A new oil boom is currently sweeping the west of the United States following economic improvements to the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and the government's desire to increase its energy independence. With oil and gas companies lining up to get their share, the rush to extract oil is also proving to be hugely beneficial to North American railways, as Kevin Smith discovers.
The first phase of a major upgrade of the Chicago - St Louis corridor through the heart of Illinois is complete. And with work continuing to finish the entire project by 2017, the line is considered a bellwether for future improvements to freight corridors that carry passenger services in the United States, as Kevin Smith and Railway Age managing editor Douglas John Bowen discover.
The deadline for the network-wide deployment of Positive Train Control (PTC) in the United States is now less than four years away. Kevin Smith examines the current status of this mammoth project, the challenges it poses to US railways, and how they might yet make it work in their favour.