Vol. 7 No. 22
May 15, 2006

Copyright © 2006
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

Destination:Freedom
The E-Zine of the National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
President and CEO - Jim RePass
Publisher - Jim RePass      Editor - Molly McKay
Webmaster - Dennis Kirkpatrick

A weekly North American rail and transit update

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

* Now in our Seventh Year *

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

  News items... 
Mayors sound alarm on rising fuel costs, energy crisis;
   USCM hosts national summit on energy and the
   environment in Chicago, May 10-11
Governor’s bond package to be on November ballot
  Off the Main Line… 
Transit-Oriented development moves forward
   near Boston T-stop
  Safety lines… 
Emergency plans and practice lead to better preparedness
  Across the Pond… 
Anglo-Scot high speed route plan outlined
  Commuter lines … 
Commuter rail link one ‘stop’ closer?
  Freight lines… 
Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway: Service Reduction
Schweitzer: Agency should help Montana gain more rail competition
  Friday closing quotes… 
  End notes… 

Mayors sound alarm on rising fuel costs, energy crisis;

USCM hosts national summit on energy and
the environment in Chicago, May 10-11

From the Internet
Source: U.S Newswire

WASHINGTON, May 10 -- With record-level gas prices and rising fuel costs in America, The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), led by Conference President Long Beach Mayor Beverly O’Neill and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, hosted an urgent National Summit on Energy and the Environment on May 10 to 11 in Chicago, reported Rhonda Spears Bell and Elena Temple of USCM.

Approximately 35 mayors joined with industry experts and the private sector to discuss a broad range of topics including air quality, climate change, alternative energy sources, alternative vehicles, public transit and green housing and buildings.

“Mayors are very concerned about the recent spike in fuel and energy costs and the financial burden it places on American citizens and their families. We know that aggressive action is necessary to turn this tide, and we are taking the lead in addressing the nation’s energy challenges to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. We can not wait on the federal government; we must do what mayors do best and act now,” said Conference President Beverly O’Neill.

The nation’s mayors are at the forefront of the national effort to find long-term solutions to the energy crisis. They hear Bush’s “addicted to oil” declaration and have already taken steps in their cities to move America toward energy independence. They have implemented innovative programs that provide short term solutions and have distributed a best practice guide which outlines these programs at the Summit. Numerous cities like Chicago, Ill., Austin, Texas, Los Angeles, Calif. and Charlotte, N.C., contributed to the guide that illustrates specifically how mayors are dealing with this crisis on a local level.

Mayor Daley underscored the importance of the best practice guide saying, “There are things that mayors can do to help our constituents deal with the energy crisis. And that’s why we’re having this conference - to share ideas on how we can conserve energy and encourage the development of new forms of energy.”

Already, mayors have implemented innovative programs in their cities that provide short-term solutions to energy independence. A best practice guide that outlines these programs was released at the Summit. Numerous cities like Chicago, Ill., Austin, Texas, Los Angeles, Calif. and Charlotte, N.C., contributed to the guide that illustrates specifically how mayors are dealing with this crisis on a local level.

Mayor Daley underscored the importance of the best practice guide saying, “There are things that mayors can do to help our constituents deal with the energy crisis. And that’s why we’re having this conference - to share ideas on how we can conserve energy and encourage the development of new forms of energy.”

An Energy/Environment Conservation Action Agenda will be further developed and issued at the Conference’s Annual Meeting in June in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Below are six of the items on the Action Agenda:

  1. Invest more money in transportation options including public and mass transit, bike paths, etc.
  2. Encourage at the local, state, and federal level the building or rehabilitation of more energy efficient buildings in both the public and private sector.
  3. Encourage automakers to make more energy efficient cars as well as encouraging individuals to buy vehicles that are more energy efficient including alternative fuels, hybrids, and plug- in hybrids.
  4. Encourage more investment in renewable and alternative energy through additional incentives.
  5. Encourage more mixed-use development to allow people to have more walkable communities.
  6. Encourage the public and private sector, as well as citizens, to do their part in conserving energy.

The following mayors participated in the U.S. Conference of Mayors Summit on Energy and the Environment:

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today, each represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.

Contact: Rhonda Spears Bell, 301-651-2126(cell), rspears@usmayors.org or Elena Temple, 202-861-6719, etemple@usmayors.org, both of The United States Conference of Mayors.


