News Briefs

UP trains to haul Olympic torch

The Olympic Properties of the United States has named Union Pacific Railroad the official railroad services supplier to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and an official provider of the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Torch Relay.

UP is also the official railroad services supplier of the 2002 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Teams.

Creating a specially painted two-locomotive and 18-car train, with cauldron car, Union Pacific will transport the Olympic Flame and Torch Relay staff more than 3,200 miles through 11 states.

The train will transport two million gallons of propane, 29 commuter rail cars and 30 carloads of television cabling to Salt Lake City.

This will be the second time the Olympic Flame will move by rail in the United States. UP also transported the Olympic Flame more than 3,500 miles during the Olympic Torch Relay for the Atlanta 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.

CP shareholders give breakup 98% approval

Shareholders of Canadian Pacific Ltd. bid adieu to the historic conglomerate on October 1, approving by a huge margin its breakup into five units that will be born again as stand-alone, publicly traded companies.

“It’s mission accomplished,” said David O'Brien, chairman, president and chief executive of the company that grew into a Canadian icon after building the transcontinental railway in the 1880s.

The breakup was approved by 98% of CP’s common and preferred shareholders. It became effective Oct. 1. Trading of the separate units kicked off on Oct. 3 on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges.

Announced last February, the spinoff is unfolding in times of market turmoil and economic malaise, worsened by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Acela traffic jumps after attacks

Amtrak’s high-speed Acela Express train service has seen a 35 percent jump in traffic, due largely to setbacks in airline shuttle service in the Northeast since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Some early-morning and late-afternoon departures from Boston, New York and Washington are selling out on the Acela Express. Amtrak recently added four round trips between Washington and Boston as trains arrived from the manufacturer.

Six days after the attacks, Amtrak said its average number of riders had climbed to 80,000 people from 60,000 people a day.

Senate OKs $1.8 billion for Amtrak

Senators put aside divergent ideas on Amtrak’s future and endorsed a $1.8 billion measure to increase safety and security measures on passenger trains.

The Senate Commerce Committee voted unanimously on October 17 to send the measure to the full Senate.

Nearly $1 billion would address safety concerns in six aging underwater tunnels owned by Amtrak that carry rail passengers to New York’s Penn Station.

An additional $515 million would be spent on security upgrades throughout the Amtrak system — increasing the ranks of its 325-person police force, tripling the number of bomb-sniffing dogs and adding new surveillance equipment.

The measure also includes $254 million to improve emergency exits at Penn Station, replace two aging bridges in Connecticut considered susceptible to sabotage, and implement a sophisticated speed-control system in the Northeast Corridor, where Amtrak’s high-speed Acela Express operates.

Trains vulnerable to terrorism

Politicians and intelligence experts warn that the next terrorist attack could come on the ground instead of in the air.

Trains are particularly vulnerable because they carry huge amounts of hazardous materials through major population centers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is alerting hazmat shippers to be careful, warning: “In the wrong hands hazardous materials pose a threat to security. It doesn’t take a high degree of training, technical expertise, or sophisticated equipment to attack with devastating results.”

The FBI is concerned as well.

Attacks on or utilizing trains have long been recognized as a potential terrorist threat.

In a 1998 speech, then-Deputy Transportation Secretary Mort Downey said that terrorist training manuals “include rail sabotage as a recommended operation, so the potential for destructive action is clear.”

 

2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers