Vol. 7 No. 24
May 30, 2006

Copyright © 2006
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

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

A weekly North American rail and transit update

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

* Now in our Seventh Year *

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

  News Items... 
Infrastructure failure hits Amtrak, riders
David Gunn says when it comes to Amtrak,
   “The people are ahead of the politicians”
Galena coalition organizing to help with Amtrak push
Higher gas prices fuel increased train ridership
  Commuter lines… 
Transit funds increase
Protest disrupts work on light rail
Not all are on board Some towns balk at state's plan
   to extend Stoughton rail line
City to revive Boston ferry. $2.3m grant will allow June start
  Friday closing quotes… 
  Builder’s lines… 
Low Level Platform Cars for sale
  Opinion… 
Don't change current CSX rail route
  Editorial… 
Yes, a tunnel, but also a PATH tube
  End notes… 

Infrastructure failure
hits Amtrak, riders

By DF Staff

NEW YORK, WASHINGTON, MAY 25 --- Amtrak’s 80 year-old Washington-New York catenary system failed massively Thursday morning, stranding thousands of riders. The catenary, or overhead wires, powers the electric trains --- Amtrak and commuter rail --- that use the Corridor.

Amtrak has sought funding for capital improvements to its Northeast Corridor Infrastructure between Washington and New York for three decades, but Congress, which created Amtrak in 1970 with promised capital funding, has never allocated the capital needed. The DOT Inspector General’s office reported in 2004 that Amtrak’s capital shortfall on that portion of the Corridor, which was last modernized in the 1930’s, stands at $6 billion.

The Boston-New Haven segment of the Corridor was electrified in the 1990’s when a private infrastructure advocacy group, the National Corridors Initiative, negotiated with the Bush (I) White House the release of embargoed funds needed to complete that work. Amtrak’s new Acela train hits speeds of 155 mph on parts of that route, and overall Boston-New York travel time has been cut to three and one half hours (from five and one half) as a result. This, despite that between New Haven and New York the system is owned by the State of Connecticut and is 100 years old. One track on the four-track system has been upgraded to modern standards, but Connecticut says it is taking 10 years to do the rest. The Acela, and Metro-North commuter trains, are limited to low speeds (under 100 mph) on that segment, which frequently fails.

Amtrak, like all other transportation modes, is subsidized by the government, but because of the way it gets money --- going hat in hand to Congress every year --- it has been an easy target for rail opponents, who include the nation’s petroleum lobby. While highways enjoy an automatic trust fund that pays 90% of the cost of new highways, riverways are maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, and airlines are heavily supported by infrastructure paid for by Federal, state, and local sources, Amtrak has no such funding system.

Indeed, the current Bush (II) Administration has sought to sell off pieces of Amtrak to private bidders, to avoid paying the annual subsidy the railroad needs to function (about $1.5-$1.7 billion). When former Amtrak President David Gunn refused to acquiesce in that plan last November, he was fired by the Bush-appointed Amtrak board.

The power outrage that stranded thousands of rail travelers May 25 can be expected again, and with more frequency,” according to a statement from the National Corridors Initiative President Jim RePass, issued Friday morning. “It is a symptom of the negligence shown the national rail system for the past 35 years.”

“The proximate cause of the power failure has been attributed to equipment malfunction,” stated NCI President James RePass, “but the underlying cause of the failure is more than three decades of underfunding of the Northeast Corridor’s rail infrastructure, which is now 80 years old in some places, and 100 years old in others.” The DOT Inspector General’s office identified the New York-DC capital shortfall as $6 billion, as of 2004.

“Statements by some that money has been ‘lavished’ on Amtrak are due to either malice or ignorance,” stated RePass, “since Amtrak has received less total money since its founding in 1970 than the nation’s highways or airlines receive every year single year in direct or hidden Federal, state, and local subsidies.”

