Bush jars DOT appointees loose for new jobs
Late Friday, as we were going to press, the White House announced that President Bush would install Shane and Frankel at DOT as "recess appointments." This tactic allows a president to make appointments without Senate confirmation while the Senate is in recess, as it currently has been during the Easter and Passover holidays.
Such appointments, valid for several months, are sometimes made when a president is unhappy with Senate foot-dragging in approving his nominees.
This, or course, deprives Senator Joseph Biden of what he perceived as a bargaining chip to get the railroad tunnel security bill enacted. It may not really have been a bargaining chip anyway. The people the senator still has a problem with are those of his colleagues who put a "secret" hold on the bill. No word on what will happen in that part of the merry-go-round stalemate.
The fact that the President was willing to go over the heads of the Senate for now could indicate a seriousness in the White House effort to get a passenger train plan before Congress. Perhaps the demands of several House and Senate committee chairmen for an administration program have jarred loose the White House machinery on this issue.
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NCI: Leo KingAcela Express 2190 zips over Mystic River Movable Bridge in Connecticut last summer at 55 mph, the authorized track speed for all trains over the span.
Political intrigue holds Amtrak hostage;
can Acela run at 150?
WASHINGTON -According to a Washington source, Rep Don Young (R-Alaska), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has agreed to a one-year, $1.2 billion authorization for Amtrak, and the fiscal year beginning October 1.
If that proves true, it would represent a breakthrough in the short term, and a positive signal that Congress will not endanger long-distance travel.
Amtrak said on Friday the March 29 date for sending out long-distance train-off notices "is something the media latched on to" and that the required 180-days notice will be April 4, but the carrier is not commenting on whether they will send out notices then because "things are so up in the air."
Most likely that refers to George Warrington's pending departure, numerous hearings upcoming on the Hill, and considerations going on at the White House.
Meanwhile, there is a distinct possibility that, without spending billions of dollars, the Acela Express can reach its advertised 150 mph on the Northeast Corridor outside the mere 18-mile stretch currently allowed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. A professor at the Univ. of Delaware has an idea that may hold the key to accomplishing this while saving millions.
Dr. Arnold Kerr says he has an idea on how to get around the slowdowns on the corridor caused by bridges that won't allow higher speeds. His research project would use a simple track pad to enable trains to zip through the bridge areas.
Right now, several short bridges on the Washington-Boston line, notably one in Chester, Pa., require the trains to slow down to 90 mph. If the Acela, advertised as "high-speed," is to be really high-speed, we may live to see the day when the air shuttles of the Northeast are an irrelevant anachronism.
What's holding that up are the millions that would be required to replace those bridges. Professor Kerr says you don't need to replace them at all. There is just one problem: The Bush administration is withholding the third $90,000 installment of a $270,000 grant to the professor to pursue his research.
It is not that the Administration opposes what Kerr is doing. Right now, the Bush people are trying to come up with their own passenger train plan, and they have given the green light for previous installments on Kerr's grant.
So, the Delaware professor phoned the USDOT Transportation and asked, in effect, "What gives?"
DOT responded -again paraphrasing -"Hey, don't look at us. Talk to your senior senator."
That brings us to Sen. Joseph R. Biden (D-Del.).
Senator Biden is quite understandably angered by the fact that the Senate will not move the bill providing $1.8 billion for rail security improvements.
Those improvements include doing something about the dangerously decrepit tunnels in New York and Baltimore. D:F broke the original story two years ago on the dangers that threaten thousands of passengers every day, notably the tunnels going in and out of Penn Station. The threat is real, but some GOP senators have put a secret hold on the bill, according to the Washington Post.
So what does Biden do? He takes it out on two Bush administration nominees for top DOT posts. Nothing personal, said the senator, they're both "fine, decent, and competent people," but he will hold up their nominations until he gets action on the bill to head off a potential disaster of cataclysmic proportions in the New York and Baltimore tunnels.
The two nominees are Jeffrey N. Shane, with a background in aviation who has spent hours looking into the problems of Amtrak in preparation for taking on the job of undersecretary for policy, and Emil Frankel, a former Connecticut DOT commissioner who, like Biden, is an enthusiast for trains as a part of the solution to gridlock in the northeast. He has been nominated for assistant secretary for policy at USDOT.
