Vol. 5 No. 41
October 25, 2004

Copyright © 2004
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

The E-Zine of the National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
President and CEO - Jim RePass
Publisher - Jim RePass      Editor - Leo King
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A weekly North American rail and transit update

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

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


Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, October 31


Special MBTA train set for World Series

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is providing a special train that will depart Boston’s Yawkey commuter rail station near Fenway Park 30 minutes after the last out of World Series games, and Green Line trolleys will run on their usual rush-hour schedule in and out of Kenmore Square on game days, according to the Boston Globe.

The trains will make all stops outbound, including Newton, Wellesley, and Natick to the end of the line in Worcester, said Joe Pesaturo, spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

The Green Line will operate at rush-hour frequency before and after the game to provide maximum capacity to Kenmore Square, Pesaturo said, and service will be extended if any game continues beyond the T’s usual end-of-service time, at 1:00 a.m.

During the playoffs, which went into extra innings, people were told that the Worcester trains would not run extra, and anyone needing to get home would have to leave Fenway Park on time to get the last train. Apparently it was a dispatching issue with CSX and an unwillingness to change the schedule because it would affect their moves.

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Empire Service along theHudson River

For NCI: Robert Benkovitz

Northbound Amtrak Empire Service train No. 259 passes a tugboat pushing an oil barge up the Hudson River at Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. on October 12. Meanwhile, the leaves are in full color for all the leaf-peepers.


Will a new entity soon run
Caltrans, Amtrak trains?

A coalition of San Joaquin Valley leaders in California is proposing to take over Amtrak’s San Joaquin passenger train service from Caltrans in hopes of increasing capacity on the route.

The proposal comes from the San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee. The panel of local officials works in an advisory capacity with Caltrans, which currently manages the passenger train route between Bakersfield, Sacramento and Oakland.

Reporter Matt Weiser at The Bakersfield Californian wrote on October 8 the committee is proposing to create a joint powers authority to oversee the route, as allowed by 1996 legislation. A similar arrangement has been in place for several years on the Capitol Corridor Amtrak route, operating between Sacramento and San Jose, and advocates say it has led to major service improvements there.

“I think it’s well worth looking at,” said Kern County Supervisor Ray Watson, a member of the committee. “As our population continues to grow, we’re going to need more and more rail service.”

Art Lloyd, facilitator for the committee, said there would be no financial liability to local government, except for startup costs of perhaps $50,000 to $100,000 each. Caltrans and Amtrak would continue to subsidize the service at existing levels, and Amtrak would continue to operate the trains – but local officials would start calling more of the shots, and they could directly lobby for money. That could lead to more frequent train service, more passenger capacity and station improvements, among other benefits.

For instance, the joint powers authority operating Capitol Corridor trains has added eight daily round trips to the route since taking over from Caltrans in 1998. As a result, it has become a popular commute alternative between Sacramento and San Jose.

“The local jurisdictions have more direct input as to how the service is run and how it changes over time,” said Jim Allison, a planner with the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, which manages the Capitol Corridor under contract with its joint powers authority.

Local leaders could also gain some clout in negotiating with other players.

A case in point is the desire to restore service between Bakersfield and Los Angeles, one of the biggest missing links in California passenger rail. The link ceased operating in 1971. In recent years, Caltrans has been unable to convince Union Pacific Railroad to open its tracks over the Tehachapi Range to Amtrak trains.

Local officials might be able to exert more pressure to restore that service. The rail committee is also looking into building a new rail line between Bakersfield and Palmdale as an alternative. Lloyd said a new joint powers authority would improve prospects for that concept.

He said there is no deadline to create the joint powers authority, but committee members are now shopping it around to local leaders between the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Richard Silver, executive director of the Rail Passenger Assn. of California, said local control of the San Joaquins route is long overdue.

The San Joaquins is one of the fastest-growing routes in the Amtrak system, partly because of Caltrans funding and oversight, but Silver said more improvements are needed, and they could come faster with local management.

“I worry this may be one of those trial balloons that just floats away,” he said, “but my sense is that this is moving farther and faster than anything in the past.”

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Railway Age conference:

Goode says thinking has changed

By Molly McKay
Destination:Freedom assistant publisher

Railroad executives got together in Washington on October 19 and 20 to talk about freight trains, and passenger trains running on their tracks.

The 11th “Passenger Trains on Freight Railroads” conference of Railway Age magazine emphasized more than ever the open-minded thinking going on in the freight railroad industry toward shared use of their lines with passenger trains. Keynoter David Goode, Norfolk Southern Ry. president and CEO opened the conference.

Goode said, “Five years ago, I was ‘Dr. No,’ but today I know it makes business sense.”

Goode added, “A win-win scenario is possible, but certain rock-hard commitments are essential. For example, no reduction in capacity for freight rail, fair value for use of the tracks, and liability protection, to name a few.”

