Destination:Freedom Newsletter
The Newsletter of the National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Vol. 3 No. 40, September 30, 2002
Copyright © 2002, NCI, Inc.
President and CEO - Jim RePass
Publisher - James Furlong
Editor - Leo King

A weekly North American rail and transit update

Acela 2171 at Boston

Two photos: NCI: Leo King

A dozen Acela Express trainsets are back in service, Amtrak reports, and are generating 40 departures daily. In this photo, No. 2171 waits for boarding passengers at South Station, Boston, in September 2001. The story is below.
House appropriators
cut Amtrak request
By Wes Vernon
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON, September 26 – The House Appropriations Committee Thursday voted to cut Amtrak’s “rock bottom” request of $1.2 billion for fiscal 2003 to $762 million. It was a voice vote on the entire transportation budget that included all other spending in that category besides Amtrak. That measure passed with no audible nays from either side of the aisle. However, this is not the end of the story. It is believed the cutback will not fly by the time it gets to the House-Senate conference committee.

The measure passed after the panel’s Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) revised his own proposal so as not to target any specific trains for the graveyard. This happened after some head-scratching in Capitol corridors as to why the appropriators would shoot themselves in the foot by singling out for extinction six specific trains that run through districts and states where red-hot political races are underway.

However, amid warnings that this figure would simply bring Amtrak to the brink of bankruptcy yet again “sometime this winter,” the lawmakers, on a 35-25 vote, rejected an amendment by the subcommittee’s ranking member, Rep. Martin Sabo (D-Minn.) that would have given Amtrak its requested $1.2 billion.

The six trains originally targeted by Rogers were the New York-Chicago Three Rivers, the Chicago-L.A. Southwest Chief, the Chicago-Los Angeles Texas Eagle, the Philadelphia-Chicago Pennsylvanian, the Florida-Los Angeles Sunset Limited, and the Kentucky Cardinal.

Taking note of complaints by some of his colleagues, Rogers offered a substitute provision that is “more general” and does not target specific routes.

“The amendment would instead limit the amount of federal funding available for the long-distance trains,” he said, then added, “We will not do anything to target routes with subsidies over $200” per passenger, a figure the subcommittee chairman said was a “reasonable” and generous limit.

As an alternative approach, the lawmaker said, “We will provide $150 million for support of these trains. That is 75 percent of what Amtrak says they need.”

Criticism of this action was not long in coming.

In a bulletin to its members, the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) argued “since the long-distance network requires $350 million, this new provision is crippling systemwide, but apparently was seen as less painful because it is not accompanied by a short, specific list of affected routes.”

Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), the full appropriations committee’s ranking member, compared the change in Rogers’ amendment to an arranged wedding where the bride doesn’t see what she’s getting until after the ceremony.

The Sabo ($1.2 billion) amendment, Obey pointed out, would provide what both Amtrak and USDOT’s own Inspector General have said Amtrak needs. All the Rogers proposal does, the Badger State lawmaker noted, is postpone another trip to the brink of bankruptcy “next winter sometime.”

Rogers argued that the subsidy of $200 per passenger was right in line with subsidies to the commuter airline service. He also claimed that out of Amtrak’s 41 routes, 39 were unprofitable.

That brought a rejoinder from Obey who noted that standards for profitability are much less realistic for railroads than for other transportation modes. In a variation on the oft-repeated observation that airways and highways enjoy taxpayer-subsidized infrastructure, whereas railroads do not, the Wisconsinite noted that when the transcontinental railroad was built, the government gave the railroads some land and said, “Now you build the tracks and stations.”

In contrast, he said, when the highway system was built, the government did not go to General Motors and say, and “We’re giving you some land now you build the roads.”

Rogers, however, argued that revenue generated by the Northeast Corridor’s high-speed Acela service was being drained away to subsidize long distance trains elsewhere. He said the NEC badly needed to use that money for track upgrading and catenary.

The Kentuckian further quoted Amtrak President David Gunn as having told him in a private conversation that the long-distance routes were “the political trains.”

“He (Gunn) is proposing a number of reforms to the short-distance trains, but the biggest money-losers, the long-distance trains he is leaving to us.”

In his D:F interview of July 31, Gunn had insisted that the long-distance trains “are not the problem.”

Rogers praised Gunn for his business sense and his competence and said he was “delighted to see him in that position.” He is “the best in a long time,” the subcommittee chairman added. In the past, the lawmaker noted, Amtrak had been “a poorly-run railroad, lurching from crisis to crisis.”

He noted his measure would encourage the states to kick in with some funding for the passenger train services they receive. He would give the trains until next July to comply with the $200 per passenger subsidy criterion.

At least one member of the committee, Rep. Ann Northrop (R-Ky.) told her colleagues that she and the people of Louisville had worked hard to get the Kentucky Cardinal into her district, but that she believed her constituents would be able to boost ridership up to the goal the Rogers amendment was setting.

The House committee report that underlies the Rogers bill would put Amtrak on a short leash, with more discretion in the office of the Secretary of Transportation.

Obey said he can see now why “my friend, Tommy Thompson” (Secretary of health and Human Services) didn’t get the Transportation Secretary’s job that he badly wanted. It was because the former Wisconsin governor was a known Amtrak advocate, Obey said, and the White House did not want him in that job, even though it was his first choice.

The math used by the House to reach its conclusions differs markedly from that of its counterpart appropriations panel in the Senate. As noted by NARP, the Senate Appropriations Committee put it this way:

“Eliminating the 18 long-distance trains…would yield effectively zero savings in the first year. Only after five years would the elimination of these services yield annual operating savings exceeding $200 million – an amount that will not even cover Amtrak’s anticipated debt service payments for that year. such savings do not represent even 5 percent of the identified capital backlog in the Northeast corridor. This analysis prompts the committee to reject the notion that Amtrak can shrink its way to financial health.”

Although NARP “is deeply disappointed” in the House committee vote, it “remains optimistic that the nation’s desire for a national rail passenger system will be reflected in what is ultimately enacted.”

The 35-25 vote in committee was along party lines, but some GOP members expressed hope to D:F that it would not hold up in the coming negotiations in the House-Senate conference committee. The ability to grant or withhold favors to Congressional districts usually makes it difficult for a committee member to go against the wishes of an appropriations panel chairman of his own party. Rogers, with his gentlemanly demeanor, is not known to use strong-arm political tactics to make this point. He doesn’t need to. It’s just one of those things that is understood on Capitol Hill.