For example, said RePass, in 2000 America spent $130 billion on highways (state, Federal, local) yet only $521 million on Amtrak. “Anytime you spend nearly 250 times as much money on one form of transportation as on another, what kind of result do you expect?”

“The national rail passenger system was created by Congress to rescue the freight railroads from the requirement that they provide passenger service,” said RePass, “but the capital needed to replace the decrepit equipment given over from those railroads at the start of Amtrak’s operation, or to rebuild the infrastructure on which Northeast Corridor trains ride, has never been forthcoming, except for isolated projects.”

“Until the Congress or the Administration puts forth a comprehensive program to rebuild the nation’s transportation infrastructure, including desperately needed rail improvements, we are going to continue to lose ground to Europe and Asia, and our economy is going to continue to underperform the rest of the world.”

The National Corridors Initiative was founded in 1989 to advocate for infrastructure investment. It is the organization that obtained the release in 1991 of long-embargoed Federal funds to build the Boston-New Haven electrification project, which has cut New York-Boston travel times to three and one half hours, down from five and one half.


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David Gunn says when it comes to Amtrak,
“The people are ahead of the politicians”

By DF Staff

BOSTON---A standing-room only crowd of transit activists and their supporters got a treat May 24 when former Amtrak President David Gunn visited Boston to address the Association for Public Transportation’s annual meeting.

Introduced by former Amtrak Board Chair and Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, Gunn did not disappoint the audience, many of whose members were familiar with Gunn’s direct style and blunt speech.

Michael Dukakis

NCI Photo

Former Massachusetts Governor and former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis takes the podium to introduce David Gunn

Gunn, fired by Bush appointees when he refused to acquiesce in their plans to disassemble Amtrak and parcel out its pieces, said that today when it comes to transportation “…the people are way ahead of the politicians.”

America is based on mobility, said Gunn, but we are losing that “for both passengers and freight. The infrastructure is in poor condition, and there is insufficient money for maintenance, let alone expansion,” he stated.

The meeting also saw the re-election of APT President Richard J. Arena to a new term. Arena has made it a goal to broaden APT membership and increase its activities as advocates for public transportation.

Gunn told the audience: “The nation’s entire transportation policy is based on cheap petroleum. There are very few places where this dependence is not 100% (i.e. where electrically powered transit systems exist, as in Boston).

“Some tough choices need to be made,” he said, “but the public understands this for the most part and is way ahead of the politicians. The states are ahead of the feds, with the U.S. DOT and the Congress farthest behind,” he noted. “Tight money will force policymakers to make investments that get the biggest bang for the buck, regardless of mode.”

David Gunn speaking in Boston, May 24, 2006

NCI Photo

David Gunn, speaking at the May 24 annual meeting of the Association of Public Transit, at the Harvard Club in Boston, talks about the future of intercity rail in America, which he said is -- perhaps surprisingly -- looking up.

Gunn cited airport congestion issues, including Chicago where they will spend billions at O’Hare to expand capacity modestly in order to support over 100 daily flights to nearby cities such as Milwaukee and South Bend that could more efficiently be served by rail. [Editor’s Note - If Chicago goes through with its entire plan of runway reconfiguration, safety equipment improvements, and new terminals, these measures should be substantial enough to ease some of the current delays caused by weather conditions. However, the expense to fix O’Hare and also build a third Chicago airport as proposed, ranges into the $8-$10 billion range, many times the cost of improving rail speeds to nearby cities].

U.S. DOT policy towards passenger rail, said Gunn, is “…totally ideological and driven primarily by the White House Office of Management and Budget, which has never liked rail.”

Gunn also touched on the Amtrak reform plan that he and other Amtrak management people developed last year, and which was getting under way just as Gunn was fired. These include:

What’s at stake with Amtrak’s current situation, said Gunn is this: “Amtrak is the Alamo of high-speed rail in America; if we lose it, the operational expertise and vendor base will disappear. The media’s interest has been very superficial, but high oil prices have made federal transport policy much more of an issue for the public.”