The Post reported DOT Secretary Norman Mineta personally begged Biden to release his hold on the two nominees so they can get on with the business of doing the very things that Biden himself wants to see accomplished -but the senator is unmoved.
"I do not know what else to do (about getting the tunnel project through)," he said, and asked, "stand on my head in the well to get attention of people around here?"
Unspoken in all this, of course, is the outrage that is sometimes imposed in the name of senatorial privilege. No one can smoke out the senators who have put a hold on Biden's bill. No one can shine the light of publicity on those lawmakers and ask them "What do you have against the passengers that use those tunnels that you would want to put their lives in danger? What have they done to you that you would put them at risk if a bomb, a chemical weapon or biological weapon is dispersed in that confined area with inadequate safety escapes, inadequate maintenance, poor ventilation, and poor lighting?"
A "secret" hold on a bill essentially means that a senator is ashamed to come out in public and say why he opposes it. Asking a question like the one outlined above could be embarrassing. So Biden is relegated to fuming that "my frustration is reaching the boiling point."
The question that arises is, is it smart strategy to strike back by holding up the nomination of allies in his own cause for better train service?
Perhaps the senator assumes that all it takes to remove the secret hold off the bill is for the White House somehow to ferret out the senators responsible and then pick up the phone and tell them to back off. Easier said than done, and the game of political dominoes is complicated by the fact that the Administration in turn holds up Professor Kerr's research, which could save millions.
If Senator Biden is willing to block his own allies, there are senators who are only to happy to see efforts on train travel expended in their own states instead.
In a statement to a National Association of Rail Passengers (NARP) conference on March 16, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) said Amtrak has spent "appropriations disproportionately in the Northeast Corridor. The national system is hanging by a thread because Congress won't make the necessary investment and Amtrak prefers to spend its resources exclusively in the NEC."
Here is a longtime Amtrak supporter pointedly saying, "I will always support the concept of a national rail system. I will support Amtrak only so long as it fits that description."
Hutchison and Biden really want the same thing -a national system. Expect a divide-and-conquer regional warfare if the enemies of a national rail passenger network (presumably among those senators putting a secret hold on Biden's bill) succeed is using these divisions to kill off the whole project.
Are there not other ways for Biden to get the bill through, other than standing on his head or holding up his own allies and jeopardizing research on real high-speed service in his own state?
As Don Phillips of the Washington Post commented, "Kerr, Shane, and Frankel must wonder what it's like to have enemies."
Here's another ironic twist: In search of suspects who might have put that secret hold on the bill, I called the office of the frequently critical Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.).
His spokeswoman, Pia Pialorsi, said the senator would have no reason to put a hold on his own bill.
"It's the Hollings-McCain bill," she told D:F, "It's not Senator Biden's bill," though the Delaware lawmaker had been taking a prominent lead in promoting it and trying to get it through.
Further, she said, the fact that the bill has a hold on it should not prevent it from moving along, complete with any necessary hearings so that "we can find out what's going on."
So McCain, for all his criticisms of Amtrak, does favor necessary security measures. The former chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee is co-sponsoring the $1.8 billion measure to provide security for the thousands of passengers. The other sponsor is Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (D-S.C.), the present committee chairman.
If McCain, often considered Amtrak's public enemy number one, is behind the measure, those NEC passengers who understand the politics of all this must wonder what it's like to have friends.
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CSX is among three defendants
in federal suit over slavery
Three federal lawsuits seeking unspecified reparations for the 35 million descendants of African slaves were filed March 26 against railroad giant CSX, the Aetna Insurance Co., and Fleet Boston Financial Services group. The lawsuits also claim that as many as 1,000 unidentified corporations may have profited from slavery and sometimes helped it continue in the United States between 1619 and 1865, according to a report from The AP.
Any damages would be put into a fund to improve health, education and housing opportunities for blacks, said attorney Roger Wareham, one of a group of lawyers who prepared the lawsuits. The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status.
"This is not about individuals receiving checks in their mailbox," Wareham said.
Only one plaintiff was identified during a news conference announcing the lawsuits. Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, a recent law school graduate whose great-grandparents were slaves, said she spent five years researching evidence provided by more than 60 companies with a role in slavery.
The lawsuits state slavery is a wound that fails to heal, condemning blacks in America to more poverty, unemployment, poor education and clashes with the justice system than other Americans.
"They lag behind whites according to every social yardstick: literacy, life expectancy, income and education," the lawsuits claim. "They are more likely to be murdered and less likely to have a father at home."
