Destination:Freedom Newsletter
Destination:Freedom
The Newsletter of the National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Vol. 3 No. 33, August 12, 2002
Copyright © 2002, NCI, Inc.
President and CEO - Jim RePass
Publisher - James Furlong
Editor - Leo King

A weekly North American rail and transit update


Metroliner

NCI: Leo King

Ol’ reliable Metroliners, drawn by AEM-7s between Washington and New York City, may be making a comeback as Acela Expresses are shopped. This is train No. 172, passing Lattimer Point Road (MP 133.4) between Groton and Mystic, Conn. On October 16, 2001.
Acela Express: a problem child?
By Wes Vernon
Washington Correspondent

When Amtrak CEO David Gunn told D:F in our interview last week that the Acela Express was having reliability and availability problems, he set off a flurry of discussion about whether this treasured centerpiece was overrated.

The high-speed Acela is a hit with passengers, if ridership figures are any indication. But a Washington Post report August 6 revealed that in July there was an average of one cancellation or (worse) an en-route breakdown every day.

One can cite heat problems. Metroliners have been known to slow down during triple digit temperatures, but this goes beyond that. The Acela Express was supposed to replace the Metroliners, which were originally slated to be phased out by now. Instead, Amtrak is considering bringing back the Metroliners to replace some of the scheduled Acela runs. The “old reliable” Metroliners are deemed a better bet to complete their trips.

Furthermore, Gunn said he won’t order any more Acela Express trainsets. Instead, for the future, he is looking to a modified (likely to meet U.S. FRA safety standards) off-the-shelf European high-speed train.

Many are saying “I told you so” about this. As Amtrak was considering what form the new high-speed train should take, there was plenty advice that Amtrak should put aside its conventional wisdom that “we’re going to have our own American model” and buy something that is proven. The fact that the Europeans are way ahead of us in rail technology, it was pointed out, is a natural consequence of the post-World War II decision to sink resources into air and highway travel in this country.

There seems to be another problem with the Acela Express – capacity. It was planned with 304 seats, compared to 400 on some Metroliners.

Bombardier, the Montreal firm that is one of the suppliers (with Paris-based Alstom) of the new trains, agrees the train’s failures are excessive and, in the words of Bombardier President William Spurr, “we do want to deliver a good product at the end of the day.”

Amtrak, under its previous management, had filed a lawsuit against Bombardier, a matter that Gunn did not want to discuss during our interview.

Not everyone is ready to throw up his hands and give up on the Acela Express.

Michael S. Dukakis, Vice chairman of the Amtrak Board, says it’s no secret the train has caused “continuing concerns.”

In a Boston Herald report, the former Massachusetts governor downplayed the problem, saying, “the important thing here is that in the next 18 months, we’ll finally have ourselves 20 trainsets that all look alike and perform alike.”

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a former Amtrak board member, also advises patience. Citing a Washington Post survey showing increased widespread support for Amtrak throughout the country, he said greater investments in infrastructure could unlock the trains’ potential.

“We should not be surprised that the most sophisticated train ever created for this country has been having some mechanical problems,” said Carper, who, along with his Delaware Senate colleague Joseph Biden, rides Amtrak regularly to and from Washington.

“Cars, trucks and vans are recalled every month,” he noted.

“When new commercial airliners and military aircraft are rolled out, there are problems as well. This is not surprising. What is surprising, to me at least, is the growing support for national passenger rail. High-speed trains must be part of that future.”

Gunn, in his D:F interview, made it clear that under his management, high-speed will arrive on an incremental basis, shaving off five minutes here, ten minutes there. There will not be any Japanese-style Tokaido trains criss-crossing the country in the near future, he cautioned. One step at a time was his watchword, as he called for a pilot high-speed (or perhaps higher speed) project outside the Northeast Corridor (NEC) or California.

Carper believes that the funding debate over Amtrak must expand beyond operating expenses to include a dedicated source of capital funding to renovate the dilapidated infrastructure that is limiting the potential of the Acela Express. Its highly advertised 150 miles an hour becomes a reality only on 18-miles in New England. Gunn indicated in the interview that, in order to change that, he would call on the states along the corridor to kick in some of the money for the upgrade.

“The Acela Express can go so much faster than the existing structure allows,” Carper said, “We’ve got one of the most modern trains in the world running on an infrastructure dating back in some cases to World War II and through tunnels dating back to the Civil War.”

Gunn cited to the Post a number of Acela problems ranging from an electronic braking system freezing up-and blocking traffic to restroom doors sticking and trapping customers inside.

However, as Carper points out, the train is not a complete bust. It has been improving the NEC’s bottom line, and the NEC now hauls more passengers each day than the Delta and U.S. Airways shuttles combined. The situation has reached the point where the airlines have run commercials panning the Acela, making the point that “the plane is faster than the train.”

Complicating the Acela problem is the fact that each train apparently is mechanically different in some respects. In the rush to get the trainsets online, the manufacturer made modifications on each train to remedy the latest problem.

That prompted NARP’s executive director Ross Capon to opine that Amtrak pushed the trains into service too soon because of earlier delays. He said what we’re seeing now is “a transitional growing pains issue.”

Dukakis agreed with that assessment, but said passengers have been understanding. He said, “Part of the problem is nobody ever made a train quite like this, so you’re going to have these problems,” and added, “The people love the service, but we’ve got to get this squared away.”


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Amtrak cuts Acela schedule
By Leo King
Editor

Amtrak officials last week said they plan to reduce Acela Express runs. Amtrak spokesperson Karen Dunn said the Acela trains are breaking down so frequently that Amtrak is cutting back use of these trains until the manufacturer can make modifications, according to CNN.

Fifteen express trains are now running between Washington and Boston. The most recent schedule called for 18 runs per day, with three trainsets kept in reserve to cover any breakdowns.

A taste of things that can happen on the train came from an Amtrak conductor last week who posted his experience on the internet.

In charge of Acela Express No. 2172 on August 1 (Thursday evening), the train passed Thatcher Street Interlocking, just west of Attleboro, Mass.

“We hit a plastic – not metal – shopping cart left in the gauge by some local savages. The shopping cart got ripped apart, ended up in the trucks of the second head business-class car, and put the train into emergency.

