Passenger Rail News Briefs

Caltrain aims for June opening of 'baby bullet'

Caltrain soon will pull the trigger on the "baby bullet." The much-anticipated express trains will begin zooming up and down the Peninsula in June after two years of work, $110 million, and some minor delays.

The launch will bring some of the most dramatic changes to the rail line in its 140-year history. Baby bullet service will shave the commute time between San Francisco and San Jose from 90 minutes to under an hour. At the same time, Caltrain will bring back weekend service, increase the number of trains it runs to the highest level ever, and totally rework its entire schedule.

Construction began on the baby bullet in July 2002 and is slated to wrap up in late April or early May. Caltrain will then inspect the work, familiarize its engineers with the new system, and set an exact date for the opening.

(From the San Mateo County Times.)

Passenger rail to halt at Boston's North Station during Democratic convention

A major train station will be closed and an interstate highway through Boston's center will be shut down in the evenings during July's Democratic Convention as security fears have worsened after the Madrid bombings.

The four-day convention, which starts on July 26, is taking place in the Fleet Center, which sits atop North Station. Boston police and the U.S. Secret Service said the station will be shut down on Friday, July 23 until the end of the convention.

Two subway lines, commuter trains to outlying towns and Amtrak passenger trains all use North Station, which serves about 24,000 commuters daily. Rail passengers will be ferried into the city from other stations by bus.

Interstate 93, a major artery which runs by the Fleet Center on Boston's northern tip, will be closed to its daily 200,000 drivers in the evenings, although no firm hours have yet been set.

Fear of attacks has grown in the wake the March 11 train bombings in Madrid, which killed 191 commuters and injured 1,500.

Many Boston commuters were unimpressed by the plan and some said they plan to take that week off to avoid delays and gridlocks on secondary roads into Boston.

The Republican Party will hold its convention ahead of this year's presidential elections at New York's Madison Square Garden. That arena sits above Pennsylvania Station, one of New York's busiest commuter hubs.

(From Reuters.)

MTA beefs up security

The MTA has nearly doubled its police budget over the last three years in an effort to beef up security at its sprawling transportation network, guarding against a terror attack.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will spend $91 million this year on payroll, training and equipment connected with its ever-growing police force - nearly double the $52 million the agency spent before 9/11.

The MTA has increased the total number of officers over the last four years from 521 in 2001 to 723 by the end of this year. The MTA now uses 692 uniformed and undercover officers to perform routine patrols around Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station.

The agency has also increased the number of cops assigned to securing the MTA's outlying system, which includes transit hubs, two regional rail lines, seven bridges and two tunnels.

To deter potential terrorists from unleashing an attack, the MTA is being helped by New York and Connecticut state cops who have been assigned to ride Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road trains over the past few weeks.

(From New York Post).


© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen