NCI: Leo KingAmtrak CEO David Gunn says the Acela Expresses are not reliable. The story is below.
Last week we erred in stating Gil Mallery is leaving Amtrak. We regret the error. He is indeed staying with the railroad, and continues as its Acting Vice-President of Planning and Business Development, reporting directly to President and CEO David Gunn. Mallerys authority includes state partnerships, contract commuter operations, capital planning, development of new and expanded corridor services, and business and financial analysis of existing services.
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Rebuilding equipment is a must,
Gunn says; cant wait for Congress
WASHINGTON July 31 Amtrak President David Gunn says it is imperative that Amtrak begin mobilizing and rebuilding cars that are out of service. On the job for only 2-_ months, the CEO told D:F last week 105 passenger cars are sitting idle in Beech Groves yard because of derailments or other accidents. The situation is so critical he is not waiting for Congress to cough up the money.
He also wants to set up a system whereby the states pony up more of the money for Amtrak service they receive. That includes Northeast Corridor states that are used to getting service while paying little or no money into the costs of running the trains other than what they pay for running commuter trains on Amtraks rights-of-way.
In a wide-ranging interview with D:F, Gunn is:
The number-one problem right now, the Amtrak boss said, is getting cars repaired so that trains can be equipped. The need is so critical that he does not intend to wait for Congress to decide how the lawmakers want to keep Amtrak in business.
Im not going to fool around. I have to rebuild cars, he said.
You asked, do I have the money, and Im telling you no, not yet, but I think Im going to get it but if I wait until I get it, its too late. I wont be able to spend it.
If Congress doesnt give Amtrak enough money, it doesnt matter, because well just go out of business with our shops up and running.
So what am I supposed to do? Sit on my thumbs until December? When I dont have enough cars?
On the day of D:Fs exclusive Gunn interview (Wednesday, July 31), the National Association of Railroad Passengers was issuing a bulletin to its members saying that on that day, the westbound Capitol Limited (its Superliner equipment had been badly damaged two days earlier in Kensington, Maryland), was a single-level operation, including a Heritage dorm, two Viewliner sleepers, Heritage diner, Amfleet lounge, three Amfleet II long-distance cars, and two Acela Regional coach class cars.
Gunn told us he looks forward to the day when the trains are not only well-maintained and clean, but we have enough so that were not screwing around like we are now with the Capitol Limited.
The comprehensive pro-passenger train bill by Sen. Ernest Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) to rebuild and expand Amtrak has a lot to be said for it, but that you dont bet the ranch on that one thing. Its possible failure to pass Congress, despite a 20-3 approval in Hollings committee, would not, in and of itself, spell doom for Amtrak.
The veteran railroader in both the private and public sectors announced he would soon ask the Amtrak board to approve Deno Bokas, a professional certified public accountant, as chief financial officer. He is a very straightforward, no nonsense financial controller type of person, Gunn assured us, The books will reflect reality.
When asked to name names as to who was responsible for the mess he inherited, Gunn said Congress had created an absolutely impossible goal with the corporation with the mandated glidepath and the management [predecessor George Warrington] pretended they could accomplish it. (Self-sufficiency by late 2002).
Look, if it had been me, I would have blown the whistle a long time ago, the current Amtrak president declared.
The management structure which he inherited was bloated and out of control, he charged.
These experiments they had around here with strategic business units and all that stuff all that did was confuse authority and responsibility, accountability, and add people you didnt need to run the railroad.
Amplifying on that, Gunn said, You had over 100 people doing planning and Ive never seen such a mess in my life. I mean, everybody is running off in every direction. When you have a meeting, there were ten people in the meeting, nobody was in charge, and everybody had an opinion. Were dropping that back to less than 40 actual planning people who have a responsibility for specific areas. Thats it!
Gunn said Amtrak is having availability and reliability problems with the Acela Express trains on the Northeast corridor. He proclaimed them less reliable than the AEM-7 Swedish Meatball electrics that have plied the NEC for more than 20 years.
Citing press clips from last year when the Acelas entered service, the Amtrak president said previous management was acting as if this were going to be the salvation of Amtrak. It wont. Its only a hundred cars on a corridor. I dont understand why people didnt challenge them on that a long time ago.
The only way were going to get high-speed trains (which he says we need) is the way were funded and the way were proceeding incrementally.
As to the way were funded, Gunn, who has managed several major big-city transit systems, called for a transit solution, whereby the feds fund rail needs in a given area, with a certain percentage of matching money from the states.
What you have got to do is youve got to have a system where if somebody wants a corridor, theyve got to put up earnest money, and states are willing to do this. I would submit, for example, if New York State wants a corridor, theyve got to put up some money, rather than a system where the trains go where the powerful political structure is, and powerful political figures try to force and beat the money into local projects regardless of need.
Gunn said Senate Transportation Appropriations subcommittee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is absolutely correct in saying theres an inequity in the way Amtrak routes are funded, with the northeast getting a relatively free ride while her state pays top dollar to get serious corridor service.
Realism apparently will be one very important watchword in the Gunn era at Amtrak. His vision is for an efficient system with trains operating well, meeting real needs without all the consultants...run[ning] around and promis[ing] everybody, well, like the Acela...and you over commit and the whole thing just sort of flops.
As for a start in the direction of more corridor service, Gunn said he would like to see a corridor success outside of California or the Northeast, whether its the Midwest around Chicago you pick.
Gunn who likes his job even though on some days he gets a little depressed, says, This job is one where Im going to do the right thing so if they dont like it, theyre going to have to act, not me.
He cited the famed Sewell Avery, the CEO who was physically carried out in his chair when he did not want to go.
The complete transcript of Wes Vernons interview with David Gunn is on a separate page of our web site. Look for Beech Grove goes back to work - Ed.
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|Avery who? Recall 1944...|
Writer Thomas Fleming recounts the Sewell Avery story in his book, The New Dealers War.