“The engineer reported to me that there was a ‘parking brake mismatch’ showing up on the screen. Translation in this situation – there was some sort of damage.”

He said he “got out to inspect,” and found “a raging inferno beneath the coach from the plastic hitting the disk brakes. Once we evacuated the passengers from the coach and put out the fires, I inspected the brake rigging. We cut out the park brakes, truck cut-outs, control valve and main [air] reservoir – but we couldn’t get one set of park brakes to back off. Translation: We ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

The Mechanical department and Bombardier “deadheaded a ‘tech’ up from Providence who had to get under the train and back off the parking brake with a caging tool.”

No. 94, a conventional passenger train, came to a stop on an adjacent track, all coordinated with the Main Line dispatcher in Boston.

“As it turned out we transferred our passengers to an already really late 94. We ended up rolling into South Station at 2:00 a.m., three and one-half hours after the advertised.”

Meanwhile, Bombardier published a pres release last week stating, in essence, the customer got what it asked for.

“To the statement that the trains are ‘vastly overpowered,’ it should be noted that this is a direct result of the customer’s specifications. In fact during negotiations leading up to the contract, Bombardier had repeatedly suggested that one power car per trainset was sufficient but the customer’s administration at the time insisted on two power cars.”

Bombardier’s press statement noted, “The reported freeze-up of the braking system is attributable to the customer’s request for a new design. Throughout the project, Bombardier recommended a different brake system than the one the customer insisted upon. Bombardier repeatedly warned Amtrak, both before and after the contract was awarded, that its desired system is more prone to revert to its fail-safe conditions because of its increased complexity. At the time, the customer nevertheless insisted on the new design. It is noteworthy that none of the failures are safety related.”

The builder also argued, “Amtrak instructed Bombardier to deliver trainsets even though Amtrak knew that insufficient time was available to incorporate numerous requirement changes, but the firm also added, “Bombardier, in cooperation with the customer [Amtrak], is fully committed to the performance of the Acela trainsets and is sparing no effort to ensure the successful implementation of this new high-speed technology in North America. Passengers are delighted with these trains. It is indeed well recognized that Amtrak’s ridership on the Boston-New-York-Washington corridor has increased significantly and steadily since the introduction of the Acela Express service.”

Bombardier cited figures from the National Association of Railway Passengers, showing ridership up 23 percent, resulting in a 44 percent growth in revenues in the twelve-month period ending May 2002. Acela is now the benchmark for high-speed rail technology and service in North America with the commercial success to match.”


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Amtrak adds passenger stop
for Shanksville memorial service
Amtrak will be stopping two of its premier named trains for a memorial service in Pennsylvania in September.

The carrier told travel agents last week the stops at nearby Rockwood is planned for the one-year anniversary of the crash of United Airlines flight 93. This is one of the four planes that was hijacked on September 11, and which crashed near Shanksville.

Amtrak said it is offering train service to the communities for people who are interested in attending the service. The stop has been added to the Capitol Limited schedules, trains 29 and 30.

The trains will stop at Rockwood (rearward) to detrain passengers only on Monday through Wednesday, September 8-10.

For return travel, trains will stop only to pick-up passengers on Thursday through Saturday, September 11-13.

Amtrak said schedules and fares were added to its Arrow computerized reservation system for the special stops.


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MBTA conductor awaits hearing
Disciplinary proceedings against an Amtrak conductor who made two scheduled stops and allowed a commuter rail train to continue for 20 minutes while a passenger suffered a heart attack will begin “as soon as possible,” a spokeswoman said August 4. Meanwhile, an assistant conductor who tried to save the passenger returned to work last week.

In a 250-page report released by Amtrak on August 3, officials said conductor James Peros erred in continuing for 20 minutes because he thought medical help was best provided in downtown Boston.

The passenger, James Allen, 61, of Wellesley, Mass., and a scientist, died at a Boston hospital after collapsing on a train en route from Framingham on July 30.

Assistant conductor Susan Bergeron, who administered CPR to Allen, returned to work last week, Amtrak spokeswoman Cecilia Cummings said from Philadelphia.

Bergeron, who was praised for her efforts in the Amtrak report, was given two days of paid leave.

“It was a tremendous ordeal for her,” Cummings said. “She completely rose to the occasion.”

The report recommended that Bergeron be formally commended for “her quick action and efforts to render CPR to Mr. James Allen.”

Unlike Peros, Bergeron was never suspended, Cummings said. No other Amtrak employees were disciplined. She did not say what possible punishments Peros faces, but railroaders said anonymously at the least he could get a 30-day suspension without pay, and possibly lose his job permanently.

In statements given to Amtrak and the MBTA, Peros defended his decision to proceed to the Back Bay station, after confirming paramedics would be waiting there.

He said medical personnel weren’t as accessible at the West Newton and Newtonville stops, where passengers were asked to hurry aboard before the train continued its run to Back Bay.

Amtrak, which provides crews for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s commuter trains, has launched a review of its procedures to deal with medical emergencies, Cummings said. The goal is to make sure crews know how to provide dispatchers with timely updates on the condition of ill or injured passengers.

MBTA general manager Michael Mulhern said the primary task now is to rebuild the public’s trust.

“People take their commute back and forth to work for granted, and they should,” Mulhern said Sunday. “People need to know they’re safe and secure on our system.”

There was public outcry last week when Allen had to wait for proper medical attention while the train made two more regular stops, but medical experts said once he was stricken, his chances of survival were slim without access to a portable defibrillator.

Defibrillators are required on airliners and in public places such as sports stadiums and large office buildings, but cost – about $3,000 – lack of training, and liability fears have prevented a greater proliferation of the lifesaving machines. Now, with the prices falling and the benefits becoming clearer, experts say a case such as Allen’s can make the public more aware of the need for the machines.

Allen’s sister, Jeanne Peterson of Eau Claire, Wis., raised the issue in the days after her brother’s death.

“Jim was a very logical person, a patient, down-to-earth thinker,” she said. “I have to think the logic here means training in CPR and defibrillators.”

The Federal Aviation Administration mandated the use of defibrillators in airplanes last year, but they aren’t common in other transportation systems. Amtrak started a pilot program and the Metro subway system Washington D.C. has portable defibrillators.

