Vol. 7 No. 30
July 10, 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 *

This page is best viewed at 800 X 600 screen resolution

 

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

  News Items... 
Senators Byrd, Murray blast Amtrak job outsourcing plan
Homeland chief visits Boston ‘T’ stop
Amtrak’s power crunch
  Continental lines… 
Rountrip added to Amtrak Cascades
  Mechanical lines… 
Action plans guide mechanical progress
  Commuter lines… 
Nashville Commuter Rail moves toward opening day
  Friday closing quotes… 
  Freight lines… 
Norfolk Southern to assist with hurricane recovery
  Across the pond… 
Trains handle 60% of World Cup visitor traffic in Germany
Deutsche Bahn gives a free ride to students with good grades
DB’s chairman reports increase in intercity passenger
   volume and revenue
Berlin - Rostock rail corridor improvement delayed
Germany and Switzerland want to upgrade Allgäu route
Commuter train traffic under Frankfurt to be suspended
   for 3 weeks
  End notes… 

Senators Byrd, Murray blast
Amtrak job outsourcing plan

By DF Staff and from the Net

WASHINGTON, DC ---”America’s national railroad should not have its jobs outsourced to foreign countries,” U.S. Senators Robert C. Byrd, D-WV, and Patty Murray, D-WA, said this past week.

Amtrak’s senior management recently informed Byrd and Murray that the railroad’s Board of Directors, all appointed by the Bush Administration, will invite private vendors to take over major parts of its national reservation system, including vendors based overseas, Senator Byrd’s office reported this past week.

Many American corporations have been outsourcing their customer service functions to foreign countries to save labor costs. However, critics have noted that these operations often send American jobs to countries with weak labor and environmental laws.

“After having to fight to keep Amtrak alive in the face of budgets that would have put the railroad into bankruptcy, now we are fighting to keep Amtrak’s jobs here in the United States,” the Senators explained. “Amtrak is America’s railroad. It is funded in part with American tax dollars. Its jobs should be American jobs.”

Byrd and Murray on July 6 wrote to David M. Laney, Chairman of the Amtrak Board of Directors, to protest the outsourcing plan and to urge the railroad to step away from its efforts to take jobs out of the United States. The letter was also sent to U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta along with the other members of the Amtrak Board.

“If the railroad does not reverse its plans,” the Senators pledged “to offer an amendment to the Amtrak funding legislation that would block the overseas outsourcing plan.” Since the Democrats are in the minority in Congress, such a measure may face difficulty, although Amtrak does have broad bi-partisan support.

Byrd is the leading Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations Committee; Murray is the leading Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations transportation subcommittee. Both will have a major role in moving the federal transportation funding bill, including operating funds for Amtrak, through the Appropriations Committee later this month, Byrd’s office noted.

“We believe it is wrong to use taxpayer dollars to ship Amtrak jobs overseas and put American workers on the unemployment line. This policy insults American taxpayers who expect their elected and appointed leaders to strengthen rather than erode the economic security of hard-working American families,” the Senators wrote to Mineta and Laney.

“Amtrak service relies on subsidies that are derived from the taxes paid by all Americans. As such, you and all the other Members that President Bush has appointed to the Amtrak Board have an obligation to expend these funds in a manner that reflects the values of American taxpayers. We believe that the vast majority of taxpayers would agree with us that it is wrong-headed and inappropriate to use their tax dollars to ship jobs overseas -- especially jobs necessary to operate our national passenger railroad,” Byrd and Murray wrote.

The text of the Byrd-Murray letter to US DOT and the Amtrak Board follows below:

July 6, 2006
The Honorable David M. Laney, Esq.
Chairman
Board of Directors
National Railroad Passenger Corporation
60 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20002

Dear Chairman Laney:

We write to voice our dismay and outrage over the plan of the Amtrak Board of Directors to consider the outsourcing of Amtrak jobs overseas. In your capacity as Chairman of the Amtrak Board, we implore you to immediately reverse this grossly misguided policy.

