In this edition...
University of Delaware
Public Policy Forum - February 21
Former Amtrak Chief David Gunn to address national transportation conference
Newark, DE --- Former Amtrak President & CEO David Gunn will be featured February 21 when the University of Delaware, along with the National Corridors Initiative, the Delaware Department of Transportation, and the Wilmington Metropolitan Area Planning Council presents its annual national conference on transportation policy, Building Inter-Metropolitan Rail Corridors
Gunn was fired as President of Amtrak in early November 2005 because he refused to accede to a Bush Administration plan to break the railroad into pieces and sell it off to private sector interests. The Bush Administration now denies that it has such plans, but rail advocates remain skeptical since the Administration proposed zero funding for Amtrak in the fiscal year now under way; Congress ignored the Bush Administration zero budget number and authorized $1.3 billion instead, approximately what Gunn had testified was needed as a bare minimum to operate the railroad and make minimal capital improvements.
Under Gunn the railroad achieved the best financial and operational performance in its 30+ year history, despite being hobbled by a financing system that makes Amtrak unlike the highways, or the airline systems, which are both far more heavily subsidized by the taxpayer than is Amtrak --- go each year to Capitol Hill for funding.
The University of Delaware School of Public Policy has become a leading American resource center for transportation policy and planning over the past decade, sponsoring conferences and forums among the nations leading transportation experts and political leaders, both elected and appointed..
The Forum is part of the Institutes longer-term agenda of research on and fostering awareness of the importance of rail transportation as a key element in the movement of people and goods at the national, state, regional, and local scales in the 21st century in the United States, the University stated in announcing the conference.
NCI is co-sponsoring this conference, and its President, Jim RePass, will be participating in it along with David Gunn, who will speak on the future of rail transportation in America.
In its announcement, the University of Delaware stated, The Public Policy Forum focuses on the status and future of inter-metropolitan transportation corridors and the critical role of their rail components. It is organized by the Institute for Public Administration, University of Delaware, and co-sponsored by The National Corridors Initiative with support from the Delaware Department of Transportation and the Wilmington Metropolitan Area Planning Council.
The morning session will present an overview of rail corridors as a key element of the transportation infrastructure to achieve greater efficiencies, foster regional development, and gain environmental benefits. The latter part of the morning includes presentations and discussion from speakers directly involved with the corridor projects in California, Washington, and the Mid-West/Chicago area. They will talk about what has been achieved and the future of their programs, the School of Public Policy said.
After lunch the emphasis will be on outlining and assessing the current policy and advocacy environment for rail corridors in relation to such things as public awareness, citizen and organizational advocacy, and state and national legislative support, and future policy directions, stated the SPP. People attending the Forum have been invited from the public and private sectors related to rail corridor planning, operations, policy making, research, and advocacy. The day will conclude with attendees and speakers engaging in open discussion about directions and strategies for enhancing rail in inter-metropolitan transportation.
Forum on Inter-Metropolitan Railroad Corridors
University of Delaware School of Public Policy
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Angry Amtrak passengers made late by freight;
SAVANNAH, GA --- A freight train derailment at a Georgia interchange near Savannah stranded hundreds of Amtrak passengers Amtrak last week, including one train, the Silver Meteor, which arrived more than 24 hours late to its destination in New York City.
The delays were caused by a CSXT derailment December 29 involving several cars of a freight train. It took CSXT about 12 hours to clear the accident, and no alternative route was available to the Amtrak Trains that use that route: the Silver Meteor and Silver Star to and from Miami, the Autotrain between Lorton, VA and Sanford, FL, and the Palmetto, which originates in New York and now terminates in Savannah but which could only reach Charleston, SC due to the heavy freight traffic at Savannah.
CSXT ran six hours of freight trains past the stopped Amtrak train, even though passenger trains are supposed to be given dispatch priority in that circumstance.
Most of the coverage of the incident focused on the misery of the passengers, who complained that they were not kept informed by Amtrak crew as time went by, and that only sandwiches were provided for the stranded Meteor passengers. Amtrak is investigating the incident.