Goode, whose railroad is headquartered in Norfolk, noted freight railroads can benefit from added funding for capitol improvement costs – which they are not keeping up with at present, and passenger rail needs the added capacity.

“We are trying to be flexible and cooperative,” said Goode, “and, would you believe, on-the-job sensitivity training has helped.

“Will passenger trains be run by Norfolk Southern? That’s a stretch, but even to mention it shows a big leap in the thinking.”

In the big picture, the American transportation system is in trouble, he said, and highway congestion cannot be solved by adding more pavement.

“You could double the lanes on I-95 right now and it wouldn’t relieve congestion,” Goode said, “but a vastly improved rail system, both freight and passenger, can relieve congestion on the highways and high speed rail can accommodate the 300 to 500 mile airline trips which are now crowding the skies.”

Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, was presented the W. Graham Claytor, Jr., Award for Distinguished Service to Passenger Transportation. Quinn is retiring from the House this fall.

Speakers from Connecticut to California reported on corridor projects that are moving forward thanks to improved technology, and talented leadership. In Pennsylvania, the electrification of the Keystone Corridor will benefit freight, passenger and commuter rail. There is huge growth in light rail shared-use practices. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail of New Jersey Transit is a good example. Other talks focused on safety issues, grade crossing mitigation, signaling improvements, global positioning systems – all essential technological improvements needed to make the passenger-freight partnerships succeed.

At the end of the day, Tom Simpson, Executive Director of the Railway Supply Institute delivered some sobering political news. The prospects for adequate funding for rail are grim. The American Road and Transportation Builders Assn. can always blanket the Hill with thousands of advocates fighting for highway dollars while the numbers advocating rail are dismally slim by comparison.

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All Northeast Amtrak trains
to be reserved for Thanksgiving

Amtrak is anticipating another busy Thanksgiving holiday travel period. In an effort to accommodate all who will travel by rail this Thanksgiving, Amtrak says it is urging customers to buy their tickets now.

The week of Thanksgiving is typically Amtrak’s busiest travel period. In 2003, Amtrak saw a record holiday ridership of 596,000. Because of this, passengers are encouraged to purchase their tickets well in advance of the holiday.

Extra equipment will again be added to trains in the Northeast, the carrier is anticipating its service between Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. as well as New York-Albany and Niagara Falls will experience heavy ridership.

So, says the national passenger train service, to ensure smooth travel, Northeast trains running between November 22-29 will require a reservation. The exceptions will be Keystone and Clocker service.

Passengers are also urged to purchase their tickets early Due to the all-reserved status of trains operating in the Northeast during the Thanksgiving holiday, Amtrak customers are urged to purchase tickets as soon as possible. Reservations may be made by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL or at www.amtrak.com.

In a continuing effort to maintain a safe and pleasant travel environment, Amtrak says it is “strictly enforcing” its baggage policy. Carry-on luggage is limited to two pieces, not including purses, briefcases, laptops or items needed for infants. To read Amtrak’s complete baggage policy, log onto www.amtrak.comwww.amtrak.com and click on “Traveling with Amtrak.”

A special holiday timetable will be available in stations in the Northeast in mid-November.

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Trackwork impacts Penn Line

Effective today through November 19, Amtrak says it will be performing major track work on one of the two tracks between Landover (south of New Carrollton), Md., and Washington. Only one track will be available for trains in both directions. Since almost 140 trains travel this segment, single-track operation will invariably lead to delays while trains take turns going north and south.

Amtrak is estimating that the maximum delay should be around 15 minutes, although when southbound trains enter this territory running late the potential for longer delays is possible. In addition many MARC commuter trains operate multiple trips, and delays may accumulate later in the rush hour. A representative of the Amtrak Commuter District, which operates MARC trains, will be in the dispatching center in Philadelphia to ensure that MARC trains receive equal priority and dispatchers “realize the implication” that delaying one MARC train could have on a later train.

The work to be performed will be done by two “undercutter” machines. These machines remove all the rock ballast under the track, sift out extraneous material such as dirt, crushed rock, and any other material that would prevent ballast from draining properly. After the under cutter has completed its work, fresh, clean ballast is dumped and the track is surfaced for a smooth ride. Ballast is the least glamorous of any part of a railroad track – but its condition contributes to the longevity of such components as ties and rail.

A statement from the carrier said, “We know that this period is going to be very difficult for our passengers, especially after two recent months of good on-time performance on the Penn Line,” but it is necessary to perform this work to maintain the railroad in good condition.

“We will be carefully monitoring the performance of MARC trains to see if any adjustments can minimize delays. Passengers near Camden Line stations may wish to use stations like Dorsey and Savage, but capacity is limited on Camden Line trains. We are attempting to add cars to selected Camden Line trains but we cannot accommodate all Penn Line riders.”

