Destination:Freedom Newsletter
The Newsletter of the National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
  NCI Logo Vol. 2 No. 11, March 19, 2001
Copyright © 2001, NCI, Inc.
James P. RePass, President
Leo King, Editor

A weekly North American Railroad update

Zephyr derails; one dead
Amtrak's California Zephyr derailed about 70 miles southwest of Des Moines early Sunday, leaving one passenger dead and injuring at least 90 others.

Both Zephyr locomotives and 15 cars derailed in a field about six miles southwest of Corning in Adams County, said Amtrak spokeswoman Debra Hare. The train was carrying 195 passengers and 13 crew members, and was operating on BNSF track.

Corning Police Chief Larry Drew aid rescue efforts were difficult because there are virtually no roads at the derailment site.

The victims, two of whom were reported to be in serious condition, were transported to six area hospitals. One passenger was flown by helicopter to Omaha, Neb., and another to Des Moines, said Adams County Sheriff's Deputy Dave Brown.

Passenger Joseph Conn of Hobart, Ind., said one of the head-end cars overturned.

"One of the coach cars went off to the left and it's sitting basically on its roof. Its wheels are sticking up into the air. They carried a number of people out of that one," said Conn, who was sitting near the back of the train.

The train was headed westbound from Chicago to Emeryville, Calif., when the derailment occurred at about 12:50 a.m. EST. By daylight, rescue teams had removed most of the injured passengers from the scene, although more bodies may be recovered

There was no indication of what may have caused the crash.

Hare said Amtrak's customer response team and National Transportation and Safety Board investigators were en route to the site. Uninjured passengers were being taken to a community center in Nodaway where Amtrak was arranging for shelter and alternate transportation. Amtrak has set up a toll-free number for relatives at 1-800-523-9101.

Amtrak to drop Wisconsin train
Amtrak reported on Friday that it would discontinue service on the one-year-old Lake Country Limited, except for Saturdays, which runs 98 miles between Chicago and Janesville, Wis. The service began in April 2000 and will end Sept. 23.

In a letter to Amtrak Intercity employees, President Ed Walker wrote that the action was a "strategic business decision, based on market response to the service." Analysts had indicated a potential for mail and express business on the route, but adequate business never materialized.

Walker said the decision was "not a start of route and service slashing at Amtrak, adding, "Like any successful company, we are simply making a prudent business decision and eliminating a service that is not meeting expectations."

Decisions like this, Walker said, are what Amtrak means when it says it will "operate like a business," but it doesn't mean we will stop looking for expansion opportunities.

The company is required by federal law to provide 180 days notice when eliminating rail passenger service, so the carrier will provide service until Sept.23. However, from March 24 through Sept.22, the train will run on Saturdays only.

Amtrak issued its 180-day notification to discontinue the Chicago-Janesville Lake Country Limited on Friday. Effective March 24, the train will change from daily to Saturdays only (the day of highest passenger use), on its present schedule.

When it began in April 2000, the train was expected to carry significant amounts of express business and relatively few passengers. The express business did not materialize, in part because of Amtrak's inability to work out an agreement on a connecting train with Norfolk Southern in a timely manner (the proposed Chicago-Philadelphia Skyline Connection).

The Janesville train has been part of bad press Amtrak has gotten lately, including in this week's U.S. News and World Report. That article used the train as an example of all Amtrak trains, ignoring its experimental status and ignoring Amtrak's successes. The article„like some government officials„also confuses operating loss and federal operating support, in an attempt to make it seem less likely Amtrak can meet its Congressional mandate to survive without federal operating grants. "Operating support" is smaller than "operating loss," and does not include depreciation and mandatory excess payments to the federal railroad retirement system (that benefit freight railroad retirees).

Thanks also to National Assn. of Railroad Passengers website, http://narprailorg

Feds are in no hurry to finance light rail
By Wes Vernon
Washington correspondent

Despite anecdotal evidence that heavy rail "subway" systems can pay a huge share of their operations through the fare box, the federal policy of taking a dim view of "new starts" on such systems appears to be continuing under the new Bush DOT.