Plaintiffs lawyer Ed Fagan said a series of Holocaust lawsuits he helped settle for $8 billion had blazed the legal trail for the slavery action.
CSX said the lawsuits had no merit and should be dismissed.
"Slavery was a tragic chapter in our nation's history," the company said in a statement. "It is a history shared by every American, and its impacts cannot be attributed to any single company or industry."
CSX said it was named as a defendant because slave labor was used to construct portions of some U.S. rail lines "under the political and legal system in place more than a century before CSX was formed in 1980," and added, "Courtrooms are the wrong setting for this issue."
Spokesperson assistant vice-president Kathleen A. Burns said, "CSX is committed to continuing to make our company an excellent workplace, where 35,000 employees of every age, gender, race and ethnic background have opportunities for satisfying work at competitive wages and benefits. The jobs and the services CSX provides benefit families, communities, and our nation's economy and defense. We will oppose the lawsuit vigorously to safeguard those jobs and services."
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|Palm to add business class|
Business class service has been added to inventory of the Silver Palm (train Nos. 89-90). The first departures to feature business class are trains 89 leaving New York at 7:45 a.m., and train 90 leaving Miami at 5:00 p.m., both on April 1.
The equipment is a 59-seat Amfleet II car that features at-seat audio and video entertainment, complimentary non-alcoholic drinks, newspapers, blankets and priority boarding. Similar service is already featured on the Carolinian, train Nos. 79-80, operating between New York and Charlotte, N.C.
Inventory is now in Arrow, Amtrak's computerized reservation system The flip side to the Silver Palm business class addition, and the notice that the Kentucky Cardinal is getting a Viewliner so it can have a sleeper all year, is that the Viewliner sleeping car, and also the dining car, are coming off the New York-Tampa-Miami Silver Palm at the end of April.
The last Palms showing sleeper space in Amtrak's Arrow reservation system are trains 89 and 90 for April 28. Coach space is still sold to Tampa, plus bus connections off the Silver Star and Silver Meteor.
In other schedule-related news, at a recent NARP Region V-VI meeting, Amtrak manager Bill Lerch said with the next timetable change, No. 48, the eastbound Lake Shore Limited, will depart Chicago 35 minutes later at 7:45 p.m. and arrive New York at 3:20 p.m. (20 minutes later). The time (15 minutes) will be made up at Albany and with faster speeds.
Westward No. 49 will still leave New York City at 4:35 p.m. and arrive in Chicago 35 minutes earlier, at 10:35 a.m. Amtrak will then have an additional 70 minutes to turn the train at Chicago.
The carrier apparently wanted No. 49 to leave New York earlier (thus No. 449 to leave Boston earlier), but CSX would not give them the earlier window between Boston and Albany.
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|Amtrak, Delaware police set plans|
Amtrak and Delaware law enforcement authorities last week agreed to work together in future investigations involving rail-related incidents in the state. New Castle County and Wilmington police officials attended the 1 p.m. meeting with state and Amtrak police, state police Maj. David Baylor said.
The hour-long meeting was the result of a communication problem after a man died on March 11 after a train struck him near Newark, Del., Baylor said. In that incident, Amtrak police did not notify police or emergency workers of the fatal accident for more than 90 minutes, according to Delawareonline/News-Journal.
The state medical examiner has since ruled that Buckley M. Aboukoura, 19, of Newark, took his own life by running into the path of the high-speed train.
Amtrak Deputy Chief John O'Connor of New York, who oversees the entire Amtrak system, said in future incidents Amtrak officers would notify local officials immediately when a train hits a person or property in Delaware. Since investigations will be conducted jointly, Delaware will be permitted to interview the locomotive engineer.
After the fatality two weeks ago, Amtrak police allowed the engineer, who saw the victim run onto the tracks, return to his New York home without first being questioned by state police investigating the fatality. Between 1997 and 2000, eight people died in Amtrak-related accidents in Delaware.
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Californians consider rail bonds
California's Planning and Conservation League, authors of the landmark 1990 rail bond (Proposition 116), has now proposed an initiative for the November ballot which would allocate 30 percent of the state sales tax on cars to transportation purposes. Most of the money raised -more than $800 million annually - will go to public transportation.
