NCI: Leo KingFlorida is a growing railroad state. Consider No. 97 coming around Honeymoon Wye and Dennis Street in Jacksonville on CSX enroute to Miami -on time at 12:50 p.m. last Tuesday. Next year, one "Silver Service" train will travel over Florida East Coast Ry. iron.
|House committee delays rail bills|
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has postponed markup of two major passenger rail bills. The reasons are primarily linked with labor matters. There has been much jockeying behind the scenes, but as nearly as D:F can tell from sources on Capitol Hill in rail labor, management, and passenger advocacy communities.
We've been able to piece together why the measures are being delayed. The postponed legislation included H.R. 2950, which would primarily provide financing of high-speed rail infrastructure. Its official title is The Infrastructure Development and Expansion Act of the 21st Century nicknamed "Ride-21."
Another delayed measure is H.R. 4545, which would authorize appropriations for the benefit of Amtrak for Fiscal Year 2003 -The Amtrak Reauthorization Act of 2002.
Committee chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) has sponsored both measures.
There is no problem with the Amtrak bill, but Young reportedly wants the two measures to go forward in unison. He favors high-speed rail and does not want it to be shoved on to the back shelf any longer. He apparently is convinced that if people are serious about passenger train service, merely another bill to get Amtrak by for another year will not be enough. High-speed rail must go along with the package, in his view. Both are intended to complement each other.
The problems involve what kind of labor contracts will take precedence in some of the work done in building a high-speed rail infrastructure. The bill, as it emerged, is without Davis-Bacon language-paying "prevailing (union) wages" in constructing high-speed rail infrastructure - despite the fact that Young, who considers himself a pro-labor Republican, favors Davis-Bacon.
He said he understands that the House leadership won't let anything go to the floor with Davis-Bacon language, so his thought was to send the bill without that provision, believing that it can be changed on the House floor or, failing that, in the Senate.
One labor leader tells D:F that he is confident that a vote on the House floor would restore Davis-Bacon, but that has not stopped committee Democrats from asking the chairman, "Why doesn't the bill include the language we both favor?"
There is also another issue of exactly which workers in the construction process will come under the Davis-Bacon law and which will come under the Railway Labor Act. Although much, though not all, of the dispute in this was been worked out, some of what the rail labor and building trades unions have actually agreed upon has caused some problems with rail management.
Ed Hamberger, President and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, fired off a letter to Young objecting to a provision in the bill saying "any rail-related service" would be subject to the terms of the Railroad Retirement Act and Railway Labor Act.
Hamberger says this is too expansive and could cover non-railroad contractors that the rail industry deals with today on a regular basis.
Secondly, a part of the legislation would have the effect of "forever freezing in place" obligations of the owner of the rail network on the date the bill is enacted in connection with high speed rail lines funded under the bill.
"Unacceptable," says Hamberger.
"In essence," he says, "it would require the freight railroads to perform any work on future high-speed rail lines even if these lines were subsequently sold or otherwise transferred."
Collective bargaining agreements would also be frozen in place. AAR believes this is unreasonable and "would apply to any work on future high-speed rail lines, taking away from all parties the flexibility to address changing circumstances."
One labor leader said he does not see the Hamberger objections as something that can't be addressed.
That's where matters stood going into the Memorial Day weekend.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) was gathering more signatures to a pro-Amtrak letter being circulated on Capitol Hill.
On the Senate side, the Appropriations Committee approved an emergency bill, which included $55 million for safety measures allowing Amtrak to repair damaged cars immediately and overhaul and upgrade existing trains. This is a high priority with Amtrak's new president, David Gunn.
Federal Railroad Administration chief Allan Rutter Friday granted $1,250,000 to California High Speed Rail for environmental and technical studies, and $3,000,000 to Florida High-Speed Rail to prepare an environmental impact statement.
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|Amtrak gets cash to fix cars|
Amtrak reported on Friday that the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to give Amtrak $55 million for security measures and wreck damage repair as part of a $31-billion emergency supplemental funding bill.
Under the plan, approved on Thursday, Amtrak would spend $20 million to return 56 damaged cars into service within the next 12 to 18 months. This would allow cars, such as those damaged recently in the Auto Train derailment, to return more quickly to service than planned.
Another $23 million would be used for equipment overhauls, which are currently being deferred. In reaction to Amtrak's estimated increased security cost of $17 million this year, the emergency funding bill would also provide $12 million on top of the $5 million in federal funds recently provided to the company for security reimbursements.
This legislation will go to full Senate for consideration after the Memorial Day recess. If passed by the Senate, any differences between the bill and a similar House bill would have to be ironed out before final passage on to the President for signature this summer. However, if signed into law it could mean that Amtrak would receive these emergency and security-related funds before the federal grant it expects in October for capital and operating needs.
Amtrak has told the Senate that it estimates that the work generated from this funding will allow the company to restore as many as 30 jobs at Bear, Del., that were furloughed earlier this year.
In a statement yesterday, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden said, "This funding is a solid first step. It will allow Amtrak to make immediate repairs to unusable cars and upgrade inadequate equipment. I am especially pleased that a good deal of this repair work will be done at the Bear and Wilmington facilities, restoring dozens of jobs in Delaware. But I want to be clear - this funding is not nearly enough. Congress still needs to address Amtrak's security and capital improvement needs and provide the ailing system with a steady and reliable stream of funding. We're making progress, but we are nowhere near the finish line."
Former Amtrak board member and Delaware Sen. Tom Carper said, "If this passes, it could mean millions of dollars in business and dozens of new jobs for Delaware's rail shops. Railcars and locomotives that now sit damaged could be out carrying passengers, but they're not. The workers in Delaware's rail shops have the skill to put these cars back into service. With this appropriation, Amtrak has the resources to put them to work. This appropriation meets a short-term need, but we must not lose sight of the long-term goal. The long-term goal must be to enact a dedicated source of capital funding to ensure the long-term future of national passenger rail service in this country."
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Four photos -NCI: Leo KingDoug Alexander sees bright days ahead for Georgia passenger rail.