Speaking before the Chesapeake Railway Association in the Washington area, Lemeul Proctor, Chief Operating Officer of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), said the D.C. Metrorail system, serving Washington and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs, pays for 81 percent of its operating costs out of the fare box. In contrast, the WMATA bus system collects only 35 percent of its costs from customers.

This would seem to vindicate the argument of those who fought for building the now-completed Metrorail, and expose the weakness of those who insisted the bus was more "cost-effective."

Several days later, I shared these comparative figures with Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. He was surprised to hear the rail figure and positively dumbfounded to learn of the low fare box recovery on the bus operation.

Of course, the secretary's focus was not so much on fare box recovery once the rail service is in operation, but on the federal involvement in building such a system in the first place. "There is only a limited amount of money we can spend to build the subway operations," Mineta told me.

This is not the first administration to take a dim view of "new starts" on subway-style plans. As far back as the Carter administration, then DOT Secretary Brock Adams predicted the Washington Metrorail service would be the last "subway" system to be built with federal assistance.

Adams appears, in retrospect, to have been half right. At least two new "heavy rapid transit" systems have built or partially built since then, but it is true that WMATA's Metrorail is the last demonstrably successful operation of this kind.

The Miami system suffered from a failure to reach projected ridership goals. And the Los Angeles Red Line, aside from construction problems that spiked a cost overrun, has had a disappointing performance and was ultimately truncated.

Nonetheless, the Washington experience does show that, given the right approach, a well-planned subway system can succeed once it is up and running.

I approached Mineta right after his keynote speech at the conference at the annual legislative conference of the American Public Transit Association in Washington.

Mineta did not rule out help for add-ons to already existing subway service. Indeed, he favorably alluded to San Francisco's BART extension to the San Francisco International Airport.

During that talk, he had effusively praised several of the new light rail (trolley) systems that had proven themselves in recent years.

These included the popular rail operations in Salt Lake City, Portland, Dallas, and Northern New Jersey. The Bush administration believes in transit, he assured the transit operators, so long as "costs are kept down" and the federal share is kept "reasonable."

Later at the APTA conference, during a rail workshop session, a top staffer for Rep. Bob Clement (D-Tenn.) described a bill her boss is sponsoring that would "mimic Amtrak" on behalf of the commuter railroads.

Explained Clement's Administrative Assistant Caroline Neilson: "The local transit operator who wants to operate passenger rail service cannot reach an agreement with the local freight operator (Class I carrier) can appeal to the (federal) Surface Transportation Board (STB)" to "serve as the arbiter between the two."

I pointed out the STB is already up to its ears deciding disputes between freight shippers and the Class I freight lines. Would they welcome this added responsibility?

"We haven't talked to them directly about it," she replied, adding, "Our hope would be that not that many cases would have to go to the STB," because in thirty years of dealing with Amtrak, only 3 to 5 cases have gone that far.

Neilson said her boss had talked with the Association of American Railroads (Class I trade organization) about it" and they said the volume of freight traffic was increasing, but that there is hope that "we can work with them" to produce legislation they "could life with," however reluctant they may be.

If the Clement bill makes real headway and the Class Is testify on it, the congressman is likely to find a position not unlike that which we described in this space a few months ago: "Show us the money!"

The freight railroads for years have argued that they cannot afford to grant any more entity the right to just "grab an access" without paying for it, especially given that much of the Class I infrastructure lacks the capacity to meet the demand.

If the publicly funded commuter operations can indeed come up with the money to build or help build new capacity on the freight railroads, that gets us back to the question of whether there might be a trend toward public underwriting of rail infrastructure similar to that enjoyed by every other mode of transportation.

Look for ARC 'fireworks' on Tuesday
D:F Washington Bureau

The Amtrak Reform Council is scheduled to issue its second annual report on Tuesday (March 20). It appears the agency has not been intimidated by the harsh criticisms it has received since its inception.

