Vol. 6 No. 48
November 21, 2005

Copyright © 2005
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

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

A weekly North American rail and transit update

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

* Now in our Sixth Year *

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Turkey Dinner - Happy Thanksgiving Message

A Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

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

  News Items… 
Bush Administration. Is “FEMA-tizing Amtrak”
   critics charge at House inquiry.
National Corridors Initiative seeks Gunn re-instatement,
   calls his ouster from Amtrak unwise and “possibly Illegal”
Congressional Statements on Amtrak, Gunn FiringŠ
Nadler of New York says "Bush Board" is
   FEMA-tizing Amtrak
Cong. Castle of Delaware will Introduce bill to overhaul
   Amtrak board; Asks President to act
Text of Castle Amtrak Board of Directors bill
   to amend 1997 Amtrak Reform Act.
Castle letter to Bush
Menendez of Rails subcommittee, lambastes Amtrak board,
   Bush administration at Amtrak house hearings
Former Amtrak Board Chair and Vice Chair issue bi-partisan call for Re-instatement of ousted Amtrak CEO David Gunn
  Holiday Scheduling… 
Amtrak adds trains for Holiday week
  High speed lines… 
Keystone corridor improvements yield higher speeds
Tampers speed track work on busy corridor
  Commuter lines… 
Amtrak adding another train to Downeaster,
   Passing track to be built in New Hampshire
Trains, trolleys, buses, and boats; MBTA has
   intermodal commuter solutions
Passenger train service returns to downtown Greensboro
  Safety lines… 
Redondo Junction facility reaches remarkable safety record
  Freight lines… 
Canadian National Railway foresees 20 percent
   earnings growth this quarter
Fraser River Port Authority and Canadian Pacific Railway
   sign agreement to capitalize growing Asia-Pacific trade
  Friday closing quotes… 
  Across the pond… 
Deutsche Bahn to acquire USA presence
   with purchase of BAX Global
80,000 Signatures gathered to keep ICE train
   service at Berlin Zoo station
Test Freight Train from Berlin to Moscow in 3 1/2 Days
  Opinion… 
Why Amtrak should backtrack
  Editorial… 
FEMAtizing America
  We Get Letters… 
  End notes… 


Bush Administration is “FEMA-tizing Amtrak”
Critics charge at House inquiry

House Railroads Subcommittee holds 4_ hour hearings November 15
in response to firing of CEO David Gunn

 

Congressional Republicans and Democrats of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Railroads Sub Committee joined forces Tuesday to demand answers from Amtrak Board Chairman David Laney as to why he had fired Amtrak CEO President & CEO David Gunn just a few weeks after describing him as “terrific” and “splendid” as Amtrak’s leader.

Gaveled to order by Cong. Steve LaTourette at 10:18 in Room 2325 of the Historic Rayburn Building in Washington, the hearing was tense and contentious as Laney and his colleague, US DOT General Counsel Jeffrey A. Rosen, repeatedly refused to give direct answers to questions from Republican LaTourette, Ranking Member Corinne Brown (D-IN), and others.

At the hearing, inquiries focused intensely on the 42 years of rail management experience of ousted CEO David Gunn and the lack of such experience by the Board that fired him.

While noting Gunn’s firing as the proximate cause for the hearings, Rails Subcommittee Chairman LaTourette also stated: “There are deeper issues here. There are questions about not just David Gunn’s termination but about the Board itself. Is the Board legally constituted?”

Commenting on the circumstances surrounding the termination of a man universally regarded as one of the best railroad managers in America, who had come out of retirement to run Amtrak in 2002 only because its circumstances were so dire that it was within days of shutdown, LaTourette observed, “Prior to last week,” LaTourette stated, “you couldn’t think up a hypothetical case this loony if you tried.”

Gunn had turned down the Amtrak job previously over a decade ago. He was retired after rescuing the huge Toronto transit system and living in Nova Scotia when former Amtrak Board Chair John Robert Smith (who also chairs the National Corridors Initiative) along with Gunn’s former boss Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, convinced him to take the job.

Called to testify were current Amtrak Chairman David Laney, a Dallas attorney and fund-raiser for President Bush named to the Amtrak Board in 2002, who has also served as Chair of the Texas Transportation Commission, and US DOT General Counsel Rosen, also a Bush political appointee, who serves as the representative of US DOT Secretary Norman Mineta. Mineta is automatically a member of Amtrak’s Board because of his office, but in five years has never actually attended any meetings of the Board.

Amtrak was created by Congress in 1970 at the request of the then-bankrupt freight railroads who were at that time required by law to operate passenger trains as a part of their public “common carrier” obligations. While it is a private company subject to the laws of the District of Columbia, it is controlled by the Federal government. The President appoints its seven-member board with the advice and consent of the Senate. At present, only two Board members, Laney and Mineta have actually been confirmed by the Senate; the other two active Board members are unconfirmed recess appointees who have apparently delegated their authority to the two-man executive committee of Laney and Mineta/Rosen that actually fired Gunn.

Noting this, Rails Subcommittee Chair LaTourette noted during the hearings that under the laws of the District of Columbia, which, for other than actual Board appointments, govern Amtrak, the kind of mini-executive committee created by the Board is only legally empowered to act between regular board meetings. Laney and Mineta/Rosen’s action in firing Gunn therefore, LaTourette said, may well be illegal, and could leave open to lawsuits not only Gunn’s firing but all other actions of the Board since it has been run by Laney and Rosen/Mineta.

For example, LaTourette noted that a public relations firm had been hired before Gunn’s firing to handle the aftermath expected by Laney of that act; because a part of that firm’s work would be expected to be communicating directly with Congress, such an act by law requires competitive bidding. Laney confirmed the firm had instead been engaged on a sole-source basis, i.e., with no competitive bidding. Since that act is on its face illegal, Chairman LaTourette advised Laney to take steps to correct the breach of the law, which Laney said he would do. It is not presently known which other acts of the Board may have also been illegal, due to the effectively “rump” nature of the inexperienced two-man team now trying to fill the void left by the firing of David Gunn, but Chairman LaTourette indicated the committee would be looking into that question.