In April 1944, the might of the U.S. government was brought to bear on Montgomery Ward president Sewell Avery after he refused to go along with a government-ordered labor settlement. Fleming writes Commerce Secretary Jesse Jones summoned a platoon of soldiers from a nearby Army post, and asked Attorney General Francis Biddle to fly to Chicago in an Army plane to take charge of the situation.
To hell with the government, Avery snarled.
Biddle claimed he saw Averys defiance endangering the entire war effort. A young officer ordered two of his men to link hands and create a seat to carry Avery out of the building. As he departed, Avery glared at Biddle, and roared, You, you New Dealer! Downstairs, a photographer snapped a picture of the slight silver-haired Avery as he was carried onto the street by the steel-helmeted soldiers. Hands folded across his stomach, Avery looked almost relaxed, but still defiant. The picture made the front page of virtually every newspaper in the country, and a typhoon of abuse descended on the White House.
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|Capitol derails near Washington|
One of the first things to happen after the Capitol Limited derailment one week ago today was for CSX Corp. to slap speed restrictions on passenger trains just as it had been doing for its freight trains.
A heat kink in the track is suspected to be the cause of eastward No. 30s derailment in Kensington, Md., some 12 miles from its terminal at Washington Union Station. Nearly 100 people were transported to hospitals, including 10 crewmembers; nine people were admitted, and by Thursday, eight people remained hospitalized. Three Superliner cars were wrecked beyond repair.
The derailment took place at approximately 1:55 p.m. The train consisted of two P-42 engines and 13 passenger cars. Both engines and some material handling cars remained upright, but six passenger cars derailed and landed on their sides. Track speed at the site is 60 mph.
CSX owns the track, which Amtrak and MARC use. About an hour before the accident, a freight train ran on the track without incident, CSX spokesman Gary Sease said.
The track was inspected visually on Sunday and no problems were detected, he said. The tracks last ultrasound test (a Sperry rail car), designed to detect rail weakness, was in April and showed no abnormalities, he said.
Reports were circulating that CSX had recently imposed a 25 mph speed limited on the section of track where the derailment occurred following some track repairs, but Sease would not confirm that.
The accident also disrupted MARC service on the Brunswick line, which normally carries about 2,000 commuters daily. MARC officials used buses to ferry Brunswick passengers from the Shady Grove Metro station.
In a statement from CSXs corporate headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla., on July 30, Sease said, Given this summers extraordinary heat, CSX will be reducing the operating speed which Amtrak trains are allowed to run on CSX to make them consistent with freight train speeds in areas where heat orders are in effect.
The speed reduction was effective July 31 at 1:00 p.m. (DST), and will continue at least until the end of the current summer season, expected to be the end of September. Sease said the railroad also will apply the same guidelines to commuter trains operating on its lines.
We have a duty to protect the people that ride on passenger trains on our rail lines, said Alan F. Crown, executive vice president-transportation for CSXT.
Until we know more facts about the recent derailment and are able to determine if there is a better solution, were taking the most conservative course, he added.
Crown said that in 2000 and 2001, No Amtrak or commuter trains operating on CSX experienced any derailments as a result of buckled track.
He said heat orders are applied to tracks in areas where required due to consecutive days of 90-plus degrees or fluctuations in temperature of 40 degrees or more.
Heat orders, he explained, when applied, are in effect daily from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Heat orders reduce freight train speeds by 10 mph from the currently authorized speed.
Shortly after the derailment, an Amtrak dispatched a customer care team to the scene. The Capitol was carrying 176 passengers and 12 crewmembers at the time of the derailment. After all passengers were removed from the train, buses transported the uninjured riders to Washington Union Station.
The Washington Post reported 97 people were treated at hospitals. Officials said six of them were seriously injured.
Moments before the accident, the engineer told officials he saw track that had heaved to the side, Amtrak sources said. Extreme heat sometimes can cause such a condition, which railroaders call heat kink. The temperature in the region at the time of the accident was recorded at 96 degrees.
We know its possible with continuous welded rail, said Carol Carmody, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, which dispatched investigators to the scene. She said heat can cause a slight misshape or buckling. It could take months for the panel to identify the cause of the accident.
The train was traveling from Chicago to Washington via Pittsburgh when the accident occurred at Rock Creek Dip near Kensingtons Antiques Row, several blocks west of Connecticut Avenue and near Beach Drive, about 70 feet from a neighborhood of homes on Plyers Mill Road.
Passengers were just gathering their possessions for their arrival in Washington when the train began rocking, witnesses said, and the cars rolled onto their sides. Many passengers were able to scramble from the cars unassisted; nearby workers and residents swarmed to the train to assist others on board, and more than 200 fire and rescue personnel arrived quickly.
Screams and shouts pierced the train. Children cried. Many passengers pulled off the rubber gaskets on the windows and climbed out, feet first, and scrambled away from the wreck. They carried their luggage and wore dazed expressions as they walked away from the tracks. Others were pinned beneath bunks and collapsed seats and had to be pulled from the tumbled steel.
Carmody called the emergency response remarkable. Rescue workers and investigators were amazed that no one was killed.
To get out of this without any fatalities is a miracle, said Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose.
People were certainly bounced around and thrown around, but fortunately there was not any fire, and fortunately there was not any explosion. The locomotives did not spill their 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel, firefighters said.
Because the rail cars simply fell to their sides without a collision to twist the steel, the rescue was straightforward. The last passengers were pulled from the train within 90 minutes of the accident, and the atmosphere in the sweltering heat was calm.
The injured were taken to hospitals across the area; Montgomery County fire officials said nine people had been admitted by last night.
Sources close to the investigation said the train was going about 60 mph when the engineer said he saw a kink ahead in the track. He put the air brakes into an emergency stop, but said he was still running at 56 mph when he hit the bent rail and the trains steel wheels lost their contact with the running rails.