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Railroaders batten down hatches
Just like seamen out in the Gulf of Mexico, railroaders between Louisiana and Alabama battened down the hatches until the big blow passed them by on September 26.

With winds up to 65 mph, Tropical Storm Isidore – which earlier had been a hurricane – made landfall in the early morning hours on Thursday. By Friday, railroads throughout the region were on the move again.

After the northbound City Of New Orleans (No. 58) left New Orleans a day earlier than usual, on Wednesday afternoon, Amtrak discontinued all operations in New Orleans until the storm left the area, according to an observer of the Crescent City railroad scene.

Michael Palmieri noted that on Tuesday, the northbound Crescent (No. 20), and the north and southbound City Of New Orleans (Nos. 58, 59) operated as usual. The eastbound Sunset Ltd. “made it in from California and terminated here.” He also noted “The southbound Crescent (No. 19) terminated at Hattiesburg, Miss., and then deadheaded back to Meridian to be serviced.”

On Wednesday morning, Amtrak sent eight locomotives and 13 cars up the former Illinois Central (now Canadian National) to Hammond, La. “for safe storage. It included the equipment that came in Tuesday on No. 2. Later on Wednesday, No. 20 originated at Meridian while No. 1 was annulled.”

No. 58 left as usual, and No. 59 was terminated in Hammond.

A protect engine, B32-8WH No. 508, was in New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal to provide emergency power, if necessary.

Greyhound Bus Lines suspended all operations, so there was no activity at the station.

Norfolk Southern suspended all operations in New Orleans on September 25 in the late afternoon, and later suspended operations in Mobile, Ala.

Bands of heavy rain spread across the northern Gulf Coast with accumulations up to 20 inches.

The freight carrier stated in a service alert to customers, “To the extent possible, traffic normally moving through New Orleans will be detoured, however customers should expect delays. Local service at these locations is suspended until gates have reopened at New Orleans and weather conditions allow safe return of equipment and crews to the areas.”

In preparation for the tropical storm, city officials began closing the first of 120 floodgates around New Orleans Monday night, and all were closed by early Wednesday morning. It prevented rail traffic from moving into or out of the city on CSX, IC, KCS and NS, and also affected BNSF and UP traffic.

Earlier, The carrier told customers it had “begun evacuating New Orleans due to anticipated activity of Tropical Storm Isidore.”

According to the National Weather Service, a “hurricane watch was in effect along the northern Gulf Coast” from Cameron, La. to Pascagoula, Miss.

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Acelas return to service
One-by-one, Amtrak’s Acela Express high-speed trainsets are returning to service. Five trainsets remain out of service until new yaw dampers are installed connecting trucks to carbodies, or cracks can be ground out.

Karina van Veen, at Amtrak’s Washington headquarters, told D:F, “12 trainsets are running, making 40 departures.” She also noted, “Prior to the mechanical difficulties, 15 trainsets were running for 50 departures.”

Bombardier-Alstom, the consortium that built the trainsets, has not yet found a permanent solution, she added.

“We are still working with Bombardier to determine a cause and develop a permanent fix.”

A Canadian online publication, the Financial Post, looked into the Acela problems with a Canadian view, and published their results on September 21. Reporters Brian Hutchinson and Sean Silcoff wrote that Bombardier, Inc. anticipated Amtrak troubles, and warned the railroad of defects that would start appearing down the road.

The reporters searched through documents “tucked away in a Washington, D.C. courthouse.”

One by one, the Acela Expresses are returning to regular service.

The documents cast fresh light on the trains’ mechanical troubles.

Bombardier also alleged that Amtrak has “wrongfully withheld $51 million in project payments.”

In an August 2000, letter to Amtrak, Bombardier warned that “in major respects,” the trains did not comply with contract requirements.

It pointed to possible “defects” in the trains’ undercarriages – the trucks.

When all 18 trainsets were suddenly pulled from service in August, the disruption cost Amtrak an estimated $9 million (in American dollars) in lost revenues. It also reignited concerns that the trains, financed through a U.S. $611 million loan from Canada’s Export Development Corp. (EDC), will never live up to their billing as a speedy, reliable alternative to air travel.

The Bombardier and Alstom consortium, led by Bombardier, began work on them in 1997.

The EDC is a Crown corporation that seeks to stimulate sales of Canadian products outside the country, according to the published report. EDC also lent Amtrak another $400 million to buy additional Bombardier equipment, including 15 8,000 hp electric locomotives (HHP-8s, Nos. 650-664) used for Amtrak’s regional passenger train service between Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston.

The loans had “been a closely guarded secret,” [in Canada] noted the Ottawa Citizen when it broke the story two years ago.

“Details of the EDC-Amtrak loans are not disclosed in EDC annual reports or financial statements,” it wrote.

These days, Amtrak officials freely admit the EDC loans were essential to their high-speed rail project. “Amtrak had no cash” of its own to pay for the trains, recalled Amtrak board member Amy Rosen.

The Boston Globe reported the loan package “astonished some [U.S.] lawmakers, who had hoped Amtrak would put its money into a train proven to work on American rails, and into upgrading its deteriorating tunnels, wiring and tracks.” That assumed the appropriate high-speed rail technology existed. It did not.

“People think that Amtrak should have just bought some train off the shelf,” said Scott Leonard, assistant director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers.

“That kind of argument drives me crazy. There wasn’t anything out there. The new trains had to be built from scratch.”

A savvy observer also noted the trains also had to be built to “tough U.S. FRA standards. The crashworthiness was far stricter than anything else in the world.”

Court documents showed Bombardier claimed it felt pressure “to deliver equipment allegedly contractually non-compliant in major respects for revenue service,” according to an August 2000 letter the builder wrote to Amtrak. The trains entered service four months later, more than one year behind schedule.

Bombardier filed its complaint against Amtrak in November 2001, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint is housed in a massive Washington courthouse, directly opposite the Canadian embassy. It makes for some startling reading.

Almost from the moment the contract was signed, Bombardier claims, Amtrak began meddling with the consortium’s work.

“As a result of Amtrak’s continuing interference,” Bombardier alleges, “designs have been modified literally thousands of times, large numbers of already completed components have had to be discarded or retrofitted.... The magnitude of the extra work caused by Amtrak is reflected in the vast Contract record – more than 19,900 letters, 9,000 engineering change notices, 4,700 retrofit notices and 800 formally recorded meetings.... Amtrak’s conduct resulted in many months of delivery delays and large cost overruns.”