Gunn is optimistic that, between high oil prices and the Bush’s low and declining approval ratings, an Amtrak debacle, he said “…is not something that they want.”


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Galena coalition organizing
to help with Amtrak push

Across the wires from the Rockford Register

ROCKFORD, ILL, MAY 24 — A small coalition of municipal officials and economic development leaders wants to restore Amtrak’s Black Hawk line from Dubuque, Iowa to Chicago, wrote Heath Hixson for the Rockford Register. The service was discontinued in 1981 because of low ridership.

The fledgling coalition is made up of officials from Rockford, Freeport, Galena and Dubuque, as well as the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Midwest High Speed Rail Association. They met in Galena, Iowa, on Tuesday, May 17, to discuss the issue.

The previous week, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wrote a letter to Amtrak’s acting President David Hughes asking him to meet with Rockford-area officials regarding the restoration of the Black Hawk line.

The group agreed to hold another meeting June 20 in Lena to further discuss the return of the service.

Staff writer Heath Hixson may be reached at 815-987-1343 or hhixson@rrstar.com.


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Higher gas prices fuel increased train ridership

Across the wires from Medill News Service

MAY 19 -- Illinois and Indiana travelers are changing their habits since gas prices started rising rapidly, according to a story by Jason Sparapani.

AAA Chicago’ s Fuel Gauge Report, released Wednesday, states that gas price averages in northern Indiana and in Illinois climbed 22 cents in April and will likely reach $2.95 for May. That’s a 91 cent hike from last year’s average.

Higher prices are primarily the result of the high cost of crude oil, which topped $75 a barrel in April.

Drivers can reduce trips from home, keep cars well tuned and tires properly inflated to get the most out of their gas tanks, said AAA spokeswoman Nicole Niemi.

But they can also look for alternatives to car travel, and that’s just what many are doing. They’re riding the rails more.

The South Shore Line, which runs between South Bend and Randolph Street in Chicago, has seen a nearly 12 percent rise in passengers from January to April in 2006 compared with the same period last year.

John Parsons, of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the suburban line, said ridership was 1.3 million for the first four months this year, up 13 percent.

And that means fewer empty seats. Parsons said passengers will typically be standing on inbound trains after south suburban Hegewisch.

“We’re operating many of our rush-hour trains and popular off-peak trains at or above seating capacity,” he said.

The Metra is carrying more passengers as well -- about 19 million in the first three months of 2006, up more than 4 percent from the same period last year, according to Patrick Waldron, spokesman for the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp.

Car travel is expected to be heavy during the summer months despite the high gas prices, Niemi indicated, although Kenneth Thompson, who teaches management at Depaul University, said he believes many people will pare back their trips.

“And gas prices are going nowhere but up. Despite the recent price of oil, which dipped below the $69 dollar mark,” Thompson said, “insecurity in the Middle East and skyrocketing demand will keep prices high.”


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COMMUTER LINES...  Commuter lines...

Transit funds increase

Source: The Daily Journal

May 25 -- The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has experienced lackluster results from their Millbrae/SFO extension which opened in 2001. It is dependent on the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SamTrans) for its operations costs, causing tension between the agencies over money, reports Dana Yates in a story for The Daily Journal.

SamTrans has subsidized the operations costs of the extension since its opening, but last year it informed BART it wanted to cut the funding from $10 million a year to zero in 2008. This year it cut the funds by 50%, the story continues: This despite the fact that SamTrans and Caltrain will have $7.4 million more this year from sales taxes.

San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill, who chairs the SamTrans board, said BART is obligated to “work toward a system that turns a profit.”

BART, however, can’t guarantee it can reduce its dependency on SamTrans that much. In the end, SamTrans is obligated by contract to pay the operating costs. The contract ensures that San Mateo County pays for a share of BART, while other counties pay a self-imposed tax passed in the 1960s.