Event recorders were recovered from each locomotive and investigators are determining train speed and the engineers actions.
I suddenly felt [the car] braking, recalled Roman Czornij, a financial manager from Pittsburgh, who was traveling with his two teenage sons on their first train trip and their first visit to Washington. Then it felt like we were on ice as the car skidded off the tracks onto the dirt. There was a grinding noise, and I was flying.
As the train came to a stop in a ditch, he landed on his chest. The cars ahead had twisted off and were lying on their sides, leaving a gaping hole at the entrance. Like most of the other passengers in his car, Czornij had only minor bruises. As they clambered out of the car, Czornij and his sons found an elderly woman whose hand had gotten caught between two seats. Her skin was peeled back so far that you could see the bone. She was shaking, he said.
Kermitt Tyler, who lives near the track, said he heard a child screaming and ran to one of the cars where he found a small girl hanging from a window, with her leg caught inside the car. I pushed the window out, and she turned her ankle, Tyler said. She fell into my arms, and I brought her up the hill.
Neighborhood children pushed grocery carts filled with jugs of water to the dead-end street where rescue workers had set up a command center.
Lt. Harold Allen, a Montgomery County police spokesman, called the rescue effort pretty difficult. A thick stand of trees lines each side of the tracks, which lies at the bottom of a deep ravine, and the trees had to be secured so they wouldnt topple, he said. The slope leading from the tree line to the track bed was slippery, he said.
The heat was yet another challenge. Medical workers monitored clusters of firefighters at the nearby Kensington fire station, checking their vital signs for evidence of heat exhaustion.
The Red Cross converted the National Guard Armory in Kensington into an emergency station, where medical workers checked some passengers who were then directed onto buses bound for Union Station.
In a similar accident last April, the engineer of an Amtrak Auto Train in Crescent City, Fla., reported seeing a heat kink in the track just seconds before his Florida-to-Virginia train derailed, killing four passengers and injuring more than 160.
Amtrak President David L. Gunn said the wreck left Amtrak in a serious bind for equipment. Gunn had said earlier that the corporation had barely enough of the double-deck Superliner cars, such as are used on the Capitol Limited, to keep the whole system running.
We are in real trouble, Gunn said, adding that Amtrak now doesnt have enough rail cars to run all its long-distance service.
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|Both P-42s remained upright|
Two P-42DC locomotives led No. 30, the Capitol Limited, when it derailed last Monday. Both engines, Nos. 154 and 74, remained upright.
The locomotives were followed by baggage car 1750, transition sleeper 39029, sleepers 32046 and 32096, diner 38023, lounge 33045, coach-smoker 31537, coaches 34018 and 34053, material handling cars (MHC) 1521 and 1556, and baggage-mail car 1714, which was added to the train in Toledo, as was MHC 1453.
Cars 1401 and 70005, which had left Chicago behind the 1556, were switched out at Toledo.
Both locomotives moved under their own power to Ivy City Yard on Tuesday, towing four cars that did not derail.
All the derailed cars were eventually towed to Ivy City for assessment. Three cars were reported to be unrepairable the diner, lounge and a coach, which Amtrak said, were badly damaged enough to be scrapped.
Amtrak crews worked through the night to clear the scene. Eight of the derailed passenger cars were rerailed early Tuesday morning.
Capitol Limited service between Washington, D.C. and Chicago was affected by the derailment. Passengers were being bused in both directions between Washington and Pittsburgh, with train service available between Pittsburgh and Chicago.
Meanwhile, a northern New England freight railroad is using the derailment as an excuse to stop Downeaster trains from going any faster than the current 60 mph between Haverhill, Mass., and Portland over its tracks.
Both last weeks derailment in Maryland and another derailment on April 18 in Florida are suspected to have been caused by track structure problems, said David Fink, executive vice president of Guilford Rail System, which owns 77 miles of track between Portland and Plaistow, N.H., according to the Boston Globe.
The most recent Amtrak derailments show that Guilford is correct in calling for slower speeds on the Boston to Portland service, he said.
We have a duty to ensure to the traveling public that operations over Guilfords lines are safe.
The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which wants the Downeaster to operate at speeds up to 79 mph, is paying attention to the accident investigations but does not believe there is any direct relationship to the Downeaster, said Michael Murray, the agencys executive director.
The rail authoritys petition to operate at the higher speed is currently pending before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.
Amtrak, the rail authority and the Federal Railroad Administration all maintain that passenger trains across the country operate safely on the same 115-pound rail used in the $50 million track overhaul.
The bottom line is theres nothing inherently unsafe about running trains at higher speeds, as long as the tracks are properly maintained, said Warren Flatau, spokesman for the FRA in Washington.
Supporters of the Downeaster say the faster speed is important to make the train competitive with buses and cars. The higher speed would shave 15 minutes off the Portland-to-Boston trip.
Because of Maines northerly location, temperatures seldom reach into the 90s. For example, on Friday at 4:39 p.m., the coastal high temperature was expected to range between 79 and 84, and inland, the range was from 82 to 88.
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|Mineta wants transportation ideas|
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta last week asked individuals and groups across the country to take advantage of a new online service to express their opinions and offer ideas as the USDOT prepares its proposal to Congress on reauthorization of the nations surface transportation programs.
For the first time ever, USDOT is providing an Internet-based site for individuals and groups to go online and submit comments, ideas and analyses regarding reauthorization. Log on to http://www.dot.gov/ and click on Surface Transportation Reauthorization. The Department also invites comments that can be submitted in writing.
As we develop new proposals for our surface transportation program, we want to hear from our state and local partners, the private sector and all those who are interested in meeting the transportation challenges of tomorrow, Mineta said.
He added, The new web site and the traditional vehicles we have provided will enable stakeholders and citizens everywhere to submit ideas and comments, which will be valuable resources as we move forward with the reauthorization process.
