Vol. 7 No. 39
September 11, 2006

Copyright © 2006
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

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

A weekly North American rail and transit update

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

* Now in our Seventh Year *

This page is best viewed at 800 X 600 screen resolution

 

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

  News Items... 
Mary Peters returns to head US DOT
Chinese authorities blame battery cell failure for recent MagLev train fire
Maine’s Governor seeks expanded rail service
Connecticut Governor signs $2.3 billion transport bill,
   may create separate rail division
  Commuter lines… 
MOW crews complete Harrisburg line’s Cork Interlocking
Commuters heed bridge warning
Expanded Amtrak Capitol Corridor service
Changes to NEC starting October 1
  Off the main line… 
NBA All-Star 2007 monorail train unveiled in Las Vegas
  Friday closing quotes… 
  Across the pond… 
Wilhelmshaven: Oldenburg rail line to be upgraded and electrified
End of Intalliance joint venture in urban transit
German rail union ‘Transnet’ threatens strikes
  Freight lines… 
CSX lawsuits could lead to sanctions
New Haven: More consideration of rail
  Editorials… 
Why Not Weekend Trains?
“Op Ed” pushes highway spending
Confirm Mary Peters
  End notes… 

 

Out thoughts and prayers are with the families of the many who made the ultimate sacrifice on this date five years ago.

September 11.

 

NEWS ITEMS...  News Items...

Mary Peters returns to head US DOT

 

Mary Peters WASHINGTON --- Former Federal Highway Administrator and Arizona DOT chief Mary Peters has been named by President Bush to head the United States Department of Transportation, succeeding Norman Mineta.

Under Mineta, who had been an innovator in transit when Mayor of San Jose in the 1970’s, the department became a highly contentious, ideologically-driven, center of anti-Amtrak activity, pushed primarily by the White House Office of Management and Budget. Peters is seen as having little ideological baggage, and was a career employee of Arizona’s DOT when she took over that agency in 1998.

The Detroit News, which covers transportation intensively, reported the nomination in urgent tones: “She faces huge tasks in her new role, including implementing auto safety rules that could prove expensive for domestic automakers, reducing traffic congestion in major cities, and developing a national surface transportation plan for the future in the mold of the Eisenhower-era plan that led to the national highway system,” the News reported.

“Peters has criticized efforts by environmentalists to halt or slow highway projects and has tried to streamline the approval process. She’s advocated user fees and privately funded toll roads, rather than increasing gas taxes as a way to decrease congestion and pay for highway improvements,” the News also said.


Return to index

Chinese authorities blame battery cell
failure for recent MagLev train fire

By DF Staff and from Chinese Wire Services

Source: Global Times, translated by People’s Daily Online

PEKING --- Siemens and ThyssenKrupp’s Shanghai MagLev train, which caught fire in early August, is not yet repaired, but the finger-pointing is already beginning.

According to a lengthy report in the Peking-based People’s Daily, China’s official newspaper, the fire was caused by a failed battery cell in one of the futuristic train’s high-capacity batteries. The following report is highly opinionated and idiosyncratic, unlike most Western “news” reporting, but it shows what may fairly be seen as the official Chinese government mind-set regarding the now strained MagLev project.

MagLev technology, which uses electromagnetism to levitate and then propel rail cars, has been pushed for some 40 years as the answer to future transportation needs, but has had great difficulty gaining acceptance. The Shanghai MagLev project is the first major commercial installation in the world, outside of Germany where the technology has been developed.

The People’s Daily report:

If China didn’t develop her Maglev technology, if the German Maglev train had not caught fire, how would the Sino-German Maglev project have resulted? Since the Maglev fire in Shanghai on August 11th, the train has remained there unmoved. By August 18th, the train was repaired then moved on to a maintenance station.

The next day, Shanghai Maglev Development Company said that they had preliminarily examined the cause of the fire to be the battery cell provided by Germany. A Chinese expert working in the German Maglev project believed the reason for the fire to be the Shanghai climate, since it is more humid there than in Germany. The battery cell has never caused a fire in Germany. The accident where the Shanghai Maglev cable end was burned in 2003 was also attributed to the Shanghai’s humid weather and bad air quality.

When the accident took place, the German spokesman declared that the first step of investigation was focusing on the improper use of the battery cell. However they have not yet been able to draw any conclusions still. Three days later, the spokesman found the cause of the fire to be the battery cell.

Germany anxious about the China effect

“Why has Germany delayed the announcement about the cause of the fire? It may be more beneficial for them to do so.”, a Chinese scientist who is working in the German transportation sector told reporter. “Now it is time for the Hu-Hang (Shanghai-Hangzhou) Maglev project to be completed, but Germany is using a delaying strategy.”