“They can say whatever they wish about what they think they want to pay, but in the end they are responsible for the operating costs so the SFO/San Mateo County extension is not a burden on the taxpayers of the rest of the system,” said BART spokesman Linton Johnson.

Nevertheless, BART is always exploring ways to make money. They imposed a fee increase last year instead of cutting trains, which SamTrans had wanted them to do.

Last week, BART announced its plans to “wrap” its trains in sand-colored ads promoting its SFO stop. It hopes to increase ridership to the airport, which saw a 3.2 percent drop in 2005, according to a recent SamTrans report.

The poor ridership has been partly attributed to a slowing economy and the job market in Silicon Valley. With the economic upswing and BART’s new promotion campaign with “wrapped” ads, everyone is hoping for more riders and increased revenue.


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Protest disrupts work on light rail

Source: The Seattle Times

SEATTLE, MAY 12 – Racial protesting interrupted work on the light-rail construction on Beacon Hill two weeks ago when people carrying banners demanded more contracts for black-owned businesses, reported Mike Lindblom in a story for the Seattle Times.

Obayashi Corp. is mining a 165-foot shaft, where passengers will ride an elevator down to a future Sound Transit train platform.

Walking past a huge crane, the group chanted “No black contracts, no black jobs, no light rail!” and sometimes, “No white rail.” A dozen supporters watched from outside a fence.

Some workers turned off their machines for safety.

The dispute has been going on for five years. Sound Transit estimates that 5 percent of construction dollars have gone to African-American firms but protesters say one major firm hires relatively few blacks.

Wisecracks were exchanged:

“There’s too many of you, not enough of us!” a black woman joked to a white co-worker. A white man muttered, “Not only do they not work, we don’t work either” because of the protest. One worker joked, “No black rail!”

The demonstration was peaceful. It lasted about one hour and a quarter. There were no arrests or injuries. Police reported that protesters left when asked.

Sound Transit will be billed for lost time, said Obayashi project director Paul Zick.

Seven business owners have filed complaints saying they were denied opportunities.

Sound Transit is banned from enforcing specific quotas for African-American firms or employees. The agency’s counts show blacks make up about a tenth of the overall work force, including employees of the big construction firms.

James Kelly, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, said Sound Transit should be more creative about matching black enterprises with jobs.

Eddie Rye, a coalition leader, said small trucking companies have to settle for “rental” agreements for their services under the big contractors, which he compared to sharecropping. He said that if Sound Transit would sign its own contracts with truckers instead, owners could then get bank credit to buy equipment and grow their business.

Workers at the Obayashi have complained about being denied tools and given shoddy equipment, a poorly fitting dust mask, for one.

Sound Transit has hired an investigator to look into the dispute and the complaints

Talks between the jobs coalition and transit executives were scheduled to resume May 18.

“The next time we come out, and there isn’t any improvement, people are ready to go to jail,” said Eddie Rye, one of the workers’ coalition leaders.


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Not all are on board

Some towns balk at state’s plan
to extend Stoughton rail line

Source: The Globe
By John Laidler, Globe Correspondent | May 14, 2006

MAY 14 – John Laidler, correspondent for The Globe, reports that commuter rail service from Boston to Fall River and New Bedford, which was discontinued a half century ago, is being rekindled by politicians and economic development leaders. The Stoughton line plan, as it is called, is stirring up debate between foes and proponents.

State officials recently identified a consultant that will work to streamline the process of seeking permits for the project, currently estimated to cost $800 million, according to Jon Carlisle, spokesman for the Executive Office of Transportation. He said the state is also in discussions with the railroad company, CSX Corporation, about using 37 miles of its track for the expanded line.

The existing line from Boston’s South Station to Stoughton would be extended through Easton, Raynham, and Taunton to Berkley, and from there - by a separate route -- to New Bedford and Fall River.

It would follow some highly touted passenger rail line restorations in the region: Two of the three branches of the Old Colony railroad -- from Boston to Kingston, and from Boston to Middleborough/Lakeville -- were reactivated in 1997, while the third -- the Greenbush line from Braintree to Scituate -- is due to return to service next year. The Old Colony had been discontinued in 1959, about the same time as the New Bedford and Fall River service.