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Lake Shore crew dorm burns

Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited was delayed more than three hours on October 19 about 10 miles west of Sandusky, Ohio after its dormitory car burned. No one was seriously injured.

At 2:05 a.m., train No. 48 (with P-42 engines 155 and 135) was reported stopped “with emergency brake application not initiated by engineer.”

The crew reported dormitory car 2522 “was on fire inside; one employee reported hearing an explosion inside the 2522, then smoke, then he pulled the emergency brake valve,” a source close to the scene reported.

Local police, fire, and emergency medical responded. All car occupants were evacuated safely, but some were given oxygen and treated for smoke inhalation. Passengers in adjacent sleepers 62021 and 62007 were moved to other cars because of smoke.

The train was cut away from the crew car, and again from the sleeper 62021 to allow room for firefighters to work the fire. Firefighters broke out windows from the 2522 to gain access and also reported baggage 1251 was on fire.

Neither passengers nor employees required hospitalization. Once released by firefighters, the train was recoupled to sleeper 62021 and continued on its way. Rear cars 2522, 1251, and ExpressTrak loads 74022, 74109 were left at the scene, but Norfolk Southern moved them from main line onto a siding. The trains was delayed three hours, 21 minutes.

Later, it was determined the fire appears to have originated in an electrical box at the east end of the dorm car.

Norfolk Southern towed the rear four cars – the 2522, 1251, and the two ExpressTrak cars – two miles west and into a siding to clear the main line. The location was better for the firefighters as well.

The fire in 2522 had worked its way between ceiling and roof of car, and was finally extinguished after several hours by cutting a hole in the roof and pouring water into it.

Baggage 1251 had no fire damage as first reported by firefighters, but had extensive smoke damage throughout, including passenger baggage and other contents.

Sleeping Car 62021 continued on with the rest of the train to New York, but it was taken out of service and passengers reaccommodated due to the remaining odor of smoke in car.

Passenger baggage in the 1251 and what was left of crew belongings in the 2522 were removed and taken to Toledo station, to be forwarded on the next day’s No. 48.

The four cars were moved to Toledo on October 20, and the ExpressTrak loads continued east on No. 48 two days late.

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Cheney visits Wisconsin rail museum

Republican supporters gathered on Friday at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wis. to greet Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne. The vice president attended a Republican National Committee rally. Wisconsin is considered one of a handful of battleground states remaining before the Nov. 2 election.

– Green Bay Press-Gazette

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Troubled bridge over water

Engineering forces worked around the clock in September to make emergency repairs to Amtrak’s Thames River Bridge, a Connecticut bascule bridge on the Northeast Corridor. It was the most recent episode of a number of urgent fixes made to the bridge’s machinery in the past 15 years.

Thames River Bridge

Amtrak Ink

Located in Groton, Conn., the Thames River Bridge is a key transportation link between New York and Boston that has undergone a series of urgent fixes.
The machinery that raises and lowers the bridge is worn out and requires constant monitoring. Its failure could cause the bridge to seize up during operation, blocking the channel and preventing rail operations. Either way, the bridge is Amtrak’s responsibility to maintain, wrote Amtrak Ink in its October edition. The monthly publication is for employees.

Located between New London and Groton, the bridge is a key transportation link that the railroad cannot afford to have become inoperative – it would sever the north end of the corridor. Its operation is not only vital to passenger rail service – it’s also a key transportation link to a number of other entities. The bridge is one of 13 movable bridges Amtrak owns, 10 of which are on the corridor. Five are between Mystic and Old Saybrook, Conn., plus several more on Metro-North Railroad between New Haven and New Rochelle, N.Y.

The Thames River is home to the Navy’s submarine base in Groton, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, commercial facilities that rely on marine transportation, Electric Boat shipbuilding yard in Groton, and marinas that serve commercial fishermen as well as recreational boaters.

Replacing the bridge was highly recommended as a result of an engineering study conducted during repairs in the early 1990s. Plans and specifications were developed, but nothing came of it because Amtrak doesn’t have the money to do the job. Instead, the railroad has had to respond with immediate short-term fixes.

“These days, with limited funding, we take a gamble on which piece of the infrastructure is going to go first,” said Chief Engineer David Hughes.

Built in 1919, the bridge is on the railroad’s list of priority capital projects, and its replacement is now slated to be completed in 2007. The plan involves replacing the existing bascule lift with a vertical lift bridge. The main span is raised and lowered between two towers, and will be similar, at least in operation, as the Cape Cod Canal vertical lift bridge.

The current bridge’s worn machinery includes trunnion bearings, which facilitate raising and lowering the bridge span. (Think of a trunnion as a giant axle on which the bridge pivots when opening.)

The trunnions support the entire weight of the bridge as well as the four-million pound counterweight as the bridge is raised and lowered.

As with other bridges of this design and age, the counterweight trunnions commonly present the most problems. Each counterweight trunnion assembly is held in place by a series of eight bolts.

