Vol. 6 No. 3
January 17, 2005

Copyright © 2005
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

The E-Zine of the National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
President and CEO - Jim RePass
Publisher - Jim RePass      Editor - Leo King
Webmaster - Dennis Kirkpatrick

A weekly North American rail and transit update

For railroad professionals
Political leaders at all levels of government
Journalists from all media

* Now in our Sixth Year *

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IN THIS EDITION...  In this edition...

California Zephyr at Donner Pass

For NCI: Mark Wurst

The snow is a great deal deeper this winter than it was three years ago when Amtrak’s California Zephyr traversed Shed 10 in Cisco, Calif. on March 8, 2002. Photographer Wurst says “We waited for three hours on this hillside overlooking Shed 10 on Donner Pass before any trains arrived.”


Amtrak is delayed, derailed, annulled

Boulder stops the Zephyr;
California weather runs amuck

By Leo King

The Amtrak California Zephyr derailed after running into a pickup-truck sized boulder, authorities said on January 11. Six people were injured, but none seriously, according to The AP. The train was en route from Chicago to suburban Oakland, Calif., with more than 100 people on board, and was on Union Pacific track.

The train struck the 12-by-12-foot boulder just west of Grand Junction, Colo., Mesa County sheriff’s spokeswoman Susan McBurney said. Three engines and three to five cars were derailed in Ruby Canyon, McBurney said. The site is near the Utah state line.

Amtrak spokesman Clifford Black, in Washington, said the accident injured four crew and two passengers “in the category of bumps and bruises.” They were treated at a Grand Junction hospital and released, McBurney said.

The other people were being taken to Salt Lake City by bus, Black said.

“Conditions last night were very wet and rainy,” McBurney said.

Ron Vane, who was aboard the Zephyr, wrote online, “At 10:03 p.m., in the rain and dark, the train went into emergency and came to a rough stop as the three locomotives ran into a very large boulder that came down onto the track.”

He said, “The train pushed the rock over into the middle of Ruby Siding.”

The engines, “a baggage, dorm, and sleeper” plus the lead truck of the sleeper went on the ground “and wrecked the track structure. My car, sleeper 531, stopped with its side door directly across from the rock. It was an impressive site when I opened the door-window to see it there. Only minor injuries, mainly in the dorm.”

He said they “evacuated the derailed cars” and waited until about 2:30 a.m. for a relief train to arrive.

“They pulled the coaches, lounge and diner back to Grand Junction. On the way, we passed the wreck train with the “big hook” leaving town.

“We passengers were bused to local motels. I got into my room at 6:00 a.m.”

Vane flew home the next day from Grand Junction.

The boulder was cleared from the Ruby Canyon tracks Wednesday morning.

The Grand Junction Sentinel reported on Friday the derailed train moved to Grand Junction yard before being hauled to Beech Grove, Ind.

UP was routing freight trains through the siding Thursday and hoped to repair the main track by Friday.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari, in Chicago, said Amtrak had not resumed normal service and would not be able to until at least January 20.

“Because of a series of incidents related to weather and rock slides, we will operate from Chicago to Denver and from Emeryville, Calif., to San Francisco,” Magliari said. “This (boulder) is just one of a series of incidents that have taken place over the last several days halting our normal service operation.”

UP spokesman John Bromley said finding out when the tracks were last checked for obstructions would be part of UP’s investigation.

Late Friday, Amtrak stated, “Due to a series of weather-related service impacts in the Rocky and Sierra mountain ranges along the route of the California Zephyr, Amtrak has temporarily suspended operation of the Zephyr west of Denver, through at least January 20. During the service suspension, the Zephyr will operate between Chicago and Denver only.”

The train normally operates daily between Chicago and Emeryville, Calif., via Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City and Reno.

The passenger carrier said, “Passengers ticketed to western Colorado, Utah and eastern Nevada will be offered refunds,” and passengers ticketed “between Northern California and Chicago can be accommodated on the Empire Builder and Coast Starlight, via Portland, Ore., as available.”

Meanwhile, a Pacific storm hammered Southern California for a fourth straight day.

A sinkhole and rockslides on the tracks forced Amtrak to suspend train service between Paso Robles in central California and Los Angeles. The rain came on the heels of stormy weather that blasted the state earlier last week. Four-hundred feet of track, including ties, were reported wiped out at Somis, Calif., near Camarillo.

America’s national passenger train service stated on Friday its “Capitol Corridor trains will continue to operate from Emeryville east, to and from Auburn, via Sacramento, and Capitol Corridor Thruway buses “will continue to operate to and from Reno.” The Reno station would remain open, but on an abbreviated schedule. Otherwise, all Amtrak stations between Reno and Denver will be closed through at least January 20, including Salt Lake City, Utah, and Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs, Colo.

Washed out track

Union Pacific is dealing with multiple washouts and mudslides resulting from heavy storms over the last two weeks. This washout is about 400 feet long and 20 feet deep on California’s Mojave Subdivision at milepost 482.6. The Alhambra and Santa Barbara subdivisions were also hard hit, especially on the slopes along Pacific Coast. Ex-Southern Pacific track was washed away or covered by mud between MPs 381-385 and other places. Parts of Nevada also sustained heavy track damage.

Elsewhere in the West, Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route has been shut down for a time.

On Friday, a Metrolink train operating on Amtrak schedules ran between Los Angeles and San Juan Capistrano. The round-trip service operated on Pacific Surfliner train No. 578’s schedule, and train No. 583’s schedule.

“All other Pacific Surfliner trains remain temporarily suspended with no alternative transportation,” the carrier stated. Amtrak added, “Stations at Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, San Juan Capistrano and Oceanside will not be staffed until regular Pacific Surfliner service resumes.”

In yet another service advisory, Amtrak said its Coast Starlight service had also been temporarily suspended following weather-related track closures along the Coast Starlight route. Train No. 11, the southbound Coast Starlight, originating in Seattle on January 14, operated only to Oakland instead of its normal terminus at Los Angeles. Passengers destined for San Jose were able to transfer to a Capitol Corridor train from Oakland, and other people traveling to points south of San Jose could transfer to a San Joaquin train in Oakland.

Northbound Coast Starlight train No. 14 originated in San Luis Obispo over the weekend with connecting buses only from Los Angeles.

Yesterday, No. 14 originated in Oakland. Passengers from Los Angeles were reaccommodated on a San Joaquin train connecting with the Coast Starlight in Sacramento.

