Vol. 7 No. 38
September 5, 2006

Copyright © 2006
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

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

A weekly North American rail and transit update

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

* Now in our Seventh Year *

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

  News Items... 
Alexander Kummant new Amtrak president and CEO
LIRR link through Sunnyside on track
  Off the main line… 
Amtrak Restores Most Service South of Washington
Amtrak and Starz Media offer “Everyone’s Hero” Baseball sweepstakes
  Commuter lines… 
Controversial sculpture will be installed at MBTA station
Amtrak reverses Tidewater service cut
  Friday closing quotes… 
  Freight lines… 
Rail trestle closed after being damaged by fire.
America’s “addiction to oil” gets worse
Minneapolis train bridge repair came with $500,000 price tag
Savko to build cargo terminal
  Business lines… 
Rail intermodal volume continues to rise
  Events… 
NorthEast Area Roundabouts (NEAR)
  Opinion… 
When management listens, It’s good for the riders
  Editorial… 
Amtrak Board picks Kummant as President
  Webmaster notes… 
  End notes… 

NEWS ITEMS...  News Items...

Veteran rail and industrial executive appointed

 

Alexander Kummant new
Amtrak president and CEO

Source: Amtrak Media Relations

Alexander Kummant

Photo: BOMAG via World Highways magazine
2004 photo.

WASHINGTON, AUG 29 – The Amtrak Board of Directors last Tuesday appointed Alexander Kummant as President and CEO. The veteran railroad and industrial executive will assume duties September 12.

Kummant previously served as a Regional Vice President of the Union Pacific Railroad, overseeing 6,000 transportation, engineering, construction, mechanical, and other employees supporting an 8,000-mile rail network. He also served as the Union Pacific’s Vice President and General Manager of Industrial Products, a $2 billion revenue business. In leading both units, Kummant was responsible for substantially improved customer service, on-time delivery of client products, and significant gains in financial and operational performance.

Additionally at Union Pacific, Kummant held the role of Vice President of Premium Operations, overseeing the intermodal and automotive network performance.

Most recently, Kummant served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Komatsu America Corporation, a division of the second largest supplier of construction equipment worldwide. He has a continuing record as an adaptable change agent in diverse environments.

Kummant’s first job on the railroad came at age 18 in Lorain, Ohio, working on a track crew for the Lake Terminal Railroad at the U.S. Steel Lorain Works.

“Alex Kummant has the outstanding credentials and experience to lead a changing Amtrak that is more customer-focused and fiscally responsible,” said Amtrak Chairman David M. Laney. “His appointment fulfills the board’s commitment to select an extraordinarily strong and capable leader for Amtrak’s future, building on the growing national desire for more and improved passenger rail service.”

Kummant fills a position that has been held by David J. Hughes on an interim basis since November 2005. Formerly Chief Engineer of Amtrak, Hughes will continue to serve with the railroad in a yet to be specified capacity. “For the past nine months, David Hughes has stepped in and performed exceptionally in leading our strategic reforms and operational improvements,” said Laney. “On behalf of the Amtrak Board of Directors, he has our deepest admiration and respect, and we are delighted that he will continue to play an important role in Amtrak’s future.”

A native of Ohio, Kummant holds a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Case Western Reserve University, a Master’s degree in manufacturing engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and an M.B.A. from Stanford University. He is married to Kathleen Regan Kummant, a former senior executive with the Santa Fe and BNSF railroads.

The Board of Directors of Amtrak was assisted in its search by the Washington D.C. office of Heidrick & Struggles, Inc.

( See editorial on this appointment by D:F staff - Ed )


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LIRR Link Through Sunnyside On Track

Sources: Queens Chronicle and Newsday.com

AUGUST 31 -- The East Side Access project, the ambitious plan to bring the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Station with a stop in Sunnyside, Queens, is moving ahead, with a scheduled completion date of 2013. An agreement was reached recently between the Long Island Railroad and Amtrak.

Federal funding, approximately $7 billion plus, is still needed, but the project couldn’t move forward at all without the agreement between the two railroads.

“First of all, the project couldn’t go on without it,” LIRR president James Dermody said last Tuesday of the agreement with Amtrak. “This is the best agreement for all the railroads involved.”