Some of the categories the initiative would fund include transit capital, which would include, railroad cars, tracks, stations, and buses, $148 million. Transit operations, including rail and bus, would get $139 million; rail and street grade separations, $35 million; passenger rail maintenance, $35 million; intercity rail, $35 million; transit-oriented development, mainly at rail stations, $26 million.
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Hall is among '25 influential
black women in business'
Gerri Mason Hall, Amtrak's vice-president for Business Diversity and Strategic Initiatives, will be honored as one of the "25 Influential Black Women in Business" by The Network Journal magazine.
Hall develops diversity strategies, policies, and initiatives for the corporation. Under her leadership, Amtrak has launched an initiative to provide diversity training for all 24,000 employees nationwide, expanded recruitment of women and minorities, and developed an employee forum program to openly discuss issues of diversity among union and management employees.
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Providence & WorcesterThe Providence & Worcester Railroad turned a meager profit last year, according to its most recent financial report. These engines are leaving the property to be replaced with power with more muscle.
|P&W turns meager profit for 2001|
Providence and Worcester Railroad Co. earned $851,000 in profits last year, down from $2 million in 2000, and stockholders saw their dividends decline, too.
The P&W last week reported its financial results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2001. Diluted income per share decreased to $.19 in 2001 from $.46 in 2000.
Operating revenues for the year were $22.3 million compared to $23.1 million in 2000, a decrease of $871,000, or $3.8 percent. This decrease consists of a $319,000 (1.7 percent) decrease in conventional freight revenues, a $169,000 (5.6 percent) decrease in container freight revenues and a $383,000 (22.2 percent) decrease in revenues from other transportation related services, the freight carrier reported.
While conventional traffic volume increased modestly (1.2 percent) during 2001, the effects of this increase were more than offset by a 2.9 percent decrease in the average revenue received per carloading. This decrease resulted from a shift in traffic mix toward lower rated commodities.
The decrease in container freight revenue is primarily due to a decrease in volume resulting from the loss of a customer and depressed economic conditions. The decline in other freight-related revenues is the result of decreased demurrage charges and maintenance departmental billings. Such revenues vary from year-to-year, depending upon the needs of customers and other outside parties.
Operating expenses for 2001 were $21.9 million, a decrease of $55,000, or .3 percent, from 2000 when such expenses amounted to $22.0 million. Most of the company's operating expenses are of a relatively fixed nature and do not increase or decrease proportionately with changes in operating revenues, according to P&W.
Other income, principally generated from real estate asset management, decreased to $1.0 million in 2001 from $2.0 million in 2000. Income of this nature varies significantly from year to year.
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|CSX reopens Rigolets bridge|
CSX reports it has restored Rigolets bridge to service. Traffic was disrupted over the line, near New Orleans on March 20 after a fire destroyed about 500 feet of the nearly mile-long wooden structure.
The bridge reopened at 6:00 a.m. on Friday, and, CSX stated, "All traffic operations resumed their normal schedules."
A CSX spokesperson said "We will work down the backlog of traffic at New Orleans and points east as soon as possible." CSX trains are no longer being rerouted on other railroads.
Elsewhere, CSX has opened offices in London and Mexico.
CSX Transportation said last week it recently opened a representative office near London, England, with commercial responsibility for all of Europe.
CSX's new presence in Europe supports an increased focus on international freight and the company's overall growth strategy, a carrier spokesperson said.
The new office is led by Peter Mills, director for international sales and marketing.
CSXT recently added a second office in Mexico, established South and Central American sales coverage, and created a domestic Ports Business Development Team to work with service providers at the 45 deep water ports served by CSXT. CSX did not state where in Mexico.
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Dallas and light rail go together
Much to the surprise of many Dallas-area residents, high-density residential developments near the stations of the region's new light-rail system are gaining in popularity. Many communities were wary of such projects in 1996 when the rail system began operations on its first 20 miles of track. Opponents equated high density with shoddy construction, low rent and a wide range of social problems.
But, reports The Wall Street Journal, far less criticism is being heard today as the Dallas area prepares to open another 21 miles of track and 13 new stations. Part of this is due to the success of the rail system, which has attracted many more passengers than anticipated. Also, demand and praise has been high for high-density projects that opened near two of the earlier stations: one new development, named Mockingbird Station, and a Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse that was converted into 455 loft apartments. Real-estate values near most of the stations are now about 25 percent higher than comparable property elsewhere, says Jack Wierzenski, a planner with Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
"We're getting more and more developers who are interested," he said.