Since Allen’s death July 30, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has hired an outside consultant to review safety policies.

The MBTA is conducting its own investigation, which would likely reach the same conclusion as the Amtrak report, Mulhern said.

In its 250-page report, Amtrak said it would begin disciplinary action against Peros for stopping in West Newton and Newtonville to let on more passengers even after learning of Allen’s condition. Allen died later that morning in a Boston emergency room.

The Amtrak report found that Peros should have held the train at the West Newton station shortly after Allen’s condition was discovered or gone straight to the Back Bay station – without stopping in Newtonville. Peros said he didn’t request EMS assistance at earlier stations because he thought those stations’ layouts would make it difficult for emergency crews to get access, the report said.

The train reached Boston’s Back Bay station about 17 minutes after the paramedics were dispatched there.

Assistant conductor Susan Bergeron defended the crew’s actions, saying it would have been dangerous to speed past the stations, but officials at CSX Transportation, which owns the tracks up to “CP-3,” three miles west of South Station, said the train could have stopped earlier, or bypassed its stops, if the conductor had asked.

A transcript released by CSX showed an unidentified crewmember reporting that a passenger had “passed out,” and requesting medical assistance at the Back Bay station. No crewmembers requested permission to bypass any stations.


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DOT official disdains Amtrak
Although there is money to keep Amtrak operating until the end of the federal budget year September 30, the government-subsidized rail line soon may have to compete for passengers with private operations, the third-ranking official at USDOT said August 6, according to a report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune on the following day.

Jeff Shane, associate deputy secretary of the department, told lawmakers from 16 Southern states that Amtrak has been a failure.

“We have to find a new model,” he said. “We need intercity passenger rail service. Amtrak should be a competitor for that service.”

Shane’s remarks came at a meeting of the Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference’s 56th annual meeting. The SLC includes lawmakers from Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

“We want to know what they have done with the $30 billion that has been thrown at them over 30 years,” he said. “Without improving the system, it is an absolute description for disaster.”

Amtrak president and CEO David Gunn told D:F last week, “This whole business of the glidepath was a situation where the Congress created an absolutely impossible goal with the corporation, and the management pretended they could accomplish it. Now, who's at fault - Congress, the management, or both of them”?

Shane said the transportation agency is looking at a program of federal-state cost-sharing to provide national passenger rail service...

“We want to know what they have done with the $30 billion that has been thrown at them over 30 years,” he said. “Without improving the system, it is an absolute description for disaster.”

Shane said the transportation agency is looking at a program of federal-state cost-sharing to provide national passenger rail service infrastructure needs, such as right-of-way purchases and rail construction, with passenger service routes being awarded to the rail line with the best proposal.

“Some companies are dying to run inter-city passenger service,” Shane said.

“Amtrak should be a competitor for the service. That will mean a cost-effective federal rail service compared to what we are getting today.”


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Vermonter quits checked bags, bikes
No more checked baggage nor bicycles on the Vermonter, Amtrak said last week. Trains 54 and 56 lost the service on August 7, and Nos. 55 and 57 on the following day. The carrier said it was a “cost saving measure.”


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Alaska RR Cars

Alaska Railroad

If all goes well, the Alaska Railroad will buy a few more coaches like this one from the British Columbia Railway. ARR bought this car in 1999 from the defunct Florida Fun Train.
Alaska Railroad gains riders
We learn through the pages of the Alaska Journal of Commerce that with a slight increase in ridership this summer, the Alaska Railroad Corp. (AAR) is considering buying three used single-level dome cars from the British Columbia Railway Co. The new cars would be similar to ones the railroad already owns.

Patrick Flynn, ARR’s spokesman in Anchorage, said through June about 170,000 people had ridden the rails, about 2,500 more riders compared with the same time period a year ago.

The coaches, each of which holds 76 people, are similar to some ARR already owns, and would cost about $800,000 each, about half the price of new models, Flynn said. If the railroad’s board approves the purchase this year, the cars could be in service by next summer, Flynn said.

“All they would need is a coat of paint and the tender, loving care of our car men,” Flynn said.

The Journal posted its report on its website on August 5.

Flynn told D:F on August 9 that “The board has approved our going forward but the bid process has not concluded.”

Most of the increased traffic comes from the Grandview train that transports cruise ship passengers from Seward to Anchorage and back. The Grandview service began in 2000 following the $3.6 million purchase of nine passenger cars from failed Florida Fun Train.

Nearly every seat on the Seward-to-Anchorage leg was full last summer. This season, the southbound train has been filled up on several of the trips, which has caused passengers to be turned away, Flynn said.

“We want to capture some of that capacity,” Flynn said.

Meanwhile, Holland America Line’s Westours is selling two of its double-decker dome cars that have been in service on the Alaska Railroad since 1996. Flynn said the tour company’s two cars will be replaced with four, larger double-decker cars next summer.

Holland America’s double-decker cars are being offered at $375,000.

Flynn said the Alaska Railroad is not interested in the cars because they aren’t “consistent” with passenger cars the railroad owns.

Passenger revenues for the railroad last year were $14.2 million. Railroad officials are projecting an increase to $14.9 million for 2002. Passenger numbers are projected to be about 500,000 this year, up slightly over the past two years, Flynn said. Passenger numbers in 1999 were 679,000.

The reduction in ridership, according to railroad officials, is blamed on the 2.5-mile Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, which opened Whittier to road traffic in June 2000. The state-owned railroad, opened in 1916 as a federal rail project, has taken steps to move more passengers along its 611 miles of rail, including streamlining its marketing operations and adding more locomotives.

The Alaska Railroad is online at http://www.alaskarailroad.com
The Alaska Journal of Commerce is online at http://www.alaskajournal.com


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Closed dangerous crossing still raises ire
Four years after barricades went up, Jacksonville city officials and neighbors are still irked over a closed CSX grade crossing at Old Kings Road in northwest Jacksonville.

The city expects to file arguments against the closure within a month to the First District Court of Appeal, writes the Jacksonville Times-Union. A neighborhood leader is threatening to picket CSX’s offices hoping to pressure the giant company to open the five-track crossing. CSX had closed the crossing without getting the proper permits.