The project will link the existing branch of the Long Island Rail Road under the Sunnyside railyards, through the existing 63rd Street tunnel and under Park Avenue to Grand Central Station. Currently, the LIRR runs only to Penn Station, on Manhattan’s West Side. Both the railroad and Amtrak own tracks, property and yards at Sunnyside and also share tracks at the Harold Interlocking west of Woodside. Harold Interlocking is the section of tracks where LIRR and Amtrak Northeast corridor trains merge and are aligned to go through Penn Station’s four East River tunnels.

This summer, a bid was accepted for a company to dig the 3.5 miles of Manhattan tunnels needed to bring the LIRR deep under Grand Central Station, according to Beverly Dolinsky, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Some work in Queens is already under way. Upgrades are being made to the tracks near Woodside Avenue and 65th Street, and a large shaft completed in 2003 will be expanded underneath Northern Boulevard by the Sunnyside Railyards, according to the MTA.

The project has been in the works since the 1960s, running into obstacles including arguments over environmental remediation with Amtrak, which owns the land underneath the Sunnyside yards, and objections to a planned ventilation building from high profile neighbors on 50th Street in Manhattan.

Sunnyside Yard

Photo: Jennifer Manley  

In recent weeks, construction crews have been transforming the Sunnyside Railyards, where a new Long Island Railroad stop is slated to be built by 2013.
There is strong political support for the project and MTA officials expect a full funding agreement with the federal government will be reached some time this fall.

The Manhattan tunneling bid came in at millions less than expected.

The Bush administration ranked it as a high priority for funding. Last week at a news conference, deputy federal transit administrator Sandy Bushue said, “Hopefully soon a full funding agreement will be signed” for East Side Access.

An LIRR link directly to Grand Central Station is expected to ease congestion at Penn Station as well as cut down the commute time for Eastern Queens and Long Island residents who work on the East Side. The MTA estimates the new line will serve over 160,000 passengers each day and attract 35,000 new customers to public transit.

In Queens, it could mean a transformation of the Sunnyside Railyards into an intermodal center. The Sunnyside yards and the adjacent Harold Interlocking service several commuter lines including the LIRR, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and Metro North. The new station, to be located under the Queens Boulevard bridge, could also link the commuter rails with subways, buses and taxis.

Speculation has also been raised that a platform could be built over the yards to support thousands of apartments.


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OFF THE MAIN LINE...  Off the main line...

Amtrak Service Alert

Amtrak Restores Most Service South of Washington

Source: Amtrak Media Relations

SEPT 1 -- After reviewing weather reports concerning Tropical Storm Ernesto and consulting with CSX Transportation, which owns the tracks over which most Amtrak trains operate in the Southeast and Florida, most Amtrak service will be restored on September 2. Passengers may call 1-800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com for updates.

Service Adjustments for September 2

  1. Southbound Silver Meteor train #97 will operate as scheduled.  Northbound Silver Meteor train #98 is canceled. 
  2. Regional train #67, which originated in Boston on Sept. 1, will terminate in Washington, DC. No alternate transportation will be provided from DC to Newport News, Va.
  3. Regional train #66 will originate in Washington, DC. No alternate transportation will be provided from Newport News to DC.
  4. Regional trains #82 and #88 will originate in Washington, DC. No alternate transportation will be provided between Richmond, Va. and DC.
  5. Regional train #194 will originate in Richmond, Va.  No alternate transportation will be provided between Newport News and Richmond, Va.

Service Adjustment for September 3

Northbound Silver Meteor train #98 is canceled.


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Amtrak and Starz Media offer “Everyone’s Hero”
Baseball sweepstakes

Win a trip on Amtrak and Four Tickets to a Game

WASHINGTON – Amtrak and Starz Media have teamed up to offer one lucky fan and three friends the chance to travel on Amtrak to a hometown baseball game through the “Everyone’s Hero” Baseball Sweepstakes.  “Everyone’s Hero” is Starz Media’s upcoming animated film that follows the adventures of an ordinary boy who believes he can be a hero and make a difference in spite of overwhelming odds. 

 The “Everyone’s Hero” Baseball Sweepstakes Grand Prize will send the winner and three friends to a baseball game in or within 250 miles of their hometown.  The Grand Prize also includes four round-trip coach tickets on Amtrak to the game city.  If there are no teams located nearby, the winner will receive $500 cash and four round-trip coach tickets on Amtrak, good for travel to any of 500 destinations served by Amtrak from coast-to-coast.   

