Destination:Freedom Newsletter
The Newsletter of the National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
  NCI Logo Vol. 2 No. 6, February 12, 2001
Copyright © 2001, NCI, Inc.
James P. RePass, President
Leo King, Editor

A weekly North American Railroad update


The Canadian National station and office tower at London, Ont., (left), is just beginning to collapse after set charges destroyed the building to make room for a newer facility. The building was demolished on February 3.

Rail exec sees federal government
to be industry's help of last resort
By Wes Vernon
Washington Correspondent

Edward R. Hamberger, President of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), is not one to advocate a massive infusion of taxpayer dollars to underwrite the infrastructure of the freight rail industry.

But there is a lively debate going on within the ever-shrinking fraternity of Class 1 carriers as to whether the industry should drop its traditional resistance to government subsidies.

Hamberger says no, unless the government smothers the industry with regulations and taxes that leave it flat on its back.

In remarks prepared for the Transportation Table at the National Press Club on February 9, the rail industry's man in Washington lamented the failure during the last session of Congress to assist the industry by lifting an energy tax and modernizing the Railroad Retirement System

The "deficit-reduction" tax, ironically in the face of a current surplus which leaves the U.S. without a deficit to reduce, remains in place for railroads even though other modes of transportation have been relieved of this responsibility. Congress tried to get rid of this rank discrimination against a single industry, but President Clinton vetoed it. Or as Hamberger puts it, "Unfortunately, it was vetoed." The man has been around Washington long enough to know it is often prudent to express your disappointments without mentioning the name of the person in whom you are disappointed.

The effort to streamline the Railroad Retirement System was widely viewed as a "win-win" situation with rail management and rail labor seen as beneficiaries. But a small band of lawmakers killed it in spite of the overwhelming support of their colleagues.

Then there are all the threats to "re-regulate" the industry. Regulators and some lawmakers would argue with that terminology, but that's exactly what it amounts to, in Hamberger's view.

"Forced access" - i.e. compelling Class I carriers to allow competitors, large and small, to share their tracks under certain conditions where it is deemed that sufficient competition is lacking, is one example. Another is reciprocal switching, which Hamberger says would cost the industry $2.5 billion a year.

This next paragraph in Hamberger's talk jumps right out at anyone following the controversy as to whether it might be necessary to call on government help to help underwrite infrastructure of the rail industry - an advantage enjoyed by every other transportation mode:

"Any plan to open up the rail system to artificial competition will likewise see a drying up of private capital. But the need for capital investment will remain. If railroads can't get that from private investors, the only remaining source would be the taxpayer."

Hamberger said the AAR is joining the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) to back legislation providing "a modest amount of federal support from general revenue funds" to enable the small railroads to upgrade their trackage so they can carry the huge 286,000 pound freight cars that the Class Is are acquiring and handing off to them in the normal day-to-day equipment exchange. The small carriers don't have the money otherwise.

The industry is not looking for federal subsidies, "but if the government, through regulation and taxation, pushes us to the wall, there may be no choice left." Helping small carriers "so we can continue to do business with them and serve the rural communities" is also a concern.

There are, no doubt, those who would see this as a foot in the door to dilute the railroad industry's preference to be subsidy free.

In the past, Hamberger has said the business can remain more efficient if unfettered by the rules and regulations that will come with subsidies, but Norfolk-Southern, one of the large AAR members, has been pushing for subsidies to add trackage to its freight line that parallels I-81, mainly in Virginia.

If that becomes reality, it would be a major breakthrough, more than a foot in the door. And some in the industry see this new attitude as a key to survival. Railroads are not among the hottest stocks on Wall Street.

There are others who wonder if the I-81 corridor is the best place to take the first step in that direction. This is a freight-only line, and there are big plans to expand high-speed passenger rail elsewhere, with a majority of the U.S. Senate backing the High-Speed Rail Investment Act. Shouldn't a mixed freight-passenger corridor be the first test case instead?