The timing of the accident is delicate. Shanghai Maglev extension phase is under preparation. Four days before the fire accident, the Chinese side announced the new arrangement of personnel on the construction of the Hu-Hang Maglev project.

According to a report in Frankford, Shanghai Maglev’s loss is growing. By 2005, total operation revenue was 135 million Yuan but the losses have increased to 440 million Yuan. If China doesn’t continue to build it, the previous investment will have been in vain. Thus the German side aims to continue.

However the fire became a nuisance for the Germans. If the accident is caused by the train’s technology, then Germany will lose an important poise in negotiating prices with China. The Chinese scientist said, “Germany knows that, except for China, there will be no other country who likes to use the Maglev technology any more.” It is understood that Germany is afraid of the chain effects of this accident. A German economist told the reporter that the project in Pudong has been good advertising for German technology and many other countries and regions such as Las Vegas and Britain have become interested in Maglev. So the conclusion might not be easily drawn for the Germans.

The cost of blind worship

The German Chinese scientist said that the fire shows that the western technology, including the German one, is not always magic. If people blindly worship it, then they have to pay the price. Dr. Li is working as an engineer in a German company. She said Shanghai’s weather is well-known to be humid and hot, but the train’s temperature was designed according to German weather conditions, thus some parts of the train always feel like a stove which can easily cause a short circuit.

The Shanghai subway was also designed by the Germans and the air-conditioner was not cold enough, so in summer, they have to put a large barrel of ice in the cars of the train. Dr. Li said the same product will have different qualities in different countries because of the different environments. Thus only those suitable for China in cost and efficiency are the suitable products for China.

She maintains that there should be strict feasibility research before introducing new technology. “It is not bad to introduce foreign technology, but the new technology needs the test of daily use.”

So far China hasn’t made any international standards or criteria in safety production and quality examination. Because many projects have relied on foreign criteria China may experience more risks. Many scientists believe that China should research and develop her own technology on the basis of learning and not rely on others. It is believed that China’s independent research and development will help the introduction of foreign technology and eventually achieve their own technology. It is reported that the two sides are constantly narrowing their differences. German television news has predicted that Premier Wen Jiabao and German Chancellor Merkel will discuss the Maglev issue during the second China-EU Summit.


Return to index
Maine’s Governor seeks
expanded rail service

By DF Staff and from internet reports

AUGUSTA ---Maine Governor John Baldacci is calling for increased passenger rail service throughout Maine, according to a Boston Globe report.

Baldacci’s move was prompted by the growing ridership of Amtrak’s Boston-Portland Downeaster train implemented five years ago after an 11-year effort lead by TrainRiders Northeast Chairman and NCI Board member Wayne Davis, and the increasing congestion on Maine’s roads.

“Baldacci’s executive order, which he signed Friday and announced yesterday, also calls for clearer economic development plans near train stations along the existing route of the Downeaster, which connects Boston’s North Station and Portland, Maine,” the Globe reported in an AP news brief.

The passenger train stops in Old Orchard Beach, Saco, and Wells in Maine; Dover, Durham, and Exeter in New Hampshire; and Haverhill and Woburn in Massachusetts.

Baldacci’s executive order could set the stage for passenger service north of Portland to Brunswick and Lewiston-Auburn, with seasonal and excursion links to Rockland, Bethel, and other destinations in Maine, the Globe reported.

“Every month the Downeaster is breaking new ridership records,” Baldacci said. “We’ve made the trains faster and better… It’s time to head north,” the Globe quoted Baldacci as saying.

The Downeaster finished the fiscal year that ended in June with the biggest increase in ridership since the start of the service in 2001. The train’s 329,265 passengers was an increase of 31 percent over the previous year, accounting for the biggest jump on a percentage basis anywhere in the Amtrak system during the period, the Globe reported.

Baldacci’s order directs the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and its executive director, Patricia Douglass, to work with the state Transportation Department and present by Dec. 1 “…a clear set of next steps for investment north of Portland.” The Globe said.


Return to index
Connecticut Governor signs $2.3 billion
transport bill, may create separate rail division

HARTFORD --- Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell has started a “nationwide search” for a strong rail administrator for the rails unit of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, which observers believe may be a first step towards creating a new, independent rail division in Connecticut.

A number of influential political leaders in Connecticut have called for the establishment of just such a division, which acknowledges the need to separate out rail and highway functions in the Nutmeg State, much as California did with the creation of a separate Rail Vision in its DOT some years ago.