Bombardier pointed out that under the contract, Amtrak was to provide track that would allow the new trainsets to run at 150 miles an hour, with a maximum “cant deficiency” around curves of nine inches.

Defined by Bombardier, cant deficiency reflects the lateral forces imposed on rail equipment in curves. The higher the cant deficiency, the greater the lateral forces.

According to Bombardier, it told Amtrak in a confidential April 1997 meeting that existing track along the corridor was “not good enough for the speeds required” under the contract.

Bombardier is suing Amtrak for “not less than $200 million,” claiming that persistent meddling by the train operator forced the consortium to incur cost overruns.

Bombardier won’t discuss the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court last November, nor will it reveal if Amtrak has made any payment on the trains.

In July, a lawyer representing Amtrak told a Washington judge that “We think Bombardier messed up this contract something fierce, that there was incompetence in meeting contract specifications.”

However, Bombardier claimed it warned Amtrak as early as 1997 that “inadequate” railway infrastructure along the Boston-Washington corridor did not meet “international high-speed safety and ride-quality standards,” and that poor track quality could pose problems for the new trains.

New federal track standards that Amtrak encouraged were “unsafe for high-speed train service,” Bombardier said, citing an opinion from French high-speed rail experts.

The latest service disruption has been a major source of embarrassment for Bombardier, which is already reeling from its first-ever profit warning and a plunging stock price. [Bombardier’s latest quarterly statement appears else where in this issue. – Ed.]

Bombardier claims Amtrak’s “chronic financial problems precluded it from investing the funds necessary to bring Northeast Corridor track up to international high-speed safety and ride-quality standards.”

In July 1997, the U.S.FRA in Washington issued proposed safety track regulations that, Bombardier alleges, “would permit Amtrak to operate trains at high speeds and high cant deficiencies, on track whose overall quality was lower than that previously required for conventional train service.”

Bombardier alleges it warned both Amtrak and the FRA that the corridor track was inadequate, and that it would “create unsafe conditions if trains ran at the high speeds and high cant deficiency required under the contracts.”

What’s more, says Bombardier, high-speed experts from France presented Amtrak with confidential reports “demonstrating that the FRA’s new track standards were unsafe for high-speed train service.”

Amtrak, Bombardier claims, “continued to advocate standards that would decrease track quality and maintenance costs. As a consequence... the FRA issued track regulations that authorized train operation at high speeds and high cant deficiencies over track that, in key respects, was of lower quality than previously required for conventional train service.”

Amtrak’s poor track, Bombardier said, led to further design changes, more testing and delivery delays, all of which cost the consortium money.

The problems did not go unnoticed. In 1999, The Boston Globe reported engineers had “discovered excessive wear on the new wheels after the train went around curves” during performance tests. Amtrak was forced to make the first of several announcements that its high-speed service would be delayed.

“Skeptics have begun the chorus of ‘I told you so’ and are questioning whether revitalized Northeast Corridor service, whenever it happens, will live up to its billing,” the Globe harrumphed.

By June 2000, Bombardier was still concerned the trains could not meet contract requirements “in major respects,” including the performance of their undercarriages, or trucks.

Bombardier quietly informed Amtrak it was “not going to repeatedly tender equipment and then have Amtrak file claims alleging that the designs are not compliant in major respects.”

Amtrak would hear none of this; it wanted the trains delivered. The public had been told to expect the first high-speed trains by September 2000, although that seemed optimistic.

The company told Bombardier the track issue was not major, and that it need not be resolved “prior to the introduction of the trainsets into revenue service... the only consequence of this technical [track] issue is the potential operation of the trainsets at reduced speeds along certain portions of the Northeast Corridor.”

On December 10, Amtrak’s first Acela train rolled out of Washington’s Union Station, and made the inaugural high-speed run to Boston and back in 13 hours, a little more than two hours better than a conventional Amtrak train.

The new train was pulled from service the next day, after inspectors discovered some minor damage to a pantograph.

Less than a year later, Bombardier filed its complaint.

The lawsuit now seems prescient: Bombardier suggested the high-speed trains would experience difficulties, and this summer, they did. The question, of course, is why.

Not surprisingly, Amtrak denies the cracks in the suspension systems have anything to do with the quality of its track.

Amtrak has always denied that it made any inappropriate demands of Bombardier during the construction of its trains. Immediately after Bombardier filed its complaint last November, Amtrak issued a press release stating, “it refused to cut corners or accept shoddy workmanship.... The consortium’s record of failure ... is staggering.”

Amtrak maintains the Acela is safe.

The reporters bought tickets and took a ride on an Acela Express between Boston and New York.– Ed.

The Canadian Post is online at

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Daytona mayor upset over Amtrak
Amtrak’s plans to cut expansion projects nationwide, including hopes for a new station and restored passenger rail service at Daytona Beach, Fla., have left Mayor Bud Asher feeling ill.

“I got sick,” the mayor told the Daytona Beach Journal a fortnight ago. “It’s such a needed thing. We were so looking forward to having passenger train service back in Daytona Beach and a nice project.”

Asher was eagerly awaiting restored passenger service after a 30-year absence, and construction of a new station to help revive the city’s low-income west side.

Amtrak officials set aside expansion plans across the country and want a $1.2 billion subsidy for current operations, despite a deadline from Congress to be self-sufficient by December. More than $25 billion in federal subsidies have gone into Amtrak since it was formed in 1971.

U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) of Winter Park, and a state transportation official said hopes to get local plans back on track hinge on resolving Amtrak’s financial problems.

“Right now, it’s sort of tied up in election-year politics,” Mica said. “Hopefully, next year we can make changes that actually increase services, not only for Daytona Beach, but throughout the United States.”

Mica has proposed spinning Amtrak off into separate operations, with the federal government, state governments and private companies operating the different parts. He would separate services such as long-distance, commuter rail and the Auto Train.

“It’s in serious need of reform,” Mica said. “Amtrak is responsible for all passenger, long-distance and commuter rail service and they’re not able to do any of them well.”

An Amtrak spokesman responded by defending the company’s operations and said plans to bring passenger rail service back to Daytona Beach have only been put on hold.

“Our intention is to move forward at a future date, but it’s going to be on hold for the coming year,” said Howard Riefs, an Amtrak spokesman in Chicago.

An emergency $200 million operating loan in July from the USDOT barred Amtrak from spending money on expansion plans for one year, he said.