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) is just that – the national railroad that connects all of our communities. Over the last several years, we have been proud to lead the fight against those that would decimate funding for Amtrak, put the railroad into bankruptcy, and leave over 25 million passengers stranded at the platform. But we recognize, as you should, that Amtrak service relies on subsidies that are derived from the taxes paid by all Americans. As such, you and all the other Members that President Bush has appointed to the Amtrak Board have an obligation to expend these funds in a manner that reflects the values of American taxpayers. We believe that the vast majority of taxpayers would agree with us that it is wrong-headed and inappropriate to use their tax dollars to ship jobs overseas – especially jobs necessary to operate our national passenger railroad.

Just last week, Amtrak’s senior management informed our Committee of its plans to solicit bids from outside vendors to take over certain reservation functions – potentially displacing as many as half of Amtrak’s reservation agents at its call centers in Philadelphia, PA and Riverside, CA. They further told us that the Amtrak Board has decided to welcome bids from overseas vendors. Amtrak’s representatives were quick to point out that the labor organizations representing their reservation agents would be given the opportunity to submit competing bids in order to keep their jobs. But the comparative cost figures displayed on Amtrak’s own “Fact Sheet” make clear that the current employees don’t stand a chance. According to this document, the costs associated with call centers operating overseas are 70 percent below Amtrak’s current costs. The fact that foreign vendors can pay their employees very little while providing few if any benefits does not justify exporting even more American jobs.

Recently, the Bush Administration has pursued a policy of outsourcing the collection of delinquent Federal taxes to non-Federal employees – a policy we do not support. But even President Bush’s IRS Commissioner had the good sense to ensure that these outsourced tax collection activities will be performed by contractors within the United States.

We don’t agree that the solution to Amtrak’s financial challenges lies in the outsourcing of jobs. Just this past week, we received word from the DOT Inspector General that

“Amtrak’s most recent financial information shows a significant reduction in operating losses since…early March. Passenger revenues are up, particularly on corridor trains; salaries, wages and benefits are down due to lower headcounts; offset by higher fuel and power costs. In addition, some of Amtrak’s operational reforms are being implemented faster and achieving savings greater than originally anticipated.”

We welcome efforts to reduce Amtrak’s operating losses, but we believe it is wrong to use taxpayer dollars to ship Amtrak jobs overseas and put American workers on the unemployment line. This policy insults American taxpayers who expect their elected and appointed leaders to strengthen rather than erode the economic security of hard-working American families.

In two weeks, our Committee is scheduled to meet to report a Transportation-Treasury Appropriations Bill to the full Senate. If you have not renounced and reversed your policy by that time, we intend to pursue an amendment to that bill to prohibit you from outsourcing Amtrak jobs overseas.

Sincerely,

Robert C. Byrd
Ranking Member

Patty Murray
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury,
the Judiciary, Housing and Urban Development

cc:The Honorable Norman Mineta


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Homeland chief visits Boston ‘T’ stop

Source: The Globe

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff at Boston's Government Center Station

Photo: Boston Globe

JULY 7 -- Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff paid a visit to Boston last Friday and rode the MBTA in order to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the London terrorist bombings, wrote Mac Daniel for The Globe.

When questioned about the alleged terrorist plot that was foiled in New York City several months ago, he offered no details.

Chertoff said the New York plot was revealed “several months ago” and was acted on immediately “to disrupt the completion of any plot.”

“We take all threats seriously,” said Chertoff at a press conference outside Government Center station. “We don’t wait until someone has lit the fuse to step in and prevent something from happening. That would be playing games with people’s lives.”

It was announced on Friday that authorities had disrupted a plot by foreign terrorists to attack the train tunnels beneath the Hudson River used by thousands of New York City commuters every day, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Law enforcement officials said the plot involved at least eight people living overseas, including an alleged al-Qaida operative in Lebanon who has been arrested and charged.

Chertoff declined to discuss specifics about the case and even declined to specify whether it involved the Holland or Lincoln tunnels or the New York transit system.