Rell recently appointed Motor Vehicles Department (DMV) Commissioner Ralph J. Carpenter, as head of the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT), and named Deputy DMV Commissioner William Ramirez to succeed Carpenter at DMV.

Carpenter will replace DOT Commissioner Stephen E. Korta II, who is returning to his former position as aviation administrator at the DOT’s Bureau of Aviation and Ports.

Rell’s nominations of Carpenter and Ramirez must be submitted to and approved by the state legislature.

Gov. Rell also held a campaign-season “signing ceremony” for the $2.3 billion transportation bill crafted and passed by the Connecticut Legislature in May, on board a Metro-North car of the type that will be replaced in about six years by new cars from Kawasaki.

The bill, championed in the state legislature by State Senate President Don Williams and House Speaker Jim Amann, follows and enlarges upon Governor Rell’s 2005 $1.3 billion transportation package

The bill will boost Shore Line East service and advance New Haven-Hartford –Springfield service, as well as look at re-starting commuter rail service between New London and Worcester, and Old Saybrook and Hartford.

“I have a goal for our transportation system. I want it to have that ‘wow’ factor. I want people to walk onto our rail stations, to get o our rail cars or take our highways and say, Wow. Look what they have done in Connecticut,” Rell said in a news wire report.

The bill includes funding a $52 million new commuter busway between New Britain and Hartford.

Gov. Rell has also directed the state Department of Transportation yesterday to meet with Merritt Parkway preservationists, who successfully sued to stop an over-engineered version of an interchange with Route 7, in order to get moving on the project.

United States District Judge Mark R. Kravitz ruled in favor of the environmental groups earlier this year, forcing the DOT and the Federal Highway Administration to develop a new design.


Return to index
COMMUTER LINES...  Commuter lines...

MOW crew moves tracks at Lancaster station

Photo: Amtrak Ink

Track department crews operate front-end loaders to shift the number 2 track to the platform at Lancaster station.

 

MOW crews complete Harrisburg
line’s Cork Interlocking

Source: Amtrak Ink

As an integral part of the six-year $145 million Keystone Corridor Improvement Project, the rehabilitation and electrification work being done at Cork Interlocking in Lancaster, Pa., is near completion, thanks to a force of 70 Maintenance-of-Way employees that is getting the route ready in time for the launch of improved Keystone service in October.

In partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Keystone Corridor Improvement Project will increase the number of frequencies to 14 daily roundtrips between Harrisburg and Philadelphia, as well as provide smoother rides and shorter travel times. The electrification of the railroad will cut the standard trip time between Harrisburg and Philadelphia from 120 minutes to 105 minutes, with several daily express trains making the run in just 90 minutes.

Maintenance-of-way disciplines involved in the project include Track, Electric Traction, Communications and Signals, and Bridges and Buildings. While the trains that travel the rails today, are operated with diesel engines, at the opening of the new service trains will be all electric.

MOW crews participating in the rebirth of the Harrisburg Line at Cork Interlocking are installing turnouts and switches during available work windows over the course of the 11-month project. To reduce the impact to the traveling public, crews are frequently scheduled during planned 55-hour electric outages on the track beginning on Friday nights and running through Monday mornings.

Tom Denio, superintendent, Engineering Production, credited the Engineering and Transportation departments in particular for their work to fully optimize the available work windows. “They have really done an outstanding job of keeping the project on track as we work toward the launch of the new service.”

Denio noted that the completion of the interlocking will also have other advantages.

“Cork will streamline the operation between the freight railroad [Norfolk Southern] and Amtrak. It will make the railroad more efficient and reliable to dispatch trains through the area,” explained Denio. The interlocking spans four miles and when completed, will consist of three interlockings; Lititz, Cork and Conestoga.

Mid-Atlantic Division Engineer Joe Guzzi noted that while Cork is an important part of phase I of the overall Harrisburg Line rehabilitation, a second phase of the project will begin following the launch of the new service at the beginning of FY 2007. “While the work that is being done in time for the inaugural launch is important, it doesn’t mark the completion of the job. Additional projects including extensive track, the bridge and communication and signal work will begin near the start of the next fiscal year,” said Guzzi.

Other planned infrastructure improvements to occur during the first quarter of 2007 include wood and concrete tie installation; surfacing of track; substation improvements (for electrical reliability); signal, bridge and building improvements.


Return to index
Commuters heed bridge warning

Caltrans workers remove section of Bay Bridge ramp
BART ridership rose, others avoided area, Caltrans reports

Source: MediaNews

 

SAN FRANCISCO, SEPT 5 -- Sometimes, when duly informed and offered alternatives that work, commuters deal very well without a big, heavily used highway artery.