”If it’s one person, it’ll be me and that one person,” said Lloyd Washington, president of the Grand Park Community Association, where residents complain the closure makes it difficult for them to get to their homes.

CSX says the crossing, near Old Kings Road, is among the most unsafe in the region, and the state thus far has agreed. In 2001, the Florida DOT recommended the closing. The city appealed, but an administrative law judge and Transportation Secretary Thomas Barry backed the closing this year.

”We support that decision. However we respect the rights of the community to express their feelings on the issues,” CSX spokesman Adam Hollingsworth said.

A high-ranking city attorney, Cindy Laquidara, said recently she had suggested the city drop the case because it risked “creating more bad case law.” But other officials decided to continue, though assistant city attorney Ernst Mueller, the lawyer on the case, said the appeals court is likely the last step.

The city’s only respite has been a February deal with CSX that called for the railroad to pay the city $300,000, minus about $40,000 for a nearby company, to aid the two neighborhoods surrounding the tracks, and a promise to landscape the truncated ends of the crossing if it’s closed. The money’s been paid, but CSX is waiting for the city to exhaust all its appeals before beginning work.


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Commuter lines...

Double-tracking starts in Baltimore

A $153-million project that will add a second track to 9.4 miles of the Central Light Rail Line officially began on July 9.

Eight segments will be double tracked, beginning with a new bridge over the Middle Branch between the Hamburg Street and Westport stations

“We expect light rail ridership to increase by almost 50 percent when this construction project is completed, bringing us closer to reaching our goal of doubling transit ridership statewide by 2020,” said Gov. Parris Glendening, who called the expansion a top priority. The work is scheduled to be finished in 2006, allowing shorter headways and ending delays at junctions between single- and double-track sections. The Central Light Rail Line runs 29 miles from Hunt Valley to Cromwell with branches to Penn Station and Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Airport.

– Courtesy of Rail Transit Online, at www.railtransitonline.com


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Maryland writes maglev demo plan
The Maryland Transit Administration has selected a final route for a proposed 40-mile magnetic levitation connection between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore following the existing Amtrak Northeast Corridor right-of-way through Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties.

It will require purchasing some 45 pieces of property compared to over a hundred that would have been required by either of two other routes under consideration.

“It doesn’t have any fatal flaws,” MTA principal engineer Suhair Alkhatib told The Bond Buyer.

“Everything that’s there can be addressed and there are very few impacts.” This is one of two projects under consideration to receive nearly $1 billion in federal funding for a maglev demonstration line. The other is in Pittsburgh.

With an intermediate station at BWI, the trains are expected to handle commuters in addition to intercity passengers. The Maryland proposal would cost an estimated $4 billion, which is expected to be financed mainly by bonds of various types.

A final financial plan is expected to be ready sometime this autumn. A workshop for investment bankers and bond insurers is scheduled for October and a draft environmental impact statement is due to be presented to the FRA in November.

The Baltimore-Washington Maglev project is online at http://www.bwmaglev.com

– Courtesy of Rail Transit Online.


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Here are some other transit headlines, from the pages of Passenger Transport, the weekly newspaper of the public transportation industry published by the non-profit American Public Transportation Assn. For more news from Passenger Transport and subscription information, visit the APTA web site at http://www.apta.com/news/pt.


Senate earmarks $7.33 billion for transit; House moves funding bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously endorsed a transportation appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2003 on July 25. The measure recommends providing $7.326 billion for transit, including $1.314 billion for the New Starts program.

The bill has not yet been scheduled for a full Senate vote. The House Appropriations Committee and its Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee are expected to mark up the bill when they return after the August recess.

The funding level for public transportation in the $64.6 billion bill is $455 million more than the amount allocated for transit in fiscal 2002. It is also $100 million above President Bush’s request, the amount authorized for fiscal 2003 under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), and includes the specification that the additional $100 million go to “New Starts” projects.

APTA noted that the bill’s allocation breakdown follows TEA-21 guidelines. It provides $607.2 million for buses and bus facilities, which will enable transit agencies to replace, purchase, or rehabilitate buses and related facilities, and $150 million for the Job Access and Reverse Commuter Grants program, $25 million above the fiscal 2002 level.

Before they went on their summer vacation, The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee agreed to continue transit operating assistance to public transportation providers due to lose it because they went above the 200,000 mark in population in the 2000 Census and lost their flexibility to use formula grant funds for operating expenses.

On July 24, the committee marked up bipartisan legislation, the Transit Operating Flexibility Act (H.R. 5157) that provides local flexibility in the use of federal transit funds to some smaller urbanized areas across the nation.

The legislation was introduced by committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) and had 38 original cosponsors, including the committee’s ranking Democrat James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and the chairman and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Thomas Petri (R-Wis.) and Robert Borski (D-Pa.).

According to the committee, 52 communities nationwide were impacted by the 2000 Census urbanized area designation process, crossing from below populations of 200,000 to above 200,000. Some communities simply grew; others were absorbed into nearby major metropolitan areas; still others were combined with another nearby small city and the combined population exceeds 200,000. Under TEA-21, areas of more than 200,000 residents cannot use federal formula grant funds to pay for transit operating expenses.

Elsewhere in the House, the committee of the whole voted to approve the post-conference version of the fiscal 2002 supplemental appropriations bill, including a provision to restore federal highway funding for fiscal 2003 to the level authorized in TEA-21. The Senate also was expected to approve the bill.

The $4.4 billion being restored to federal highway funding for fiscal 2003 had been eliminated through TEA 21’s Revenue Aligned Budget Authority mechanism, under which highway funding levels are tied to Highway Trust Fund receipts. This process has no direct effect on transit funds, which are provided directly through funding guarantees provided by TEA 21, but flexible funding could be at risk with any reduction of highway funds through RABA. APTA supports the restoration of the highway funds.

The legislation left the federal aid highway program at $27.7 billion for fiscal 2003.

Biking and walking also play a role.

The TEA-21 reauthorization should place increased emphasis on bicycling and walking, witnesses told the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee at a July 25 hearing, which was devoted to quality-of-life issues.

Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-Wis.) noted in his comments that interest in recreational trails, transportation enhancements, scenic byways, and other quality-of-life-related issues has broadened the surface transportation community with a stake in the future of TEA 21.

