Vol. 6 No. 38
September 17, 2005

Copyright © 2005
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 Sixth Year *

This page is best viewed at 800 X 600 screen resolution

 

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

  News Items... 
Norfolk Southern Restores Rail Service to New Orleans
Delta, Northwest Bankrupt.
Acela Service To Expand Today
Amtrak postpones fare increase
Amtrak’s offer declined. Approximately 900 people could
   have been evacuated before the flood.
  Commuter lines… 
Southern Observations
NYC’s ‘wake-up call’ Assembly report finds city
   is not ready for a natural disaster
MBTA announces service to Gillette Stadium for Patriots
  Freight lines… 
Canadian National Stays on Track
Port commissioners get marching orders. Group charged
   with developing a barge facility on the Mississippi
   River in West Feliciana
No chemical leaks seen from New Orleans trains
Union Pacific Railroad Helps With Katrina Recovery
   Still Trying to Contact Employees
  Environmental lines… 
Sierra Club honors Cong. Nancy Johnson (R-CT)
  Opinion… 
Katrina’s Aftermath
New Orleans and its neighboring cities will return,
   but planning must be creative and smart
  Editorial… 
Transportation and the Environment
  Across the pond… 
Deutsche Bahn to Electrify
   Hamburg–Lübeck–Travemünde Corridor
Deutsche Bahn Rebrands Key Divisions
  Friday closing quotes… 
Photo - At Naperville, Il
  Letters to the Editor… 
  End Notes… 

Norfolk Southern Restores Rail Service to New Orleans

Source: Reuters

NORFOLK, VA -- Sixteen days after Hurricane Katrina struck, Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC) has completed repairs to its Lake Pontchartrain Bridge, restoring rail freight service into New Orleans and reopening important interchange points with western rail carriers.

Norfolk Southern Chairman and CEO David R. Goode said, “The resumption of rail service following this disaster is a tribute to the dedication and efforts of Norfolk Southern people. They did the job in record time - safely and under extremely challenging conditions - in order to bring rail service back to New Orleans.”

Nearly five miles of track were washed from the top of the 5.8-mile long rail bridge and into the lake. Nine cranes on barges were used to lift the track out of the water and back onto the bridge. Nine miles of track running through New Orleans itself required major repairs due to washouts and other water-related problems.

Since the hurricane struck, Norfolk Southern employees have inspected some 1,400 miles of railroad track, removed 5,500 downed trees, installed 11,000 railroad ties and unloaded and surfaced track on 55,000 tons of ballast to restore bridges and rail lines to service.

While repairs were being completed, freight that regularly traveled through New Orleans for connection to other carriers was rerouted through the railroad’s other gateways.

“With the reopening of the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge, we are ready to assist in the transportation of supplies and materials in and out of the city,” said Norfolk Southern President Wick Moorman. “We are committed to serving New Orleans over the long-term, and our rail line can serve as a vital link in the recovery process.”

Norfolk Southern is assessing the financial impact of the hurricane on third-quarter results and will report an estimate when it has been determined.

Norfolk Southern Corporation is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates approximately 21,300 route miles in 22 states, the District of Columbia and Ontario, Canada, serving every major container port in the eastern United States and providing superior connections to western rail carriers. NS operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is North America”s largest rail carrier of automotive parts and finished vehicles.


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Delta, Northwest Bankrupt

Despite massive taxpayer loans and subsidies, expect
more calls upon the public treasury to come

By D:F Staff

Delta Airlines, founded in Monroe, Louisiana in 1928 as the passenger off-shoot of a local crop-dusting firm and one of the nation’s last remaining “legacy” carriers, filed for bankruptcy this past week.

Delta was joined by Northwest Airlines, which like Delta was burdened by high labor and pension costs.

The two bankruptcies join several other airline failures over the past decade (notably US Air and United Airlines), as the highly-leveraged, taxpayer-subsidized airline business has reeled from an inability to earn consistent profits.

As former American Airlines President Robert Crandall famously noted ten years ago, the sum net profit of the U.S airline business from the first flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903 to (the then present date of Crandall’s statement, 1993) was zero. In other words, the airline business, with all U.S. airlines profits and loses added together since the dawn of the age of flight, have been a zero sum game.

Airlines survive because the Federal government – the taxpayer ---has always underwritten or heavily subsidized many of their costs, including research and development (the Department of Defense), operations (the FAA and the Air Traffic Control system costs billions a year), and tax and legal policy (operating under bankruptcy protection enables a business to write off debts and start “fresh”, which airlines have done with regularity in recent years), and the shifting of huge pension liabilities directly to the backs of the taxpayer.

One of the chief causes of continued airline failure has been the increasingly expensive and inefficient providing of services between smaller cities, and between cities separated only by a few hundred miles. In Europe, Japan, and Asia most of these trips are provided by a high speed rail network which is far less costly to operate, per passenger, than are airlines, but which the United States has continually failed to build.

The only passenger rail in the United States with speeds in excess of 155 mph was opened in 1999 on the Northeast Corridor, eight years after the Bush (I) Administration agreed, in negotiations with the National Corridors Initiative, to release $125 million funds it and the previous Reagan Administration had embargoed since 1980. Those funds plus subsequent appropriations allowed that electrification project, first proposed in 1912, to be completed.