Opening with comments first by Cong. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) a strong Amtrak advocate who complained that the Bush Administration was “…seeking to destroy the nation’s only intercity rail system,” and then Cong John Mica (R-FL) an Amtrak critic and the only Congressman present Tuesday to defend Amtrak Board Chairman Laney, who alleged that Amtrak is “stuck in a rut” and needs to change, the hearings were joined, in an unusual cross-chamber action, by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).

Lautenberg decried the Bush Administration’s “hostility to Amtrak” and the loss of the bipartisanship of the previous Amtrak board in dealing with the challenges resulting from decades of under-funding of the Amtrak system.

First elected in 1982 and, with the exception of a two-year retirement, in the Senate ever since, Lautenberg, a successful businessman who went into politics, blasted the Bush Administration for its firing of Gunn and for its failure to support Amtrak.

“People want an alternative” to the congested highways and overcrowded airports, “…and Amtrak is that alternative said Lautenberg. Firing Gunn, Lautenberg said, was an “imprudent decision” because President Bush has “…placed ideology over the needs of the American people”.

In a written statement last week, Lautenberg had also assailed the Bush Administration: “A rogue Amtrak board made up of the President’s cronies and campaign donors has made a rash decision to terminate CEO David Gunn without any consultation with affected communities or other interested parties,” said Senator Lautenberg.

“Under David Gunn’s leadership, Amtrak has cut its payroll, increased service and attracted a record number of riders. Surprisingly this action comes one week after the U.S. Senate voted 93-6 for a bipartisan plan to reform and modernize Amtrak with Mr. Gunn’s leadership. It is outrageous such action would come at a time when our country is beset with threats of terrorism or natural disasters where evacuation by rail might be required as it was on 9/11 when movement by air or vehicle was almost impossible,” stated Lautenberg.

“Over two million people rode Amtrak last month alone. Should we be pushing those people onto the roadways when the price of a gallon of gasoline is at $2.50? Or, into the crowded skies with all the delays we are facing at airports? In fact, near misses by airliners are up 30 percent over last year. This decision to fire Mr. Gunn is not only wrong, it is dangerous,” he concluded.

Following Lautenberg’s scathing testimony Cong. Gerald Nadler (D-NY), also a long-time Amtrak supporter, weighed in with an equally blistering report.

“This Board is FEMAtizing Amtrak,” Nadler declared, in a thinly-veiled reference to the Federal Emergency Management Agency incompetence exposed by the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, “when days went by as people starved, sickened, and died on exposed highway overpasses without assistance, even as FEMA executives discussed proper attire for their media photo-ops.” (The rest of Cong. Nadler’s testimony can be seen elsewhere in this issue.)

Cong. Bachus (D-MT) again weighed in: “It’s laughable that anyone thinks a passenger rail system would turn a profit. As far as I know, that doesn’t happen anywhere in the world.”

“If we’re going to have a passenger rail system, we’re going to have to pay for it,” said Bachus.

Called next was Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), also in a rare intra-cameral appearance, who stated, “We are at a crossroads for Amtrak, because the real reason for firing David Gunn was to kill Amtrak”. Pledging Senate support to the House inquiry, he added, given the way the Amtrak board was constituted, “The Board did not have the power to remove him.”

Also appearing, although not a member of the subcommittee was Cong. Michael N. Castle (D-DE) who bluntly warned that he was sponsoring legislation to re-constitute the present Amtrak Board, in order to stop what he saw as the illegal action of the current Rump Board: “This is not just a Northeast Corridor issue. It affects the entire nation,” he stated.

As the hearing continued it became clear that supporters of Gunn and Amtrak, who were also vocally critical of the present Amtrak Board, were from both political parties. With the exception of Cong. John Mica (R-FL) who mocked and interrupted Amtrak supporters, including David Gunn from whom he demanded a “Yes or No” answer without actually finishing the question put to him, then answered the question himself, all of the committee present, chaired by a Republican but representing both parties, were increasingly outspoken about support for David Gunn. They see the present Amtrak Board members as being completely unqualified to pass judgment on a professional like Gunn, but willing to allow the sell-off of Amtrak’s only real asset, the Northeast Corridor, via private firms who would securitize that asset and then sell it off via bonds.

Some of the toughest questioning came from New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and the highest ranking Hispanic American in the House, who forced Laney to repeat his oath a second time to be certain that he was indeed sworn to tell the truth.

An angry Cong. Menendez (D-NJ) stated explicitly, “Mr. Laney, Mr. Rosen, I don’t trust you. Congress and the American people want no part of this plan, and Mr. Bush has shown an utter lack of support for Amtrak.” (Menendez’ anger was prompted by a previous meeting with Laney wherein Laney had made assurances, later shown to be questionable, about the Amtrak Board’s future plans.) When he demanded that Laney and Rosen repeat the ‘Yes” they had in group issued when placed under oath, it was a deliberate insult that shocked all present for the anger and distrust it displayed.

[Unlike earlier hearings involving oil company executives, who were not required to swear an oath to the truth before testifying regarding recent price run-ups for gasoline, Congressman LaTourette compelled Laney, Rosen, and even Gunn and his replacement, a technical manager named Hughes, to take an oath to tell the truth.]

A secret Amtrak Board vote in September ordered that information be compiled that would create a separate Amtrak Corridor subsidiary. While Amtrak has previously divided its operations into Special Business Units for management purposes, the Board action was prompted by proposals submitted by one or more private sector firms that want to acquire Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor in order to manage it and, they say, invest in it to get better use out of that potentially valuable asset that Amtrak makes.

Shortly before Gunn’s firing, Menendez was visited by Amtrak Chair Laney to discuss the Corridor spin-off issue. It was at this meeting where Laney gave the impression to Menendez that the Board was not in favor of splitting up Amtrak. It was this deception that made the Congressman so furious.

Gunn has been consistently opposed to this idea; he believes separating out Corridor ownership from Amtrak management will compromise safety, as a similar move privatizing BritRail did in England in the earlier 1990’s. In that case a private company got ownership of the right-of-way (roadbed and track), and then after selling off shares to recoup purchase costs, failed to maintain the right-of-way adequately, resulting in numerous accidents and deaths in rail crashes brought about by infrastructure failure.

Laney has denied that the Board wants to destroy Amtrak, but rather that it wishes to make major changes that would improve the service. These are opposed by those who simply resist change, he indicated.