“It was an expected disaster that never happened,” reported Erik Nelson in a story for Media News.

Caltrans’ demolition crews had to rip up the entrance to the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, a project that required tearing down a 1000 feet of upper deck and the support columns. Officials were dreading the anticipated gridlock, knowing that the city can’t live without “this biggest of trans-bay arteries,” wrote Nelson.

But do without it they did and there was no horrible gridlock. Why? Because the public was well informed in plenty of time and alternatives were well prepared. BART carried 13 percent more riders than usual; that’s more than the increase when people were offered free rides during this summer’s anti-smog “Spare the Air” days.

Others took ferries. Others chose to exit the city across other bridges, clogging those arteries at times, but getting there nonetheless.

Perhaps the largest group that heeded Caltrans’ advertising and media closure warning blitz were those who simply didn’t venture across the bay at all.

For whatever reason, officials breathed a sigh of relief to have gotten past this major hurdle on the $429 million project to replace aging concrete viaducts that feed traffic on and off the bridge’s western end.

“There is an incredible high, if you will, kind of like when you win the NBA championship,” said Ken Terpstra, project manager for the entire Bay Bridge retrofit project.

Many had vehemently objected to scheduling the demolition over Labor Day weekend, but Caltrans had insisted, making the point that any other weekend would have most likely interfered with a major event.

Terpstra credited the contractor, Tuta-Saliba, the demolition subcontractor, Cleveland Wrecking, a host of transit agencies such as BART, AC Transit, and the Oakland-Alameda ferry and even the media for getting the word out.

 

Top Left - Workers demolish part of the bridge to peform necessary work.

Lower Left - The Bay Bridge as seen in the evening.

 


Return to index

Passengers board the Capitol Corridor train at Richmond Expanded Amtrak
Capitol Corridor service

Source: Amtrak Ink

Starting this past Aug. 28, Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor service began offering passengers more travel options with new schedules and added train service — four new roundtrips between Sacramento and Oakland and three between Oakland and San Jose replace Thruway motorcoach service.

“While the schedule changes will be minor, passengers will experience slightly shorter trip times between Oakland and San Jose and see new numbers for some trains,” explained Assistant Superintendent Road Operations Brody Heilman.

Funded and managed by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority and operated and maintained by Amtrak, the service has seen seven consecutive years of ridership growth through FY ’05 and nine straight years of ticket revenue increases. From the start of this fiscal year through June, ticket revenue of almost $11 million rose nearly 11 percent over last year and 7 percent over budget, while ridership during the same period was slightly higher.

“Through savings realized from our operational efficiencies, we’re funding a 33 percent expansion without an increase in state funds,” said CCJPA Managing Director Eugene K. Skoropowski. “Along with growth comes a need for an increase in service, and based on the growing popularity of the service, most would agree that this investment has proven to be very worthwhile.”

Events will be held in Sacramento and San Jose later this month to celebrate the service expansion.

 

At left - The busy Richmond station contributed to the Capitol Corridor’s ridership growth by serving more than 200,000 travelers during FY ’05.

Photo: Amtrak Ink

 


Return to index

Changes to NEC starting October 1

By DF Staff and Internet sources

According to information published in Amtrak this week an employee publication, starting October 1, 2006 several changes will take place that will effect operations of the Northeast Corridor (NEC). Included within these changes will be a condsolidation of the New England and New York divisions to form a new Northeast Division.

Amtrak will also establish a new NEC Service Operations organization to manage end-to-end customer service delivery on these trains.

Studies performed by the railroad suggest that customers have specific goals in mind: on-time performance, overall trip time, equipment condition and appearance, and customer service. It is hoped that specific attention to these matters will increase ridership and ticket revenues.

The new NEC Service Operations group will manage all Acela and Regional on-board service, including conductors and on board service employees, from Washington to Boston, which accounts for some 9.5 million riders annually and will have an impact on everything from employee recruitment and training to food service and restroom cleaning. Revenues dervived from the Acela and Regional trains account for 54% of total Amtrak ticket revenues.

The Mid-Atlantic and the new Northeast Division will maintain all other existing functions including station services, road operations, crew base operations, off-corridor service, and long-distance train support. The divisions will strongly focus on coordinated efforts with Mechanical and Engineering to increase on time performance and reduce trip times.

The Customer Service department will hold a series of informational meetings within each NEC division, beginning in the next several weeks. All Amtrak employees are invited to attend these briefings (times and locations will be posted in several ways, including in Amtrak This Week.) No jobs are expected to be lost during the transition.