The current legislation, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), was enacted in June 1998, but it expires on Sept. 30, 2003, and Congress and the Bush Administration are working to develop its successor, Mineta said.
A spokesman said USDOT also has produced a brochure that provides a message from Mineta, a list of TEA-21 accomplishments and the departments core principles for reauthorization as well as information on participation by individuals and groups in helping to shape these surface transportation programs. The brochure, Americas Surface Transportation Programs: Meeting the New Challenges, and a Federal Register notice formally seeking comments on the reauthorization of surface transportation programs, can be viewed on the internet.
Participants are encouraged to use the Web site to submit comments online. They can do so by logging on to http://www.dot.gov/ and clicking on Surface Transportation Reauthorization. Written comments may be sent to the Docket Clerk, USDOT, Room PL-401, Docket Number OST-2002-12170, 400 Seventh St., SW, Washington, DC 20590. To order a copy of the brochure write to: Public Affairs, Room 10416, U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington, DC 20590.
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|Gunn turns down MBTA|
Amtrak president and CEO David Gunn said No, thanks to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authoritys call for bids to run commuter rail for the Bay State.
In a letter to the MBTAs general manager, Michael Mulhern, Gunn wrote, The provisions contained in the request for proposal (RFP) would radically alter the contractual relationship that exists under your current operating agreement with us, and make it impossible to develop a reasonable pricing strategy to control risk.
Amtrak has operated commuter rail for the T after outbidding Guilford Transportation of Billerica, Mass., 15 years ago.
Gunn added, Amtrak is prohibited by law from subsidizing commuter services, and we could be in real danger of violating that prohibition under the term of your proposal.
He said Amtrak does not have the flexibility or financial resources to gamble of a five- or ten-year fixed price contract.
The T is asking for a five-year contract with an option for five more years with no rate increase. No dollar figure was contained in the letter, but most objections revolved around funding, including dropping incentives for on-time and other performance factors. Gunn said Amtrak earns $130,000 monthly in incentives under the current contract.
Gunn offered to operate, dispatch and maintain the Attleboro line from South Station in Boston to the Rhode Island line, where Amtraks right-of-way ownership begins and continues to New Haven, Conn. The entire line from Boston to New Haven was electrified two years ago solely for Amtrak trains, including the Acela Express.
He said Gil Mallery is the sole contact at Amtrak for any discussions. Mallery is acting vice-president for planning and business development.
If the T does not offer a counter-proposal, Amtrak will end its most lucrative commuter rail contract in the nation by next June 30, handing the tracks and some 1,600 unionized workers to one of three companies positioned to bid on the estimated $150 million-a-year, five-year deal, according to the Boston Globe.
Mulhern said he respects Amtraks decision, but insisted he has no intention of changing the bid specifications to suit Amtrak.
We are trying to construct a very good RFP that clearly outlines accountability to the taxpayers, but also ensures robust competition, Mulhern said. Weve got three firms left, so I think were in good shape.
In 1987, when Amtrak took over for the Boston & Maine railroad, B&M dispatchers who still controlled freight lines refused to allow commuter trains to pass over the lines, causing some chaos for North Shore commuters. A Superior Court judge eventually ordered B&M dispatchers to allow the commuter trains through.
Amtrak spokeswoman Cecelia Cummings said, from Philadelphia, Amtrak would work hard to make the transition smooth. It doesnt serve anyones interest to thwart MBTAs attempts to find another willing contractor, she said. Its not something we will engage in.
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CBBIts nearly 20 miles from Boston to Greenbush
|Greenbush line builder creates web page|
The primary contractors for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Greenbush Line reconstruction have opened a web site on the internet, at http://www.cbbgreenbush.com/default.htm.
Jay Cashman, Inc. and Balfour Beatty Construction, Inc., and their joint venture are preparing preliminary project designs.
The project will restore commuter rail service on the existing right-of-way, known as the Greenbush Corridor through the towns of Braintree, Weymouth, Hingham, Cohasset and Scituate, all in Massachusetts. The project begins at the connection with the existing MBTA Old Colony Main Line at the Braintree Wye in East Braintree, and extends 18 miles easterly along the former New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Greenbush Branch to the terminus in the Greenbush section of Scituate.
Text on the site, which is still under construction, explains the project is to be delivered to the MBTA under a design and build contract basis, and requires the CBB Team to furnish a complete design of the project, to construct the project as designed and to comply with the requirements of the Design-Build Contract.
The MBTA provided a conceptual design (approximately 15 percent) of the project to CBB as part of the request for proposals process. The MBTA has also initiated the environmental permitting process, which is to be finalized by the D-B contractor as design progresses.
The project involves reconstructing existing, largely out-of-service railroad right-of-way as a single-track railroad with four controlled passing sidings, each about one mile long. Once completed, the facility will be equipped with a new signal and communications system and end-of-the-line train layover facility. In addition, certain freight facilities in Braintree will be relocated off-line.
The right-of-way is currently active for local freight service on the first 1.5 miles in East Braintree. The remainder of the right-of-way is either out of service or abandoned. The proposed commuter rail service will provide 12 round trips between Bostons South Station and Greenbush each weekday, and eight round trips on weekends. Scheduled peak-direction one-way trip time between South Station and Greenbush, including a stop at Quincy Center, will be 59 minutes.
Seven new commuter rail stations will be constructed along the right-of-way, each with an 800-foot high-level platform. New commuter parking lots at the stations ranging in size from 200 to 1,000 spaces, and will provide a total of approximately 3,000 spaces along the corridor.
Stations will be similar to those constructed on the other Old Colony lines and will include accommodations for bicycle parking and passenger drop-off and pick-up by car, van, or bus.
Nine existing single-span railroad bridges will be rebuilt with new ballast deck superstructures and new or rehabilitated abutments and wing-walls. Work will be performed on two existing roadway bridges over the right-of-way one bridge will be replaced in its entirety and the other will be repaired.