Amtrak has been able to provide 125-mph service New York-Washington for 30 years, and has more than 40 per cent of the ticketed market on that route, more than any single airline. Nevertheless, the government has refused Amtrak requests for more than 30 years to underwrite the costs of capital improvements to that section of the line, about $6 billion, which would allow two-hour rail service or better between New York and DC, and similar quick service between other cities on the route.


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Boarding at Jackson, MI

For NCI: Ryan D. Alen

Amtrak engine 177 pulls its coaches into the northbound platform on track 3 at Jackson, MI. It will be quite a while before similar scenes take place in and around storm ravages cities in that region.

 

Acela Service To Expand Monday

Four Daily Roundtrips Will Serve Stations North Of New York

 

Washington -- Amtrak has announced that, starting today, September 19, the Acela will run almost hourly trips between D.C. and New York on weekdays.

The trains will leave Union Station at the top of the hour between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. On the trip back, trains will leave Penn Station hourly between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The exceptions are - no train from Washington at 10 a.m. and no train from New York at 6 p.m.

Four of the daily roundtrips will also serve stations north of New York up to Boston.

Amtrak has been ramping up Acela service, which was yanked in April when cracks were found in some of the trains’ braking systems.


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Amtrak postpones fare increase

Source: Boston Business Journal Thu, 15 September 2005

Amtrak announced Thursday it has postponed its planned fare increase, originally scheduled to become effective Sept. 20. No new date for the fare increase has been set. Amtrak postponed the action to conclude additional briefings with public officials and other interested groups.

On Sept. 9, Amtrak announced a fare increase in part to cover escalating fuel costs. As part of the overall fare increase, Amtrak intends to standardize and reduce its discounts on monthly Smart Passes, which are currently as much as 70 percent.

In addition, Amtrak is increasing its weekday Acela service between Boston and New York by adding an additional daily run each way between the two cities.

Acela Express service was suspended from April 15 to July 11 to accommodate the redesign, manufacture and replacement of brake discs after the discovery of cracks in the rotors’ spokes.


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Amtrak’s offer declined.

Approximately 900 people could have
been evacuated before the flood.

In a recent interview with Amtrak, Destination: Freedom learned that on Saturday, August 27, before the hurricane or flood, Amtrak was informed by the City of New Orleans that the flood gates would close at 6 AM on Sunday, August 28.

Amtrak, as it always does, assembled the rolling stock that was moveable from its maintenance facility in New Orleans, which involved about 11 Superliner cars and several locomotives, and planned to move them from New Orleans to McComb, MS, departing at 8:30 Saturday night.

Amtrak called the City Dept. of Emergency Preparedness between 3:00 and 4:00 PM to say the train was available to evacuees if the City wanted it. They thanked Amtrak and declined.


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COMMUTERLINES...  Commuter lines...

Southern Observations

By D:F Staff

Georgia’s Department of Transportation has finally gone on record in support of the commuter rail program that it had been working on for nearly 15 years.

At its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, September 15, Board Member Dana Lemon introduced a resolution that, while it did not set the wheels in motion, it did release the brakes. The Resolution directed the Commissioner of the DOT to execute an agreement with Clayton County, which is south of Atlanta and has all but two of the first six stations in its borders, to pay the operations deficit after federal start-up funds run out. He can execute this agreement as soon as he has a contract with Norfolk Southern Railway for use of the line, the former Central of Georgia tracks that once carried the fabled Nancy Hanks on its daily six-hour dash from Atlanta to Savannah.

However, he has to have that contract with NS first. And that will have to go to the Board for approval before he will sign it.

But for now, the most important aspect of this vote is that seven members of the Transportation Board voted in favor of the project, and only five voted against it. This was a direct retribution of Vice Chairman Mike Evans of Cumming, Georgia (yes, the town that, as late as a decade ago, used to advise African-Americans that they ought not let the sun set with them in the county). Earlier in the summer, at a Board work session in Macon, Mr. Evans asked staff for direction in “killing” the rail project. He indicated there that he had seven votes to kill it. Apparently, he does not.

The vote came a day after a most unusual “public forum” that was held as part of the Board’s Intermodal Committee meeting. There were seven people speaking against, and seven speaking in favor. The speakers in favor included Jack Crowley, Dean of the School of Environment and Design at the University of Georgia, Eldrin Bell, Chairman of the Clayton County Commission, and H. Craig Lewis, Vice President for Corporate Affairs at Norfolk Southern.

The anti-rail speakers included State Rep. Steve Davis (R-McDonough) who has lead the charge against rail by making up facts; State Senator Valencia Seay (D-Clayton) who claims to be in suppor of the rail program but doesn’t want anyone to have to pay for it; and Benita Dodd of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a South African ex-patriot who is the nearest thing to Wendell Cox that Georgia has to offer.

When Chairman Bell came to the podium for his turn, he asked the mayors from along the line to join him. They stood by him wearing stickers in support of the project. Some said “Put Georgia on Track,” and others said “Georgia needs Choo-Choos” (a response to a comment by GDOT Board Chairman in the press that the state doesn’t need “choo-choo” technology of the 19th century to solve the transportation problems of the 21st. ) The stickers came with a picture of a CalTrain “Baby Bullet” on them.