He did say that he was never concerned that the plot would be executed because he said federal and local authorities acted swiftly to stop it.

He also promised federal aid to combat terror in Boston.


At left: Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff speaks to the press outside Boston’s Government Center station


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Amtrak’s power crunch

From the Internet via www.NorthJersey.com
By David A. Michaels
Staff Writer
Reprinted with permission

JULY 3 -- A 60-year-old high-voltage cable failed in January, 2006, delaying 106 trains across New Jersey at the dawn of the morning commute.

A power wire failed on two occasions in May, delaying 12 trains one day and 22 on another.

Last month, power fluctuations stalled trains three times, including last week, when a voltage change shut down a power station, stopping trains between Newark and New York for about 40 minutes.

Increasingly, power problems are affecting train service in New Jersey, where the busiest track is owned by Amtrak but heavily used by NJ Transit. The number of power-related train delays on Amtrak-owned tracks in New Jersey has increased 64 percent between 2000 and 2006, according to NJ Transit figures.

Amtrak, which has deferred maintenance on its lines for decades, told government auditors in 1996 that it needed to replace the entire Northeast Corridor electric system between Washington, D.C., and New York at a cost of $700 million.

But 10 years later, Amtrak’s electric system remains in bad condition, so old that the executive director of NJ Transit calls it “frail” and state lawmakers argue that increasing delays amount to a crisis. Amtrak warned in a five-year plan, published last year, that “the system is prone to failure.”

Former Amtrak officials, veterans of the annual battle for money with Congress, said the electric system must be upgraded for the network to remain a viable transportation option.

“None of this stuff was ever designed to last as long as it did,” said Tom Downs, a former Amtrak president and now president of the Eno Transportation Foundation in Washington. “It’s way past its replacement age.”

But it’s also an expensive problem to fix. The total bill to upgrade the electric system is $370 million, according to a five-year plan Amtrak published last year.

High on the wish list:

Former Amtrak President David Gunn, who was fired last year, said recent investments -- such as upgrades to power lines and substations -- have improved the system.

“We were chipping away at it and making progress,” Gunn said. “We were not falling behind. We were gaining.”

But many state lawmakers say it’s a problem that is growing worse.

At a hearing last week, state Senate President Richard Codey called the delays “disheartening, frustrating and, flat out, a huge annoyance.” Codey and others officials said that unpredictable train service could persuade some riders that driving is an easier way to get to work.

“If this continues, it will be a disaster,” Codey said. “If this continues, people will jump off these trains and back into their cars, adding more congestion to our roads.”

Some of the most common delays are caused by old catenary wire, which sags when the weather turns hot. Trains must slow down or the train’s pantograph, a Z-shaped arm that collects electricity from the wire, could pull down the catenary.

Stephen Nagy, a retired conductor who left NJ Transit in 2003, said catenary problems in the summer are frequent and disruptive. He said trains between Trenton and New York are often ordered to reduce their speed from 135 to 80 mph.

“It just seems like every time we had warm weather or a lot of rain, they had problems with the electric,” Nagy said.

Downs said catenary wire was a major concern during the 1990s, when it was the most pressing problem facing Amtrak’s electric system.

“You would be running trains at 45 to 60 miles per hour, when you should be running at 100 to 110 miles per hour,” he said. “The schedule falls apart because of heat.”

While the system between New York and Boston automatically regulates sagging wire, the catenary between Washington and New York lacks a feature, called constant tension, which adjusts slack in the wire. Amtrak does not have the cash to fix the problem.

“That would certainly be a nice thing for our wish list, but right now the highest priority from the perspective of electric propulsion is to pinpoint the cause of the May 25 outage and make sure it does not happen again,” said Cliff Black, an Amtrak spokesman.

That outage, the worst in 24 years, has focused new attention on Amtrak’s power woes. Passengers were trapped in coaches under the Hudson River, and some remained there for as long as five hours.