Return to index
National Corridors Initiative seeks Gunn Re-instatement,
Calls his ouster from Amtrak unwise and “possibly illegal”

By DF Staff

WASHINGTON - The National Corridors Initiative has demanded the re-instatement of David Gunn as president and chief executive officer of the nation’s passenger rail system, Amtrak.

“The termination of David Gunn by Amtrak’s Board may or may not have been a legal action, as information has developed that the current Amtrak Board both lacks a quorum to conduct business as required by the District of Columbia law regulating corporations, and also may itself be constituted illegally,” stated NCI President James P. RePass following the Congressional inquiry into Gunn’s firing. Rails Subcommittee Chair Steve LaTourette (R-OH) chaired those hearings November 15, six days after Gunn was fired.

“But it was certainly unwise. The spectacle of political friends of George Bush such as Amtrak Chair David Laney destroying the cohesiveness of the national passenger rail system, heading a Board that has not one sliver of railroad operating experience, is both sad and dangerous. It is sad for obvious reasons, because we have already seen what political cronyism can do to a Federal agency --- FEMA --- and it is dangerous for those same reasons,” said RePass.

“To be safe, railroads need to be vertically integrated, as David Gunn himself noted last week. Otherwise, maintenance can deteriorate below safe thresholds, operational integration is lost, and accidents can happen. That is precisely what happened in England, and we seem hell-bent on replicating their mistakes here. Congress needs to step in --- in a bipartisan way --- and stop the Bush Administration, which literally does not know what it is doing, from causing further damage.”

“After some 17 years in this business of advocating for transportation in the public interest, I thought I had seen everything, but I was wrong. Attending the hearings called November 15 by House Rails Subcommittee Chair Cong. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), and listening to the two lawyers running Amtrak bob, weave, and simply refuse to answer direct questions asked by Congressperson after Congressperson, I felt ashamed to be an American,” said RePass. “The way to make changes is not to hold secret votes - as the Amtrak Board did in September --- on issues upon which the Congress, not to mention the American people, have a right to be informed.

“The Bush Administration’s appointees fired Gunn because he refused to go along with the destruction and dismemberment of Amtrak that they wish to pursue, even though the Administration does not have the support in Congress to do that. Gunn was blocking their plans, and was fired for that reason and that reason alone,” stated RePass.

Amtrak’s Chair, David Laney, a political appointee who is a major Bush fundraiser, denied that there were plans to dismember Amtrak, even though in September the Amtrak Board voted secretly to order the creation of a separate subsidiary around the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak’s only real asset. Gunn refused to assist in this plan, and was fired. In firing Gunn the Board cited a subsequent Government Accountability Office report criticizing Amtrak management, although the final conclusion of the report did not mentioned Gunn but rather said that the Board itself was the fundamental problem.

(While Amtrak operates the nation’s passenger rail system, its trains run over freight railroads tracks and those trains are dispatched by the freight railroads, except for the Northeast Corridor. Private business interests want to gain control of the Corridor, which includes Penn Station in New York and other valuable real estate, and then manage it, in order to take tax credits for depreciation. While in and of itself not a bad idea --- “Better management is like motherhood, said RePass, “Pretty much everybody favors it” --- the way it is done is critical to an organization such as a passenger railroad, which has a large public service aspect to its rationale for existing, and does not exist simply to make money

“The Bush Administration which like the Thatcher/Major Administrations in Britain in their later years,senses a loss of public support for its policies, is rushing as the British did to privatize or sell off public assets like Amtrak before being thrown out of office. While under Britain’s parliamentary system the Conservative Party government was indeed thrown out (in 1997, replaced by the Labour Party of Tony Blair), the U.S. President will serve until January 2009. However, his opponents will be working towards removing one or more of his Congressional majorities in the 2006 elections, which would essentially hobble the President’s domestic and foreign policy agendas,” RePass said.

“But by moving now to do secretly what Congress would not let them do publicly ­ parcel out Amtrak --- the Bush Administration risks undermining its own legitimacy even with its supporters, since its actions will --- rightly ­ be interpreted as recklessness, rather than leadership,” said RePass.

Congressman Steve LaTourette (R-OH), chair of House Subcommittee on Railroads of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, is conducting formal hearings into the firing of David Gunn. The Congressman has also raised questions about the legality of the firings, as well as of the rationale used by the present rump Amtrak Board to terminate Gunn.

David Gunn, appointed president of Amtrak in 2002, was fired November 9 by Amtrak Chair David Laney of Texas, formerly one of Gov. Bush’s advisers and Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission. Laney replaced former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson on the Amtrak Board in late 2002.

Cong. LaTourette, who is well regarded by industry professionals, is also the sponsor of House Bill 1631 to provide $60 billion for passenger and freight rail projects nationwide, to bring American ground transportation up to world standards. In combination with the Senate’s support for Amtrak in a 93-6 vote to approve the Lott-Lautenberg Bill, a six-year, 11.4 billion authorization to fix the Northeast Corridor and build other corridors, LaTourette’s bill “would be landmark legislation to at last create a world-class American ground transportation system,” stated RePass.

At the same time, nearly 30 members of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, so far, have signed a letter expressing “outrage” at Gunn’s firing, and demanding to know how Amtrak Board Chair David Laney could announce Gunn’s firing given the public record of consistent praise for Gunn. “Your action is …shocking given the fact that, time and again, you have publicly praised Mr. Gunn for his hard work and successes since he has joined Amtrak in 2002. Less than two months agoŠyou testified that David Gunn’s tenure as CEO has been ‘splendid’ and ‘terrific’. You stated, ‘Mr. Gunn has done, as far as I am concerned, a splendid job. He took Amtrak…and righted a ship that was listing and about to spill over…David Gunn is a terrific operator’” the letter continued.

In previous testimony Laney then proceeded to list Gunn’s impressive accomplishments since 2002, including major headcount reductions (5,000 jobs), the development “of a detailed capital plan”, reductions in costs, and other achievements, all of which apparently went by the board in the Administration’s rush to split up or privatize Amtrak, or implement other of the so-called “reform proposals” put forward by the now defunct Amtrak Reform Board, an action which Gunn had opposed.

The committee members note: “…moreover, the Administration and Amtrak Board ‘reform’ proposals could not be implemented without legislation and neither the U.S. House of Representatives nor the U.S. Senate has expressed any support for either proposal”.