Later, Clayton County Commissioner Wole Ralph, who was the lone vote against Clayton County supporting the rail program, came to the podium to speak against the project, he invited “the taxpayers of Clayton County” to join him. The mayors got back up and stood behind him to remind the Commissioner that while they might be mayors, and they might support the rail program, they too, were taxpayers.

At the end of the forum, committee Chairman Garland Pinholster thanked everyone and said that they had each convinced him – he’d changed his mind 14 times so far. He then said that all members of the Board would get a packet of information from the hearing which would include an audio disc, and printed testimony from the speakers, as well as forms filled out by members of the public in attendance. He didn’t expect that there would be any vote before the October meeting at the earliest.

But Ms. Lemon and several other members of the Board had a different idea, and after the Board during its regular meeting the next day had heard all of the reports from everyone on its agenda, when they got to New Business Ms. Lemon raised her hand. There were attempts to derail the vote, including an amendment to hold the resolution until the Board received a report from the Governor’s Congestion Mitigation Task Force, which would effectively stop any votes on the project until January or later, that that failed to carry the day. And when the vote was finally taken, the Board showed those that have and will continue to look for any way they can find to kill the program, that at least at this moment, they would not carry the day.

There is still much more to do, especially trying to find an additional $8 million to fix CSX’s concerns over some shared track in downtown Atlanta. Norfolk Southern Railway. But the vote of the Board has released the brakes on this train. Hopefully, soon they will vote to open the throttle.


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NYC’s ‘wake-up call’

Assembly report finds city is not ready
for a natural disaster and public is not
aware of evacuation plan

By Joshua Robin
Staff Writer Newsday, Inc. - September 16, 2005

The city has not adequately prepared for natural disasters, leaving it vulnerable to the kind of damage Hurricane Katrina inflicted in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, a state Assembly report released yesterday concludes.

Although storms here have yet to be strong enough to demand widespread evacuations, the 19-page study finds that the city is still vulnerable to severe weather that requires better planning than currently is on the books.

“If we don’t view Katrina as a wake-up call in New York City and surrounding areas, then we are fooling ourselves,” said the report’s author, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), chairman of the committee that oversees the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Particularly, he found that the MTA, which is responsible for providing vehicles to be used in evacuations, had not assessed whether it has the necessary resources, nor has it trained workers to respond to such situations.

The report also anticipates that a hurricane could strand some residents who might be unable to arrive at emergency centers that are not close to mass transit. It also faults the city for a lackluster attempt at educating the public about what to do in an emergency.

“It is clear that the majority of city residents know little or nothing about the evacuation process, and that a systematic public education campaign does not exist,” the report states.

The city Office of Emergency Management disputed several points in the report, which was released as Brodsky campaigns for state attorney general.

“We think we’re very well prepared,” said spokesman Jarrod Bernstein, adding that “we’re always looking to be better.” The office is planning to send workers to study how New Orleans responded to the disaster, he noted.

The complete article can be accessed at Newsday Inc, September 16, 2005.


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MBTA announces service to Gillette Stadium for Patriots

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has announced commuter rail service to Gillette Stadium for the New England Patriots football season. There will be additional service departing South Station and Providence Station to Foxborough, making stops along the way. The roundtrip fare is $10, cash only; MBTA passes are not accepted. Commuters may purchase tickets at the MBCR window at South Station, Back Bay Station, or on board the train.

The train will depart 30 minutes after the game ends. Backpacks and coolers are not allowed on the train.

Schedule information can be obtained at www.mbta.com.


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FREIGHTLINES...  Freight lines...

Canadian National stays on track

Source: Business Week

A good news story for one highly successful freight rail line is reflected in the optimism of their CEO in an abbreviated version of his interview with the Business Week correspondent. - Ed.

 

The rail line’s Gulf operations escaped Hurricane Katrina largely unscathed. Now, CEO E. Hunter Harrison sees a big boost from reconstruction.

As Hurricane Katrina was hurtling towards New Orleans on the last weekend of August, E. Hunter Harrison was overseeing Canadian National Railway’s emergency preparations from his home in the suburbs of Chicago.

The company, through its Illinois Central subsidiary, has hundreds of miles of track and more than a dozen facilities along the Gulf Coast, including a big freight yard just west of New Orleans. Working through the weekend, crews hurried locomotives and other equipment out of the area and then halted all traffic.

Canadian National (CNI) was lucky. Damage to its lines turned out to be minimal and, except for its intermodal facility near New Orleans, which lacks truck drivers to cart containers to and from its trains, the railroad was back to near-normal operations by mid-September. As a result, industry analysts are sticking with their bullish forecasts, projecting a 31.5% increase in earnings in 2005 and a 16% rise in 2006.

The 60-year-old CEO seems to be on a roll. With 22,500 employees and $5.5 billion in 2004 revenue, Harrison’s company is dwarfed by the industry’s bigs: Union Pacific (UNP ) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNI ). But Canadian National tops them and every other major railway in North America in operating margins and total profits, with $1.22 billion in net income last year.