William Crosbie, Amtrak’s senior vice president of operations, has said he does not believe another system-wide outage would occur. But he acknowledged last week that Amtrak may rely too much on its largest power supply station, Richmond, located near Philadelphia. The five other stations were not able to absorb the electrical load when Richmond went off-line last month.

Testifying last week in Trenton, Crosbie said the malfunction was complicated and would require an examination of hundreds of circuit breakers. But he did not blame equipment age or federal funding.

But virtually everyone else, including Governor Corzine, blamed an aging system that has been plagued by changing priorities and funding wars.

Crosbie said Amtrak’s problems stem from Congress’s unwillingness to appropriate money for the longer term.

“If I knew I had the funds for the next five years in place ... I could manage to that level, work with items that are a priority,” Crosbie said.

This year, for the first time, Congress directed all commuter railroads to pay a fee to Amtrak for their use of the Northeast Corridor. NJ Transit has invested $300 million on corridor improvements since 1996.

Amtrak has spent about $400 million a year on capital improvements, Black said.

It will spend about $28.6 million this year to repair catenary, trying to restore the corridor to a state of good repair.

But Downs said changing priorities have plagued Amtrak.

Several master plans were issued but not followed through, he said. The strategic plan of 2004 was replaced by another in 2005.

“History at Amtrak tends to be about 90 days long,” he said. “I’m stunned at the amount of stuff that people start over. It is heartbreaking.”

E-mail: michaels@northjersey.com


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CONTINENTAL LINES...  Continental lines...

Rountrip added to Amtrak Cascades

Source: Amtrak Ink

On July 1, representatives from Amtrak and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), along with local officials and residents will gather at Seattle’s King Street station to launch Amtrak Cascades’ fourth roundtrip between Seattle and Portland.

Festivities will also be held in Bellingham and Centralia, Wash., and Portland, Ore., to commemorate the additional service. “The new frequency along with adjustments in current schedules will offer passengers more travel options and shorter trip times on certain routes,” stated WSDOT Rail Communications official Theresa Gren.

Funded by WSDOT and operated by Amtrak, Amtrak Cascades service between Vancouver, B.C. and Portland has experienced 11 consecutive years of ridership and ticket revenue growth since service began in 1994. “This growth is largely attributable to a strong economy, rising fuel prices and good service delivery. In response to this strong demand for rail service, we are launching this addi-ional frequency and expect it to benefit everyone involved — our passengers, Amtrak and WSDOT,” added Gren.

From the start of this fiscal year through April, ticket revenues of more than $8 million are nearly 7 percent higher than the same period in FY ‘05. And, despite a number of service cancellations earlier this year due to mudslides, equipment issues and track work projects, ridership of more than 330,000 passengers is about even with last year.

The new Seattle-to-Portland service will be an extension of trains 513 and 516, which currently operate between Bellingham and Seattle. Beginning July 1, service on these trains will continue south to Portland and serve six intermediate communities.

As a result of schedule adjustments, Amtrak Cascades north-bound trip times between Portland and Bellingham will be reduced by 70 minutes while southbound travel times will be almost 30 minutes shorter. Additionally, the round-trip schedules will be more convenient for travelers planning to spend a day in Seattle.

“Amtrak Cascades passengers taking day trips from the north will gain three more hours in Seattle and will have nearly eight hours to shop, visit or conduct business in the area,” explained Assistant Superintendent Passenger Services Gay Banks Olson.

The July event in Seattle will also serve as the finale in a series of events held to commemorate a historical milestone in Seattle — King Street Station’s 100th anniversary. Centennial celebrations that began in May and continue through July 1 are being held at venues throughout Seattle and at the King Street Station, which serves the Amtrak Cascades, Coast Starlight and local Sounder commuter service.

At a ceremony held at the station on May 10, an original painting by rail artist and passenger advocate J. Craig Thorpe was presented to Ticket Agent Marlene Koob, who is the third generation in her family to work at the King Street Station. Koob accepted the painting on behalf of Amtrak and was joined by other employees and guests at a reception in honor of those who have worked at the station since 1906.