Four new grade separations will be constructed, at Weymouth Landing (a shallow cut tunnel); Green Street (a new railroad bridge over lowered roadway); Hingham Square (underpass with an 800-foot long cut-and-cover tunnel crossing under three roadways); and Rocky Lane (a new highway bridge on new roadway alignment crossing over the right-of-way).
Of 43 existing roadway grade crossings on the right-of-way, 10 will be closed and eight eliminated by grade separations. The remaining 25 crossings, plus one new roadway crossing and three pedestrian crossings, will be reconstructed with new grade crossing warning systems and supplemental safety measures in accordance with the Swift Act.
The entire facility will be designated as a quiet zone (no routine use of train whistles at crossings).
Intersection improvements will be made at locations immediately adjacent to the railroad and station entrances and at seven remote locations. At one location on Route 3A in Scituate, an existing signalized intersection will be replaced with a combination of traffic signals and a roundabout. New or modified traffic signals will be installed at 19 locations.
The contractors stated, The project includes extensive mitigation measures to address noise, vibration, historic, wetland, and other impacts. Noise barriers will be constructed at six locations, vibration-dampening ballast mats will be installed under 3.5 miles of track, and screen plantings will be installed along six miles of right-of-way.
They also said fencing, consisting of chain link, security, black chain link, solid wood, or steel picket, depending on location, will be provided along virtually the entire length of the right-of-way.
Mitigation agreements have been reached with two of the five towns detailing specific mitigation items to be provided.
A project conservator will monitor the project to ensure that historic properties are protected and mitigated as agreed.
Meanwhile, an independent observer will monitor the project to ensure that wetlands are protected and mitigated in accordance with certain environmental approvals. The MBTA will perform additional mitigation measures, such as noise abatement of individual homes, independent of the D-B Contract.
The major contractors include Jay Cashman Inc., and Balfour Beatty Construction Co., Inc., which will perform the actual building of the line.
STV Inc. is designing the new layout, Rizzo Associates Inc. is performing traffic management and environmental compliance, and Keville Enterprises, Inc is responsible for quality assurance.
Cassidey New England Associates Inc. will perform community outreach tasks, and legal advisors are Todd and Weld, Inc.
Travelers Group/CHUBB provides bond.
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Florida East Coast Railway is buying 19 used SD-40-2s from Union Pacific. Some of the six-axle units are already on the property, after being repainted at UPs East St. Louis, Ill. shop. Railway spokesman Husein Cumber said FEC is trading lower horsepower locomotives for the SD-40-2s. All are ex-Union Pacific. He declined to place a dollar value on the trade, nor how many engines were being traded from FEC, but he said, The trade helped to take 10 percent of the locomotives out of our fleet. The engines will be employed anywhere they are needed along the line, he said
|FEC continues good numbers|
Florida East Coast Railways second quarter 2002 revenues increased 2 percent over second quarter 2001 to $41.7 million; operating profit was $10.9 million versus $11.1 million.
The parent corporation, FEC Industries, reported consolidated revenues of $74.3 million for the second quarter 2002 compared to $80.2 million in the second quarter 2001. Second quarter 2002 revenues included realty sales of $2.1 million compared to $11.3 million in the prior year period.
The company reported net income of $2.0 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, compared with net income of $2.9 million, or $0.08 per diluted share, in the second quarter 2001. Other companies within the FECI umbrella include real estate holdings, a trucking company, and a telecommunications outfit.
For the six months ended June 30, FECI reported consolidated revenues of $149.4 million compared to $148.1 million for the same period one year earlier. The company reported net income of $1.6 million, or $0.04 per diluted share, for the first six months of 2002 compared to net income of $5.7 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, for the prior year period.
Robert W. Anestis, FECIs chairman, president and CEO, said the railways core businesses continued to perform well despite the slow economy. The railroad continued to grow revenues, up 2.3 percent over the prior year, directly related to foodstuffs and aggregate.
He added the second quarter railway segment revenues increased 2.3 percent to $41.7 million compared to $40.7 million in the second quarter 2001, driven by consistent growth in carload revenues.
Operating profit was $10.9 million in the second quarter compared to $11.1 million in the prior year period. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization commonly abbreviated as EBITDA, remained stable at $15.2 million compared to the prior year period. The operating ratio increased to 73.9 percent from 72.6 percent in the second quarter 2001 due to increased claim and derailment expenses.
Second quarter 2002 freight revenues were 3.1 percent higher than in the same period of 2001. Revenues from carloads were up 6.9 percent for the second quarter 2002. The primary driver for the increase was aggregate revenue (crushed stone), up 13.1 percent, a continuation of the benefit from joint initiatives that resulted in customers achieving increased market share and strong construction demand. In addition, revenues from foodstuffs increased 35.7 percent due to significant new business from Tropicana Products, Inc. Motor vehicle revenues declined 9.3 percent, primarily due to lower year-over-year shipments by a large automotive customer.
In the second quarter 2002, intermodal revenues declined 2.9 percent, primarily due to decreased demand from international transport customers, less than truckload carriers, and a connecting rail carrier, partly offset by increased interchange revenues from FLX, up 28.2 percent over the second quarter 2001 due to business development initiatives undertaken by the FEC and FLX.
Operating expenses for the railway were $30.8 million for the second quarter 2002 compared to $29.6 million for the second quarter 2001. Operating expenses in the second quarter 2002 were impacted by higher wages and benefits expenses ($1.0 million), claims expense ($0.6 million), derailment expense ($0.3 million), and depreciation expense ($0.2 million). Somewhat offsetting these factors, FEC got lower fuel costs of $0.4 million primarily as a result of favorable fuel pricing.
For the full year 2002, the railway continues to expect single digit increases in operating profit and expects capital expenditures to range between $30 and $35 million.
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|Maines Midcoast line gains momentum|
Passenger rail service is slowly moving toward Brunswick, Maine, reports the Portland Press Herald from Brunswick, but the trains wont be coming from the south where Amtraks Downeaster has successfully been running daily trips between Boston and Portland.