Indications from sources not wishing to be identified are that the council will follow through with its controversial report of last year that discussed the idea of separating its operations from its infrastructure. D:F understands that this would mean creating a separate corporation just to handle the whole Northeast Corridor infrastructure, and limit Amtrak to operating the passengers, mail and express. Amtrak management reportedly vehemently opposes the controversial idea. D:F will be present at the meeting and news conference.

Amtrak loses $944 million, states report
Amtrak lost a record $944 million during the last fiscal year, according to a published report last week. Amtrak reported its ridership was up 4.7 percent, but, according the U.S. News and World Report, Amtrak lost $16.38 on every ticket it sold last year.

The news magazine cited internal Amtrak documents. Of the 41 routes Amtrak operated last year, 14 lost more money per rider than the year before.

That clashed sharply with Amtrak's rosy press releases claiming increased ridership and revenue while conveniently ignoring expenses, and it also raised questions about whether Amtrak can meet the Congressional mandate of operational self-sufficiency by 2003.

"Now it's clear it's not going to be self-sufficient - and we need a national debate over what to do about it," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and an ardent Amtrak critic, told the magazine.

Amtrak's fiscal year 2000 loss was $28 million higher than the previous year, lost $916 million in 1999 and $929 million in 1998.

- Trains Online

Amtrak says no 'trainoffs' to be forthcoming
Rumors last week on various web sites were dooming some Amtrak routes after a report in the Albany Times-Union sparked stories that several trains would be cut.

Ross B. Capon, National Association of Railroad Passengers' Executive Director told his membership that "The media... has carried speculation about alleged Amtrak plans to drop some trains on the Empire Corridor (New York-Buffalo-Niagara Falls), and to end food service on some other Empire [service] trains. Amtrak assures us that there will be no such cuts."

Capon stated, "The false reports apparently originated from the field about how to meet budget targets, but top management rejected the reported ideas even before they became public." He added Amtrak's budget is "exceptionally tight for the current fiscal year, which ends September 30."

On another topic, Capon said Metro North Commuter Railroad's continuing trackwork program, including some single-track operations, will cause some Amtrak trains to have slower New York to Poughkeepsie running-times from April 1 until July 8.

NCI prepares for May conference
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta and Rep. John Cooksey (R-La.) will be the keynote speakers at the National Corridor Initiative's 2001 Conference on May 10 and 11.

NCI President James P. RePass said the theme of this year's meeting will be "Partnerships for Corridor Building: Making Multimodalism Work." The conference will be held at the Marriott in Washington, D.C., also the site of last year's gathering.

A former Chairman of the House Public Works Committee, Mineta is a Democrat appointed by President George W. Bush to serve in the nation's highest transportation post.

Cooksey is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and is both a pilot and a practicing physician who has become an advocate for intermodal transportation investment.

"Secretary Mineta has for 30 years been a voice for innovation in transportation," RePass said.

"We are especially gratified that the top job at transportation has gone to someone who understands that 'intermodalism' must be far more than a buzzword," RePass added.

He also said Cooksey "is one of the most interesting people in the Congress. As a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, he has become an advocate for co-locating train stations and airports, a common practice in Europe, but a new idea here. That kind of innovative thinking is what the country needs to develop a transportation system where the modes complement each other and provide balanced, seamless travel, instead of the ineffective system we have now that is so prone to gridlock and winglock."

At the conference NCI's highest award, the Claiborne Pell award, will be presented to Sen. Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle (R-SD), "who have kept their promise to re-introduce legislation to provide capital for intercity passenger rail," RePass said. Last year's recipient was Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.)

New Farley-Penn Station group
awards first rebuilding contract
The Pennsylvania Station Redevelopment Corporation (PSRC) on Friday awarded its first contract to make over the Farley Post office Building and turn it into a railroad station, primarily for Amtrak.

