safety_sign More trained eyes should be on the tracks in Minnesota in coming months, state and federal authorities say.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is hiring more rail inspectors as required by a new state law. Federal authorities also have bolstered the ranks of their rail inspectors in Minnesota.

Read the complete story at the St. Cloud Times.

Qualy

With the adjournment of the 2012 Minnesota legislative session, the Minnesota AFL-CIO, along with the UTU and other AFL-CIO member organizations, has succeeded in defending against right-to-work (for less) legislation introduced by Tea Party Republicans.
“The AFL-CIO lobbying team held every Democratic Farm Labor Party legislator in support of a Working Family Agenda that included defeat of the right-to-work (for less) legislation by convincing a core block of moderate and veteran Republicans to vote against the bill,” said UTU Minnesota State Legislative Director Phil Qualy.
Additionally, said Qualy, “despite Republican control of both chambers in the state legislature, for the first time in 38 years, none of our state safety statutes has been harmed during the legislative session now ended.”
Qualy commended UTU Locals 911, 1000 and 1067, which hosted Minnesota AFL-CIO training sessions on the law, which would have weakened collective bargaining rights.
“Also to be commended are UTU members and retirees who called their legislators and made the difference when the Republican leadership heard loud and clear from main street and good middle class Americans,” Qualy said.

Decades ago, the chairman of New York Central Railroad complained that while freight could move cross country without being transferred from one boxcar to another, transcontinental passengers often had to change trains in Chicago.

Even today, on Amtrak, passengers must change trains in Chicago.

A similar complaint is heard regarding intermodal passenger transportation — the separation of terminals for train and motor coach transportation. In Washington, D.C., for example, an intercity bus terminal is blocks from Union Station, which hosts Amtrak and commuter rail.

In St. Paul, Minn., the intermodal passenger problem is being solved.

The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority has broken ground on a $243 million multi-modal transportation facility in St. Paul, reports progressiverailroading.com.

The city’s 1920s-era Union Depot train station is slated to bring together rail, bus, motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic by 2012, reports progressiverailroading.com. Local, state and federal funds are financing the project.

Amtrak intends to dispatch its Empire Builder through the renovated terminal, which will also serve as a transfer point for light-rail, Metro Transit and intercity bus service — and, eventually, be a hub for hoped-for high-speed trains between the Twin Cities and Chicago.