“The damage to the railroad between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles is very extensive, and it will take some time to repair it. As a result, the Coast Starlight will not operate on this part of the route until at least February 1, and possibly longer,” a railroad source said.

Elsewhere in the region, Metrolink told its customers on January 12 a landslide just south of the San Clemente Pier its Orange County Line was blocked, and would remain so until the line is cleared.

Metrolink spokesman Lupe Valdez said train service was not available to stations at San Clemente and Oceanside, but northbound trains 601, 603, 605 and 607 originated in San Juan Capistrano instead of Oceanside.

Southbound train 600 and southbound Inland Empire-Orange County Line train 803 terminated at San Juan Capistrano. Buses carried passengers to San Clemente and Oceanside.

On the Ventura County Line, the commuter railroad did not operate from the Montalvo, Oxnard or Camarillo Stations.

“Three trainsets that are stored at Montalvo have still not been moved and will remain there pending completion of track repairs,” Valdez said. Trainsets were made available at Moorpark to replace the trapped equipment.

Passengers who normally board at Montalvo were asked to drive to the Oxnard station to board buses to the Moorpark Station.

Passengers at Oxnard and Camarillo also boarded buses to Moorpark.

Metrolink added substitute train service for shared service train 103/A799 from Los Angeles to Chatsworth and shared service train 108/A768 from Chatsworth to Los Angeles, both normally operated by Amtrak.

Metrolink trains 900 and 901, which operate between Los Angeles and downtown Burbank, were canceled. The trainset was used for service from Moorpark.

Ventura County Line trains 109 and 113 and train 116 were annulled on January 12. Passengers for train 113 were asked to use train 115, which departs approximately 45 minutes later.

By Thursday, the Orange County Line remained closed just south of San Clemente Pier. City of San Clemente officials authorized night work so Metrolink crews could begin construction of a temporary 8- to 10-foot high retaining wall to prevent the slide area from pushing more soil onto the single track in the area. Valdez said the wall “could be up to 200 feet long and will be constructed of steel beams and timber cross-sections.” Holes for the beams were created using a large rotary drill rather than using a pile driver to minimize the effects of vibration on the already unstable slide area.

He added, “Upon completion of the wall, the track will be cleared of debris and train operations should be able to resume.”

He estimated normal Metrolink train operations south of San Clemente would resume this morning, and that “The track should be available during the weekend for freight and Amtrak trains to resume service.”

In next-door neighbor Las Vegas, a UP train derailed near Moapa on January 12. Rain and water runoff undercut the tracks and caused 20 of a stopped freight train’s 55 cars to derail. No one was aboard the train, and all but one of the cars was empty, KLAS-TV reported. The train was headed to Salt Lake City.

A snowfall that began just after Christmas and continued into January 11 in the Reno area left fresh powder piled as high as a two-story home. National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Cylke called it the largest in the Reno-Tahoe area since 1916, depositing 19 feet of snow at the highest elevations and 6 feet in the foothills above Reno, which is in a valley. About 220 Amtrak passengers bound for Sacramento, Calif., spent Sunday night stuck in their train in deep snow west of Donner Summit.

Union Pacific issued a service disruption notice on January 11. The freight carrier told its customers, “As a result of high water, washouts, and mud and rock slides in Southern California and Southern Nevada, the Assn. of American Railroads issued our embargo request for all intermodal traffic moving between the Midwest and the Los Angeles Basin.”

UP added, the embargo was effective at noon on January 11 (PST), when “We will no longer accept impacted traffic at our intermodal terminals or on-dock facilities.”

The embargo stopped all traffic to and from the Los Angeles basin, specifically “all traffic moving between… Los Angeles area ramps” at “ICTF, City of Industry, East Los Angeles and all on-dock locations and Midwest ramps in Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, Council Bluffs, Salt Lake City and Denver.”

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FRA issues new switch guidelines

In the wake of the January 6 Norfolk Southern wreck in South Carolina that claimed nine lives, the Federal Railroad Administration on January 11 issued a safety advisory to all of the nation’s railroads to strengthen procedures for monitoring track switching operations.

The advisory states that railroads “should document when a manually operated switch in non-signaled territory is changed from the main track to a siding and returned back to the normal position for main track movements.”

The guideline added, “These actions should be communicated to all crewmembers and the train dispatcher. This increased attention and communication will better ensure that switches are not inadvertently left misaligned.”

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black, in Washington, told D:F on Friday “The focus of this guideline is primarily Amtrak’s off-corridor host freight railroads, some portions of which are ‘dark territory’ – no signals.”

Black added, “Virtually all Amtrak-owned or operated track switches that access main lines are in interlocked and signaled territory, protecting mainline trains by dropping signal aspects requiring speed reduction or a full stop well before any ‘open’ switch.”

The FRA said it issued the advisories “in response to a recent number of incidents involving trains that derailed because switches that divert them from one track to another were left in the wrong position.”

In its ongoing investigation of the NS accident in Graniteville, S.C., the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) indicated “a misaligned switch may have been one of the factors that resulted in a freight train being diverted from a main track onto a siding and into the path of parked locomotives.” The switch was apparently left reversed when the Aiken, S.C. local switcher crew went off duty.

The FRA asserted “FRA Operating Practices inspectors will aggressively monitor railroads’ adoption of this advisory to help determine if additional steps are needed.”

“An improperly lined switch invites disaster and can be easily avoided,” said FRA Acting Administrator Robert D. Jamison. “All railroads need to adopt the safety measures outlined in this advisory.”

Railroads’ operating rules currently govern the operation of manual switches and several have modified those rules in recent months.

A second accident occurred in Bieber, Calif., on the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe on January 8, two days after the wreck in Graniteville, S.C., the FRA said. Seven locomotives and 14 cars were derailed, two railroaders were injured and damage exceeded $970,000, it said.

The New York Times reported two railroads already use the procedures the FRA outlined last week, BNSF and Union Pacific. The UP had an accident last October because of a mislined switch, the agency said.

Steve Kulm, a railroad administration spokesman, said that the BNSF procedure calls for oral confirmation of switch positions between the train crew and the dispatcher, but that his agency was recommending written confirmation of the switch position, signed by two members of the crew.

Last week, a CSX freight train collided with a stopped CSX freight train on January 11 around 5:00 a.m. in the Banks, Ala. community. Neither train derailed in the accident, according to the Troy Messenger of Troy, Ala. The moving train sustained little, if any damage, but the unmanned train was heavily damaged, the newspaper reported. The main question from the scene centered on a switch that may not have been properly lined. No injuries were reported.

