Destination:Freedom Newsletter
Destination:Freedom
The Newsletter of the National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
  NCI Logo Vol. 2 No. 21, May 29, 2001
Copyright © 2001, NCI, Inc.
James P. RePass, President
Leo King, Editor
 

A weekly North American Railroad update


Time out for Memorial Day
We are publishing on Tuesday this week because of the Memorial Day holiday. We will return next week on our regular Monday schedule. - Ed

HHP-8 consist Train 164

NCI: Leo King

Amtrak's Sunday-only train No. 164 has arrived early at Boston's South Station on May 20, has gone around the Southampton Street yard loop track so it will be facing west when it again leaves the station, and arrives in the yard at 5:35 p.m. HHP-8 engine 662 and its six cars will be cleaned up inside "the barn," and mechanical forces will go over the train. By 8:22 p.m., not even three hours later, the train will turn as No. 1667, a scheduled deadhead (now there's any oxymoron - a deadhead carrying a train number) to travel to Sunnyside yard in New York City, where it will become Monday morning's No. 155, due out of NYP for Washington at 9:10 a.m.
So, what is Amtrak to be, America?
Warrington chats with the press
By Wes Vernon
Washington Correspondent

Congress needs to make up its mind what it wants Amtrak to be.

That was the thrust of Amtrak President George Warrington's address on May 24 to a luncheon at the National press Club.

Does Congress expect Amtrak to "make a profit" or "serve community needs" in the manner of a non-profit public service organization?

If the 535 lawmakers on Capitol Hill expect it to do both, the Amtrak boss would like to disabuse them of that notion. It can't be done. The two goals are at odds with each other.

Of course, Amtrak is under the gun, so to speak, to become operationally self-sustaining by 2003. Warrington promises that goal will be met. But lest you think that means "making a profit" for Amtrak, forget it. Warrington reminded his audience that Amtrak will require $30 billion in capital subsidies in the next two decades.

You think that's a lot of money? Compared to the billions thrown at highway and air modes, it is a pittance, Warrington reminded the well-attended luncheon that included not just media types, but professional railroaders from all facets of the industry.

For the uninitiated, operations means running the trains, mail and express. Capital means the infrastructure, the tracks, stations, signals, etc.

Highway and air transport have their capital needs funded by the government. Rail, on the other hand, has no such advantage. That's just the way it is, according to Warrington, who told the journalists that trying to split the Northeast corridor infrastructure from NEC's operations, as advocated by the Amtrak Reform Council (ARC), would be "playing with fire" where safety is concerned.

To buttress his point, he cites safety problems in Britain where many different corporations have their fingers in the rail pie. There are those who argue that Britain went about the task in the worst possible way, and that better examples of how splitting infrastructure from operations can work include Sweden and Hungary.

Prior to our deadline, we tried to get some comment from Warrington on a separate proposal by ARC member James Coston. He would create a federal rail infrastructure agency along the lines of similar government entities dealing with highway and air transport. If we get a comment on this from the Amtrak CEO, we will report it to you in a future D:F issue.

The Coston plan is different from the official ARC proposal in that it would deal with rail infrastructure nationwide, perhaps helping the freight railroads to double-track their rights-of-way, and in the process, allow for expansion of passenger or high-speed rail operations.

Freight railroads themselves are moving in the direction of accepting subsidies, arguing that subsidizing rail is cheaper and more efficient than building another lane of a highway.

Because Amtrak means so many things to so many people, depending largely on what part of the country you live in and how rail-oriented your state government is, it has always been regarded in some quarters as something akin to the proverbial "camel that is a horse put together by a committee."

Three issues are essential as Congress decides what to do with passenger rail service in America, said Warrington - profitable high-speed corridors, a long distance network, or a combination thereof; the "make a profit" goal or unprofitable "public service" ethic; and capital funding for rail travel.

The Amtrak chief is pushing these days for the High Speed Rail Investment Act (HSRIA), which would allow a bonding authority to begin work on high-speed corridors around the country.

But that's only the beginning. It has the backing of both the Senate Republican and Democratic leaders. The real lobbying effort on that will be required in the House where the measure is getting a slower start.

With delayed flights and highway congestion prompting Congressional investigations, Warrington argues that rail is "more important today than at any time in recent history."

In the question and answer session following his talk, Warrington was asked which of the choices outlined above that he would prefer for Amtrak's future.

"Here is what I don't want it to be," he responded, "I don't want a mandate to run a national system without the resources" to do it.


Amtrak President George Warrington gave the speech of his career Thursday afternoon to the National Press Club, marking a watershed moment in the history of Amtrak, and setting out in blunt terms the fundamental problem that must be resolved: is Amtrak a business, or does it exist to perform a public service?

In an address that was honest and direct, Warrington highlighted the debate that has always been at the center of Amtrak's see-saw existence: it has been expected, indeed mandated, to provide a functioning national rail system, yet has never been given the investment to do that on a system-wide basis - and on top of that, is now expected to perform like a private business. Congress has, for 30 years, failed to devise a fundamental structure, perhaps similar to the highway trust fund, to provide substantial up-front money to build capacity and provide service in such a way that rail becomes a viable leg of the air-trail-highway transportation triad. Instead, with notable exceptions, individual Congressmen have supported "their" trains.

As a consequence, passenger rail, by far the least subsidized mode of transportation, has become the prime target for critics opposing "subsidies," because it must go and beg for every crumb.

On May 24, George Warrington said, "Enough," and called for a national debate to determine once and for all what the nation wants, and is willing to pay for, in a national rail system. The fight over the $12 billion bond bill that Amtrak must have, as a minimum, to provide decent service will no doubt be the background for this debate.

Let it begin.


Jeffords quits GOP; Senate transportation committee will be affected, among others

Vermont Sen. James Jeffords bolted from the Republican Party on May 21, changing the balance of power in the U.S. Senate from a 50-50 split to 50 Democrats, 49 Republicans and one Independent.

The move put Democrats in charge of the Senate agenda and committees that will decide the fate of White House's big-ticket proposals, including Amtrak's fate.

In a morning press conference in Burlington, Vermont's capital city, the independent-minded Jeffords said "Increasingly, I find myself in disagreement with my party. I understand that many people are more conservative than I am, and they form the Republican Party. Given the changing nature of the national party, it has become a struggle for our leaders to deal with me, and for me to deal with them. Indeed, the party's electoral success has underscored the dilemma that I face within the party. In the past, without the Presidency, the various wings of the Republican Party in Congress have had some freedom to argue, influence and ultimately to shape the party's agenda. The election of President Bush changed that dramatically."

Jeffords said the change will not be effective until President Bush signs a major tax bill enacted by the Congress over the weekend.