“We therefore demand to know the reasons that Mr. Gunn was fired, and we demand all documentation of any poor performance or personnel issues that would have led to his dismissal,” the letter continued, “Your firing of Amtrak President David Gunn was a mistake, and we urge you to immediately reconsider your decision.

Separately, former Amtrak Chair John Robert Smith and Vice Chair Michael S. Dukakis, in an unprecedented act, have called upon the present Amtrak Board to re-instate Gunn.

( See their Op Ed “Why Amtrak Should Backtrack” elsewhere in this issue.)


Return to index
Congressional Statements on Amtrak, Gunn FiringŠ

Railroads subcommittee chairman Latourette questions
firing of Gunn, other Amtrak board actions

Edited by DF Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The following is U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette’s (R-OH) opening statement from today’s hearing on the current governance issues at Amtrak. LaTourette is Chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Railroads which conducted the November 15 hearing.

 

Railroads Subcommittee Chair Steven LaTourette (R-OH) described as“pathetic” Amtrak’s current situation, in which the Board of Directors may have illegally fired a man doing a“reasonable job.”

Rep Steven LaTourette

Rep. Steven LaTourette
In opening remarks, LaTourette stated,“Today we will be examining current governance issues at Amtrak. Although it may come as a surprise to some, Amtrak is not part of the government, but is a District of Columbia corporation. It has a board of directors, shareholders, articles of incorporations, and bylaws. One of the board’s responsibilities is to hire Amtrak’s officers, including the President and CEO. Last week, the current Amtrak board - and we’ll come back to whether there really is one - fired the CEO, Mr. David Gunn. I happen to believe that Mr. Gunn was doing a reasonable job with the hand he was dealt. As matter of law, Mr. Gunn or any CEO 'serves at the pleasure of the board.’ But there are deeper issues here, whether one is a supporter or opponent of Mr. Gunn,” LaTourette noted somberly.

“The key issue we will be examining today is whether Amtrak’s board of directors is legally functional, with the quorum required by law. That affects, among other things, the company’s authority to fire Mr. Gunn, and to hire a new CEO. But that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg,” LaTourette declared.

“There are a number of complex legal issues here, which we hope to discuss. But the sad reality is - even using the quorum standards and personnel count of Amtrak and the Administration - the company has been without a quorum for at least part of the time since June, 2003 - nearly two and half years. The best word I can think of for this situation is pathetic. The Administration knew from Day 1 exactly when each prior director’s tenure ended and did not make timely nominations,” said LaTourette.

“The Administration wears two other hats in this saga,” said LaTourette,“as the optional holder of one seat on the board and as Amtrak’s preferred shareholder. Yet neither the DOT legal establishment nor Amtrak’s general counsel apparently took any preventive action - except the very thin reed of authorizing so-called executive committees - when disaster loomed,” he warned

Expressing amazement at the Amtrak Board’s inept and possibly illegal acts, he said,“There was a substantial period of time prior to June 2003 when the board’s full legal functioning and quorum were beyond question, and when any corporation that was not totally clueless would have done something while it still had a fully functional board. The quorum requirements, for example, probably could have been lowered by joint action of the board and the shareholders before the board lost its quorum. Also, Amtrak’s board could have rescinded a number of self-imposed restrictions requiring board action for all kinds of transactions, including labor contracts.”

“None of that was done. As a result, the damage and chaos were maximized, and the company is now in a“Catch-22” posture where it can’t even reduce the damage from losing a quorum without first reacquiring a quorum. The situation now is such a mess that I have heard it said that you couldn’t think up a hypothetical case this loony if you tried,” LaTourette said.

“Besides Amtrak’s dereliction in following normal corporate procedures, we still have a 'denial’ psychology by the Administration. Right now, there are no nominations pending in the Senate other than those of the two individuals now serving under claimed recess appointments. That’s it. To put it another way, if all the Administration’s pending nominees were confirmed this afternoon, almost none of the legal issues about the quorum 'head count’ at Amtrak would be resolved. This late in the session, the Administration has left itself with virtually no options other than more legally suspect recess appointments,” said LaTourette.

“The saddest part of this picture is that its potential victims are people who have no control over this situation. The employees in unions who have signed labor contracts since mid-2003, the companies that do business with Amtrak, even parties who sue Amtrak, cannot be assured that when Amtrak the corporation signs on the dotted line, it really means anything legally,” said Committee Chairman LaTourette.“I hope that by exploring these issues today, we will spur Amtrak and the Administration first to take prompt corrective action as soon as possible, and - equally important - send the message that this should never be allowed to happen again,” he concluded.


Return to index
Nadler of New York says “Bush Board”
is FEMA-tizing Amtrak

Edited by DF Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a statement to the Railroads Subcommittee of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, member Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) decried Amtrak’s “rule by inexperienced political appointees and condemned Amtrak’s Board of Directors as “lacking relevant experience and bent on destruction of federally funded passenger rail service in America.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler

Rep. Jerrold Nadler
In his prepared remarks, delivered during the hearing, Nadler said:

“Thank you, Chairman LaTourette and Ranking Member Brown for holding this hearing on ‘Current Governance Issues at Amtrak,’  although, I think that title is a little misleading.  Now that David Gunn has been fired as President of Amtrak, there currently is no governance at Amtrak.  I mean no disrespect to Mr. Hughes, who has been appointed Acting President following David Gunn’s firing, but I think it is obvious what is going on here.  The Amtrak Board of Directors has become a front for the Bush Administration and people who want to destroy Amtrak. Their goal is to dismantle the railroad.  When Mr. Gunn refused to go along with the ‘Bush Board’ on actions that would cripple the railroad, most notably the spin-off of the Northeast Corridor, he was fired.”

“The ‘Bush Board’ had to resort to these tactics because the Administration cannot get Congress to do its bidding and break up Amtrak.  Earlier this year, the Bush Administration requested that Amtrak’s funding be eliminated completely, and tried to force it into bankruptcy.  In response, the House and Senate both voted overwhelmingly to increase funding for Amtrak.  In fact, the Transportation Appropriations Conference Report, that is expected to be filed this week, contains about $1.3 billion for Amtrak, which is higher than any funding level in Amtrak’s history.  In September, the Board suddenly approved a resolution to spin off the Northeast Corridor and create a new subsidiary.  The Senate responded last week by passing Senator Lott's Amtrak reauthorization as an amendment to the Deficit Reduction Bill by a vote of 93-6.  This reauthorization bill would maintain Amtrak as is while taking measures to enhance the railroad, not dismantle it,” the Congressman said.