The return of this service would encompass about 20 new miles of tracks from Stoughton to Berkley, and the existing CSX tracks from Berkley to Fall River and New Bedford, said Stephen C. Smith, executive director of the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District. Eight new stations would be built, two apiece in Taunton and Fall River, and one each in Easton, Freetown, New Bedford, and Raynham.

City leaders in Fall River and New Bedford have championed this service for many years. They see the revitalization of passenger trains as essential for the long-term economic revitalization of the southeastern region.

“This is an economic justice issue,” said Fall River Mayor Edward Lambert. “There is no reason why Fall River and New Bedford should continue to be the only two major cities in Eastern Massachusetts without rail service.”

Without rail service, said Lambert, the area faces the further loss of younger families, who are moving closer to Boston to avoid the lengthy commutes caused by clogged roadways.

New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang said the southeast region is poised for an “economic renaissance,” but needs commuter rail for it to happen.

But not everyone is supportive:

Environmental issues have been raised in Easton and Raynham where the rail would go through wetlands areas.

Easton Town Administrator Martha White said her town opposes the project, in part because of concerns that it would adversely affect the Hockomock Swamp, through which the railway would run. The freshwater swamp is listed by the state as an “area of critical concern” and provides habitat to several protected species, she said. Plans to mitigate the impacts by constructing the rail on berms over the wetlands have not allayed the fears.

White said the town also does not think the project is “a good idea financially.”

“If $800 million is going to be spent, aren’t there better ways to spend it and not negatively impact communities along the way?” she said.

Also, in Raynham, neighborhoods have been built near where the line would go; some are concerned about disruption to those residents.

In Stoughton, Lou Gitto, their representative to a regional task force, said their town already has rail service and extending the line would “just cause disruption to the residents of the town with no benefit.”

The arguments are similar to those raised east of Route 3 over restoration of the Greenbush commuter rail line. That project reached the starting line only after years of opposition, principally in Cohasset, Hingham, and Scituate. Opponents insisted that rebuilding the 18-mile Old Colony line from Braintree to Greenbush was too costly, and that it would adversely affect the environment, established neighborhoods, historic districts, and business areas.

Support for the project goes to high levels:

Jon Carlisle, spokesperson for the Executive Office of Transportation, touts the economic stimulation that the service will provide for the communities. “We believe that the economic development that would happen all along the corridor is substantial,” he said.

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, is very much in favor of the project. He said any adverse environmental impacts will be “offset by the beneficial impacts of mass transit in terms of moving people in a more efficient manner.”

Gubernatorial candidate Thomas Reilly has made a commitment to “bring the train to New Bedford.”

Carlisle said the project has been identified as a priority in Governor Mitt Romney’s long-range transportation plan. He has agreed to spend $7.7 million on permitting work.

Funding is not yet in place, Carlisle acknowledged, but with 2011 is the targeted date for construction to begin, it’s a little early to allocate construction funds

That the New Bedford-Fall River line project has not advanced further is a matter of frustration for proponents, a sentiment that is propelling the issue into the political arena. Environmental impact studies and route planning have been done, but no detailed designs have been prepared and no funding is in place for construction, according to Smith.

Lang said he has asked all gubernatorial candidates to commit to working to “bring the train to New Bedford” in their first term. Democratic candidate Thomas Reilly made that commitment during a stop in New Bedford recently.

“I think there’s been a shell game” by the state, Lang said. “And my feeling is, now is the time to get this project off the ground and get going with it.”


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City to revive Boston ferry
$2.3m grant will allow June start

Source: The Globe
Steven Rosenberg

SALEM, MAY 14 – City and state officials have a vision for North Shore commuters, reports Steven Rosenberg in a story for The Globe.