The King Street Station has evolved to become a vital transportation hub serving 26 trains a day operated by Amtrak and Sound Transit and serving 1.7 million passengers annually.


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MECHANICAL LINES...  Mechanical lines...

Action plans guide mechanical progress

Source: Amtrak Ink

Frank Armstrong, car repairman at the Amtrak Bear Car Shop

Photo: Amtrak Ink

Frank Armstrong, car repairman at the Bear Car Shop, welds a steel reinforcement to a seat frame. Through new efficiencies and better tools, the Seat Shop Team produces seats for the entire system.

 

The Mechanical department is currently focused on making improvements in four key performance areas: reliability and avail-ability of equipment, productivity, regulatory compliance and safety.

Behind these objectives are action plans developed during the Leadership Workshop classes attended during the past year by Mechanical department managers. As part of the classroom curriculum, the participants were asked to develop action plans that put to use the problem-solving, planning and organizational skills reviewed and practiced during class to target particular problem areas, both large and small.

While Superintendent Danny McFadden’s Bear Car Shop was not initially designated as the sole shop in the system to produce and repair passenger car seats, his team now meets the entire system-wide demand for seats as a result of an action plan it adopted. The Seat Shop Team identified areas for improvement to the work space that included adding shelving that made materials readily available at each of the work stations in the shop, along with pneumatic lifts that replaced the antiquated manual hydraulic lifts on all of the strip-down-and-build tables. As a result, the team has not only met the demand for seat production, but has also eliminated many of the flaws in the original seat design by adding reinforcements and improving the frame suspension; resulting in a safer, more durable and comfortable seat.

In Chicago, the Central Division’s second-shift coach cleaner operation, under the direction of General Foreman Efrain Diaz, Jr., improved its efficiency and productivity, and created a safer work environment with its action plan. Instead of spending time getting resources from various locations at the start of their shift, coach cleaners now collect cleaning tools and supplies from centralized storage boxes. They also removed debris and cleaned, painted and installed new flooring, thereby providing employees with a safer working environment.

These are two examples of changes that resulted from action plans developed during the four-day classes completed in January by more than 160 participants, including general foremen, assistant superintendents, superintendents and master mechanics. The class focused on improving operations and reducing expenses by using analysis, problem-solving and planning techniques to make improvements in the four major performance areas.

On-board appliance reliability improves

The Equipment Standards and Compliance team, headed by Superintendent Mark Murphy, has increased the reliability and avail- ability of food service appliances, such as microwave and convection ovens, coffee makers, refrigerators, freezers and dishwashers, and improved its regulatory compliance. This effort has also lead to a decrease in customer complaints about on-board services.

To accomplish this, the group posted online testing procedures for each appliance and incorporated the processes into each preventive maintenance inspection for every food service car. The team also developed a list of all the components as part of a master technical manual, including layout drawings of each food service area. This list was then distributed to all mechanical facilities.

To complete the action plan, Steve Covell, manager Mechanical Standards and Compliance in Los Angeles and Kevin Koppel, manager of the 24-hour CNOC Mechanical Desk in Wilmington, briefed Customer Service managers on the importance of accurate and timely defect reporting and the avail-ability of the 24-hour hotline (800-424-0217 ext. 2082) for en-route train reporting problems.

Chiller unit re-engineered for better performance

Thanks to Master Mechanic Gerry Mescall and his team’s focus on improving the reliability, avail-ability and regulatory compliance of refrigerator chiller units, retrofitted units are slated to be loaded on the California food service cars by November. Superintendent Rick Tripoli and Luerean Van De Streek, maintenance analyst, worked with Dick Bruss from Equipment Engineering who re-engineered the unreliable chiller units. They also put in place a comprehensive maintenance and repair program that clearly defines the required tests, inspections, maintenance and repairs for the units. The maintenance phase of the program will begin once a sufficient number of units have been placed in service. Once the program is fully implemented, fewer chiller unit failures will help Amtrak more consistently meet its obligation to increase cost savings and improve service quality.