Witnesses representing a wide range of transportation interests testified on the transportation needs of older Americans, persons with disabilities, schoolchildren, leisure travelers, bicyclists, recreational trail users, and motorcyclists, among others. Programs included in TEA 21, such as Transportation Enhancements, support these needs, Petri said.


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Transit ridership declines

APTA statistics report that U.S. transit ridership declined by 2.4 percent in the first quarter of 2002, the first decline since the fourth quarter of 1995.

Light rail, with an increase of 0.83 percent over the first quarter of 2001, was the only mode to show an increase except for demand response and minor modes (aerial tramway, automated guideway, cable car, ferryboat, inclined plane, monorail, vanpool). Ridership grew for the total light rail sector during the quarter because of Salt Lake City’s 117 percent jump during the Winter Olympics in February. The ridership decline was found in all three months of the quarter.

APTA said transit systems reported a variety of factors that contributed to the drop, such as the weakening dot-com economy in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley region of California; New York City’s economic downturn following the September 11 terrorist attacks; service cuts in St. Louis and Boston; severe winter weather in Buffalo, N.Y.; declining tourism in Las Vegas; and fare increases in numerous regions including San Diego, Honolulu, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, and Milwaukee.


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VRE celebrates 10 years

More than 200 people attended a program at Alexandria Station when Virginia Railway Express celebrated its tenth anniversary last month.

Dignitaries included Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, U.S. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), and FRA administrator Allan Rutter as well as VRE’s COO, Pete Sklannik Jr.

The governor called VRE “the great success story of the last 10 years.”

He emphasized VRE’s success in helping to ease northern Virginia’s ever-worsening traffic congestion and improve the lives of millions of commuters every year.

Virginia has a sales tax referendum on its November 5 ballot, which would increase the state sales tax by one-half cent, to a nickel on each dollar, and be specifically used to improve the area’s transportation infrastructure.


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Two transit agencies ink deal

Two public transportation agencies in the neighboring communities of Toledo, Ohio, and Monroe, Mich., have entered into an interstate transfer agreement that provides free transfers for riders on the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) and Lake Erie Transit (LET).

TARTA General Manager Richard Ruddell and LET General Manager Mark Jagodzinski said they see the agreement as a first step to future developments between the two bus agencies.

Lake Erie Transit operates seven fixed routes within Monroe among other routes and services in nearby communities.

The agreement uses the Bedford Dial-A-Ride service to three major shopping locations in north Toledo.

TARTA has 33 fixed routes and other services.


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‘Big Apple’ launches tax-saving plan

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and TransitCenter Inc. have begun a “Premium TransitChek” service. The program allows employers in large corporations to provide pre-tax transportation benefits to all their employees without administrative burdens through the use of New York’s first annual unlimited ride MetroCard.

MTA chairman Peter Kalikow said that the new card allows employees to receive a significant tax break while providing unlimited, year-long access to all of MTA’s modes of transportation.

As of this year, employees who use suburban transportation services can reduce their taxable income by as much as $100 a month, or $1,200 a year, and use this amount to pay for their commute through the program, which can mean saving $400 or more a year. Employers, meanwhile, can save thousands in payroll costs by reducing the payroll taxes for employees who purchase TransitChek benefits.

The new cards are being offered as a new service for large employers that want to offer tax breaks to their employees who use transit to come to work. The premium service eliminates most of the administration and all of the distribution requirements.


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Connecticut transit workers win arbitration ruling

An arbitrator has established the terms of a new contract for some 700 drivers and maintenance employees in the Hartford, New Haven, and Stamford divisions of Connecticut Transit, represented by Amalgamated Transit Union Locals 425, 281, and 443. The two-year award is retroactive to April 1, 2001, when the former contract expired.

In the course of the new contract, the top hourly rate for operators will increase 7 percent, from $18.99 to $20.33, in a series of general wage increases and cost of living adjustments. The award also provides an increase in the pension plan multiplier, effective Jan. 1, 2003.

After union members voted down management’s best and final offer, the union invoked an interest arbitration provision that had not been used since the 1950s. A grievance arbitrator determined that the old contract language could be used to compel management to arbitrate a new contract.


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SamTrans, ATU write three-year pact

Directors of the San Mateo County Transit District in San Carlos, Calif., and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1574 have reached agreement on a three-year labor contract, concluding four months of negotiations. The new contract, which extends through June 30, 2005, calls for an enhanced benefits package during the first year, and a wage increase of up to four-and-a-half percent in 2003. A wage increase of 6 percent is scheduled during the final year of the contract.

The SamTrans board voted unanimously July 10 to approve the contract; some 450 bus operators and maintenance personnel ratified the agreement earlier by an 82 percent margin.

Cost of the new contract is estimated at approximately $4 million over the three-year period, exclusive of long-term pension enhancements, according to SamTrans.


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TransportMAX eliminates some taxes

TransportMAX reports it has eliminated registration fees for all disadvantaged business enterprises. The Internet-based marketplace facilitates buying goods and services in the public transportation industry.

TransportMAX’s pricing schedule for transit suppliers is based on annual sales – firms doing $2,500 to more than $10 million per year – structured in a tiered format. No usage plan fee is charged for businesses with online sales of $2,500 or less. The pricing model is intended to encourage small, infrequent suppliers to use the e-commerce site by providing a low-risk entry point.

TransportMAX states it is an “open and independent corporation formed by Booz Allen Hamilton in partnership with APTA,” which officially opened for business on April 1.


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Freight lines...

Timmons elected short line chief

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association’s (ASLRRA) directors voted on July 25 to offer its president’s job to Richard F. Timmons, 59, currently a Norfolk Southern (NS) vice-president for public affairs serving Pennsylvania and New York.

Prior to joining NS in 1998, Timmons had a 32-year career in the United States Army. He retired as a lieutenant general, and his last assignment was as commander of the Eighth Army in Korea.

He holds a BA from Virginia Military Institute, a master’s degree in personnel administration from Central Michigan University and a master’s in Journalism from the Univ. of Alabama.

Timmons takes his new job on September 3 with a five-year contract.

Timmons replaces Frank Turner who announced his retirement earlier this year.