State officials plan to continue budgeting – but not spending – $64 million to restore the Jacksonville-Miami passenger rail route, said Nazih Haddad, state passenger rail development manager. About $2 million of that state money, along with more than $400,000 in city funds from a gas tax, would go to buy land here and build a new terminal.

“Amtrak is sort of wobbling trying to continue services across the country and cannot spend monies on expansion of services this year,” he said. “We’re still committed to this project, but because of the uncertainly, we’re going to hold off on spending these dollars.”

Haddad said it would probably take another year for Congress to resolve Amtrak’s financial problems and get expansion plans going again.

The city is holding off on buying property for the station “until Congress figures out what to do about Amtrak,” City Manager Richard Quigley said. The proposed site is north of International Speedway Boulevard near Segrave Street on property owned by Florida East Coast Ry. and Florida Power & Light Co.

Asher said there’s been no decision yet on whether the city’s money would stay earmarked for the rail project or go toward other transportation needs.

Elsewhere in Florida, the state has little more than one year to meet a construction start deadline for high-speed rail and find a way to finance its potential $20 billion cost.

Almost two years ago, the St. Petersburg Times recalled on September 22, Florida voters surprised everyone and approved a constitutional amendment that required the state to begin construction by November 2003 on a high-speed rail system that would link Florida’s five largest cities. Phase One would link Orlando with the Tampa Bay area.

There has been a flurry of quiet activity aimed at accomplishing what the state constitution now requires, but with barely more than a year until the deadline, there is still no certainty that Florida will get high-speed rail, and no clear means to finance it.

“I was against it initially,” said state Sen. Jim Sebesta (R) of St. Petersburg, chairman of the state’s Senate Transportation Committee.

“When it passed, I gave a zero chance to ever seeing it. Now it’s up to 50-50.”

It is Sebesta’s fantasy to unveil a train that rides on a cushion of air, capable of speeds up to 350 mph without any vibration and in total silence; but he acknowledges that fantasies are fine, as long as you don’t have to pay for them.

Even with a less ambitions train, which might travel at 150 mph, the question remains: How will the state finance a luxury that could have a final price tag of $20 billion?

Florida’s High-Speed Rail Authority, created by the state legislature, has commissioned a pair of studies for potential investors. They will suggest the best routes for the trains, station locations, costs and ridership potential, and are due in December.

On October 3, the authority will issue requests for proposals to 11 private investors who have expressed an interest in building and operating a high-speed rail line in the Sunshine State.

The proposals are due in February, a critical date because in March the legislature will have to decide whether the project is viable, and if it isn’t, whether to ask voters in another constitutional amendment to repeal the first one.

State Sen. Ron Klein (D) of Delray Beach, prepared a repeal amendment for this November’s ballot, but was persuaded to withdraw it to give the process a chance to work. If it doesn’t, and Klein is certain it won’t, he will introduce a bill next session that either asks for repeal of the rail amendment or sets out in specific terms how it will be financed.

“I do not believe the private sector is going to pay for this,” Klein said. “What I’m concerned about is an open-ended state checkbook that would drain a lot of resources, including money to solve local transportation issues, like moving people between Tampa and St. Petersburg, between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. That’s where we have problems, not moving people between Orlando and Miami.”

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Indianans mull taxing rail idea
They don’t want a sales tax increase – they only want a part of an existing tax. Saying it’s time for Indiana to get serious about high-speed rail, supporters of a Midwest rail project are planning a major effort to persuade state lawmakers to get on board.

Their plan is to create a new dedicated fund which would draw 0.04 percent of the state’s sales tax, or about $1.5 million a year, for investments, studies and matching money for federally funded projects, according to the Indianapolis Star of September 21.

Indiana is one of nine states that support the proposed $4.1 billion plan, which would link Indianapolis to every major city in the Midwest on trains going 110 mph or faster. Financially, the state has contributed little to its estimated $80 million to $140 million share of the price tag – but after its first two-day conference that ended September 20 in the capital city, the Indiana High Speed Rail Assn. unveiled plans for an aggressive lobbying effort during next year’s General Assembly.

Its strategy is to convince lawmakers that the benefits of better rail service are not just to passengers but to Indiana’s economy, which they say could reap $1.3 billion to $3.8 billion in new jobs, higher incomes and more tax revenue.

“The cornerstone of getting legislative support is our ability to show the jobs we can bring in,” said rail advocate Mark Urban, a civil engineer who will lead the effort.

He plans to produce comprehensive reports tailored to legislators who represent key districts along the proposed line. In Indiana, that includes about a dozen counties between Gary and Lawrenceburg and a half-dozen between Indianapolis and Louisville, Ky.

An estimated 5,560 to 16,700 jobs would be created, according to preliminary results of an economic impact study, details of which were released at the conference.

Most of the jobs would be directly related to the rail system itself and support industries, but many also would be created by the ripple effects of a better freight rail system, a key component of the plan.

The city of Gary, through which three high-speed routes would pass, would reap the most benefits. Indianapolis would be a close second, according to Alexander Metcalf, president of Transportation Economics and Management Systems, which is conducting the study.

“The big question is going to be, what does this (project) really mean on Main Street?” Metcalf asked.

“We know a large number of communities are going to feel the impact, because 80 percent of the population of all nine states will be living within an hour’s drive of a rail station.”

Indiana taxpayers, even those who support high-speed rail, may not like the idea of taking from a state budget that is already ailing.

“I think it’s great that governments are open to looking at new transportation options,” said Dave Reedy, a rail supporter who lives in Culver. “(The new fund) seems like a wonderful idea as long as this money doesn’t come from a tax increase.”

Roger Beaman of Indianapolis, who opposes plans for a local light-rail system, said he is not necessarily against a high-speed rail plan as long as it would be self-supporting and would not negatively affect communities. He, too, draws the line at higher taxes.

“If the state is proposing a half-cent increase for this, I would not be in favor,” he said. “We cannot keep increasing taxes every time we need money for a new need.”

High-speed rail supporters argue that if Indiana wants to be part of the Midwest rail plan, it must act now to begin the work needed to upgrade rail lines and stations.

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Finally – Albany’s new station opens
It took years to get there, but Amtrak passengers can finally board passenger trains at Rensselaer’s brand-new, $53 million facility after delays and controversy. Amtrak’s newest station opened September 23, writes the Albany Times-Union.