TOPS IN EFFICIENCY. The railroad has also been a rocket for investors. Founded in 1922, Canadian National was privatized by the Canadian government in 1995 in what was then the biggest IPO in Canadian history. It stretched into the U.S. through a series of acquisitions, starting in 1999 with Illinois Central, where Harrison was chief executive. On a split-adjusted basis, the stock began trading at $6.67. Shares were around $67, as of Sept. 15.

The secret to their success: timely service. Under Harrison, Illinois Central became the best-run freight line by running scheduled service. Copying passenger railroads and airlines, Harrison guaranteed pickups and deliveries to the hour, even across thousands of miles. He introduced the same plan at Canadian National when he came onboard as chief operating officer. Today, the Montreal-based railway is No. 1 in efficiency.

Harrison, who was promoted to chief executive in 2003, is a railroad man from way back: He hired on as a laborer with St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad Co. when he was still in high school in Memphis. Recently, Harrison, who splits his time between the company’s headquarters in Canada and an office outside Chicago, talked with Business Week Senior Correspondent Michael Arndt. Edited excerpts from their conversation follow:

You’ve been through hurricanes before. Did this one surprise you in any way?

I don’t know if you’re ever prepared for a hurricane. We were very fortunate, compared to others. We’re on higher ground in New Orleans. We did have some outages north of New Orleans, for about a 30- or 40-mile stretch. Grain shipments have slowed down because of disruptions to employees and power supplies and communications lines. But it’s not a significant impact.

Most of the revenue loss is more of a timing issue. The grain is going to move, but perhaps later than usual. In the grand scheme of things, by the end of the year, it will be of minimal impact.

Longer term, in fact, many economists think the hurricane will be a boon to the economy, as reconstruction proceeds.

I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We’re the largest hauler of forest products in North America. I would imagine that there will be a lot of building products moving into the New Orleans area for the reconstruction, and so we’re making preparations for that. We’re looking at putting in new infrastructure for transloading of lumber from railcar to truck, somewhere in the New Orleans area.

What about the economy today? How does it look?

It isn’t quite as strong as it was 18 months ago. But [there’s] pretty steady growth right now. The only soft spot is the automobile sector, and we anticipated that.

Are there any issues that could, pardon the pun, derail you?

Energy prices worry me from the impact on the economy. We have been very successful with our fuel surcharge and hedges. Basically, fuel is a pass-through for us. But the longer term implication of rising energy prices does give me concern. Somebody’s got to foot the bill.

(For the complete interview, go to September 15th issue of Business Week.)


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Port commissioners get marching orders

Group charged with developing a barge facility
on the Mississippi River in West Feliciana

A new barge terminal augurs well for improved freight rail efficiency.

By JAMES MINTON
Baker-Zachary bureau

ST. FRANCISVILLE -- Newly appointed members of the West Feliciana Parish Port Commission got a sense of their mission during an orientation meeting Thursday.

“It’s going to be one of the most-important things that’s ever been done for this parish. This is no ego trip. This is hard work,” Police Jury President Bert Babers told the eight-member panel.

Steve Jones of the West Feliciana Community Development Foundation said the commission’s purpose is to develop a barge terminal for container cargo and bulk materials on the Mississippi River between the Tembec USA paper mill and the proposed route of the proposed bridge linking West Feliciana and Pointe Coupee parishes.

A Canadian National Railway line running to Tembec’s mill figures in the plans to develop the port, Jones said. Regina N. Hamilton, an attorney who helped write the legislation authorizing the commission, said the panel has more legal authority than any other port commission in the state.

Jones said the commission could go into other parishes for some of its operations, including extending rail lines.

The group agreed to meet at 5 p.m. Sept. 26 to take their oaths of office and elect officers. The meeting, at the Police Jury office, is open to the public. Engineer Wilfred Barry of SBJ Group Inc. said the area under study offers some challenging topography, including a series of ridges and ravines rising from a floodplain along the river.


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No chemical leaks seen from New Orleans trains

By Ben Berkowitz
Reuters

BATON ROUGE (Reuters) - There is no evidence of dangerous chemical leaks from overturned rail cars in New Orleans but teams are still testing them for hazardous materials, Louisiana’s top environmental official said on Wednesday. Until now the environmental focus in the hurricane-hit region has been on spilled oil and bacteria like Ecoli, but officials are increasingly searching for other toxins too.

New Orleans is a major rail hub and one of the major products carriers move through the city is chemicals.

“We have no visual evidence from reconnaissance of leaks or spills,” said Mike McDaniel, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Quality. “We have started, for lack of a better term, triage.”

His department is working from information provided by 17 rail companies, data the state was forced to demand under an administrative order after it had difficulty getting a complete picture of railcar contents.

“Responses were a little slow and maybe not complete,” McDaniel said.

For their part, the freight railroads have made no requests for federal aid due to damage from Hurricane Katrina, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta told reporters this week.

Carriers including Canadian National Railway and Norfolk Southern have already restarted some service into New Orleans. Some rail traffic has been rerouted through Memphis, St. Louis and Chicago. But is not expected to be permanent because those new routes are unattractive from a financial and a logistic standpoint.

