News Briefs - May, 2004
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CN announced today the ratification of a new labor contract by 325 members of the United Transportation Union (UTU) who work on the company’s former Grand Trunk Western (GTW) territory. In contrast with traditional mileage- and rule-based wage systems dating back to the steam locomotive era, the new labor agreement stipulates hourly wages, job security and more flexible work rules for the UTU- represented brakemen and conductors. With this contract ratification, approximately 2,300 of CN’s train and engine employees in the United States are now covered by hourly-rated agreements. The GTW’s main line between Chicago and Port Huron, Mich., is a key link in CN’s corridor between the U.S. Midwest, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces.
Every lunch hour,
computer programmer John Almeida leaves his cubicle at an insurance
company outside Philadelphia and chases trains. He sets up four
video cameras on tripods beside the tracks and waits, listening to
his scanner. "I come out every day because history happens every
day," he says. Almeida, a father of three, is a railfan — a hobbyist
who watches trains with the fastidiousness of a lab researcher. Over
the past 15 years, he has shot hundreds of hours of video and tens
of thousands of pictures. Call it what you will, it is hard to think
of a more benign hobby.
The Little River Railroad is active again in 2004. Instead of the 110, they will run No. 1, a 0-4-0 tank engine acquired in 2000 and two years in restoration. Runs will be made in White Pigeon on a industrial siding - less than a mile long - owned by Gordon Morris near Miller Dr. First run may be as early as May 30th. They are also looking to do an Engineer For An Hour Program for $100.00. From Dave Williamson.
Amtrak Pere Marquette delay...
Westbound Pere Marquette, Train 371(16MAY) with AMTK 102 was stopped at West Grandville on the CSX Grand Rapids Sub after bottoming out on a grade crossing, bending the engine's plow underneath. CSX Mechanical had to respond to the scene and torch the plow. Delay 1 hr 40 min. From Mark Tomlonson.
The 8th Michigan Railroad History Conference is scheduled for Saturday, October 2, 2004, at the Quality Inn on US 2 west of St. Ignace, MI, with an afterglow at the former Michigan Central station at Mackinaw Crossing in Mackinaw City, MI. On Friday, October 1st and on Sunday, October 3rd, field trips to area railroad sites are scheduled. The Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Division of the Soo Line Historical and Technical Society will co-host and also provide activities to their members. The focus of the MRHC presentations is the railroads of the Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula. Future conference updates will be posted in the Calendar of Events www.MichiganRailroads.com and on www.geocities.com/gjdegowski. Contact Chairperson Carl Bajema at firstname.lastname@example.org or Co-Chairperson Gregory J. Degowski at email@example.com for further information.
The Lake State Railway Company of Tawas, MI, shortline operator of the former Detroit and Mackinac Railroad in northern Michigan is purchasing a total of 6 "new" locomotives. The locomotives are 4 MLW M420s from the Ohio Central railroad and 2 other Alco / MLWs that could be fixed up or used as parts. This was initiated by an already existing power shortage, increased buisiness, and the retirement of C420 #976 which unfortunately suffered a fire on February 21st 2004 rendering it scrap. It is good to see expansion on the LSRC and it will be interesting to see how the Lake State uses their new power. From Michael Koprowicz.
NRHS Bluewater Chapter News...
The Bluewater business office is being moved from the current location in Royal Oak and will be established at a new location, to be announced soon. The Royal Oak office was established in the early 1980's. Blue water members who would like to help organize the move should contact Dave Williamson to offer your assistance. From Bob Thatcher, President.
NS exhibit car to visit 18 communities...
NORFOLK, VA - The
Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) Exhibit Car will travel the company's
rail network from Alabama to Ontario in 2004, making stops in 18
communities where it will be open to the public. The car will appear
for community events in 11 states and the Canadian province. It also
will be in a special five-city whistle-stop train operated by NS to
promote safe transportation of hazardous materials. The
Exhibit Car is a rebuilt passenger rail car with displays depicting
the history and modern operation of the Norfolk Southern
transportation system. A locomotive simulator, the car's most
popular display, puts guests in the engineer's seat in control of
throttle, brake and horn. Some 1.5 million people in more than 350
communities have viewed the traveling showcase since 1971. The car
began its 2004 tour with stops at Opelika, Ala., and Spencer, N.C.
Here is the schedule through the end of the year.
KALAMAZOO (NEWS 3) - The Canadian National Railroad is shutting down most of it's Battle Creek operations. As many as 150 people will either be transferred or laid off. Supervisors began telling Canadian National employees this afternoon that the exact number of layoffs isn't known but the railroad company is shutting down most of it's Battle Creek facility. A company spokesperson said most operations would be shut down as quickly as possible. Employees say they had no warning. Those with enough seniority may be able to transfer. Others will be out of a job within days. City officials say the company did not warn them. Mayor Godfrey said the wished the company "had the courtesy" to notify them before it became public. The union is in the midst of a contract vote.
NORFOLK, VA - Noting that "the Conrail transaction has been a success," Norfolk Southern CEO David R. Goode today urged the Surface Transportation Board not to extend its formal regulatory oversight period. "The history of the past five years shows how the transaction has lived up to the board's expectations," Goode testified during a hearing in Washington. "Perhaps most importantly, the transaction resulted in two competitively balanced rail systems serving the eastern United States. In addition, of course, the transaction has created vigorous new rail-to-rail competition throughout the former Conrail territory," benefiting shippers and communities, he said. "No party has demonstrated any transactional or other issues that warrant extending the formal oversight period beyond its five-year term," Goode said. "We therefore request that the board not extend its formal oversight and the periodic reporting requirements that go along with it." Norfolk Southern and CSX began operating their respective portions of the former Conrail system on June 1, 1999. In approving the transaction, the STB mandated a five-year formal oversight period, which would make 2004 the final year. From Norfolk Southern.
Steam Railroading Institute Visitor Center Grand Opening...
The Steam Railroading Institute's new Visitor's Center will open on June 12th and 13th, 2004 at 405 South Washington Street, Owosso. Hours are Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, Noon to 4:00 p.m. For further information, click on http://www.mstrp.com/GrandOpening.pdf.