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Governor’s bond package
to be on November ballot

Across the wires from Bay City News Wire and the Los Angeles Times

OAKLAND, CA, MAY 8 -- Speaking at a news conference at the Oakland International Airport, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his $37.3 billion bond package which he said will be “terrific for the whole state of California” if voters approve it.

$20 billion will go for highway, rail and port projects, $10.4 billion for school and university construction and remodeling, $4.1 billion for flood control and $2.85 billion for housing, parks and transit linked development.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the bond package involves twice as much borrowing as has ever been put to the electorate at one time. The report quoted Schwarzenegger in a statement: “For the first time in a generation, we are making a real investment in our state’s future. The Strategic Growth Plan will build new schools and fix old ones, strengthen our levees to help prevent a Katrina-style disaster, and reduce traffic congestion so Californians can spend more time with their families.”

Much of the $20 billion for transportation will be designated to alleviate the state’s crowded commercial corridors and help move goods from California’s ports. The proposal also designates $1 billion to improve 400 miles of California 99, which runs through the state’s Republican-leaning center, and $4 billion for public transportation, a priority of Democratic-led cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.


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OFF THE MAIN LINE...  Off the Main Line...

Transit-Oriented development
moves forward near Boston ‘T’-stop

By DF Staff and from The Boston Globe

BOSTON---Twenty-five years ago Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood was dotted with abandoned and run down homes, and the prices of the scruffy Boston neighborhood’s famed triple-deckers not in that category was only in the $30,000-$50,000 range. Urban pioneers swarmed in, inspired by the very first episode of This Old House --- based on a Dorchester rehab job.

Today you would be lucky to find a condo for less than $200,000 in one of those homes, and the triple-deckers themselves can reach $1 million.

At the same time, the cost of insuring a motor vehicle in Boston often exceeds $2,000 and if you have a teenage son it’s even more --- a lot more.

For that reason, and because housing prices and transportation costs have been driving population from Massachusetts, the promise of new housing construction around or within walking distance of transit stops --- transit-oriented development --- has become an increasingly attractive option for builders and developers, and for politicians who seek to combat Massachusetts’ image as an expensive place to live.

So at the Red Line’s Ashmont Station, it is no surprise that new construction of a major TOD has been announced.

The Boston Globe reported recently that Massachusetts’ Governor Mitt Romney’s administration “…has given the green light to redevelopment around the Ashmont Red Line station, which is to include 116 new apartments and condos. Romney recently announced the award of $2.75 million in loans from several state agencies for the new housing and retail complex next to the busy transit hub,” the Globe said.

Globe Correspondent Report Robert Preer reported, “Trinity Financial, Inc., a Boston private developer, plans to break ground this spring on the $50 million project, which will include 10,000 square feet of retail space. The housing is to consist of 74 affordable rental units and 42 market-rate condominiums.”

“The retail space probably will include a restaurant or cafe, according to Trinity vice president Vince Droser,” the Globe reported. He said “construction probably would take 18 to 20 months.”

“Romney announced the state loans as part of a $516.5 million package of aid to projects located near transportation hubs across the state,” the Globe reported. The station itself, in poor shape, will also rebuilt at a cost of about 50 million, the Globe said.

Robert Preer of the Globe can be reached at preer@globe.com.


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SAFETY LINES...  Safety lines...

Emergency plans and practice
lead to better preparedness

Source: Amtrak Ink

At approximately 7:26 p.m. on Sept. 8, 2005, Amtrak and Metropolitan Transit Authority personnel evacuated three-quarters of New York Penn Station after a two-alarm fire erupted under platform 4. The fire formed a thick cloud of smoke throughout the station and caused minor injuries to railroad and fire department employees, heavy damage to an elevator and major disruption to rail operations. All service on the 21 normally busy tracks was shut down for nearly four hours, while the New York Fire Department and other emergency personnel worked to extinguish the fire and expedite the return of normal station operations.