Following a thorough assessment of the bridge in 1990 that found significant wear on the trunnion bearings and overstressing on the bolts, an emergency repair involved boring holes to accommodate three-inch diameter bolts.

In 1995, an inspection found that the newer bolts on the south counterweight were breaking. Another emergency repair saw an additional eight holes bored between the existing bolts to accommodate one-and-seven-eighths-inch diameter by four and one-half-foot bolts.

Emergency repairs on Thames Bridge

Amtrak Ink

Engineering forces work around the clock to complete emergency repairs on the Thames River Bridge south counterweight trunnion. Broken bolts that were found during an inspection led to this weeklong effort.


Fast forward to last July when the gang responsible for inspecting the aging machinery on Amtrak’s bridges found two broken one-and-seven-eighths-inch bolts on the south counterweight trunnion. Subsequent ultrasonic testing revealed a third bolt had fractured. It was still in place.

Engineering gangs worked two 12-hour shifts every day for a week to replace the bolts. This required using air tools to drive out the old bolts and then drilling out the holes, which had become irregular in diameter, due to a decade’s worth of wear and shifting of the multiple layers of structural plates through which they pass.

Replacing the bolts is tedious because it’s done bit by bit – driving the old bolt out six inches at a time, cutting the bolt six inches at a time, and then pushing the new bolt in a bit, pulling it back out to ream the hole and pushing it back in further. Forcing the work could damage the threads.

The support gangs prepared the bridge during the day, doing everything from building scaffolding, to setting up lights, to getting the reamers together. Those are the sharp cutting tools that cut the abnormalities in the holes.

While the work was completed in a week, scrutiny of the bridge’s machinery continues on a daily basis.

“There’s a point at which you need to stop repairing and get on with the replacement,” said Charles Yordy, Amtrak’s director of structures maintenance.

Engineering is acquiring its own portable ultrasound equipment to test for fractures and other defects. Two machinists will attend a class to be certified on the machine’s operation and is expected to conduct frequent ultrasound inspections of the bolts to catch breaks before segments fall out of the bearing assembly.

The problems Amtrak is facing are very common to bascule bridges of the same age and type. This is true of roadway as well as railroad bridges; however, a highway department may shut down a bridge and direct drivers through a detour; Amtrak does not have that luxury.

“This is the only game in town. Should the bridge lock in the up position, it will shut down rail service between New York and Boston,” added Yordy.

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Rodney Chambers

Amtrak Ink

Rodney Chambers
‘Amcop’ wins ‘Top Cops’ award


Recognized for his courage in the line of duty, Amtrak police officer Rodney Chambers is the first Amtrak policeman to win a “Top Cops Award” from the National Assn. of Police Organizations (NAPO).


John Walsh, of FOX TV’s “America’s Most Wanted,” hosted the September 11 awards event in Washington, D.C.


The Top Cops program pays tribute to law enforcement officers from across the country for outstanding service to their communities.


Chambers was recognized for heroism he displayed last June while on patrol at Washington Union Station. He wrestled a hand grenade away from a suspect who had pulled the pin and then attempted to drop it.


The grenade was later determined to be inert, but Chambers did not know it at the time.


Top Cops are selected by an independent awards committee of law enforcement officials from a pool of hundreds of nominations submitted by fellow officers. Chambers was one of 33 officers to be honored along with 79 other officers who will receive honorable mention awards.


Past honorable mention recipients from the Amtrak Police Department are officer Doug Paige (1998), Sgt. George Reutter (2001), Investigator Maureen Powers (2001) and Officer Anthony Krisielius (2001).

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Locos bound for Panama

For NCI: Jon Hollahan

Ex-Amtrak locomotives 393 and 397 at Port Everglades, Fla., docks on Friday awaiting transloading onto a ship and apparently on to the Panama Canal Railroad. Crowley, Inc. will lift the engines off the track with a road crane, put them onto a lowboy trailer, and then drive them to shipside. Then they will either use a heavy-lift crane aboard the ship or the same road crane to load the locomotives. As of Friday afternoon, the locomotives were at the end of I-595 on the “Bean Track.”

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New Mexico should see double-decker commuter coaches by summer 2005. Bombardier got a $22 million contract on October 13 from the Mid-Region Council of Governments and the New Mexico DOT for 10 bi-level commuter rail coaches, six cab cars and four single-level coaches, similar to this bi-level copy on the Altamont Commuter Express of San Joaquin, Cal.

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COMMUTER LINES...  Commuter lines...

PCC cars roll in Philly

John P. Almeida via http://trainweb.org/phillynrhs

First out on October 16 was Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority PCC 2328 arriving at 38th and Spruce Streets at 9:53 a.m.


SEPTA brings back restored PCC cars

The Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority put three newly renovated 1930s-era Philadelphia trolley cars back in service on October 16. The cars run in a continuous loop, and connect riders to various venues.