Conserving fuel saves money, helps environment

With rising fuel prices, fuel conservation is extremely important. To that end, then master mechanic for the New York and New England divisions, Don Knapik, and Assistant Superintendent Paul Carver, sought the use of ground power that led to a 15 to 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption at all four of the mechanical facilities —Boston’s Southampton Yards, Springfield, Mass., New Haven, Conn., and New York’s Sunnyside Yards — in the divisions.

Because each facility is different when it comes to layout of ground power stations and storage tracks, Carver assigned a team to assess yard operations and found ways to effectively stack trains so they have access to ground power.

Fuel conservation bore additional benefits. Employees at the facilities also found that because the engines were running fewer hours, diesel exhaust emissions were reduced, leading to a better environment and longer-lasting engine components.

Clean sites are picture perfect

A creative communication strategy yielded productivity, safety and security improvements for Southern Division Master Mechanic Tommy Farr. As a result of Farr’s efforts, the division’s mechanical employees have focused on cleaning and organizing targeted areas of their facilities, making their work sites neater, safer and more secure. To encourage employees to better manage their work areas, Farr used the old phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Farr encouraged his assistant superintendents to install bulletin boards in their facilities throughout the division and post photos of work areas that needed cleaning. The photos became daily reminders, spurring managers and employees to keep their areas clean. In one example, a sheet metal workers’ area was filled with trash, old parts and other junk. Once the photo of the area was posted, the employees were quick to do a great job of cleaning up the area.

Rotating responsibilities fosters better understanding

Mid-Atlantic Division Master Mechanic Mike Kapela’s “Walk in My Shoes” action plan, which was geared toward improving all four performance areas, led his managers to better understand each sub-group’s responsibilities and limitations.

Working with Kapela, Ron Truitt, superintendent at the Ivy City Maintenance Facility in Washington, put together a plan that eliminated production barriers by rotating the responsibilities and work locations of the assistant superintendents for approximately three days. The interaction between management and labor forces at the shops, combined with experiencing the physical and environmental realities of each location, helps employees better appreciate the restrictions under which each operates. By anticipating the needs of others, the communication between teams flows more smoothly.

“Walk in My Shoes” has reduced over-the-road failures, increased locomotive reliability and improved the performance of the preventative maintenance line and turnaround servicing. The program has been expanded to New York and will soon be introduced in Boston.

Overall, these action plans have helped Amtrak become more efficient and have improved face-to-face communication between employees and managers. As Southern Division Master Mechanic Tommy Farr put it, “During our team-building exercises, we were able to communicate with each other and better under-stand what role we play in the overall plan and the adverse effects of not performing as expected.” Added Chief Mechanical Officer Vince Nesci, “The Leadership Workshop class was a catalyst for change, big and small, throughout the system and I think participants learned a lot from each other.”


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COMMUTERLINES...  Commuter lines...


All photos: RTA

At the Donelson Station, the Star/RTA train stands by

Nashville Commuter Rail moves
toward opening day

By DF Staff

NASHVILLE --- Commuter Rail service is less than 90 days from start-up as the last elements of the long-awaited project are completed, according to the Nashville Regional Transit Authority.

A series of final tasks is in the process of being completed now, according to Nashville RTA Interim Executive Director and Director of Commuter Rail W.T. “Bill” Farquhar.

The accompanying photographs courtesy of the RTA illustrate the final work phase of a project that is seen as one of the most bargain-priced commuter rail revivals in the country. As the Nashville regional council reported:

“While, as a ‘heavy’ intercity-type railroad project, this is certainly not ‘light rail,’ the Nashville project does suggest what can be done on a tight budget with a ‘can-do’ attitude and a determined approach to minimizing design and containing costs. At a budgeted cost of $39 million for the 32-mile line, including infrastructure rehab, stations, maintenance facilities, and rolling stock (including minor renovation), this rail project is about as bare-bones as they come (about $1.2 million per mile), and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is taking pains to keep costs contained. Known officially as the East Corridor Alignment (it heads almost due east from Nashville), it’s a single-track line (with a passing siding at one station), owned by the Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority, that will share operation with freight trains. The project includes track rehab with 110-lb rail; installation of 6 very rudimentary stations; and sharing of a maintenance facility with the current freight operator.”