Instead, passenger trains could start arriving in Brunswick from Rockland as early as next year as the Maine DOT fulfills its vision of establishing an active rail line on 56 miles of state-owned track between the two communities.
The first evidence of that $30 million effort will appear in downtown Brunswick as soon as September, when state crews begin rebuilding crossings at grade and installing new gates and signals on Maine Street and Park Row. Later this year, a town committee will begin developing plans for a new train station, which most likely will be built on land that the town owns near the Maine Street crossing.
The rail work in Brunswick follows the revival of train service between Portland and Boston.
Officials say Amtraks ridership is meeting expectations, and revenues are exceeding projections. In April, close to 30,000 people rode the Downeaster. State officials say that they would like to eventually extend Amtrak service north from Portland to Freeport and Brunswick, but their trains will not operate on the Brunswick-Rockland branch, a line that is being reserved for slower trains.
In spring 2001, the state hired Atlas Railroad Construction Co. of Pennsylvania to rebuild the state-owned rail line between Rockland and Brunswick. Atlas also rehabilitated railroad trestles, upgraded railroad crossings and installed new signals along the route.
Russell Spinney, program manager for the DOTs Multi-Modal program, says that by the time the project is completed, sometime in November, the state will have invested about $30 million to make the Rockland-to-Brunswick branch safe for passenger rail and freight services. The state then plans to solicit bids from private companies that might be interested in providing one or both of those services.
Trains will be allowed to travel up to 50 mph, making the scenic coastal route more appealing to tourists who are in no hurry to get to their destination. Eventually, the state would like to build a high-speed ferry terminal in Rockland that could take those train riders to places such as Bar Harbor. Special commuter runs, targeting Bath Iron Works employees, also have been discussed.
Individual towns would be responsible for raising the funds needed to build stations along the route. Brunswick, however, is almost assured of being the last stop on the branch. It also could be the terminus for Amtrak if its trains ever run north of Portland.
This type of service (Rockland to Brunswick) is almost like a field of dreams, Spinney said. You build it and they will come but key state transportation officials, such as Ronald Roy, are confident that the Rockland-Brunswick line will thrive. Roy is director of the states Office of Passenger Transportation. He is responsible for implementing a broader vision shared by high-ranking state officials, creating a rail and marine highway that will serve both tourists and midcoast commuters.
Roy said that one day a traveler who arrives in Portland by Amtrak could continue on to Brunswick by train. From there he could take a slower train to Rockland, and from Rockland, ride a ferry to Bar Harbor or points Down East. The state is looking at several sites in Rockland for a ferry terminal, including an area known as Atlantic Point.
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|Intermodal leads freight rail increase|
With intermodal leading the way, total freight traffic on U.S. railroads as measured in ton-miles registered its fifth consecutive weekly gain from one year ago levels during the week ended July 27, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported on Friday.
Total volume for the week was estimated at 29.4 billion ton-miles, up 2.1 percent from the comparable week last year.
Intermodal volume was up for the 16th straight week, totaling 191,630 trailers and containers during the week, up 9.0 percent from the comparable 2001 week. Container volume was up 13.1 percent, while trailer loadings declined 1.5 percent.
Carload freight, which doesnt include the intermodal data, totaled 341,453 cars, 1.5 percent higher than last year, with loadings up 2.3 percent in the West and 0.5 percent in the East.
Fifteen of 19 commodity groups registered increases from last year, with loadings of farm products other than grain up 21.5 percent, coke increasing by 10.3 percent and metallic ores gaining 7.5 percent. Loadings of primary forest products were off 6.8 percent, while coal volume declined by 2.1 percent.
The AAR also reported the following cumulative totals for U.S. railroads during the first 30 weeks of 2002:
9,738,995 carloads, down 1.7 percent from last year; intermodal volume of 5,273,319 trailers and containers, up 4.7 percent; and total volume of an estimated 834.5 billion ton-miles, down 0.9 percent from last years first 30 weeks.
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|P&W to pay four-cent dividend|
Providence and Worcester Railroad Co. reported its board of directors declared a dividend of $.04 per share on July 31 on its outstanding common stock payable August 22 to shareholders of record on August 8.
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CN signs pacts with BLE, UTU
Canadian National (CN) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) said last week they have ratified a new labor agreement by the locomotive engineers working on CNs former Illinois Central (IC) properties.
The agreement, modeled on one approved by BLE members on CNs Wisconsin Central Division earlier this year, applies to 415 locomotive engineers and eliminates prior work rules and agreements in exchange for guaranteed time off and job security for all BLE members now qualified as engineers. It will also see engineers paid an hourly wage.
CN will gain significantly enhanced employee productivity from the agreement, while BLE members will obtain benefits including a better balance between work and home lives. The three-year agreement took effect on August 1.
Meanwhile, CN reported on July 31 its Wisconsin Central Division (WCD) conductors, represented by the United Transportation Union (UTU), ratified a new collective bargaining agreement.
The two-year agreement, effective August 1, will strengthen methods of utilizing employees, equipment and infrastructure under an hourly pay system for UTU members, and preserve existing work-rule flexibility.
In exchange for improved productivity, all 320 WCD UTU members currently qualified as conductors are entitled to job security.
The UTU agreement comparable to recent pacts CN has signed with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) on the WCD is another break from the rail industry's traditional mileage- and rule-based compensation system for operating employees.
In March, 310 BLE members working on the WCD ratified a three-year agreement running through April 1, 2005.
CNs former IC properties include the Illinois Central Railroad, running from Chicago to New Orleans, and the Chicago, Central & Pacific, which connects Chicago and Omaha, Neb., and Sioux City, Iowa.
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Heres how a Brit views UK rails
Special to Destination: Freedom
LONDON, August 2 Recent D:F articles have mentioned Britains privatized railways and commented on various aspects. What is the British view? This is one view no doubt one of many.