NCI conference - around the states
Georgia, Texas show great promise;
"Transportation built Georgia," says NCI board member Doug Alexander of Atlanta. Alexander, who became rail manager of the Georgia Rail Passenger Authority two years ago, presented an upbeat presentation regarding his state's rail doings at NCI's May 13-14 conference in Washington.
He said the Georgia rail program entails commuter and intercity plans.
"Intercity is expected to be high-speed -110 mph, which is fairly high-speed."
The corridors extend from Washington, D.C. to Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, westward to Birmingham from Atlanta, and southeastward to Jesup and ultimately to Jacksonville, Fla.
Alexander, who was a two-term Atlanta city council member, said, "One of the reasons we very much like Senator Hollings' bill is that it also establishes Atlanta to Augusta and then on to Columbia and Charleston as a high speed rail corridor."
He said there is a paragraph in "Tea 21" that "authorizes the secretary of transportation to study that route for designation as a high-speed corridor. That has never been funded, of course, and so Mr. Hollings just decided to hell with the study; let's just designate it. So we like the way Mr. Hollings thinks."
The state has designs on running passenger trains to Savannah as well, but it will not be on a high-speed route. Currently, Amtrak's "Silver Service" trains between New York City and Miami call on Savannah.
There is also a plan to run passenger trains from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tenn., but "a DOT study completed in the mid 1990s said that the time it would take for that train to make it" would be impractical. "The top speed along that route averages 40 mph, although there are places where 50 would be possible, and we would carry six people a day. Even knowing we're going to lose money, that's a little much, so what we're looking at is an incredible investment in infrastructure and build a new railroad, most likely along the alignment of Interstate 75 for the most part, avoiding going through any hills, but around them in such a way that we can get up to speeds of 220 mph."
NCI and GRPA: Doug AlexanderCommuter lines will blanket Georgia if the plans succeed.
The proposed commuter map looks much like a spider web. Lines radiate from Atlanta in all directions, and seven routes are ultimately planned, with provisions for two more.
"The first line we are working on right now is Atlanta to Macon. That is our longest line. That will be the second longest commuter road in the country -right after the Long Island Rail Road. We're short by about six miles."
He said the majority of the traffic would be from Griffin northward.
"Four trains a day will originate from Griffin, and two from Macon."
He said he was "looking to put food service on the Macon trains" because if they make all stops, "it will be a two-hour and 45-minute trip, but I would expect north of Griffin it will go into express mode and cut about an hour out of the trip."
Other routes will go to Athens, where the Univ. of Georgia is located; Gainesville may be next, but that is unclear at this time. The high-speed corridor passes that community, so commuter rail would be a natural extension of service. He also pointed out that several other communities along the routes are already making plans for trains. Among the plans, and some construction, are Atlanta, East Point, Morrow, Griffin, Canton, Barnesville, Duluth, and at least another half-dozen.
Griffin is significant because "It is the largest population center between Atlanta and Macon. They've taken an old freight depot and turned it into their community center, welcome center, and so on. They would like to have their station there, but we'd like them to put it just a 'scootch' north because there's a track there that splits off to Columbus, and it's a place where we want to have service deviate when we have trains from Columbus."
Macon residents have approved a bond to purchase an existing station from Georgia Power, Alexander said, and added that the Great American Station Foundation is also involved.
All these plans will cost many dollars, however. Georgia's Governor Barnes' "Transportation Alternatives Initiative" will spend $ 8.5 billion over 5 years, of which $446 million is for Macon-to-Atlanta commuter service.
There were no funds made available for program management for next year, so the rail authority has to stretch last year's appropriation of $3.5 million.
"However, we're told that once we're ready to move on, the money in the governor's bonds projects will also pay for that."
He said the governor is "negotiating with Norfolk Southern to purchase its 'S Line,' the old Central of Georgia line from Atlanta to Macon."
The entire project will cost about $290 million, and they have $70 million now to get started. To begin the project in earnest, $56 million in federal funds is on hand, and the state is adding $14 million. The remaining balance needed over those five years will be $220,000,000.
Alexander hopes they can begin service in 2004, but it might be later, he said.
Kevin Brubaker expects to see many 110 mph trains.
A Midwesterner who was transplanted from New England some years ago saw good things in the middle of the country.
Kevin Brubaker of Chicago is the high-speed rail project manager for the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Midwest non-profit advocacy organization, and is also its operations director.
Brubaker was also the moderator for a panel of six other speakers describing the state of their states.
Nine Midwestern states have joined together in a coalition to promote high-speed rail throughout the region. The nine DOT plans -finding common ground - use exiting freight railroad tracks "most of which is currently used by Amtrak."
The plan is "to make incremental upgrades to 110 mph service on most of these corridors."
He said, "Higher frequency, higher reliability and higher quality" is expected.
Brubaker said it involves "about 9,000 miles of track throughout the region, and connects every major metropolitan area at a cost of about $4 billion." The notion is that after the project is completed, "it will require no operating subsidies."
"As Terry Mulcahy, the outgoing director of transportation in Wisconsin once observed, we talk about high-speed rail on the Midwest, but really what we're talking about is high-performance rail."
The plan was developed by the states, "but high-speed rail was the answer, not the question. The question posed by state DOTs was 'How can we make intercity passenger rail work financially from a transportation perspective?'
"The answer was, 'If you make incremental investments, upgrade the speeds, reduce travel times, et cetera, you really can come up with a system that works."
He said that $4 billion represents about 2 percent of what the states have already committed to spending on highways over the next ten years.
He said rail support is strong in the Midwest, and pointed out that Wisconsin completed a draft environmental assessment of the Milwaukee-to-Madison high-speed corridor in mid-2001.
"This is a particularly important corridor because it is one of the few in the region where there is not a lot of rail service already. You've got very small communities in Wisconsin that are used to three trains a week lumbering through their back yards. There are a number of people in that area who bought homes either assuming or having been told by realtors that this freight line through their back yard was about to be turned into a bike path. The notion of 110 mph trains whizzing though their back yards is a little bit alarming."
Wisconsin has committed $50 million to upgrade that corridor, Brubaker said.
Elsewhere, he noted that Indiana held six public hearings last summer, "and each was standing-room-only." Many people criticized the state for not having done more, sooner, he said. Meanwhile, Indiana's DOT has completed a grade crossing survey along the corridors.