ASLRRA represents more than 420 short line and regional railroads across the country.


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Rail traffic up in July, reports AAR
U.S. rail carload traffic rose 2.5 percent (39,786 carloads) while intermodal rail traffic rose 8.0 percent (67,394 units) in July, compared to July 2001, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported on Friday.

Carloads of metallic ores, which were up 32.4 percent (22,305 carloads) in July, paced all other commodities, while carloads of motor vehicles and equipment were up 6.8 percent (5,419 carloads). Nonmetallic minerals (up 15.0 percent, or 4,849 carloads), chemicals (up 3.1 percent, or 4,143 carloads), and grain (up 2.3 percent, or 2,388 carloads) also saw significant year-over-year carload increases in July. All told, 14 of the 19 commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw carload increases in July compared with July 2001.

On the down side, carloads of crushed stone and gravel fell 4.1 percent (4,527 carloads) while carloads of primary forest products were down 7.8 percent (1,706 carloads). Carloads of coal, the single most important commodity carried by U.S. railroads, were essentially unchanged (down 20 carloads out of more than 630,000) in July.

“Given current fears concerning the fragility of the economic recovery and the possibility of a ‘double-dip’ recession, July’s rail traffic gains offer some encouragement,” noted AAR Vice President Craig F. Rockey.

“Coal stockpiles are being drawn down, and major heat spells in parts of the country have led to increased demand for coal-fired electricity generation. The steel sector in the United States is now performing far better than it has been, leading to increased rail shipments of metallic ores and metal products, and chemical carloadings are benefiting from continued increases in industrial production. We hope the economic expansion continues.”

For the first seven months of 2002, U.S. rail carloadings were down 1.6 percent (161,240 carloads). Through July, year-to-date carloads of coal were down 4.2 percent (173,001 carloads), while year-to-date carloads of coke were down 17.4 percent (22,251 carloads).

Carloads of motor vehicles and equipment were up 4.0 percent (27,977 carloads) in 2002 through July, while carloads of crushed stone and gravel were up 2.6 percent (15,447 carloads). Year-to-date intermodal traffic was up 4.7 percent (247,330 trailers and containers), including an 8.7 percent increase (319,135 units) in container volume.

Canadian intermodal traffic was up 14.9 percent (25,303 units) in July, while Canadian rail carload traffic was down 5.8 percent (16,723 carloads) during the same period. Canadian grain carloadings were down 21.2 percent (10,238 carloads) in July, and coal carloadings were down 10.5 percent (4,466 carloads).

On the positive side, carloads of chemicals were up 6.5 percent (3,525 carloads) in July, while carloads on nonmetallic minerals were up 10.2 percent (862 carloads).  

For the first seven months of 2002, Canadian carload traffic was down 3.4 percent (65,524 carloads), due mainly to declines in grain (down 18.2 percent, or 52,656 carloads, a reflection of a poor recent Canadian grain crop), coal (down 10.1 percent, or 29,155 carloads), and farm products excluding grain (down 39.5 percent, or 23,312 carloads).

Through July, Canadian carloads of chemicals were up 6.4 percent (25,007 carloads), while carloads of motor vehicles and equipment were up 9.1 percent (19,654 carloads).  Canadian intermodal traffic through the first seven months of 2002 was up 8.2 percent (88,357 units).

Carloads originated on Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM), a major Mexican railroad, were down 4.7 percent (2,015 carloads) in July, while intermodal originations were up 21.3 percent (2,854 trailers and containers).

For the first seven months of 2002, TFM carloadings were up 0.4 percent (858 carloads), while intermodal traffic rose 16.2 percent (11,885 units).

For just the week ended August 3, the AAR reported U.S. railroads’ totals at 342,769 carloads, up 3.2 percent from the corresponding week in 2001, with loadings up 2.9 percent in the East and up 3.3 percent in the West; intermodal volume of 192,601 trailers and containers, up 6.8 percent; and total volume of an estimated 29.5 billion ton-miles, up 3.9 percent from the equivalent week last year.

For Canadian railroads during the week ended August 3, the AAR reported volume of 56,593 carloads, down 5.4 percent from last year; and 41,304 trailers and containers, up 17.6 percent from the corresponding week in 2001.

Combined cumulative volume for the first 31 weeks of 2002 on 16 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads totaled 11,927,949 carloads, down 1.9 percent (226,764 carloads) from last year; and 6,625,768 trailers and containers, up 5.3 percent (335,687 units) from 2001’s first 31 weeks.


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Off the main line...

‘Amtrak’ wins, pays off big-time

We haven’t looked into the veracity of this item from Miami, but it’s good for a laugh, anyway.

It seems in the seventh race at Flagler Dog Track on August 7 (in Miami and named after the man who put the Florida East Coast Railway together), from out of the No. 8 box came Oneco Amtrak. He dominated the race and paid $15 for every $1 people had bet on him.

In this case Amtrak was on track, ahead of schedule, and very profitable.


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Editorial...

The once and future Acela

By Jim RePass
President & CEO
The National Corridors Initiative

This past week it was hard to miss the finger-pointing between Amtrak and Bombardier over the reliability problems that have begun to affect on-time performance of the new Acela trainsets along the Northeast Corridor; a drop from 85-90 percent on-time to less than 75 percent, as happened in July, is definitely a step in the wrong direction.

We don’t want to minimize the importance of on-time performance, but we also think it is imperative that the general public as well as the nation’s journalists understand some basic facts, so that they don’t begin to write off this magnificent train, which, more than anything else, has begun the process of bringing America into the 21st Century insofar as rail travel is concerned.

The Acela Express trainset is based on Alstom’s French TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse), for 20 years a huge European success and the train that started all of Europe on a massive rail-building program. Today, Alstom has been joined by Siemens (Germany’s InterCity Express), Talgo (in Spain, and in the U.S. in the Pacific Northwest), ABB’s tilting X-trains (Sweden and Norway) and others. The result has been a dramatic reduction in travel times between European cities, to the point where many plane flights of 500 miles or less are now made more quickly and comfortably by train. In the United States, the high-speed Acela, even though it is still in its break-in period, has slashed travel times on the Northeast Corridor, especially between Boston and New York.

