Destination:Freedom Newsletter
Destination:Freedom
The Newsletter of the National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Vol. 4 No. 33, November 3, 2003
Copyright © 2003, NCI, Inc.
President and CEO - Jim RePass
Publisher - Jim RePass
Editor - Leo King

A weekly North American rail and transit update

 

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


AEM-7 pulling Amtrak at CT

NCI: Leo King

Amtrak’s AEM-7s are top dog these days… in fact, they were by June 13, 2001 when No. 190 crossed Mystic River movable bridge in Mystic, Conn. The F-40PH diesels were just about gone, and certainly no longer hauling the "high steppers" between Boston and New Haven, Conn. Engine changes were no longer required at New Haven, either.

 

EDITORIAL...  Editorial...

The American city:

A transit-driven renaissance

By James P. RePass
President & CEO
The National Corridors Initiative

This week, voters go to the polls here and across the country to pick governors, mayors, selectmen, and town councils. All are local choices, and all are important, because all politics is indeed local (said the great House Speaker from Massachusetts, Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill).

Just as importantly, from the standpoint of their future lives, voters in many places will also be voicing their opinion on whether or not to build or expand a transit system.

As always happens, the shills and salesmen from the highway lobby are out in force to lie about transit, to discourage you from supporting one of the very best public expenditures that a citizen can make, public transportation.

It’s the same thing they did 50 and 60 years ago, when agents of Standard Oil, Phillips Petroleum, General Motors, and Firestone Tire teamed up in “National City Lines” to purchase and rip up the tracks and burn the cars of scores of the nation’s trolley systems, big and small, so that buses, petroleum products, and tires could be sold to replace the quiet chuff and clang of the trolley. It worked, too, and even when caught and convicted (in 1949, in federal court) the fine imposed for that kind of economic crime was a laughable $5,000 each. Early Enron, you might say.

The truly funny thing is, despite a highway lobby which gets $25 billion in federal highway subsidies each year (not counting massive state and local spending on roads), the trolley is coming back.

Each time, it has had to overcome sophisticated (if dishonest) ad campaigns which claim that trolleys don’t work, when in fact, from Portland, Ore., to Salt Lake City, Utah, to St. Louis, Mo., and on to Tampa, Fla., dozens of cities have made the investment in new trolley or light rail, to the intense delight of the citizens and, as importantly, to the enthusiastic applause of the business community, which typically follows re-introduction of trolley lines with massive investment in new businesses, hotels, restaurants, and apartments along those lines.

In Washington, D.C., for example, new Metro lines literally revived what was for decades, outside of the “Federal Triangle” and a handful of wealthy enclaves, a dying city.

In San Jose and San Diego, trolley lines were likewise used to bolster and support downtown growth. In Portland, Ore., they literally re-invented the city, and in St. Louis, the airport-to-downtown light rail – violently opposed by highway lobbyists –turned one of the deadest downtowns in the Midwest to one of its liveliest.

Indeed, the walkable, thriving downtown served by permanent trolley lines is at the very heart of the American ideal of city life, and a half-century after its deliberate and planned destruction, it is making a wondrous and welcome comeback. Despite the powerful allure of suburban living, made possible by the massively subsidized Interstate Highway System, the American City is on the rise once again. It is on the rise because people have begun to remember and yearn for, or, if too young to remember, re-imagine what life was like before the exodus to the suburbs, how the bustle and stimulation of the city and all of its cultural and social amenities, can help make life such a grand adventure.

Just as the highway system and the suburbs were the hallmark of the Twentieth Century, the re-invention of the American city will be the hallmark of the 21st Century. You can be a part of that momentous change – and live in it – by supporting transit for your city. It’s in your interest, no matter what the highway shills say.

Most importantly, it works.

The National Corridors Initiative is an independent, bipartisan transportation advocacy group founded in 1989 by James P. RePass, and supports the American Public Transportation Assn., and investment in public transportation infrastructure.


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Bombardier gets Florida deal

The Bombardier-Fluor combine got the contract to build the first phase of Florida’s high-speed rail system, but the Florida High-Speed Rail Authority (FHSRA) prefers Global Rail’s electric trains.

The authority picked Fluor-Bombardier to design, build and run the $2.2 billion system, but in picking Fluor-Bombardier, the authority threw in a twist. It told Fluor-Bombardier it prefers the trains, tracks –and catenary – of the other bidder, Global Rail Consortium, the Orlando Sentinel reported on October 28.

So, the authority wants to persuade Fluor-Bombardier in contract negotiations to abandon the turbine-powered train it proposed and switch to an electric train. The authority also wants Fluor-Bombardier to provide a double-track layout Global had proposed.

The decision left both Fluor-Bombardier and Global Rail officials perplexed. Fluor-Bombardier’s leaders said they would be willing to switch to a double-track plan, but expressed great reluctance to give up the so-called JetTrain Bombardier Transportation developed along with the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration.

Florida’s High Speed Authority Contract Subcommittee will meet on November 4 in the Florida DOT Building at 2:00 p.m. in Tallahassee.

The topic will be beginning discussions with the first ranked vendor Fluor Bombardier for the Florida High Speed Rail Project, Phase 1, Part 1, Tampa to Orlando. Authority members of the will attend by teleconference, but the public can participate at the DOT office.

“This bid offers real risk sharing and equity from the private sector. Our bid clearly offers the best deal for the state of Florida,” said Fluor vice-president David Gedney.

Bombardier’s JetTrain locomotive is the first non-electric, high-speed locomotive designed specifically for the American market, according to Bombardier. Powered by a turbine engine, the equipment operates up to 150 mph and meets all American safety standards for high-speed rail, stated a Bombardier press release.

The FHSRA was unwilling to gamble that Walt Disney World was bluffing, and gave Disney World what it wanted – a route that would go from Orlando International Airport directly to Disney, bypassing its attraction rivals on International Drive.

In return, the authority expects to get what it wants – millions of Disney visitors paying to take a short trip from the airport to Disney on a bullet train that is intended to one day connect all of Florida’s major cities.

The authority voted 7-1 October 27 to pick the route along the Central Florida GreeneWay (State Road 417) instead of the Bee Line Expressway (State Road 528) if the state builds the first leg of the high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando.

The Florida Legislature will make the final decision this spring.

All along, Disney said if the Bee Line route, which would have ferried tourists to Orange County’s newly expanded convention center and the hotels and attractions on I-Drive, were chosen, Disney would not cooperate.