“Obviously this increases some of the costs and will cause a delay in some traffic,” Tom White, spokesman for the Association of American Railroads, told Reuters.

The costs and delays only reinforce the need to rebuild the New Orleans rail system, White said. “The reason that stuff is routed through New Orleans is that it’s the most efficient gateway for it and I don’t expect that to change.”


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Union Pacific Railroad helps with Katrina recovery,
Still trying to contact employees

Source: PRNewswire-FirstCall & Union Pacific Corporation

OMAHA - In the wake of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast, Union Pacific is transporting goods and supplies in support of recovery efforts, assisting more than 250 Union Pacific employees who lived in the devastated area and matching employee cash donations toward the relief effort.

“Our hearts go out to all the people affected by Hurricane Katrina. We are committed to helping our employees, and the region, get back on their feet,” said Dick Davidson, chairman and CEO of Union Pacific Corporation. “We encourage employees who have not contacted us to call our employee assistance hotline as soon as possible.”

If they have not done so, UP employees affected by the storm should call the railroad’s employee assistance hotline at 1-877-877-2567, option 1.

The railroad is matching cash donations to a fund Union Pacific’s Employee Clubs established to help employees impacted by the hurricane. Railroad employees who are unable to work because of the effects of Hurricane Katrina will continue to be paid for at least one month and are being offered additional financial aid.

Union Pacific is also encouraging its 49,000 employees to donate to the various service organizations providing relief in the New Orleans area. The railroad will match employee cash donations dollar-for-dollar to the American Red Cross, America’s Second Harvest, Baton Rouge Area Foundation and the Salvation Army.

Union Pacific has moved 135 trailers loaded with bottled water that is being distributed by truck to Katrina victims and response workers. Also, several special trains with fuel have been delivered to eastern railroads. Union Pacific is coordinating all relief material movements through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including the movement and staging of 20 refrigerated box cars Union Pacific is donating, to support the relief effort.

Immediately following the storm, a Katrina Response Command Center was established at the railroad’s Harriman Dispatching Center in Omaha. The command center coordinates all activities with government agencies, other railroads and various Union Pacific departments involved in relief efforts and train operations.

Employees from across the system were dispatched to help with operations in the Louisiana Gulf Coast region within hours after the hurricane made landfall. Local service to UP customers on the line between Livonia, La., and Avondale, La., was restored Wednesday, Aug. 31. This line is on the west side of the Mississippi River. Union Pacific is detouring 14 trains that normally use the New Orleans gateway. Memphis is primarily being used for detours to eastern carriers, with St. Louis as the secondary gateway.

The Norfolk Southern Railway on Tuesday, Sept. 13, operated its first westbound train from New Orleans and gave it to Union Pacific at Avondale. Union Pacific interchanges four trains a day with the NS, two west and two east. Because of the damage to NS’s buildings in New Orleans, Union Pacific is providing temporary office space, communication equipment and crew lodging in Avondale.

Union Pacific Corporation owns one of America’s leading transportation companies. Its principal operating company, Union Pacific Railroad, links 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country and serves the fastest-growing U.S. population centers. Union Pacific’s diversified business mix includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Energy, Industrial Products and Intermodal. The railroad offers competitive long-haul routes from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways. Union Pacific connects with Canada’s rail systems and is the only railroad serving all six major gateways to Mexico, making it North America’s premier rail franchise.

For further information, contact Mark Davis: (402) 544-5459


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ENVIRONMENTAL LINES...  Environmental lines ...

Sierra Club honors Cong. Nancy Johnson (R-CT)
with the Edgar Rayburn Conservation Award

By D:F Staff

Canton, CT, Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA - The Sierra Club of the United States has awarded Cong. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) its prestigious Edgar Wayburn Award, which recognizes “outstanding service to the environment by a person in government.”

The award was announced at the Sierra Club’s national conference in California, attended by NCI Director and newsletter editor Molly McKay (CT), who serves as Transportation Chair for the Sierra Club of Connecticut. Present was Dr. Edgar Wayburn, who at 99 years of age remains active in Sierra Club activities.

Editor at Sierra Club Meeting

Photo courtesy of Cong. Johnson’ office

Pictured L-R: NCI editor and CT Sierra Club chapter executive Molly McKay, CT chapter Sierra Club executive David Jackson (in rear), CT chapter Sierra Club chairman John Blake, and Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-5th District)
The award was presented in Canton, CT, on the banks of the Farmington River at Collinsville, by Connecticut Sierra Club President John Blake and by Molly McKay, who had returned from the week-long San Francisco conference in time to attend the Connecticut ceremonies as well.

Congresswoman Johnson, who this year became the longest-serving congressional representative in Connecticut’s history, has increasingly become a champion of the environment during her 12 terms in office.

“Our environment is a precious resource that we have a responsibility to protect and preserve,” Johnson said in her remarks this past week in Canton. “From protecting the Arctic Refuge in Alaska to improving the quality of our air, rivers, and forests in Connecticut, safeguarding our natural resources is a top priority of mine in Congress. I thank the Sierra Club and the many Connecticut residents who work to improve our environment here and throughout the nation.”