The first thing to point out is that there is nothing like the financial bias against rail that can be seen in the US. Indeed, successive governments (and especially the present one) have seen the motorist as an easy tax target. So, petrol costs about $8 a gallon, there is an annual car tax of around $300 and substantial taxes on new cars. Most of this money is not spent on roads. Likewise, there is a flat rate tax on nearly all airline tickets, with subsidized fares generally only for a few offshore islands, where rail is hardly an alternative. There is no tax on rail tickets, although airlines benefit (as they do worldwide) from tax-free fuel. In contrast, there is an annual subsidy of around $2.4 billion to the train operating companies (TOCs), a few of which are unsubsidized, and who carry around one billion passengers a year. There are other subsidies for light rail and the London Underground.
The railways in Britain were nationalized in the late 1940s, although there had been strong government control since the 1920s. Post nationalization the railways were subsidized by central and local government, and there is a measure of agreement that the level of such investment was too low (apart from two peaks in the late 1950s and late 1980s). Many branch lines and stations were closed in the Beeching review of the early 1960s although some have since reopened.
British Rail was privatized in the mid-1990s. The method chosen was intended to introduce competition and private management. All the track, signaling and major stations were placed in the ownership of Railtrack, which was successfully floated on the stock exchange. The passenger rolling stock was sold to three leasing companies. Passenger services were divided up into around 25 franchises, which were awarded to bidders (often the existing management) who generally received a subsidy in return for providing (at least a) certain level of service. Trains were leased from the leasing companies and payments were made to Railtrack in return for use of the track.
That is not to say some things have not gone well for British railroading just the opposite; some things have gone quite well.
There have been huge orders for new rolling stock, financed by the TOCs and leasing companies around 3,000 new vehicles are either in service or on order, with at least another 1,000 to come in the next few years. This has led to considerable work for British-based manufacturers (although a lot is also being imported) and may lead to export business.
The freight operators have bought more than 300 new locomotives and more than 1,000 new wagons (boxcars, to you Yanks). Freight, which had been declining for many years, has increased by 40 percent.
Passenger numbers have increased by around 35 percent, with the largest increases outside peak hours, and some TOCs have greatly increased the number of services on the London to Sheffield line, for example, services have more than doubled. Also, a program of opening new stations and new lines continues (most recently a cross Edinburgh line), albeit slowly.
A few of the TOCs are now paying substantial sums (up to $40 million per year) for their franchises in addition to payments to Railtrack and are making profits proof that it is possible to run a profitable, private railway somewhere in the world. Many other subsidies are declining, but are often substantial.
Franchises being re-let have attracted substantial interest and investment for example, the existing franchisor has been re-awarded the franchise for commuter trains in Southwest London and outwards on the basis of well over $2.5 billion investment over 20 years, and new leasing companies are coming onto the market, usually small and flexible, and sometimes being railway preservation societies using locos of historical interest. The famous Deltic diesel engines are back after 20 years.
A strange side effect is that there is now a trade in short term loans of diesel locos to major railway construction sites in Europe, as older freight locos have been replaced by new machines.
Competition is beginning to emerge. For example, you can now travel to London to Birmingham quickly but expensively on the main line, a bit slower but cheaper on another line or slower but cheaper on the main line. Likewise, a new unsubsidized company is providing direct trains between London and Hull in competition to the existing services, which generally require changing trains.
Alas, some things have not gone well.
The separation of tracks from trains has led to poor accountability and all sorts of attempts to pass the blame or responsibility for problems. Some of the original franchises were too short (15 year terms are about the minimum if some serious investment is to come of them) or on the wrong boundaries but this is gradually being put right.
There are far too many regulators, who tend to turf fight.
There have been problems in bringing new trains into service, with delays of up to two years and reliability problems being common. These seem particularly severe for electrical multiple units (EMUs).
EMUs are electric trains with motors under each carriage, powered either by overhead lines or (around London and Liverpool) by a third rail, similar to an underground railway system. These and their diesel equivalents are dominating the new passenger train market.
Ticket prices as a whole have risen by just over the rate of inflation, but with big increases on turn up and go tickets on longer routes and at peak times. Advance booking and traveling outside peak hours saves a lot of money.
There have been several fatal train crashes. While the accident rate per passenger mile is better than under British Rail, the public perception is that the privatized railways are not safe. This is exacerbated by a number of scandals where Railtrack subcontractors have been found employing ill-trained or untrained staff.
One of these crashes at Hatfield revealed a real problem of gauge corner cracking of rails. This led to enormous disruption across the rail network while rails were checked and repaired. Timetables are only just getting back to normal. The reasons for this problem are not entirely clear the most popular reason is to blame Railtrack for cost cutting, not inspecting enough nor replacing track early enough, but it could also be a result of the substantial increase in train numbers and weights since privatization or problems in the smelting of the steel used (there has been an increase in this problem throughout Europe). The result was to lower public confidence, temporarily halt the increase in passenger numbers and cost Railtrack a lot of money.
A number of large-scale rebuilding and maintenance projects have fallen into difficulties. Most importantly, the $3 billion update of the London to Glasgow main line is well behind schedule and could cost as much as $15 billion. The cost of smaller upgrades has often risen three or four times. Whether this is money that is being spent efficiently is open to question.
The combined effects of the last two problems caused Railtrack to ask the government for more money. The British government, under considerable political pressure, then placed Railtrack into administration [similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S.] (although it was just solvent) and effectively re-nationalized it, with limited compensation to shareholders. The government now intends to transfer the track, signals and stations to a non-profit company, Network Rail, and has promised up to $50 billion of funding in grants and various loans. However, since Network Rail has the same assets and people as Railtrack, is this greatly different from giving the money to Railtrack?
Ultimately, the question arises, could something else have been done?