Charles A. Gargano, the corporation's chairman said that "Penn Station Ventures (PSV) has been selected to develop, maintain and operate the new Farley-Penn Station." He said PSV is a joint venture between The Staubach Company, which is "an international, full-service real estate strategy and services firm, and Fraport AG (Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide) the owner and manager of a German intermodal transportation hub at Frankfurt/Main Airport.

"The partnership will develop the $788 million project, and will serve as the day-to-day operator when the station is open and running, Gargano said.

During construction, the Farley project "is expected to create 7,600 new jobs and will eventually generate more than $65 million in tax revenues."

He also noted, "The project has long been championed by [New York] Gov. George E. Pataki and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who were joined by former President Clinton in May 1999 to unveil the design for the station at the project launch ceremony." Moynihan is now retired from the U.S. Senate.

"The Farley-Penn Station project is without a doubt the most important urban transportation project in the nation. In addition, the retail component of the project will provide a tremendous boost to Manhattan's West Side," Gargano said, and added, "Thanks to the commitment of Governor Pataki, PSRC's funding partners, and the United States Postal Service, Farley-Penn will become a central element in New York's standing as the transportation hub of the east coast, and as an international crossroads."

Staubach will be the development manager for the project, and will design and execute the retail strategy. Fraport AG will serve as the project's transportation operator, and will bring its international expertise in intermodal high-speed rail and airport terminal operations to Farley-Penn.

Roger Staubach, Chairman and CEO of The Staubach Co., said, "We are very proud to have the opportunity to manage this landmark project, and to offer our group's combination of global and local expertise."

Dr. Wilhelm Bender, Executive Board Chairman of Fraport AG, said, "Fraport is very enthusiastic about this project and what it means for New York City and indeed the entire eastern seaboard of the U.S.

The design for the new station is being prepared by a consortium led by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for PSRC and the U.S. Postal Service. The project has drawn rave reviews and awards from the design and historic preservation community across the country, including the American Institute of Architects and the City's Landmarks Preservation Commission.

During the coming months, the firms will select an experienced construction manager to build the project. Construction is scheduled to begin between October and December

The project to expand Penn Station into the landmark James A. Farley Building includes flagship facilities for Amtrak, world-class airport access facilities to serve links to John F. Kennedy International and Newark Airports for airport-bound passengers, and expanded facilities for commuters.

Other work will include improvements to the Eighth Avenue subway, new and renovated Postal Service facilities, approximately 100,000 square feet of high-quality retail, commercial and conference center spaces, including what will be one of the country's largest indoor, multi-media walls (45 feet-by-200 feet) for the display of train and flight information, advertising, news and civic information.

Corridor lines...

Rail battles forming in Florida

By Leo King

Senate transportation committee chairman Jim Sebesta (R- St. Petersburg, Senate District 20) has introduced a "shell bill" that could kill Florida's high-speed rail Constitutional amendment. Senate Bill S.1134 and an identical House bill were introduced in February when the Florida legislature reconvened.

"He temporary Śpassed,' which means they do nothing with the three transport bills which are pending" before the Florida Senate, said C.C. "Doc" Dockery. A committee vote has been rescheduled for next week.

"We thought we were going to vote on it yesterday," Dockery said. Dockery, the man behind getting the question of high-speed rail onto the ballot last November as a state Constitutional amendment, said Florida DOT just completed a $900,000 rail study, and, said Dockery, "Sebesta is trying to kill the bill by reading it for another year."

Dockery, from Lakeland, added that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush "said many times he that he favors high-speed rail, but he has also said many times that there should be little state investment."

Bush killed the Florida Overland Express bill within two weeks after taking office some two years ago because FOX was guaranteed a 14 percent profit.

"Governor Bush so far seems to be in a position where he's letting the legislature take the lead on this. He has not been vocal about the issue at all, so far."

Dockery's wife, Paula, is a House member (House District 64) and is a Transportation Committee member.

Sebesta introduced the shell bill which would strip all existing language and leave only the title. New language would be written, and, if the committee votes favorably, could rewrite the proposal, and, in essence, kill the high-speed rail bill.

Sebesta gave no notice that he planned to introduce his bill until a few minutes before the committee meeting, Dockery said.