"They don't have a lot of money, but they are doing well with what the have," he said.
"Michigan," he continued, "is well on its way. They have been engaged for several years to bring positive train control to the Amtrak-owned segment between Chicago and Detroit." Train speeds increased last January on 40 miles of track to 90 mph from 79 mph.
"In terms of trip time savings, this is trivial, but in terms of watershed events, this is huge. This is the first time in a generation outside the Northeast Corridor we've seen train speeds increase."
Illinois is upgrading grade crossings with $220 million for high-speed rail on the 125-mile line between Chicago and St. Louis. Signals are also being modernized. Service capable of 110 mph should begin this fall.
"The missing piece is rolling stock. This is part and parcel due to Amtrak's collapse, but we're hoping that we can work that out in the short term."
In New England, former Massachusetts state representative John Businger has been active in NCI since its inception, and has been working hard for a very long time to get a two-track "North-South" rail connection built between South Station and North Station in Boston.
The transplanted Ohioan said, "A lot of people see its value as connecting and extending the Northeast Corridor, which is vital, and is even more important now that Boston and Portland, Maine, have restarted service after decades of being out of service."
Amtrak's Downeaster trains began operating last December over the 123-mile route. Businger said, "There is a one-point-one-mile gap" between both Boston railroad stations.
He told the gathering, "When we talk about the North-South rail link, we're talking about a project that has absolutely tremendous transportation benefits."
He noted the Hub, as Boston is nicknamed, like many major cities, had incredible highway congestion problems -frequent gridlock -particularly on the Southeast Expressway, Route 128 and the like. He expects to see the "Big Dig," when it is completed in several years, "cars fill it up very quickly to meet the new, expanded lanes. That's not going to be a solution to the traffic problem."
Civil engineers were required to leave room between the twin Big Dig bores for a rail line, he said.
He said "A modeler who is doing the work for us in the environmental study we're completing (an EIS/EIR) says it takes more cars off the road than anything else they've ever seen."
Commuters would be most likely to benefit from the tunnel being built. People would be able to travel to and from work from either side of the Bay State capital city, and for considerably longer distances than the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway and bus lines permit.
for John Businger
Another commuter rail route comes in from the west, beginning at Framingham.
"Rail is the mode that gets people there much more quickly, in some cases, in a much more environmentally friendly way, and solves a tremendous amount of problems for those people who happen now to live 30 or 40 miles away from work."
It would also allow more subway and bus connections.
"So the rail link is quite clearly a transportation bonanza, and an economic bonanza, particularly because we plan on having underground development -new restaurants and new shops, but also freeing up real estate around Boston for, perhaps, new development. We view this as a great chance to hit a home run in several different areas."
As a former political figure, he understands more than most the whims of politicians.
"I must admit our state is probably like some others. We have a lot of politicians on the state and local level who love to go to conferences, like this and others, who talk about regionalism until they go home -then they practice localism."
Paul Mangelsdorf of Texas Rail Advocates (TRA) is not a quiet man. Ask him about trains and railroading, and you'll get an enthusiastic response.
He noted the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system is growing.
"They opened a station this month, and they're opening four stations in July along the North Central corridor." Two more stations on that corridor will open in December, he said, "and two more in Garland before the end of the year."
Mangelsdorf said TRA "will be working next year to build a coalition with the other Southwestern states - Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico."
He said Texans need to overcome a problem.
"We are trying to overcome this attitude which we all saw graphically portrayed in the movie, Giant, in which Texas is the biggest and the best. Quite frankly that's a bunch of baloney. Texas is no better than Connecticut or Washington State or Florida... "
The Trans-Texas Corridor is still in the conceptual stage, he said, but the plan, so far, shows six tracks running between a six-lane interstate highway -three on either side of the tracks.
"I think this was a highway guy who put all this together. His knowledge of rail transportation is highly limited, when you consider that on one railroad track you can carry as much traffic as 10 highway lanes at a fraction of the cost, space and environmental impact. You don't need six tracks."
Mangelsdorf said he spoke to a TexDOT official who explained, "Two tracks were for high-speed passenger rail, two for high-speed freight rail, and two for local commuter rail."
He said, "The idea was to have a spine system of railways and highways connecting the outlying areas, not the cities." They would bypass the cities, "and the cities would have to build out to those spines."
He commented the planners "never talked to the railroads. The governor's policy man, Chris Heckman," told him in February, "'We're not interested in your South-Central corridor. This is the corridor. This is Texas.' This is that damn Giant."
The line from Dallas to Austin and San Antonio "'would be a short line railroad,'" he stated, again quoting Heckman.
Mangelsdorf said he responded, "Oh, Is it? Did you tell Union Pacific? What about Burlington Northern Santa Fe? What did they think about that? How about Kansas City Southern, too?
"They didn't talk to any of those railroads, nor did they talk to the Metropolitan Planning Authorities in Dallas, Fort Worth Houston, Austin, nor San Antonio because now, they're going to have to build out to that spine system."
He expects to see revisions to the governor's plan by June.
"I think they have to do the whole thing all over, quite honestly."
He added it's only a concept, so far, and he was happy they included rail.
"Nothing will happen until the legislature meets in January, he said.
Meanwhile, it looks like true high-speed rail is headed for Texas.
"We have wide open spaces in Texas, a great opportunity to have high-speed rail -and I'm not talking about 110 mph trains. I'm talking about European style, French style Spanish style 200 mph trains that get you from Dallas to Houston in two hours, or Dallas to San Antonio in three hours. We may have to build up to that; that's fine [because] that's the ultimate goal."
He cited another movie, Braveheart, when the prince tells him they cannot perform an act of rebellion.
"You should have seen the look on Mel Gibson face," and responded in military-like terms, emphasizing "will."
"Yes, we will do it. We can do it."
Mangelsdorf began sounding like a cheerleader.
"Yes, we will do it in Texas. We are going to do it in Texas, and Texas Rail Advocates will be one of the primary doers of this plan. We have a strictly business approach in both the freight and passenger arenas.
"We will get the trucks off the highways, we will get the people on the trains, and we will -whether its five, ten, fifteen years down the road -have a showcase transportation system” and then I may come back and be a little more braggadocious about Texas. You will excuse me when that day happens."