Also, Amtrak will run its last Metroliner on the Northeast Corridor next month. The railroad plans to implement an all-Acela Express schedule effective with the Oct. 30, 2006, timetable. The last day of Metroliner operation will be Friday, Oct. 27. The last two Metroliners should be:

Train 2300, Washington, D.C., to New York, departing Washington, D.C., at 10 a.m. and arriving in New York at 12:59 p.m.

Train 2301, New York to Washington, D.C., departing New York 6 p.m., arriving in Washington, D.C., at 8:59 p.m.

Riders should check actual schedules of course.

The Metroliner name harks back to the late 1960s, when Penn Central inaugurated high speed service with electric M.U. cars, which it dubbed Metroliners, operating between Washington and New York. Amtrak operated the cars for a time, then converted them to locomotive hauled Amfleet consists, which it dubbed Metroliner Service.


Return to index
OFF THE MAIN LINE...  Off the main line...

Las Vegas Monorail - NBA edition

Photo: Echo Media press release

The Las Vegas monorail train provides an immersive-themed marketing environment to promote the February 2007 event

 

NBA All-Star 2007 monorail
train unveiled in Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nev. - In celebration of NBA All-Star 2007, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and the Las Vegas Monorail Company joined together to unveil the newest addition to the Las Vegas Monorail’s customized fleet of one-of-a-kind trains. Both the exterior and interior of the newest train have been emblazoned with a spectacular design created to promote the week of activities that will take place during the 2007 NBA All-Star, which will be in Las Vegas February 15-19, 2007.

“It seems only fitting that the convergence of some of the world’s greatest athletes in an exposition as thrilling as NBA All-Star is hosted right here in Las Vegas,” said Las Vegas Monorail Company President and CEO, Curtis Myles III.“The Las Vegas Monorail Company is honored to showcase the new NBA All-Star train in promotion of this momentous event in the history of Las Vegas.”

The exterior of the four-car Monorail train features impressive visual imaging including a 9-foot basketball, amidst glowing yellow starbursts, the unmistakable National Basketball Association (NBA) logo and a high-contrast promotional tease for NBA All-Star 2007.

In addition to transporting riders to premier restaurants, shows, shops, clubs, hotels and casinos of the Las Vegas Strip, the new NBA-themed train transports riders to another world with its uniquely styled interior. The train’s interior carries Monorail riders to a fantastic dream where they are the NBA star athlete. In addition to 3-D imaging of a basketball hoop, the interior features painted hardwood floors imaged to make riders feel like they are standing center court at the free throw line poised and ready to make the game-winning shot.

“The NBA-wrapped Monorail train is a great way to get both visitors and residents excited about this incredible event that is coming to Las Vegas,” says Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO, LVCVA.“NBA All-Star will showcase two strong brands. It’s a great partnership.”

The trains of the Las Vegas Monorail provide a truly unparalleled opportunity for their corporate advertisers. Many of the biggest advertisers in the nation have chosen to image the entire exterior of a Monorail train and create an immersive and experiential marketing environment within the train’s interior including: Sprint, Hansen’s Monster Energy, Bank West of Nevada, Star Trek: The Experience, and VEGAS.com.

About the LVCVA

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is charged with marketing Southern Nevada as a tourism and convention destination worldwide, and also with operating the Las Vegas Convention Center and Cashman Center. With approximately 133,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas alone and more than 9.5 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space citywide, the LVCVA’s mission centers on attracting ever-increasing numbers of leisure and business visitors to the area. For more information, go to www.lvcva.com and www.visitlasvegas.com.

About NBA All-Star

NBA All-Star is a week-long celebration that enables fans from around the globe to experience the thrill of the world’s greatest athletes playing the game they love while also leaving a lasting impact in the host city’s community. The week’s festivities will culminate on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2007 with the playing of the 56th NBA All-Star Game at the Thomas & Mack Center. The game will be televised on TNT in the United States and will reach a worldwide television audience in more than 200 countries. For more information, visit www.nba.com.

About the Las Vegas monorail

The Las Vegas Monorail is an easy and convenient way to travel the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. It connects riders to the city’s world-class restaurants, shows, shops, clubs, hotels and casinos. Riders can travel the entire distance of the legendary Las Vegas Strip in less than 15 minutes in a safe, comfortable and clean environment - without the hassles of traffic congestion and gridlock. Currently, the privately funded Monorail system has seven stations, located at: MGM Grand; Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas; Flamingo/Caesars Palace; Harrah’s/Imperial Palace; Las Vegas Convention Center; Las Vegas Hilton; and the Sahara. For more information on the Las Vegas Monorail or where to purchase tickets, call (866) 4-MONORAIL / (866) 466-6672; visit www.lvmonorail.com or pick up a Monorail Magazine, available at all Monorail stations and station hotels.