Until recently, the highest residential density allowed in Richardson, Texas, was 18 units per acre. But the city just approved a zoning of up to 90 units for the Galatyn Park development being planned by the real-estate arm of Hunt Petroleum Co., near a new station.
"Texans love their pickups and their freedom. They love to get on the road and drive," said Don Dillard, a Hunt vice-president, "but there's a certain breed of cat who's going to ride the rails."
Richardson is making sure, though, that the breed of cat that lives at Galatyn Park is a fat one. As part of its rezoning, the city is retaining the right to sign off on the final design and construction materials to make sure that it's a luxury project that's affordable only to higher-income renters.
"It will bring the kind of resident we want," says Bill Keffler, Richardson's city manager.
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|Scituate, Mass., MBTA reach agreement|
The MBTA will pay Scituate, Mass., $10.4 million to help blunt the impact of a proposed Greenbush commuter rail line as it passes through town.
Scituate joins Hingham, Cohasset, Braintree and Weymouth, which have all signed mitigation agreements with the MBTA, writes The Patriot Ledger of March 27. Scituate was the last town through which the Greenbush line will pass to reach an agreement.
The package includes $3 million to purchase open space, $2.5 million for street improvements in North Scituate and Greenbush, $1 million for a historical resources fund and $490,000 for the replacement of recreational facilities.
''We have, over the past couple of years, seen ourselves criticized for 'dragging it out,'" Selectman Joseph Norton said. ''But we felt strongly that we wanted to get the best possible agreement for the town of Scituate, and I think we can say we did."
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On the North Carolina and Virginia high-speed announcement, how on earth am I listed as "NCDOT spokesman?" I work for the Georgia Passenger Rail Authority as the Rail Manager, not as a spokesman for NCDOT, and I certainly didn't "say" those lovely things.
I'm not sure how this got so messed up. All I did was distribute the press release to the masses, including y'all.
Anyway, I want the world to know that I am not double-dipping.
Alas, Mr. Alexander, I must have had a brain cramp that day. In any event, this will be the lead letter in "We get letters," to set the record straight. My sincerest apologies.- Ed.
Frank Schleicher of Austin, Texas is correct in his assertion that monorail is a viable alternative to at-grade rail, however it is by no means the only alternative. There are hundreds of transit systems throughout the world which use conventional heavy rail, light rail or rapid transit vehicles on grade-separated or elevated rights of way. There are also numerous "people-mover" systems in operation in places such as airports and that cannot be classified as monorail.
Monorails and people-movers are generally chosen for small, isolated transit systems where it is beneficial to have a single source for construction of guideways and vehicles, maintenance and operation.
Conventional rail is generally chosen for larger transit systems because the technologies are well established and compatible with existing systems, and components of the system can be supplied my numerous manufacturers worldwide. The versatility of conventional rail systems was proven recently when Salt Lake City borrowed light rail vehicles from Dallas to augment their own fleet during the winter Olympics.
I would like to point out to you an error in your report on the 23 new streetcars for the new Canal Street line.
The truck assemblies for these new cars are being built by the Brookville Mining Equipment Co. of Brookville Penn. They are also performing the rebuilding of PCC cars for SEPTA's No. 23 line. The truck assemblies for the SEPTA contract are based upon the Clark B3 design.
Mark J. Adamcik
I look forward to your newsletter each Monday and congratulate you once again on the fine job you do.
It is often impossible for me, however, to read the whole issue because for some reason my computer does not load the whole thing, even after several tries. I did not have this problem whenever you split the letter into two parts.
Is there another place on the web I can find the text so that I can read the last part of the issue?
We collectively made a decision several months ago that the burden will have to be on our readers to upgrade their web browsers. We know there are some folks who like what they have, and don't want to change, but it's a technological issue. It is far easier for our webmaster to prepare a single issue, rather than what amounts to three separate issues, to accommodate folks who, for whatever reason, cannot download the entire issue. The problem does not occur in all issues - only those "fat" issues that are heavy with photos, as last week's was. In short, it's a memory issue.- Ed.