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Mr. Gunn sends a message
Amtrak's new boss sent a fax and e-mail message to all the railroad's employees on May 22. He told them he has "been on trains, in terminals, and crew quarters" as well as corporate headquarters in Washington.
He said they should expect him to be honest with them.
"I believe you have the right to expect straight talk from me. We no longer have the time or the luxury to engage in pleasant but non-specific dialogue."
He also said he expects to make mistakes along the way.
"I ask for your support. I will make mistakes. The problems we face are complex." He also said he intends to keep the railroad in good repair, and run a complete national system.
Here is the unedited text of his letter:
Dear Amtrak Employees:
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NCI: Leo KingFlorida East Coast's bascule bridge over St. John's River in Jacksonville, Fla. is getting some much-needed repairs as the freight railroad prepares to run Amtrak trains along the Atlantic seaboard between Jacksonville and West Palm Beach. The trains will continue to Miami on CSX. On May 21, while FEC people and contractors were on the bridge making much-needed repairs, an FEC track department foreman and his helper inspect a section of iron from their track car, which also included the span. Here, they have just exited their own territory at FEC milepost 0.0 and have entered CSX territory. Meanwhile, a CSX track maintainer is greasing tie plates under interlocking switch points and checking for obstruction clearances.
|FEC prepares for 'Big A'|
Echoing a remark last week from Amtrak's operations chief at the NCI conference in Washington, Florida East Coast is preparing for Amtrak's arrival on its tracks.
Stan Bagley said, in response to a question from the floor, that despite the carrier's financial problems, that should not affect the railroad's plans to start operating as soon as new required trackwork and stations are in place in Florida.
The St. Augustine-based company is on time preparing for Amtrak's trains, the president of parent company Florida East Coast Industries said last week, the Jacksonville Times-Union reported.
Robert Anestis, FECI's chairman, president and CEO, said starting next year -or perhaps in 2004 -the passenger railroad is expected to use part of FEC's 351 miles of track between Jacksonville and Miami.
The freight-only railroad operates the only rail line running down Florida's eastern coast with a direct route to Miami, Anestis said. A year ago, Amtrak said it would restructure its Florida routes and double its passenger rail service in the state, starting this year.
That hasn't happened yet, but Gov. Jeb Bush said he would ask the state legislature for $37 million to extend coastal Amtrak passenger service between West Palm Beach and Jacksonville. A short connecting track needs to be built between West Palm Beach and the CSX "A" line. The trains arrive in Hialeah, just north of downtown Miami, where southbound "Silver Service" Amtrak trains terminate.
The phased funding for the project would allow the improvements necessary to operate one train per day in each direction. The total state DOT contribution for track and station improvements is $23.5 million. With $15.5 million in state funds already available, an additional $8 million would be funded in fiscal year 2002-03 by the DOT, according to a Bush news release.
Completing second-phase funding would be deferred until Fiscal Year 2005-06, when the remaining $37.6 million state contribution will be added.
Because of a non-disclosure agreement with Amtrak, FEC has declined to reveal how much it will be paid in the deal, but benefits to the railroad would go beyond money, Anestis said.
"It's a validation of the multiple uses for the right of way and our ability and willingness to work with public authorities to allow passenger service in the corridor," he said.
The railroad has the only direct train route to Miami and a labor agreement that allows one crew to complete the entire trip. CSX, which carries all of Amtrak's trains in Florida, turns southwesterly to the middle of the state to call on Orlando, then to Gulf of Mexico and Tampa, then back southeasterly to West Palm Beach on the coast where it runs directly southward to Miami, often within sight of FEC tracks.
"It's really a pretty straightforward operation," he said, "and we run a pretty efficient one."
Meanwhile, popping bolts, sources said, on the bascule bridge over St. John's River and other repairs were required not only for Amtrak service, but also so FEC can continue running its freight trains between Miami and its CSX and Norfolk Southern connections in Jacksonville. Work is continuing, although the bridgetender is able to open and close as required, after securing permission from the railway dispatcher in St. Augustine. One track remains in service while repairmen foul the other track.
The double-track deck was closed between April 22-26 and again between April 29-May 3. It remained open on the weekends between those dates, the Times-Union reported.
Repairs on the 75-year-old, single-leaf bascule bridge required its closure from Mondays at 12:01 a.m. through Fridays at 6:01 p.m.
"The original plan was to close the bridge for 10 days in a row," said Jim Bailey, a member of the Jacksonville Waterways Commission who negotiated with the FEC and the Coast Guard.
"We succeeded in moving the originally planned dates”and were able to get them to agree to open the bridge on weekends. The next phase of the repairs have now been postponed from June until November, after hurricane season." It will require a third closure.
The Coast Guard Seventh District in Miami has jurisdiction over the river and the bridge.
FEC officials told the Coast Guard, "They will have two crews working 24 hours a day," the Coast Guard's Barry Dragon said, who added, "It's an unfortunate situation, but we are convinced that the repairs are necessary. It would be far worse for navigation if the bridge fell into the river."
Wayne Russell, vice president and chief engineer for the FEC, said the problems with the span, which was put into service in 1927, was in its trunnions, the large bolts holding the bridge together.
He said that most of the bolts have been found to be defective through ultrasonic testing, but their replacement can be done sequentially.
"We will replace them one at a time and we can stop at any time," Russell said. "The bridge can continue to function without all of them being replaced at the same time."
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|NTSB continues Auto Train probe|
The National Transportation Safety Board May 17 reported tests are continuing at the New York Air Brakes "Train Dynamic Simulation facility" in Fort Worth on the "Auto Train braking systems, stopping distance and train makeup. The simulations will help determine the amount of force the train imparted to the track before and during braking."
An NTSB press release stated, "Investigators are looking at the effect different braking systems may have had on the Auto Train since the train is a unique combination of passenger and automobile-carrying railroad cars."
No. 52 went on the ground April 18 on CSX single-track near Crescent City, Fla. Four passengers died, six people were seriously injured, and 22 others required hospitalization.
The train had 16 Amtrak Superliner passenger cars ahead of 24 autorack cars. The NTSB stated, "Both types of cars are about the same loaded weight. The simulations will help assess whether re-arrangement of cars in the train could have an effect on the dynamics of the accident."