British Rail could have just remained a nationalized industry. What would have happened is purely a matter of conjecture, but BRs past history is one of low investment and gradual decline. My guess is that passenger services would limp on, with some improvements, but nothing like the level of investment currently seen, and that freight would gradually disappear.
Other options were either to privatize BR as a whole or split it into several large integrated entities (the Big Four reborn allegedly Margaret Thatchers preferred option). This would certainly have brought in some private investment, but I suspect that such companies would again go cap-in-hand to the government to fund infrastructure improvements. Could it be argued that it is the problems exposed by privatization that have forced the government to pay up for years of low investment?
Another question: What are the lessons for the USA?
The situation in the United States is not identical to the United Kingdom. In railway terms, the longest U.K. rail journey is all of 12 hours, and separation of track ownership from track usage in the U.S. cannot be avoided. However, there are a few lessons to be drawn.
For example, private companies can and will bring extra investment and extra services into the passenger railway they have an incentive to do so, however, maximum benefits can only be achieved by running trains frequently, in particular outside peak hours.
To British eyes, it is strange that some new U.S. commuter services only run three or four times each morning and evening, when many shorter British services run at a half-hourly frequency and when longer distance services increasingly aspire to this sort of frequency. However, this might prove difficult to introduce in the U.S. while not interfering with freight operations (in the U.K., the freight operators are complaining of being squeezed off the railway by increasing passenger services).
Any regulatory system should be simple with a light touch.
There also needs to be extensive prototype testing of new trains, preferably on test tracks (Bombardier has probably the best record of introducing new trains in the U.K. and maintains a dedicated test track, and Siemens has built a special test track in Germany for a big U.K. order).
Private enterprise will invest big money into trains and some trackwork. It is not likely to be able or willing to pay up front for large infrastructure repair or renewal although higher track charges can be charged for modernized track in the longer term. The only exception so far is premium routes such as to and from airports. The owners of Heathrow Airport spent $600 million on a brand new railway. Other investment, at present at least, will need to come from government, either directly or via a tax subsidy.
Above all, any system needs to be for the long term. Britains railways have had 10 years of change some sort of stability is essential.
Guy Senior is a resident of Southwest London and a regular train user. He is also a Conservative Party councilor in Wandsworth, SW London, where the population is 250,000 and a total council budget £450,000,000. He has direct responsibility for around £40,000,000 and it is not his full-time job. He writes, We only have a liaison/lobbying role when it comes to rail (and for that matter the underground and buses, too). Editing his article consisted primarily of converting British usage to American usage, which included some spelling changes, such as privatised to privatized, and whilst to while Ed.
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Rail costs are low
Regarding the June 23 editorial, The Great Pork Express: What utter bunk!
Once again we read about Amtraks subsidies and how it would be cheaper to give folks airline tickets. This is the same ignorant, vicious lie that the highway lobby and its shills have been mouthing for 30 years about Amtrak.
They scream and point loudly at Amtrak, so that no one thinks to look at highways and airlines and see how much greater subsidies they get.
Since 1970, highways have gotten $750 billion, airlines more than $200 billion, and Amtrak $24.9 billion. You do the math. In the year 2000, highways got $139 billion, and Amtrak $521 million. Excuse me, who is getting subsidized?
Amtrak provides the American people especially working and middle-class people with an affordable way to travel, and to do so in safety.
Even better for St. Louis is the nine-state consortium called the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative. It proposes a system that would link St. Louis and Chicago, for example, in three to four hours on a high-speed train similar to those in Europe.
The only thing stopping America from having a system of intercity high-speed rail lines is ignorance. It certainly isnt money, because rail costs a fraction of highways and airline systems.
James P. RePass
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In your Destination: Freedom article of July 29, Senate committee okays Amtrak funds, you make the statement that Norman Mineta is a Clinton hold-over. While it is true that Mineta is a Democrat, he was not Transportation Secretary under Clinton. He was appointed as the token Democrat in Bushs cabinet.
Merritt D. Mullen
Regarding last weeks The way we were, you stated Union Pacific and Central Pacific joined up at Promontory Point, Utah. Its a bit of nit-picking, but its Promontory Summit. Promontory Point sticks so far out into the Great Salt Lake that it would be on a boat line.
I do enjoy the publication.
James F. Boylan
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American Public Transportation Assn.
Las Vegas, Nev.
AREMA conference and exposition
RSA Global Railway Tech 2002 Convention and Coordinated Mechanical
Hilton Chicago & Towers Hotel, Chicago
European railway technology and infrastructure study trip
Co-sponsored by AREMA. This study trip leads up to EurailSpeed 2002 in Madrid. Trip itinerary will include visits to the UK, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Spain. For information, visit www.arema.org or contact Desiree Knight at (301) 459-3200, ext. 703. email@example.com
October 15, 16
Ninth Annual Passenger Trains on Freight Railroads Conference
Washington Marriott Hotel
Passenger train operations on freight railroads, including high-speed, offer excellent opportunities to develop new commuter and intercity rail services, but while they offer attractive sources of revenue to freight carriers, they also pose perplexing problems-compensation, liability, grade crossing safety, signaling and train control requirements, right-of-way capacity constraints, and maintaining freight service integrity. The conference will offer a thorough, candid airing of these topics, and an in-depth look at some of the important projects being undertaken in this area. This two-day event will feature recognized experts from both the passenger and freight sides of railroading.
Register On-Line at http://www.railwayage.com/conference/register.html
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Santa Fe RailwayAtchison, Topeka & Santa Fe No. 72 was an American Locomotive Co. PA-1, a classic first generation diesel locomotive. The 72 was hauling the Texas Chief, a daily Pullman and chair car streamliner, across the Galveston Causeway on its way north to Chicago, back in the early 1950s. Those PAs are gone now and so are those semaphore signals from another era of American railroading... not to mention the train indeed, even the railway itself. Its all part of Burlington Northern Santa Fe these days.
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