“I believe and I checked it out, Disney’s not going to change their position,” said authority member Lee Chira of Orlando. “I couldn’t take the chance of the taxpayers of the state of Florida picking up however many dollars a year we would lose in cash flow.”

The selection of the GreeneWay route came after Disney promised to discontinue its airport-bus system and encourage visitors to take the train.

The authority’s studies reported Disney could deliver more than 2 million riders a year, paying fares the train needs if it is ever to break even financially. Disney also pledged land for a station at Disney.

William Dunn of Miami, the only authority member to vote against the GreeneWay, said he thought Disney was bluffing, but he said he couldn’t expect his colleagues to go along with him.

“It’s a difficult decision to go with the Bee Line because you’re playing on faith that Disney would come around,” Dunn said, “and this is a lot of money, so I understand completely that members would go with the GreeneWay route, given the situation presented by Disney.”

The authority’s studies showed that the GreeneWay route has the potential to attract 4 million riders a year, including those heading between Orlando and Tampa. However, that assumes Disney can deliver its visitors to the train.

Studies showed the Bee Line route might generate only 2.5 million riders a year.

The financial issues remain huge regardless. For the system to work, Florida would have to commit up to $75 million per year, and the federal government would have to match that.

Whether the train ever gets built remains in question. It would ultimately link Orlando, Tampa and Miami to Jacksonville, Naples and Tallahassee.

Though voters mandated a high-speed rail to link the cities when they approved a 2000 amendment to the state constitution, there are deep political sentiments against the plan, starting with Gov. Jeb Bush (R).

If the system gets built, the train could start making runs between Tampa and Orlando International Airport, with stops at Lakeland and Disney, by late 2009.

The authority picked the GreeneWay route reluctantly, only after board member Norman Mansour inserted demands that Walt Disney World and the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, which owns the GreeneWay and must make room for the train, sign contracts that would assure the route could work.

“They need to make a major contribution,” Authority Chairman Frederick Dudley of Tallahassee said of Disney. “They are a major benefactor, especially now that the GreeneWay has been selected as the preferred route.”

Disney Senior Vice-President James Lewis predicted no problems reaching an agreement with the Florida High Speed Rail Authority.

“We’re pleased with the selection of the GreeneWay today, but this is just one step in the process,” Lewis said.

John McReynolds, vice president at Universal Studios on I-Drive, called the deal “a terrible day for taxpayers” and predicted the Legislature would see it as a Disney giveaway at the expense of all of Orange County’s investment on I-Drive.

“Taxpayer dollars will turn into Disney dollars,” he said. “I think common sense will prevail in the Legislature.”

Meanwhile, Global Rail officials seethed after the decision and said they would consider challenging it in court.

Fluor-Bombardier was picked mainly because authority members were more comfortable with the corporate and financial stability and clout of the two large international companies in the partnership, compared with what was offered by the 30-company partners that make up Global Rail.

“This is a big step forward for high-speed rail in Central Florida,” said Lecia Stewart, Bombardier’s vice president for high-speed rail.

“It means people will be able to get around and get to where they need to go faster. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about moving people. It’s about getting them there efficiently and safely – and giving them a choice.”


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Amtrak may cut Canada line

Amtrak has proposed to cut Canada out of its Toronto-to-Chicago line to eliminate delays at the border and to help improve its service.

Amtrak officials told members of the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan DOT (MDOT) last Thursday that starting the line in Port Huron and eliminating Canada from the route that runs through East Lansing would improve arrival and departure times, reports the Lansing State Journal.

“It will serve the ridership better,” said Bruce Hillblom, senior principal in contract administration for Amtrak.

In 2002, more than 35,000 people rode the train to and from the Canadian border, but since September 11, 2002, security checks at customs have been causing long delays for riders, Amtrak officials said.

Amtrak has been in a dispute with the state over subsidies for the past year, and state officials are demanding improved service as a part of any agreement.

Earlier this year, Amtrak threatened to shut down the two state subsidized lines because it needed $7.1 million to operate the routes instead of the $5.7 million the state was willing to provide.

After months of discussions between Michigan DOT, Amtrak and lawmakers, Gov. Jennifer Granholm approved a budget of up to $7.1 million to continue subsidizing the lines for this fiscal year, which began October 1.

Amtrak can’t begin the proposed new route until the rail service and MDOT sign a contract, a slow process that has legislators upset.

Amtrak operates two state-subsidized lines in Michigan, one from Grand Rapids to Chicago and the other from Toronto to Chicago.

A third line, Detroit to Chicago, does not receive state funding.

Though the parties have not signed a contract, the trains are still running from Chicago to Toronto and Amtrak doesn’t plan to stop its rail service, officials said.

Before a contract is signed, MDOT wants to be assured the quality of service will improve, said Tim Hoeffner, MDOT’s rail passenger services manager.

“The (proposed) Blue Water has potential,” Hoeffner said. “We want this deal done as soon as possible. It’s a lot of money and we don’t want to pay more for the same old service.”

House members stressed the urgency for MDOT and Amtrak to iron out a deal so the state could plan funding for the rail service in the future.

“We need to make this happen and let me emphasize, make this happen fast,” said Rep. Lauren Hager (R), who organized the Thursday meeting.

Helen Schubert, an East Lansing resident who takes the train once a week to teach at Roosevelt University in Chicago, said she likes the idea. “I think that’s better, naturally,” Schubert said.

“I have landed in Chicago four hours late for various things, especially the delays in customs.”


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No moves at Richmond, says Amtrak

Last week we published a story that stated Amtrak would be moving to another station in Richmond, Va. That is not the case.

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black, in Washington, explained on Monday “The issue of Richmond stations and the two CSX lines between Doswell and Richmond arises from consideration of long-range plans for as-yet unspecified increases in frequency and speeds of passenger trains between Richmond and Washington. There are currently no plans to make such a change. It would not be physically possible to do so at this time. In short, this is not currently on the drawing boards.”


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COMUTERLINES...  Commuter lines...

Georgia slowly moves to commuter rail

It is apparent to anyone who talks to Doug Alexander that he likes railroads, and trains, and is in the right job for his temperament. He’s the fellow in charge of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) – but, like most railroaders, he would like to see things move a little faster.

“While yet to get a ‘highball,’ we are still moving ahead on the first two commuter rail lines,” he told D:F last week. Substantial dollars are on the way, too.

Alexander said, “Planning for the Macon-to-Atlanta corridor is complete, and we are ready to move on to engineering and station site acquisition. Gov. Sonny Perdue said that the next general fund bond-letting would include $4 million to match the remaining $21 million in High-Priority Project in TEA-21 funds that have been earmarked for this corridor, which will give us a total of $35 million to work with.”