In addition to the Grand Prize, Amtrak will offer 20 First Prizes to include an Empire Builder tote bag, t-shirt, magnets, cards, mug, lapel pin, cap and patch.  There will be 50 Second Prizes consisting of an Amtrak Red Cap Bear and the “Everyone’s Hero” soundtrack. 

To learn more about the sweepstakes or to enter, visit www.amtrak.com/eohero by September 17.  Visit www.everyoneshero.com to learn more about the movie that arrives in theaters on September 15.

About Starz Media

Starz Media is a programming production and distribution company operating worldwide.  It includes the Film Roman, Anchor Bay Entertainment, and Manga Entertainment brands.  Its units create animated and live-action programming -- including theatrical films -- and programming created under contract for other media companies.  It distributes that programming, and programming acquired from outside producers, through home video retailers, theaters, broadcasters, ad supported and premium television channels, and Internet and wireless video distributors in the US and internationally. Starz Media is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp. that is attributed to Liberty Capital Group, www.starz.com.

Starz Media develops and produces animated feature-length movies. It draws on the talent of several state-of-the-art animation studios with over 600 artists and technical staff in the United States and Canada.  It is headed by CEO Kent Rice and President Janet Healy.  Rice had been executive advisor to SEG, and prior to that served as president and CEO of International Channel Networks and managing director and chief operating officer of Liberty Global’s Norway division. Prior to joining Starz Animation, Healy was head of digital production for DreamWorks Animation and Walt Disney Feature Animation.  She was the producer of SharkTale at DreamWorks. Jerry Davis serves as chief creative officer for animation. Davis had been an executive at Blue Sky Studios where he produced Robots and was a creative executive on Ice Age.


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COMMUTER LINES...  Commuter lines...

Controversial sculpture to be at MBTA station

Globe Staff Photo / David L.

Larry Doherty of Fine Arts Enterprise closed a gate on Andrew Pitynski’s “Partisans,” the subject of much debate since its arrival in Boston. The “Partisons” removed sculpture had powerful backers -- and detractors
Controversial sculpture will be
installed at MBTA station

Source: Boston Globe

 

BOSTON September 1 – The “Partisans” sculpture, which commemorates Polish Partisan fighters who battled the Nazis and the communists during World War II, had been placed in Boston Common some years ago but was ousted from the Common last January because of controversy. Local organizations complained that it did not fit in with the Common’s historical theme, but its removal prompted nearly 150 Polish-Americans to descend on City Hall Plaza to protest.

The MBTA announced last week that the sculpture will be unveiled at the MBTA’s World Trade Center Station on the South Boston waterfront near the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Its Polish-born creator, Andrew Pitynski, and honorary Polish consul Marek Lesniewski-Laas will join MBTA General Manager Daniel Grabauskas, State Senator Jack Hart, and Massport executive director Thomas Kinton for the ceremony.

The sculpture, which was on loan to the city of Boston in 1983 and never reclaimed, was put in storage until the T agreed in March to take it.


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Amtrak reverses Tidewater service cut

Outcry over reducing capacity on eve of fete at Jamestown effective

Sources: WorldNow and Times Dispatch

RICHMOND, VA. - Two daily trains run from Washington to Richmond and Newport News. When Amtrak announced they were going to cut one of the roundtrips, Virginia officials were alarmed at the prospect of losing transportation as the state gears up for the Jamestown 2007 celebration.

Tourism officials have projected an influx of 1 million additional visitors to the Williamsburg area next year and have been hoping to increase rail service.

Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis was particularly irate about the possibility of losing a train route in her district.

She said last Monday that “Cars are gridlocked on I-64 and I-95. We need to be adding more trains, not taking them away.”

Under pressure to slash operating costs, Amtrak was considering cutting 14 train trips a week in the Newport News-Richmond-Washington corridor.

But after a meeting with state rail director Matt Tucker, Amtrak officials changed their minds and announced that there won’t be any changes in Virginia routes for the time being.

Virginia pays no subsidies to the railroad although Amtrak has asked for support.

Amtrak told Tucker it is seeking about $10 million a year to help defray the cost of running 20 trains a day in Virginia.

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said such subsidies help purchase additional service. Illinois, for instance, is doubling its $12 million payment in return for more trains. North Carolina pays Amtrak about $2.7 million a year, while California pays more than $75 million a year.