University City “Trolley Day” was the debut for the restored President’s Conference Commission (PCC) cars, which originally ran in Philadelphia from the late 1930s to the early 1990s. Now air-conditioned, the 18-car fleet was rebuilt to operate on the No. 15 route, the Girard Avenue trolley line – and reintroduced lost connections between West Philadelphia, Fairmount, and Northern Liberties.

Horse car lines started running in the late 1850s. They were electrified in the mid-1890s, converting the neighborhood from a collection of estates and farms into a thriving residential area.

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FREIGHT LINES...  Freight lines...

For NCI: Brian P. Bennett

Burlington Northern Santa Fe is lowering its car charges for small grain shippers. Back on February 21, BNSF’s G QUAPTR1 20A picked up some business in Chillicothe, Texas at milepost 178.6 on the Red River Valley Sub. The rare Quanah-Port of Houston Farmrail grain train grows from 52 to 78 cars as it picks up 26 loads of wheat at the Hardeman Grain & Seed, Inc. elevator. The story is below


Carloads, intermodal

Railroads set more weekly records

U.S. railroads moved more freight during the week ended October 16 than during any previous week on record, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported on Thursday.

Total volume of 33.1 billion ton-miles broke the previous record of 32.7 billion ton-miles set just one week earlier. It also represented a 2.2 percent increase over total volume during the comparable week last year.

Intermodal volume of 231,255 trailers or containers also set a weekly record, besting the old mark of 231,025 trailers or containers set during the week ended September 25. This week's volume was up 9.5 percent from the comparable week a year ago, with container volume was up 10.1 percent from last year and trailer volume gaining 7.7 percent.

Carload freight, which doesn't include the intermodal data, totaled 354,224 units, up 2.0 percent from last year and was the highest weekly total in more than three years. Carload volume was up 2.2 percent in the East and 1.8 percent in the West.

Thirteen of 19 carload commodities registered gains from last year, with metallic ores up 17.4 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel up 8.2 percent; and grain mill products up 8.0 percent. Among commodities showing declines were motor vehicles and equipment, off 5.7 percent and grain, off 4.2 percent.

The AAR also reported the following cumulative totals for U.S. railroads during the first 41 weeks of 2004: 13,787,884 carloads, up 3.0 percent from last year; intermodal volume of 8,606,432 trailers or containers, up 9.5 percent; and total volume of an estimated 1.248 trillion ton-miles, up 4.0 percent from last year’s first 41 weeks.

On Canadian railroads, during the week ended October 16 carload traffic totaled 67,268 cars, up 2.9 percent from last year while intermodal volume totaled 42,475 trailers or containers, up 5.1 percent from last year.

Cumulative originations for the first 41 weeks of 2004 on the Canadian railroads totaled 2,745,241 carloads, up 7.9 percent from last year, and 1,714,170 trailers and containers, up 0.2 percent from last year.

Combined cumulative volume for the first 41 weeks of 2004 on 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads totaled 16,533,125 carloads, up 3.8 percent from last year and 10,320,602 trailers and containers, up 7.9 percent from last year.

The AAR also reported that originated carload freight on the Mexican railroad Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM) during the week ended October 16 totaled 9,447 cars, up 14.1 percent from last year. TFM reported intermodal volume of 4,274 originated trailers or containers, up 23.2 percent from the 41st week of 2003. For the first 41 weeks of 2004, TFM reported cumulative originated volume of 355,920 cars, up 2.8 percent from last year, and 152,185 trailers or containers, up 5.7 percent.

Railroads reporting to AAR account for 88 percent of U.S. carload freight and 95 percent of rail intermodal volume. When the U.S. operations of Canadian railroads are included, the figures increase to 95 percent and 100 percent. The Canadian railroads reporting to the AAR account for 90 percent of Canadian rail traffic. Railroads provide more than 40 percent of U.S. intercity freight transportation, more than any other mode, and rail traffic figures are regarded as an important economic indicator.

The AAR online at www.aar.org.

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BNSF reduces some wheat rates

The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway said on October 18 it has reduced rates for single- and 26-car shipments by simplifying the rate structure for wheat shipments. Effective December 1, the rate spread between single- and 26-car shipments as well as 26- and 52-car shipments will be $75 per car in all markets.

“In an effort to accommodate our customers who ship in smaller quantities, we have simplified our wheat rate spread,” says Kevin Kaufman, group vice president, Agricultural Products.

“Not only is the rate structure simplified, but it also results in a rate reduction for our single and 26-car shippers.”

Examples of rate reductions as a result of the change include a $98 per car reduction on wheat moving in single cars from North Dakota to Minneapolis, a $139 per car reduction on wheat moving in 26-car units from North Dakota and Montana to the Pacific Northwest, a $277 per car reduction on wheat moving in single cars from North Dakota and Montana to the Pacific Northwest.