The Associated Presss Verena Dobnik in a wire story wrote, Amtraks Silver Meteor train arrived in New York from Florida more than 28 hours late on New Years Eve, releasing more than 100 exhausted, hungry and angry passengers. Their train had been stuck in Jacksonville, Fla., for half a day because of a derailed CSX freight train, then stopped again in rural Georgia as they waited for the tracks to reopen. A litany of complaints echoed through New Yorks Penn Station as about 100 passengers finally stepped off the escalator from the tracks below.
Amtrak owns most of the Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston but otherwise operates for the most part on track that it does not own, relying on host freight railroads for dispatching and safety. Amtrak was created in 1970 to relieve the private railroads of the requirement that they operate passenger trains, a holdover from the days of regulated rail service from the early party of the 20th century. At the time it was created, Amtrak was to have received significant capital investments from the Federal government and the railroads themselves, but has for the most part only received operating subsidies.
In one of the few cases where the Federal government has invested significant capital, the $2.7 billion Northeast Corridor electrification project between Boston and New Haven, the travel times have dropped from 5.5 -6 hours Boston-New York City down to 3.5 hours, and ridership has boomed.
In a smaller project the state of Maine and Amtrak invested in upgrading the tracks belonging to a freight railroad, Guilford Transportation, to begin operating Downeaster service between Boston and Portland, ME. That service has now been increased in frequency twice due to demand. In California the state invested in a 170 mile rail corridor serving Sacramento and the region, and operated by the Joint Powers Authority. Since 1998 ridership has tripled from 463,000 to 1,165,000, with 24 trains a day providing frequent service.
Simplified dining service
begins on four trains
A change to Amtraks long-distance food service aboard four trains is just the most visible part of a comprehensive plan that is underway to reduce Amtraks operating loss. Earlier this year, it became clear to Amtrak that it could lose as much as $120 million on its passenger food service in FY 06 unless it undertook substantial reforms.
As added emphasis that effective reforms needed to be adopted, an amendment to Amtraks federal operating grant enacted into law at the end of November stated that the railroad must successfully reduce this loss or face the possible removal of food service from trains.
But the food service reform effort has been in full swing at Amtrak since this summer on three initial fronts. First, to provide itself with better overall control and oversight of the food service operation, Amtrak negotiated a new contract with Gate Gourmet, the provider of most on-board food. The contract puts in place new financial controls and performance measurements, as well as capping some costs and offering incentives for efficiency and cost reductions.
Photo: Courtesy of Amtrak InkWhile only serving as one of many preliminary conceptual designs, this rendering of a reconfigured Superliner food service car reflects some of the seating options envisioned.
While the changes to the Gate Gourmet contract will reduce the operating loss across the network, a new simplified dining service was introduced in December and is now in place on four trains: the Texas Eagle, City of New Orleans, Capitol Limited and Sunset Limited.
The new dining service features fully prepared meals that need minimal on-board preparation. The meals are heated in an oven and are served on attractive, disposable dinnerware with linen napkins and stainless steel flatware. With no cooking and less preparation and dish washing, smaller crews are required.
By modifying the food service this way, Amtrak continues to provide a high-quality meal without the more labor-intensive cooking preparation, said Tom Hall, senior director Commissary Operations. Instead of requiring a base crew of five in the dining car on these trains, this simplified dining service approach necessitates three employees in the diner.
In addition to in-person briefings, crews aboard the four trains have been provided a set of training materials that include a service guide and a video to ensure that the transition is successful.
As a third major initiative to better control food service costs, in FY 07 Amtrak plans to put into service new diner-lounge cars replacing current dining cars and lounge cars. These cars will make it possible to operate meal service continuously throughout the day on the four routes, similar to a restaurant environment.
Two Superliner equipment modification programs one for diners and another for lounges are expected to provide multi-purpose food service cars for each of the four trains. The newly designed food service cars will accommo-date the various appetites and moods of passengers with contin-uous service throughout the day. Open from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., the service will offer an integrated menu that ranges from snacks to full meals and seating options that vary from a bar to traditional table-service dining.
The revamped Superliner diners will offer integrated dining, lounge and bar service, depending on availability and passenger preference. The current pantry will be removed, and behind the new service bar will be a microwave, and a combo oven, coffee maker, a four-door refrigerator, a sink and overhead bins, among other appliances. No major changes would be made to the lower-level galley, which will provide the bulk of food preparation for the upstairs using the dumbwaiters. This program is expected to deliver new cars for two routes over an 8- to 17-month period.