Black plans more talks with Tucker.

“We viewed today’s meeting as the beginning of a new and growing relationship with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation,” Black said.

Both sides stressed that any decision about train service -- including to Newport News -- is contingent on the next federal budget. The Senate is considering an appropriation of $1.4 billion to run Amtrak in fiscal 2007, about $200 million less than the railroad’s request, Black said.

Thirteen states pay subsidies to Amtrak, which is under pressure from the federal government to reduce losses.


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STOCKS...  Selected Friday closing quotes...

Source: MarketWatch.com

  Friday One Week
Earlier
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)67.3166.06
Canadian National (CNI)43.1042.55
Canadian Pacific (CP)49.0348.60
CSX (CSX)30.3929.69
Florida East Coast (FLA)54.6951.41
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)24.7523.35
Kansas City Southern (KSU)26.6125.99
Norfolk Southern (NSC)42.6142.40
Providence & Worcester (PWX)20.6919.01
Union Pacific (UNP)80.5480.94


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FREIGHT LINES...  Freight lines...

Trestle fire over the Manitowoc River Rail trestle closed after
being damaged by fire.

Fire crews forced to use boats to battle stubborn blaze

 

MANITOWOC, PROVINCE OF MANITOBA, SEPT 1 -- A railroad trestle over the Manitowoc River caught fire last Thursday, causing at least $250,000 in damage and closing the bridge to rail traffic. The trestle is owned by Canadian National Railroad.

The timbers had been treated with creosote, making it difficult to extinguish the blaze, according to a report from Battalion Chief Timothy Herzog of the Manitowoc Fire Department. The fire was unreachable from either shore, so fire crews had to attack the blaze by stretching hoses out along the trestle.

“This extinguished the fire on top of the trestle, but a large volume of fire (kept) burning underneath in the large wooden supports,” Herzog said in the release.

Also, two boats were used to battle the blaze from below, one using a hose from the shore and the other pumping water from the river.

The fire was first noticed about 3:00 in the afternoon and was under control by 5 p.m.

There were no injuries, and the fire remains under investigation.

Canadian National officials estimated the damage at $250,000 to $300,000. They told fire department authorities that the rail line is used twice a day and would probably re-open in about one week.

Due to the creosote-treated wood, the fire department used special extinguishing agents on the blaze, Herzog said. The products caused a white foam on the river surface, but Herzog said it was not hazardous and will dissipate over time.

The U. S. Coast Guard was on the scene last week to warn boaters to watch out for flaming timbers that floated downriver.

 

At left - A fire engulfs the support beams for a Canadian National rail trestle over the Manitowoc River near Clay Pit Road in Manitowoc


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America’s “addiction to oil” gets worse,
thanks to Bush Administration FDA regs
and Maine trucking policies

By DF Staff
and from Chop Hardenbergh’s Atlantic Northeast Rails and Ports e-bulletin

New England, New Brunswick, and the Northeast --- A “Truck on Flat Cars” (TOFC) train that had taken thousands of trucks off of Maine’s highways since 2003 was effectively killed this week by the Bush Administration’s Food and Drug unit, reports Chop Hardenbergh’s Atlantic Northeast Rails and Ports e-bulletin of September 8, 2006.

Meanwhile, Maine transportation officials, after a full-court lobbying effort by trucking interests that included lavish meals and entertainment in Washington, DC for those officials, are about to issue orders allowing 100,000 lb-trucks on almost all Maine roads, despite objections from safety and environmental interests.

Maine’s roads are among the worst-maintained in the nation, and safety advocates fear that allowing the heavier trucks in Maine will not only cause the that state’s already rising big-rig-truck accident rate (it has tripled in six years) to increase, but will also be used as a wedge to allow the trucking industry to seek national regulations legalizing the heavy-weight and multiple unit trucks nationwide.

In New Brunswick, a spokesman for the New Brunswick Southern Railway (NBSR) “pointed to the US Food and Drug Administration as the problem,” reported Hardenbergh. FDA required paperwork for the trailers, which contained food products, even though they were only passing through the United States from a Canadian port to Canadian destinations.

“The FDA’s paperwork requirements for foodgrade products were never eased, even though the trailers only moved through Maine, and were never opened. Shippers with only one particular product needed only one clearance, but if the product varied slightly (Moosehead ale versus Moosehead lager, as a hypothetical example) the FDA required a second clearance for the variation,” reported Hardenbergh.