On the other hand, there is the argument that a freight-only line is exactly where the test should begin, precisely because it would enable the Class Is to measure its effect on their own bottom line. That will be a strong factor in whether these changes really fly.

Hamberger also told his Washington audience that the AAR welcomes President Bush's campaign proposal to spend $2 billion to develop clean coal technology, a major boost for the coal carrying Class I carriers.

Amtrak's No. 286 collides into CSX freight
An Amtrak passenger train rear-ended a CSX freight train near Syracuse, N.Y. on Feb. 5, and in its latest report, the NTSB, which is investigating the incident, said the Amtrak train had accelerated to 58 mph between the time it left Syracuse station and just before it collided with the freight.

Amtrak train No. 286, operating between Niagara Falls and New York City, was about 20 minutes late when it rear-ended CSX freight train No. Q620. Sixty-one of the Amtrak train's 102 passengers and crew were injured in the 11:40 a.m. collision, but most of the injuries were minor.

CSX spokeswoman Cathy Burns, in Jacksonville, Fla., told Destination Freedom, "no one on the freight train was injured in that incident."

NTSB lead investigator Russ Quimby said preliminary results showed the engineer accelerated his train before putting the train into emergency when he saw the freight train ahead.

The Syracuse Post-Standard identified the engineer as Steven R. Gill, 48, of Rensselaer, N.Y., citing Sheriff's Department documents. Amtrak would not confirm the name, but said the engineer was put on paid leave pending the outcome of the NTSB probe into the crash. Gill had a clean record in his 30 years as an engineer, 15 of them with Amtrak.

Two F-40PH locomotives led the train, which is not standard practice on the Empire Corridor. When Gill boarded in Syracuse, only the second unit was powering the train, the newspaper reported. After pulling out of Syracuse station, Gill apparently brought the lead unit on line as well, but then forgot that he was using power from both engines as he accelerated, investigators said. The train accelerated to 58 mph as the engineer organized bulletins and track orders in his grip just before the collision.

Event recorders revealed that the passenger train had a "restricting signal." Engineers are authorized to operate at 15 mph within interlocking limits or 20 mph outside interlocking limits, but must be prepared to stop "within one-half the range of vision short of other trains or railroad equipment occupying or fouling the track; obstructions; switches not properly line for movement; derails set in the derailing position; and any signal requiring a stop," according to the current rule book both Amtrak and that part of CSX operate under.

Apparently the engineer thought he had a more favorable indication.

The CSX train, also moving at restricted speed because of traffic ahead, was moving at 7 mph when the 286 rear-ended it. The Amtrak engineer managed to slow his train to 35 mph at the time of impact. The net impact speed was 28 mph, the NTSB said.

The freight's rear car was laden with lumber, which was strewn over both mainline tracks for a time.

The engineer's blood-sugar level tested at high levels after the crash, the NTSB said. Tests are under way to determine whether the high blood sugar may have contributed to a vision problem with the engineer, and thus to the crash, Quimby said.

The NTSB found no problems with the signal system, track, or equipment on the trains. By Wednesday, investigators were conducting brake tests and sight-distance tests at the collision site, which was on a curve. Weather was not a factor, investigators said.

Going backwards in time, the Boston-Chicago line was owned by CSX, Conrail, Penn Central and New York Central.

Conductor rescues 'hanger-on'
A Boston-based assistant conductor is being credited with saving a man's life as he clung to grabirons.

Amtrak Train No. 86 was en route from Richmond, Va., to Boston, on February 5. Conductor Mo Burke, Jr. said his train made a normal station stop on track 2 at Mystic station then departed, running about 1 hour and 20 minutes late. The train was traveling at about 65 mph when they discovered the extra rider.

Burke later stated, "As the train picked up speed, and my assistant conductors went through the train to do their sweep for the next stop, which was Westerly, R.I., Conductor Charles Amaru, Jr. walked toward the cafe car and heard a banging noise on the vestibule door (adjacent to the side of track one) in the fifth car of the train. He slid open the door and found a male passenger hanging on the grabirons for dear life as the train was traveling 60-plus mph."