In about 90 days Nashville will join the growing list of American cities who have re-opened long-dormant or abandoned passenger rail lines, usually closed 30-50 years ago as America built the Interstate Highway System. The service is seen as a tool for the redevelopment or revival of similarly underutilized down town areas that were once transit hubs but which lost much of their vitality when massive highway projects enabled and even encouraged middle-class flight from the cities.

“Nashville is to be commended for doing this major, 32-mile system on a shoestring budget,” stated NCI President Jim RePass, “but it is time to change the way America funds and builds transportation so that the highway lobby doesn’t eat up 95% of the available money as it does now.”

Utility relocation at Donelson station
Utility relocation at Donelson station

Curbs and landscaping at Hermitage station
Curbs and landscaping at Hermitage station

The witing shelter at Juliet station
The witing shelter at Juliet station

Grading the tracks at Martha station
Grading the tracks at Martha station

The new Riverfront station nearing completion
The new Riverfront station nearing completion

The original Riverfront station around the 1950s
The original Riverfront station around the 1950s

Paving the parking lot at Lebanon station
Paving the parking lot at Lebanon station

The platform at Hermitage station
The platform at Hermitage station

A curve is relocated at mile post 25.6
A curve is relocated at mile post 25.6

Star/RTA train stands by at Donelson station
Star/RTA train stands by at Donelson station


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STOCKS...  Selected Friday closing quotes...

Source: MarketWatch.com

  Friday One Week
Earlier
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)75.7179.25
Canadian National (CNI)43.5043.75
Canadian Pacific (CP)48.9151.14
CSX (CSX)67.3370.44
Florida East Coast (FLA)50.0752.33
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)32.9135.47
Kansas City Southern (KSU)26.1627.70
Norfolk Southern (NSC)51.5553.22
Providence & Worcester (PWX)18.7620.40
Union Pacific (UNP)90.1292.96


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FREIGHT LINES...  Freight lines...

Norfolk Southern to assist with hurricane recovery

By Maureen Lofton / special to The Star

The city of Meridian will be one of the recipients of Hurricane Katrina recovery funds from the Norfolk Southern Foundation, reported Maureen Lofton in a special story to The Star. The Foundation, the giving arm of Norfolk Southern Corporation, will distribute an assistance package totaling $830,000 to cities and agencies in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

The money will assist communities along Norfolk Southern lines in the three states. The donation is the second part of a Norfolk Southern assistance program to support economic development efforts, environmental cleanup, and rebuilding of houses, schools and infrastructure.

Norfolk Southern has more than 1,800 employees who live and work in the affected states. Immediately after Katrina, the employees contributed more than $176,000 and the Norfolk Southern Foundation matched the amount, for a total of more than $352,000, to assist communities with critical needs.

In addition to Meridian, this second round of assistance will also aid the cities of Hattiesburg, Laurel and Picayune, along with the Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund and the counties of Clarke, Forrest, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Lauderdale and Pearl River.

“With the start of this hurricane season, many of the communities Norfolk Southern serves are still struggling to recover from the last one,” said Norfolk Southern Chief Executive Officer Wick Moon.

“We hope these funds will hasten a full recovery and help these communities become better prepared to weather future storms.”

Maureen Lofton is assistant for governmental affairs for the City of Meridian.


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

Installments by NCI foreign correspondent David Beale

From this week’s broadcasts on Bahn TV, Deutsche Bahn’s cable / satellite news channel

 

Trains handle 60% of World Cup
visitor traffic in Germany

STUTTGART - Deutsche Bahn (DB) stated that traffic volume on its trains within Germany increased by as much as 600,000 riders per day when World Cup football games took place.  DB operated approximately 10,000 additional sections of intercity, regional, suburban and charter passenger trains during the World Cup.