“By autumn 2004, the dedicated train, five days a week, was moving 240 to 250 loads a week. But the FDA then imposed its requirement, and within seven days, the loads had dropped to less than 65 per week,” said a NBSR spokesman. “As soon as the number went past one or two clearances, any margin on the load was essentially lost,” he stated, effectively killing the train and putting thousands of trucks back on Maine’s already under-maintained roads.

In a brighter note, Amtrak is expected to complete work this week on Rhode Island’s Providence & Worcester Railroad “FRIP”, or Federal Rail Improvement Project”, to provide a dedicated freight rail track from Providence to Quonset Point. This should make the port more attractive to shippers, especially automobile importers. Rhode Island DOT officials are expecting a celebratory train to make a run as soon as Amtrak and P&W sign off on trackage agreements.


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Minneapolis train bridge repair came with $500,000 price tag

Source: Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, AUGUST 31 -- A one hundred year old train bridge that serves three Minneapolis businesses is running again, but the culprit who caused the blaze is still free. Ordinary fireworks were used to start the fire, reported David Chanen in a story for the Star Tribune.

The 1,061-foot-long Short Line bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River near W. River Road and E. 28th Street in Minneapolis, was ignited by bottle rockets six weeks ago, forcing authorities to close the span. The bridge provides rail service to several grain elevators and a scrap-metal recycling business along Hiawatha Avenue.

Several hundred custom-treated wooden ties had to be ordered from four states to repair the damage.

Although 7-foot-high remote-controlled chain-link security fences were installed at both ends of the bridge after the blaze, trespassers managed to get underneath the fencing and set off more fireworks last week.

Sixty-five railroad cars had been stranded by the damaged bridge. The reopening last Saturday was crucial timing for the four grain elevators operated by General Mills and Archer Daniels Midland. This is when they ship the bulk of their products.

John Gohmann, president of Minnesota Commercial Railroad which provides railroad access to the businesses, said his company will pay most of the repair tab. Canadian Pacific Railway will pay about $100,000.

Gohmann said he plans to install security cameras and guards to patrol the area. He is also having concrete poured at the base of the fences to keep people out.

“We found bottle rockets and beer bottles on the bridge,” Gohmann said. “I just don’t get it. These people think it’s their bridge.”

Whoever damaged the bridge could face federal charges, he said.


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Savko to Build Cargo Terminal

Norfolk Southern hub to be complete by end of 2007

Source: Columbus Dispatch

Diagram of Sunnyside Station Location SEPT 1 -- The Columbus Regional Airport Authority has announced the builder of the Norfolk Southern transportation terminal at Rickenbacker Airport, reported Mike Pramik in a story for the Columbus Dispatch.

Nickolas Savko & Sons Inc., a 60-year-old Columbus company, will be paid $30 million to build the terminal. It’s expected to become a hub for rail cars arriving from the East Coast, where their goods can be distributed by truck, air or again by rail.

The project will be “a major piece of infrastructure to help move goods and freight in and out of the Rickenbacker area,” Columbus Airport Authority President and Chief Executive Elaine Roberts said.

The authority, Norfolk Southern and several government entities have been planning the terminal for years. Savko & Sons Vice President Marty Savko said he expects his company to begin site work soon and have the project completed by the end of 2007.

The terminal will have one small maintenance building and a structure for guards to check incoming and outgoing freight.

It will be a massive expanse of concrete and asphalt where trucks and trains will meet and exchange shipping containers.

“The intermodal terminal is probably best described as a very, very large concrete parking lot,” said Bob Tanner, the authority’s general counsel.

Savko & Sons will lay more than 340,000 square yards of roller-compacted concrete, enough to cover nearly 71 acres. This heavy-duty application is similar to asphalt paving and was requested by Norfolk Southern and the Federal Highway Administration.

Savko, which is experienced in large earth-moving projects, also plans to bring in 277,000 cubic yards of dirt to raise the terminal to meet the elevation of existing railroad tracks.

“I don’t know how many people realize how large this facility is and what the Norfolk Southern railroad is doing,” Savko said. “The intermodal yard is just going to be an unbelievable boon to (Franklin County) and northern Pickaway (county). It’s going to be the catalyst of growth for that entire area.”