The tiny, old Albany-Rensselaer station stop was the 14th busiest among 530 around the country served by Amtrak, far busier than rail stops in many larger metropolitan areas. The 621,000-plus annual passenger boardings and arrivals, mostly to and from Amtrak’s busiest terminal, Penn Station in New York City, put it in a league with bustling stops in major tourist and commercial destinations such as San Diego, Seattle and Sacramento.

Ground had been broken eight years earlier, but eight years earlier, the Capital District Transportation Authority embarked on a federally funded study for a new transit center in Rensselaer.

Next spring, the station is to become the home of Rensselaer’s main post office, and 2,900 square feet of office space is available for lease to other tenants on the station’s mezzanine.

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Meridian station gets full service again
Could it be a sign that Amtrak’s fortunes are turning?

Last Friday (September 27) Amtrak’s Meridian, Miss. station was reopened daily. Amtrak stated, “Checked baggage and regular express service” also resumed. Amtrak’s Crescent passed that way. Meridian is the home of Amtrak board chairman John Robert Smith, who is also mayor of that community. He is also NCI’s board chairman.

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Another station loses its stationmaster
The doors to Amtrak’s station at White River Jct., Vermont are still open, and the trains are still running, but Bill Brigham, the 63-year-old stationmaster who did everything from planning passengers’ trips to making the morning coffee, was gone after the Vermonter pulled out of the station on September 27.

Amtrak eliminated the stationmaster positions at four Vermont stations, including the one in White River Jct., to try to save between $300,000 and $350,000, said Charlie Miller, director of rail with the Vermont DOT. The company made the layoffs a condition of the new contract with the state, which subsidized the jobs, according to the Valley News.

Ticket machines, which will cost the state $40,000 apiece, may be installed at the stations in about six months, said Miller. Until then, passengers must reserve tickets over the phone or online and buy them on the train.

The state had planned to put in the ticket machines eventually, but Amtrak’s decision was a surprise, said Miller. “This came up on us,” he said.

Brigham has worked for Amtrak for nearly 30 years, the last seven of which have been at the White River Jct. station.

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Commuter lines...
APTA expo rocks Las Vegas

By Jim RePass

The American Public Transportation Association’s massive, once-every-three-years International Expo joined with its annual meeting to rock Las Vegas this past week when more than 15,000 attendees descended upon Nevada’s capital of glitz and show.

“Public Transportation: Wherever Life Takes You” was the theme of the week-long affair. Taken from APTA’s successful new Public Transportation Partnership for Tomorrow (PT)2 program, it was reinforced throughout the conference by signage and sessions alike.

US Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, welcomed by APTA President Bill Millar, keynoted the opening day general session with a strong and well-delivered speech showing the feisty former House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman and former Mayor of San Jose to be fully recovered from his hip surgery last spring, told the 3,000-plus in the audience that “Transit is improving the life of all Americans,” and vowed to fight for adequate transit funding under TEA-21 reauthorization. The current Transportation Equity Act expires next year.

“For every $1 billion invested in transit, 45,700 jobs are generated,” he stated.

Mineta directly addressed the current Amtrak controversy.

“I have never wavered from my belief that that intercity passenger rail service plays an important role in American transportation,” but added, [however] “...our intercity rail network must transition to a system based upon priorities worked out in partnership with state and local government.”

Mineta called for citizen input on the shape and content of the successor to TEA-21 via the DOT website (, then click on re-authorization).

Also speaking was Federal Transit Administrator Jennifer Dorn, admired by transit advocates as one of the Bush Administration’s most progressive leaders. She challenged attendees to double transit ridership, and “make transit the mode of choice”. She noted that even as transit ridership has increased over the past decade, transit’s market share has been declining

The federal government currently invests four times as many dollars per year in highways than it does in public transportation, and for decades invested no money at all while building the National Highway System (1916-present) and then the Interstates (1956-present).

More than 40 special sessions and six general forums tackled a full range of issues, from advocacy (From a session on coalition-building: “The grassroots always beat the special interests, if they get organized”) to Zero-Emission Vehicles (Electric and hybrid buses by the dozen, as new technologies finally hit the market in commercial quantities), as APTA’s gavel was passed from outgoing chair Peter Cipolla, General Manager of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, to incoming chair Celia Kupersmith, General Manager, Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District in San Francisco.

APTA is online at The organization publishes Passenger Transport news magazine.

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Possible conflict of interest in Arizona
Phoenix is paying Republican nominee for governor Matt Salmon $187,500 this year to lobby Congress for the city’s big-ticket projects, including light rail construction.

The Salmon campaign defended the arrangement as an example of aggressive pursuit of Arizona’s best interests, but some government watchdogs are raising eyebrows, reported The Arizona Republic on September 18.

No project is closer to Phoenix’s heart, and in more jeopardy, than the $1 billion light rail project. Phoenix hired Salmon in July 2001, two months after he announced he would run for governor. In that role, he lobbies for the city’s biggest federal agenda items, including the Rio Salado rehabilitation project, policing grants, water management and federal security at Sky Harbor International Airport.

Cecelia Martinez, executive director of the state’s Clean Elections Institute, said she believes the simultaneous lobbying for Phoenix while campaigning statewide “raises a red flag.”

“This comes as a shock,” she said. “Taking a paycheck from Phoenix while he’s campaigning raises the question, ‘Are you running for governor or are you doing business, or are you doing both?’”

Salmon had declined repeated requests over three days to discuss his lobbying activities, but issued a statement that said, “The experience that the city of Phoenix sought in bringing me on board is the same experience that I will bring to our fight to ensure all Arizona receives its fair share from Washington.”

Salmon does not think his dual role as a candidate and a lobbyist for Phoenix is a conflict of interest, campaign spokesman Tom Puglia added.

“Phoenix is a big part of the state of Arizona,” he said.

“As governor, he looks forward to representing every part of the state. He makes no apologies for trying to make sure Arizona gets its fair share of federal transportation dollars.”

Salmon will not combine his lobbying with campaign events, but will instead work on the issues during his “private time,” Puglia said.

Other Arizona Republicans have called the project “a boondoggle” and a “field of dreams,” but Salmon has demonstrated consistent support for light rail, even during his stint in Congress. He joined Rep. Ed Pastor in seeking money for the project in 1997 through the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.

Salmon traveled on a five-city GOP “Unity Tour” over a recent weekend with four of the people from which Phoenix would most like to win support for its light rail project – U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl and Reps. Jeff Flake and J.D. Hayworth.