The federal safety agency also said it was looking at the train's couplers.
"Several couplers broke as a result of the accident and are being sent to the NTSB materials laboratory in Washington, D.C. for further examination. The examination will focus on determining the cause of the fractures."
The investigation is continuing to gather documentation and information regarding the track in the derailment area. The track consisted of continuous welded rail, which has no joints.
The investigation is focusing not only on the physical condition of the track structure at the time of the accident, but track maintenance policies and procedures, maintenance reporting processes, and management oversight by CSX and the FRA.
Mandatory FRA post-accident alcohol and drug tests were performed on the Amtrak train crew after the accident, "but the results showed no alcohol or illegal drugs in any train crewmembers, including the engineer and conductor."
Meanwhile, the National Assn. of Railroad Passengers reports that most of the Silver Meteor equipment that was damaged a fortnight ago after slamming into a logging truck, is back in service. No deaths were reported, but 14 people were injured.
New Amtrak president David Gunn ordered the cars repaired at Yemassee, S.C. All 10 cars derailed, but nine are back to work. Only a baggage car could not be fixed. The accident occurred at a CSX grade crossing at Coosawatchie, S.C., just south of Yemassee.
Amtrak operations vice-president Stan Bagley recently wrote a letter to Senate Commerce Chairman Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) stating there are 98 pieces of repairable wreck-damaged equipment out of service -seven locomotives, 42 Superliners, 33 single-level cars, 16 mail, baggage, and express cars. He said it would cost about $34 million to repair all of them, but 56 could be repaired within 18 months at a cost of $19 million. Most would return to intercity service.
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|Downeaster proves to be good idea|
Amtrak's Downeaster continued to beat projections in April, setting new records for ridership and ticket sales, The AP reported May 17.
Thanks largely to school vacations in Maine and New Hampshire, 29,682 people rode the train, exceeding the previous single-best month in February, when the there was another school vacation, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority said. Revenues continued to grow, hitting $443,000 in April.
It's clear that people who rode the Portland-to-Boston train as a novelty when the service began are returning to ride again, and that bodes well for the service, said Nate Moulton, the rail authority's deputy director.
"The first few months, people were trying the service. They're now coming back," Moulton said.
The rail authority projected annual ridership of 320,000 and revenues of $3.3 million in the first year. Already, there have been nearly 115,000 passengers in the first 4_ months, bringing in revenue of $1.7 million. In April, a daily average of 987 people rode the trains.
Revenues have far outpaced expectations because the average ticket price has been higher than expected, Moulton said.
The original projections called for an average one-way ticket of $10, but the average in April was $14.95. That is because 60 percent of riders are traveling the full length between Portland and Boston, Moulton said. Also, a premium service with first-class seating for an extra $8 has been popular.
For now, the majority of travelers between Portland and Boston are heading north to south for business or outings before returning, Moulton said, but this summer, the trend is expected to shift with more travelers coming from Massachusetts to Maine, he said.
The rail authority continues to make adjustments. During mid-April, two more cars were added, bringing seating capacity from 216 to 276. The authority also is negotiating new arrival and departure times at Boston's North Station.
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Hoffman endorses Kawasaki products;
At a time when New York is evaluating bids for the largest subway-car contract in its history, the executive who oversees the city subway system was a guest at a dedication for bidder Kawasaki's Nebraska assembly plant and provided an enthusiastic endorsement for the company's trains, reports the New York Daily News.
Among his activities on behalf of the Japan-based company, New York City Transit Senior Vice President Joseph Hofmann gave a speech at the plant on April 19 in which he lauded Kawasaki's commitment to quality, and said the city is eager for more of its "good [subway] cars."
Kawasaki promotional literature distributed at the event quoted Hofmann, including statements that the company's subway cars "don't break down" and that they "last a long time and they're easy to maintain."
"Kawasaki always gives us a good product," Hofmann says in the company's glossy brochure, which also features photos of its subway cars and is imprinted with the logos of the New York City Transit Authority and its parent, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The transit agency called the trip routine but released a letter in which the agency's top lawyer called Kawasaki's use of statements attributed to Hofmann and the company's use of MTA logos "unauthorized and impermissible."
According to the May 10 letter from Martin Schnabel, transit general counsel, the company has agreed to stop distributing the materials, but the timing of Hofmann's trip, during a contract deal, was criticized as inappropriate by one transit advocate.
"The timing of this is ill-advised," said Gene Russianoff, a senior lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, an advocacy group that is part of the New York Public Interest Research Group.
"If you are in the heat of reviewing proposals from companies, the message you want to send is it's an even playing field. The appearance isn't great."
Kawasaki is competing against two other foreign conglomerates, Bombardier of Canada and Alstom of France, to build 660 New York subway cars, with options to make as many as 1,040 more over the next decade. The deal could eventually be worth $3 billion.
The relationship between Hofmann and Kawasaki also could raise questions under New York state ethics rules designed to safeguard the impartiality of purchasing decisions and maintain an ethical firewall between city employees and the vendors with whom they do business.
Ethics guidelines require employees to avoid conduct that leaves even an impression that "any person can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor" in city business dealings. The guidelines direct employees not to engage in conduct that suggests they can be influenced "by any party or person."
Hofmann was a member of MTA executive committees in 1997 and 1998 that recommended the awarding of lucrative subway car contracts to Kawasaki. The 1997 deal was eventually divided between Kawasaki and Bombardier.
An executive committee has not yet been named for the pending contract, MTA spokesman Thomas Kelly said. He could not say if Hofmann would be a member.
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|State DOTs would create new agency|
Facing slow growth in federal transportation funds, the states' departments of transportation recommended on Thursday creating a new federal corporation that would sell tax-credit bonds to expand spending on highways, transit and railroads by billions of dollars.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) will recommend a new federal Transportation Finance Corp., similar to the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Under the organization's plan, spending on highways would increase 22 percent by 2009. The organization's recommendation for next year's reauthorization of highway and transit legislation is considered important because it represents the collective opinion of the states, which are struggling to keep ahead of the burgeoning growth in highway traffic.