 


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LABOR LINES...  Business lines...

Rail intermodal volume continues to rise

Source: Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier, Inc.

WASHINGTON, AUGUST 31 -- United States weekly intermodal railroad volume for the week ending August 26 set a new record for the second time in the last four weeks, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Last week’s volume of 253,981 trailers or containers represented a 7.1 percent increase from the same week in 2005. Weekly container volume was up 10.6 percent, and trailer volume was down 3.5 percent. And the total for the week ending August 26 eclipsed the previous of record of 250,966 trailers or containers, which was set for the week ending July 31. The July 31 figure broke a record that was set more than eight months earlier for the week ending October 22, 2005, which accounted for 250,115 trailers and containers.

AAR director of editorial services Tom White told Logistics Management that the combination of a strong economy and large international trade volumes are the leading drivers for the continued surge in intermodal trade volumes. And although diesel fuel prices has come down somewhat in recent weeks, he added they remain fairly high (according to the Energy Information Association, the average price per gallon of diesel gasoline was $3.027 as of August 28), and that is continuing to drive growth on the rails, because railroad fuel is more environmentally efficient.

“The underlying causes of [intermodal] growth are still there,” said White. “The last few years intermodal has been phenomenally strong, and the 10 busiest intermodal weeks in history have occurred in the last two years, going back to the beginning of January 2005. It has been on this continuous growth pattern, and we don’t see any change in that right now.”

Total volume for the week ending August 26 was estimated at 34.3 billion miles by the AAR, with coal loadings up 6.0 percent from last year, and metals and metallic ores up 14.4 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively.

According to AAR data, cumulative intermodal volume for the first 34 weeks of 2006 totaled 11,437,619 carloads, which is up 1.5 percent from 2005. Trailers and containers are up 6.4 percent at 7,962,404, and the ton-miles total of 1.3 trillion is up 2.7 percent from last year.


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EVENTS...  Events...

NorthEast Area Roundabouts (NEAR)

Last Two-Day workshop of this year

Thursday / Friday
October 19-20, 2006
Plymouth, Mass.

From Bob White:
Founder and Director of North East Area Roundabouts (NEAR)

Dear Planner, Engineer, Community Leader,

There is something fundamentally flawed about traffic signals & stop signs.  People run them, people die.  Read what the Insurance Institute for Highway (IIHS) says Nov’05 (Status Report v40-9): http://www.iihs.org/sr/pdfs/sr4009.pdf. To find out what crash injuries & fatalities cost America read what the National Safety Council says: http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/estcost.htm.

Well-designed modern Roundabouts save lives, reduce speeds, increase capacity, reduce air pollution & fuel consumption.   For at-grade intersections, nothing could further reduce accidents & personal injuries, except closing the road to all motor vehicles! :-) In addition to town & state roads, Roundabouts work well in connection with Interstate exits, Malls, & Housing Developments (both internally, & where they interface with existing roads).

NorthEast Area Roundabouts (NEAR) is holding its last two-day Workshop of the year on 19/20 October ‘06 in Plymouth, Mass.  Maybe this Thursday/Friday Workshop can be the jumping off point for a beautiful Fall weekend get-away?

If you are a member of a town board & commission, elected official, & safety professional, Day#1 might be best for you.  Class size is limited to about 35-40 people. 

For the complete details on these Workshops in New England & On-Line Registration go to: http://members.cox.net/near/Seminar/ & click on the Flyer/Schedule for details.

NEAR’s Workshops address the benefits, & design features of Roundabouts, as well as helping agencies “Retro-fit” old Circular Intersections to modern standards with little or no “curb work”.  Massachusetts has about 100 old circular intersections, Connecticut about 30, & Rhode Island also has a few left.

As construction of the Malta, NY 5 Roundabout Corridor (http://www.dot.state.ny.us/reg/r1/rt67/ & http://members.cox.net/near/images/MaltaNY-Exit12-Su%2706-aerial.jpg) approaches completion this Autumn, plans & discussion of other Roundabout Interchanges & Corridors are popping up across the country (this summer, I found one being started on I-75, Exit 149 in Saginaw, Mi; & a 2nd nearing competition on Rt-23, Exit 58 in Brighton, Mi).  Progress in getting Roundabouts into the main stream is being made:  Mass Highway has included Roundabouts in Ch6 of its “Highway Design Manual - 2005”, & strengthened its multi-modal approach to road/trail transportation.  Several New England states are improving their treatment of Roundabouts in their Driver Training Manuals.  Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, & Prince Edward Island are moving forward with design & construction of 1 or more Roundabouts in each province.