Return to index
STOCKS...  Selected Friday closing quotes...

Source: MarketWatch.com

  Friday One Week
Earlier
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)65.9367.31
Canadian National (CNI)41.2743.10
Canadian Pacific (CP)47.6849.03
CSX (CSX)30.3030.39
Florida East Coast (FLA)53.5654.69
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)22.8624.75
Kansas City Southern (KSU)26.1526.61
Norfolk Southern (NSC)41.3142.61
Providence & Worcester (PWX)19.8620.69
Union Pacific (UNP)80.1080.54


Return to index
ACROSS THE POND...  Across the pond...

Installments from David Beale
NCI Foreign Correspondent

 

Wilhelmshaven:

Oldenburg rail line to be upgraded and electrified

Hannover - in a report in the 29/8/2006 edition of the Hannover Allegemeine Zeitung (HAZ) newspaper, the prime minister of the German state of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff, and the chairman of Deutsche Bahn, Hartmut Mehdorn, agreed to upgrade the Oldenburg - Wilhelmshaven Rail Line to support dramatically increased freight traffic expected in the coming years due to the construction and opening of the “Jadeport” shipping terminal complex on the North Sea coast adjacent to the historic shipping and fishing port of Wilhelmshaven.

A Nord West Bahn LINT series DMU crosses a draw-bridge near Wilhelhmshaven

Photo by Deutsche Bahn

A Nord West Bahn LINT series DMU crosses a draw-bridge near Wilhelhmshaven in summer 2005

The current route is used primarily by local trains operated with DMU equipment and approximately eight freight trains per day. The entire route is non-electrified and much of the route is single track.  The last 10 km of the route from Sande to Wilhelmshaven is speed restricted for freight trains to 30 km/h (20 mph).

With the signing of the agreement, the state government of Lower Saxony and DB AG committed to double tracking the entire route as well as electrifying for use by electric locomotives and EMUs along with repairs and upgrades to infrastructure to permit freight trains to operate at 80 km/h.  Also to be defined along with local community leaders are noise barriers and other sound mitigation to be installed along the existing line as well as definition of the optimum track alignment from the existing right of way near Wilhelmshaven to the new ”Jadeport” shipping terminal so that a minimum number of residents and businesses are affected by the upgrade rail line.  The entire project is scheduled for completion in time for the start of operations of “Jadeport”.


Return to index
End of Intalliance joint venture in urban transit

Hannover - The HAZ reported this past week that Deutsche Bahn’s regional and commuter train division DB Regio has agreed with Üstra, the company which operates the light rail and local bus system in the city of Hannover and neighboring towns, and banking concern Nord/LB to terminate their joint venture company named “Intalliance.”  The company was founded in 2004 amid much fanfare as a new business model for the three companies to offer transit operation services elsewhere in Germany and Europe.  The company was to have been a way for Deutsche Bahn to enter into the local and urban transit business, while at the same time providing Üstra a way to expand beyond the Hannover region.  Nord/LB provided financial services and arrangements for new projects.

Spokesmen from both Üstra and DB Region stated to the newspaper that Intalliance has not met expectations in expanding either company’s penetration into other markets nor provided the partner companies expected savings in financing costs and therefore they have independently come to the conclusion that is was time to pull the plug on the joint venture.  The end of Intalliance will take place by the end of this year, according to the newspaper’s sources.  Üstra and DB Regio will continue to operate all current bus, light rail and commuter train operations as before under existing agreements with the greater Hannover region transit authority, GVH, and the state government’s transport authority.


Return to index
German Rail Union ‘Transnet’ Threatens Strikes

Berlin - the German rail labor union Transnet threatened anew to strike Deutsche Bahn if the planned privatization and IPO on the equity markets leads to a break-up of the company.  Transnet chairman Norbert Hansen stated during a talk in Berlin on the 30th of August, that the rank and file of the labor union would tolerate the IPO of the German rail transportation conglomerate only if the rail lines and related infrastructure were kept exclusively under the ownership of the company once it was placed on the stock market.

The statement from Hansen was apparently prompted by contradictory statements heard from different corners of the federal government regarding the issue of separation of operations from infrastructure in the German railroad company.  DBAG chairman Hartmut Mehdorn and German federal transportation minister Wolfgang Tiefensee have gone publicly on the record in the past two months as saying that there will be no separation of DB’s rail network and infrastructure from rail operations.