A shell bill has a name and the date it is posted, but that is about all.

In this case, Sebesta's measure, Senate Bill (SB0396) introduced on March 14, has no vote history, no statute citations found on the "Online Sunshine" web site, no Constitution citations, but has a title line, "A bill to be entitled, "An act relating to transportation; expressing the legislative intent to revise laws relating to transportation; providing an effective date," followed by the phrase, "Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

"Section 1. The Legislature intends to revise laws relating to transportation," and "Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2001."

And that's all.

Sebesta said he wanted temporarily pass it to allow time to get together with Sen. John Laurent (R) of Bartow (Senate District 17), author of the High-speed Rail Authority bill, to see if they could reach a compromise.

In essence, Dockery said Sebesta wants to kill the high-speed rail bill.

"What he wants to do is study the bill for another year, and instead of coming out and saying, 'I'm opposed to the bill,' he wants the legislature to study it for another year. We just got a DOT Study in January, and he wants to go study it again because he didn't like the results of the study."

Crescent Star startup is delayed
Amtrak's new train, Crescent Star, from New York via New Orleans to Dallas, is being delayed. Amtrak is waiting to get $44.6 million from the FRA to build new sidings and install signals from Meridian, Miss., to Dallas. The trains are now expected to begin running this fall, reports the Birmingham, Ala. Business Journal of March 12.

"Amtrak's commitment, and the commitment of the cities along the line, are just as strong as it has always been for this route," said Meridian, Miss., Mayor John Robert Smith, who serves on Amtrak's board of directors. Smith is also NCI's chairman.

The new route is an extension of the current Crescent that runs daily through Birmingham. The extension, called Crescent Star, will operate overnight between Meridian and Dallas.

Amtrak is well under way in preparing for the launch. Crews have been hired and equipment secured. Last Wednesday, technicians from Amtrak and Kansas City Southern, whose track will be used, conducted a trial run.

Among the holdups in getting the money for improvements is the transition of Presidential administrations. President Bush has yet to name a new chief for the Federal Rail Administration, although S. Mark Lindsay is its acting administrator.

Another sticking point is the way the money is being sought. Amtrak is using a Congressional provision for the first time, called a Railroad Infrastructure Financing Loan. Officials with the Office of Management and Budget, which must sign off on the procedure, are apparently unfamiliar with the provision and are moving cautiously. Even if OMB and FRA approval comes before summer, Amtrak will likely wait until fall to launch, Smith said. The train could be operating within 30 days of getting the loan, but Smith said Amtrak is hesitant to start the new route during the busy summer vacation season.

Last year, Amtrak officials predicted the Crescent Star would debut by summer or early fall. That was delayed when some $80 million in rail improvements were needed by Amtrak and Union Pacific on the Shreveport-to-Dallas segment of the route.

Amtrak then turned its attention to the Kansas City Southern line, which needed far fewer structural improvements and would cost $44.6 million, a total that includes Amtrak's share. That's when a May 2001 start was predicted.

Freight lines...

CSX says it wants to settle New York State tax dispute through legislation, not litigation

A U.S. District Court judge granted CSX Transportation Inc.'s request to create a defendant class in its lawsuit on March 13, challenging the way it is taxed throughout the State of New York.

The effect of the ruling, stated CSX in a press release, "is to expand the lawsuit to cover the approximately 400 jurisdictions in the state that levy property taxes against the railroad. To simplify the lawsuit, the court appointed 11 previously named jurisdictions as class representatives. Their lawyers will represent the interests of those jurisdictions that choose to remain in the class."

Jurisdictions that opt out will have to retain their own counsel.

"We continue to hope that the property tax issue will be resolved legislatively rather than litigiously," said John Casellini, CSX's resident vice president for state relations, "but we must protect our interests and will pursue this matter as long as necessary." Casellini noted that the court made clear its view that the issue should be resolved in the legislative, not the judicial, chamber.