Our 2-day presentation has been greatly enhanced in the past 12 months, now including a handout notebook (2 slides/side).  In addition, side-by-side comparison animations of intersections before & after Roundabout installation make a stunning demonstration of  the superior performance of the Roundabout design. Finally, the workshops are putting more emphasis on use of Roundabouts at highway interchanges, & in Roundabout Corridors.

NorthEast Area Roundabouts (NEAR) organized its first Roundabout presentation in May ‘03 in Stafford, Ct for about 30 legislators, Selectmen, & highway engineers from the 10 surrounding towns in Ct, Mass, & even RI.  NEAR & its Vermont affiliate have had 8 full days of Roundabout Workshops in 2005 attended by a total of ˜160 people.  In 2006, we have offered 6 more full days of workshops.   Short presentations are sometimes arranged for local audiences.

For additional information see www.NEARoundabouts.org.


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OPINION...  Opinion...

When management listens,
It’s good for the riders

By: David Peter Alan,
Chair, Lackawanna Coalition

When transit management implements suggestions made by advocates for riders, the riders benefit. In turn, more people ride and management benefits from increased revenue. When management does not consider the opinion of advocates, nobody wins. To us in the rider advocacy movement, this truth appears to be self-evident. Two decisions made by New Jersey Transit, my home transit, illustrate this.

First, the good news; in the July 24th edition of this publication, I reported the opening of the new Newark Light Rail line on NJT. Remaining in the capacity of a reporter for the moment, I can now further report that NJT has agreed to change the schedule of that line to improve connections between trains arriving from the Morris & Essex Line at Broad Street Station and the trains heading south and west from Penn Station, Newark. I had previously reported that week-end service from Broad Street will leave ten minutes earlier than presently scheduled. In addition, I have been informed that mid-day weekday service will run five minutes later than presently scheduled. This change will improve weekday connections and shorten waiting time at Penn Station Newark for riders traveling from the new line to the pre-existing Newark City Subway. These revisions, suggested by the Lackawanna Coalition and approved by NJT management, will take effect on September 16th. Had management consulted us earlier, the benefits of the new Newark Light Rail would have been achieved earlier.

It is obvious to me as a commentator that these changes benefit both riders and management. Riders on commuter rail will now make connections more easily, even between some trains that currently misconnect at Secaucus. Light rail riders not using commuter rail will enjoy better connections between Newark’s two light rail lines. This means happier riders who arrive at their destinations sooner, more revenue, and an improved reputation for NJT. In short: a win-win situation.

Now, the bad news. On August 13th, NJT eliminated half of the weekend service on the Morris & Essex Line into Hoboken. There has been no change in the service to Penn Station, New York. Now the M&E line only provides service at Hoboken every two or three hours on week-ends, instead of the prior hourly service. This modification was implemented between “regular” schedule changes, with no advance notification to rider advocates or community leaders. Advocates were not given the opportunity to present ideas that might have prevented the cuts.

Damage has begun and it will not only affect people who wish to go to Hoboken; Hoboken Terminal is the hub for the Hudson-Bergen LRT Line, PATH lines to the Village and Downtown Manhattan, as well as ferries and several local bus lines. Anyone wishing to travel on these lines from the M&E has significantly fewer opportunities than previously.

Transit-dependent people, especially senior citizens and the disabled, will bear the brunt of NJT’s decision. People with access to automobiles will probably drive to Hoboken and other places nearby, due to the inconvenience of planning travel around service that only runs every two or three hours. No other rail line in the New York City area has so little week-end service except outlying areas of Connecticut, Danbury and Waterbury which always have had limited service and the West Hempstead Branch of the Long Island Rail Road.

We remember the 1960s and 1970s, when service cuts caused a reduction in ridership, precipitating even more severe service cuts. Transit managers remember this history, too. Transit-dependent people will be discontented, but they will accept the cuts because they have no choice. People with automobiles will refrain from using transit, launching a downward spiral. We all know that there is no potential growth for transit among the transit-dependent population; growth only comes from people who now use automobiles.