“The ‘Bush Board’ is trying to subvert the will of the Congress and of the people by destroying Amtrak behind closed doors. I am sure we will hear a lot today about management, and about how the Board wants to move Amtrak in a new direction.  We may even hear about this GAO Report which looks at the minutiae of management practices, without looking at the broader context of how a railroad is run, and without acknowledging Amtrak’s performance results,” he said

“The record will show that 2005 was a good year for Amtrak.  David Gunn saw Amtrak through some very tough times financially, as well as through various Acela problems, Hurricane Katrina, natural disasters on the West Coast, and rising diesel fuel prices.  Despite all of this, ridership has increased, Amtrak is not in bankruptcy, and in fact, Amtrak expects its year-end available operating cash to be more than $120 million,” said the Congressman.

“David Gunn is a straight shooter who has made a number of common sense management reforms to help the railroad run efficiently. He has over 40 years of experience in this business. He came out of retirement in 2002 to help Amtrak run a successful passenger service.

And yet, Amtrak is now being run by a Board made up of Members who have virtually NO experience in passenger rail.  When David Gunn voiced his concerns about some of the bad decisions the Board was making, he was fired.  In short, Mr. Gunn was fired because he would not agree with ‘FEMA-tizing’ Amtrak.    His firing is a sign of the lengths Amtrak opponents will go to in order to eliminate passenger rail service in this country. It must be stopped.

I want to know what gives the Board the right to thumb its nose at Congress and take drastic actions, such as spinning off the Northeast Corridor.  I want to know on what grounds David Gunn was fired.  The Board issued a press release claiming that Amtrak ‘needed to intensify the pace and broaden the scope of its reforms.’  Exactly what reforms is the Board referring to?  That same release mentions the strategic reform plan that the Board approved in April, and says that Amtrak needs ‘a leader with vision and experience to get the job done.’ Well, that strategic reform initiative does not call for spinning off the Northeast Corridor.  In fact, it states that such an action would be ‘inadvisable.’  It would seem that David Gunn is more committed to the strategic reform plan than is the Board.  It seems to me that it is the Board that should be replaced, not Mr. Gunn,” said Nadler.

“I find this whole situation very disturbing. Amtrak is a vital part of our national transportation system.  The American people recognize that and so does Congress. Yet, the Board is taking sudden, drastic actions that threaten our intercity passenger service.  The only entity that seems to support the Board is the Bush Administration and a very small number of Members of Congress.  The American people, and the millions of people who ride Amtrak every year, deserve to know the Board’s motivation.  They deserve to know what will happen to Amtrak in the future.  And they deserve the right to try to stop the Board’s open conspiracy to subvert the law and to dismantle Amtrak,” he said.   

“I hope this hearing will produce some answers, and ultimately shed some light on this situation so that Congress can protect Amtrak in the future,” Congressman Nadler concluded.


Return to index
Cong. Castle of Delaware will introduce bill
to overhaul Amtrak Board; Asks President to act

Edited By DF Staff

Rep. Mike Castle

Rep. Mike Castle
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Urging the Bush Administration to “improve Amtrak’s oversight and leadership structure by appointing a fully functioning Board of qualified, objective leaders,” Delaware Congressman Mike Castle, Chair of the House Passenger Rail Caucus, today testified before the House Railroads Subcommittee, expressing frustration regarding the make up of the Amtrak Board of directors and unveiling legislation to restructure the board.

“I believe the failure to appoint a fully functioning Amtrak Board is disgraceful, and it stands as an enormous disadvantage for this rail system. Members of Congress can stress the need for accountability and reform until we turn blue in the face - but in the end, what Amtrak really needs is leaders with vision, who attend and participate in board meetings and who are genuinely committed to improving passenger rail,” Castle said.

“Currently, this board is not effectively carrying out its responsibilities and as of today, I seriously question whether some of the individuals serving on the Amtrak board meet the standard of service that Amtrak customers deserve. Everything starts with this board. A fully functioning Amtrak board of Directors could set the course for a new era of reliable, high-speed passenger rail in this country.”

In announcing the legislation he will introduce, Cong. Castle listed the following provisions he plans to include:

At the hearing, Castle also discussed a letter he is sending to President Bush urging the Administration to improve Amtrak's leadership structure and appoint a fully functioning Amtrak Board, in addition to working with Congress to construct an appropriate reform strategy that isn't based solely on gutting subsidies.

Statement of Congressman Michael N. Castle, Railroads Subcommittee Hearing on “Current Governance Issues at Amtrak”, November 15, 2005:

“Thank you Chairman LaTourette and Ranking Member Brown for holding this very important and timely hearing and for allowing me to offer testimony. Although I am not a member of the Railroads Subcommittee, we have all worked closely on this issue over the last several years and I appreciate this opportunity to express some of my concerns. I would also like to thank today's panel of distinguished witnesses for their presence at this hearing.”

“As some of you may know, I co-chair the House's Passenger Rail Caucus and over the last several months, Mr. Rosen and Mr. Laney have been gracious enough to meet with caucus members on several occasions. Mr. Gunn and Mr. Hughes have also worked closely with our caucus and I have been impressed by their extensive rail experience and leadership abilities.”

“As the members of the Railroads Subcommittee know all too well, this Administration has made no secret of its intent to restructure our passenger rail system and to discontinue Amtrak's federal operating subsidy.”

“While I am sure that every person in this room agrees that Amtrak continues to be in need of reform, it is also our responsibility to provide safe and reliable transportation options for the rail system's 25 million annual passengers. The Government Accountability Office's recent report highlighted the need for all of us to continue our efforts to improve Amtrak's management and oversight. Rather than constantly looking for ways to shortchange passenger rail, we should be working on a comprehensive strategy to make Amtrak the best high-speed rail system in the world.”

“First and foremost, I strongly believe that improving passenger rail service in this country depends on strong and experienced leadership at Amtrak. Unfortunately, in recent months, the Amtrak Board has made several important decisions, despite the fact that close to half of its seats remain empty.”