Their backing is considered crucial to securing $80 million of federal funding to begin land acquisition this year for the 20-mile set of light rail tracks. Arizona’s Congressional delegation so far has been lukewarm in its endorsement, and the money was not included in a transportation bill in the Senate this summer.

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Third Sounder starts running
Making good on its slogan “Moving Forward,” Sound Transit reported on Friday (September 27) its third Sounder commuter train between Seattle and Tacoma would start running on Monday at 6:30 a.m.

The trains operate over Burlington Northern & Santa Fe tracks.

Initially, the third morning train will leave the Tacoma Dome Station between the 6:15 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. trains. The new southbound train will leave Seattle’s King Street Station at 4:55 p.m., followed by the current 5:10 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. trains. The addition of the third train adds 38 percent capacity to the system.

Meanwhile, two final bus routes in ST Express will begin. The ST Express regional bus system is the first of Sound Transit’s three lines of business created by the 1996 Sound Move vote to reach completion.

In 1996 voters approved funding for Sound Transit to provide a regional system of transit improvements, including Sounder commuter rail, ST Express regional bus service, numerous capital improvements (including park-and-ride lots, transit centers and direct access ramps) and Link light rail.

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Vermont looks to expand service
Planned commuter train service between Essex and Burlington, Vermont is moving closer to being built. The project received a $4.8 million federal boost, Vermont Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and James Jeffords (I-Vt.) said September 19.

The money will be used for engineering, and to buy the land and build the eight-mile rail line, The AP reported.

“It certainly gets us off and running with the preliminary engineering phase,” said Charlie Miller, rail division director at the state Agency of Transportation. Engineering and design work will take about a year, Miller said, and trains should be running by 2006. The entire project, including bus service to transport passengers to train stations, is expected to cost between $21 and $24 million, Miller said.

The Vermont Transportation Authority, which runs the Champlain Flyer, a commuter train between Charlotte and Burlington, would run the Essex line.

“The Champlain Flyer cannot survive with its present route,” said Jim Fitzgerald, commuter rail manager for the Vermont Transportation Authority.

“We just don’t travel far enough. This system has to grow. This would enable us to carry on and take our folks through Winooski, into Essex and IBM.” Leahy said the commuter train would alleviate traffic in populated parts of northwestern Vermont and also would provide transportation alternatives for IBM employees.

“Starting passenger rail from Essex to Burlington will give commuters along the crowded Route 15 corridor the opportunity to trade the headaches of traffic for the convenience of rail service,” said Leahy.

All the rail line and ballast will need to be replaced, according to William McNight, executive director for the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization. A deteriorating tunnel under North Avenue in Burlington also will require extensive work, Miller said.

The Essex line is one leg of a larger commuter rail service that state officials hope to extend south to Middlebury and from Essex Jct. to Montpelier. Officials also are considering linking Franklin County to Essex Jct. with an additional line. The Burlington-Essex service also would help connect Vermont to other rail service in the Northeast, Jeffords said.

“By improving this line, we will connect the two key branches of Vermont’s rail system, enabling passenger service to Burlington from throughout the state and the Northeast,” he said.

The Rutland Herald is online at

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So long, Caribou Prospector
British Columbia Rail’s passenger services staff arrived at work on September 18 to discover that they no longer had jobs. What they got instead was a memo notifying them of meetings to discuss compensation packages and final employment dates.

B.C. Rail spokesman Alan Dever said the memo was sent out to give worried employees a sense of certainty about an issue that had been the source of much speculation.

“I can’t talk about timing,” he said, then asked, “What is the relevance?”

Pat Corbett, an opponent of plans to close down the Caribou Prospector, said B.C. Rail should be more sensitive to the feelings of employees in the tourism industry, which had already been hard hit by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York.

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Feds to fund Michigan rail corridor
With some new money at hand, Grand Rapids, Mich., can start looking at creating a West Michigan commuter rail corridor and other mass transportation options.

The USDOT awarded Grand Rapids a $742,510 grant September 19 to fund a study examining major improvements to the region’s public transportation network, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.) of Grand Rapids requested $1.5 million last year. Ehlers previously said he was excited about the study of light rail. The idea has been pushed for years by environmentalists, but scoffed at by others.

“I know some people laugh at the idea of light rail in Grand Rapids because they don’t consider it a major city,” Ehlers said, “but it takes 15 years of planning for something like this. All you have to do is look back 15 years at what the traffic situation was like then, when everything was nice and comfortable and the roads were not crowded.”

The proposed light rail route would run parallel to U.S. 131 from southern to northern Kent County and Interstate 196 from southwest of Grand Rapids to east of the city.

The study would look at building a system of lightweight, electrically powered trains or single-rail cars and analyze the use of express buses as a lower-cost alternative.

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Monorail stalls, strands 26
No one was injured when the Seattle Center Monorail stalled above Fifth Avenue at Battery Street around noon, stranding 26 passengers for about an hour on September 22.

Megan Nielsen, an operation supervisor for the Monorail, said an air compressor failed, which triggered the brakes. Because the system’s second train was undergoing scheduled maintenance to replace its tires, monorail service was temporarily halted, but it resumed later in the evening, according to the Seattle Times. Nielsen said 5,000 to 6,000 people typically ride the Monorail on Sundays in September.

The Monorail was built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

Seattle firefighters helped escort the stranded passengers down fire-engine ladders to the street. Most of the patrons made light of their predicament.

After the rescue, firefighter Mike Russell laughed and jokingly compared the situation with helping a cat from a tree.

“It’s similar,” he said. “On a larger scale, it definitely makes for an exciting day when you have something incredible like this happen. There’s no danger, but you get to help people.”

Cindy Harrison, of Ann Arbor, Mich., who was in the Northwest city for a health-care conference, had been shopping with her daughter.

“There was sort of a ‘pop’ sound and we smelled some burning and it just stopped,” she said.

Passengers and the monorail’s motorman, who were stuck for nearly an hour, were good-natured about the incident. To kill time, they said, they chatted and got to know each other.

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Freight lines... Old Neuse River Bridge

North Carolina Railroad

North Carolina Railroad’s nearly century-old bridge over the Neuse River near Kinston, N.C
Work starts on new bridge
A bridge that has spanned the Neuse River near Kinston, N.C. for nearly a century on the North Carolina Railroad (NCRR) will be removed and replaced with a new structure that will accommodate today’s larger and heavier freight rail cars.

NCRR President Scott Saylor said last week that Altair Construction Co. had been awarded the construction contract to begin work in October. The project will take up to one year to complete, he said. NCRR’s 317-mile corridor stretches from Morehead City to Charlotte.