Federal law prohibits a state and its jurisdictions from imposing discriminatory taxes on a railroad. In New York, CSX argues, "the state taxes rail property at a far higher percentage of market value than other commercial and industrial property, resulting in discriminatory taxation. This discrimination arises primarily from the state's method of valuing railroad property, based on reproduction costs, without adequately accounting for depreciation."

House bill would assist short lines
By Wes Vernon
Washington correspondent

House Railroads Subcommittee Chairman Jack Quinn (R.-N.Y.) has introduced legislation to enhance short-line railroads. With Reps. Bob Clement (D-Tenn.) and Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) as co-sponsors, the chairman's bill enables the Secretary of Transportation to provide capital funds to Class II and Class III railroads.

As outlined previously by American Short-Line and Regional Rails Association (ASL&RRA) President Frank Turner (See D:F 3/12/01), the measure "breaks tradition with railroads" by seeking federal funding for the infrastructure of small operations. The idea is to upgrade the tracks to enable them to exchange heavier freight cars more commonly used by the Class I carriers. It authorizes $350 million to DOT each year from 2002 through 2004.

Some guidelines contained in the proposed legislation sets a maximum federal share of 80 percent for each project's cost, meaning matching money will be required. Funds granted must be used as quickly as possible, within three years of allocation, and the DOT secretary will ensure that workers on the project shall be paid no less than "prevailing wages" determined by the Labor secretary under the Davis-Bacon Act. This is rail labor's part of the package and attracts full union backing for the coalition pushing the bill.

"This bill will ensure that short-line railroads get the funding they need to continue carrying out their vital role in local commerce," declared Chairman Quinn, "It is my hope that this legislation will be passed into law as soon as possible, putting short line railroad companies in a better position to receive much-needed federal funding."

Congressman Clement, the ranking Democrat on the Quinn Subcommittee, added that short line and regional railroads are "in desperate need of assistance" and are "an integral and essential part of local infrastructure, and funding for them is critical."

He added that over the past twenty years these lines "have come to the aid of numerous communities across the nation, at times serving both freight and passenger needs."

It is essential that they receive assistance "if we are to save these tracks for future purposes," the Tennessee lawmaker added. At this early stage, the legislation is on a fast track, simply because Chairman Quinn wants it and can schedule early hearings on it. What happens to it in the full committee and in the full House and in the Senate will bear watching.

Meanwhile, Canadian National's president said last week his railroad "will work closely" with its United States short-line partners "to help them secure federal rail infrastructure improvement funds."

Paul M. Tellier, who is also CN's CEO, disclosed his initiative in a speech March 14 to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, which presented Tellier with its Partnership Award at a dinner in Washington.

Tellier said CN will "strongly support" the short-line industry's lobbying campaign for legislation to provide federal funding to underwrite infrastructure improvements so that the industry can accommodate loaded freight cars weighing up to 286,000 pounds.

In the meantime, he said, CN is "prepared to explore with its U.S. short-line connections innovative ways to help them get better access to the existing American $3.5 billion Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program (RRIF)." Certain financial requirements of the RRIF program, including up-front cash payments known as credit risk premiums, have made it difficult for short lines to qualify for the program.

"We're looking for creative options - thinking outside the box, doing things differently," Tellier said.

To help short lines to qualify for low-cost RRIF loans, CN said it could help shoulder a portion of the up-front cash payments or credit risk premiums, which RRIF requires; tie new traffic in heavier rolling stock to future short-line loan payments; and guarantee traffic patterns to lower the RRIF credit risk premium.

CN last year agreed to provide $2.4 million (in U.S. dollars) to the Columbus and Greenville Railway (C&G) in Mississippi to help it upgrade its rail infrastructure. Over the next 10 years, a major C&G shipper, Delta Western Feed Mill, Inc., will use CN to route a substantial portion of grain and grain products to its plant in Indianola, Miss. CN owns the former Illinois Central.

Tellier said CN is working to improve the efficiency of traffic interchanges with its short-line partners and to help them upgrade systems so they can become stronger links in CN's continent-wide rail network.