“In particular, the unexpected firing of Amtrak President and CEO David Gunn, someone who is widely respected for his extensive rail and transit experience, raises several questions regarding the Board's commitment to Amtrak's stability.”

“During my seven terms in Congress, I have written numerous letters to this Administration and to the past Administrations pleading for the appointment of experienced and dedicated railroad people to serve on the Amtrak board. Still, with two of the Board members' terms expiring when Congress adjourns next month, we are quickly approaching the prospect of a headless national passenger rail system, and an ineffective Board consisting of only two voting members.”

“Frankly, I believe the failure to appoint a fully functioning Amtrak Board is disgraceful, and it stands as an enormous disadvantage for this rail system. Members of Congress can stress the need for accountability and reform until we turn blue in the face - but in the end, what Amtrak really needs is leaders with vision, who attend and participate in board meetings and who are genuinely committed to improving passenger rail.”

“Currently, this board is not effectively carrying out its responsibilities and as of today, I seriously question whether some of the individuals serving on the Amtrak board meet the standard of service that Amtrak customers deserve.”

“Everything starts with this board. A fully functioning Amtrak board of Directors could set the course for a new era of reliable, high-speed passenger rail in this country. For this reason, this week I will introduce legislation to restructure the Amtrak Board, and ensure that vacancies on the Board are filled by dedicated railroad, transportation, and business professionals.”

“Like similar provisions introduced in the Senate, my bill would empower Amtrak's President with a vote on the Board and set a deadline for President Bush to appoint replacements for Board vacancies. This legislation would ensure that the board provides professional, corporate leadership by expanding the number of board members from seven to nine and setting requirements for members with diverse regional backgrounds, bipartisan philosophies, and real-life transportation expertise.”

“I commend Chairman LaTourette for wasting no time in convening this very important discussion. The safety and effectiveness of our nation's transportation system is at stake, and it is imperative that we act now to ensure Amtrak remains a viable option for travelers. We have barely scratched the surface of passenger rail's potential. Expert leadership on the part of the Amtrak Board, and a strong commitment from Congress could lead to greatly expanded possibilities for our nation's rail system,” he concluded.


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Text of Castle Amtrak Board of Directors Bill
To Amend 1997 Amtrak Reform Act

AMTRAK BOARD OF DIRECTORS.

    (a) IN GENERAL - Section 24302 is amended to read as follows:

    Sec. 24302. Board of Directors

  • (a) Composition and Terms-

    • (1) The Board of Directors of Amtrak is composed of the following 9 directors, each of whom must be a citizen of the United States:

      • (A) The Secretary of Transportation.

      • (B) The President of Amtrak.

      • (C) 7 individuals appointed by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, with general business and financial experience, experience or qualifications in transportation, freight and passenger rail transportation, travel, hospitality, cruise line, and passenger air transportation businesses, or representatives of users of passenger rail transportation or State government.

    • (2) In selecting individuals described in paragraph (1) for nominations for appointments to the Board, the President shall consult with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, the majority leader of the Senate, and the minority leader of the Senate and try to provide adequate and balanced representation of the major geographic regions of the United States served by Amtrak.

    • (3) An individual appointed under paragraph (1)(C) of this subsection serves for 5 years or until the individual's successor is appointed and qualified. Not more than 4 individuals appointed under paragraph (1)(C) may be members of the same political party.

    • (4) The Board shall elect a chairman and a vice chairman from among its membership. The vice chairman shall serve as chairman in the absence of the chairman.

    • (5) The Secretary may be represented at board meetings by the Secretary's designee.

  • (b) VACANCIES- A vacancy on the Board is filled in the same way as the original selection, except that an individual appointed by the President of the United States under subsection (a)(1)(C) of this section to fill a vacancy occurring before the end of the term for which the predecessor of that individual was appointed is appointed for the remainder of that term. A vacancy required to be filled by appointment under subsection (a)(1)(C) must be filled not later than 120 days after the vacancy occurs.

  • (c) QUORUM- A majority of the members serving shall constitute a quorum for doing business.

  • (d) BYLAWS- The Board may adopt and amend bylaws governing the operation of Amtrak. The bylaws shall be consistent with this part and the articles of incorporation.

  • (e) EFFECTIVE DATE FOR DIRECTORS' PROVISION- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall take effect on January 1, 2006. The members of the Amtrak Board serving on the date of enactment of this Act may continue to serve for the remainder of the term to which they were appointed.


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Castle Letter to Bush

In his comments, Cong. Castle also released a copy of the letter he sent to President Bush in support of a better Amtrak management structure:

November 15, 2005
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Bush:

I am writing to ask that you take immediate steps to enhance intercity passenger rail by improving Amtrak’s leadership structure and appointing a fully functioning Amtrak Board.

Over the last several years, your Administration has made no secret of your intent to restructure our passenger rail system and to discontinue Amtrak’s federal operating subsidy. This month, a report by the Government Accountability Office criticized Amtrak for flawed accounting practices and inadequate strategic goals. Still, in the face of increasingly overcrowded highways and exorbitant gas prices, passenger rail has proven to be extremely effective in relieving congestion, cutting pollution, and lowering our demand for oil. While we can agree that Amtrak continues to be in need of reform, I firmly believe that it is our responsibility to provide safe and reliable transportation options for the rail system’s 25 million annual passengers.

Above all else, sustaining passenger rail service in this country depends on strong and experienced leadership at Amtrak. Although the law requires the Amtrak Board to include seven members, the Board currently has only four voting members, with several seats remaining vacant for an unprecedented period of time. Unfortunately, in recent months, the Board has made several extremely consequential decisions, despite the fact that nearly half of its seats remain empty. In particular, the unexpected firing of Amtrak President and CEO David Gunn, someone who is widely respected for his leadership abilities and extensive rail and transit experience, raises several questions regarding the Board’s commitment to Amtrak’s stability.

As you know, two of the current Amtrak Board members were recess appointments, which expire when Congress adjourns later this year. At the beginning of 2006, we face the prospect of a headless national passenger rail system, and a Board with only two voting members. As your administration continues efforts to reform the rail system’s operations, I implore you to improve Amtrak’s oversight and leadership structure by appointing a fully functioning Board.