The webmaster adds - If anyone is having problems viewing Destination:Freedom I welcome your E-mail as I may be able to offer some solutions to circumvent the problem until an upgrade is feasible. I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For James RePass:
I own a company called Historic Railway Restoration. My company rebuilds trolley cars and is gearing up to begin manufacturing trolleys. I have a question about your article on New Orleans. On page 13 you stated that, "New Orleans might well be able to provide new trolley cars to other cities around the country." My question is, was this a quote from one of the people in the trolley program there, or speculation on your part?
As a future trolley manufacturer of similar cars, we have concerns about the idea of competing against a large public entity such as the city of New Orleans.
Jim RePass, responds:
I think your concerns are misplaced. You should be worried if New Orleans does not get into the market. If they do, they will help legitimize the concept of historic renovation/recreation of streetcar/trolley lines, and thereby grow the size of the marketplace. If they do, firms like yours will find it easier to sell their services, because the potential marketplace is gigantic. New Orleans' involvement - if they indeed ever do get involved, which is open to question as large public entities usually are weak in the marketing area - will only serve to make that market broader
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Railtrack bailout expected soon
Shareholders of the Railtrack Group were expected to be offered a £1.3 billion ($1.8 billion) bailout last week as part of a government-backed bid for the company, the insolvent owner of Britain's train tracks and stations.
The nonprofit company set up by, Transport Secretary Stephen Byers, will offer £500 million ($712 million) for Railtrack, the group's insolvent unit, a government spokeswoman said early last week. Including group assets of £800 million, shareholders would receive 250 pence a share, 30 pence less than the amount they last traded.
Bloomberg News reported from London the government said it would contribute £300 million of taxpayers' money, backing down from previous promises. The move is seen by some as an effort to compensate shareholders and placate the private sector, prompting renewed calls for Mr. Byers to resign.
Railtrack's shares were suspended October 8 at 280 pence, wiping out £1.4 billion ($1.9 billion) of market value, after Byers successfully asked Britain's High Court to put the company into administration (receivership). Railtrack Group and its shareholders have been preparing to sue the government for compensation.
"The group has had no formal offer as yet; however, this appears to be a positive move forward towards achieving our aim of getting fair value for shareholders," a spokeswoman for the Railtrack Group, Sue Clark, said in an interview.
Meanwhile, Railtrack Group has confirmed it is at an "advanced stage" of talks to sell its stake in the English Channel tunnel rail link in a deal worth more than £350 million that will bring a payout for shareholders a step closer, according to The Guardian. The disposal emerged as unions and investors expressed further reservations about a £500 million rescue plan for the national infrastructure by Network Rail, a not-for-profit firm launched on Monday.
Elsewhere, Eurotunnel, the cash-strapped operator of the Channel tunnel, is to lower its debt by £400 million to £6 billion by reshuffling its finances through an issue of long-term bonds.
The company, which expects to miss its target of generating enough cash to cover interest payments this year, intends to raise £740 million of new financing from investors.
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ASCE -Second international conference
Supply Chain Expo
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
ASLRRA annual meeting and exhibition
World Center Marriott
NCI 2002 Conference
Washington, D.C. Marriott Hotel
This conference will feature a major debate about the future and direction of passenger rail in America, conducted by the people who will actually determine that outcome.
Conference speakers will include Amtrak Board Chair Michael Dukakis, Amtrak Reform Council Chair Gil Carmichael and Executive Director Tom Till, DOT Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson, Author Tony Hiss, Barron's magazine editor Tom Donlan, Florida rail activist and businessman Doc Dockery, Janelletech President Janellen Riggs, rail consultant Randy Resor of Zeta-Tech Associates, Inc., Railway Age magazine editor Bill Vantuono, attorney and rail activist James Coston, and many other of the top thinkers and "doers" in American rail and transit industries.
Further details regarding advance registration will be announced in upcoming issues of Destination: Freedom.
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NCI: Leo KingHow things change! Before there was catenary and electric trains and Acela Expresses, not even five years ago, Commuter Rail, as in Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, operated under contract by Amtrak, had four or five tracks in Southampton Street Yard. How that has changed. Now, the commuter service is happy if they can get one track overnight in the yard. They store trains on tracks that were intended to be running tracks, inside a two-track structure that was supposed to be for running repairs, and otherwise scrounge for a place to park their trains. A new facility at Readville, Mass., was intended to be the site for Commuter Rail to park its trains, but Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who lives near the yard, has demanded the T park its trains elsewhere. T management, apparently lacking a backbone, caved in two years ago, and won't park anything there overnight, except the Readville switcher.
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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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