Jack Horsley, AASHTO executive director, said the political climate is not right for a major increase in the gasoline tax, so his organization has tried to find a way to boost funding as painlessly as possible. According to Horsley, the AASHTO plan would increase spending over six years for highways by $34 billion, for transit by $8.5 billion and for other needs by $5 billion.
Jack Basso, AASHTO's director of management and business development, said the new Transportation Finance Corp. could boost spending by as much as would be raised by a gasoline tax increase of 4.3 cents a gallon, but he and Horsley agreed that politicians are not ready for such a vote.
The group noted that the U.S. population is projected to grow by 100 million over the next 40 years, and that the number of miles traveled on highways is growing at double the rate of population growth.
The proposed new Transportation Finance Corp. would sell tax-credit bonds on the open market, distributing most of the proceeds to the states based on a formula. It would also raise $59.5 billion over six years. Tax credit bonds are zero-coupon bonds that give bondholders annual federal tax credits in lieu of cash interest payments.
The corporation would set aside 28 percent of the proceeds from the sales - $16.9 billion -for a fund that would be invested in federal securities. The proceeds would pay off the bond principal over 20 years.
The remaining $42.6 billion in net bond proceeds would be distributed to the states -$34.1 billion for highways and $8.5 billion for transit.
An additional $5 billion in federal credit support would go to a capital revolving fund for other projects, including highways, transit, freight rail, high-speed passenger rail, intercity buses, seaport access and other similar projects.
Since the federal government, in effect, pays for the tax credits going to bondholders, the AASHTO board directed Horsley and Basso to come up with ways to make up the estimated $19.4 billion cost to the government.
Among the financing mechanisms being considered are methods to make up for highway trust fund income that is now lost because gasohol is not taxed at the same rate as gasoline. The federal gas tax is 18.3 cents per gallon, while the gasohol tax averages 13 cents a gallon, with 2.5 cents of that amount not going into the highway trust fund.
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|Utah gets cash for light rail line|
Utah's Transit Authority will be getting $53.6 million so it can build its Medical Center Light Rail Transit (LRT) line in Salt Lake City, according to the Federal Transit Administration.
The Medical Center Extension project is a 1.5-mile light rail system extending from the University Line station at Rice-Eccles Stadium to the University of Utah Health Science Complex, and is being fully funded by the Federal Transit Administration. The proposed Medical Center rail line includes three low platform stations and will connect to the existing North-South LRT corridor.
Service is scheduled to begin in 2004, with ridership estimated at 4,100 average weekday boardings, 3,400 of whom will be new riders.
Federal Transit Administrator Jennifer L. Dorn said Thursday President Bush has proposed $7.2 billion for the Federal Transit Program for the next fiscal year.
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|APTA reports ridership growth|
More and more Americans are riding public transportation as public transportation continues to rewrite the history books with new and higher ridership records for the sixth consecutive year, reports the American Public Transportation Assn.
"In 2001, nationally, public transportation ridership went up by 2 percent, compared to the previous year, according to statistics released last month by the non-profit APTA. The organization reported that Americans rode public transportation a record 9.5 billion times in 2001. The figures include all modes of travel, buses as well as rail.
"Last year," APTA stated, "public transportation use grew twice as fast as car use (1 percent). In the past six years, the number of trips taken on public transportation grew by 23 percent, growing faster than the U.S. population (8.4 percent), highway use (14.7 percent), and domestic air travel (12.5 percent, or 19 percent prior to 9-11-01).
"The fact that more people are riding and more American communities are embracing public transportation clearly demonstrates the necessity of continued support and increased investment in our public transportation infrastructure," said William W. Millar, APTA President.
"It is truly remarkable to have these ongoing increases in public transportation ridership, considering the sluggish economy and the effects of the September 11 terrorists attacks."
The continued growth in public transportation ridership is attributed to higher levels of investment by federal, state and local sources, expansion of service with new lines and extensions, and enhanced customer services by the nation's transit systems to meet the needs of today's traveling public.
American communities are responding to improved infrastructure and investment in public transportation. Examples of the highest ridership gains for multi-modal systems (bus and rail) include the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (15 percent), Denver's Regional Transportation District (6.7 percent) and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in Washington, D.C. (5.9 percent). Modes of transportation showing the largest percentage increases in ridership for 2001 were demand response or para-transit, 7.6 percent; light rail, 3.5 percent; commuter rail, 2.3 percent, and bus systems at 2.1 percent.
Examples of ridership gain by mode include - for heavy rail or subways -Los Angeles MTA, 60 percent; WMATA, 6.8 percent; and the Chicago Transit Authority, 3 percent.
For light rail systems, New Jersey Transit grew 141 percent; Denver's RTD, 36 percent; and Los Angeles MTA, 16 percent.
Among commuter rail systems, Seattle's Sound Transit grew an astonishing 535 percent; Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 75 percent; and the Altamont Commuter Express in San Jose, Cal., 26 percent.
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Rail merger plan fails in Mexico
Mexico's antitrust regulators have blocked the proposed merger of railway companies controlled by Grupo Mexico SA and Grupo Carso SA on grounds it would create a monopoly in the country's railroad system.
The board of the Federal Competition Commission ruled late Thursday that the proposed merger would violate Mexico's competition regulations, a government spokesman said.
Copper mining giant Grupo Mexico and conglomerate Grupo Carso, which is controlled by Mexican business tycoon Carlos Slim, were seeking to merge their railway units into a single company, according to a Dow-Jones-AP report on May 16. The resulting concern would have dominated 70 percent of international rail traffic by owning top lines in Mexico's northwest and southeast regions.
Pundits had predicted an antitrust ruling against the merger. Soon after the plan was unveiled in January, sources close to competition commission said it could result in unfair competition for Mexico's Grupo TMM rail unit Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana, which operates the country's northeastern line in association with Kansas City Southern Industries Inc.
Mexico privatized the country's railway system in the late 1990s, obtaining $2.27 billion (U.S.) as part of an effort to develop three regional railway networks. Under privatization rules set in 1995, railway operators were restricted to a 5 percent stake in rival companies.
Grupo TMM had objected to the proposed merger, saying in a statement that it would also have given the new concern control over 64 percent of domestic rail traffic, including railways in most big and medium-sized cities in Mexico's northern and central regions.