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Unions urge NMB to discard proposal

An amalgamation of rail and other labor organizations urged the National Mediation Board to reject “railroads’ plan to silence workers” at a January 11 protest rally, and urged workers to speak out at an NMB hearing.

A railroad industry proposal, which enjoys the support of key Bush appointees, was condemned by transportation labor unions who said it would suppress rail workers from speaking out on issues of working conditions, safety, and pay.

According to Edward Wyktind, president of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD), the regulatory changes would “use a thin disguise of new ‘filing fees’ to stifle complaints about unsafe and unfair conduct by the railroads.”

Bush appointees to the NMB, which oversees labor-management relations in the rail and air industries, according to Wytkind, are not only “doing the bidding of the giant railroads, but would also be acting in a dangerous and illogical manner” if it made it harder for front-line workers to speak up in a time of mounting safety and security challenges for the railroads.

Wytkind said the proposal would, “blow a hole in the collective bargaining system” governed by the Railway Labor Act. For more than 70 years the federal government has mandated arbitration between labor and management over these disputes with the aim of reducing disruptions in rail service.

Outside an NMB hearing room on the issue held earlier in the day, 250 rail workers marched in protest of the plan.

NMB spokeswoman Rachel Barbour told D:F on Thursday the board does not respond to press queries involving labor actions, so would have no comment.

Testifying at the hearing, George Francisco, president of the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, and chair of the Transportation Trades Department’s Rail Labor Division, termed the proposal a “hostile federal tax on our members’ right to speak out,” which would give the railroads “an upper hand over their employees, and an even greater incentive to ignore collective bargaining.”

TTD represents 35 member unions in the rail, aviation, transit, trucking, highway, longshore, maritime and related industries.

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Crossovers rebuilt for higher speeds

Three photos: Amtrak Ink

Elm Interlocking in Greensboro, N.C. was reconstructed to once again accommodate passenger trains at the historic Greensboro station. New crossovers were installed to enable trains to switch tracks at higher speeds. The story is below.


Going it alone: an update

North Carolina brings its own passenger
trains across the state; Amtrak, too

For 30 years, Amtrak and the North Carolina DOT have worked together to improve the state’s passenger rail system. Promoting transportation and economic development for its 8.5 million residents, North Carolina, much like California, stands out as a leader among states in its commitment to making passenger rail a full partner in the mix of transportation options.

Now, the state is planning to soon add a third daily Piedmont roundtrip between Raleigh and Charlotte.

Some stations

Some stations that took a lot of work to restore included Burlington and Greensboro.

In Burlington, in July 2003, the NCRR renovated its historic 1868 engine house, investing $3 million to transform it into a passenger train station with additional leaseable office space. A North Carolina Railroad history museum recently opened in the building’s center atrium, showcasing artifacts and photographs of the 150-year-old railroad.

In Greensboro, which is the largest station in the state, the 1927 depot is the crown jewel of North Carolina stations. Restoration began in 2001 and included the complete renovation of the station and nearby Railway Express Agency building. Nearby tracks have been realigned to once again accommodate passenger train stops along this busy section of railroad. Completed in August 2003, the depot now serves as a multi-modal center for the state’s third largest city. One of the two original first floor waiting rooms is used for civic and social functions, while the other will be used for Amtrak passengers. Now being added are pedestrian and baggage tunnels and a new platform. All work should be completed this summer, when Amtrak passengers will transfer back to the new Greensboro Depot from its current location. Total project cost is $30 million.

The High Point station, built in 1907 by the Southern Ry., is located at street level with the tracks and platform situated 30 feet below in an open cut. Renovating the historic building began in fall 2001 and was completed late last year for $6.8 million.

At Kannapolis, the newly completed 6,800 square-foot building provides an expanded and improved Amtrak passenger waiting room. The remaining space will be leased or used by the city. The new station is in the heart of downtown, across from the Dale Earnhardt memorial. State and local funds paid for the $2.7 million project.

Southern Ry. built the Raleigh Amtrak station in 1950, but service was discontinued at the station 14 years later. Passenger train service resumed in 1984 and the station was renovated in 2000. Since Raleigh is one of the busiest stations in North Carolina and in the South, Amtrak spent more than $580,000 to expand the waiting room space and to add a first-class passenger lounge and additional parking. State funds are programmed to add long-term parking.

Other renovated old-time stations include Salisbury, built in 1908, halfway between Washington and Atlanta, and at the eastern terminus of the railroad to Asheville and Tennessee. The renovated Southern Pines station, originally built in 1899 by the Raleigh and Augusta Railroad, was reopened to passengers in mid-December after an $800,000 restoration. Located in the heart of downtown, half of the depot will continue to serve Amtrak passengers and the town will lease the remaining space for retail or office use. The restoration project was paid for with state funds.

In Charlotte, new construction is underway. Since the current Amtrak station is located in Norfolk Southern’s freight yard two miles from the city center, the state has worked for the past several years on plans for a new multi-modal center. NCDOT purchased property for the center, investing nearly $30 million in state funds, so far. Development for the station and related track improvements is estimated to cost between $110-207 million, but a specific construction date has not yet been set.

Armed with a detailed plan for passenger rail, North Carolina has invested almost $200 million in rail-related projects over the past 10 years. These projects include infrastructure development, right-of-way and equipment acquisition and station improvements, reports the January edition of Amtrak ink, the national railroad’s monthly employee newspaper.

The primary passenger rail corridor in North Carolina runs through its three most populous regions including the major cities of Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh.

Amtrak’s Carolinian and the state-owned Piedmont both serve the Raleigh-Charlotte corridor and are state-supported services. Plans to improve that state-owned corridor make it one of the most promising nationwide.

The Carolinian travels daily between Charlotte and New York City, with stops in Raleigh, Richmond, Washington and Philadelphia, and has long been one of Amtrak’s most successful state-supported services. It carried more than 300,000 riders last year.

Last fall, the service experienced major improvements. When Amtrak quit mail and express operations, more than one-half hour in each direction cut the travel time between Charlotte and New York. In addition, Amtrak and NCDOT partnered to re-equip the train with 70-seat Capstone coaches – recently refurbished Amfleet I cars. They also added another coach.

The Piedmont, which operates with state-owned equipment, makes daily trips between Raleigh and Charlotte – but after nearly 10 years’ service, the Piedmont equipment is showing its age, so NCDOT is renovating the five Heritage-style coaches and two lounge cars currently in service. They are 50 years old – or more.