Mehdorn and Tiefensee made statements that the rail network will remain an integral part of Deutsche Bahn after much recent attention in the German news media on the rail networks in Great Britain and Denmark, where separation of the rail network from the rail operating companies apparently lead to severe service failures and deteriorating rail network conditions.  Although the situation in Great Britain appears to have stabilized after the re-nationalization of the rail infrastructure company a couple of years ago, maintenance and reliability problems with the rail network in Denmark continue to mount several years after the rail infrastructure was separated from the main rail operator in Denmark, DSB.


Return to index
FREIGHT LINES...  Freight lines...

CSX lawsuits could lead to sanctions

Transportation company’s lawyers allowed to investigate suspected fraud.

From the Internet via West Virginia Media

SEPTEMBER 7 -- A complex case involving railroad workers suing CSX Transportation for exposure to asbestos has taken another unexpected turn.

CSX Transportation is being sued by railroad workers for exposure to asbestos. In a story by Juliet Terry for W. VA Media, it is reported that one plaintiff is suspected of fraud by submitting medical documentation signed by a physician who is not licensed in West Virginia and operates at an address that does not exist in Huntington.

Now, a Northern Panhandle judge is allowing CSX to investigate the suspected fraud rather than simply dismissing the lawsuit for lacking merit.

During an Aug. 29 hearing, company lawyers told 1st Judicial Circuit Judge Arthur M. Recht, who is overseeing the Marshall County lawsuit, that CSX may seek sanctions against the plaintiff -- Rodney Chambers -- whose medical form and X-ray sparked the controversy.

Chambers and his lawyers had submitted an X-ray certified by Dr. Oscar Frye, who is not licensed in West Virginia and whose whereabouts are not known.

It was discovered by CSX lawyers, whose offices are in Huntington, that Frye’s address, listed on Chambers’ medical questionnaire as 1507 Fifth Ave., Huntington, WV, does not exist. Where the house should be on Fifth Avenue is just a stretch of trees between two homes.

Chambers’ litigation is part of a lawsuit filed in 2002 by 44 CSX workers who claim their work left them exposed to asbestos, leading to asbestosis, a lung disease causes by inhaling asbestos fibers.

Federal litigation

In a separate action, CSX is suing lawyers and a former CSX worker from Kentucky - Robert Gilkison -accused of engaging in fraudulent schemes relating to screening mechanisms used by the law firm to find asbestos plaintiffs.

Many of the X-rays were read by Dr. Ray Harron, a Bridgeport-based radiologist who has come under national fire for diagnosing thousands of plaintiffs with silicosis, a separate lung disease, when many of those workers already had been diagnosed with asbestosis. It is extremely rare for a person to suffer from both diseases.

Last year, a federal judge in Mississippi invalidated as many as 10,000 silicosis claims following the revelation about Harron’s diagnoses.


Return to index
New Haven:

More consideration of rail

Source: Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports e-bulletin sent to us from Chop Hardenbergh

AUGUST 3 -- Commissioners of the Port Authority discussed the progress of rail restoration at their meeting this day. Commissioner Richard Miller (also city engineer) said that he would be talking to Judy Gott at the South Central Regional Council of Governments about seeking grant funds to bring more rail line directly to the port.

Jan Okolowicz from Parsons Brinckerhoff, which is preparing a land use plan, asked why construction of the Waterfront Street rail line had stopped [see 06#02B] and Commissioner Miller said that it will resume once the New Haven Terminal warehouse has been demolished.

Land use plan

Okolowicz said that some interviews remain to be done and that he expected to produce a draft document by the end of August. Chair John Russo suggested that Okolowicz meet with North Yard operators as well. Commissioner Richard Miller suggested that north side rail service be considered. Okolowicz said that a spur located in the North Yard could be reactivated. The importance of rail service to the port was emphasized.

Chair Russo asked what the conversations with truckers serving the port district indicated. Okolowicz responded that he learned from them that they often sit in their trucks for hours waiting for their turn to enter the terminals. He suggested that it would be better to have them wait in a holding area than along the street as they do now. {minutes from Port Authority}

At the following meeting, 7 September, they planned to consider the Parsons Brinckerhoff Land Use Plan; ConnDOT proposed additional land acquisition in the port district; and Waterfront Street rail update. (minutes of meeting from Port)


Return to index
EDITORIALS...  Editorials...

Why not weekend trains?

©2006 The Hartford Courant
Used By Permission

Labor Day means traffic on Connecticut’s highways, particularly I-95. By Monday afternoon, the highway will be a swath of slow-moving steel. Travelers could dearly use another way to move along the shoreline.

Yet, Shore Line East Railroad, the state-run commuter train that operates between New London and New Haven, does not run on weekends and holidays. Something is clearly wrong with this picture. The highway will be packed with automobiles wasting gas and spewing pollution, while the rail line, except for a handful of (crowded) Amtrak trains, will be empty. This cannot continue, and perhaps it won’t.