The fact remains, though, that to run in the United States, the TGV design had to be heavily modified to the extremely high American crashworthiness standards promulgated by the FRA, which require 800,000 pounds per square inch “buffing” resistance. That means two cars can be slammed together at high speed, yet the passenger areas will survive, intact.

In Europe, the figure can be half of that. Europeans run their national rail systems on the assumption that their trains should be lightweight, fast, and frequent, and will never collide. In America, we have a dimmer view of human fallibility, and hence we require much stronger, heavier trains. In addition, the Europeans usually segregate passenger trains from freight trains. We don’t, although that day is definitely coming.

One of the consequences of a very heavy although lightning-quick Acela was excessive wheel wear, because the original wheel design couldn’t take the abuse. That had to be corrected (and premature wear is still an issue). Balky bathroom doors, complicated braking systems, and on-board computers that sometimes go “deaf” have caused other problems. In short, what is happening with Acela is what you might expect when you are introducing a completely new transportation technology to American soil.

While Amtrak and Bombardier are at each other about who is to blame for what problem, it is important to remember that these trainsets work, and work well, most of the time. The performance level is indeed unsatisfactory, and must and will be made right, but the fact is that the Acela has been a great success, even from its earliest days.

Now is the time for Amtrak and Bombardier to buckle down and settle their differences, and begin the process of standardizing every trainset: so great was the pressure to put Acela into service back in 2000 that each trainset, as it was introduced, was individually “tweaked” to get it on line, resulting in non-standard trainsets – and, as Amtrak President David Gunn has said, you can’t fix reliability problems by ad hoc tweaking.

None of this takes away from the fact that American transportation has at last taken a step into the 21st Century, and Acela is that step. As other corridors are built and trainsets deployed, they may or may not be built by the same company, or from the same design, but rest assured, the future of rail service is finally coming to America, and the majority of American voters in poll after poll support that view.

All technologies have teething problems, but very few get to work them out in the full glare of the public spotlight. Amtrak, Bombardier, and all of us who support the idea that America must have a modern national transportation system need to pull together, and as the story gets covered, ensure that not every headline is an ex cathedra utterance. Journalists, especially, need to cover this story with care, because it is complex and new to most of them.


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Dialogue...  Dialogue...

Cars: There is a better way
than widening Interstate 95

The following article, written by NCI president and CEO Jim RePass, was published in New London, Connecticut's The Day on August 4. - Ed.

There are times in every life when decisions are made that forever change the outcome of that life. It is something we learn with greater and greater clarity the older we get, often enough to our simultaneous dismay and amusement.

Places, like people, have a life-cycle, too. These turning points, these crossroads, are much harder to discern, let alone understand, but occasionally we are fortunate enough to see these decision-points approaching. This is especially true if we can place where we live in context, look at what has happened in other regions that faced similar choices, and take action to ensure a good rather than a bad outcome.

Southeastern Connecticut is at that point.

Pressures are mounting to make transportation decisions that will radically alter the character of the region and profoundly influence not only the economic health and quality of life of New London, Norwich, Old Saybrook and Mystic, but of the rural and semi-rural areas from the shoreline region all the way to Hartford.

The fact is that the design capacity of I-95, especially around the weekends, is being strained by the many tourist attractions in the region, as well as by visitors and, increasingly, by new residents drawn by the region’s great natural beauty. While this activity acts as an economic engine for the region, such growth hastens the day when transportation infrastructure decisions must be made. These decisions by their very nature have gigantic price tags attached – and, for 75 years, these decisions have taken one form only: highways.

Yet I believe that that is an opportunity, disguised as a problem.

It is an opportunity, first and foremost, because it helps us see warning signs all around us: in Fairfield County, where the answer to traffic congestion repeatedly has been to widen I-95, the results have been increasingly-impassable secondary roads and city streets, and a miserable commute. In the counties surrounding Hartford, massive and repeated superhighway projects have helped to vacuum nearly all of the middle- and upper middle-class families out of the city, leaving a large concentration of welfare-dependent families in an ever-shrinking tax base. Both regions have experienced massive suburban sprawl, a fate which awaits us if we make the same unimodal decisions

Now there is, indeed, mounting pressure on southeastern Connecticut to widen I-95, as soon as possible. It is a pressure that should be resisted, because it is a decision that does not need to be taken – yet.

Over the next few months, readers of The Day will have an opportunity to consider, develop and propose transit-based alternatives to highway widening and construction.

We were founded as the Northeast Corridor Initiative and we still use that name for regional-only projects such as this one in Connecticut.

We are developing in consultation with many regional groups, leaders and residents a “Southeastern Connecticut Transportation Initiative” (SECTI) that would be transit-based, and that would look to the creation of a long-term transportation plan for the region that will contain both immediate, low-cost steps to help relieve traffic congestion on both I-95 and local roads, and longer-term, more permanent solutions. Among these will likely be implementation of small, user-friendly “Molly Trolleys,” miniature trolley buses that have been wildly successful in Providence and Newport, and elsewhere, especially with seasonal tourist traffic.

We’ll also be looking at ways of creating capacity on I-95 by getting truck traffic off the road. One greatly underutilized asset of the region is the Adm. Harold E. Shear Pier in New London, which could easily take many lighters (barges) of containers off the highway by using Long Island Sound as a transportation route from the New York region, transferring them to rail at New London’s New England Central rail yards.

There are literally dozens of similar ideas that could help avoid the consequences of trying to pave our way out of congestion.

We need to explore them all, and adopt the best. Citizens can and should be in the forefront of this effort.


Regarding European rails after World War II

Reader David Beale and our Washington correspondent, Wes Vernon, began a dialogue last week regarding the growth of European rail following the end of World War II. These letters are their discussion. – Ed.

Dear Editor,

A very informative web site which you have. I just found it via the Arizona Rail Passenger Assn. (ARPA), of which I am member. I lived in Phoenix for two years in the mid 1990s prior to relocating to the Hannover, Germany area nearly five years ago.

I read an editorial posted on your web site several weeks ago (July 8) by Wes Vernon. In his article, he states, “and, by the way, Europe’s post-war rail system was built by Marshall Plan money, courtesy of the America taxpayer. It’s an excellent system, as those of us who have experienced it will agree; but our money built it, while we foolishly allowed our own railroads to deteriorate.”