Burke said Charles Amaru Jr. tried to alert the engineer on the radio to bring the train to a safe stop, but he "did not hear Conductor Amaru's transmission. Not wanting to put the train in emergency, as the man might fall from the train with the sudden stop, he grabbed the man and was able to pull him into the vestibule safely."

Burke said he notified Rules Examiner Paul Carroll - who was aboard the train - and The Boston Product Line Office.

"Brother Amaru should get a letter for saving Mr. Gold's life. He thought of others and did his job in a very professional way," Burke stated later.


Amtrak's 20-year capital plan reported in D:F last week contains 11 high-speed corridors. The plan calls for $1.5 billion in federal capital each year, and is intended to accelerate plans for high-speed service in those federally designated corridors with the nation's busiest traffic, and get billions more in non-federal investment. About 65 percent would be spent outside the Northeast Corridor. Another intent is to cut trip times between major metropolitan areas. For example, in the Northeast, Washington to New York (Acela Express, non-stop), travel time would be reduced from 2:28 to 2:05, saving 23 minutes. In the Southeast, Charlotte to Atlanta, 5:50 to 3:30, saving a robust 2:20; in the Midwest, Chicago to St. Louis, 5:45 to 3:50 saving nearly two hours; and in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle to Portland, from 3:30 to 2:30, saving an hour.

Take the 'T,' indeed:

Delta Air helps commuting employees

Beginning on April 1, Delta Airlines will pay for its employees commuting fares, including MBTA rides.

Delta Air Lines introduced the program on Feb. 6 to offer transportation subsidies to its 2,500 Boston-based employees. The company stated, in a press release, "The airline's employees will have the opportunity to use public transportation at free or significantly reduced rates" beginning on April Fool's day.

The company's Randy Harrison said the firm "regularly evaluates the environmental impact our operations have at key airports across the country," and the acting director of environmental services for the Atlanta-based airline added, "Boston's public transportation system provides convenient service to Logan from morning to night. This gives Delta people the opportunity to play an important role in reducing the number of vehicles that enter airport property each day."

He said participation in the program is voluntary, and Delta expects at least several hundred employees to take advantage of the subsidies.

He said Delta "will cover the full monthly fee for employees choosing Logan Express bus service, and will pay full fees for employees commuting from most zones on the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA)."

More expresses slated for March
Look for more weekday Acela Express trips added to the Northeast Corridor timetable on March 5, a Monday.

Cinders, a newsletter from the Philadelphia Chapter, National Railway Historical Society, reports that train 2180 will leave Washington at 6:50 a.m. and operate non-stop to New York City and arrive at 9:18 a.m.

Train 2153 will leave New York at 3:55 p.m. and operate non-stop to Washington arriving at 6:23 p.m.

Meanwhile, train 2153 will leave Boston at 6:15 a.m. and stop at Back Bay, Route 128, Providence, and New Haven, and arrive Penn Station, New York, at 9:42 a.m. Train 2170 will leave New York at 6:02 p.m. and stop at Stamford, New Haven, Providence, Route 128, and Back Bay, and will arrive in Boston at 9:29 p.m.

Amtrak's Karen Dunn in Philadelphia told Destination: Freedom "Trainset No. 8 was accepted at the end of January, and No. 7 will be accepted next, within a week or so. We've also accepted 7 of the 15 HHP-8 locomotives."

Trainset 8 is the 2019-2014 set, and No. 7 is the 2032-2034 pair.

Corridor lines...

Amtrak considers new Dallas route

Amtrak passenger trains could soon be rolling through East Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi on a train named Crescent Star over a new route from Dallas to New York City, following an agreement between the railroad and Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS).

Amtrak announced its intended route on Feb. 7 for new rail passenger service between Meridian, Miss., and Dallas-Fort Worth on the Crescent Star. The new train will be an extension of Amtrak's Crescent service, operating between New York and New Orleans via Meridian.