The merger proposal was for Carso's mining unit, Empresas Frisco, and one of its sister companies to have assumed a 20 percent stake in Grupo Mexico's Infraestructura y Transportes Mexico SA, in exchange for their controlling stake in the southeastern Ferrosur rail line.
Infraestructura y Transportes Mexico would have also consolidated Grupo Mexico's 74 percent stake in Grupo Ferroviario Mexicano, which owns the Ferromex line.
Union Pacific Corp. owns the remaining stake in Grupo Ferroviario Mexicano. Ferromex operates the Pacific-North, Nacozari and Ojinaga-Topolobampo lines in northwestern Mexico.
This is the second time that Grupo TMM and Grupo Mexico have faced off over rules of the rail privatization. Last year, Grupo Mexico obtained an injunction against regulations that allowed TMM to charge what it said were exorbitant fees for access to tracks, interconnections and terminals it operated in the cities of Queretaro and Monterrey.
The competition commission also blocked previous merger attempts made by Ferrosur, when it was controlled by troubled construction company Grupo Tribasa SA.
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|Reno's trench is in question|
A judge has postponed action on a citizen effort to block construction of a railroad trench through downtown Reno, Nev., but said a bond-financing plan approved by the city council appears to be legal.
Washoe County District Judge James Hardesty said he'll give Citizens for A Public Trench Vote one week to justify their case in a bid to halt the sale of $115 million in bonds to finance the controversial project, The AP reported Thursday.
Hardesty said during a three-hour hearing Tuesday that his initial impression was that the city has the legal authority to go forward with the bond sale.
"I'm not deciding whether it makes good business sense," Hardesty said.
"I'm talking about whether it's legal or illegal."
Jeff Dickerson, a lawyer for the opponents who filed a lawsuit to block the project, said the sale would effectively eliminate the public's constitutional right to a vote on the matter.
He said the city should stop all action on the trench while the initiative process plays out.
"The city shouldn't take steps that aren't co-equal," Dickerson said.
"There's a superior process under way with a valid initiative petition."
Opponents collected 15,000 signatures on a petition for a ballot initiative opposing the two-mile train trench. But city officials say it's too late to scuttle the $231 million project backed by downtown casinos.
They say pulling back on the bond sale at this point so a vote can occur in September would cost the city millions of dollars.
Hardesty continued the hearing until May 29. He intends to rule by June 6 or 7 on whether the trench proposition will appear on the ballot Sept. 3.
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|Stampede Pass future is questionable|
Burlington Northern Santa Fe expects to decide soon whether it will shelve through service over Stampede Pass in Washington for the summer, reports the Ellensburg, Wash., Daily Record of May 20.
"BNSF is studying the possibility of temporarily diverting through traffic off of Stampede Pass while continuing with local service," BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said. "However, no decision has been made." Several months ago, the railfan community was abuzz with what appeared to be a plan to reroute Amtrak's Empire Builder off Stevens Pass and onto Stampede Pass. BNSF bought out the entire Washington Central Railroad in order to take back the Stampede Pass line.
Melonas would not discuss the rationale for the possible shutdown, but Washington state transportation officials have said BNSF is facing a shortage of maintenance-of-way crews. The railroad would pull crews off the Stampede Pass route for 90 days to concentrate on projects involving Sound Transit in the Seattle area, Washington DOT rail official Jeff Schultz stated.
"If they pull from the Stampede line they will not be able to run trains on the line because they won't have the necessary inspectors," Schultz told the newspaper.
BNSF sends three or four trains over Stampede daily, mostly grain and merchandise, Melonas said. The former Northern Pacific route was reopened in 1997 as a relief valve for BNSF's former Great Northern route through Stevens Pass and the former Northern Pacific and Spokane, Portland & Seattle route via the Columbia Gorge. Both routes have adequate capacity now to handle the through traffic that could be diverted off Stampede, Melonas said.
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UP engineers sue railway over
remote-control locomotive issue
Union Pacific is being sued by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, which is claiming "a serious safety threat" exists from use of remote-control equipment to move trains in freight yards.
The BLE sought an injunction in U.S. District Court in Denver on May 17, according to Bloomberg News, against remote-control units operated by train crews who are members of the United Transportation Union.
"Union Pacific has improperly and illegally eliminated engineers' work," said union spokesman Michael Young. "These remote-control units present a serious safety threat."
UP spokesman John Bromley said that the units were safe.
Meanwhile, on a coal plant line (not UP), a slow-moving, remotely controlled freight train derailed and landed on a bridge in Romeoville, Ill. on May 19. The train landed on the eastbound lane of the 135th Street bridge, according to the Joliet Herald News. No one was injured.
Romeoville police said the train was shoving into the Midwest Generation Plant, and went over the end of a stub-end track and came to rest on the road around 2:40 p.m.
Rex Fredrickson of Romeoville was in the area at the time.
"It appeared that if the locomotive was going four or five miles an hour. More, it would have been pushed into the canal," Fredrickson said.
"Men fishing in the canal were probably the first to call Romeoville police. Police arrived on the scene immediately, and traffic was back to normal in a short time," he said.
Doug McFarlan, spokesman for Midwest Generation, said the train was carrying coal and went through a fence. Two of the four lanes of the bridge remained open to traffic for most of the evening. The entire bridge was closed for a time after 10 p.m. Sunday night to remove the train.
Both UP and BNSF railroads deliver coal into the facility.
"When the trains are in our yards, we are responsible for them,"
McFarlan said, and added, "We operate them by a remote-control system. There was no driver and no traffic on the road at that time. It is possible that the remote control malfunctioned. It is too soon to say exactly what happened."
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|CSX to upgrade Alabama tracks|
CSX officials said May 17 they have plans to upgrade their rail network in Alabama. They also plan to build a new freight yard adjacent to a new Hyundai plant south of Montgomery.
The Hyundai yard will provide storage space for the car builder's next-generation Sonata sedans and Santa Fe sport utilities, which are scheduled to begin rolling off the assembly line in 2005reports WSFA-TV, Montgomery. Jacksonville-based CSX said it would spend $32 million this year to maintain and upgrade its 1,240 miles of track in the state.
