitch, as if she’s asking a question, reminds me of Valley Girls in the ’80s, and Paris Hilton. But this hot mess clearly doesn’t care what anyone around her thinks. If she were on a reality TV show, I’d say good for you — be yourself, screw the haters. But we’re on a SEPTA train bound for the ’burbs sometime around 6 p.m., and just seconds ago, the conductor made an announcement that we’re sitting in what’s known as the QuietRide car. Even if you’re not a regional-rail regular, you can probably figure out what that’s supposed to mean. Orange Tank Top and her male companion — who, in clear violation of some hipster-slacker ethos, is rocking both a backpack and a messenger bag — drone on, oblivious to both the friendly reminder and to the fact that no one in the entire car is talking except for them.
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Increased Ridership Making SEPTA Regional Rail Packed

Septa regional rail train

I rode a 7 a.m. train into town on Monday morning, and it was packed. Every part of it! I don’t often ride the regional rail into Center City at rush hour, so I was surprised by the number of people on the train. I had to stand! The conductor squeezed by me after taking my ticket.

This is apparently the case on lots of lines. The Inquirer reports today regional rail trains are packed because of increased ridership and the frequency which cars go out of service.

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