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Dodd spars with Senate candidates

U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and the three men trying to wrestle his Senate seat away from him and a fifth term – Republican Jack Orchulli, Libertarian Leonard Rasch and Concerned Citizens Party candidate Timothy Knibbs – orally wrestled each other in an October 19 debate in New London, Conn.

The Republican and Democrat sparred on transportation issues, with Orchulli claiming that Dodd had largely ignored the state’s needs, The Day reported.

“This is not just a Connecticut issue; it’s a national crisis in all of our urban centers,” Orchulli said, singling out the failure to use freight trains to move some tractor-trailer traffic off the highways, particularly I-95.

“Senator Dodd would not even address this issue,” he exclaimed. “After 30 years, what have you done for transportation, Senator?”

Grinning, Dodd replied, “I was about to commend you for something you just said, but... ”

Dodd concurred that freight rail could provide a solution, and advocated the formation of a Center for Transportation Solutions, modeled on the federally financed National Institutes of Health, to study the issue.

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CP, teamsters reach agreement in principle

Canadian Pacific Ry. and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference reported on October 19 that they have reached agreement in principle to renew collective agreements governing approximately 4,500 employees who operate trains.

The four-year agreement provides for wage, pension, benefits, work rule and productivity improvements.

“This is a well balanced agreement that will provide value for our employees and shareholders,” said CP’s president and CEO Rob Ritchie.

George Hucker, vice-president and National Legislative Representative with the teamsters, said the agreement is the first secured with CP since the teamsters gained bargaining rights last year.

“We are pleased to see the successful conclusion of this negotiation,”. Hucker said. Ratification results will be determined over the next few months.

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BUSINESSLINES AND QUARTERLY REPORTS...  Business lines and quarterly Reports...

CN ‘upped,’ CSX downgraded

Smith Barney upped Canadian National Ry. last week to “buy,” but the investment firm also downgraded its rating on CSX Corp., urging investors to sell the stock and buy CN.

Hurricane disruption and doubts about CSX’s operating plan means CN, “the best-managed rail franchise,” is a better option ahead of this week’s earnings report, Smith Barney said.

Analyst Scott Flower recommended in a research note that investors swap their shares of CSX for shares of Canadian National, downgrading CSX to “sell” on valuation concerns and upgrading Canadian National to “buy.”

The market might be overestimating CSX operation’s recovery time after four recent hurricanes that swept through Florida, Flowers said, pointing out that a full recovery from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 took six to nine months.

CN, on the other hand, is the “best-managed North American railroad,” with the company as well as investors who expect dividends to benefit from a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in Canadian grain shipments, a “very high margin” load.

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Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. directors (BNI) voted on October 21 to pay a quarterly dividend of 17 cents per share on outstanding common stock. Dividends will be paid January 3 to shareholders of record December 13. Common shares outstanding on September 30 totaled approximately 374 million.

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CSX Corp. directors okayed regular quarterly dividends on the company’s common stock. The dime per share dividend is payable December 15 to shareholders of record on November 24.

Recently, the CSX board also approved a policy regarding shareholder rights plans, or “poison pills.” Under this policy, any future shareholder rights plan would only be adopted by a majority of the independent directors of CSX if they determine adoption is consistent with the exercise of their fiduciary duties. In addition, under this policy, any rights plan adopted by the board without shareholder approval would expire in one year unless ratified by shareholders.

CSX does not currently have a shareholder rights plan. Last year its board took action to terminate the CSX rights plan.

CSX is based in Jacksonville, Fla., owns the largest rail network in the eastern U.S. with 34,000 employees over a 23,000 route-mile network.

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For the third quarter, Norfolk Southern reports its railway operating revenues increased 16 percent and set an all-time record of $1.9 billion. The carrier said its income from railway operations improved 51 percent to a record $469 million, its net income was $288 million, or $0.72 per diluted share, and its operating ratio improved 5.8 percentage points to 74.7 percent.

In explaining the numbers in detail, the carrier stated for the third-quarter, NS reported record revenues of $1.9 billion, up 16 percent compared with the same period last year, and record third-quarter income from railway operations of $469 million, up 51 percent compared with the third-quarter in 2003.

Third-quarter reported net income was $288 million, or $0.72 per diluted share, which included a non-cash gain of $53 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, from the Conrail corporate reorganization. Excluding the gain, net income was $235 million, or $0.59 per diluted share, an increase of 72 percent, compared with $137 million, or $0.35 per diluted share, in the same period last year.

The railway operating ratio for the third quarter improved 5.8 percentage points to 74.7 percent compared with 80.5 percent during the same period of 2003.

“By any measure, this was an extremely strong quarter for our company,” said David R. Goode, chairman and CEO. “We demonstrated uniform strength in the face of a robust peak traffic season, and our people and network performed well.”