Meridian Mayor and Amtrak board member John Robert Smith said the Crescent Star would connect Meridian with Dallas and Fort Worth through Jackson, Miss., and Shreveport, La., primarily on track owned by the Kansas City Southern (KCS). The train will also operate over short track segments owned by the Canadian National-Illinois Central, Union Pacific, and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). Smith is also NCI's chairman.

"The Crescent Star is a vital component of our plans to grow the national network, which remains a top priority for Amtrak," said Smith. "The new service will connect vital markets in the southwest and northeast, providing a valuable new option for rail passengers." Amtrak spokesman Kevin Johnson said the passenger carrier and KCS "are working together to secure funding for necessary track infrastructure upgrades and repairs on portions of its railroad. Start-up of the Crescent Star will begin once funding has been identified."

Smith said work will now begin on determining which cities along the Crescent Star route will become station stops.

"We will start reaching out to communities along the route where we believe a market exists and where there is an interest in rail passenger service," he said, and added, "There will be some financial obligations on the part of the cities. However, we look forward to establishing profitable and long-term partnerships."

Amtrak's current New York-New Orleans long-distance train, the Crescent, will play a key role for the new service. Upon arrival in Meridian, the Crescent will be divided into two trains with one train, the Crescent, continuing southbound to New Orleans and the other train, the Crescent Star, heading west to Dallas-Fort Worth along the new route. On the reverse trip, the two trains will be combined in Meridian continuing northbound to New York.

Between October and December 2000, the Crescent carried 65,660 passengers, which represented a 5.3 percent growth over the same three months of one year earlier. The Crescent also generated an additional 14 percent in revenue growth during the same period.

"With ridership up on the Crescent, it makes the revenue possibilities even greater for the Crescent Star," said Smith.

No start date nor ticket prices have been set, but it would be the first direct service between the city pairs in at least 40 years. A coach fare on the New Orleans-to-New York route is $177 one way.

Smith said he expects a largely ceremonial inaugural run in May for the route, a 38- to 40-hour trek, one way, according to The Dallas Morning News.

"Whether we can start daily service then, that's another consideration," Smith said.

The route could also service East Texas towns through which KCS operates. Wylie, Greenville, Sulphur Springs and Jefferson could be station stops.

No estimate has been given on the number of passengers expected to use the new Amtrak line. Revenue from passengers, U.S. mail contracts and other freight services are expected to pay the entire Crescent Star's operating costs, Smith said.

Before service can begin, however, Amtrak must obtain a loan from the Federal Railroad Administration to improve KCS's track and add a new train dispatching and control center, said Ab Rees, the railway's vice president for international operations. The loan will be repaid from Crescent Star revenues.

Amtrak officials have characterized the FRA loan as another step toward beginning the long-awaited train service. The loan could total tens of millions of dollars.

"We want it to happen. We'll be glad to do this," Rees said.

KCS will route the trains from Dallas to Shreveport, La., then on to Meridian, Miss. The carrier interchanges with Canadian National-Illinois Central at Jackson, Miss., and Norfolk Southern at Meridian. Not including possible Texas stops, trains are expected to pick up and drop off passengers in Shreveport, Ruston and Monroe, La., and in Jackson and Vicksburg, Miss. Once in Meridian, the train will couple to the Crescent from New Orleans before proceeding to Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City.

Trains from Dallas' historic Union Station are expected to leave every evening and arrive in Meridian the next morning. From Meridian, the journey to New York City takes an additional 26 hours.

"This will not only benefit Amtrak, it will benefit business shippers, too," said Tim Geeslin, president of the Texas Association of Rail Passengers. "And this means that for us locally, instead of going to Chicago and then catching another train, we have a direct route to Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York - all on the same train."

Another new route that may one day offer east coastal service is in Florida. Amtrak's Debbie O'Hare, in Chicago, told D:F, "Progress on the Florida East Coast reroute continues. We are working on a contract with the FEC and are ironing out such issues as capital investments, schedules, etc."

Elsewhere, rumors have circulated for some time that the carrier is considering operating a train along the route of the former National Limited, but she said, "I am unaware of any plans to operate service between New York and St. Louis."