The Democratic Party has taken control of the U.S. Senate for first time since 1994. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) is the new Senate Majority Leader, and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) literally overnight became the minority leader.

Meanwhile, as Washington scrambled to deal with the new reality of a Senate, Amtrak President George Warrington spoke at the National Press Club, which D:F's Wes Vernon reports elsewhere in this issue.

Jeffords' action will have a direct bearing on railroad issues, particularly if Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is no longer the chair of Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. McCain has been a bitter foe of the passenger railroad.

Ranking five-term Democratic Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (S.C.), 84, is in line to become the new chair, but it was not clear yet, by week's end, if he would be the new chair. The Democrats are expected to caucus this week, and committee assignments may change significantly.

Warrington said Hollings is "an extraordinary supporter" of passenger rail and of Amtrak.

In other news from Washington, last week's Amtrak oversight hearings were postponed due to heavy voting requirements in the Senate over a major tax bill. The hearings now may take place in June.


Higher-speed line to extend to Richmond
By Wes Vernon
Washington Correspondent

It was only a year ago that a skeptic described plans for "higher speed" rail lines for the south-of-Washington Southeast Corridor as something akin to Dickens' Fairy Tales.

If so, supporters of serious efforts to build better rail trackage below the Mason-Dixon line are well positioned to reply "Bah! Humbug!"

It's about to happen.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch of May 24, reporter Chip Jones tells us that the Commonwealth of Virginia is close to signing a pact with CSX Corp. to begin making $65 million in publicly backed improvements of the tracks between Richmond and Washington.

The effort, which may be in place by the time you read this, is described as "the first major step in building a high-speed rail link between the two cities."

There are five essential bottom-line goals, including a top speed of 110 mph, up from the current 70 mph, cutting trip times between Washington and Richmond to 1 hour, 37 minutes and shaving 28 minutes off the current schedule, which would be made possible by improved tracks, bridges, and grade crossings.

The other two areas would find lunchtime commuter schedules added to the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) between Washington and Fredericksburg, and, ultimately, scheduling VRE commuter service all the way from Washington to Richmond, in addition to more Amtrak service.

Robert W. Shinn, vice president and assistant to the chairman of CSX, confirmed to Jones that both "sides are close to an agreement after about six months of study and negotiation." There have also been consultations with Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration.

Leo Bevron, Virginia's top rail official, said this agreement would provide for both freight and passenger rail growth.

"We're going to... have this project rolling down the track," he added.


NARP sees passenger rail as energy saver

National Assn. of Railroad Passengers executive director Ross Capon is urging USDOT Secretary Norman Y. Mineta to include intercity passenger trains in any Administration energy efforts.

In a letter dated May 18, Capon stated, "Improved intercity passenger rail service should be part of any comprehensive energy plan. There is already ample evidence that even modest service improvements produce impressive ridership growth.

The Bush Administration has begun making plans to start drilling for new oil.

Capon added, "Oak Ridge National Laboratory statistics (1998 BTUs per passenger-mile) indicate that Amtrak is 1.6 times more energy efficient than domestic airlines, and 4.5 times better than the rapidly growing general aviation sector." He added, the system average numbers he cited understated rail's advantages.

Capon stated short-distance flights are a substantial portion of all U.S. domestic flights, and "are less energy efficient than aviation as a whole, while short-distance rail corridor services are more energy efficient than Amtrak as a whole."

The NARP officer pointed out, "Rail passengers are more likely than plane travelers to reach their 'line haul' conveyance by public transportation. Indeed, some rail travelers walk to the station."

He also pointed out Rail stations are more likely to be located in community centers, so would "enhance the viability of-energy-efficient downtowns. Airports tend to promote energy-intensive, auto-dependent sprawl. Dulles [International Airport, near Washington] is a classic example. Intermodalism - especially improved rail transit and intercity rail access to airports - will help the cause of energy efficiency all around."

Capon enthused, "On the Eugene, Ore. to Vancouver, B.C. Cascadia Corridor, ridership has grown from 226,000 in 1993 to about 600,000 this year. He wrote that "major factors included modest frequency increases, a modest speed-up in Portland-Seattle running times (excluding long-distance trains, average speed rose from 47.5 to 53.1 mph), and a dramatic improvement in the traveling environment as modern, stylish Talgo trains replaced older Amfleet cars. California ridership likewise has developed strongly with frequent trains and good bus connections."

Capon also said NARP supported a bill under consideration in the Congress.

"We urge the Administration to endorse the High Speed Rail Investment Act, in part because of its prospective contributions to the energy situation (as well as to issues of all-weather reliability, congestion relief, and traveler convenience). Better train service is not about sacrifice. It conserves energy while giving travelers more choices."

NARP can be found on the web at http://www.narprail.org


Acela Express counts 100k riders;
a train gets in trouble in Connecticut

Amtrak reports its Acela Express high-speed service made history over the May 20 weekend when it carried its 100,000th rider. The trains have been in service for five months.

"Acela Express has continued to perform consistently in ridership, ticket revenue and on-time performance," said Stan Bagley, Amtrak's Northeast Corridor President in a press release.

Railroad officials said more round-trips will be added throughout the summer and fall, bringing the total to ten round-trips between New York and Boston and 19 round-trips between New York and Washington later this year.

During the first five months of service, December 11 to May 11, the express trains exceeded more than 100,000 riders and earned more than $11.9 million in ticket sales, beating projections by 3 percent - but no word from Amtrak if the trains turned a profit or loss.

The service ran on time or early 341 of 370 trips, a spokeswoman said, and 109 (nearly 30 percent) of those trains arrived at least 10 minutes early.

Based on the 15-minute tolerance utilized by the airline industry, Acela Expresses averaged overall on-time performance of 92.7 percent throughout the Corridor.

According to the most recent statistics kept by the U.S. Department of Transportation, for the month of March 2001, nearly 20-percent of the flights from Boston's Logan Airport to New York's LaGuardia Airport arrived more than 23 minutes late, according to Amtrak.

One of the fast trains ran into problems on May 21 when Acela Express train 2170 broke down and had to be rescued at Stamford, Conn.

At 6:59 p.m., according to sources, the engineer of No. 2170 reported to Metro-North, the commuter line that operates between Grand Central Station in New York City to New Haven, Conn., that his train was dead on track 3 at Stamford, and his power car - the engine - was "unable to draw electric power from the catenary." A Metro North commuter train was delayed behind the stalled Acela.

Ten minutes later, 2170's crew reported the main circuit breaker was open on both power cars, 2034 and 2032, and that they could not reset either.