Meanwhile, more extensive Super-liner lounge car modifications are expected to take 18 to 24 months. Preliminary designs for the recon-figured Superliner lounge cars include a completely new setup, with dining, lounge and full bar service on the upper level and reserved dining on the lower floor. Seating capacity will be expanded to about 90 seats, with 70 on the upper level and 20 on the lower level. Two food preparation areas one on each floor will be connected by food service elevators and outfitted with ovens, microwaves and a number of other appliances.
Running a single all-purpose food service car reduces annual maintenance and fuel costs on these trains by $3.5 million, and further reduces labor costs, as there will be no need for a separate lounge car. In addition, the design of the car increases food and beverage sales by being open throughout the day and catering to whatever passengers are in the mood for, early or late.
The reality of the situation is we have to do things differently and we know one size will not fit in every case. We also know how important the dining experience is to our passengers. So this change will be carefully monitored and we hope it will bring greater flexibility to serve the variety of customer needs among both sleeper and coach passengers, said Emmett Fremaux vice president Customer Service.
Fremaux added that because the restaurant-style approach to the food and beverage operation is in accordance with industry standards, it will in the long run allow us the option to outsource the function to a vendor if we do not achieve the necessary efficiencies ourselves.
With these four trains operating using the upgraded equipment, the overall program impact will be felt with a bottom line improvement of $11.6 million. This represents a recovery of over 60 percent of the food and beverage loss currently occurring on these trains. This projected result provides a strong indication that Amtrak can realize the kind of bottom line improvement on the long-distance trains that will be necessary to justify continuation of the service.
Revamping the food and beverage service is essential to achieve meaningful cost savings aboard long-distance trains, which are responsible for over 75 percent of the projected $120 million loss in the food and beverage service. For the first time ever, Amtrak has been mandated by law to reduce its food service losses. Progress is now being monitored by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation and reported on a quarterly basis to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
Photo: Courtesy of Amtrak InkAt Chicago Union Station, Arlo Guthrie and his wife are captured by Chicagos WGN-TV as they head to the City of New Orleans train on a people mover operated by Red Cap Paul Sokolowski
Folk singers ride the rails
When Arlo Guthrie recorded the world-famous hit City of New Orleans in 1972, he had no idea the difference it would make to the very city that was heavily damaged 33 years later by Hurricane Katrina.
Written by Steve Goodman years before Amtrak was created, the song was the theme of a seven-city Ridin on the City of New Orleans Bringin the Music Back, concert tour sponsored by Amtrak, Arlo Guthrie and Friends, Tipitinas Foundation and a number of other companies last month to benefit musicians and musical venues that suffered from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Traveling aboard the City of New Orleans and performing along the route, the musicians said that the purpose of the 12-day December train tour was to help rebuild the small clubs and venues in the devastated areas. A brainchild of Arlo Guthrie, the undertaking was aimed at generating donations and securing contributions from musical equipment manufacturers to help restore the musical infra-structure of New Orleans and surrounding communities.
When I think of New Orleans, I think of music, said Guthrie. When I wonder what the city needs to get back on its feet, I think of the stuff that was ruined by the water such as the sound boards, cables, lighting, micro-phones and instruments. Im determined to help restore all those little places and bring the music back as soon as possible.
Arlo and Friends started the tour on Dec. 5 at the Vic Theater in Chicago. The following day, Arlo, his son Abe with his band Xavier and daughter Sarah Lee Guthrie, along with Johnny Irion, traveled on the southbound City of New Orleans performing on board and holding benefit concerts in Kankakee, Urbana/Champaign, Effingham and Carbondale, Ill., Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans. Twenty concert tickets were raffled off for employees to attend the performance on Dec. 17 at Tipitinas, New Orleans historic Garden District music venue.
To support the cause, other enter-tainers boarded the train and performed with Arlo along the way. Guy Davis, Cyril Neville, John Flynn, Ramsay Midwood, Kevin Kinney with Drivin n Cryin, The Burns Sisters and Gordon Titcomb were among those who were part of the tour. Willie Nelson joined the group at Tipitinas.