“Picture 150 commuters sipping beverages, chatting on cellphones, reading newspapers, or watching the morning financial news on televisions as they glide along at 32 miles per hour on a 92-foot ferry, delivering them from Salem to Boston in 43 minutes.”

Until now, local commuters have had the option of getting to Boston by train, car, or bus. In mid-June they’ll have another choice, when a passenger ferry service is slated to begin shuttling between Blaney Street in Salem and Boston’s Central Wharf eight times a day. The service will run every day, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., until Oct. 31, when seas are likely to be too unpredictable to navigate on a schedule.

Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey announced a $2.3 million state grant to fund the purchase of a 150-seat catamaran, the Freindship IV, from the Fast Ferry Holding Co. in Tampa, Fla.

Salem will lease the boat to Water Transportation Alternatives of Quincy who will maintain the ferry and the new dock and pier which are under construction on Blaney Street. Funding for the lease and maintenance will come from a $750,000 loan by the City of Salem which will be paid back by the private operator.

(Water Transportation Alternatives runs two ferries and a whale-watching boat in Boston Harbor.)

This is not the first time Salem has run a summer ferry. In 1998, a similar contract was agreed upon with Water Transportation Alternatives. They ran six round trips a day into Boston and attracted 61,000 passengers throughout the season.

The following two years, private owners of the pier ran a ferry commuter service, but it was too slow and ridership numbers plummeted. The trip took 80 minutes compared to 36 by train.

Two MBTA passengers who take the train to the city gave a thumbs up when they heard about the ferry service.

“It would be a trip I would take,” said Joe Bettencourt, a Peabody architect who takes the train each day to Boston.

Tom Egin, a Boston lawyer who was in Salem for court work, also endorsed the new ferry. “It’s the best way to travel. It’s very refreshing,” said Egin, who regularly takes the New London, Conn., ferry to Long Island to see relatives.

For the future of Salem, big plans are afoot to turn Blaney Street landing into a commercial marina. The dock and pier will be expanded to accommodate medium-size cruise ships, water taxis and excursion boats. State funds will support the development.

In recent years, tourism in Salem has lagged. In 1998, 802,000 visitors were recorded; in 2005, the numbers were down to 676,000.

“We’re hoping after two years to have 100,000 people come into the city that way,” said Pabich, who listed the downtown museums, historic buildings, waterfront, and its witch allure as among Salem’s drawing cards.


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STOCKS...  Selected Friday closing quotes...

Source: MarketWatch.com

  Friday One Week
Earlier
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)77.4473.80
Canadian National (CNI)44.9343.55
Canadian Pacific (CP)52.3851.00
CSX (CSX)67.3367.20
Florida East Coast (FLA)55.5455.88
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)29.5027.59
Kansas City Southern (KSU)27.6925.68
Norfolk Southern (NSC)52.9450.52
Providence & Worcester (PWX)17.0016.60
Union Pacific (UNP)92.6691.70


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BUILDERS LINES...  Builder’s lines...

Power Source Supply (PSS) has recently purchased 34 Low Level Platform Cars from New Jersey Transit.

These Pullman Standard (AMTRAK certified) cars came out of regular service at the end of 2005 and are in excellent condition. These are likely the best cars on the market today according to a rep from Georgia Rail during their recent inspection. GA Rail was further quoted as saying “we could actually put most into service without doing anything to them”.

These cars are ready to roll and are available for inspection in two locations. One passenger car will be located in South Central Canada for inspections and the remainder of the fleet will be located in North Eastern USA.

We have provided a link to our Web Site (http://www.powersourcesupply.com/?request=railcar) where you can get all the specifications and color photos of the cars. The specification sheets and cross section are for the 1700 series cars, but we also have (3) three 1600 series cars which have restrooms.

For direct phone contact:

Jeff Lawrence
403-217-0636
Jeff@PowerSourceSupply.com

Jamie Crowshaw
403-241-8101
Jamie@PowerSourceSupply.com

 


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OPINION...  Opinion...