After some confusion (Amtrak officials first wanted to transfer the passengers to Amtrak No. 148, also at Stamford, but then asked Metro North to tow the dead Acela to New Haven, with its passengers aboard, to transfer to No. 178 instead.

A Metro-North work train engine (No. 105, a GP-35) coupled onto the dead Acela. The train was finally underway by 8:30 p.m., under tow.

Metro North later discovered Amtrak dispatched this particular Acela Express trainset with only one functional power car. When the train went lame at Stamford because the remaining power car was disabled, there was no backup or limp-in capability from the second unit.

Metro North is now requiring Amtrak to notify the commuter railroad if an Acela, or any other train with multiple locomotives or power cars in the consist, has any which are bad-ordered at departure from their initial terminal.

A tip of the engineer's cap to Gene Poon


Three more 'T' trains heading to Rhode Island

Boston Herald - Commuter rail service between Boston and Providence, R.I. have been expanded from eight to 11 daily round trips starting today.

Acting Gov. Jane Swift's office said last week that the new lines build on a 1998 expansion from five to eight round trips each day.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci and Swift have tried to boost regional transportation through expanded rail service as well as promoting regional airports in Worcester, Mass., Warwick, R.I., and elsewhere in New England.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Almond and Cellucci agreed to increase the number of commuter rail round trips from five to eight. The new agreement includes a five-year extension of commuter rail service to Rhode Island to 2009.


NCI's 2001 Conference report continues

AAR, CSX see a place for governmental partnerships

A relatively new operative in high-profile railroading and an old Washington hand shared the stage at NCI's May conference. Edward R. Hamberger and Paul H. Reistrup shared their views of contemporary railroading.

Ed Hamberger "manages the world's leading policy, research, and technology organization focusing on the safety and productivity of rail carriers. The Association of American Railroads represents the freight railroads of the United States, Canada, Mexico, plus Amtrak," according to the AAR's official biography, so when he speaks, as the TV commercial used to say, people listen.

Hamberger was one of several speakers during the two-day NCI conference in Washington's Marriott Hotel on May 10 and 11. He exhorted his audience to begin speaking in one voice, to act in unison.

He told his listeners, "We are one industry. We need to keep that in mind when we go individually to state, local and federal policy makers. I think we need to talk about the need to have railroads play their role in the future of freight and passenger transportation services."

The AAR president and CEO added, "By working together, and by not working at cross-purposes, we can begin to see a renaissance of railroads in American in the 21st Century."

He said, "I believe that both passenger rail and freight rail can have critical roles to play in the future of our nations economy. Freight rail has to keep pace with North America's growing economy. And I underscore the line "North America" because we are a North American network, we are a North American economy, our customers look at it as the North American marketplace, and I'm proud to say the AAR has the major Canadian railroads and the three major, long-haul privatized Mexican railroads as part of our association."

Hemispheric financial growth and financial planning are critical, he said.

"We have to take a look at keeping pace with the growth of North America's economy. We cannot afford to see the future of that economy dependent upon increased highway capacity. Congestion would be devastating, as we try to play "catch-up" in building more highway miles. Economically, we can't afford to build those highways; environmentally, it would be a disaster. We are committed to spending the capital we need to keep pace with the growth in freight transportation."

He added a caveat.

"By the same token, I believe that high-speed and commuter rail transportation must play a role in densely populated corridors to reduce the congestion, but it would be an error of monumental proportions to build up corridor service or to build up commuter service at the expense of the freight railroads. High-speed passenger service, commuter service, does, indeed, have strong public support. I believe the challenge is to translate that popular support into concrete programs - we'll invest in steel, tie, and ballast programs - that provide sufficient public financing to advance high-speed rail without harming our essential environmentally sound freight rail network."

Washingtonian magazine named Hamberger as one of the top ten association leaders in the Nation's Capitol in 1999. He brought more than 20 years experience in transportation public policy through his work in both the executive and legislative branches of government, and his career as an attorney. Before the AAR, Hamberger was a managing partner and a director of Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell in Washington.

Hamberger thanked NCI President James P. RePass for helping the cause to reduce taxation, especially in New York State.

"One of the points about owning your own infrastructure, your own right-of-way, is that you have the honor and the privilege of paying real estate taxes on that right-of-way. You're glad to step up and do your part for America, but unfortunately, some people understand that that is a competitive disadvantage in the freight industry, and Jim has been very active in the state of New York trying to convince the folks in Albany that equalizing that playing field a little is necessary to allow more investment in infrastructure to accommodate growing freight demand."

Hamberger stated that the big players - the huge class I corporations - "have begun thinking about accepting public money to upgrade their tracks."

He offered Sounder routes as an example of how it can work, if done carefully, methodically, and correctly.

"Have several task forces take a look at the issue, and I think it will reach its critical mass in the context of the TEA-21 reauthorization. Matt Rose testified at the Senate Commerce Committee on May 9 that he believes that public-private partnerships are the way to go in the future."

HE said AAR's current policy on public funding "is that where the primary purpose of public funding is for a public goal, then, in fact, it is appropriate for the freight railroads to work together and cooperate on that project."

He said, "That happens every day," and offered as an example, the Pacific Northwest.

"Sound Transit, where both UP and BNSF put in private sector dollars leveraged against a state and local commitment, improved the corridor coming out of the Seattle-Tacoma area. It was a public benefit of improving commuter rail. Obviously, it had collateral benefit for freight transportation as well, to the extent that you can eliminate grade crossings, and you can improve communications and signaling. That makes sense, so those kinds of private-public partnerships do occur."

Hamberger added, however, "The question on the table is whether or not the industry will go further than that and become more aggressive in going after dollars just for freight rail per se. At the current time, I think we are very comfortable and everybody in the industry is comfortable talking about private-public partnerships where the primary benefit is congestion alleviation [with] commuter rail. Trying to do that on a principal debt, as important as commuter rail is, as important as high-speed intercity passenger rail is, it cannot, should not be done at the cost of a cross-subsidy from the freight rails."

Laws at the federal level play a large part in all of this funding or not funding. He said he testified in a House committee meeting a week earlier, and "the issue of Rep. Bob Clement's (D-Tenn.) bill came up. His bill would refer to the Surface Transportation Board a decision of whether or not commuter rail should have access to freight railroads. We obviously do not want to give up the control of our own private sector assets to the STB."

"The light went on for one congressman. He said, 'It sounds to me like we're trying to do is do it on the cheap. If we think that commuter rail is important, why don't we just step up and spend the money and provide the service that commuter rail needs?'