For the first nine months, reported net income was $659 million, or $1.66 per diluted share, which included the $53 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, gain on the Conrail reorganization. Excluding the gain, net income was $606 million, or $1.53 per diluted share, an increase of 25 percent, compared with $483 million, or $1.24 per diluted share, for the same period of last year. Net income for the first nine months of 2003 included a $114 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, gain due to a required industry-wide accounting change to account for the cost of removing railroad crossties, and a gain of $10 million, or $0.03 per diluted share, from discontinued motor carrier operations.

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Union Pacific Corp. reported 2004 third quarter income on Thursday from continuing operations of $202 million or $.77 per diluted share. This compares to income from continuing operations of $300 million or $1.15 per diluted share in the third quarter of 2003.

“Our $3.1 billion in third quarter operating revenue marks the second consecutive quarter of Railroad revenue over the $3 billion mark and our best total revenue performance ever as a company,” said Dick Davidson, chairman and CEO. “However, unprecedented fuel prices and high operating costs resulting from our service inefficiencies out-weighed the revenue growth,” he noted.

For the quarter, UP reported operating income of $418 million compared to $592 million for the same period in 2003 with the best ever railroad operating revenue of $3.1 billion, up four percent versus 2003.

Commodity revenue and total revenue carloads also reached best ever quarterly levels, but the average quarterly fuel price of $1.25 per gallon versus 90 cents a gallon a year ago increased diesel fuel costs by $121 million.

The railroad’s quarterly average system speed, as reported to the AAR, improved 0.5 mph versus the prior quarter, but was 1.1 mph lower than the third quarter of 2003.

Its operating margin was 13.6 percent compared to 20.0 percent in the third quarter of 2003.

“We had strong revenue growth in four of our six business groups, but I’m particularly encouraged by the continued strong performance of our chemicals group,” Davidson said. “The chemicals performance, combined with another big quarter for industrial products, is a good-news indicator that the nation’s economy remains healthy.”

Davidson explained, “One fact that stood out clearly this quarter is that Union Pacific, and the entire rail industry, is experiencing unprecedented levels of demand. Unfortunately, operational challenges associated with these record volumes and our resource shortages, are preventing us from making the most of this increasing demand.”

He said the railroad is “focused on making improvements, and we continue to believe the resource plans that we are implementing will make a difference. As fluidity to the network is restored, our follow-on challenge will be to improve efficiency and profitability while providing quality service to our customers.”

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STOCKS...  Selected Friday closing quotes...

Source: CBSMarketWatch.com

  Friday One Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)41.1139.72
Canadian National (CNI)52.2449.69
Canadian Pacific (CP) 27.8327.22
CSX (CSX)34.5634.74
Florida East Coast (FLA)37.3738.42
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)25.1124.61
Kansas City Southern (KSU)16.2415.85
Norfolk Southern (NSC)32.8231.27
Providence & Worcester (PWX)10.8010.85
Union Pacific (UNP)61.0660.49

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ACROSSTHE POND...  Across the pond...

Eurotunnel revenues fall

Eurotunnel, operator of the Channel Tunnel crossing between France and the United Kingdom, said on October 19 its financial results for the third quarter were “obviously not satisfactory,” confirming a decision to begin to review the business in July. Total operating revenue fell 4 percent to £140.1 million as fewer cars and trucks passed through the tunnel. Coach traffic fell 13 percent and car traffic fell 5 percent. Eurotunnel’s market share fell, it said, due to over-capacity and “intense” price competition.

CBS.Marketwatch reported Eurotunnel’s financial problems look set to deepen after it lost traffic volume and market share in its key shuttle business in the three months to September 30.

The declines reduced operating revenue from shuttle services in the period to £77.7million, or $140.1 million in U.S. dollars, against £84.8 million in the same period last year. Shares in the company, which operates the Channel Tunnel between England and France, fell 6 per cent to 20 pence on the news.

Eurotunnel carried 4 percent fewer trucks during the period, although the market for truck traffic on short-sea routes between England and France grew 8 per cent.

The shuttles carried 5 per cent fewer cars, in a market that shrank by 1 per cent and 13 per cent fewer coaches, in a market that declined 4 per cent.

The figures will increase the problems facing the company, which was unable last year to meet interest payments on its £8.4 billion debt from operating profits.

Income from the French and British railways, which use the tunnel for Eurostar passenger services and for freight services, remained steady because it is covered by the minimum user charge, an agreement that guarantees a minimum revenue from railway services until November 2006.

Railway revenue edged up to £58.8 million, against £58.1 million, to give total operating revenue for the period of £140 million compared with £147 million.

Eurotunnel faces a cash crunch in 2006 when compulsory payments on its debts restart just as the company faces a probable fall in income with the ending of the minimum user charge.

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FAR, FAR OFF THE MAIN LINE...  Far, far off the main line...