The high-handed attitude displayed by NJT management in cutting M&E service to Hoboken not only inconveniences riders, but also prevents ridership growth, diminishing NJT’s strength. Perhaps consulting with the Lackawanna Coalition, the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers and representatives of affected communities would have prevented the cuts. In contrast, the light rail managers at NJT who were open-minded to the Lackawanna Coalition have not only benefited the riders, but themselves as well. Mobility for rail riders who also use the new Newark Light Rail Line will soon improve, thanks to the open-minded attitude displayed by the managers of that line.

The rider advocacy movement is both national (National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), Rail Users’ Network (RUN)), and local (such as the Lackawanna Coalition, and the New Jersey Association of Rail Road Passengers (NJ-ARP)). Our movement’s top priority is to secure improved mobility for people who currently use, or might be persuaded to use, rail transportation; including Amtrak, commuter rail and local rail transit. Partnership between rider advocates and management is essential to achieve this. Our effort on behalf of the riders also helps management provide a level of service that attracts more riders, increases revenue and improves relations with elected leaders who represent those riders.

My aim is to help managers understand this principle and make decisions based upon it. I am certain my colleagues in the advocacy movement share the same goal; they are solidly on board in the effort to help give riders the best transit possible. It is time for management to come on board, too. We strongly and sincerely urge management to work with us, for all of our sakes.


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EDITORIAL...  Editorial...

Amtrak Board picks Kummant as President

By DF Staff

WASHINGTON --- Ten months after firing former Amtrak CEO David Gunn, the Amtrak Board has replaced him with Alexander Kummant, 44, whose career has spanned both rail transportation and equipment manufacturing. He starts September 12.

Presently Executive Vice President of equipment maker Komatsu, he has also held executive slots at BOMAG and the Union Pacific Railroad, where he was a regional general manager. Kummant, holds a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Case Western Reserve University, a Master’s degree in manufacturing engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and an M.B.A. from Stanford University.

Amtrak Board Chairman David Laney said in a release: “Alex Kummant has the outstanding credentials and experience to lead a changing Amtrak that is more customer-focused and fiscally responsible. His appointment fulfills the board’s commitment to select an extraordinarily strong and capable leader for Amtrak’s future, building on the growing national desire for more and improved passenger rail service.”

He succeeds acting president David J. Hughes, who will remain with Amtrak.

Amtrak has been the on-going target of Bush Administration appointees who have floated various break-up plans similar to that which failed in England, when the Thatcher and John Major governments privatized BritRail without making the infrastructure investments necessary to ensure safe operations. The result was multiple accidents and fatalities as unqualified people tried their hand at railroading, according to virtually all accounts. Groups such as the National Corridors Initiative, the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), and numerous regional rail advocacy groups are opposed to that kind of privatization plan. The Bush Administration has denied that it is seeking to break up Amtrak.

Amtrak receives a current subsidy of around $1.5 billion a year, up from the $500-million bankrupt-Amtrak funding of the early Bush Administration years, but still a tiny fraction of that paid out annually to airlines and highway construction interests, yet called “lavish” by a constant drumbeat of disinformation from highway and petroleum lobby interests. Since its founding in 1970 as a means of relieving financial pressures on freight railroads at that time required by law to run passenger trains, Amtrak has received less than $40 billion. During that same period outlays for other transportation modes have received many multiples of that figure. For example, in 2000, highways received $130 billion in tax subsidies (Federal, state, local) while Amtrak got $521 million for its entire national system, a ratio of about 250:1 in favor of highway spending over intercity rail.

Kummant, the new Amtrak President, is not well known in the passenger or commuter rail community, but describes himself as a “change agent” according to Amtrak. As of August 31, he was still not being made available to the press by Amtrak. He was a regular contributor to the Union Pacific political “PAC”, which gives most of its money to Republican candidates for office, according to Federal Election Commission records, contributing $2000 in 2000, $2150 in 2001, and $2373 in 2002.


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WEB MASTER NOTES...  Webmaster Notes...

Over the last few weeks we have started re-framing Destination: Freedom for a 1024 pixel screen resolution. The proliferation of laptop computers and an increasing number of home systems seem to be using this screen-size. As such we are now laying out DF in a way that we hope will accommodate those users. Some people still using 800 X 600 may see some column oddities as we make the adjustment. Anyone with comments may contact me at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org. - DMK


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End Notes...

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

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