On the Athens to Atlanta corridor, he said, “The Environmental Analysis is nearly ready for final review by the Federal Transit Authority, and we hope for a decision by the end of the calendar year. There is $17 million available in HPP funds, and we have the match ready for that.”

For Atlanta’s Multimodal Passenger Terminal, he said, “All federal funds in TEA-21 have been matched except for $2 million, which awaits an okay from the City of Atlanta to quitclaim some property on the site, which includes an abandoned building that was once the headquarters of Georgia Power.”

The authority is still looking into possible intercity routes, and “is nearly finished with a study of the route from Atlanta through Macon and Jesup to Jacksonville, Fla. The DOTs for Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina are working together on an intercity study from Macon to Atlanta and Charlotte.

He said the Macon Corridor is the line closest to becoming a commuter rail line.

“Our plan is to get the first phase of the line, from Griffin to Atlanta, in operation first. It will take from two to three years to begin operations on that section of the line once we have been given authorization and funding to proceed. If funds are available, it will take another year to get the Macon-to-Griffin section in service.”

It isn’t likely any new Amtrak service will begin soon. Amtrak needs to get its house in order, first.

“Amtrak President David Gunn is focused on getting the existing plant and system into good condition. New service will have to wait on a number of issues, such as federal funding of high speed rail and the new ‘TEA-3’ bill, not to mention funding for Amtrak,” Alexander said.

Georgia “is not in the process of upgrading any existing stations at this time. The rail program intends to build station platforms, some shelters and parking. Any other amenities will be up to localities to provide.”

Gov. Sonny Perdue recently appointed Steven I. Stancil to GRTA’s board as its new executive director, and acting director Ritchey reverted to his previous title of Deputy Director.

Alexander has not yet met with Stancil, but his office “contacted me about a meeting, and it will occur soon.”

Stancil was a foe of commuter rail at one time. It isn’t clear if that has changed, but Alexander said, “I believe that a person of Mr. Stancil’s background understands the need to use all the tools at our disposal to alleviate the region’s air-quality and traffic congestion problems.”


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APTA Highlights...  APTA Highlights...

Here are some other transit headlines, from the pages of Passenger Transport, the weekly newspaper of the public transportation industry published by the non-profit American Public Transportation Assn. For more news from Passenger Transport and subscription information, visit the APTA web site at http://www.apta.com/news/pt.


 

Congress Continues to Fund Transit Under Short-Term Measures

The federal transit program is expected to continue operating through November 7 under a second stop-gap funding measure, while Congress prepares an omnibus appropriations bill that would fund the Transportation-Treasury bill and other government programs for the remainder of fiscal year 2004.

Since the October 1 start of the new fiscal year, public transportation has been funded under a continuing resolution that is set to expire at the end of October. The U.S. House passed a new continuing resolution October 21 covering a one-week extension through November 7; the U.S. Senate was also expected to approve the measure in the next few days, as Passenger Transport went to press.

Under the current stop-gap measure, transit continues to be funded at the same level as FY 2003.


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Coalition Leaders Discuss Status of 511 Deployment

Leaders of the 511 Deployment Coalition urged continued deployment of 511 travel information services in the nation, especially in metropolitan areas, at the recent second National 511 Deployment Conference in Fort Mitchell, Ky.

Representatives of APTA, U.S. DOT, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America participated in the opening plenary session of the conference, “511: Your Customer’s Connection,” led by Pierre Pretorius of Kimley-Horn and Associates. Issues raised during the session included the need for more commitment from regions not yet offering 511; a push toward closing the deployment gap, specifically in metropolitan areas; and a continued focus on content. Panelists congratulated those that have already launched 511 services, but stressed that more work remains.

The conference was held in northern Kentucky, home of the first 511 phone call in the U.S. In his welcoming remarks, James Codell, secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said 511 is one of the most important endeavors undertaken by his organization, and cited the critical need for “buy-in from all the remaining states and metropolitan regions not yet on board.”


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New York MTA Kicks Off Subway Centennial Celebration

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority has kicked off a year-long celebration of the New York City subway’s centennial.

On October 27, 1904, the first subway opened from City Hall to Harlem, launching an unprecedented era of growth and prosperity for the newly unified city of New York. The subway allowed New York City and its economy to grow and helped shape and connect its neighborhoods. Nearly 100 years later, the city’s reliance on its 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week rapid transit system has not diminished.

Over the next year, the MTA and all of New York City will celebrate the subway and its storied history with a series of events culminating with the centennial celebration on October 27, 2004. Planned events include a variety of “nostalgia” train runs, exhibits of historic subway materials, Music Under New York concerts, and a special reenactment of the first subway ride. A number of centennial events celebrating the subway’s past and its future will also be held in each of the five boroughs.


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Los Angeles Mechanics’ Strike Continues

The strike against the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1277, representing 2,000 maintenance employees, continued as Passenger Transport went to press, although news reports stated that the two sides had returned to the bargaining table.

The walkout began at 12:01 a.m. October 14, and members of the four other unions representing LACMTA employees have been honoring the picket line, leading to a major disruption of service.

The LACMTA is maintaining a list of transit “lifelines” on its web site throughout the strike. The Los Angeles DOT, which operates Commuter Express and DASH buses, has expanded its services and is accepting MTA and Metrolink passes and fares during the walkout, as are several other transit operators in the region.


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Streetcars Mark One Year of Operation in Tampa

The TECO Line Streetcar System in Tampa, Fla., celebrated the first anniversary of its highly successful service the weekend of October 18 and 19 with free rides and community celebrations. Tampa Historic Streetcar Inc., an organization through an interlocal agreement between the city of Tampa and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, manages the system, and HARTline operates and maintains it under contract to THS.

HARTline spokesperson Ed Crawford reported that the streetcar system carried approximately 8,500 passengers during the anniversary weekend, and that ridership for the first year totaled more than 430,000, 85,000 more than preliminary predictions. According to THS, average daily ridership is more than 1,250, exceeding the 950 estimated in the business plan.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio kicked off the “Birthday Bash” festivities at Tampa’s Centennial Park, located in the national historic district of Ybor City. A thousand-piece birthday cake was served to commemorate the first anniversary of the streetcar operation.


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BUILDRES LINES...  Builders’ lines...