New England Railroad Club

The New England Railroad Club will hold its engineering and transit night dinner meeting on March 22 at Boston's Copley Plaza Hotel. Guest Speaker is Mike Franke, vice-president, Amtrak's MidWest Rail. For tickets, go to HTTP://NERAILROADCLUB.COM.

Surface Transportation Board

The Surface Transportation Board will conduct an oral arguments hearing concerning its proposed, new "major railroad merger regulations" rulemaking proceeding, Major Rail Consolidation Procedures, STB Ex Parte No. 582 (Sub-No. 1). The oral arguments will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 5, in the Board Hearing Room, Room 760, on the 7th Floor of its offices in the Mercury Building, 1925 K Street, N.W. (at the corner of 20th and K Streets) in Washington, D.C. Chair Linda Morgan said she anticipates providing a total time of four hours for participants.

Amtrak Historical Society

The seventh annual Amtrak Historical Society Conference will be held in Chicago between April 27-29 at The Quality Inn in downtown Chicago, One Mid City Plaza (Madison at Halsted Streets). Highlights will include a tour of Amtrak's Chicago Reservation Call Center and a tour of the city's Historic Pullman District and Pullman Porter Museum, as well as presentations by Amtrak. Each year, the conference is held on the weekend closest to Amtrak's Anniversary and this year is Amtrak's 30th Anniversary. For details, go to HTTP://WWW.TRAINWEB.COM/AHS/2001/

Financing Freight Transportation Improvements Conference

USDOT's modal agencies will discuss financing freight transportation improvements, including existing financing options from the federal, state, local, and private sectors, innovative financing approaches, program and policy issues and options to finance future freight transportation projects between April 29-May 2 in St. Louis. Rail topics will include Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program (RRIF), Class I Railroads Financial Overview and Future Investment Needs, and several other programs. Contact Karen McClure at 202-493-6417 or email

Partnerships for Corridor Building: Making Multimodalism Work
National Corridors Initiative

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta and Rep. John Cooksey (R-La.) will be the keynote speakers May 10-11 at NCI's 2001 Conference at the Marriott in Washington, D.C. (

Mineta is a former Chairman of the House Public Works Committee and was a U.S. House member from California.

Cooksey, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is both a pilot and a practicing physician, and has become a strong advocate for intermodal transportation investment.

NCI's highest award, the Claiborne Pell award, will be presented to Sen. Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle (R-S.D.), who have kept their promise to re-introduce legislation to provide capital for intercity passenger rail. Last year's recipient was Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).

2001 Union Pacific steam trips

June 10
Union Pacific reports two steam excursion scheduled so far this year. Challenger steam engine No. 3985 on June 10, 2001 from Council Bluffs to Sargeant Bluff, Iowa and return.

Contact The Camerail Club
Sioux City & Pacific Excursion
6307 Seward St.
Omaha, NE 68104-4761

June 19
Challenger steam engine No. 3985 on June 19, 2001, from St. Louis to Gorham, Ill., and return. St. Louis Chapter, NRHS is also hosting the 2001 annual NRHS convention, June 19-23.

Contact St. Louis Chapter, National Railway Historical Society
2129 Barrett Station Rd., PMB 271
St. Louis, MO 63131-1638
(314) 839-2356

The way we were...

NCI: Leo King collection

The American Locomotive Co. of Schenectady, N.Y. provided the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad with enough copies - 60, in all - of their 2,000 HP (two 1,000 HP engines inside), six axle locomotive so the New Haven could run fast passenger trains during the day, and speedy freight trains at night. To be sure, the New Haven had plenty of steam engines to haul the freights, but these new-fangled diesel-electric engines, like the 0729 going for a spin on the turntable at Providence, R.I.&apost;s Charles Street roundhouse in 1952, were kept clean and serviced... until they were bumped off the premier runs by second-generation PAs, and the steamers were bumped by four-axle FAs, all from Alco. With rare exception, the New Haven ran their road power back-to-back.
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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