This is just a glimpse into the complexity of one of the incidents that Fire and Life Safety Officer Gary Hearn responded to last year. Hearn is a member of the Amtrak’s Emergency Prepared-ness group, which helps the railroad prepare to manage disasters and other emergencies on trains and at stations and facilities system-wide, including the Amtrak-owned New York Tunnel system. By planning and orchestrating training programs and drills, the group works to minimize safety risks and maximizes efficient responses during an emergency or disaster. Hearn, Washington-based managers Arthur Candenquist and Jeff Wiegel, Josie Harper in Chicago and Dave Albert in Los Angeles comprise the Amtrak’s Office of Emergency Prepared-ness, led by Senior Director Larry Beard in Washington.

Members of the Santa Maria Calif., Fire Department practice removing a victim through the window of a coach in a practice drill

Photo: Amtrak Ink

During the hands-on section of a three-day emergency response class conducted by Manager Dave Albert, members of the Santa Maria Calif., Fire Department practice removing a victim through the window of a coach.

“We are responsible for developing a joint response plan with every major freight railroad that Amtrak operates over and an emergency action plan with the commuter railroads and the New York City response agencies,” explained Beard.

In addition to managing passenger train emergencies, the group tests, directs and audits emergency evacuation plans for Amtrak’s corporate headquarters, 20 major maintenance facilities and over 200 staffed stations.

Training: Key to effective response

“Conducting training drills places Amtrak and its safety partners in the best position to handle a broad range of emergencies,” noted Environmental Health and Safety Vice President Roy Deitchman. The training covers responses to train collisions, derailments, fires and natural disasters as well as bomb threats and terrorist attacks on Amtrak property. To better prepare a range of agencies for a variety of incidents on the rail-road, the Emergency Preparedness team provides first-responder training.

“Depending on the magnitude of the emergency, multiple response agencies report to the scene,” explains Josie Harper. This includes local, state and federal emergency management, law enforcement and emergency medical personnel, as well as volunteer agencies such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. There are an estimated 22,000 local responding agencies along the Amtrak rail network. Last fiscal year, approximately 5,000 emergency personnel were trained and certified in Passenger Train Emergency Response. Depending on the size of the agency and its role in the emergency, training may range from four hours of classroom instruction combined with hands-on equipment familiarization, to a full-scale Mass Casualty Incident drill.

During the classroom and equipment familiarization instruction, responders study emergency procedures, such as how to properly remove emergency exit windows. Participants are taught how to turn seats in coach cars, which increases available working space in front of an emergency exit window. “Responders also learn how to raise and lower the sleeping car berths so the task is not foreign to them when searching for victims during an emergency,” explained Wiegel.

To facilitate interaction with train and engine and on-board service crews during an emergency, the Emergency Preparedness managers also acquaint responders with these employees’ job duties. For example, in the event of a derailment, first responders should know which on-board personnel can best assist with navigating a particular wrecked car.

Responders are also taught the locations and operation of locomotive emergency fuel cutoff switches and the electrical and pneumatic hazards to minimize the risk of coming in contact with potentially dangerous electrical cables and hoses.

“The training proved to be quite beneficial during the April 2004 derailment in Flora, Miss.,” explained Candenquist. Several members of the Ridgeland, Miss., fire department had attended a training program that Candenquist conducted at the Meridian Public Safety Training Academy in Meridian, Miss., just three months earlier. “They arrived at the scene armed with the knowledge and experience with which to conduct an expedient search and rescue mission.” Consequently, the academy and agencies in neighboring communities have scheduled more classes.

During training, the Emergency Preparedness team also informs responders about Operation Lifesaver, a national program dedicated to eliminating highway-rail grade-crossing accidents and trespasser incidents. The group, along with representatives from Operation Lifesaver, freight railroads and local law enforcement agencies also coordinate Officer on the Train programs, such as an annual Rainbow Train that Dave Albert is involved with in Southern California. Designated as the Rainbow Train, the consist is comprised of a variety of equipment from participating railroads, including BNSF Railway, Metrolink, Amtrak and Union Pacific.

Aboard the Rainbow Train, local police officers and media representatives travel in the locomotive to witness trespassers, while other officers stationed at grade crossings issue warnings or citations. “They are always amazed at the large number of close calls — it’s not uncommon for the officers to issue between 60 and 100 citations in a day,” explained Albert.

Disaster Drill: A well-designed training event

Amtrak conducts at least one Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) drill per year. An MCI drill, which sometimes includes volunteers playing the part of injured victims, is a planned event that involves local fire and rescue, emergency medical service, law enforcement and emergency management personnel as well as Amtrak’s Consolidated National Operations Center (CNOC) and the Amtrak Police Department.