On behalf of the national Sierra Club and its 750,000 members, Connecticut Chapter Chairman John Blake presented Johnson with the Dr. Edgar Wayburn Award, which recognizes “outstanding service to the environmental cause by a person in government.” Dr. Wayburn is one of the country’s great conservationists, and his work doubled the size of national park lands in America.

On the banks of the river she has passed legislation to protect, Johnson was recognized for “…her strong record of environmental protection and leadership, including her work to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas exploration.”

Cong. Johnson has sponsored legislation and amendments in the U.S. House to protect the pristine Arctic Refuge, making it off-limits to drilling. The congresswoman pledged to continue her work to preserve the Refuge as one of the world’s great wild spaces.

“Representative Nancy Johnson has always been a champion of legislation to protect the Arctic Refuge as a wilderness area," said Sierra Club national President Lisa Renstrom in announcing the award. "Showing great independence, Representative Johnson has led the effort in the House to block efforts to use the budget process to open up the Refuge to oil and gas exploration. Her leadership has been indispensable to the millions of Americans who place a priority on safeguarding our environment and protecting America’s great wilderness areas."

Johnson has been a leader in safeguarding Connecticut’s environment. Earlier this year Johnson’s passed legislation in the House to add environmental protections to the upper Housatonic River valley by designating it a National Heritage Area. Johnson said she would continue pushing for Senate passage of the bill.

Johnson’s 1994 legislation added protections to the western branch of the Farmington River by designating it a Wild and Scenic Partnership River, and now the congresswoman is pushing to add the same protections to the lower Farmington River. In addition, Johnson helped pass legislation commissioning a study of the Metacomet-Monadnock-Mattabesett trail in Connecticut and Massachusetts for addition to the National Trails System. Johnson noted that that study is nearing completion. Cong. Johnson has worked with community leaders and stakeholders to preserve western Connecticut’s Candlewood Lake, the state’s largest.

“Representative Nancy Johnson is a true conservation champion and we are delighted to present her with this high honor,” said John Blake, chair of Sierra Club’s Connecticut Chapter. “She has worked hard to conserve Connecticut’s environment and has gone the extra mile time and again to protect America’s wilderness heritage for future generations.” Previous Wayburn Award honorees include former congressman and presidential candidate Morris K. Udall, the namesake of legislation Johnson has sponsored to forever protect the Arctic Refuge as the “Morris K. Udall Wilderness Area.” Other top honorees this year include Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on behalf of the Waterkeeper Alliance for its work to protect the nation’s waterways.

Also introducing Cong. Johnson at Canton was NCI President and Sierra Club member James RePass, who noted that Cong. Johnson had helped co-sponsor legislation to aide Amtrak at a time when such activity was being actively discouraged by her party’s Congressional leadership.

“When we needed her, she was there,” said RePass, “despite considerable political risk. That she continues in a leadership position in Congress is a testimony to her courage, and capabilities.”


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OPINION...  Opinion...

From the Publisher:

Katrina’s Aftermath

Congratulations to David Goode and Norfolk Southern for restoring rail service from the East to New Orleans just days after Hurricane Katrina wiped out miles and miles of the long Lake Pontchartrain rail bridge that NS uses to gain access to the City. With West side access via UP tracks over the Huey P. Long Bridge still intact, rail freight can begin to move into the city again. And there will be a lot of it, as thousands and thousands of houses were destroyed.

Including the one I grew up in, on the Western edge of New Orleans, which I learned sustained 8.1 feet of water at the height of the flooding, and whose neighborhood, like half the city, still has water in its streets.

As you will read elsewhere in this issue, in a wonderful piece by environmental activist Sarah Hincks, New Orleans will rise from the ashes, or in this case muck.

And as you will also read, in future issues, NCI’s longtime friend, Cesar Vergara, one of the most prominent industrial designers in the world, has proposed that an international effort go into the rebuilding of the city. We’ll have a lot more on that in future issues, because it involves new infrastructure, and new ways of looking at and building transportation access. For a city that resembles Venice more than it does any place in America, in a state, Louisiana, that is more like the Netherlands than it is like any American state, that is what indeed is needed. More in future issues.

Jim RePass
President of the National Corridors Initiative


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New Orleans and Its Neighboring Cities Will Return,
But Planning Must Be Creative and Smart

By Sarah Hincks
Free lance writer, Burlington, CT
Graduate student at Antioch College

A city with a soul as deep as New Orleans’ is, will not die. But to get people to return, they will have to know they’re safe and need to be encouraged to take pride in their reborn city.

Imagine New Orleans’ neighborhoods with homes built on stilts, with boardwalks connecting them and tall hurricane proof parking garages that can provide shelter from future storms. Nearby could be huge restored wetlands for absorbing floodwaters, positioned to do their work before the water reaches these communities. There could be a light rail system sensibly designed for commuting but also designed for rapid evacuation if needed. The lower floors of any tall building should never be residentially occupied.

If people need jobs, let them help rebuild their neighborhoods.