The congressman, added Hamberger, said, 'Take a look in the high-speed passenger corridors. I haven't had the privilege of riding on the bullet train and the TGV, but I understand a dedicated right-of-way. I understand there is no grade crossing. I understand there is no freight operation on it. If we're going to, in this country, [we must] say what we need, because it's good, public policy, to have high-speed, intercity passenger service. Let's not do it on the cheap.'"

One week later, Hamberger said, in a press release, he agreed with the Bush Administration's plan to increase energy production.

"President Bush's energy policy shows that he fully understands the role energy plays in stimulating the nation's economy. His policy strikes a prudent balance by increasing energy supplies while at the same time protecting the environment. The new policy clearly recognizes the importance of including coal in the nation's energy mix. Coal remains our most abundant source of affordable energy with enough reserves already discovered to last more than 250 years. Over the past three decades, technology has made coal increasingly clean. We wholeheartedly support President Bush's commitment to provide research funding that will lead to further advances in clean coal technology."

Paul Reistrup, 69, one of the early hands to run Amtrak, was at the May meet as well. He ran the passenger carrier from March 1, 1975 to May 31, 1978, and now is CSX's vice-president for passenger integration.

"CSX has four passenger corridors models," he said.

"The Empire is upstate New York, where we're the fastest freight railroad, up to 110 mph. We run 26 trains," including Amtrak.

Reistrup also thanked RePass for help on the New York state tax issues AAR's Hamberger had mentioned. CSX was grousing about what they considered to be exceptionally high property taxes in some communities.

Between "Richmond-Washington we run 18 trains. That's a lower speed operation, but it's under study now."

On the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, "We run out to Worcester for them [from Boston], but we also have intercity passenger trains. I list them as models because the working arrangements are all different and the liability coverage, for instance, is different. The best one is the MBTA."

In Florida, "Tri-Rail owns the railroad, so that's a different model. It also has lots of Amtrak trains."

Reistrup, who is a West Point Military Academy graduate, said "reliability was running over 95 percent on-time with the Empire Corridor - amazing, with all those trains. We're in the mid- to high-90s

He said the MBTA "was operating at 98 percent on-time, VRE is now 96 percent, 97 percent, way up; MARC is 95. You've got to be at least 95 percent in commuter rail."

He said CSX has "two important capacity studies underway. On one, the first phase is finished between Richmond and Washington, so we have the models for those agreements. We're going to use that in Bob Clements back yard, Nashville That's basically the model for the agreement we've proffered to them."

Reistrup, over the years, is a former B&O assistant division engineer (his college major was engineering), yardmaster, trainmaster, and served on Illinois Central as a vice-president in various roles.

"East of the Hudson is interesting, because we've got Metro North over there, and Amtrak and ourselves and now Canadian Pacific (ex-D&H lines) that got rights through the Conrail acquisition."

He observed, "The shortcomings on all this stuff is bucks, the dollars. Where's it coming from?" and noted, "Norfolk Southern runs on us in Alexandria, Va. We asked the state agency to ask them how much they are going to operate so that we don't get into a marketing conflict and anti-trust" problems, "but it all goes into the study, and you have to allow for all these different mixes of traffic."

He added, "The overtakes do eat up capacity. Our Richmond-Washington study showed that Amtrak causes (18 trains now) 38 percent of the delays. We were all astounded. A consultant came up with that."

He was critical of USDOT's designation of an Arkansas high-speed corridor, and a southern route similarly designated as high-speed.

"It doesn't connect with anything, but it gets everybody excited in the country, but no way that you're going to do that. How are you going to get high-speed from Atlanta to Birmingham? Has anybody ever ridden that railroad?"

He chuckled over published reports that said they were secretly testing trains at night.

"Secret tests. This is kind of fun. We went out at night to test the Turbotrain," which was in Milwaukee recently for the High-Speed Ground Transportation Assn. Meeting,

"We had to run it at night because we were going to exceed the 125 mph speed. They blocked every crossing with snow plows, so we had to pick a day it wasn't snowing. There are several grade crossings, and you can't run that fast without stopping" frequently. "I'll tell you, those snow plows stopped the automobiles.

"The press said, 'secret test,' then it said '125 mph,' and 'this summer, they'll be running.'

"Well, the infrastructure's not ready. We're working on it, but we're not there yet."

He had a word of advice for negotiators as well.

"The negotiators have to possess authority. If they can't, they must say they have to go back, or 'I've got this much room in my box, and I would sign the deal; otherwise, I've got to go back.' Make it clear."

"The corridor's got to be realistic and know when to push back or to refrain from being hard-line, and so forth. You've really got to have people on both sides that have railroad knowledge. We even sometimes have lack of railroad knowledge within CSX, for instance, on the real estate side. They may not know what I'm talking about."


NARP's Capon sees progress

"I think the progress in passenger rail is actually real, and I'm just going to remind you briefly of some things that are easy to forget, things we didn't have less than ten years ago that are making life for passengers much better than it was," NARP's Ross Capon told his early morning listeners at the May NCI conference. He is NARP's executive director.

"Beautiful stations in Spokane, in Meridian, a brand-new station at Bakersfield which, conveniently enough, is the home to the new chairman of the Ways and Means committee, Bill Thomas, who, himself was present at the ceremonial opening of that station."

"Perhaps most important," Capon added, "we've gotten the news in the past two months that we are all going to live to see a modern, world-class intermodal station in St. Louis, and as we speak, Amtrak is rerouting some of the Chicago-St. Louis trains so that the first meaningful track improvement work in a very long time can take place on the Chicago-St. Louis line."

He was enthused.

"Imagine that! A decent station in St. Louis and decent track speeds between Chicago and St. Louis. That is enough to make some people turn over in their graves... or come back."

"ITCS is working on the Detroit line and Amtrak will be able to apply for 90 mph probably in mid-July with the hope of a short turn-around on the application [to the STB]," he said.

Capon frequently testifies before Senate and House committees on transportation issues, and rail in particular.

"Is everything beautiful?

"If you saw Secretary Mineta's clip on CNN [reporting Amtrak finances were bad], it isn't, but there is also the High-Speed Rail Investment Act (HSRIA)." He warned, "This is not the time to 'flyspeck' that bill. The only people who ought to be flyspecking the bill are the Congressmen who hold the fate of it in their hands."

Capon added, "If, for example, you happen to believe that the rail passenger service act needs a massive rewriting and that's the key to our problems, well, that's next year, that's not this year. If that should happen next year, I'll be surprised, but if it does, that will be the time when all the other laws can be conformed to. This is not the time to be trying to rewrite the HSRIA to some vision of the future. This is the time to get the bill passed.