Albert, along with the BNSF and local response agencies, conducted an MCI drill in November in California that simulated a terrorist attack involving the release of a dangerous chemical nerve agent on board the train. “Generally, the benefit of simulated emergencies is that they reveal potential vulnerabilities that might not have been previously considered. The goal of this particular drill was to measure how well the agencies communicated with each other. One of the benefits from this exercise was that we found that one of the participant’s radio systems was not linked to other agencies,” said Albert. “These drills help us find out these kinds of things and fix them before a real emergency happens.”

Analyzing and measuring the effectiveness of the drill enables the Emergency Preparedness team to identify areas that call for corrective action. After the drill, various elements of the exercise are critiqued, such as the timeliness and accuracy of the notification of the event, what communications channels were used and the subsequent response. The time it takes for information to travel from a conductor, engineer, dispatcher, CNOC, Amtrak Police and host railroad is of vital importance. “In an emergency, effective plans and good communication are necessary elements to help response teams be better prepared and to mitigate risks to our employees and opera-tions,” explained Police and Security Vice President Alfred Broadbent.

Investigating an incident

During an actual train disaster that involves injuries or fatalities, the Emergency Preparedness managers, along with representatives from Environ-mental Health and Safety, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and host railroad, form a “Survival Factors” committee. The purpose of this committee is to establish the probable cause of injuries and fatalities, to find out how well evacuation procedures were executed, and to examine how well the train equipment performed.

To obtain this information, each of these groups thoroughly inspects the cars and locomotives make note of any evidence that would help determine if and how the equipment contributed to the cause of injuries or casualties. To gain even more insight, Emergency Preparedness managers assist the NTSB in conducting interviews with passengers and crew members. During the on-site investigations, which sometimes last for several days, the committee meets daily to discuss its findings. After a thorough review, the NTSB submits a list of recommendations to several emergency response and public safety agencies, including the Federal Railroad Administration, which may then require the railroads involved to adopt recommendations to improve railroad safety standards.

A response plan unlike most others

While this department focuses on trains and facilities across the system, New York’s Penn Station presents a unique set of emergency preparedness circumstances due to the high number of commuters and trains that pass through the station and the 15-mile tunnel system every day.

Whenever an emergency occurs at the station or in the New York Tunnel System, Fire and Life Safety Officer Gary Hearn is the point person to coordinate the response efforts. And this is no small undertaking — Penn Station is a massive 28-acre facility that sits under Madison Square Garden and serves a half million people and 1,400 Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit trains a day. Hearn also oversees the New York Tunnel system, which consists of seven tunnels that feed into the station.

Emergency responders put on their hazardous materials suits during a drill at Holgate Yards in Seattle, Wash.

Photo: Amtrak Ink

Emergency responders put on their hazardous materials suits during a drill at Holgate Yards in Seattle, Wash. Amtrak, BNSF Railway and Sounder Commuter Rail participated in the scenario that involved the release of an unknown chemical on board an Amtrak train.

According to Hearn, “The more familiar the responders are with the station and tunnels, the faster they will be able to handle an emergency with the least amount of disruption to Amtrak operations.” To that end, Hearn conducts weekly emergency response training and disaster drills for a number of agencies including fire and police departments, emergency medical services, Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and the New York City Office of Emergency Management.

During training, Hearn familiarizes responders with the physical characteristics of the tunnels that lead into the station. The six North and East River tunnels are two-and-a-half miles long each and the Empire Tunnel is 1,600 feet long. Hearn also covers the electrical hazards associated with the 12,000- volt catenary power that runs through the ceiling of the tunnel and 750-volt third rail power on the tracks.

“To help them understand first-hand what the conditions are like inside the tunnels, I also have them climb up the 98-foot spiral staircase that leads to the street,” said Hearn. The spiral staircase, which will soon be replaced by a four-foot wide scissor-style staircase, is used by responders for quick access in emergencies. He also points out the location of safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, track access ladders and wayside telephones as well as cross-passageways, which are doorways that provide alternate access to adjacent tunnels.