Legislation this year directed the state Department of Transportation to prepare a report by Jan. 1 on expansion of Shore Line East service. In addition, the department is building a new station in Madison, planning one in Westbrook, adding parking in Branford and Guilford and seeking to create two-side platforms at some stations, a spokesman said.

Shore Line East began service in May 1990. Like many commuter rail lines around the country, it started slowly and became more popular as people got used to it. From 2001 to 2005, ridership increased from 299,000 to 425,000, a gain of 42 percent. This year, ridership is up 11 percent over 2005.

There is no reason to believe that weekend volume won’t follow the same upward curve. Shore Line East connects with Metro North Railroad in New Haven. The DOT also could work with Rhode Island and Massachusetts to increase northbound commuter service to Providence and Boston.

The DOT plans a 10-year, $1.6 billion expansion of I-95 by one lane in each direction from Branford to the Rhode Island line. Those lanes will fill up, and there’ll still be traffic jams. We desperately need to get some of those folks on trains, buses and ferries.

If you’re stuck in automobile and truck traffic on Monday, call Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s office and urge her to start weekend Shore Line East train service as soon as possible


Return to index
“Op Ed” pushes highway spending

Our journalist readers should be on the look-out --- with a skeptical eye --- for a mass-marketed Op Ed piece making the rounds courtesy of the so-called Reason Foundation, a libertarian think-tank which often pushes the highway-lobby line.

This “study” lays the blame for America’s congested and broken transportation system on… a lack of highways!

The Op Ed states: “Some cities, including San Jose, Calif., and Charlotte, N.C., are crossing their fingers and praying people will embrace mass transit. In both cities, less than 3 percent of daily commuters ride transit. Yet both are spending well over 50 percent of their money on transit projects.”

Gee, sounds like a dumb thing to do…until you realize that both of those cities, indeed all American cities, have committed more than 90% of their ground transportation dollars to highways since the 1950’s. Only recently has transit ---- wrecked in the 1930’s and 1940’s by the National City Lines’ oil-backed bus conspiracy that bought up and liquidated trolley systems in 110 American cities so that General Motors could replace them with buses --- made a comeback, and contrary to the Reason line, that comeback is not based on “hopes and prayers” but on the solid results observed when downtowns are once again seen as places to live and work, not merely as places from which to flee to suburbs and their gated communities. Acres of downtown Washington DC, for example, once empty and abandoned, are flourishing around transit stops, providing billions in benefits, not just convenient rail service.

Cities are the very soul of civilization, and suburbs are quite literally their parasites, benefiting from the concentrated energy, resources, infrastructure and intellectual firepower built up in our cities over two centuries of American life, but now endangered. Suburbs, dependent on the automobile, pay far less than their fair share of the costs of maintaining the kind of city infrastructure great civilizations need, and in fact drain resources because of their high cost structure.

This absurd and intellectually dishonest argument would be laughable, were it not for the patina of “think tank” credibility used to mask the sheer self-serving. But what is really obnoxious is the sly manipulation of statistics to deceive readers who are not themselves transportation experts, and who look at “think tanks” as an unbiased source for information.

No one wants people to “give up their cars” as the Reason Foundation suggests. We just need some choices that go beyond asphalt, or we are going to be left in the dust at the side of roads that lead nowhere. Don’t be fooled by the shills who want to sell you more oil.


Return to index

 

Confirm Mary Peters

President Bush has a strong opportunity for success in nominating former Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters to head the U.S. Department of Transportation.

A progressive transportation secretary when she led Arizona’s DOT, and widely respected at the helm of the Federal Highway Administration from 2001-2005, when she left to return to Arizona and head up giant consulting firm HDR’s national policy practice, Mary Peters is a no-nonsense pragmatist who has earned broad support for her work. Although her criticisms of environmental delays to highway construction have concerned environmentalists, she is also seen as fair. The Senate should make this a swift, bi-partisan confirmation.

Then, it would be great to see Mary Peters call for a summit of U.S. transportation leaders, to confront head-on the growing transportation crisis that is crippling our ability to compete in world markets, and start identifying solutions. She will automatically become chair of the Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission created by the Congress as a part of the six-year transportation bill, “SAFETY-LU,” which could become, if it is inclusive, a critical tool in setting America back on track.


Return to index

 

End Notes...

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

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

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

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

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


|| Home Page || Destination: Freedom Past Editions || Contact Us || Article Index || Top of Page

This edition has been read by || || people since date of release.


Copyright © 2006, National Corridors Initiative, Inc.