They are also rebuilding a “new” combination coach and baggage car to accommodate checked service. Years ago, such a car would have been called a “combine.” The first refurbished cars are expected to be in service this summer.

In addition to these two trains, four other long-distance trains – the New York City-Miami Silver Star and Silver Meteor, the New York-Savannah Palmetto and the New York-New Orleans Crescent – serve the state.

State-supported trains, like the Carolinian and the Piedmont, make up about half of all Amtrak trains and are operated in 13 states. From October 2003 to September 2004, those states paid Amtrak more than $135 million to operate these trains, from which Amtrak received an additional $155 million in passenger ticket revenue. North Carolina paid Amtrak $2.7 million to support the Carolinian and Piedmont services – and those services generated nearly $16.5 million in ticket revenue.

For state-supported trains, Amtrak generally provides a number of services, ranging from operating crews to maintenance of equipment to marketing and promotions.

Amtrak also works with the host railroads in the states that provide dispatching, signals, communications and maintenance-of-way services.

Amtrak’s Strategic Planning and Contract Administration department, led by Vice-President Gil Mallery, works with state supported passenger rail service around the country and is also responsible for the evaluation of current rail corridors.

Working with its state partners, Amtrak unveiled an analysis of potential corridor development in a number of regions throughout the country. The study was included in Amtrak’s Strategic Five-year plan released last summer.

North Carolina’s Raleigh-Charlotte corridor is one of eight that Amtrak has classified as “Tier I;” those that are best positioned for potential federal funding and development.

Tier I corridors meet a set of criteria that includes full support of state and local officials and the freight railroads, as well as detailed capital expense and operating plans.

“Amtrak values its relationships with its state partners,” said Mallery. He added, “With their financial support and our operational know-how, passenger rail helps spur economic development and meets the mobility needs of millions of people across the country.”

Two NC Trains pass at High Point Station

The two North Carolina-supported passenger trains, the Piedmont, at left, and the Carolinian pass each other at High Point, N.C.

One of North Carolina’s greatest assets is the state-owned North Carolina Railroad (NCRR), a 317-mile corridor that extends from Charlotte to the deep-water port of Morehead City. The NCRR operates as a state owned entity with an independent board of directors and staff. The Norfolk Southern Railroad maintains and dispatches the NCRR.

What you see in North Carolina is rare – a state that owns its own railroad that is maintained by another railroad. But thanks to the partnership with Norfolk Southern (NS) and Amtrak, the state is making incremental changes that are yielding real and measurable improvements,” said Amtrak President David Gunn during a recent visit to North Carolina.

Working with NCRR, NS and Amtrak, NCDOT recently completed more than $25 million in track and signal improvements to upgrade the Raleigh-Greensboro segment of the corridor. These improvements constitute Phase I of a multi-phase plan to enhance safety, efficiency and capacity for freight and passenger trains.

“Already we’ve reduced travel time by 30 minutes, making the train an even more attractive travel option,” said North Carolina Deputy Transportation Secretary David King.

Greensboro Depot

The renovated 1927 Greensboro, N.C., depot now serves as a transportation hub combining local and regional transit services, buses and taxi service. Passenger train service will return to the station this summer once all trackwork is completed, and new tunnels and platforms are built.

Schedule Images

NCDOT Rail Division

The track and signal improvements include lengthening three passing sidings, upgrading of two rail interchanges, banking some portions of track and installing a new centralized traffic control system. Phase II of the corridor improvement project will focus on the Greensboro to Charlotte segment, and includes new double-track, curve elevation and faster turnouts. Work on phase II begins this year, and should be completed in two to three years. NCDOT is also working with communities across the state to improve safety at grade crossings by consolidating and closing crossings where possible, and installing conventional and enhanced traffic control devices at all remaining crossings.

The NCDOT Rail Division’s Engineering and Safety branch last month reached a milestone. Working with the Federal Railroad Administration, in late December the branch closed its 100th crossing since the effort began in 1993. Of these 100 closures, 40 crossed the Raleigh-Charlotte corridor.

The state DOT is also restoring or building new stations at every passenger stop, including developing multi-modal centers where practical. Millions of dollars in federal, state and local funds have been invested in the station program.

Station restorations have been completed in Burlington, Greensboro, Hamlet, High Point, Rocky Mount, Salisbury, Selma, Southern Pines and Wilson. Construction of a new Kannapolis station was completed in December. Additionally, the department has purchased 27 acres in uptown Charlotte and is planning to build a world-class multi-modal station that will house intercity rail, commuter rail, and high-speed rail service, as well as local transit and taxi services.

Whether renovating historic stations or building new ones, North Carolina creates facilities that not only meet vital transportation needs, but also serve other community uses.

The dual-purpose facilities promote train travel to various audiences and help establish the station as a central part of the community.

“We’ve found that every dollar invested in a station nearly doubles its return on investment with transportation and economic benefits. In many areas, station restorations have served as a catalyst for other nearby building renovations or development,” said NCDOT Assistant Director for Operations Allan Paul.

For train schedules, go to www.bytrain.org. For tickets and details, call Amtrak at 1-800-USA RAIL.

While running current operations, the NCDOT Rail Division continues to plan for the future, envisioning additional frequencies of state-sponsored passenger trains.

NCDOT has purchased nearly 100 miles of railroad right-of-way and is writing plans to restore it to service by extending passenger service to Asheville as well as Wilmington, and southeastern North Carolina.

North Carolina has become a leader in advancing passenger rail service throughout the Southeast. The Charlotte-Raleigh corridor is part of the larger Washington-Charlotte corridor, linking the Southeast with the Northeast Corridor.

Partnering with the Commonwealth of Virginia, North Carolina is advancing plans to restore service to the abandoned route between Raleigh and Petersburg in the next several years. The former Seaboard Air Line mainline (known as the S Line), now part of CSX, is more direct than the current routing via Selma, Wilson and Rocky Mount – the A Line, formerly the former Atlantic Coast Line –and will reduce travel time and provide more capacity to the overall Southeast rail network.

Not all trains will use the new route, keeping service along the existing corridor, including Selma and Wilson and Rocky Mount.

“We know that passenger rail service is a critical component of our transportation infrastructure and our economy, and we’re very optimistic about its future,” said NCDOT Rail Director Patrick Simmons.

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BUILDERS LINES...  Builders’ lines...

Greenbriar is buying EMD

By a staff writer

Greenbriar Equity Group LLC and Berkshire Partners LLC that they have reached a “definitive agreement” in which GM will sell its Electro-Motive Division (EMD) to an investor group led by Greenbriar and Berkshire Partners. Terms of the transaction will not be disclosed, the three firms said in a joint press release on January 12 in Detroit.