“Until they undergo the training, most responders don’t realize how large Penn Station actually is,” explains Hearn. So he walks them through the five-level complex, takes them to the platform areas and provides them with an overview of Penn Station Central Control, where train dispatchers direct the movement of all trains to and from the station and the tunnel system. He also familiarizes them with the command post, which is where emergency responders and railroad personnel meet during an emergency. This area is equipped with portable radios, cell phones, hard-line phones and wayside communication units used to maintain the lines of communications during an emergency. It also contains control panels that operate the track level emergency exhaust fans used when fire or smoke is present.

In addition to training, Hearn collaborates with other agencies and responders to conduct emergency drills at Penn Station and in the tunnel system. Last year, Hearn lead an exercise during which fire department personnel rescued other firefighters posing as passengers trapped inside a (simulated) train ablaze in the East River Tunnel. In this case, by acting as victims, the firefighters gained a better understanding of what passengers experience in that kind of situation.

While it is important for the responders to gain familiarity with Penn Station operations, it is equally important for employees working there to know what to expect and how to respond in an emergency. Because of the extraordinary scale of New York Penn operations and its infrastructure, these employees attend special training sessions.

All station employees participate in a three-hour emergency response class that includes evacuation procedures, the roles and responsibilities of responding agencies and employees during an emergency. The Emergency Action Plan is also covered, which includes steps to be taken if a fire erupts in a train or tunnel, particularly noting how quickly smoke can travel through tunnels.

Of the 72 incidents that required emergency response at Penn Station last year, only two resulted in a major disruption of service. Hearn attributes that to the training programs and the solid working relationship between Amtrak employees and responding agencies.

Employees also play a key role in preventing emergencies at Penn Station. Hearn, along with employees of various departments, conducts fire and safety inspections of the station and the tunnel every month. At the station and track areas, they look for everything from a build-up of rubbish to exposed wiring and inoperable fire extinguishers. The group also performs tunnel inspections that involve ensuring that the telephones are working properly, the doors to the cross-passageways close properly and the lighting is adequate.

“Because we do so much training to improve awareness, our employees are better prepared and more confident in dealing with emergencies and responders. Employees realize that they are an important part of the response team,” explained Assistant Superintendent of Stations Mike Gallagher.


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ACROSS THE POND...  Across the pond...

Anglo-Scot high speed
route plan outlined

Source: Railnews UK

MAY 7 -- Plans for a 300 km/h (186 mph) rail line between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Scotland have been outlined by Network Rail, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

Pressure for a new, fast line has been growing for some time, and the former Transport Secretary Alistair Darling did not rule it out, preferring to await a long-term transport strategy review, due later this year, by former BA chief Sir Rod Eddington.

“Now,” reported The Sunday Times, “Ian Coucher, Network Rail’s deputy chief executive, will outline the case for the line at a conference in central London hosted by the Institution of Civil Engineers.”

According to the newspaper, Network Rail believes the route, if given the green light by the government, should run parallel to the existing west coast main line, departing from London and serving Birmingham and Manchester before terminating in Glasgow or possibly Edinburgh.

Similar route options were developed over 15 years ago by British Rail’s InterCity business as part of its West Coast route modernization proposals but never progressed after the then Conservative government announced plans to privatize BR.

BR envisaged a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), but The Sunday Times reports that Ian Coucher will refer to a line “with speeds around 300 km/h (186 mph), and should be capable of integrating with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) and existing rail lines for access to city centers.”

The Sunday Times says Network Rail estimates that the line could be delivered for £11 billion to £14 billion. A fleet of electric trains, similar to the TGVs that operate in France, would cost another £650m.

The Times article says that Network Rail has calculated that, to succeed, it will require 90% of all people traveling between London and Manchester to use the train rather than fly and 70% of market share on routes between London and Scotland.

The need for more track capacity has been highlighted in a special article, published in the May 2006 print edition of Railnews, by Jonathan Metcalfe, Chief Operating Officer of GNER. He writes:

“In the longer-term, more track capacity is required if the railway is to make headway in achieving long-term, sustainable growth versus other modes of travel. . . .

“. . . For the rail industry, the Eddington Review, jointly commissioned by the Department for Transport and the Treasury and led by former British Airways boss Rod Eddington, provides a great opportunity to address the capacity challenge across all forms of transport. A report is due this summer on the link between transport and productivity, as part of a review of transport’s long-term needs and influence.

