Category Archives: Washington DC

POTUS: Lincoln and NY Central Trains

So what does Abraham Lincoln have to do with the New York Central Railroad?

The plaque at the top tells it all. He rode the NY Central to his inauguration and again to his buriel.

Plaque in honor of President Lincoln at 414 W. 30th Street in NY City

It is at the site of the Hudson River Railroad’s New York City passenger station. Lincoln arrived here February 19, 1861 on his route to be inaugurated in Washington DC as President of the United States. After his assination Lincoln’s body went through here April 25, 1865. The Hudson River Railroad became part of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad and moved it’s main station to what became Grand Central Terminal. The old Hudson River Railroad line in the city became the West Side Freight Line.

Read more about Lincoln

Read more about the NY Central Railroad

Pennsylvania RR Procedures: 1939 ROYAL TOUR

Schedule: Train from Red Bank, NJ to New York Penn Station. Royal Party boards US Navy Destroyer. Staff boards US Coast Guard Cutters.

Schedule: Train from New York Penn Station, passed to New Haven Railroad (SS-4). Proceeds to New Rochelle Yard. Reverses, changes power and goes To Mott Haven (SS-MO). Train delivered to New York Central RR. Power and crew change. Trains to Poughkeepsie (no power change at Harmon… NY Central “Hudson” all the way. Royal party entrains at Hyde Park. Train delivered to Delaware & Hudson at Rennselaer. Engine and crew change. NY Central pilot to Troy. Train crosses Green Island Bridge. Goes through Cohoes, Ballston Spa and Saratoga.

Schedule: Water and inspection stop at Whitehall. At Rouses Point, newspapermen, etc. detrain at Rouses Point. Train handed over to D&H subsidiary Napier Junction Ry. At Delson, train delivered to Canadian Pacific Ry.

Sleeping car service, dining car service, ticketing arrangements.

Parking and sanitary charges at Washington Terminal, Poughkeepsie. Equipment charachteristics.

Equipment characteristics continued

Electric lights, heating, air conditioning, water and icing

Pintsch gas, coal and charcoal, floodlighting and auxiliary generators

Gasoline: Drained at Red Bank and refilled at Poughkeepsie (not allowed in NY City tunnels). Telephone: Bell Telephone coordinated by Bell Telephone representative aboard royal train.

Spare parts, hopper shutes, first aid kits, mechanical and electronical supervisors on board. Police protection.

Baggage Masters assignments, CNR and CPR employees on board. Pennsylvania RR management assignments. Position of rear brakemen. Daily newspapers.

Pennsylvania RR officials copied

See more stories about the 1939 Royal Tour

FTA lays out plan for improving WMATA’s track problems

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday issued a safety directive requiring the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to complete 12 actions to correct track integrity deficiencies in its rail system.

The directive calls for WMATA to develop corrective action plans to address findings in an FTA report that resulted from its investigation of WMATA’s track this spring, FTA officials said in a press release.

The report addresses WMATA’s “systemic” deficiencies in track inspection resources and training, its track inspection manual, track quality oversight and supervision, and track construction and maintenance.

The FTA noted that WMATA track inspectors have inadequate training and that the transit agency doesn’t allow enough time for track inspection. The agency also lacks a clear process for track inspectors and supervisors to impose and remove speed restrictions, FTA officials said.

Additionally, WMATA’s inspection and maintenance activity doesn’t adequately address the tunnel drainage system where water can corrode track infrastructure, according to the FTA.

The FTA directed WMATA to develop additional track inspection training and certification requirements, expand use of a track inspection vehicle, and develop a formal procedure and protocol to ensure maintenance managers and track inspectors share information.

“While WMATA has taken a number of critical steps to address safety deficiencies, it must improve its track safety protocols and training programs,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. “In addition, greater coordination is needed between WMATA track and maintenance personnel to prioritize work and adhere to established standards, including conditions that warrant speed restrictions or single tracking.”

To enforce the safety directive, the FTA has the ability to withhold federal financial assistance from WMATA and direct the agency to use federal financial assistance to correct safety deficiencies. The FTA also could shut down sections of WMATA’s rail system.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) last week released the results of its investigation into WMATA’s July 29 derailment near the East Falls Church Station in Arlington, Va.