“The new bridge will enhance the ability of Norfolk Southern Ry., which operates the NCRR rail lines under a trackage rights agreement, to offer better service for existing and future customers in the eastern part of the state and at the Morehead City Port,” Saylor said.

“Heavy or wide rail cars are currently being re-routed around the existing bridge. The old bridge, located in Lenoir County, is outdated and incurred flood-related damage associated with Hurricane Floyd.”

NCRR reports it carries more than 60 NS freight trains and eight Amtrak passenger trains daily. NCRR is owned by the State of North Carolina and operated as a private firm.

The new bridge will be a through plate girder structure replacing the old trestle type spans that cannot support the heavier, modern cars. Each car can weigh up to 315,000 pounds. This means the track will be set inside and between the new steel girders, and there will be no limiting overhead structure like the old bridge. The project will begin with the ordering of steel and the construction of piers and backwalls to support the deck, according to NCRR Consulting Engineer Glenn Hartsoe. The next step will be to fabricate the track span, then construct the bridge ties. The fabricated track will then be placed on the bridge, with two spans of about 115 feet each.

“This construction requires taking the track out of service for a period of about five months but all operations will continue through re-routing of rail traffic over Norfolk Southern routes,” said Carl Wilson, general manager for Norfolk Southern’s East Carolina Business Unit.

“Rail customers should not experience any delays,” he added.

“Another NCRR project is the Highway 54 Bridge,” Saylor said. “It is located in Research Triangle Park in Durham County and will be under construction in 2003.”

The structure was built before the park was created, when there was little traffic other than farming vehicles along Highway 54. Today, there is traffic congestion that is made worse by the narrowness of the single-track railroad bridge along this heavily traveled artery into the park. The replacement bridge will allow for double tracks and realignment to accommodate the Triangle Transit Authority’s proposed track system.

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Mount Hood line gets $2 million loan
Northwest Oregon’s shortline Mount Hood Railroad got a $2.07 million Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan last week from the FRA.

The 25-year RRIF loan, totaling $2,070,000, will be used for track rehabilitation, buying rail equipment and refinancing past debt used for capital expenditures and equipment purchase, said FRA Administrator Allan Rutter.

Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.), Chairman of the House Railroads Subcommittee, said, “I look forward to more of these loans being approved in order to allow railroads to better compete with other modes of transportation.”

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), ranking member on the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Subcommittee, noted “Without adequate rail freight lines, Oregon’s farmers and manufacturers cannot get their goods to market. This loan will do a lot to improve our state’s transportation infrastructure.”

Mount Hood Railroad operates a 22-mile line from the city of Hood River on the Columbia River to Parkdale, Ore. Acquired from Union Pacific in 1987, the Mount Hood operates freight and scenic passenger services.

“The RRIF program is an extremely important option that is now available to all railroads, particularly short line operations such as the Mount Hood,” said Fred Duckwall, Mount Hood’s board chairman.

Several noteworthy public policy benefits to be achieved through the loan include improved railroad operating safety as a result of the track and bridge rehabilitation, enhanced energy efficiency and environmental quality by ensuring the continued use of rail to move regional freight traffic, sustained economic development in the Hood River County area, continued competitive access to international markets via the Union Pacific Railroad, and preservation of rail service to the rural community of Mount Hood.

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St. Mary’s Railroad in trouble
Train traffic in Camden County, Georgia, ground to a halt a fortnight ago when CSX stopped delivery of wood, chips and chemicals to St. Mary’s Railroad, which is owned by Durango-Georgia Paper Co.

St. Mary’s is located in the southeastern-most corner of Georgia, just across St Mary’s River from Florida’s Nassau County.

If the paper company catches up on its bills and CSX deliveries resume, however, questions still remain about what happens if St. Mary’s Railroad goes out of business when the paper mill closes in mid-November and more than 900 workers lose their jobs, according to the Jacksonville Times-Union of September 24.

The railroad’s primary reason for existence is to deliver goods to the mill and haul finished products away, but the 12 miles of St. Mary’s Railroad lines are also used by trains once or twice a month to make deliveries to nearby King’s Bay Naval Submarine Base, said Ed Buczek, a base spokesman. No one knows who will maintain the railroad’s tracks if St. Mary’s Railroad goes out of business.

“There are supplies shipped by rail and rail only,” Buczek said. “We’re still looking at how we are going to operate.”

Buczek said he isn’t allowed to say what supplies are delivered by train, citing national security, but the Navy is exploring other ways to bring items normally shipped by rail onto the base.

“We’re hoping that someone will take over the railroad,” Buczek said. “I don’t think the Navy wants to get into the business of running a railroad.”

The base currently has a shared maintenance agreement with St. Mary’s Railroad for $50,000 a year. The agreement calls for the railroad to maintain its lines at Navy standards.

If St. Mary’s Railroad does shut down, federal law prevents the company from abandoning its lines without permission, according to Nancy Bieter, a spokeswoman with the Surface Transportation Board that will have final word about whether the lines can be abandoned by the railroad.

No abandonment application had been filed as of September 26. The STB was not accepting applications on the 27th.

Jim Johnson, a Durango spokesman, said company lawyers are reviewing federal guidelines to determine their obligations to maintain the tracks, but no decision has been made.

Buczek said the Navy is still trying to determine other ways materials normally shipped by rail could be delivered to the base, but he didn’t know if there were any alternatives.

“We’re still thinking this will have minimal impact,” Buczek said. “If they went out of business, we would like to negotiate a shared maintenance agreement with someone else.”

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said his aides are working with the Navy to determine a solution to how the railroad lines would be maintained if St. Mary’s Railroad goes out of business.

It’s not going to be abandoned,” Kingston said. “It’s a matter of national defense.”

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Railroads again set intermodal record
U.S. freight railroads moved more intermodal freight during the week ended September 21 than in any other week on record, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said September 26.

Intermodal volume totaled 206,454 trailers and containers, up 9.6 percent from the comparable week last year, and 1.9 percent more than in the week ended August 31 when the previous weekly record of 202,551 trailers and containers was set.

Off sharply were loadings of primary forest products, down 15.6 percent; grain, off 15.0 percent; and petroleum products, decreasing 10.8 percent.

Carload freight, which doesn’t include the intermodal data, was off slightly from last year, totaling 343,146 cars, down just 0.1. Carload volume was up 2.7 percent in the East, but down 2.3 percent in the West. Total volume was estimated at 29.6 billion ton-miles, up 0.7 percent from the 38th week of 2001.