Passenger trains have always carried the music and musicians to and from the Delta spreading the sound of the Crescent City to Memphis, Chicago and the world, said Senior Vice President William Crosbie. We are proud to have been a part of this important rebuilding effort. The tour attracted a large amount of news media coverage. Reporters interviewed Guthrie and his entourage at stations along the route, rode the train during segments of the tour, attended the concerts and made dozens of calls to Amtraks Media Relations team for details on the series of events. Local broadcast and print media turned out in each city along with national coverage by the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, CBS Radio, and Country Music Television, among others.
Although the tour has come to an end, contributions may still be made via Arlos Web site, www.GuthrieFoundation.com.
Who pays for free parking? Everyone but the motorist, said Professor Donald Shoup of the University of California Los Angeles in his presentation at the CTS Fall Luncheon on November 3.
Americans park for free at the end of 99 percent of their trips. The true cost of parking, however, is diffused throughout the economy, embedded in the price of everything from movie tickets to housing. We dont pay for parking in our role as motorist, Shoup said, but we pay for it as consumers, investors, workers, residents, and taxpayers.
This price distortion arises from what Shoup argued are two mistakes in parking policy: it keeps curb parking free or cheap, and it requires a great deal of off-street parking. For a new building, parking requirements determine the number of spaces a developer must supply, while for an existing building, parking requirements limit the uses a city will allow.
Whats more, every land use has its own parking requirementssuch as the number of spaces per stylist in a hair salonto prevent drivers from blocking traffic while searching for free but scarce curb space. Laws also require businesses to meet peak demand at each site. Everyone understands the advice: Do not build your church for Easter Sunday, Shoup said, but we build our parking lots for the week before Christmas.
Even though parking costs are hidden, Shoup declared, we all bear the cost of this great planning disaster. Parking requirements skew travel choices, distort urban form, degrade urban design, raise housing costs, impede reuse of older buildings, limit homeownership, damage the urban economy, and harm the environment.
The cost of free parking is staggering. The total subsidy for off-street parking in 2002, Shoup estimated, was between $127 billion and $374 billionsomewhere between the costs of Medicare ($231 billion) and national defense ($349 billion). And research conducted under the CTS Transportation and Regional Growth Study estimated the total cost of off-street parking in the Twin Cities is 50 percent more than the cost of streets and highways.
The good news, Shoup said, is that there is almost an easy way out of this situation through two reforms in parking policy: charging market rates for curb parking, and returning the meter revenue to the neighborhoods that generate it.
The success of this approach is evident in Old Pasadena, a 15-block historic district that was a slum 25 years ago. The city of Pasadena lacked funding for public improvements, but merchants had opposed parking meters for fear of losing customers. When the city offered to return all parking meter revenue to Old Pasadena in 1993, however, merchants and property owners immediately agreed.
Now, 690 meters operate until midnight and on Sunday, yielding $1.2 million each year for Old Pasadena. The revenues pay for repaving, increased sidewalk cleaning, and other landscaping amenities. Both businesses and customers support the change.
Other cities can learn from Old Pasadenas experience. Meters do not chase away business; in fact, Shoup said, sales tax revenue took off. With parking requirements gone, all kinds of stores are now allowed in older buildings, such as a Saks Fifth Avenue in an abandoned tire warehouse. The meter money has transformed the public sector and that has enabled the private sector to do what it can do, he said.
Another lesson is the importance of technology. Todays modern meters allow variable pricing and let motorists pay with their cell phones or credit cards. Technology also allows communities to monitor the occupancy rate of spaces, reducing the need for meter readers.
Shoup concluded his talk by outlining two future scenarios. In the first, parking policies are unchanged, costs remain hidden, and transportation choices are distorted. Our carsparked 95 percent of the timeprevent the valuable land beneath them from being tapped for revenue.
In a better future, Shoup envisions communities that charge market-rate prices for curb parking, use the revenue to improve neighborhoods, and remove off-street parking requirements. The cost of parking becomes unbundled from other transactions, so driving and oil consumption drop and our air is cleaner. We pay less for the price of everything except parking, he summarized.