The sale agreement “covers substantially all of the Electro-Motive businesses, including North American and international locomotives; power, marine and industrial products,” the firms stated.

Spare parts and parts rebuild business and all of EMD’s locomotive maintenance contracts worldwide are included. Both the LaGrange, Ill., and London, Ont., manufacturing facilities are included in the agreement.

Reuters reported its “money-losing locomotive unit” purchase price will likely be under $500 million, but the deal will include an agreement to give GM a portion of the future profits of the unit if it earns more than planned, a source said. “GM will inform employees with Electro-Motive Tuesday about the deal and will finalize the sale tomorrow, one source said,” according to Reuters on January 11.

Greenbriar Equity Group is a $700 million equity fund run by former Chrysler Corp. vice-chairman Gerald Greenwald, and Boston-based Berkshire Partners, a $3.5 billion buyout fund.

The proposed sale is contingent on completing negotiations with the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) and the subsequent ratification by its members. The transaction is expected to close between now and March 31.

“Greenbriar and Berkshire Partners have a long-term commitment to creating value in the railroad industry that extends back to the 1980s. Electro-Motive has outstanding products, employees and a truly global franchise, and we believe the company’s prospects are bright,” stated Reginald Jones, a managing partner of Greenbriar Equity Group.

“GM is pleased to have Greenbriar and Berkshire Partners acquiring the company,” said William Happel, GM vice-president and general manager of Electro-Motive.

He said “These groups have a long-established reputation for excellence as rail industry investors and financiers. As an independent company with access to the resources of the new owners, Electro-Motive will be well positioned to continue to service its customers and grow the business.”

Electro-Motive employs approximately 2,600 hourly and salaried people. The company designs, manufactures, markets, sells, and services freight and passenger diesel-electric locomotives and diesel marine and power generation products for use worldwide.

Since the early 1930s, EMD and its associates have produced more than 58,000 diesel-electric locomotives for customers in 73 countries, including Amtrak. EMD diesel engines are used in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Greenbriar Equity Group LLC states it is “focused exclusively on making private equity investments in the global transportation industry, including companies in freight and passenger transport, commercial aerospace, automotive, logistics, and related sectors.”

Greenbriar and Berkshire Partners LLC “have entered into a strategic joint venture and co-investment agreement to address transportation and related investment opportunities.”

Greenbriar reports it manages $700 million of “committed limited partner capital and co-investment commitments and, together with Berkshire, has access to more than $1 billion for investment in privately negotiated equity investments within the transportation industry.”

Berkshire Partners reports it has “invested in mid-sized private companies for the past 20 years through six investment funds with aggregate capital commitments of approximately $3.5 billion.”

The firm’s investment strategy “is to seek companies that have strong growth prospects and to partner with talented management teams who are interested in being owners of the companies they operate.” Berkshire says it has developed specific industry experience in several areas, including consumer products, industrial manufacturing, transportation, communications, business services, retailing and related services. Berkshire has been an investor “in more than 80 operating companies with more than $11 billion of acquisition value and combined revenues in excess of $15.0 billion.”

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GE locomotive plant adds builders

GE Transportation, fresh off a year in which it produced a near-record 826 locomotives, launched an array of new products and added about 200 jobs – said last week it plans to hire another 200 new skilled workers beginning February 1.

All of the new positions, which are available to welders, assemblers, machinists and fabricators with at least seven years of professional experience in their fields, are hourly positions, according to the January 13 Erie Times-News.

“The reason we bring these 200 workers on right now is 2005 is looking very strong,” GE Transportation spokesman Patrick Jarvis said.

GE Transportation is adding workers even though the company expects to fall short of its 2004 locomotive production total of 826.

While locomotive production during the first two quarters of the year are expected to mirror the first two quarters in 2004, Jarvis said it is still too early to say whether the company will approach its 2004 performance during the second half of 2005.

Instead, the company is conservatively projecting that locomotive production will outpace its 2003 total of 526 – but GE Transportation is still facing a labor shortage, largely because it is anticipating significant increases in some of its other production lines and is in the first year of producing its new “Evolution Series” locomotive.

That growth can be seen in several areas.

GE Transportation this month began building gearboxes for wind turbines that will be sold to GE Wind. The new product is expected to generate between $30 million and $40 million in new business for the company in 2005, officials have said.

Orders for locomotive modernization kits are also on the rise. GE Transportation plans to produce about 200 kits. Half of that total will be built for Kazakhstan’s largest railroad company. GE Transportation has also been making inroads in selling the kits in Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Russia, as well as in North America.

GE Transportation, like many manufacturing companies, is conservative about taking on new workers, but its across-the-board growth, coupled with an array of new markets overseas, has the company confident it will need the 200 new workers for the long term, Jarvis said.

“It costs us money to hire, train and bring on line a new worker,” Jarvis said. “Our goal is these 200 workers are not short-term hires.”

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COMMUTER LINES...  Commuter lines...

MTA ponders New York tunnel

New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently approved a $500,000 study of the Park Avenue tunnel that leads into Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.

Metro-North Railroad officials said they hope the study will determine how well the tunnel is ventilated and how it would be evacuated in a fire or electrical blackout, according to the Stamford Advocate of January 10.

“The tunnel was built nearly 100 years ago, and we really haven’t changed the ventilation or the fire exits since then,” railroad spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said. She added, “So it’s probably due.”

The Park Avenue tunnel, which is a gateway for nearly 550 Metro-North trains a day, was built in 1874 and enclosed in 1921. It was renovated in 1990, but recent events, including the August 2003 blackout, has left Metro-North officials wondering whether it needs upgrades.

“When we had the blackout, there were nine trains and 1,000 customers stuck in the tunnel,” said Dan Brucker, another railroad spokesman. “And while we got every person out within an hour and it was successful, there are still some real challenges for that tunnel.”

The tunnel stretches from 97th Street to 42nd Street in New York City and is relatively untested for emergencies, Brucker said.

Since 1984, Metro-North has simulated disasters such as train collisions and smoke-outs in the tunnel, but railroad officials agree a more comprehensive study could produce new information.

“We’ve made good use of what we’ve done,” Brucker said. “But there’s still more we might want to know in dealing with or being prepared for an emergency situation.”

According to an April 2004 study by the American Public Transportation Assn. in Washington, D.C., security was a priority for many transit agencies, even before September 11, 2001, but funding has been scarce.