Loadings in twelve out of 19 commodity groups registered gains from last year, with nonmetallic minerals up 13.9 percent, metallic ores increasing by 10.4 percent and motor vehicles and equipment gaining 10.1 percent.

The AAR also reported the following cumulative totals for U.S. railroads during the first 38 weeks of 2002: 12,483,556 carloads, down 1.0 percent from last year; intermodal volume of 6,831,864 trailers and containers, up 5.5 percent; and total volume of an estimated 1.08 trillion ton-miles, up 1.0 percent from last year’s first 38 weeks.

Railroads reporting to AAR account for 90 percent of U.S. carload freight and 97 percent of rail intermodal volume. When the U.S. operations of Canadian railroads are included, the figures increase to 96 percent and 99 percent.

Railroads provide more than 40 percent of the nation’s intercity freight transportation, more than any other mode, and rail traffic figures are regarded as an important economic indicator.

Canadian railroads reported a similar pattern to that in the U.S., with intermodal up sharply and carload freight down slightly during the week ended September 21. Intermodal traffic totaled 42,231 trailers and containers, up 11.0 percent from last year. Carload volume of 62,472 cars was down 0.2 percent from the comparable week last year.

Cumulative originations for the first 38 weeks of 2002 on the Canadian railroads totaled 2,258,137 carloads, down 2.9 percent from last year, and 1,445,044 trailers and containers, up 9.7 percent from last year

Combined cumulative volume for the first 38 weeks of 2002 on 16 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads totaled 14,741,693 carloads, down 1.3 percent from last year and 8,276,908 trailers and containers, up 6.2 percent from last year.

The AAR also reported that carload freight on the Mexican railroad Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM) during the week ended September 21 totaled 10,522 cars originated or received from connecting lines, down 14.4 percent from last year. TFM reported intermodal volume of 3,433 trailers or containers, up 31.6 percent from the 38th week of 2001. For the first 38 weeks of 2002, TFM reported cumulative volume of 397,378 cars, up 1.2 percent from last year, and 138,728 trailers or containers, up 6.8 percent.

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Business lines...

Bombardier to pay quarterly dividends

Bombardier, Inc., of Montreal stated on September 24 its directors would pay dividends on its Class A and Class B shares.

The firm stated in a press release it would pay $0.045 per share on the Class A shares (multiple voting) and $0.045 per share on its Class B shares (subordinate voting), payable on October 31 to the shareholders of record at the close of business on October 18.

Class B shareholders, who have a right to a priority dividend at the rate of $0.0015625 per share per year, payable by quarterly installments of $0.00039075, will receive the third installment of $0.00039075 per share on October 31.

The firm also stated it would pay a quarterly dividend of $0.34225 per share on the Series 3 Preferred Shares, payable on October 31 to the shareholders of record at the close of business on October 18, 2002.

It will also pay a quarterly dividend of $0.390625 per share on its Series 4 Preferred Shares on Oct. 31 to the shareholders of record at the close of business on October 18.

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Dear Editor:

Kudos to you and your crew on reporting the Stan Bagley story. This is a subject that we here (unions) have been saying and laughing about for years and years. They continue to do what is known as “The shuffle.” This is why we would have always wished for an independent review of the management structure and the planning and purchasing of the Acela trains. It seems to me, as a union employee, that Mr. Gunn gets a B-plus in his first few months of office. We’ll see what he does with my union contract before it can go to an A-plus or an F-minus.

Keith Kovaleski
Monroe, N.J.

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October 3-6

Rail~Volution – Building livable communities with transit

Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert St., NW, Washington, D.C.

Information and registration on line can be found at:

October 6-22

European railway technology and infrastructure study trip

Co-sponsored by AREMA. This study trip leads up to EurailSpeed 2002 in Madrid. Trip itinerary will include visits to the UK, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Spain. For information, visit or contact Desiree Knight at (301) 459-3200, ext. 703.

October 15, 16

Ninth Annual Passenger Trains on Freight Railroads Conference

Washington Marriott Hotel
Washington, D.C.

Passenger train operations on freight railroads, including high-speed, offer excellent opportunities to develop new commuter and intercity rail services, but while they offer attractive sources of revenue to freight carriers, they also pose perplexing problems-compensation, liability, grade crossing safety, signaling and train control requirements, right-of-way capacity constraints, and maintaining freight service integrity. The conference will offer a thorough, candid airing of these topics, and an in-depth look at some of the important projects being undertaken in this area. This two-day event will feature recognized experts from both the passenger and freight sides of railroading.

Register On-Line at

November 17-20

Surface Transportation and Sprawl:
A Free Four-day Seminar for Journalists in the Center of Washington, D.C.

Seminar is designed to help reporters and editors get beyond the clichés and enrich that work, even as Congress begins to debate the next big highway bill.

Topics will include “Building a highway with asphalt and influence,” “Are cities designed for humans any more?” Also, “transportation and the environment; the politics of transportation; the ups and downs of passenger rail; the social costs of a commuting life.”

The 15 expenses-paid fellowships are available to qualified journalists. Fellowships include airfare, hotel and most meals.

There is no application form. You can apply by mail, e-mail or fax. To apply, send a letter making your case for attending, a letter of support from your supervisor, a brief bio, and a clip (not a web site reference) or VHS or audio tape (if you’re an editor send a sample of work you’ve edited). Applications will not be returned. Applications must be received by 5 p.m., October 11. Send applications to National Press Foundation, Transportation 2002, 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 310, Washington, D.C. 20036. E-mail is Fax is 202-530-2855. Call for information at 202-663-7280, ext. 106. Check out for more information.

Underwritten by the Kiplinger Foundation, with support from the NPF Program Fund (Times Mirror Foundation, ABC Inc., and others).

The National Press Foundation is a non-profit educational foundation.

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Baldwin loco

NCI: Leo King collection –

Ektachrome by Paul M. Penney, Bessemer & Lake Erie

Here is a truly first-generation locomotive. This circa 1955 post card from the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad describes the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corp. as “a 1,600 HP six-axle six-motor diesel switching locomotive,” but not which model it was. The B&LE was established in 1900 under Andrew Carnegie to protect a route for iron ore from Lake Erie to Carnegie’s Pittsburgh mills. It was comprised of many predecessor companies – and that’s still the railroad’s primary route.

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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 crew at Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write.

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

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

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

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

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