“We hope that one of its recommendations will be to push for a new North-South High Speed Line between London and Scotland, which will significantly increase capacity, dramatically reduce journey times, and help rail compete much more effectively with domestic airlines.”

Last month, Scotland’s Transport Minister Tavish Scott also gave impetus to the plan when he said a high-speed rail link between Scotland and London could mean there will be no need for a new runway at Edinburgh airport.

“We do need to consider whether greater environmental benefit and improvements in journey times [could be achieved] by promoting and working with the UK Government on a fast rail link to the south,” said Mr. Scott.

See: http://www.railnews.co.uk/news.aspx?id=2633


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COMMUTER LINES...  Commuter lines...

Commuter rail link one ‘stop’ closer?

Over the Internet from the Woonsocket Call

WOONSOCKET, MAY 4 -- The City of Woonsocket has been granted an award of $40,000 for a commuter rail feasibility study that is part of the Statewide Planning Program, reported Michael Holtzman in a story for the Woonsocket Call.

The study will include two commuter rail possibilities: connecting Woonsocket to Providence through the existing Providence and Worcester (P&W) rail lines and restoring service along historic rails to connect with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) line in Franklin to Boston, nine miles from the city.

“The major study objective is to determine the feasibility, challenges and benefits associated with both of these routes,” the application states.

‘This is an exciting project for the city,” said City Planner Catherine Ady.

The recent grant award has city officials optimistic they’re chugging in the right direction. The Statewide Planning Program announced the funding - matched by $10,000 in related services - after the city planning office submitted an application and became one of 11 projects the state approved. There were 23 applications.

Owen T. Bebeau, administrative assistant to Mayor Susan D. Menard, who has helped galvanize support for the initial funds, responded enthusiastically to the news, the article reported.

“This is big,” he said. “If and when this happens, it will be a boom not just to this downtown but to the entire community and beyond.”

“If you have a rail system right here, it’s just good for the sales of homes and condos and business,” he said.

Four state agencies, the Statewide Planning Program (SPP), the Department of Transportation, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority and the Department of Environmental Management will stay in concert with other communities undertaking commuter rail service to avoid duplication of services.

“While Woonsocket would be at the center of this analysis, the study would also examine the effect the commuter rail would have on the surrounding communities of northern Rhode Island, the Blackstone Valley and other relevant Massachusetts communities,” Ady wrote in a Feb. 23 application letter to the SPP.

Foremost, the study will examine “obstacles and opportunities associated with bringing commuter rail service to Woonsocket,” Ady said.

The application further says the study would provide the state with a better understanding of commuter rail potential for this area. “Positioned at the crossroads of two rail lines, Woonsocket is the perfect place to begin this exploration,” Ady wrote.

Officials cited the city’s history of rail service and recently changing demographics as benefits converging in the right direction.

“While Woonsocket would be at the center of this analysis, the study would also examine the effect the commuter rail would have on the surrounding communities of northern Rhode Island, the Blackstone Valley and other relevant Massachusetts communities,” Ady wrote in a Feb. 23 application letter to the SPP.

Foremost, the study will examine “obstacles and opportunities associated with bringing commuter rail service to Woonsocket,” Ady said.

Expected to take roughly six months, the key tasks would include: assessing projected ridership; analyzing constraints and opportunities; forming a public outreach plan to build support; and making final recommendations.


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FREIGHT LINES...  Freight lines...

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway:
Service Reduction

© Atlantic Northeast Rails and Ports Bulletin
By Chalmers “Chop” Hardenburgh

NORTHERN MAINE JUNCTION, MAY 9---- The Montreal, Maine, & Atlantic Railway will reduce the level of train service due to a traffic decline, reports the upcoming edition of the Atlantic Northeast Rails and Ports published by rail journalist Chalmers “Chop” Hardenburgh.

MMA employees were informed of the change by Vice-president Human Resources Gaynor Ryan. The new, reduced service plan will take effect on 22 May. Workers affected by the cutback have the chance to move to vacant positions, such as in track gangs, or to take a voluntary (unpaid) layoff with six months of health insurance continuing. {text of letter}

Temporary traffic problems.

Ed Burkhardt, company president, listed three factors in the traffic downturn.