DB estimates that it carried on the order of 15 million German and foreign fans of the World Cup football (soccer) series in the past three weeks.  DB stated that nearly 30,000 of its employees were either directly or indirectly occupied with operations related to the football World Cup.


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Deutsche Bahn gives a free ride
to students with good grades

Deutsche Bahn - German Railways - stated that school students in the German State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (in northeastern Germany) who received a grade of “1” on their school report card in at least one subject can ride regional and local trains for free this coming Monday, 10th of July.  All that is needed for the free ride is the original or copy of their report card along with their government I.D.

In the German school system the grade of “1” is equivalent to “A” in North America.  A grade of “6” in Germany is equivalent to “F” in American schools.


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DB’s chairman reports increase in intercity
passenger volume and revenue

BERLIN-  Deutsche Bahn chairman and CEO Hartmut Mehdorn presented DB’s performance in its intercity passenger train operations for the first five months of 2006, which are relatively free of one-time effects caused by the FIFA World Cup football games, which began in mid-June.

According to Mehdorn, revenues across all DB divisions and operations climbed by 18.5 % to EUR 11.95 billion.  Overall traffic increased by 8.7 % compared to the same period in 2005.

On its intercity trains, load factors increased to an average of 46.4% compared with 42% over the same period in 2005.  This corresponds to an increase of passengers on DB’s EC, IC and ICE trains over the five month period of 1.1 million for a total of 45.4 million passengers.

DB predicts that its long distance intercity passenger train operations will become a major profit driver in the year 2007.

Separately French/Belgian/Dutch international train operator “Thalys” reported much improved financial results from its high speed passenger train operations which span from Marseille, Lyon and Paris France to Belgium, Holland and Köln (Cologne), Germany.  Thalys sales climbed by EUR 188 million or  8.1% in the first six months of 2006, while passenger volume rose by 5.6 % to 3.2 million in the first half of 2006.  Thalys operates a fleet of high speed trains derived from French SNCF TGV trains which have been configured to operate on the unique traction power supply and signaling systems in each of the countries it operates in.


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Berlin - Rostock rail corridor improvement delayed

ROSTOCK - Due to the harsh winter of 2005-06 and complications arising from planned in-phasing procedures, the planned introduction of ICE high speed trains on this route will be delayed until the system schedule change in June 2007.


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Germany and Switzerland want to upgrade Allgäu route

BONN -  Germany and Switzerland moved a step closer to upgrading the Munich - Lindau - Zürich “Allgäu” corridor with the statement from German transport minister Wolfgang Tiefensee that Germany will agree to Swiss funding for the project.

The project is planned to include electrification of the German section of the corridor between Lindau and the outskirts of Munich plus infrastructure improvements to allow the use of tilt-body high speed trains.  With electrification and introduction of high speed tilting trains, travel time can be reduced from the present 4 1/2 hours to about 3 hours.  The two countries have set a goal of 2013 for completion of the project.  The route is currently operated with DB intercity coaches hauled either by V160 series diesel hydraulic or V300 series diesel electric locomotives, as well as with a variety of diesel EMUs running on local services.


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Commuter train traffic under Frankfurt
to be suspended for 3 weeks

Twenty-five years after opening of the underground rail tunnel in central Frankfurt am Main for the region’s S-Bahn commuter trains, the underground connector will be closed for a three week period for major maintenance.  The tunnel connects western and southern sections of the S-Bahn network in the region to other sections of the network mostly east and north of the city.  Underground light rail and subway lines in Frankfurt will increase capacity temporarily to deal with additional traffic caused by loss of the S-Bahn rail tunnel during the shutdown period which starts on the 31st of July.

During the three week period, 30 rail switches will be removed and replaced, and other repairs will be accomplished.  S-Bahn trains will terminate short of the city tunnel section undergoing maintenance, but will otherwise operate throughout the rest of the Frankfurt region.


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End Notes...

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