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British wreck may have been intentional
A train wreck that killed seven people earlier this month may have been caused by a saboteur who loosened several switch point nuts, two British newspapers reported May 18.
The Times of London and the Daily Express quoted Kevin Hyde, the chief operating officer at Jarvis PLC, the rail maintenance contractor in charge of the train line, as saying that someone must have intentionally sabotaged the mechanism to cause the accident.
"Somebody took these nuts off, and there was nothing in maintenance requirements for that action to be taken. This has been done by an informed person.... There are some very strange people who do strange things on the railways," the Times quoted Hyde as saying, according to a report from The AP.
"This is probably the most dangerous set of changes that could take place. For that to be random would be difficult to imagine," said Hyde, who said it was possible the saboteur could have been a former Jarvis employee.
In an interim report, British safety officials said four loose nuts that hold the points together caused the accident.
The Health and Safety Executive said the high-speed express commuter train carrying 151 people derailed as it passed through a faulty set of points.
Jarvis said its inspectors had repaired loose nuts at the same interlocking plant just days before the May 10 crash at the suburban Potters Bar station north of London.
A rail union official said a worker drew attention to the faulty points and the poor state of the track three weeks before the crash, but John Armitt, chief executive of Railtrack, which manages the railway infrastructure, said the company had not received any official information about track problems.
Frank Hyland, who is managing the executive's investigation, said the inquiry was focusing on why the nuts were not in place. No debris was found on the track and any vandalism would have been "extremely sophisticated and daring," Hyland has said. There was no evidence of any error by the train's driver, the interim report said.
The wreck was the sixth fatal train crash in Britain since 1997, and further sapped public confidence in Britain's dilapidated railway network.
The Times quoted Jarvis as saying that three alterations to a set of points outside Potters Bar, which caused the train to leave the track at about 100 mph, had all the markings of a calculated act by a person with a detailed knowledge of railways.
Evidence suggests that an earlier attempt to sabotage points on the line was made nine days before the accident, the paper quoted the company as saying. Hyde said that could have been done by a former Jarvis employee with a grudge against the company.
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On the British privatization program
British Airways, British Telecom, British Airports, British Gas, etc., etc., have all become more efficient and less of a burden on the taxpayer, as well as providing more competitive service, since they were privatized. We (customers and taxpayers) are getting better service at lower cost from these corporations, as well as privatized electricity, bus, and train operating companies.
In the fifty years that the railways were in public ownership, route miles and passengers carried steadily declined, as did investment. Since the passenger train operating companies were privatized, investment has increased tremendously, more trains are running, and more routes are opening. Agreed, that some of the operators are still requiring substantial subsidies -especially commuter and rural lines -and both central and local governments recognize that paying a subsidy for these routes is better than the alternative. (A number of passenger operating companies though are actually making a profit.)
Of course, Railtrack was a disastrous privatization; not because of the nature of its business per se, but because a company requiring large sums for infrastructure investment and catching up with deferred maintenance was sold on the basis that it was a secure property company with a regular and reliable income flow.
This was compounded by government handing over substantial sums in the last five years without adequately controlling where this was spent. No government ever told them to stop paying massive dividends they couldn't afford.
Frankly, Railtrack's failure had very little to do with its operations, but more a combination of incompetent management and a government which didn't do enough to stop them (sound familiar?) and then, in very dubious circumstances, precipitated a situation whereby they could try (unsuccessfully it turned out) to regain ownership of the company without compensation. Sadly I don't think that the replacement company proposed by Stephen Byers (still our Secretary of State for Transport -despite another adverse headline this week -'Byers tells truth. Blair furious') will, in the long term, be much better).
I have never said that privatization would be a good thing in the U.S. (but you never had a socialist government so you don't have that much to privatize) and I don't now suggest that the National Railroad Passenger Corp. [Amtrak] would be a candidate. All I do say is, don't be frightened of it or against it for reasons which are solely political.
Were no private finances involved in acquiring all those nice new Acela, Talgo and Surfliner trainsets and Genesis locomotives? Who bailed out Amtrak with the mortgage on Penn Station, the U.S. Government?
Maybe creeping privatization is already underway. Quick - run for the shelters!
It's now coming up to midnight this side of the pond, so I'm off to bed. Probably another 100,000 private passenger trains will have run in the U.K. by the time I return to the web tomorrow evening to see what you have made of this missive.
Sweet dreams, one and all.
Canterbury, Kent, England
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I found this link through another web site, and since the National Corridors Initiative is mentioned, I think you should take a look at it. I would be curious on your comments. Here is the link:
I have already e-mailed my friends at Trainweb, who are also mentioned.
The Christian Science Monitor is a highly esteemed newspaper around the world, so for NCI to be mentioned is a very good thing, and for our president and CEO Jim RePass to be quoted, is even better. I'm delighted they made note of our newsletter. Thanks for sending that note to us. - Ed.
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Transportation Marketing and Communications Assn.
Sixth annual conference
American Public Transportation Assn.
Renaissance Harborplace Hotel & Hyatt Regency
Featured speakers will be new Amtrak President David Gunn, FRA's Alan Rutter, USDOT's Emil Frankel, and other major players in intercity and commuter rail future. All rail transit system and commuter rail personnel, board members, policy makers, suppliers, consultants, and any other personnel involved with rail and fixed guideway design, construction, operations and maintenance should attend. Pre-registration ends June 4.
To learn more and to sign up go to www.apta.com/meetings/commuter/, or contact Heather Rachels online at http://apta.com or phone (202) 496-4838; David Phelps via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or phone 202 496 4885.
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NCI: Leo KingWe had occasion, just before the recent NCI conference, to visit the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore. From time-to-time, we'll present photos taken on that trip in our "the way we were" weekly feature. The photos are new; the railroad equipment is not. This week's photo is a view of the roundhouse and museum exterior. The museum structure was built in 1851 as a station. The roundhouse was erected in 1884 and originally served as a coach repair facility. It is one of two in the world that is completely enclosed, and this one features a wooden, "armstrong" turntable inside. A tip of the engineer's cap to Bill Connery, an editor at The World and I magazine in Washington, for the tour, as well as the facility's interpreters -which includes some retired B&O railroaders.
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 email@example.com. 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.
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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