Bombardier, Granite get second Las Vegas
monorail contract; will build extension

Bombardier Transportation and Granite Construction Co. was awarded a design-build-equip contract on October 28 by Transit Systems Development LLC for a 2.25-mile extension to the Las Vegas Resort Corridor Monorail system.

The Bombardier and Granite consortium is already building the main line. Bombardier will operate the system for the first five years with two renewable five-year options. The Montreal-based firm will be responsible for all of the electrical and mechanical systems for the fully automated “Downtown Extension,” including 20 additional driverless monorail cars.

The contract awarded to the consortium is valued at about $336 million (U.S) and Bombardier’s share is approximately $136 million. Additionally, Bombardier’s five-year operations and maintenance contract carries a value $87 million.

The press release stated, “Subject to financial close, notice to proceed is expected in summer 2004. The anticipated completion date of the Downtown Extension is summer 2007.”


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FREIGHT LINES...  Freight lines...

FEC Yard Job 63 in motion

All photos: NCI – Leo King

Florida East Coast yard job No. 63 crosses the St. John’s River movable bridge on October 28.

 

‘Job 63’ helps carry goods

Bridge over river brings traffic

By Leo King
Editor

Last February, NCI took a 365-mile ride on a Florida East Coast Ry. hotshot intermodal freight train from Jacksonville’s Bowden Yard to Hialeah Yard in Miami.

Last week, we took a ride on a local job to see how the cars get back and forth between Bowden Yard and CSX’s Simpson Yard, north of the St. John’s River. In short, FEC takes loads and empties north five-plus miles to the rolling lift bridge spanning the river, travel another mile to its TY Yard via Beaver Street Interlocking where FEC territory ends and CSX begins, and travel a couple of more miles through the lengthy plant and into the yard. Cars are dropped, and others are picked up for the backhaul.

Clay Smith

Conductor Clay Smith lines a switch in Bowden Yard.

 

FEC Job 63, as the local is named, starts out at 6:05 a.m. when conductor Clay Smith, engineer Chuck Weston and “utility trainman” Rick “Doughboy” Bagley report, and start shuffling the decks. Yes, that is plural.

When I arrived shortly after 8:00 a.m., five yard jobs were working in various parts of the layout – including the “Ramp job,” which switches only intermodal cars in the FEC container and trailer yard. Other crews, including one using a remote control engine, were switching in A, B and C yards.

Yardmaster Lyle Lowe was issuing switch lists left and right, and making room for inbound trains.

Job 63 was parked on B-5 track with engine 501. All of the 500s are GP-38-2s and some of them have been modified with remote control equipment.

“We’ve put our train together,” Smith said, “but we’re waiting for 224.”

TOFC, COFC
bring big bucks

Husein Cumber, FEC’s assistant vice-president for public affairs, told D:F on Friday TOFC and COFC loads account for a large part of the FECI Corp. bottom line.

He said, “Our 2002 intermodal total was 258,300 units, which equated to revenues of $60,875,000.”

He also noted that last year, “About 42 percent of FEC’s revenue from all traffic was attributable to traffic that originated on other railroads. About 7 percent was attributed to traffic that originated on our railroad but was bound for other railroads, other destinations. The remaining 51 percent originated and terminated on FEC.”

The railroad continues to be profitable. Its most recently reported financials, for the period between July and September 2003, shows the firm had $92 million cash-on-hand.

Southward traffic is virtually all loads, but there are some northward loads.

“The south-north balance fluctuates, with most of the northbound traffic international imports. A key there is that we are the exclusive rail provider to ports at Palm Beach, Port Everglades and Miami.”

FEC’s intermodal traffic “goes all over south Florida.” The carrier also delivers auto racks to its Miami auto ramps. The deliveries come from various manufacturers, both domestic and foreign.

CSX as well as Norfolk Southern provides intermodal traffic, and, Cumber said, CSX Intermodal is an important customer.

At times, it is more practical – on CSX’s bottom line – for CSX to ship containers and trailers via FEC instead of down its own lines via Tampa. It takes 8 to10 hours for trains to travel from Jacksonville to Miami via FEC, but on CSX’s Orlando route, add required crew changes as well as distance, it takes about 24 hours via CSX vs. half that time on FEC.

The corporation shows positive numbers on Wall Street.

CBS MarketWatch showed the stock (FLA) opening at $29.80 last Friday morning, and by noon was trading close to $30.00 on a volume of 42,700 shares. It has 36.68 million shares outstanding, and a price/earnings ratio of $22.37. Its 52-week high was $32.33 and its 52-week low at $21.20. At the end of the last quarter, it paid out four cents per share to shareholders.

Intermodal FEC 224 from Fort Lauderdale had a hefty load this morning – 32 loads and 15 empties at 7,500 feet, and weighed in at 4,377 tons, plus the engines. After the train arrived shortly after 9:00 a.m., its crew, conductor M. Sanz and engineer D. Mills, cut the engines off and went to the engine terminal.

Smith made the cut from a string of loaded Tropicana Orange Juice box cars, and we doubled over to the 224’s intermodal flats.

Doughboy would ride around the yard in a pickup truck. He could zip around quicker than we could, so he lined the iron before we got to the switches. He would keep doing that all day, and later got over to CSX’s Simpson Yard long before we did.

We dragged a few loaded flats out and popped them onto another yard track. We went back for what was left.

“I’m just checking the numbers making sure he makes the cuts in the right place,” said Smith, who was now off the engine and lining one switch while Doughboy did another.

“I’ve been on the railroad 24 years,” Doughboy explained. It’s a nickname I picked up early in my career and it stuck.”

He’ll answer to “Rick” if you call him that, but most folks just use his nickname. Even I picked it up for the short time I was there.

We went back to the remaining “pigs.” Doughboy made the hitch and we dragged most of them a mile or so northward to the “Crane 4” track in the intermodal yard.

Engineer Weston was getting a little workout. The engine was running fine, even with just 55 ppsi in the brake line while we remained shifting around in the yard, although it eventually would climb to 95 ppsi when we were ready to go on the road.

Either Smith or Weston discovered the toilet in the nose of engine 501, a GP-38, was over flowing, so they bad-ordered the power.

We dropped most of our pigs on Crane 4, but pulled up a little farther with some head-end UPS platforms. They got premier treatment. Truck cabs were already lined up, waiting to move under an enormous crane that would straddle everything except us after we got the engine out of the way.

We doubled back down another track, but had to wait a while for the Ramp job to go light around us to grab the pigs we had first dropped. After they cleared with their loads, we eased out to head back to B Yard.