The Army Corps of Engineers has a reputation of coming in with muscle and getting a job done quickly, some of which will be needed in Mississippi and Louisiana. But the planners have to put brains before brawn and respect the environment (such as restoring some of the hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands that have been filled along the Mississippi River since the 1930’s) or this flooding scenario will occur over and over again. As ocean levels rise and the possibility of stronger hurricanes in the future, they have to think years ahead and bring back the wetlands.

There are plenty of new ideas for unique city planning available at every university in the country and the tragedy in Louisiana and Mississippi is a time to put those plans into action. With the sea level and hurricane frequency issues, New Orleans has a dimension to its planning that is beyond anything any other US city is familiar with. But this is a unique opportunity to use the most forward thinking ideas that are available to rebuild this city and the others that have been destroyed. A creative approach to rebuilding the area will restore its soul and its peoples’ prides.

We should all look forward to a trip back to this historic, soulful place. It will be back.

The soul gives us resilience - an essential quality since we constantly have to rebound from hardship. - Wynton Marsalis

Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul. - Oscar Wilde


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EDITORIAL...  Editorial...

Transportation and the Environment

Last week, September 8 - 11, 2005, I had the pleasure of attending the Sierra Club’s first time ever national Summit and Convention in San Francisco. In a direction-setting process that the Club has been facilitating in state chapters throughout the country, the results announced at the Convention focused on two top priorities:

All our far-reaching environmental goals - clean air, clean water, protection of wilderness and the oceans, and many more - all are connected to those two priorities above. Protecting the environment means protecting human beings. Our built environment and our lives are sustained by nature’s infrastructure.

Our built environment is also sustained by a balanced, efficient transportation infrastructure. In America, this is not the case; the transportation infrastructure is shamefully inadequate. NCI’s goals - to build a new future in transportation based on vastly improved rail and transit - will lead America toward creating the vibrant, healthy communities our children deserve.

- Molly McKay


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ACROSSTHEPOND...  Across the pond...

Deutsche Bahn to Electrify Hamburg–Lübeck–Travemünde Corridor

By David Beale
NCI European Correspondent

According to Deutsche Bahn press release, the German railroad has agreed to electrify the Hamburg–Lübeck–Travemünde rail route in a deal valued at 154 million DM (US$ 192 million) which was signed with state (Schleswig-Holstein) and federal transport officials during a ceremony on the 15th Sept. in Lübeck.

The project will be completed in 2009 and will include not only the electrification of the 85 km (53 miles) long route but also double-tracking of 7 km of single track line between Schwartau-Waldhalle and Lübeck-Kücknitz. Also included in the project are costs to increase clearances under numerous bridges by either reconstruction of the bridges or sinking of the track surface level under existing bridges to make room for the power lines above the tracks. The construction of a new power supply sub-station in Lübeck to convert 325 kV 50 Hz power from the German national power grid to 15 kV 16.7 Hz power for rail line electrification as well as updated signaling and train control systems are included in the project

The deal has been in proposal phase for slightly over a decade and will help improve both passenger and freight traffic flows between the two port cities in north central Germany. It will likely mean the end of diesel hauled commuter trains on this route and therefore the phase-out of a significant number of DB 218 series diesel hydraulic locomotives deployed along this line which are based in Lübeck.


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Deutsche Bahn Rebrands Key Divisions

By David Beale
NCI European Correspondent

Deutsche Bahn AG, Europe’s largest transportation company, announced during this week’s DBTV television network broadcasts that it is re-branding its passenger train branches as well as its various freight and logistics subsidiaries in order to strengthen the DB brand name. From now on, DB’s rail freight subsidiary Railion and its associated sister divisions Stinnes Logistics and Schenker trucking and road transport will be rebranded as DB Logistics. Regional and local/commuter trains operated by DB AG subsidiary DB Regio will be identified as “Regio DB”, while Inter City Express trains will be marketed as “ICE DB”.

The move is meant to build on Deutsche Bahn’s strong brand identity as it struggles against various competitors which vary from other rail operators such as Connex and Metro Rail, trucking companies such as Danzas and Cargo Bull, and low cost airlines such as Air Berlin, Ryanair and Easy Jet.


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STOCKS...  Selected Friday closing quotes...

Source: MarketWatch.com

  Friday One Week
Earlier
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)55.7254.94
Canadian National (CNI)67.5866.53
Canadian Pacific (CP) 39.8438.97
CSX (CSX)44.9945.15
Florida East Coast (FLA)41.6743.15
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)31.0029.95
Kansas City Southern (KSU)23.0620.00
Norfolk Southern (NSC)37.3136.05
Providence & Worcester (PWX)13.7713.60
Union Pacific (UNP)67.8567.85


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At Naperville, IL

For NCI: John Poshepny

Passengers boarding Amtrak Train #5 at Naperville, IL this past July 2005


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WE GET LETTERS...  We get letters...

Don’t Go So Green
Letter Writer Warns NCI

Dear Editor:

I’ve always been impressed with inclusive vision of National Corridors Initiative. The newsletter has always been very professional and factual. Well organized, well written, good photographs. It had a good balance between industry and activist points of view.

However I’m concerned that it looks like this is about to change. I, and many others support infrastructure investment, and broadly agree with many of your goals. The way to successfully realize many of these goals is to bring people together under a big tent.