The study reports about $6 billion is needed for security enhancements nationwide, but cites a funding shortfall of about $1.3 billion.

Most of the money has been spent on training staff and upgrading emergency procedures and little has been allotted to infrastructure and other capital improvements, said Greg Hull, APTA’s director of operations and security.

“There just haven’t been funds dedicated to capital projects,” Hull said.

“It’s been a real dilemma for the transportation industry.”

Brucker said Metro-North’s decision to study the tunnel was not based on terrorism concerns.

“If anything, we’re more focused on blackouts, fires or any other complications of that nature,” he said.

The MTA budgeted for the study and Metro-North will not receive financial assistance from the federal government, Brucker said.

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New Mexico commuter rail project plods on

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and state Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught on Friday touted the state’s acquisition of an 18-mile rail corridor between Santa Fe and Lamy as another move toward a regional commuter rail system.

The governor said commuter trains should be running between Albuquerque and Santa Fe by 2008.

“It will get people out of their cars and thus reduce traffic congestion,” Richardson said during a news conference at the Roundhouse, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Faught stopped short of saying definitively that Santa Fe also would get a local commuter line extending to Eldorado or Lamy along the 18-mile corridor that the state has acquired – a plan that’s been discussed for years.

“We need to work on getting” an Albuquerque-Santa Fe commuter service “running first,” Faught said, before deciding whether the route between the City Different, Eldorado or Lamy is feasible for commuter service.

“It’s a pretty slow track, so we’re not even sure if that would work,” she said.

Richardson, flanked by city and state leaders, beamed about the state’s plans to create a regional commuter service from Belen to Albuquerque and then northward into Santa Fe, using a Burlington Northern and Santa Fe line and part of the 18-mile Lamy corridor.

Richardson said commuter trains should be running between Belen and Santa Fe in about three years.

With $4.6 million in state funds and $5.4 million from the federal government, the city of Santa Fe bought the 18-mile corridor from Santa Fe Southern Ry.

While Santa Fe Southern will retain ownership of the train and continue its tourist excursions from the downtown Rail yard to Lamy, the state took over the tracks and land from Santa Fe, and will manage operation of the planned regional commuter service from the Duke City into Santa Fe.

Faught said plans call for laying an additional 14 miles of train tracks to connect BNSF tracks near the town of Cochiti northward to Santa Fe.

“We still need to identify a proper route,” Faught said, using a map showing the Santa Fe-Lamy tracks and their proximity to BNSF as a reference guide.

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Schwarzenegger downplays rail travel

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) last week recommended scrapping the state’s High Speed Rail Authority, with its remnant responsibilities folded into the state’s Transportation Commission.

“Californians can’t get from place to place on little fairy wings,” the governor said in his State of the State message.

“This is a car-centered state. We need roads,” he said.

The governor’s proposal, which some legislators said threatened well-established passenger rail initiatives in the state, contrasts with the policies of California’s two previous governors, one of whom declared at a highway opening that the state had “just built its last freeway.”

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APTA HIGHLIGHTS...  APTA Highlights...

Here are some other transit headlines, from the pages of Passenger Transport, the weekly newspaper of the public transportation industry published by the non-profit American Public Transportation Assn. For more news from Passenger Transport and subscription information, visit the APTA web site at http://www.apta.com/news/pt.

SunLine Introduces Hydrogen-Electric Hybrid Bus

The SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms, Calif., recently became the first public transportation agency to place a hydrogen-electric hybrid bus in revenue service. The introduction of the hybrid bus followed a public celebration at the system’s headquarters near Palm Springs.

The innovative bus operates with an electric drive system coupled with a hydrogen-fueled Ford V-10 internal combustion engine. According to SunLine, the hybrid engine produces virtually zero emissions of harmful carbons and other “greenhouse” gases produced by traditional fossil fuel-burning engines.

Continuing its work with alternative fuels, SunLine has announced its plans to roll out a 100 percent hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle later this year.

The introduction of the hybrid bus is the latest step in SunLine’s ongoing commitment to alternative fuels. The system converted its entire bus fleet overnight to natural gas in 1994, and some years later it began running its fleet on HCNG, a fuel mixture comprised of 20 percent hydrogen and 80 percent natural gas.

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Maull Leaves Palm Tran as Executive Director

Perry J. Maull, executive director of Palm Tran in West Palm Beach, Fla., since 1999, stepped down from the post, effective December 31, to pursue other public transportation career opportunities.

Before joining Palm Tran, Maull served as director of the Regional Transit System in Gainesville, Fla.; as a project manager for Carr Smith Associates/The Corradino Group; and as transit director for Space Coast Area Transit in Cocoa, Fla. His career in public transportation spans some 30 years.

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Transit Service Begins in Wells County, Ind.

The Wells County Council on Aging in Bluffton, Ind., added public transit to its existing demand-response services for seniors and persons with disabilities as of January 3. Bonnie Valind, executive director of the council, also is in charge of the new transit service, called WOW! or Wells on Wheels.

Wells County is a rural Indiana county located about 20 miles south of Fort Wayne, with a countywide population of less than 30,000.

The WOW! service operates with six modified vans, five of which are equipped with wheelchair lifts. The council requests advance notice of at least 24 hours to schedule pickups.

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Baton Rouge System Reaches Contract with ATU

The Capital Area Transit System in Baton Rouge, La., has entered into a new contract with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1546. The CATS board approved the contract December 14, following ratification by the union in November.

The new contract, which runs through 2005, guarantees an immediate 2 percent pay raise, along with a one-time bonus ranging from $70 to $275.

CATS noted that the previous union contract had expired in late 2003, but that negotiations were delayed due to the fact that the executive director’s position was vacant. The system hired Dwight Brashear for the top job in early February 2004, and he began exploring the possibilities of a new contract around April.

The union represents approximately 175 CATS employees.

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Special Section on Sustainability

The January 10 issue of Passenger Transport includes a special section devoted to the connections between public transportation and sustainability. Resources in the section include a graphic developed by the International Assn. of Public Transport (UITP); an overview from Julie Hoover of Parsons Brinckerhoff; reports from MTA New York City Transit and Portland’s TriMet; and information on APTA’s strategies for promoting sustainability, including a workshop planned for this July in New York City.

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FREIGHT LINES...  Freight lines...

UP passes by at Feather River Canyon in Hawley, Ca.