Meanwhile, a bright light behind us got another yard crew, Job 80, to assemble our train back in B Yard.

We stopped in front of the yardmaster’s office, and Weston took the 501 west about 100 feet on another track and tied it down.

Our train had a single F-40 engine 404 on the point. The 404 is a GP-40, but was rebuilt with the EM2000 computer system so it is now a GP40-3.

The train now measured 2,000 feet long, Smith said – and each car had up to six platforms; it was 23 platforms in all, some loaded, some not, and of those trailers and containers aboard, some were loaded, and some were not. We also had 14 loaded Tropicana boxcars. Twelve of those juice cars were enroute to Jersey City, two to Cincinnati, and most of the pigs were bound for CSX’s South Kearny, N.J. Intermodal Terminal. Five were going to Atlanta; one was headed to Memphis, and another to Philadelphia.

That term, “pig,” is a leftover from the days when the pioneers of intermodal service, the New York, New Haven & Hartford and the Southern Pacific, and other roads, called those trains with trailers on flat cars, “piggyback service.”

224 arrives in Jacksonville

No. 224 arrives in Jacksonville from Fort Lauderdale.

 

Chuck Weston

Running backwards, Chuck Weston watches the track.

 

Yard speed throughout is 10 mph.

Every move we had made so far was between 8 and 10 mph. Not once did Weston go over that.

He has been around a while.

“Seventeen months to go,” he said with a big grin, before he retires.

“I hired out in 1969.” So, he has been on the FEC 34 years.

Today’s weather was not very good. It was dark, rain threatened to fall all day – in fact, by late afternoon, tornado warnings were posted, although none ever developed.

We eased out onto the mainline. Cars are stored on No. 1 track, but if passenger service ever begins, the yardmaster will have to find somewhere else to put them. We passed out first signal, an automatic marked 5.4 and displaying “clear” on a high green.

We traveled nearly six miles of unremarkable territory, heading northward to the bridge.

“This is 40 mph track,” Smith noted.

With a heavy freight train, though, it’s not even worth trying to get up to that speed. We stayed at 25, which is the bridge’s speed.

“You’d waste a lot of fuel trying to get it up to 40, too,” Smith remarked.

If Amtrak ever comes this way, though, they’ll be able to get up to 40 in no time. A 3,000 hp P-42 locomotive hauling eight coaches is a lot lighter than loaded freight cars. There’s no catenary in these parts, so no 8,000hp AEM-7s or HHP-8s here.

When an FEC railroaders says “the bridge,” there’s only one bridge he’s referring to – this double-tracked bascule span across the St. John’s River.

A two-year construction project began to take shape in 1924 across the northward flowing St. John’s River. FEC’s milepost 0.0 is today’s north end of a long 2,500-foot, 79 year old bascule bridge. The real MP 0.0 though, is located one mile farther north where CSX’s Beaver Street Interlocking begins.

It took us about three or four minutes to cross the river.

We rounded a curve to the right where the two tracks spread apart from each other a little, and passed the Prime Osborn Convention Center.

As soon as we were on straight iron again, we came to Beaver Street Interlocking, a lengthy, multiple-switch plant with many electrically powered switches controlled by the CSX dispatcher, who was, in fact, not very far away. CSX’s dispatching center controls all its lines from there.

The Hurricane train waits

Norfolk Southern’s Hurricane run-through to Miami waits for FEC’s 63 to clear. The Hurricane is Miami-bound.

 

We continued on to FEC’s TY Yard on the left, and another mile or two into CSX’s Simpson yard. On the left, Norfolk Southern’s intermodal run-through was waiting for us to get out of the way so they could take it across the bridge and go to Miami.

“That’s Southern 209,” Smith offered, “the Hurricane.” Local railroaders still refer to the various lines as “Southern,” “Coast Line,” and so on.

We dropped our pigs on one track, the juice cars on another; traveled southward again to pick up not pigs but a dozen loaded autoracks. It was a different pickup for these railroad folks. It’s usually more pigs, but it all varies from day-to-day.

We seemingly dodged in and out between CSX yard trains. The CSX yardmaster as well as the CSX dispatcher were in frequent contact with conductor Smith – and vice-versa – who left the CSX channels open on his portable radio while engineer Weston kept engine 404’s radio on the FEC channel.

It would be very hard to miss a beat.

Rick -Doughboy- Bagley

Rick “Doughboy” Bagley got on the engine 404 briefly to ride up to make a hitch.

 

We got the okay to tie onto the dozen auto racks. Doughboy was lining switches for us, the CSX yard crews got out of the way as quickly as they could for us, and we grabbed our cars. This was one of the few times Bagley would ride on the engine.

CSX has a rule, which FEC crews observe, that if someone is on a locomotive, he or she cannot stand while coupling to other engines or cars. You must either be seated, or on the ground.

We were seated.

Except for a couple of places where we had to wait for CSX crews to clear up for us, we were soon on our way back home.

We got good signals all the way, including a restricting exiting Beaver Street Yard – which is the best anyone ever gets.

We passed a CSX freight that had just arrived from the bridge and was waiting for us to get out of his way.

Doughboy had gotten ahead of us again – he had lined us into C yard where we dropped the racks. Smith cut off the engine, and Weston ran us up to in front of the yardmaster’s office.

Their day was done. It wasn’t quite 2:00 p.m.

Smith and I got off, and Weston took the engine 404 over to the servicing track.

Now it was somebody else’s turn to figure out what to do with the autorack string. They would be the second trick yardmaster’s problem.

A “clear” indication was displayed as we came to the bridge, and an “approach” on the other side of the span; well, what would be an approach anywhere else, but in FEC’s special instructions, as Smith explained, “We have to take that as a ‘restricting’ because we’re inside yard limits.”

FEC, NS upgrade
Chicago service

Florida East Coast and Norfolk Southern are extending their intermodal partnership. Trains will operate daily.

John Lucas, FEC vice-president and general manager for intermodal traffic said on Thursday the carriers have begun “newly-enhanced Midwest-Chicago to South Florida express intermodal service.”

He added FEC and NS “are offering shippers a faster, truck competitive service linking these two major markets, and at favorable economics.”

He noted some details in a press release, including a l

ate Chicago cutoff for same-day freight movement. That is expected to result in “fast and reliable third morning availability in Miami” for same day delivery.

For example, a trailer or container loaded at NS’s Landers facility in Chicago by the 4:00 p.m. cut-off time on Monday will arrive in Miami on Thursday. The trailers will be available by 8:45 a.m., and the containers one hour later.