Capon remarked, "It is also not the time - much as it pains me to say so - to talk about 'raiding,' as some people would say, the highway trust fund for passenger rail. Everyone needs to know that Max Baucus is the ranking Democrat in the Senate Finance Committee, is just as passionate on the subject of what you might call 'keeping faith with the highway trust.' You know, the purity or virginity of the highway trust fund as Bud Shuster said, had to remain intact."

Shuster (R-Pa.) was a House Transportation Committee chairman and is now retired.

Capon's remarks were delivered before the remarkable Senate action by Sen. James Jeffords.

"Mr. Baucus is likely to be the ranking Democrat and chairman for the foreseeable future. His top priority on the High-Speed Rail Investment Act is, frankly, fly-specking it to make sure that not one penny of highway trust fund money could - Heaven forbid - go to passenger rail. There is a provision in this year's version, which allows a state contribution to include donation of right-of-way, and Mr. Baucus was concerned that this right-of-way might have, in the past, been improved with highway trust fund money, so there is a provision to make that that level of virginity is not compromised."

The passenger rail advocate said, "Future Congresses can do whatever they want on the subject of highway trust fund money, and we can say whatever we want, but we should keep in mind that Senator Baucus is a key player, and that he is likely to be in that position for a long time. Talking about busting the highway trust fund is not that helpful.

The Washington political scene and Amtrak were both on his mind, which usually are.

"Speaking of future Congresses, What happens if Amtrak misses its target? We should be very grateful that the reform council has not made a forma finding, because a forma finding would have its own self-fulfilling prophecy potential. The main potential would not be so much a political one, because Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) has said more than once, if they get 80 percent of the way to their target, they're not going to shut them down.

"Imagine yourself as a lender to Amtrak with a formal finding. It could cause the lenders 'to freak,' which would not be a good thing.

"The law called on Amtrak to give priority to self-sufficiency. If their ridership is not where we like it, and their fares are higher than we like, is that a failure of management? Is it a failure of the institutional framework? Is it another instance of politicians doing what politicians do best, which is, pay for Motel 6 and expect the Washington Marriott?"

It always comes come to a matter of dollars, he explained.

"Somebody observed to me yesterday that if we restructure along the ARC lines and don't get the money, we're going to be in much worse shape than we are today. It was suggested that the ARC proposal is sort of like the World Bank talking to the U.K. about their rail system. You restructure, and we'll give you lots of money. Well, Amtrak isn't hungry and the ARC certainly isn't the World Bank.

"Are Amtrak trains empty, because of an obsolete booking system?" he asked.

"Starting this week, Amtrak is installing a new revenue management system designed and implemented for passenger rail operators SNCF, Eurostar, Virgin, and designed by Siemens. We could have a big shoot-out about how many years earlier this should have happened, or whether the technology existed.

He sees insulating Amtrak for passenger rail from politics as a good thing.

"That's an interesting concept. One of the problems, one of the concerns I have about that is I think there is a tendency always to see the grass is greener of the other side. In this case, to underestimate the extent to which the route structure is already insulated from politics."

He also suggested talking to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

"He's been trying to get Amtrak to put the Pioneer back ever since it was taken off, and Amtrak has stood very firm on the issue needing to be made financially whole. Look at the scheduling in the Northeast Corridor. I don't think there is any way, especially during peak hours, you're going to get a Metroliner memory pattern train that you need, if you give the states or the commuter rail authorities more power over the corridor than they already have. We have kind of a reasonable, symbiotic relationship, which SEPTA and NJ Transit have a sweetheart deal in terms of what they're paying for the rains, and Amtrak gets to be in the driver's seat on the scheduling and dispatching."

Yet, what about politics?

"There is also the assumption that politics is bad. George Warrington is saying that half of Continental's flights lose money, so politics may not be restricted to quasi-public corporations. It is also a puzzling thing to suggest that politicians, who keep writing the checks, when they are absolutely isolated from what they're paying for," are not helpful.

Capon said, "Many successes have come from working with the states, and many successes presumably would not have happened if the states had not taken the initiative. That's one way of looking at it.

"The other way of looking at it is the process, and the institutions, which are in place today, whatever lead to those results, whichever actors in the scheme were responsible for deserving what percent of the credit, they got it. Before we jump, we've got to be very sure that what were jumping to is going to be better than what we've got."

Responding to a question from the floor, he said, "If you create a new organization, which is Amtrak infrastructure, which is going to have an even bigger Northeast bias than Amtrak of today, how is it going to be legitimate in terms of Congressional funding?

"There are two key things politicians like to know when they are going to vote. One is, what's in it for my constituents, and the other is, what powerful interests am I going to offend?

"If you accept the idea that this reorganization requires massive increases in money, where is that going to come from, but the highway trust fund. I think the schedule of the issue may be of secondary importance; the major concern I have is that if you start creating one of what one of my board members calls, 'minced railroad,' breaking up Amtrak into all these parts its going to be much more difficult to get Congress to vote money for passenger rail, because right now, what we have is an organization that is national enough, in scope, to command votes in Congress and which is well aware of its need to be as national as possible."

Will some regions get more money and more trains than others?

"People say they're worried about all that money going to the Northeast. I concur the opposite way - because the Northeast has been spoiled for 25 years. They've had 100 percent money on the federal side for rail. Are they going to know how to do the 20 percent?

"Senator Lott has some visions that are going to make sure that a geographical balance is there."


Showdown at the OK corridor

The writer attended the 2001 NCI conference. Although he was not a speaker, he wrote this article for D:F in which he outlines his view of rail's future. - Ed.

By John Zuspan

The rail renaissance is on the threshold of American transportation. The railroad founders would be ill if they had seen the way the interstate system has taken over the rail industry. If the railroad pioneers from the 1850s and '60s were alive in the 1940s and '50s, one would imagine how they would have fought to maintain the railroads of this country. I am sure they would have gotten their fair share and forced the government to contribute to the railroads in an unbiased arena.

Hindsight is always 20-20, but if we had only invested some of that money into passenger railroads, we would not have the congestion we do today. People would have choices as to which mode of transportation they wish to use. The baby boomers would be more willing to ride mass transportation because they would have been born with it. Now we must at least wait another generation or two to change that mindset.

We Americans love our privacy. Do not invade that magical 3.7 foot space around my human body.

The country must change or develop a way to entertain people while they sit in hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic. The outcry for a better transportation system is overwhelming. Anyone, who has been commuting the same route for more than 15 years, can express his aggravation the best. The commute is 10 times worse, and takes at least 60 percent longer, depending on which metropolitan region you come from.

If you could measure the tension in a cloud that looms over a traffic jam, it would be off the Richter scale. Just imagine all that tension and aggravation somehow being put to productive use. Congestion in the morning causes terrible attitudes when people get to work. They may need an hour or so just to unwind before they tackle their daily activities.