And as a final benefit, Shoup believes the vast deserts of off-street parking could be used for land banks for the development of affordable housing. Parking requirements shift land and capital from housing for people to housing for cars, he said. With revised zoning laws, companies could build housing in converted parking lots, boosting their revenues while reducing commutes and improving the jobs-housing balance.
For more about his research, please visit Dr. Shoups website at: shoup.bol.ucla.edu.
Copyright © 2005 The University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies.
Used with Permission
Out with the old;
In with the new.
A year and a half ago we reported on a number of projects by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) that will replace or rebuild a number of its subway and commuter stations. One of those was Savin Hill Station on the MBTAs Red Line in the Dorchester section of the city (DF Vol. 5 #19 May 10, 2004).
Savin Hill Station was closed for nearly a year. Unable to renovate it easily, it was determined that it would be razed and replaced with a new station platform, lobby, and head house. During the closure a temporary bus loop was put in place to connect subway riders with the next station northward, JFK/UMASS station.
The new station is compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Five pictures NCI Webmaster Dennis KirkpatrickAbove - The new steel, glass, and brick structure extends the lobby the length of the station offering passengers additional egress to the train platform as well as a place to wait that is sheltered from the elements. The new elevator improves access for the handicapped, elderly, and mothers with children. Both are downtown Boston-bound trains.
Before and after. Right images are repeated from the May 2004 edition of DF followed beside by ones taken just before Christmas 2005.
Additional work is being conducted along this branch of the Red Line which sports some of the MBTAs oldest stations, and that run mostly on a surface right-of-way where structures are exposed to the elements. Some stations will be upgraded and some, such as those at Fields Corner and Ashmont will receive complete rebuilds.
Also taking place are upgrades to the rail branch along the Fairmount commuter line. Several stations are receiving upgrades to make them ADA compliant and to improve their appearance. On the drawing board are plans to add stations to this commuter branch with a possible renaming to the Indigo Line. The project will also require the replacement of two aging bridges, one in Dorchester at Columbia Road and one in Roxbury at Massachusetts Ave.
Photo: Courtesy of Amtrak InkPassengers detrain Amtrak Cascades train 500 at Seattles busy King Street station.
Pacific Northwest promotions
Question: What do basketball, kids and the Amtrak Cascades have in common? Answer: Coach Mendezonas Quick Handle basketball program. Amtrak is partnering with Quick Handle to serve as the primary transportation provider for children participating in the popular basketball camps and clinics held in cities along the Amtrak Cascades route.
Over the next eight months, several thousand children will participate in Quick Handle basketball programs conducted by Coach Mendo Mendezona in the Seattle and Portland area. Mendezona, who played professional basketball in Europe, approached Amtrak to partner with his organization because he recognized the important role that passenger trains play in moving people throughout the Pacific Northwest. For Quick Handle to be a success, kids and their families need a reliable, economical means of traveling to and from our program sites and traveling by Amtrak makes good sense, he said.
Through this partnership, Amtrak is being promoted via direct mail and e-mail messages that Quick Handle is sending sent to its data-base of approximately 15,000 families. Additionally, Amtrak will benefit from exposure on Quick-Handle.com, t-shirts, brochures and with signage at the camps and clinics. Amtrak will in turn provide Quick Handle Amtrak Cascades or Coast Starlight tickets to be used for travel or promotions throughout the year.
According to Amtrak Marketing Associate Doug Schwab, Coach Mendos commitment to kids is unsurpassed. Not only does he teach the key points of basketball, but he also focuses on helping the kids excel socially, emotionally and spiritually. With 21 years of coaching under his belt, he is simply the best at what he does. Im pleased that we have an opportunity to partner with an organization of this caliber.
While the Quick Handle promotion is aimed at bringing more children and their families aboard trains, other marketing efforts prove that reaching the age of 55 also has its benefits aboard the Amtrak Cascades.
Amtrak Cascades Mature Travelers program, which promotes travel on the service during off- peak travel days, offers passengers age 55 and older traveling in groups of 20 or more an opportunity to travel Mondays through Thursdays between any two cities from Portland, Ore., to Vancouver, B.C. for $10 one way or $15 roundtrip. This promotion runs through June 2006.
|Burlington Northern & Santa Fe||(BNI)||69.06||---|
|Florida East Coast||(FLA)||43.90||---|
|Genessee & Wyoming||(GWR)||37.80||---|
|Kansas City Southern||(KSU)||25.04||---|
|Providence & Worcester||(PWX)||15.06||---|
New to Hannover: Blue and Yellow trains with the
December 11th European-wide schedule change.