Lucas wasn’t specific about dollar costs but offered, “Competitive pricing vs. over-the-road.”

He said shippers’ and receivers’ bottom lines were the target.

“We want to provide high quality products that meets Florida’s transportation needs, help you grow your business with your customers, and drive more profit to your bottom line.”

He said both trailer and container equipment is available, and receivers will get “Truck-like service at favorable economics, enhanced asset productivity, and an improved bottom line.”

FEC intermodal is online at www.fecintermodal.com

 

Clear signal to go

We got a clear indication from the home signal on the right side of the train.

 

Lyle Lowe

Yardmaster Lyle Lowe’s day is also nearing its end.


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Feds cater to ‘Nimbys’?

By Wes Vernon
Washington Bureau Chief

The November voting scattered about the country during this off-year election may reinforce those who believe that for every “Nimby” irritant or inconvenience, taxpayers from coast-to-coast should come to the rescue.

In case you’ve never heard the term, “Nimby,” it’s the acronym for people who complain, “not in my back yard.”

This has nothing to do with building transit infrastructure or roads, generally accepted as necessary to relieve congestion or stimulate commerce for the common good or provide mobility to people in isolated rural areas. Adam Smith himself said infrastructure was an essential government function.

This is about Nimbys in Salt Lake City who don’t want to have to look at trains that pass their houses (Yes, grammatically we know should change the “y” to “i” and add “es” to make it plural, but “nimby” has become so pervasive we’ll leave it that way).

The tracks were there when they moved in. Union Pacific could – and for a while, did – make the case that “the railroad was there first.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has struck a deal with residents of the neighborhood on the city’s west side whose residents have long complained about the trains using the 900 South line for freight traffic running only feet from some homes.

Under the swap deal, UP would donate the 900 South rail line property to the city in return for federal funding enabling the railroad to straighten another section of track and build a 1.6 mile segment that would bypass the west side residents. The tab for the taxpayers is estimated at $40 million.

It is not lost on anyone that Anderson’s “solution” was announced just days before voters went to the polls to cast their ballots in the mayor’s hotly contested bid for re-election. Anderson’s critics also point out that the federal money is by no means guaranteed.

“I believe the people who care about this issue are being used as political pawns,” said Anderson’s opponent Frank Pignanelli. “It’s not final. It’s not even close. We’ve secured no federal funds. This is just a PR gimmick.”

State Sen. James Evans, who represents the west side and has endorsed Pignanelli, held his own news conference with neighborhood residents, where he criticized Mayor Anderson’s announcement as “premature,” and said the mayor was raising the hopes of the residents when no federal dollars are assured.

Anderson indignantly huffed, “There are those whose pettiness drives them to turn everything into politics. That’s a very cynical view.”

There is no indication that anyone asked the mayor if such cynicism could have been avoided by holding back on the announcement pending a serious effort in Congress to secure the funding, even if that might have developed after the votes had been counted in the election.

One resident of the 9th South community, Rose Fife told the Salt Lake Tribune that beyond train whistles in the early morning hours, or the noise as the trains rumble by, her biggest worry concerned what exactly those trains might be carrying as they travel past her back yard.

There is no indication that the Trib reporter asked Fife if she owned a car, TV set, clothing, appliances, or any other item likely to be “arriving by train,” in the words of the industry ad.

A D:F check with the Association of American Railroads (AAR) as to whether there was much or even any precedent for federal funding elicited the response that the industry group knew of no such precedent, but then this is not the kind of issue AAR would track in any event.

UP, whose interest is carrying on its business in an industry which carries 40 percent of the freight traffic in this economy, appears willing to resolve the matter in an amicable way and move on. No corporation enjoys being stuck in the midst of a local political dust-up.


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RailAmerica selling Australian lines

RailAmerica reported last Thursday it plans to sell its drought-plagued Australian railroad and concentrate on expanding its North American operations.

The Boca Raton News reported on October 31 the move is a reversal of strategy for the Boca Raton-based short-line and regional railroad operator, which acquired Freight Australia in May 1999, and earlier this year made a bid for New Zealand railroad Tranz Rail before pulling out. Now Morgan Stanley will help RailAmerica put its Australian line, which accounts for about 20 percent of its revenues, on the block. The company already has its Chilean railroad, which represents about 5 percent of its revenues, up for sale.

“We have made a strategic decision to divest our international operations and focus our efforts on North America,” said RailAmerica CEO Gary Marino.

“We have several qualified buyers looking at Freight Australia and believe the timing is right to effect a sale of the company as the outlook for grain recovery in Australia for fiscal year 2004 is quite positive, and a near record grain harvest is anticipated,” he said.

RailAmerica Chief Financial Officer Michael Howe said that the lack of growth opportunities after several acquisition bids fell through and the lack of diversity in shipping materials Down Under were key reasons for coming to the decision.

The Australian drought has reduced shipments of grain there since mid-2002 and taken a bite out of the company’s books.


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Traffic rises on U.S. railroads

Led by the continued surge in intermodal volume, freight traffic on U.S. railroads was up during the week ended October 25, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported on Thursday.

Intermodal volume totaled 209,867 trailers or containers, up 5.6 percent from the comparable week last year and the third busiest week ever for intermodal. Trailer volume was up 12.0 percent, while container traffic rose by 3.3 percent.

Carload freight, which doesn’t include the intermodal volume, totaled 342,292 cars, up 0.4 percent from the corresponding week last year. Volume was up 1.4 percent in the East, but down 0.4 percent in the West. Total volume was estimated at 31.0 billion ton-miles, up 2.6 percent from last year.

Thirteen of 19 carload commodity groups were up from 2002, with coke loadings rising by 63.2 percent; farm products other than grain up 49.0 percent; stone, clay and glass products increasing 14.2 percent; and waste and scrap materials gaining 12.4 percent. Loadings of metallic ores declined by 16.9 percent while coal volume fell by 3.2 percent.

The AAR also reported the following cumulative totals for U.S. railroads during the first 43 weeks of 2003: 14,008,572 carloads, down 0.2 percent from last year; intermodal volume of 8,193,973 trailers or containers, up 6.6 percent; and total volume of an estimated 1.24 trillion ton-miles, up 1.1 percent from last year’s first 43 weeks.

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. 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.