What a way to start a day.

Then the commute home causes tension again, and the anger at the end of the day may be transferred to our family, either by outbursts or total exhaustion. The kids, unfortunately, are the ones that suffer indirectly to road rage. Everyone's quality of life is being jeopardized, whether directly or indirectly. Even vacations are creating tension. Who would have imagined that the south rim of the Grand Canyon suffers from gridlock? Congestion should be the No. 1 issue for all who inhabit the United States of America. It is affecting everyone.

In 1984, I got married (again), and was determined to make a happy family. We moved to the country because that is the environment in which we wanted to raise our kids. My wife, raised in a city, was absolutely lost with cows, and the stores being miles away.

Now, we can walk to a shopping center in less time than it takes to drive on certain days. I sit in nine separate traffic jams to get home, one of which is two miles from my house. It used to take me one hour to get home; it now takes at least 2 hours, and sometimes even longer. There is no public transportation that can accommodate my needs. If only we had built a light rail system down the middle of I-80 when that roadway was being built.

The Texas Transportation Institute has reported that four billion hours are spent in congestion per year. We have to wonder how much more is spent to recover from the aggravation of congestion. Road rage is a common buzz phrase now. People are fighting and getting shot in traffic fights, even without the use of alcohol. Instead of bar room brawls, we now have roadway riots. The American way of life is being jeopardized and we must do something now.

"Build it and they will come," will work. There are many examples of this theory throughout this country. Every light rail project has come under enormous scrutiny, yet they are all successful. They give people a choice. We have a right to sit in a traffic jam, but we must have alternatives for those who want a more serene existence. We must get the word out that rail is a viable and comfortable form of transportation. This country is so unbalanced with the four basic forms of transportation.

If only we had dedicated a 20-foot-wide strip down the middle of every interstate highway for rail, we would not be in this transportation meltdown mode that we are today. Even a two-track light rail system can be built with only a four-foot wide strip of real estate, as proven by the JFK light rail project which lies along the Van Wyck Expressway in Queens, New York.

We must set our priorities properly.

Instead of giving the American people a 1.3 trillion-dollar tax cut, why not invest that money into improving our quality of life and solve the congestion problem that haunts us all. I guarantee that Americans would pay $10 or $20 a week if we could give them some options to relieve congestion. Let's quit arguing about money and just do it. It is the only way to prevent a "transportation melt down" to coin a phase from Gov. Michael Dukakis.

Another problem is how do we get the people out of the cars and the commodities out of the trucks? How do we change the mindset that rail travel is a subordinate way to travel? It seems more trendy to fly from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia rather than take a train.

Let's challenge the advertising industry to promote rail travel with all the zest they put into selling sneakers or beer.

Should we see billboards on highways that are always bumper-to-bumper, or futuristic and very comfortable trains with coffee shops and mood music?

Show everyone what the alternatives are and how they can improve their quality of life. No railroad wants to spend money on marketing, but they must. Someone must spend big dollars on marketing rail. Word of mouth is just not enough. I truly believe that once anyone takes a Metroliner or Acela Express from New York to Boston or New York to Washington, they will rarely fly again.

The freight carriers must get better on-time service and have their own dedicated right of way to manage as they see fit; however, some of these corridors can support high-speed, commuter and light rail, but not on the same tracks. I would suggest a four-track corridor, and where there is not enough room, offer a gauntlet slab track whereas each railroad can have its own rails with its own geometry and stiffness.

We must not do this half way; we must do what Eisenhower did with creating the interstate highway system. We must have dedicated rail corridors for each discipline. Let's not save a nickel so the next generation must spend a buck.

We have a responsibility to give our children a first-class rail transportation system, just like Eisenhower did with the interstate system for our generation.

We must design for the distant future and not settle for band-aid construction. The time is now, and we all must be ready for the challenge.

So let's jump on a train and read a book, take a nap, do some homework, play solitaire, develop a strategic business plan, read a paper, write a thesis, play with the kids, enjoy our mate's company - or write this paper.

As Jim RePass put it, "Rail is Real."

John is the track division director for Slattery-Skanska in Whitestone, N.Y.


Corridor lines...

Amtrak may roll in Tennessee

A Tennessee Congressman thinks the time has come for Amtrak to resume passenger rail service in Middle Tennessee. U.S. Rep. Bob Clement, a Democrat from Nashville, has been pushing for years to restore such service, which ended in Nashville in October 1979.

"Amtrak gives another window of opportunity when it comes to quality-of-life issues, when it comes to solving gridlock and congestion and traffic problems," he said.

Amtrak is conducting a feasibility study on extending passenger service from Louisville to Nashville, the Chicago Tribune reported. The railroad opened service from Indianapolis to Jeffersonville, Ind., in 1999 and plans to extend the line into downtown Louisville this fall.

"We're taking a good, hard look at restoring service in Tennessee and the benefits that such a move would provide for passengers, communities and Amtrak," Amtrak President George Warrington said.

Cheryle Jackson, Amtrak's vice president for government and public affairs, said the study must determine whether a Louisville-Nashville route is feasible. It would have one train leaving Louisville in the morning and returning at night.

"We found that it's operationally doable," Jackson said.

"The next step is to define the costs."

Amtrak officials have not estimated how much it would cost or whether state or local governments would have to help pay the bill. Not everyone thinks such a route is a smart idea.

Malcolm Gertz, a Vanderbilt University economist, said trains work in areas with lots of people, such as the Northeast. He doesn't think Middle Tennessee needs such service or has enough people to fill the train.

"People who would ride it are those who have a lot of time to kill," he said, pointing out that flying takes less than an hour between the cities.

If Amtrak decides to extend its service line, the company has to get access to CSX railroad freight lines.

The Tennessee DOT is conducting a statewide survey on passenger rail service. Ben Smith of the department's mass-transit division said the study is focused on the feasibility of a route from Knoxville to Memphis.


Iowans may be first to see fast trains in Midwest

The first section of a proposed high-speed Amtrak passenger railroad route across Iowa would run from Chicago to Iowa City, an Iowa DOT official said recently.

Community leaders who support expanded rail passenger service in Iowa and Illinois met in Rock Island to discuss plans for a nine-state, high-speed rail network that would cost about $4 billion. The Chicago Tribune reported on May 20 the route would reach Omaha, and would be part of a network that would include Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.

"This is a real program. It is not some pie-in-the-sky thing," said Tom Jackson, an Iowa DOT railroad specialist. He added, "At least parts of it are going to happen and will happen fairly soon."

Robert Kollmar, Amtrak's senior director of operations and construction for the Midwest regional rail system, said high-speed trains can be a good alternative to air and highway travel.