For NCI, three pictures by David BealeLocomotive ME 146-12 (Bombardier TRAXX) with a Göttingen bound Metronom train in Hannover on the 23rd December 2005.
Metronom regional trains by Metro Rail recently started serving Hannover. The blue and yellow trains contrast starkly to the otherwise all red and white trains operated by Deutsche Bahn (DB) through Hannover. Metro Rail won the contract from the state government to operate the Uelzen - Hannover - Göttingen regional route, which were previously operated by DB Regio with single level Silberling locomotive hauled coaches, with its double-decker Metronom trains. The rolling stock, although operated by Metro Rail and painted in the Metronom livery, was purchased and is owned by the state government of Lower Saxony, as is indicated by the red Niedersachsen ist am Zug (Lower Saxony is on the Train) logo, which appears both on the Metronom train as well as the DB class ET424 EMU S-Bahn train on the adjacent track.
Another Metronom train in Hannover northbound to Uelzen with electric locomotive ME 146-02 (TRAXX manufactured by Bombardier) pushing from the rear.
Metro Rail operates RIGA double-decker coaches from Bombardier on its Metronom regional trains. The RIGA series of double-decker commuter/regional rail passenger coaches have been a big success story for Bombardier, with many hundreds of units in service in Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg, Austria, and Israel among other countries.
A Deutsche Bahn ICE from Frankfurt to Berlin pauses in Hannover on the 23rd of December 2005.
This is an ad-hoc ICE train added for the holiday rush. The rolling stock is actually a former Metropolitan train set (one of two ex-Metropolitan train sets in existence) and not a true member of the ICE family of high-speed trains. After DB discontinued Metropolitan train services on the Cologne-Hamburg corridor in December 2004, the two Metropolitan train sets were repainted in the red on pearl white ICE paint scheme, the 101 series electric locomotives mated to these train sets were repainted in DBs standard Verkehrsrot white on red paint scheme. The trains however retained their polished wood and brushed aluminum all business class interiors. Unlike DBs ICE trains, which have can run at speeds of 260 - 300 km/h (depending on model / configuration), these ex-Metropolitan ICE train sets have a maximum speed limit of 200 km/h (125 mph).
Two images courtesy of MTU16V 4000 - a 16 cylinder version of the 4000 series diesel locomotive engine is installed into a new Siemens Euro Runner ER20 locomotive in the Siemens final assembly facility in Austria
MTU and Detroit Diesel sold to
DaimlerChrysler agreed to sell its Off-Highway business unit, consisting of MTU Germany and the Off-Highway part of Detroit Diesel in the United States, to EQT. EQT is a private equity fund that currently manages about Euros 6 billion in eight funds. MTU, which dominates the Off Highway business unit, is one of the top manufacturers of large diesel and diesel-cycle natural gas engines in the world, its engines are used in numerous applications including propulsion for large yachts, ships, ferries, railroad locomotives and self-propelled multiple-unit passenger train coaches (DMUs). MTU and Detroit Diesel employ over 6000 people, more than 80% of whom are in Germany and had EUR 1.75 billion annual sales in 2004.
MTU and Detroit Diesel produce diesel engines in the 116 kW to 9,000 kW (158 HP to 12,250 HP) power range for many applications. MTU supplies diesel engines to all four major locomotive builders, Alstom, Bombardier, Vossloh and Siemens, and participates as well in re-engine programs for existing trains and locomotives such as the British HST 200 km/h (125 mph) diesel powered high speed passenger train sets.