Eagle ridership soars 20 percent
Ridership and revenues on Amtrak's daily Texas Eagle between Chicago and San Antonio set new records last year, and helped to make October through December the best fiscal year first quarter in the railroad's history.

Ridership on the train was up more than 20 percent between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 to nearly 38,000 passengers, compared to about 32,000 passengers for the same period the previous year, and revenues for the run were up about 28 percent. The train makes stops in St. Louis, Little Rock, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin and operates between San Antonio and Los Angeles three days a week, according to the Springfield, Ill., State Journal-Register.

Two other trains ply the Chicago to St. Louis route through the city Springfield, Ill., the Ann Rutledge and the Statehouse, were down for the period by about 2.6 percent, according to Amtrak spokesman Kevin Johnson in Chicago. He attributed the drop in riders to "the horrid December weather."

He added, it was one of the worst winters "we've had for sustained cold. We canceled a couple of trains."

Actually, it was several trains, especially those going to Michigan.

He said on-time performance on the Chicago to St. Louis routes also was down slightly for the period.

Timekeeping records are kept only for endpoints, such as Chicago and St. Louis. Johnson said the on-time performance for the three runs was only 44 percent, meaning that those trains were within a half hour of being on time only 44 percent of the time.

Overall, October through December was the best fiscal year first quarter in Amtrak's 30-year history, with nearly six million passengers and more than $298 million in ticket revenue. That comes on the heels of four straight years of increases in both ridership and ticket revenues.

Frieght lines...

'South Orient' gets a new owner

A West Texas freight rail line got a new life last week, but it also got a new owner - the State of Texas, and became a new NAFTA connection - from Mexico to Canada.

Texas DOT is buying the line for $9.5 million from the Dallas-based South Orient Railroad. The agreement was signed February 1.

The TDOT also reached an agreement with Texas Pacifico Transportation Ltd., a subsidiary of Nuevo Grupo Mexico, to operate the railroad.

Gaby Garcia of the Texas DOT in Austin told Destination: Freedom on February 5 that the 391-mile West Texas line's track condition "varies from segment-to-segment, but some upgrading is to be done." She said the current operator, South Orient, would do the trackwork.

She did not know the rail weight.

Garcia said, "There are trains running on the northern end" of the line. The route runs from Coleman County west to St. Angelo, and on to Presidio at the Mexican border."

She added, "There are several bridges" along the route, "at least one of which needs repairs," but she did not know to what extent.

Texas Pacifico will get a 40-year operating lease with five 10-year renewal options.

Later this month, TDOT will pay South Orient $6 million in cash the state legislature appropriated in 1999. Texas Pacifico will pay the balance during the first week in March, in exchange for the operating lease. David Laney, a commissioner with the Texas Transportation Commission, said the agreement will protect the line from abandonment. South Orient had tried to scrap the line, but the South Orient Rural Rail Transportation District took legal action to stop that action.

Officials said the said Grupo Mexico should be able to make a profitable go of the line. That firm is the majority owner of Ferrocarril Mexicano, or FerroMex, which owns the tracks connecting to the line at Presidio.

NS gains 74 customers systemwide
Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS) reported last week it had helped to relocate 74 new industries and provided support to expand 43 other industries along its rail lines last year.

The new plants and expansions represent an investment of $2.3 billion by NS customers and are expected to create more than 7,000 jobs while generating more than 100,000 new carloads of rail traffic annually.

The industrial development projects include facilities involved in handling automobiles, plastics, scrap metal, steel, agricultural and food products, chemicals, paper, cement, lumber and construction materials.

"The largest project was opening a new vehicle loading facility in Chesapeake, Va., for Ford Motor Co.'s truck assembly plant in Norfolk. Other major included new paper and packaging plants for Georgia Pacific at Albion, Mich., and Pratt Industries at Valparaiso, Ind. Five new feed mills were added, while five food manufacturers and seven feed mills and grain elevators expanded their facilities. In the railroad's Northeast service region, it assisted locating and expanding 25 industries, which represent investments of more than $978 million. More than 1,200 jobs are expected to be generated, and add some 10,000 new carloads of rail traffic annually.