Mr. President, I firmly believe that finalizing the nominations of qualified transportation experts to the Amtrak Board will vastly improve the current situation. The more experienced railroad people we have working on this strategy, the more likely we are to come up with a suitable proposal for reforming passenger rail.

By appointing a full Amtrak Board and working with Congress to construct an appropriate reform strategy, I am confident we will make significant progress in our efforts to provide Americans with effective transportation options. I look forward to working closely with the Administration in the coming months and I welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter further at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Michael N. Castle
Member of Congress


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Menendez, Rails subcommittee, lambastes Amtrak board,
Bush administration at Amtrak house hearings

Edited by DF Staff

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Subcommittee on Railroads of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, made the following statement today at a committee hearing on Amtrak, blasted Bush appointees for its plans to spin off Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and then withholding that action from Congress.

Rep. Robert Menendez

Rep. Robert Menendez
“Mr. Laney, Mr. Rosen,” he stated, I’ll be very blunt here: I don’t trust you. And I don’t think this Congress can trust you. Your actions in the past few months - passing a resolution to try to spin off the Northeast Corridor, keeping that resolution secret for as long as possible, and firing Mr. Gunn – have not given me any confidence in your intentions for Amtrak, or your ability to run it properly.”

“I’m particularly concerned about what your intentions might be for the Northeast Corridor. I can not overemphasize the importance of the Corridor to the people of New Jersey. It’s not just the millions of people who ride Amtrak each year. It’s the nearly one hundred thousand commuters each day who rely on the Northeast Corridor to get back and forth to work. New Jersey Transit operates over four hundred trains a day over the Northeast Corridor – nearly four times the number that Amtrak does. New Jersey puts over one hundred million dollars a year into the Northeast Corridor, and has put over one and half billion dollars into it the past ten years – and yet they were not consulted, they were not even informed about your decision to create an infrastructure subsidiary?” Menendez said.

“This is one of the most densely traveled, heavily congested corridors anywhere in North America. Trains cross from New Jersey to New York every two and a half minutes, and this operation requires a tremendous amount of skill. I can not allow anything to jeopardize the safety of the people on these trains. And yet you seem to want to play with fire. Despite your reassuring words to me when we last met, Mr. Laney, all of your actions appear to be aimed at one goal: selling off the Northeast Corridor. With a hand-picked board of administration loyalists and major Bush fundraisers, a secret resolution to create a Northeast Corridor subsidiary, a hasty decision to fire the company’s president because he disagreed with your plan, your words are not reassuring at all. Congress and the American people have clearly demonstrated they want no part of the administration’s privatization schemes,” Menendez asserted.

Referring to the disastrous privatization of BritRail, the British passenger rail system, which was botched, and which cost scores of lives in preventable, maintenance-related accidents, Menendez continued, “…the board moves forward, intent on enacting these so-called reforms that seek to emulate the British model of separating the infrastructure from the operations – a model that has resulted in worse performance, higher government subsidies, and fatal crashes. My worst fear is that you’re trying to sell off the Northeast Corridor to a group of investors who will use it to get huge tax breaks from the depreciation. This is not a toy railroad. This is a highly complex, vital national transportation asset, and unless you treat it as such you are putting both the safety and the economic security of hundreds of thousands of people at serious risk,” said Menendez.

Criticizing the Amtrak Board’s behavior, Menendez said, “Frankly, I think the board has shown an utter lack of respect for Congress, and you have eliminated any confidence we had in your ability to be good stewards of the Northeast Corridor. It has become abundantly clear that this Board’s lack of experience in running a railroad is matched only by its lack of commitment to preserving rail service for both the intercity and commuter riders who depend on it.”

Acknowledging that Amtrak while may well need help, the current Board members are not the people to do that, he asked, “Do changes need to be made in the way Amtrak operates? Perhaps. Do some reforms need to be enacted? Probably. But should these reforms be made by a handpicked board of political appointees with no railroad experience, who don’t bother to consult the States, transit agencies, employees, or passengers that depend on the Corridor -- who don’t bother to consult with Congress about their actions? Absolutely not,” he stated.

Alluding to legislation in the House and Senate now under discussion to strip Amtrak control from the present Board, Menendez concluded, “We have no alternative but to explore actions that will protect our customers and our citizens.  We need to restore confidence in the governance of Amtrak and the Northeast Corridor.  We need to have a deliberative, consultative and very open, public process that engages the stakeholders directly in deciding the future of rail service.  We need to end decision-making in darkness. We need to find alternatives that put the Northeast Corridor firmly in accountable public hands – ensuring that the federal government meets its responsibility while balancing the governance between the interests of intercity and commuter services. I will be working with my colleagues to find these alternatives and will fight side by side with them to prevent the board from pulling a fast one and dismantling Amtrak.”


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Former Amtrak Board Chair and Vice Chair
Issue bi-partisan call for Re-instatement
of ousted Amtrak CEO David Gunn

By Jim RePass
President, the National Corridors Initiatives

Former Amtrak Board Chairman John Robert Smith, a prominent Republican leader, and former Vice Chairman Michael S. Dukakis, the Democratic nominee for President in 1988, have jointly called for the re-instatement of ousted Amtrak President & CEO David Gunn.

In an Op Ed published November 18 in The Boston Globe, the two former Amtrak Board leaders denounced the Bush Administration for ousting Gunn on November 9 whose performance has by all measures has been the best in the railroad’s 32-year history.

“If the Hurricane Katrina fiasco has taught us anything,” wrote Smith and Dukakis, “it is that there is no substitute for competence at the top of important federal agencies. Yet last week a new Amtrak board that has three vacant seats and only one [confirmed] member… removed a man who was almost universally seen as the best president in Amtrak's 32-year-old history.”

“As the chairman and vice chairman of the Amtrak board in 2002, we recruited David Gunn to run Amtrak because we believed -- as did the rest of a bipartisan board that endorsed him unanimously -- that he is the kind of straight-shooting, hands-on rail executive needed to correct the long, slow slide in performance and credibility that Amtrak, for many reasons, was enduring,” they continued.