Class 43 - a Class 43 power car from an Angel Trains (in Great Britain) HST train set after refurbishment and replacement of its original Paxman diesel engine with a new MTU 4000 series 20 cylinder diesel engine to reduce maintenance costs, lower fuel consumption and lower noise emissions
DaimlerChrysler decided early in 2005 to place its Off-Highway business unit, which consists primarily of MTU and Detroit Diesel (which formerly was a division of General Motors) up for sale in order to concentrate its resources on its passenger car, bus and truck businesses. The action touched off a heated struggle between several potential bidders, including rival German diesel engine manufacturer MAN, investment firm Carlysle Group, and GE Transportation. At one point the investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), which bought the aircraft gas turbine engine business (with the same name MTU) from DaimlerChrysler in 2003, was also in the running to buy diesel engine producer MTU and the rest of the Off Highway business unit from Daimler. The German labor union which represents workers at the main MTU design and production facility in Friedrichshafen became increasingly concerned about job security during the prolonged bidding process and openly talked about taking industrial action against the company to demonstrate the concerns of its membership.
The sale process has come to a favorable end for all parties, said Mr Volker Heuer, chairman of the MTU board of management.. EQT is our favorite candidate. With their industrial approach, they substantially contribute to our company on the financial side, and will work together with us on our growth strategy. EQT will participate in our company over the long term. Through a great willingness to invest, EQT enables us to extend our technology leadership.
The sale of the MTU and Detroit Diesel to EQT is subject to approval by European anti-trust regulators and apparently has the support of the main labor union at the companys headquarters.
New York MTA Strike: Wrong
Message to Americas Heartland
(Editors note: National Corridors Initiative has always been supportive of the transit unions and the people who work there. Their role is crucial in the cause to improve and expand transit in America. We do feel, however, that Mr. Beales comments raise some important issues.)
What was the union leadership for transit workers of the New York MTA thinking? From a distance here in Europe, the New York City transit strike appeared to be a major blow against the cause of advancing mass transit in other American cities and towns. The shut-down of Americas largest mass transportation system gave ammunition to anti-transit forces all across America, call it a Christmas present from the TWU Local 100 to pro-highway lobbies active in nearly every state and city across the USA. One of the more frequent arguments heard from the pro-highway and anti-tax lobbies during local referendums on proposed mass transit building programs is that mass transit is part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to rob Americans of their freedom of movement by automobile. The New York City transit strike of 2005 will be Exhibit A in their case against investing more in mass transit.
I had a late year business trip which took me from Germany to the American Midwest just days before Christmas. Due to the late booking of this business trip, my colleagues and I had to travel from Germany to the American heartland via an overnight stop in New York City. As I traveled with my German colleagues from our landing at New York JFK airport to the hotel near LaGuardia airport via a New York City cab on the Sunday evening before the MTA labor strike, we could almost feel the City holding its collective breath in nervous anticipation of the transit strike and shut-down. Of course the local news in New York was dominated by the upcoming transit strike. That was to be expected. What I did not expect was the heavy news coverage the strike received in the local news media many hundreds of miles away at our Midwest destination in the following days of our business trip.
New York City belongs to a very select group of cities in the First World such as London, Tokyo, Melbourne and Hong Kong, which are totally dependent upon their rail transit systems for daily economic survival. Therefore the ensuing shut-down of New Yorks daily business due to the transit strike was predictable. Even here in continental Europe where rail transport is extremely popular and heavily used, relatively few cities can be put into this class, perhaps just Madrid, Berlin, Hamburg, Moscow, Amsterdam and Paris.
What was perhaps not so predictable was the unusually harsh treatment the news networks such as CNN, MSNBC, Fox, ABC and others gave to the hardships caused by the transit strike. The message coming over the TV news networks and newspapers into my hotel room deep in the American heartland nearly a thousand miles west of New York City was rather consistent: greedy New York City transit workers deprive ordinary working citizens of their ability to go to work, go to school and to shop during the holidays. Whether the spin and treatment the TV networks and newspapers such as USA Today gave to this labor dispute was fair or unfair can be debated, but the images and words will certainly not help transit advocates working hard across America to give working commuters, students and shoppers an alternative to the automobile in the form of better mass transit. It is very likely that the images and words conveyed by the news media of the NYC transit strike of 2005 will, unfortunately, find their way into one or more election day campaigns for transit spending in other parts of the USA during 2006, 2008 or beyond.
In order for mass transit to succeed in the USA, it has to play the role of the next degree of freedom of movement, an alternative to Americas ball-and-chain relationship to the automobile and over congested highways. Too bad the leaders of the TWU Local 100 did not look at the long term implications their strike decision could have on their industry elsewhere in America. The message received by the American Heartland after a heavy amount of negative spin from the big news networks was exactly the wrong one: that mass transit can be used to limit Americas freedom of movement. Transit unions should be very careful of how they manage their disputes with their employers in the future. Americas mass transit depends on it.