If you are going to change the mission to include environmentalism, as seems to be the case, I advise you that you will do great harm to your original stated goals.

Most people who are remotely middle of the road or God forbid, Republican, will not be able to hear the positive message of NCI, if is saddled with “Sierra Club” or “Green Peace” type of views. I want cities that are well planned and efficiently developed.

The way to do this is not through leftist lecturing. It doesn’t matter how well constructed, or how many statistics you quote,or what the proposals are. If you can tell it’s written from an activist environmentalist or even socialist point of view, it will not persuade one person. On the contrary it will pull people apart.

Personally I believe environmental regulation is one of the greatest threats to civil liberties in the U.S. It is about power and control, It is not about protecting animals or water. I have first hand experience with this. A few years ago our local county “land and water conservation department”, came after our family business with full force and weight of the law. We had not changed in size or operation.

Yet we were threatened with fines up to 10,000 dollars a day, if we did not change what we had always done.

There was no requirement that the government prove anything.

And yet the government can treat you like a criminal and tell you if you don’t like it “see you in court” when they know full well no one can afford to challenge the state.

I have to laugh when I hear environmentalists act like they are speaking out against “big, evil, corporations” when all these laws affect small business and individual property owners just the same. Except that we can’t afford the extra costs that big companies can absorb.

The point is that environmental regulation is a tremendous burden and tax on companies. How many more trains or buses could we have if you wouldn’t have environmentalists and the government fighting development at every corner. For every impact statement, or study, or lawsuit, it is one more chance lost to improve this country’s infrastructure.

Environmentalists should be first in line to support projects like that of the DME railroad; another line to the vital powder-river basin would be tremendous addition to the nation’s infrastructure and energy needs.

Our country has been blessed with an abundance of coal. Investments in mining, transporting, and cleanly using this resource should be supported by all of us. One of railroad’s greatest challenges is replacing old bridges and tunnels Perhaps there is a role for government in helping pay for these, not just money, but easing the regulatory burden. Just because a bridge goes over a river or stream or a tunnel goes through a beautiful mountain should not give the government or courts the opportunity to block, delay or increase the cost of a bridge or tunnel.

Locally, to me in Stillwater Minnesota, a new highway bridge has been needed for decades. Have environmentalists supported this?. No, they have fought tooth and nail, and greatly added to its cost, both by delay and design.

The nation’s future freight transportation is absolutely fundamental to our future economic growth. And yet environmentalists fight the efforts to modernize one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly modes of transportation, barge traffic by way of locks and dams on the Mississippi and other rivers.

Investment in deep-water ports is another area that needs attention. Will the environmentalist speak up in favor of this? Are they sending money to CSX to help rebuild the gulf coast rail line damaged by Katrina?

Government, private industry, and all of us regular citizens need to work together, move forward and invest in our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Lets try and work together for the welfare of us all. A well-built and maintained infrastructure means more than just having a chance for a nice train ride, or an easy commute. It means an opportunity for the American dream and a better future for our children. Environmentalism is the ENEMY of infrastructure investment, it is in direct opposition to the stated goals of NCI.

In late July I enjoyed a pleasant round trip aboard Amtrak from Minneapolis MN, to Jackson MS and back. The trains were well patronized, on time, and the service was friendly. Both Canadian Pacific, and Canadian National had enough capacity and dispatched the railroads very well. I saw a lot of interesting places, and enjoyed the conversation and company of many people along the way. I just kept thinking what a shame it was that this isn’t something most Americans experience. Either they do not know or care about passenger rail or they have had a bad experience.

I’m too young to be nostalgic for the old days, and I don’t need one passenger train just to make me feel better. What I want is a quality national rail, and transportation system that makes sense for the everyday person --- one that has reliable, quality service, every time. One that recognizes the fundamental role of freight transportation to the nation’s economy. One that we can be proud of.

I urge you to reconsider the future direction of NCI.

Best regards,

Ryan D. Alen
Balsam Lake, WI

Thanks for the very thoughtful and superbly written letter. Your experience with environmentalism seems to have been on the enforcement side, which was no doubt a great burden. We don’t want to see people driven out of business by environmentalism, but we disagree that our tent can’t be big enough to include those whose motivation for better rail service is the health and safety of the environment. Advocating for better infrastructure, especially better rail service, is very much a pro-environmental stance. There are extremists in every group; we will try not to be in that camp. But we welcome those who share a dream of a better, safer, and more prosperous America with a transportation system that serves all the people. We will not agree on all things, but we should try to find common ground. - Ed.


Back to Planet Earth, Please

Dear Editor:

The Eco article (D:F September 12) sounded a little left wing and kooky. I live and work in trains and far out Sierra Club dreams are not what I like to see here.

Let’s get back to Planet Earth and keep those trains running!

Mark
Northeast Maryland


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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.

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 that have appeared in many past editions of Destination:Freedom may do so at a nominal fee. “True color” Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG or JPG) images average 1.7MB each. Print publishers can order images in process color (CMYK) or tagged image file format (.tif), and are nearly 6mb each. They will be snail-mailed to your address, or uploaded via file transfer protocol (FTP) to your site. All are 300 dots-per-inch. Please contact Leo King.

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.


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