Although the NTSB didn’t provide a probable cause, the board noted that the distance between the rails on that section of track was 59 inches. WMATA standards require that tracks with a gauge greater than 57-and-a-quarter inches be removed from service, NTSB officials said in a press release.

NTSB investigators also identified a severe tie condition in the accident area and found that there were more than 30 feet of track with no effective crossties. WMATA’s standards require that there be no more than 10 feet between nondefective ties, according to the NTSB.

The board’s briefing to congressional staff on the incident marks its final update on its investigation into the derailment.

Also last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx noted progress in efforts by Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia officials to establish an independent oversight agency for WMATA.

In a letter to the leaders of the three jurisdictions, Foxx said that each has drafted new legislation that would meet the legal requirements for a new state safety oversight agency.

Foxx also reiterated that the February 2017 deadline to create such an agency will remain in place.

“The progress that the three jurisdictions have made to date clearly demonstrates that you are capable of meeting the deadline with continued focus,” Foxx wrote.

How Did One Get To The Pentagon? The Definitive Answer

One of our most popular blogs is “HOW DID ONE GET TO THE PENTAGON IN 1944?

I finally got the “real scoop” from Marie Early:

“I am 93 years old and went to work for the War Dept in Washington DC in June of 1941 five months before the start of WW II. I was 18 years old and had just graduated from high school. I was hired based on my civil service exam from Montana and I traveled across country by train to my first paying job. I was working in one of the first War Department offices that moved into the Pentagon after it was completed in 1943. I lived in NW Washington, D.C. and took the city bus to work every day via Pennsylvania Avenue to 14th Street across the Potomac on the 14th Street bridge. The road went under the Pentagon to the bus stop under the building where everyone got off.”

Guess I depended too muuch on rail and trolley experts.


Our featured image shows bus driver training

The company history does jive:
In 1933, all streetcars were brought under one company, Capital Transit. The streetcars began to scale back with the rising popularity of the automobile and pressure to switch to buses. After a strike in 1955, the company changed ownership and became DC Transit, with explicit instructions to switch to buses. The system was dismantled in the early 1960s and the last streetcar ran on January 28, 1962.

WMATA’s rail operations control center to be staffed by fire officer at all hours

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) next month will begin stationing a uniformed fire officer at its rail operations control center at all hours, agency officials announced yesterday.

Currently, fire liaisons are on duty at the center for a total of 80 hours a week Monday through Friday and during special events. The expansion calls for staffing the center 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help coordinate emergency communication between WMATA and first responders.

The expansion is the result of a new memorandum of understanding between the agency and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, WMATA officials said in a press release.

WMATA created the fire and rescue liaison position in July 2015.

In addition to coordinating emergency response, the fire liaisons will help develop policy recommendations and provide supplemental emergency training for rail controllers, agency officials said.

“Extending the hours of the fire/rescue liaison position at the Rail Operations Control Center ensures that first responders have ‘eyes and ears’ on Metrorail operations throughout the entire service day,” said WMATA’s Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik.

Since WMATA created the position, coordination between the agency and the region’s emergency responders has improved dramatically, said Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor in the release.

The new position was one of several additional safety initiatives aimed at improving emergency response. Following the January 2015 fatal smoke incident outside WMATA’s L’Enfant Plaza Station, the agency increased training, emergency drills and enhanced radio testing protocols to provide a real-time outage map for controllers and first responders.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board today is scheduled to release a report on the probable causes of last year’s fatal smoke incident. The federal agency’s report is said to criticize both WMATA and D.C.’s overall emergency response system, according to the Washington Post.

Just yesterday:

CSX train derails in Northeast Washington D.C., possible hazardous leak

Even More About The 1939 Royal Train that Visited the United States

As many of you know, we have a great WebSite on the 1939 Royal Train that visited the United States. Now we have found the Canadian side of the details.

For all the research we have done, we did not know that the pilot train almost missed the grand welcome in Washington because of a Hot Box!

1939 Royal Tour

WMATA unveils final ‘SafeTrack’ plan

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld yesterday released a final version of his “SafeTrack” comprehensive maintenance plan for the agency’s subway system.

A combination of 15 long-duration track outages for key system segments and significantly expanded maintenance time on weekends, weeknights and weekdays, the plan crams three years worth of work into one year.