"We can move a lot of folks in a short period of time. We can move them quickly. We can move them safely," Kollmar said.

Many trains on the proposed rail system would operate at peak speeds of 110 m.p.h. The Iowa section of the route would initially run at 79 m.p.h., though track and signal upgrades could be made to raise the speeds to 110 m.p.h., officials said.

The train would operate four times daily in each direction. The Midwest rail network would operate on a hub system based in Chicago.

Jackson said the cost of establishing the service from the Quad Cities to Iowa City is estimated at $30 million. He said the new passenger line could begin running in Iowa within three years if money becomes available immediately.


Capitol Corridor adds four trains

California's Capitol Corridor rail passenger service has expanded between the Bay Area and Sacramento by adding two more round-trip trains. The four new trains began running between Oakland and Sacramento.

Oakland departures are at 12:15 p.m., arriving in Sacramento at 2:25 p.m., and at 7:50 p.m., arriving at 10:00 p.m.

The trains operate over Union Pacific tracks, which also dispatches the routes.


Freight lines...

'Not so fast,' STB tells NS

Labor has won round one of a fight between itself and NS management.

The Surface Transportation Board is directing Norfolk Southern Railway Co. to show why the STB should not order NS to cancel its proposed closing of its Hollidaysburg Car Shops at Hollidaysburg, Pa., and "to keep them open at least at present capacity for a significant period of time beyond September 1, 2001."

STB chairman Linda Morgan said the board issued its decision "in view of assurances NS had given in 1997 and 1998 in connection with its application to acquire a substantial portion of the rail system formerly operated by Conrail Inc."

She noted that "NS had indicated at numerous times - in administrative filings with the agency, in news releases issued to the public and, on at least one occasion, in testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee - that it intended to retain Conrail's former car shops and to keep them operating."

The board concluded in a written decision, that "in view of these statements, upon which people clearly relied in formulating positions of support for the Conrail acquisition, and in view of NS's present determination to close the car shops on or about September 1, 2001, there is reason to explore more specifically whether the closing at this point in time would violate representations that NS had made during the course of the Conrail acquisition proceeding before the agency."

The STB also noted, "given those commitments by NS, it is not clear why the closure of the car shops should be at the forefront of its current plans to cut costs or increase profitability," so the federal body "directed NS to show, through a pleading to be filed by June 11, 2001, why the agency should not order NS to cancel the proposed closing of its car shops."

The Surface Transportation Board is on the web at http://www.stb.dot.gov  Norfolk Southern's page is http://www.nscorp.com/nscorp/html/home.html


Degreasers injure railroaders, say doctors

Hundreds of railroad workers across the country suffered brain damage from long-term exposure to chemicals once used to clean locomotives, according to a Louisville, Ky. Courier-Journal investigation.

Doctors said more than 600 railroaders developed mild to severe brain damage over the past 15 years from handling common degreasing solvents, the newspaper reported in a four-day series.

Railroads have denied any link between the exposure and brain damage, but reportedly have paid tens of millions of dollars to settle solvent lawsuits.

The newspaper said the railroad workers were diagnosed with toxic encephalopathy, an illness characterized by short-term memory loss, depression, anxiety and diminished mental function.

Workers diagnosed with the disease were found in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

The Courier-Journal spent 10 months doing interviews and reviewing more than 10,000 pages of legal documents as it investigated railroads' 50-year use of such solvents as 1,1,1-trichloroethane, trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene.

The documents show that some industry officials acknowledged as far back as 1957 that solvents were dangerous, that shop ventilation was sometimes inadequate and that workers needed respiratory protection, the newspaper reported.

The investigation also shows that industry officials were warned of the dangers of heavy exposure to solvents in the 1960s, but at least one railroad, CSX, did not ban them until the 1990s.

CSX, the target of more than 600 solvent lawsuits and claims, acknowledged paying up to $35 million to 466 current or former workers in settlements or jury verdicts. It denies the solvents used in its maintenance shops caused brain damage.

"We do not believe that the science and the medicine supports this causal connection," said Edward Stopher, an attorney for CSX. "In most of these cases, we believe there's some other explanation for these perceived symptoms."

CSX has banned the use of trichloroethyelene, 1,1,1-trichlorethane and perchloroethylene. The railroad instead uses a less-toxic type of mineral spirits in smaller quantities.

Three other major railroads, Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Norfolk Southern, say they have taken similar steps.


CSX, NS improve financially; share values rise

After a weak financial performance in recent years, CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp. look like they may be back on track.

Despite the challenges facing both companies, including an economic slowdown and a surge in diesel fuel prices, their shares have rebounded sharply lately, and that's given some analysts cause for hope, reports the Wall Street Journal on-line.

CSX and NS have eliminated many of their operating problems and should see continuing improvement in results as coal demand helps lift margins, said ABN Amro analyst Jason Seidl.

The profits and shares of Richmond-based CSX and Norfolk-based Norfolk Southern Corp., both components of the Dow Jones Transportation Average, have plummeted in recent years. Shares of both traded at long-term lows late last year.

CSX was the first to fall last year. It plunged 68 percent to $19.56 last June, its lowest point in nearly a decade, after it hit an all-time high of $61.75 in July 1997.

Norfolk Southern also dropped to its lowest point since the early 1990s, falling to $12 in October after it reached an all-time high of $40.38 in March 1998.

But CSX has almost doubled from its June low, with shares trading last Friday in the $36.77 range, and shares of Norfolk Southern have almost matched that pace, recently trading at $22.08.

Both companies posted improved first-quarter results compared with a year ago. Norfolk Southern posted higher revenue and profits during the period, and CSX held its ground, posting slight decreases in revenue and earnings and a small improvement in costs. Much of the improvement for CSX was due to restructuring moves begun last year, including reductions in rolling stock and personnel, as well as the disposal of non-core operating units.


Floods will affect BN's quarterly results

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. warned last week that flooding in the Midwest this spring will hurt second-quarter results, as the carrier grappled with increased costs and lower revenue for the period.

Operating income will be reduced by about $30 million, or five cents a share, Burlington Northern said in a prepared statement May 24, according to The Wall Street Journal. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had expected the company to earn 58 cents a share for the three months ending in June.

For last year's second quarter, the company had operating income of $249 million, or 60 cents a share, on revenue of $2.24 billion.

The railroad's main lines between Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul and in the St. Louis area have been either out of service or operations have continued at significantly reduced speeds during the past six weeks. Most operations returned to normal over the Memorial Day weekend.

BN, headquartered at Fort Worth, said its fuel costs are expected to be about 10 percent higher than the $219 million recorded in the same period last year.