For NCI: Steve Schmollinger

This has been a hard winter for Union Pacific in California. In better days, a UP freight train, led by a Dash 8-40C, traveled the Feather River Canyon in Hawley, Calif., in December 1995. A hot UP pig train meets an eastbound APL double-stack at Hawley at dusk with the Sierra Nevada under a thick blanket of snow.


UP still suffers congestion woes

Snowstorms aren’t helping, either

Congestion woes continue to plague Union Pacific Corp. several months after it vowed to beef up service to ease massive logjams, particularly in Southern California.

Union Pacific has added thousands of employees and hundreds of locomotives nationwide, but the country’s largest railroad is struggling to keep up with surging freight volumes, according to customers and analysts.

Heavy storms over the last two weeks haven’t helped, either. Rain that generated mudslides have finally ended, and Los Angeles weather for the next three days is expected to be mostly sunny with temperatures in the low 70s. [See related lead story on page 1. – Ed.]

Union Pacific said on Friday, according to The AP, heavy rain in California and Nevada would reduce its capacity between the Los Angeles Basin and points farther east by about one-third. The railroad said it couldn’t immediately estimate the financial impact of the service disruptions.

At least one line will take two weeks or longer to restore. There's no estimate on another line that goes north from Los Angeles to Oakland

UP said the company is working 24 hours a day to restore service, and it has rerouted a number of trains, some onto Burlington Northern and Santa Fe lines.

Los Angeles Times writer James F. Peltz told his readers last week, “It’s terrible. We’re still seeing eight-to-10-day delays,” said Brian Horowitz, owner of On the Edge Marketing, a Lake Forest marketer of all-terrain vehicles and other products that ships via UP.

About one-quarter of UP’s freight either originates in Southern California or ends up there. Among what it transports are imports from Asia that flow through the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, which have managed to unsnarl their waterborne traffic tangle.

For the railroad, “congestion and service issues still abound,” analyst Donald Broughton of A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. said in a report a fortnight ago.

It’s taking 24 to 36 hours longer than normal for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. in Torrance to get repair parts from Japan through the Los Angeles port and out to its main distribution warehouse in Ontario, said spokesman Xavier Dominicis.

That delays aren’t as bad as the four-day holdups Toyota experienced in October, when a crush of holiday shipping brought near-record port congestion, but it’s still “not a good situation,” he said.

Another UP customer, Imperial County feed supplier Randy Armstrong, said he was forced to find alternative sources of corn feed last week.

“I had to truck some down from Los Angeles” at an added cost of $1,300, said Armstrong, grain division manager at Agri-Feed Industries.

Union Pacific spokesman John Bromley said that although the railroad’s operations were improving, “We’re not saying it’s fixed. The service is not to the level we want.”

That was before heavy rains and even snow brought mudslides and other problems.

The Omaha-based railroad, which operates 33,000 miles of track from the Midwest to the West Coast, began suffering major bottlenecks last spring. It was the second time in six years that it had experienced severe congestion problems.

Union Pacific blamed the problems mainly on two events that caught it off guard: a surge in the U.S. economy and crew shortages brought on by changes in railroad labor laws that sparked a rash of retirements.

Deliveries of a wide variety of products, including lumber and consumer electronics, were delayed as UP’s trains slowed to below-average speeds or spent too much time sitting idle. Some shippers scrambled to shift their loads to the other major railroad serving California, Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Corp.

UP responded by aggressively hiring workers and buying new locomotives. Although employee training takes time, UP still should be performing better by now, Broughton wrote in his report.

Another analyst, Thomas Wadewitz of Bear, Stearns & Co., cited “a trend of deterioration” in the railroad’s service in downgrading his rating on Union Pacific’s stock Friday.

The stock closed the week at $64.80 a share, down 80 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange.

Broughton also complained that UP “isn’t even willing to suggest that it has a plan or has a time frame in which we should expect to see service begin to improve.”

UP’s Bromley said the carrier did have a plan.

The analysts “are getting impatient to see results,” Bromley said, “but it’s going to take time and we’ve never promised anyone any deadline.”

In the first nine months of 2004, Union Pacific’s profit tumbled 49 percent from a year earlier, to $525 million from $1.03 billion, despite a 5 percent gain in revenue to $9 billion from $8.6 billion.

The company’s problems echo congestion snafus that dogged UP in 1997-98, and they indicate the company is straining to keep up with a U.S. economy that is dependent on the railroad to keep goods flowing, said John Husing, an independent economist in Redlands.

“They’ve never really gotten in front of the curve,” he said. “They didn’t understand the volume that would come at them.”

Ports in Southern California and elsewhere on the Pacific Coast should brace for a swell of cargo from China, after the recent elimination of restrictions on that country’s apparel and textile exports by the World Trade Organization, shipping experts have said.

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STB to conduct several hearings

The Surface Transportation Board says it will conduct an open voting conference at 10:00 a.m., January 19.

Board members will elect a vice-chairman and will discuss publicly among themselves, and vote on several cases.

• Public Service Company of Colorado doing business as Xcel Energy v. Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Ry., STB Docket No. 42057.

• Delaware & Hudson Ry. Discontinuance of Trackage Rights Exemption in Susquehanna County, PA, and Broome, Tioga, Chemung, Steuben, Allegany, Livingston, Wyoming, Erie, and Genesee Counties, NY, STB Docket No. AB-156 (Sub-No. 25X).

Embraced cases:

• Canadian Pacific Ry. – Trackage Rights Exemption – Norfolk Southern Ry., STB Finance Docket No. 34561, and Norfolk Southern Ry. – Trackage Rights Exemption – Delaware and Hudson Ry., STB Finance Docket No. 34562.

• CSX Corp. and CSX Transportation, Inc., Norfolk Southern Corp. and Norfolk Southern Ry. – Control and Operating Leases/Agreements—Conrail Inc. and Consolidated Rail Corporation [Petition to Approve Settlement Agreement and Exempt Embraced Transactions], STB Finance Docket No. 33388 (Sub-No. 95).

• Wheeling & Lake Erie Ry. – Trackage Rights Exemption – Norfolk Southern Railway Co. Between Bellevue and Toledo, Ohio, STB Finance Docket No. 33388 (Sub-No. 95).

• Wheeling & Lake Erie Ry. – Trackage Rights Exemption – Norfolk Southern Ry. Co. in Cleveland, Ohio, STB Finance Docket No. 33388 (Sub-No. 97).

• Norfolk Southern Ry. – Trackage Rights Exemption – Wheeling & Lake Erie Ry. between Clairton, Penn. and Bellevue, Ohio, STB Finance Docket No. 33388 (Sub-No. 98).