On Canada’s railroads, intermodal and carload freight were both up during the week ended October 25. Carload volume totaled 70,735 cars, up 3.6 percent, while intermodal traffic totaled 46,517 trailers or containers, up 3.0 percent from last year. Cumulative originations for the first 43 weeks of 2003 on the Canadian railroads totaled 2,668,125 carloads, down 0.6 percent from last year, and 1,792,514 trailers and containers, up 6.8 percent from last year.

Combined cumulative volume for the first 43 weeks of 2003 on 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads totaled 16,676,697 carloads, down 0.2 percent from last year and 9,986,487 trailers and containers, up 6.6 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 25 totaled 8,628 cars, down 8.1 percent from last year. TFM reported intermodal volume of 3,282 originated trailers or containers, down 12.1 percent from the 43rd week of 2002. For the first 43 weeks of 2003, TFM reported cumulative originated volume of 362,337 cars, down 1.7 percent from last year, and 149,161 trailers or containers, up 15.2 percent.

The AAR online at http://www.aar.org.


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STOCKS...  Selected Friday closing quotes...

Source: Bloomberg.com

  Friday One Week
Earlier
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)28.9428.180
Canadian National(CNI)60.2059.350
Canadian Pacific(CP)27.9927.220
CSX(CSX)31.8229.780
Florida East Coast(FLA)29.7227.970
Genessee & Wyoming(GWR)24.3124.820
Kansas City Southern(KSU)13,2312.770
Norfolk Southern(NSC)20.1518.850
Union Pacific(UNP)62.6060.060


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QUARTERLY REPORTS...  Quarterly reports, payouts...

CSX makes one-time cash payment

CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX) reported on October 27 it will make a one-time cash payment to holders of its Zero Coupon Convertible Debentures due 2021 who did not require CSX to purchase their debentures on October 30.

The carrier also said it has amended the terms of the debentures to add an additional date, October 30, 2005, on which investors may require CSX to purchase them.

The debentures terms required CSX to purchase them on October 30, 2003, from each holder who delivered a purchase notice for some or all of the holder's debentures, and did not withdraw that notice in accordance with the procedures of The Depository Trust Company by October 28.

Each holder of record as of the close of business on October 31 will receive $23.00 on November 5 for every $1,000 aggregate principal amount at maturity of debentures held, or about 2.75 percent of each debenture's accreted value as of October 30, and 2.30 percent of each debenture's principal amount at maturity.

Debenture holders who had submitted a purchase notice by October 23 and did not withdraw that notice in accordance with The Depository Trust Co. procedures by October 28 will receive the scheduled purchase price of $835.65 in cash per $1,000 principal amount at maturity of the debentures promptly following the later of October 30, and the book-entry transfer of the Debentures to J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, as trustee for the debentures.

The amendment to the terms of the Debentures permits holders of the Debentures, at their option, to cause CSX to purchase the Debentures on October 30, 2005, at their accreted value of $852.48 per $1,000 principal amount at maturity. CSX may satisfy this additional purchase option in cash, shares of its common stock or a combination of cash and stock. The specific terms of this additional purchase option have been set forth in a supplemental indenture. That supplemental indenture will be filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission under a Form 8-K. The Form 8-K also will include a discussion of certain U.S. federal income tax aspects of the additional purchase option and one-time cash payment.

Debenture holders should discuss with their financial advisors, accountants and tax professionals the tax implications of receiving the one-time cash payment, CSX's amendment to the debentures and the advisability of not exercising their option to require CSX to purchase their Debentures.


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G&W

Genesee & Wyoming, Inc. (NYSE: GWR) reported on October 30 that net income in the third quarter of 2003 was $7.6 million compared with net income of $7.0 million in the third quarter of 2002.

GWI’s diluted earnings per share in the third quarter of 2003 increased 7.5 percent to $0.43 with 17.9 million shares outstanding, which included a negative impact of $0.03 per share from the final settlement of a lawsuit that has been outstanding since 1998 and a positive impact of $0.05 per share from tax and regulatory determinations at its 50 percent-owned Australian joint venture.

In the third quarter of 2002, GWI reported diluted earnings per share of $0.40 with 17.6 million shares outstanding. Its North American revenue increased 16.0 percent to $61.5 million compared with $53.0 million in the third quarter of 2002. Of that $8.5 million increase in revenue, $3.4 million was from the acquisition of Utah Ry. and $1 million was from the start-up of a new rail line in Oregon.

Same railroad revenue in the third quarter of 2003 increased $4.1 million, or 7.7 percent, despite a $1.1 million decline in metals and auto shipments in GWI’s New York-Pennsylvania Region.


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KC

Kansas City Southern(NYSE:KSU) reported October 29 net income of $4.3 million ($0.02 per diluted share) for the third quarter of 2003, compared to net income of $10.6 million ($0.17 per diluted share) for the third quarter of 2002.

Consolidated revenues for the third quarter of 2003 were $146.3 million, compared to $138.9 million for the comparable 2002 period, a 5 percent increase.

Operating income more than doubled to $14.9 million compared to $6.2 million during the third quarter last year.

Consolidated KCS results were negatively affected by lower earnings from Grupo Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana, S.A. de C.V. (Grupo TFM) and a reduction in other income.

In addition, KCS earnings per share for the third quarter of 2003 were impacted by the accumulated dividends for the 4.25 percent Redeemable Cumulative Convertible Perpetual Preferred Stock issued April 29, 2003. These preferred dividends reduced earnings per share by five cents in the third quarter of 2003.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2003, consolidated net income was $17.4 million ($0.20 per diluted share) compared to $36.8 million ($0.59 per diluted share). This $19.4 million decrease was the result of a $20.5 million decline in equity in net earnings of unconsolidated affiliates, a $10.5 million decline in other income, and a $9.0 increase in costs and expenses. Partially offsetting was a one-time $8.9 million benefit (net of tax) booked in the first quarter of 2003 relating to the cumulative effect of a required change in accounting for removal costs of certain track structure assets.


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NS

Norfolk Southern Corp. (NSC) reported third-quarter net income of $137 million, or 35 cents per share, compared with $126 million, or 32 cents per share over the same period one year earlier. The transportation giant beat by a penny the forecast of 34 cents per share in a survey of analysts by Thomson First Call. Railway operating revenue was flat at $1.6 billion.


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P&W

Providence and Worcester Railroad Co. (AMEX: “PWX”) reported at its regular quarterly meeting on October 29 its directors declared a dividend of four cents per share on the outstanding common stock, payable November 20 to shareholders of record on November 6.


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ACROSS THE POND...  Across the pond...