Don’t change current CSX rail route

Source: Internet blog from Bruce J. Dinsmore, U.S. Merchant Marine

MAY 21 –The writer decries the proposal to move the CSX line from its coastal location.

“It is hard to imagine that anyone today would want to abandon a rail link along the Gulf Coast. The CSX rail link along the Mississippi Gulf Coast has served our country by allowing efficient movement of military equipment, supporting the Navy and maritime industry and providing passenger service.

“At a time when our country needs to move cargo and people in the most efficient manner, we should be looking at how we can better utilize this route rather than abandon it. What can the politicians be thinking? What do they have to gain? What do we, and the states of Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, have to lose?”

The writer has lived in areas that have abandoned vital rail service and has seen the results: ... “heavy road traffic, higher costs, more pollution and a drain on the economy. As a youth I hand loaded box cars with goods, and it was the most efficient and economic means of transportation. As the rail service was abandoned, tractor trailers had to be used.” “.... Since 9/11,” he continues, “the traffic on the interstates has increased significantly, putting a burden on the outdated system we have. Can we afford to put even more stress on the interstates?”

He states that this vital route should be preserved and that we need “more transportation to save this great country. If we had not abandoned the trolley systems in our major cities, if we had not abandoned an efficient passenger service in all areas of the country forcing a shift to more and more travel by car, we might not be in the energy crunch that we are in today. We need some long-term strategic thinking and action, not short-term moves that hurt the majority and benefit a few.”

He notes the comparison between the government’s abandonment of the U.S. maritime industry, “one that was once second to none in the world,” and the similar neglect of our rail system which has been “taken apart bit by bit.”

He urges that we keep the CSX east-west route in service and that “[We] need to honor those who came before us and worked so hard to build what we hav, not abandon it.”

Bruce J. Dinsmore
Captain, US Navy Reserve
US Merchant Marine
Fairbanks, Alaska


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EDITORIAL...  Editorial...

Yes, a tunnel, but also a PATH tube

Jersey Journal editorial emphasizes need for additional PATH tunnel

MAY 12 – Plans for a $6 billion Trans-Hudson Express (THE) tunnel linking Manhattan and New Jersey are moving forward with enthusiastic support from New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, other New York and New Jersey officials and a contractor’s lobbying group.

At the annual Governor’s Transportation Conference in Trenton, officials from NJ Transit, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the state Department of Transportation revealed funding schedules and timetables for the project. George Warrington, executive director of NJ Transit, called the tunnel project “the most important project in 100 years.”

In this newspaper’s opinion, the tunnel is a good idea, but there should also be another PATH tube. “The PATH system has proven to be a major boon to development in Hudson and Essex counties,” the editorial continues, and “has been a commuting staple for a century.”

“Port Authority officials admitted that PATH was already over capacity before 9/11, and is nearly back to the turn-of-the-century numbers. Longer trains, modern signal systems, and other gimmicks have already been used to handle the crowding on some of the station platforms during rush hours.

“There has been a great deal more development since 9/11; the former World Trade Center site is under reconstruction and promises another boost in PATH commuters in the future. Harrison’s redevelopment efforts, including a major soccer stadium, are underway. Newark, with new Mayor Cory Booker, is expected to continue its rebirth, and Jersey City sees no end to its housing construction, even to the point that Mayor Jerramiah Healy is trying to open a new PATH station on the west side of the city.”

The Trans-Hudson Tunnel Express will link the counties around Bergen and North Bergen, would go through the Meadowlands and under the Palisades and the Hudson River.

While we agree that this suburban-linked project is an important and much needed addition, we feel officials should have equal zeal for a professional and pragmatic study of the increasing needs of the PATH system which serves northern New Jersey.


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End Notes...

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

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

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

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

In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other transportation initiative sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives – state DOTs, legislators, governor’s offices, and transportation professionals – as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. If you have a favorite link, please send the uniform resource locator address (URL) our webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.


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