Artist’s concept of the Space Infrared Interferometric Telescope shows the devices will move along a track-like conveyance for different views of distant objects. Light collecting telescopes located at opposite ends of a boom direct light into a central beam-combining instrument. The telescopes move along the boom and the boom rotates to provide access to many interferometric baselines, yielding the information required to synthesize a high-resolution image of an astronomical object.


NASA scientists design a ‘space railroad’

A next-generation space telescope is being designed with a set of eyes that can roll around the cosmos on its own private railroad.

Engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., are working on a proposed orbiting observatory made up of two powerful telescopes that will analyze space in ultraviolet light. Two eyes are better than one, the lead scientists explain, especially if a railroad-like route links them.

The twin telescopes will use the 120-foot track to zip back and forth, absorb images and cover the depth and scope of a giant telescope more than twice their individual size.

“By moving your telescopes to many different separations and angles, you can build an image that has much greater detail and overall view,” explained David Leisawitz, principle investigator for the Space Infrared Interferometric Telescope at Goddard.

“But,” he added, “Unlike launching a single large telescope, you don’t need a giant rocket to get it to space.”

“Spirit” is one of nine proposals under consideration for NASA’s Origins program, which seeks to find fundamental answers about the universe and its formation. The project also represents one of two recent efforts to take a technology that’s usually limited to Earth-bound applications and use it in space.

Spirit won’t have nearly the range of its ground-based counterparts, but it would have a key advantage of being in space and being mobile. The twin telescopes will move along the beams like railroad cars and combine their images to achieve the resolving power of a telescope 120 feet across.

“You need the mobility to fill in the space that would be occupied by a larger telescope,” explained Leisawitz. “We can’t necessarily make images quickly because two smaller telescopes don’t absorb as much light, but we can cover a lot of sky.”

It may take more effort to hoist multiple telescopes into space, but the payoff is huge. Space telescopes don’t need to peer through the haze of Earth’s atmosphere. They can also stay very cold while in the shade – in the range of about 350 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. This is especially important for the Spirit telescope since it will be detecting infrared light, which is a light form of heat. The Spirit team is designing multiple sunshades and a cryo-cooler to make sure the unit stays frigid.

From its perch some 93 million miles behind Earth, Spirit will use its lenses to penetrate faraway dust clouds. Disks of dust and gas often surround newborn stars. The same environment can give rise to new planets. All this is visible in infrared light since the central star warms the debris around it, generating heat in the form of infrared light.

Peering deep into space is like seeing back in time since light has a limited speed. This means the light that is detectable can be millions, even billions of years old. In this way, a telescope like Spirit will be able to watch how stars and planets formed millions of years ago.

If approved, Spirit could be ready for launch by 2016 while SIM is slated to blast to orbit by the end of 2009. While scientists have an inkling of what these kinds of telescopes could reveal, the most exciting data could be the unexpected.

NASA didn’t say how much the devices were expected to cost, nor the estimated price of launching into orbit.

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EDITORIAL...  Editorial...

The recently concluded Railway Age magazine conference, “Passenger trains on freight railroads” ended on a sobering but upbeat note: It is time to build new alliances from diverse sectors of society to help improve transportation in America. We can no longer just talk to each other. With the help of the National Corridors Initiative, we will launch a campaign to form these alliances and have tentatively set a goal of May 2005 to deliver a wake-up call to Washington.

Stay tuned.

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WE GET LETTERS...  We get letters...

Dear Editor:

The illustration of bi-level commuter rail cars used in the October 18 issue of D:F and captioned as being Bombardier cars actually shows cars built by Kawasaki. The MBTA’s only Bombardier cars are single-level. Bombardier’s standard double-deckers, used by many other systems, cannot be used on MBTA lines because they use low-level center-door loading. The MBTA’s terminals in Boston as well as some outlying stations have only high-level platforms. The Kawasaki cars are effectively tri-level, with some seating at either end at the high-level platform height, and two other levels of seating in the middle. At stations with low-level platforms, boarding passengers first step up to the vestibules and then continue either upstairs or downstairs to the main seating areas.

Thomas J. Humphrey
Central Transportation Planning Staff
Boston, Mass.

Dear Editor:

While Bombardier has produced more than 740 BiLevel cars which are currently operated by 10 different public transit authorities in North America, I am sorry to say that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is not among them. I believe that the car in your photo was built by Kawasaki.

Thank you for covering our latest BiLevel order, from New Mexico.

Maryanne Roberts
Manager, Marketing Communications and Customer Support
Bensalem, Penn.

Indeed, both of you and several other letter writers are correct. In today’s D:F, we’ve published a photo of an Altamont Commuter Express train, which is far closer an example to what New Mexico is buying. – Ed.

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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 leoking@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write.

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

Journalists and others who wish to receive high quality NCI-originated images that appear in Destination:Freedom may do so at a nominal fee of $10.00 per image. “True color” Joint Photographers Group (.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.

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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