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— by Pat Foran, Editor
'Tis the season for year-end "best of," "Top 10," and various and sundry other "here's-the-year-in-a-nutshell" lists. Seasonally, then, here's my list entry — the 10 most-read feature stories posted in 2013 on www.progressiverailroading.com:
1. Crude oil and intermodal will drive rail traffic for BNSF over the long term (January)
2. The Quebec crude-by-rail tragedy: Will it have a lasting impact? (July)
3. Panama Canal expansion spurs railroads, ports to prepare for new business (April)
4. Shales in the West well beyond the Bakken drive crude oil traffic for many railroads (May)
5. Class I railroads rate the state of positive train control (March)
6. Amtrak's Northeast Corridor upgrades hinge on overcoming political, funding challenges (August)
7. High-speed rail makes incremental progress on Chicago-St. Louis route (August)
8. Progressive Railroading names Rising Stars (June)
9. How information technology helps connect the strategic dots at Union Pacific Railroad (June)
10. Detroit turns to a streetcar system as a catalyst for urban renewal (June)
It's an eclectic (if shale-shaded) group of stories that reflect several of 2013's key trend lines, undercurrents and archetypes, and one horrific event — from shale and crude-by-rail (far and away the most-read stories on our website the past couple years); to a potential global game-changer of a project (the Panama Canal expansion); to the PTC evolution (it's still top of mind); to Amtrak (readers generally can't get enough of the national passenger railroad); to high-speed rail (a high-interest topic whatever the funding weather); to stories that shed light on the next generation of railroaders (e.g., our Rising Stars winners); to next-generation everything (information technology); to streetcars (increasingly, a fervently followed subject); to a tragedy (the derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec).
Two of 2013's most-read feature stories (see numbers 2 and 10) appeared exclusively on progressiverailroading.com. In 2013, we posted about one web-exclusive, feature-length story per week, or nearly a print-edition's worth per month. We'll post at least that many this year as we continue to track trend lines, undercurrents, archetypes and events. We'll also continue to produce our Daily News, which is posted online (and emailed to subscribers) every business day. As ever, thanks for reading — be it online or in print.