Major new online customers included the Elk Corp., a roofing shingle company in Myerstown, Pa., and Schmalbach Lubeca Plastic Containers USA, Inc., a plastic bottle manufacturer in Chapman, Pa.

The railroad also gained customers at R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co.'s printing house at Lancaster, Pa.; Chlorox's bleach manufacturing facility at Aberdeen, Md., and the Port of Wilmington's dry cargo warehouse.

The railroad plans to open tracks at Honda Motors' new minivan plant at Lincoln, Ala., later this year, and IPSCO Steel plans to complete its steel mill at LeMoyne, Ala

NS operates about 21,800 miles of route miles in 22 states, the District of Columbia and the province of Ontario.

Harsco gets $50 million pacts from CSX, UP
Harsco Corp.'s railroad track division won a three-year contract to provide rail maintenance services for three years starting Feb. 15. A spokesman said Wednesday the contract came just after the Harsco Track Technologies Division renewed a three-year contract last month with Union Pacific. Both contracts are valued at more than $50 million.


Oaklawn Bridge

NCI: Leo King   

There's ice under that snow, so it made for treacherous walking on February. 3, 2001 along the Washington Secondary, an ex-NYNH&H freight main from Providence to Hartford. The bridge carries Oaklawn Avenue.

A winter rail trail tale

By Leo King
D:F editor

Who says turning ex-railroad roadbeds into trails isn't practical?

I discovered last Saturday just how useful they can be, especially if they have been improved with blacktop.

Some thirty years ago, the ex-New York, New Haven & Hartford's Washington Secondary saw its last train between Providence, R.I. and Hartford, Conn. The southbound trains took a westerly turn in Cranston, R.I., and continued westward from there.

Eventually the rails, ties and ballast were recovered, and the roadbed pretty much returned to nature - especially with weeds.

Some three years ago, state officials agreed with locals folks in Cranston that the right-of-way was ideal for a walking, jogging and hiking trail, so they began paving it in sections. The National Guard came through, clearing the brush and preparing the roadway, which, even now, remains about the width of the single-track line that ran there, perhaps 25 feet wide, at best. The paved width is some ten feet - just fine for walkers, joggers, and bikers.

So there I was, early Saturday afternoon, around 1:30, getting ready to go to work. My 1992 Plymouth Grand Voyager backed up just fine, but when I put it in "drive," nothing happened.

Leo King, D:F Editor

NCI: Leo King

Editor King
Definitely weird.

I tried backing up a little more.

Nothing doing there, now, either.

Hmm... what to do... .

I pondered that for a moment, and then tried it in forward, again. It worked.

I stopped at my mailbox to pick up the day's bills and junk mail, then headed down the driveway hill to Oaklawn Avenue to work.

You know the old cliche, don't you? You know, the Disney melody that goes, "I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go... " and in my case, it's South Bay tower in Boston where I'm Amtrak's second trick op.

There was, however, a new problem. The van wouldn't shift any higher than second gear. No matter what I did, speed up or slow down, go faster, go slower, the best it would do was second gear, and if I got much above 30 mph, it started complaining. Meanwhile, I was hearing a terrible racket from underneath the front end. I had first noticed it a few days earlier, but not like this.

Have you ever tried to take you car to a dealer or a repair shop on a weekend? There's virtually no one there. On this day, the salesmen at Puritan Motors were busy selling new cars to folks, but their service department was closed. I left the van there.

The sales manager found a phone book for me so I could call a cab (I had a cell phone with me), but all of them were backed up at least 45 minutes, or else had no cabs in Cranston.

Sigh... .

There were weekend buses, but like the MBTA in Boston, service was far less than it was during weekdays.

I opted to walk home, toting my digital camera on a monopod (which I take to work with me daily), and weighed about three or four pounds; a five-pound (more or less) camera bag, and my seven-pound lunch pail, or so I guessed it to be. The trek began around 2 o'clock.