SafeTrack is aimed at addressing the Federal Transit Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board’s safety recommendations, along with tackling the transit agency’s deferred maintenance backlogs, WMATA officials said in a press release.

Plan implementation began following review and collaboration with the FTA, and consideration of traffic mitigation and alternative travel options by departments of transportation in D.C., Maryland and Virginia; regional law enforcement; the Office of Personnel Management; the Department of Homeland Security; and the General Services Administration.

In addition to the 15 “safety surges” that will require long-duration track outages, SafeTrack also calls for closing the Metrorail system at midnight every night rather than at 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, and beginning certain repair projects at 8 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.

Each safety surge project will result in around-the-clock single tracking or shutdowns of selected track segments; they’ll also have a “significant impact” on rush-hour commutes, WMATA officials said. Many of the projects also will severely reduce train frequency, resulting in crowding and extended wait times.

The surges will begin in June and run through mid-March 2017, with the first project scheduled to run June 4 through June 16. That surge will involve continuous single tracking on a portion of the Orange and Silver lines.

CSX train derails in Northeast Washington D.C., possible hazardous leak

A CSX freight train has derailed  near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station Sunday morning leaving several cars overturned and a possible hazardous leak.

No injuries have been reported. It’s unclear what caused the derailment.

According to CSX,  14 cars derailed from a train bound for Hamlet, North Carolina, from Cumberland, Maryland. The derailment occurred at around 6:40 a.m.

The leak of sodium hydroxide, described as coming from one full tank car,  was finally “plugged,” and emergency responders, including hazmat crews, had moved on to the clean-up phase, officials said during a 10:45 a.m. press conference.

“CSX operations and hazardous materials personnel are working with first responders on the derailment this morning in Washington D.C.,” CSX said in a statement.  “The safety of the community, first responders and CSX’s employees is our highest priority.”

Sodium hydroxide is used primarily “to produce various household products including paper, soap and detergents.”

CSX later said crews found leaks in two other cars . A rail car leaking non-hazardous calcium chloride solution had been sealed. Another ethanol rail car was leaking from the base of a valve. A CSX spokeswoman said crews were working to seal the leak.

U.S. senators push for $150 million in WMATA funding

Democratic senators from Maryland and Virginia are requesting that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) receive $150 million in federal dollars in fiscal-year 2017, as the troubled transit agency struggles to correct safety problems.

U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) called on members of Congress to fully fund WMATA at authorized levels next year. In a March 18 letter — made public yesterday — to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Committee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the senators said that WMATA’s recent safety challenges demonstrated how much work remains to correct the agency’s problems.

“This is a vital transportation issue with direct implications on the effectiveness and efficiency of the federal government and the entire Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, and is important to growing U.S. manufacturing and transit infrastructure development. WMATA’s compact jurisdictions are committed to providing 50 percent matching funding,” the senators wrote.

The $150 million would target projects in WMATA’s capital improvement program that aim to maintain the transit system in a state of good repair, including vehicles, facilities and infrastructure, the senators said.

An annual federal contribution for WMATA was included in a 10-year authorization for the transit agency as part of the rail-safety bill that Congress passed in 2008. The legislation authorized $1.5 billion to WMATA each year since 2009. Last year, the agency’s funding came “under threat” during discretionary budget considerations, according to a report in Roll Call.

In his FY2017 budget, President Barack Obama requested $150 million for WMATA.

WMATA has struggled to address safety problems, including some that prompted the full-day shutdown of its Metrorail system earlier this month. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the agency for a fatal smoke incident in January 2015 that resulted in a passenger’s death.

WMATA mulls months-long rail closures for maintenance

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) could close entire rail lines for as long as six months for maintenance work, local media reported earlier this week.

At a conference with local leaders Wednesday, WMATA Chairman Jack Evans said that weekend and night closures wouldn’t allow enough time to tackle the agency’s high volume of necessary repair work, The Washington Post reported.

The news comes on the heels of the agency’s unprecedented decision to shut down its entire subway system for inspections March 16. During those inspections, crews uncovered 26 locations where cables were damaged and needed repair.

In a message to riders yesterday, WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld said he’s working on a long-range maintenance plan for the rail system but emphasized that no decisions have been made yet.

He noted that the agency would give “ample notice” to customers before any major service changes occur.

Wiedefeld expects to have the maintenance plan ready in four to six weeks.