Perhaps true on the second part, but rather inaccurate on the first part.

Perhaps if Mr. Vernon had used the word “re-built” instead of “built,” the statement would have been more accurate and true.

Most of Europe, including the United Kingdom, has had a very extensive rail system for over a century. It was possibly at a peak of development at the outbreak of World War II in 1939, which it would not achieve again for three or four decades after the end of the war. The Marshall Plan money only rebuilt some portions of the network, which were destroyed (mostly by the U.S. and its allies) during the war. Marshall Plan money had no role in the development of the high-speed rail such as the TGV and ICE, and no part in the rapid expansion of urban and suburban transit in western Europe in the past three decades.

Best regards,

David Beale
Haste, Germany


Mr. Beale also sent a copy to Mr. Vernon, who replied...

Dear David,

Of course, I meant “rebuilt.” Never did I intend to imply that Europe had no railroad system before World War II. It’s one of those technicalities that you assume (erroneously, it seems) everyone understands. Marshall Plan money did provide for the much of the infrastructure that eventually led to a high-speed system.

Wes Vernon
Silver Spring, Md.


Dear Wes,

I rather doubt any of the current high-speed infrastructure was paid for even in small part by Marshall Plan money. The TGV/LGV network started construction in the late 1970s and the very first high-speed right-of-way built for the ICE in Germany (Hannover-Würzburg) started construction in the early 1980s.

The Marshall Plan was long, long over when these two systems first started construction. Marshall Plan money was probably used to rebuild some of the conventional rail lines and many of the stations that the ICE and TGV equipment use today, but as said before, those stations and rail lines were in most cases already in-place prior to WW-2.

I can send you some pictures of what the main central railroad station in Hannover looked like in 1945. It bears lots of resemblance to what Kabul, Afghanistan looked like about six months ago (as did most of downtown Hannover). Today, it looks similar to what it looked like prior to being leveled during the World War II, with some updates for new stores, restaurants, handicap access, parking garages, and a partially underground pedestrian mall and shopping arcade built around the station in the early-mid 1970s. An underground light-rail station was installed in the mid 1970s, as part of a project to put most of the street car lines in the downtown district of Hannover underground, but as far as I am informed, none of that funding had anything to do with Marshall Plan money or any other funding from the U.S.

Let’s just leave at that. US taxpayers did not build any new or improved rail networks over here that were not already in-place prior to the start of the war in 1939-1940.

Dave


David,

My point simply was that the infrastructure rebuilt after World War II was ultimately upgraded to high-speed standards. Had we not used Marshall Plan money for the rebuilding, it likely would have set back the timetable for putting the railroads back in shape so they could even think of high speed. I was saying that while we were helping Europe in that respect, we allowed our own railroads to deteriorate.


Dear Wes,

True, the infrastructure was definitely either upgraded or expanded upon after the end of the Marshall Plan. As for the railroads in the U.S., General Motors and several of the larger oil and tire companies in the U.S. helped the deterioration of the railroads along substantially during the late 1940s through the late 1960s.

I am not by any means a railroad historian, but I suspect that another factor in the decline of American railroads which started post World War II and continues in some measure to this day has something to do with the way the big railroad companies behaved in the U.S. during the era between the American Civil War up to the Great Depression. The massive and blatant abuse of labor, customers, money, power and political influence which the American railroads exercised in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries no doubt left a bitter taste in many people’s mouths, so when a new alternative in the form of cars, trucks and interstate freeways (and later large scale air travel) came along, not much of the general public had any problem with the long term consequences those developments would have on American railroads.

That situation did not really exist here in Europe, as far as I know, with the exception of Great Britain. Most of the railroads in Europe were developed by-and-large as government owned enterprises, similar to the post office, telephone, roads, and other utilities. Starting in the post-World War II era, even most airlines in Europe were government institutions, something which has only in the past decade begun to (slowly) change.

Best regards,
Dave


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We get letters...
Dear Editor:

Regarding last week’s “Here’s how a Brit views UK rails,” you wrote, “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.”

I was wondering why this Englishman sounded so American. The original text would have been fine (if it is not broken don't fix it).

Don Stewart


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Meetings...
September 22-25

American Public Transportation Assn. annual meeting and expo

Las Vegas, Nev.
Las Vegas Hilton Hotel and Las Vegas Convention Center
Contact pboswell@apta.com


September 22-25

AREMA conference and exposition

Washington Hilton & Towers, Washington, D.C.
Contact Shane Boyle, AREMA Director of Marketing,
sboyle@arema.org;
(301) 459-3200 ext. 705;
Fax. (301) 459-8077;website www.arema.org


September 22-25

RSA Global Railway Tech 2002

Convention and Coordinated Mechanical
Associations Technical Conference

Hilton Chicago & Towers Hotel, Chicago
Contact Howard Tonn, (630) 393-0106 or fax (630) 393-0108.


October 6-22

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. sboyle@arema.org


October 15,16

Ninth Annual Passenger Trains on Freight Railroads Conference

Washington Marriott Hotel
Washington, D.C.

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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The way we were...
Baldwin Sharknose No. 701

Leo King collection: EJ&E

How many people remember the Baldwin “sharknose” locomotives from an earlier era? Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Ry. owned a few, including No. 701. The number is obscured in the heavy shadows, and it took a magnifying glass on a light table to discern the number; but this post card, from the railroad in the mid-1950s, yielded a photo that has endured. Today, the freight line still wraps around Chicago, but in 1988 it became part of the Transtar Corp., a privately held transportation holding company.

End Notes...

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

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

Journalists and others who wish to receive high quality NCI-originated images that appear in Destination: Freedom may do so at a nominal fee of $10.00 per image. "True color" .jpg images average 1.7MB each, and are 300 dots-per-inch for print publishers.

In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other rail travel sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives - state DOTs, legislators, governor's offices, and transportation professionals - as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists.

If you have a favorite rail link, please send the uniform resource locator address (URL) to the webmaster in care of this web site. An e-mail link appears at the bottom of the NCI web site pages to get in touch with D. M. Kirkpatrick, NCI's webmaster in Boston.


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