I had noticed what appeared to be a railroad bridge within a stone's throw behind the dealership's parking lot, and it dawned on me that it was probably the Washington Secondary.

My doctor had been after me to go for daily walks and exercise in order to lose excess tonnage, and during the summer and fall I had done so faithfully daily, and managed to lose thirty pounds, but with the coming of cold weather, which I abhor, I stayed indoors with my computer and two cats until it was time to go to work or run errands. When I retire in 17 months, I'll be heading to Florida.

It was a short walk to where I could access the right-of-way, through a closed restaurant's parking lot and down an embankment. I was greeted by snow-covered ice at the bottom.

When I lived in Anchorage, Alaska 25 years ago, we sometimes had to walk in those short, peculiar steps we nicknamed "the Alaska shuffle" to try to keep from falling down. Here I was, doing the Alaska shuffle again.

The ice was spotty; there were some places where walking was good, especially those places that had plenty of sunlight beating down on it.

This was a good day for a walk like this - the sun was shining, although it was a bit breezy, west-northwest (310 degrees) at 10 knots. The temp was around 23 degrees (F) and the sun made it feel warmer. Nevertheless, with the wind blowing into my face, the chill factor was about zero.

It was only a little less than three miles via the right-of-way to my home.

I skated over lengthy patches of snow and ice, and paused at a few places to take pictures. I passed two people and one cat. Both people were going the opposite way. One was a young man who I guessed lived near there, and the other an older man who I supposed was just out for a stroll. Neither appeared to be homeless; besides it was too cold for that, I thought; but last summer I did see a couple of scruffy looking fellows who I guessed to be so. The cat saw me coming and scampered a few feet off the right-of-way to some bushes, where he peeked out to watch me go by. Calls of "Kitty, kitty," were in vain.

I opened my front door at 4:09 p.m. It had been a long time since I was this happy to see home.

Man, was I thirsty! I guzzled what seemed like a gallon of water. The balls of my feet were burning, and my face felt the effects of the wind, but at least I was dry and in good sprits.

So, there sometimes is a practical use for one of those trails, and I learned first-hand just how useful that Washington Secondary route could be. It was a lot safer and quieter than walking on the city streets - and it was a straight line, too.

We get letters...
I'm a student at Ohio State University trying to get information on how Acela or any other high-speed trains keep their tracks clear of snow.

Ohio State Univ.

There is a small plow under the Acela nose. It's hard to see in photos, but it's a pointed wedge device. In addition, other trains running ahead of it have much larger plows, and the Washington-New Haven segment has so many trains it seldom is a real problem. Even between New Haven and Boston, although there are far fewer trains, there are enough trains to keep the tracks clear. - Ed.

The way we were...

South Bay Tower, Boston

Henry Frick

That wooden structure on the left is the original South Bay tower in Boston. The operator upstairs inside, Jerry Warford, is a young man just beginning his railroad career on the New York, New Haven & Hartford. Outside, on a cool November 16, 1969, young railfan Henry Frick was trackside to capture the New Haven Railroad's symbol freight train BL-1 enroute from South Boston to Lowell, Mass. Four Alco FAs with the 1333 on the point led the train. The double-tracked line under the bridge is now single iron, and where the tower stood is now the restored Old Colony line and Southampton Street yard throat. The high bridge carried the New Haven's original Old Colony commuter line, and now is the Red Line's rapid transit route to its yard, to the far left. Warford was again at South Bay in 2001 after working countless towers in Southern New England, and Frick is a BNSF dispatcher in Texas.
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 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" .jpg images average 1.7MB each, and are 300 dots-per-inch for print publishers.

Destination: Freedom's editor, Leo King, also writes for "ThemeStream," a forum for writers and readers. King's articles are all rail-related, and mostly chronicle events over the last ten years on the Northeast Corridor, particularly in New England. Look for his articles at under the heading "Travel," and the sub-heading, "Riding the Rails."

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 Site in Boston.

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