Amtrak to let small pets on certain trains in Norfolk, and up the East Coast and other Amtrak news stories

October 10, 2015

Amtrak has announced it will allow small pets on select East Coast routes, including one that departs from Norfolk.Website Insert 5000 New Seats copy

The service is expanding its “Pets Aboard” program policy, officials said in a news release Thursday.

Routes from Boston to Norfolk, Newport News and Lynchburg will designate a car on passenger trains for pets.

Read reporter Katherine Hafner’s full story in the Virginian-Pilot by clicking here.

How Vermont Used Drones After a Train Derailment

When an Amtrak train went off its tracks in the forests outside of Northfield, Vermont, Oct. 5, state authorities needed pictures of the site to determine how best to respond and to document the damage for later investigations. So they decided to call in the drones, operated by the Spatial Analysis Lab at the University of Vermont. Within two hours, the university’s drone disaster response teams were flying their fixed-wing eBee unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, over the crash site.

Within an hour of arriving on the scene, the team’s drone shot 280 images of the derailment, with each high-resolution image linked to a precise location on the ground. By the end of the day, the drone team had processed the images into a seamless orthophotomosiac, a photographic “map” of the crash site that would come in handy for investigators.Website Insert Out of the Box Thinking copy
As the Vermonter crash response shows, drones have in recent years become an easy and inexpensive way to collect invaluable images of accident and disaster sites: faster than a satellite and cheaper than a manned helicopter or airplane. Disaster response drones have been used in Nepal, Haiti, and Vanuatu and are increasingly finding their way into the toolkits of disaster response teams in the U.S.—including in Vermont, a surprisingly ideal testing ground for disaster drones.

Read the full story from Faine Greenwood at Slate Magazine’s Future Tense by clicking here.

Amtrak now has accessible level boarding at Auto Train’s Lorton, Virginia terminal

Amtrak officially introduced the new level-boarding platform that has been constructed at its auto train station in Lorton, Va., on Monday.Website Insert Turnkey Packages copy

The newly designed platform, which was completed this summer, is on the same level as the train, making it easier for passengers to board as they are no long required to climb stairs or use a ramp or mobile lift to get on or off.

“It’s part of Amtrak’s ongoing efforts to bring greater accessibility to its nationwide system,” Amtrak media relations spokesperson Kimberly Woods said. “This platform provides safer and faster boarding into trains for all customers, including passengers with disabilities, those who use a wheeled mobility device, senior citizens, and passengers with luggage and strollers.”

Reporter Angela Woolsey has the full story in the Fairfax County Times by clicking here.

Amtrak forced to defend decision to condemn a Northeast Washington, D.C. office building

Amtrak has condemned a commercial office building in Northeast D.C. as it gears up for a major expansion project at Union Station nearby — and the move has left the property’s owner crying foul.Website Insert State Supported Passenger Trains copy

That’s because Amtrak gave what the building’s owner considers an overly vague reason for using eminent domain to take the roughly 113,000-square foot Railway Express building at 900 Second St. NE along with an adjacent lot. Both are located next to the railroad tracks just north of Union Station. Fluorine LLC argues in new court filings that the $35 million Amtrak offered for the property before filing for eminent domain was less than the income-generating office building is worth and that Amtrak has failed to show it had the legal authority to take it.

Daniel J. Sernovitz, staff reporter for the Washington Business Journal has the full story by clicking here.


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