Georgia-Pacific mill closure. In March, G-P shut the mill in Old Town pending possible sale [see 06#03B]. While Guilford Rail System (GRS), not MMA, directly served the mill, MMA’s chip move of 20 cars a day to South Lagrange was stopped.

Burkhardt expected either that the mill will re-open [observers in Old Town expect an announcement next week–editor] or that the chips will move to other destinations given the demand for biomass in the Atlantic Northeast.

Tafisa fire. An explosion 17 April at Tafisa Canada’s particleboard mill in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, idled production. The explosion and ensuing fire caused extensive damage to the mill’s 10-foot continuous press line. Estimates indicate the line may be down for two to four months. The plant’s 9-foot line was also damaged, and the mill’s melamine production was interrupted. Tafisa is Canada’s largest particle board manufacturer, with an annual capacity of 547 million square feet on a 3/4-inch basis. {Random Lengths Daily Wood Wire, Curtailment Watch 19.Apr.06}

While immediately after the fire, officials predicted a quick restart, Burkhardt reported that the 10-foot line, constituting 70% of production, could take up to six months to restart; the company had not even yet decided to do so. The other two lines can start up more quickly. MMA provides primarily outbound rail service; if the other lines restart, then it would recover about 30% of the mill’s rail traffic. Burkhardt said that the total traffic was a “bigger piece than the chips” and hence the fire and explosion was a major hit to MMA Soft paper business. At the same time, outbound rail from the paper mills on MMA are “soft,” he stated. Some “small spot shipments move by truck. This is not a long-term problem, but short-term things need to be dealt with.” Burkhardt summed up: “Fundamentally there is nothing wrong, this is a short-term blip. This is life in business.”

{ANR&P discussion 11.May.06}

(The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway operates over 745 route miles of track and associated trackage in Maine, Vermont, Quebec and New Brunswick. MMA was formed by Rail World, Inc., Chicago, IL).

The Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports is issued twice a month, containing 12 pages per issue, covering the freight railroads, international cargo ports, intermodal terminals, and their government environments. See a sample issue Subscription rates vary.

The ANR & P e-bulletin is published about 30 times a year with immediate news. It is sent free of charge between regular issues by email to all subscribers. See www.atlanticnortheast.com for further information


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Schweitzer: Agency should help Montana
gain more rail competition

Across the wires from the Associated Press

WASHINGTON, MAY 8 -- Governor Schweitzer criticized a federal regulatory agency for not doing enough to encourage more railroad competition in Montana, reported a story from Associated Press.

Democrat Schweitzer told the Surface Transportation Board (STB) in Washington that Montana shippers are paying more than their fair share. He said the company, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, is charging fuel surcharges that are greater than the actual fuel costs on rail movements from Montana.

He claims that the STB is allowing this monopoly, according to the article.

B-N-S-F controls more than 90 percent of the rail traffic in Montana, the governor says, and more than 19-hundred miles of Montana rail lines have been abandoned over the past 30 years because there is no railroad competition.

Gus Melonas, spokesman for the railroad, had no comment. He said he needed to look over the governor’s testimony thoroughly.


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STOCKS...  Selected Friday closing quotes...

Source: MarketWatch.com

  Friday One Week
Earlier
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)79.5583.19
Canadian National (CNI)45.1347.59
Canadian Pacific (CP)54.8555.41
CSX (CSX)70.7274.19
Florida East Coast (FLA)57.3855.66
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)30.1033.87
Kansas City Southern (KSU)26.5227.44
Norfolk Southern (NSC)54.3756.20
Providence & Worcester (PWX)16.7316.54
Union Pacific (UNP)94.3793.25


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End Notes...

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the editor at editor@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. M. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

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

Photo submissions are welcome. NCI is always interested in images that demonstrate the positive aspects of rail, transit, and intermodalism, as well as of current newsworthy events associated with our mission. Please contact the webmaster in advance of sending images so we can recommend attachment by e-mail or grant direct file transfer protocols (FTP) access depending on size and number. Descriptive text which includes location, train name, and something about the content of the image is encouraged. We will credit the photographer and offer a return link to your e-mail address or web site.

Journalists and others who wish to receive high quality NCI-originated images by Leo King and other photo journalists should contact our webmaster@nationalcorridors.org for additional information.

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 transportation initiative 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 link, please send the uniform resource locator address (URL) our webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.


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