Rebels derail Iraqi freight train

Saboteurs brought a trainload of U.S. Army supplies to a fiery halt west of Baghdad on Thursday, as a Ramadan campaign of terror bombs and escalating attacks spurred a new Iraq pullout by international aid groups. Shortly after the train came to a stop, locals began climbing on the derailed container cars and looting electronic goods, The AP reported.

As October’s heat finally gave way to cooling winds off the desert, rumors of looming trouble spread through this city of 5 million, focusing on the start of the week, which was Saturday in Muslim Iraq.

One leaflet on the streets, purporting to be from Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, called for a general strike Saturday through Monday “to prove to our enemy that we are united people.” Monday marked the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The identity of those swarming over the sabotaged train Thursday was clear: they were Iraqis from the Fallujah area, 35 miles west of Baghdad, who fell upon the crippled train to loot it of computers, tents, bottled water and other Army supplies.

The goods had been bound for the town of Haditha, 100 miles up the Euphrates River from Fallujah, when a makeshift bomb exploded along the tracks four miles west of Fallujah. As the uninjured engineer fled, four containers on flat cars went up in flames, and more than 200 area residents descended on the other cars to make off with whatever they could carry.

No U.S. forces came to the scene, but at one point the looters scattered when two American helicopters whirred in for a look. At another point, Iraqis backed trucks up to the bombed train to unload cargo.


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LETTERS...  We get letters...

Dear Editor:

I enjoyed reading the article, “Which wins the prize – Acela or Ice?” (D:F October 27), but I have to set a few things straight.

ICE-3s have an outlet at every seat.

ICE-2s have an outlet at every table

ICE-1s have nothing.

There is no special plug required. You can plug any European plug into the outlet whether grounded or not.

The ICEs maintain a steady 250 kmh from Hannover to Wurzburg.

There is no way to compare New York’s Penn Station to Frankfurt’s. The former has 10-foot ceilings and is best forgotten. Frankfurt has a very grand station even though rough on the edges.

In addition, most travelers in Germany – as in Switzerland or Austria – only pay 50 percent of the price mentioned in the article since they have a frequent travelers card (Bahncard). You can book in advance and get the same discount. It is dramatically cheaper than the Acela.

Paul Sheehan
Munich, Germany

Writer Dave Beale responds:

I have not ridden on an ICE-3 since last December. At that time I saw only the DC outlet at my seat, similar to what one sees on some airliners, especially in business class, for a laptop computer. All seats, as I recall, had the DC outlets at the seats. No sight of any standard outlet (220 VAC over here) that I recall.

Maybe by chance I was riding on the prototype model or something and the others all have standard 220 VAC outlets, I cannot say at this point. I will have to look into that. The letter writer could be correct, maybe the ICE-3 all now have standard 220 VAC outlets.
DB has (for other reasons) put their ICE-3 fleet through some major modification campaigns recently, this could be one of the items they modified.

“ICE-2 at every table…” Could be. If correct, then (in second class) makes for 28 seats with a 220 VAC outlet and 46 seats with no outlet. I have ridden on ICE-2 trains fairly regularly, including with a laptop PC on my person, and never saw any AC outlets. But I never sat at one of the seats with a table. I definitely remember on a couple of trips on an ICE-1 seeing the DC outlet in the seat armrest. Don't know if these are all ICE-1 trains or not.

“The ICEs maintain a steady 250 km/h from Hannover to Würzburg.”
As for his statement about this speed, it is 365 km (227 miles) distance along the rails (less as the crow flies) between Hannover and Würzburg.

According the DB website, all ICE trains take 2:00 hours or 2:03 hours for the trip. There are three stops (Göttingen, Kassel and Fulda) in between. The DB website shows a two-minute pause at each of those stations, so if the time underway is 1:54, I still come up with an average speed of 192 km/h. That seems closer to the 220 km/h normal maximum speed I have observed on board than to the 250 km/h your reader states. Nearly the entire route – save for a few kilometers at the Hannover and Würzburg ends – is on the high speed line specially built for the ICE during the 1980s.

Also a Deutsche Bahn employee acquaintance, Gered Winkler, a maintenance planner for DB, says the trains seldom get up to that 250 km/h speed because track conditions seldom warrant the speed. Trainmen only try to do so if their train is late.

The current train speed is displayed on ICE-1s on an LCD panel in the vestibule of each car. On the ICE-2s, the current train speed is often displayed (in between advertisements and station stop announcements) on LED displays at each end of the passenger compartment. The highest speed I ever recall personally seeing on an ICE-1 or ICE-2 was on a trip I took from Berlin to Hannover.

Somewhere along the relatively newly built (1994-1998) high-speed line between Berlin and Wolfsburg we hit 245 km/h for a while, according to the display on the end of the cabin. For reference, the ICE-1 and ICE-2 are rated by the EBA (German version of the FRA) for 280 km/h max. speed in revenue service, track and operating conditions permitting.

As for the main station in Frankfurt, I did not mention this in my article, but it is smack in the middle of Frankfurt’s red light and drug-dealing district. The station itself may have been a nice place at one time, but for the past 15-20 years that I have traveled through it (including times before I moved to Germany), it is, my opinion, a hellhole.

It is dirty, noisy, over flowing with pigeons (airborne rats), with lots of drug dealers, pickpockets, drug addicts, pan handlers, etc. roaming around it.

I did not observe this at Penn Station. To the city’s and DB’s credit, there has been a major effort in the past couple of years to clean Frankfurt up and to update parts of it such as the train platforms, waiting lounges and the tickets and reservations center. Last time I was in that station (December 2002) it was coming along, but still had some distance to go.

Dave Beale
Haste, Germany


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Jim Furlong resigns as D:F publisher

James Furlong resigned from the National Corridors Initiative as publisher of Destination:Freedom last week because of increasing demands of his own environmental concerns in his hometown of Groton, Conn. NCI President James RePass said, “Jim has been a great asset to us and he will be hard to replace. For the time being, I will reassume the publisher duties.” Furlong served in the post for more than two years.


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THE WAY WE WERE...  The way we were...

Grand Central Station light fixtures

MTA: Peter Hine

How many railroaders does it take to change a light bulb? When you're talking about the giant light fixtures illuminating the main concourse and ramps of Grand Central Terminal, you need a bunch. These fixtures hang below skylights that were blacked out during the Second World War, and only re-opened to daylight in the mid-1990s. When the terminal was rehabilitated several years ago, the fixtures were removed for restoration, and it was discovered that what restorers thought was brass was actually genuine gold plating. October marked Grand Central’s 90th Anniversary.

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" .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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