In this year's first quarter, the company's net income fell to $134 million, or 34 cents a diluted share, from $243 million, or 55 cents a share, on more shares, a year earlier.

Last month, the company warned that softness in the U.S. economy would result in flat freight revenue, which caused analysts to lower earnings estimates.


Letters...

Dear Editor:

I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for posting the good overview of events concerning rail traffic in the U.S. I am from Texas but live in Europe instead of in the U.S. and 'complaining' about the rail infrastructure like most people. I really enjoy your newsletter and read it every week.

Paul Sheehan

Munich, Germany


 

Dear Editor:

I really enjoyed your piece on James Coston and his comments on the future of rail travel, he has a distinct handle on what needs to done. Thank you for a great website and organization!

Erik Leeper


 

D:F reader Andy Kirk tell us, "This afternoon (May 25), when I asked Rensselaer (N.Y.) Shop Superintendent Larry Loman about the status of F-40PH engines, he told me that the four that recently made their last runs in Washington 'will be leased to the Long Island Rail Road.'

Loman said Engines "315 and 320 are already here being prepped." The numbers of the other two were not available.

"He also told me that P-40 No. 805 is having ACSES installed and will be the first unit assigned to New England," Kirk added. "Trains 63-64 and 68-69 continue to get an F-40 west of Albany-Rensselaer."

Has a P40 or P42 ever hauled a train on the Inland Route or Springfield Line? How many F-40s are assigned to the Shore Line for protects and 66-67? Have 66-67 ever been hauled by an electric? Are most of the AEM-7 hauled trains using just one motor now?

We'll wait and see which event occurs first - the start of the Portland service or the first revenue run of the Super Steel Turbo.

Keep up the great work on the NCI newsletter.

A pair of back-to-back P-40s operated round trip on May 25 from Boston to Springfield, Mass., and on to New Haven, Conn. To our knowledge, except for their arrival on No. 448 of various dates, that was the first time they were in revenue service on the Inland Route. They went west on No. 145 and returned on No. 142. Five P-40s are now assigned to Boston - 820 for training T&E crews, and the 806, 809, 823 and 827.

The number of F-40 engines on standby varies from day-to-day, depending on whether they are used or not, and where they are - Boston or New Haven. Five is a good average number, so far, but that will increase as more P-40s and P-42s are assigned to Boston. Eventually all F-40s will return to the Chicago pool, as we reported last week. Regarding the Twilight Shoreliner, we don't know. - Ed.

Andrew S. Kirk

Rensselaer, N.Y.


 

Dear Editor:

There are two future projects that affect my area: the Southeast passenger rail corridor, and a proposed regional rail project in the Raleigh-Durham area. The two interact because they share the same right-of-way and thus have to be coordinated. There is a somewhat old article (and rather biased) by a local weekly paper, Independent Online, at http://www.indyweek.com/durham/2000-02-23/cover.html, that discusses the issue from a pro-transit viewpoint, but I'd rather believe that there is more to be gained by cooperation, especially since both projects are at a similar point the transit project has just made the Preliminary Engineering/Draft Environmental Impact statement stage.

Enough design has been done for a project to be able to evaluate the environmental impact. Once it is approved by the appropriate federal agency, the project moves on to final design and final environmental impact evaluation. The fact that the Federal Transit Administration has approved it attests to improved cooperation between state and regional planners since the original article; however, the option to accommodate high-speed rail does add to the transit build cost.

The environmental statement is available for comment, at http://ridetta.org (the Triangle Transit Authority). The Southeast rail project is supposed to do the same within a few months.

Cost estimates in the transit project are about 20 percent higher for the accommodations for the passenger rail corridor, or $679 million for one- track not realigned, vs. $832 million for two realigned tracks; but this is really worth it in my opinion, especially if any cost sharing is possible.

Future plans for the regional rail project include a station at Midway Airline's hub at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. This would be a great candidate for intermodalism, if long-distance passenger trains could run through the airport's tracks as well.

Both the local rail transit project and the proposed Richmond-Atlanta and Richmond-Jacksonville trains will wind up sharing the right-of-way near the airport. In a future phase of the transit project, a new right-of-way will be built over to the airport. It would be great if intercity trains could travel over it as well.

Since I sent in my original note to you, I had a chat with one of the transit planners, and I told her my impression is that they're mostly trying to get enough cooperation from the airport planners.

I've discovered your online newsletter recently and really enjoy the insights.

Matt McKrell

Raleigh, N.C.

We're looking into the projects. - Ed.


Meetings...
June 3-6

AAR annual safety meeting

"Safety for the new millennium: Something for Everyone,"
St. Augustine, Fla
Contact Jeff Moller, 202 639 2375
e-mail jmoller@aar.org


June 6-8

League of Railway Industry Women

Spring-summer conference and seminar at Drury Inn and Suites, Kansas City Airport, Kansas City, Mo.
Contact Connie Sumara, (847) 318 8000.


 

2001 Union Pacific steam trips

June 10

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

Contact The Camerail Club
Sioux City & Pacific Excursion
6307 Seward St.
Omaha, NE 68104-4761
e-mail DaveS402@yahoo.com

June 19

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

Contact St. Louis Chapter, National Railway Historical Society
2129 Barrett Station Rd., PMB 271
St. Louis, MO 63131-1638
(314) 839-2356
E-mail via http://www.stlouisnrhs.org


June 22

How to plan, execute and win
a major transportation and land-use reform campaign

From 9:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Environmental Law & Policy Center
35 East Wacker Drive, Suite 1300
Chicago, Ill.

Thirty experienced Midwest environmental activists will share what they have learned over the past decade about developing and implementing comprehensive strategic advocacy campaigns against sprawl-inducing and environmentally destructive transportation projects.

Attorneys, policy analysts and communications specialists from ELPC and other Midwest organizations will present the strategic and practical "how-to" ideas on using key legal tools, successfully evaluating environmental impact statements, developing and promoting better, faster and cheaper positive alternatives, effective organizing and communications tactics, and raising the necessary funds in order to win.


The way we were...

NCI: Leo King

A century of railroading is contained within this image. The two Budd cars, marked up Boston & Maine, were privately owned ex-B&M, ex-MBTA units operating over the former Cape Cod & Hyannis and Bay Colony Railroads between Provincetown and Wareham, Mass. All these tracks are ex-New York, New Haven & Hartford iron. The photo was snapped ca. 1990. The Army Corps of Engineers vertical lift bridge in the background was built about one century earlier, and the view is from Buzzard's Bay tower.
End Notes...

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we'd like to hear from you. Please e-mail the crew at leoking@nationalcorridors.org. 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 Site in Boston.


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