Merry Chirstmas and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones . . . .
- David Beale
Its time for a nation to return the favor
The federal government wrapped levees around greater New Orleans so that the rest of the country could share in our bounty.
Americans wanted the oil and gas that flow freely off our shores. They longed for the oysters and shrimp and flaky Gulf fish that live in abundance in our waters. They wanted to ship corn and soybeans and beets down the Mississippi and through our ports. They wanted coffee and steel to flow north through the mouth of the river and into the heartland.
They wanted more than that, though. They wanted to share in our spirit. They wanted to sample the joyous beauty of our jazz and our food. And we were happy to oblige them. So the federal government built levees and convinced us that we were safe.
The levees, we were told, could stand up to a Category 3 hurricane.
By the time Katrina surged into New Orleans, it had weakened to Category 3. Yet our levee system wasnt as strong as the Army Corps of Engineers said it was. Barely anchored in mushy soil, the floodwalls gave way.
Our homes and businesses were swamped. Hundreds of our neighbors died.
Now, this metro area is drying off and digging out. Life is going forward. Our heart is beating.
But we need the federal government -- we need our Congress -- to fulfill the promises made to us in the past. We need to be safe. We need to be able to go about our business feeding and fueling the rest of the nation. We need better protection next hurricane season than we had this year. Going forward, we need protection from the fiercest storms, the Category 5 storms that are out there waiting to strike.
Some voices in Washington are arguing against us. We were foolish, they say. We settled in a place that is lower than the sea. We should have expected to drown.
As if choosing to live in one of the nations great cities amounted to a death wish. As if living in San Francisco or Miami or Boston is any more logical.
Great cities are made by their place and their people, their beauty and their risk. Water flows around and through most of them. And one of the greatest bodies of water in the land flows through this one: the Mississippi.
The federal government decided long ago to try to tame the river and the swampy land spreading out from it. The country needed this waterlogged land of ours to prosper, so that the nation could prosper even more.
Some people in Washington dont seem to remember that. They act as if we are a burden. They act as if we wore our skirts too short and invited trouble.
We cant put up with that. We have to stand up for ourselves. Whether you are back at home or still in exile waiting to return, let Congress know that this metro area must be made safe from future storms. Call and write the leaders who are deciding our fate. Get your family and friends in other states to do the same. Start with members of the Environment and Public Works and Appropriations committees in the Senate, and Transportation and Appropriations in the House. Flood them with mail the way we were flooded by Katrina.
Remind them that this is a singular American city and that this nation still needs what we can give it.
Copyright © 2005 The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Used by Permission
Cronyism Part II
If the President would like to stop receiving criticism for running a crony-based government, one way to do it would be to stop re-appointing cronies to government boards and agencies.
The reappointment of Floyd Hall and Emile Sosa, two highly active GOP fund-raisers from the corporate world, to Amtrak Board seats is one surefire way to earn the enmity of friend and foe alike.
Prior to their first presidential appointments to the Amtrak Board in 2004, these two gentlemen had exactly zero experience in or knowledge of Amtrak, transit, rail, or any related field of endeavor. Sosa is a former chemical company executive, and Hall, the K-Mart CEO who engineered its colossal bankruptcy --- not exactly the kind of background to inspire confidence, unless of course it is the governments objective to zero-fund Amtrak and shut it down.
By taking this step in the face of mounting bi-partisan Congressional criticism, in a Congress whose [for the present] Republican majority is going to spend the run-up to the 2006 elections twisting slowly over fires of the Jack Abramoff Invitational Barbecue and Roast, the President displays an amazing lack of concern over the fate of the members of his own party, let alone that of the nations only national passenger rail system.
Administration ideologues have been trying to reform Amtrak for years, and while every organization can use a shake up and a fresh start from time to time, it isnt always a good idea to completely wreck it first, as the Administration seems bent on doing to Amtrak. Appointing political cronies, when what is needed is professional skill, isnt the answer. They had a great professional in David Gunn, whom they fired. Well, sauce for the goose
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