• Wheeling & Lake Erie Ry. – Petition for Exemption – Purchase of the Toledo Pivot Bridge – Norfolk Southern Ry., STB Finance Docket No. 33388 (Sub-No. 99).

• Wheeling & Lake Erie Ry. – Lease and Operation Exemption – Norfolk and Western Ry. dock at Huron, Ohio, STB Finance Docket No. 32516 (Sub-No. 1).

Wheeling & Erie Ry. – Trackage Rights Exemption – Norfolk and Western Railway, STB Finance Docket No. 32525 (Sub-No. 1).

• SMS Rail Service, Inc. –Petition for Declaratory Order, STB Finance Docket No. 34483.

• Union Pacific Corp., Union Pacific Railroad, and Missouri Pacific Railroad – Control and Merger – Southern Pacific Rail Corp., Southern Pacific Transportation Co., St. Louis Southwestern Ry., SPCSL Corp., and The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (Arbitration Review), STB Finance Docket No. 32760 (Sub-No. 43).

• Wisconsin & Southern Railroad – Acquisition Exemption – Union Pacific Railroad, STB Finance Docket No. 34633.

• Lamoille Valley Railroad – Abandonment and Discontinuance of Trackage Rights Exemption in Caledonia, Washington, Orleans, Lamoille, and Franklin Counties, Vermont, STB Docket No. AB-444 (Sub-No. 1X).

• Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad – Abandonment Exemption – in Marquette County, Mich., STB Docket No. AB-68 (Sub-No. 4X).

• Minnesota Commercial Railway Company – Adverse Discontinuance – in Ramsey County, Minn., STB Docket No. AB-882.

• MT Properties, Inc. – Adverse Abandonment—in Ramsey County, MN, STB Docket No. AB-884.

• Motor Carrier Bureaus – Periodic Review Proceeding, STB Ex Parte No. 656.

The STB’s decision announcing the voting-conference agenda was issued on January 12, 2005 in Meetings of the Board, STB Ex Parte No. 333. That decision is available for viewing and downloading via the agency’s Web site at http://www.stb.dot.gov.

The hearings will be conducted on the 7th floor of the STB’s headquarters in the Mercury Building, 1925 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.

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Rail freight traffic rises to start new year

Freight traffic on U.S. railroads started 2005 on a positive note with gains in both carload freight and intermodal volume compared to the first week of last year, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported on Thursday.

Carload freight during the week ending January 8 totaled 320,541 cars, up 1.2 percent from last year, with loadings up 4.8 percent in the East but down 1.4 percent in the West. Intermodal traffic, which isn’t included in the carload data, totaled 206,544 trailers or containers, up 9.4 percent from the comparable week last year. Total volume was estimated at 29.5 billion ton-miles, up 2.1 percent from last year.

Eight of 19 carload commodity groups registered gains in comparison with last year, with lumber and wood products up 19.3 percent; metallic ores up 7.0 percent and coal up 4.7 percent. Among 11 commodities showing declines from last year were waste and scrap materials down 16.1 percent; grain mill products off 13.6 percent; and grain down 7.7 percent.

Railroads reporting to AAR account for 88 percent of U.S. carload freight and 95 percent of rail intermodal volume. When the U.S. operations of Canadian railroads are included, the figures increase to 95 percent and 100 percent. Railroads provide more than 40 percent of the nation’s intercity freight transportation, more than any other mode, and rail traffic figures are regarded as an important economic indicator.

Both carload freight and intermodal volume were down on Canada’s railroads during the week ended January 8. Carload volume totaled 61,454 cars. Intermodal traffic totaled 36,767 trailers or containers, down 7.7 percent from last year.

Combined volume for the first week of 2005 on 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads totaled 381,995 carloads, up 0.7 percent from last year and 243,311 trailers and containers, up 6.5 percent from last year.

The AAR also reported that originated carload freight on the Mexican railroad Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM) during the week ended January 8 totaled 8,152 cars, up 4.3 percent from last year. TFM reported intermodal volume of 2,500 originated trailers or containers, up 9.7 percent from the first week of 2004.

The ARR is online at www.aar.org.

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STOCKS...  Selected Friday closing quotes...

Source: CBSMarketWatch.com

  Friday One Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)46.1145.11
Canadian National (CNI)56.6956.10
Canadian Pacific (CP) 33.0431.80
CSX (CSX)38.4438.85
Florida East Coast (FLA)42.8242.18
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)25.2227.00
Kansas City Southern (KSU)16.6516.19
Norfolk Southern (NSC)36.2236.46
Providence & Worcester (PWX)12.9313.28
Union Pacific (UNP)61.8464.80

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WE GET LETTERS...  We get letters...

Dear Editor:

Why include information on Boston’s Silver Line? It is a rubber-tired bus running on still more concrete. It is a giant step backward in transit for Boston. I expect only rail-oriented news in the National Corridors web site. Do not bother featuring the Cleveland BRT either. It is another rubber tired application that should have been rail. And by the way, the Las Vegas monorail is not steel rail either. Let APTA wax endlessly about rubber tired vehicles, devote National Corridors strictly to rail applications and news, which is its true forte.

We are a multi-modal society, and as such, we need to embrace all modes of transportation when it is appropriate. Yes, we are primarily rail oriented, but keep in mind each mode must help support other modes, hence station stops appearing more often at airports, for example. Those airports also see buses and airplanes – so they are multi-modal, integrated passenger operations. Boston’s MBTA now operates buses where tracks were originally intended to go. That’s a sea change in the T’s thinking, so we have an obligation to report that. – Ed.

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End Notes...

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the crew at leoking@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write.

Destination: Freedom is partially funded by the Surdna Foundation, and other contributors.

Journalists and others who wish to receive high quality NCI-originated images that appear in Destination:Freedom may do so at a nominal fee of $10.00 per image. “True color” Joint Photographers Group (.jpg) images average 1.7MB each. Print publishers can order images in process color (CMYK) or tagged image file format (.tif), and are nearly 6mb each. They will be snail-mailed to your address, or uploaded via file transfer protocol (FTP) to your site. All are 300 dots-per-inch.

In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other rail travel sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives – state DOTs, legislators, governor’s offices, and transportation professionals – as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists.

If you have a favorite rail link, please send the uniform resource locator address (URL) to the webmaster in care of this web site. An e-mail link appears at the bottom of the NCI web site pages to get in touch with D. M. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster in Boston.

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