In support of this assertion, Dukakis and Smith cited the major reductions in head count at Amtrak (from 25,000 to just over 19,000) and elimination of layers of management bureaucracy engineered by Gunn since his hiring in May 2002, as well as improved operational efficiencies and equipment condition, all of which had been languishing. Indeed, Amtrak users have noticed that the cars have been cleaner and more reliable in the past year. Gunn even overcame a flaw of the new, high speed Acela trainsets by pulling them all from service, repairing the problem design element (the suspension shafts of the brake rotors, which showed signs of heat-cracking or other premature wear), and returning the trains to service without losing any appreciable ridership. Indeed, total Amtrak ridership for the year was over 25 million people, a record.

“As important,” continued Dukakis and Smith, “Gunn won back the respect of Congress. The proof of that came just days ago, when the Senate voted, 93-6, to support the Lott-Lautenberg bill authorizing $11.4 billion, over six years, for major infrastructure repair and a long-delayed start of work on other corridors across the country,” they noted.

Gunn says he was fired because he refused to go along with a plan of the now-tiny Amtrak Board to break off and sell the Northeast Corridor --- Amtrak’s only real asset --- to private financiers.

The Amtrak Board has at present has only a single confirmed member (Chairman David Laney) plus the US DOT Secretary’s ex officio seat, and two “recess appointment” members whose office expires with the end of the present Senate session this month or next. Laney is a friend of President George Bush and a “Pioneer,” one of those who raised at least $100,000 for the campaign of candidate Bush. He formerly headed the Texas Transportation Commission. A lawyer, he has no rail experience, as do none of the two recess appointment Amtrak Board members. Jeffrey Rosen, General Counsel to the US DOT who represents Secretary Norman Mineta at Amtrak Board meetings (Mineta has never attended an Amtrak Board meeting) is also a lawyer.

“By any fair measure, Gunn was a brilliant and successful president,” write Dukakis and Bush. “For the first time in decades, Amtrak's management and Congress were moving forward with a clear vision for its future. To replace him in order to gamble on an ill-conceived attempt to mimic the catastrophe of British Rail privatization of more than a decade ago -- and make no mistake, that is what the administration is bent on doing -- is to take a step backward, not forward, on the creation of a healthy national rail transportation system,” they stated in The Globe op ed.

“It is not just the Northeast Corridor that needs Amtrak,” they noted. “It is people who live in the towns and cities across America who increasingly have no other transportation alternative -- whose airports have been closed or whose bus service has been discontinued. It is millions of motorists stuck in traffic jams on the nation's highways or air passengers stuck in airports when fully a third of flights are for 350 miles or less -- an ideal distance for intercity rail corridors -- because outside of the Northeast Corridor, we have utterly failed to provide them with the kind of rail service that connects cities in Europe and Japan quickly, comfortably, and efficiently. We need Amtrak as part of a transportation system that serves all Americans, not just those who can afford to fly or drive. Gunn was building such a system.”

For the complete Dukakis/Smith Op Ed see: “Why Amtrak Should Backtrack” elsewhere in this issue.


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HOLIDAY SCHEDULING...  Holiday Scheduling...

Amtrak Adds Trains for Holiday Week

Providence Business News

Washington DC (AP) - While thousands of people will head to the airports for the Thanksgiving holiday, it's also the busiest time of year for Amtrak.

More than 60 extra trains will operate during the week in the Northeast to meet the extra demand. Most of the added trains will run on the two busiest travel days, Wednesday, Nov. 23 and Sunday, Nov. 27. Twenty-nine extra Acela Expresses are included among the extra trains during the week.

Reservations required for Amtrak service http://www.pbn.com/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/117794


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HIGH SPEED LINES...  High speed lines...

Track Work - new concrete ties

Two Photos: Amtrak Ink

The concrete ties loaded on the distribution gantry of the Track Laying Machine make up some of the 128,000 ties laid on the Keystone Corridor over the course of 16 months

 

Keystone Corridor improvements
yield higher speeds

Source: Amtrak Ink

The launch of faster, more reliable and comfortable service on the 105-mile route between Philadelphia and Harrisburg is on target for fall 2006, according to Amtrak Engineering department officials. All-electric service on the Keystone Line and speeds of up to 110 mph between Paoli and Harrisburg are expected to reduce trip times to 105 minutes for local trains and 90 minutes for express trains, from 120 minutes today.

Since first unveiled by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Amtrak President David Gunn in August 2004, the $145-million project’s list of accomplishments continues to grow. Infrastructure improvements completed earlier this year now support speeds of up to 110 mph on parts of the 50-mile segment of the track between Park Interlocking in Lancaster and Roy Interlocking in Royalton.

Track Tamper machine

Amtrak’s Plasser American DYNA-C.A.T. tamper sits in the south end yard at Wilmington Mechanical Facility, where it is stored during the day. It is currently used at night on the Keystone Corridor.

 

Tampers Speed Track Work
on Busy Corridor

Source: Amtrak Ink

The Engineering department is putting to work two new pieces of roadway maintenance machinery — DYNA-C. A.T. tampers — on the Keystone Corridor this winter. Because conventional tamping requires two machines that operate and move separately, the new equipment reduces the time it takes to do the job and the associated costs and returns track to service more quickly.

The DYNA-C.A.T. machine combines two technologies pioneered by Plasser American Corporation. The machine merges the technology of a Dynamic track stabilizer, a machine that uses vibration and downward pressure to simulate the passage of trains over a section of track, with a Continuous Action Tamper, which is a computer-controlled 16-tool switch tamper that raises, lines and levels the track structure to precise standards.

The new tampers in service will make way for the retirement of older track machinery that will no longer cost the company money to repair.


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As a result of this work, on-time performance improved 8 to 10 percent over the nine-month period ending June 30, against the same period a year ago.

Over the past 16 months, the line has seen the installation of 128,000 concrete ties and 47,000 wood ties, replacement of rail and surfacing over 72 track miles, replacement of 28 turnouts and seven bridge decks, upgrading of 12 bridges five culverts and three retaining walls, renewal of over 14 miles of catenary wire and installation of more than 20 miles of new signal cable.

Ride quality has changed for the better due to the installation of welded rail over concrete ties and high quality ballasting and surfacing to achieve the best track geometry. Also, special attention was given to drainage systems to eliminate water problems and the development of soft ground conditions.

As a major part of the infrastructure upgrade, extensive cleanup of the right-of-way yielded over 164 miles of scrap rail and 170,000 old ties. In addition, material storage yards were reconfigured to better support the crews working on the project.

In FY ‘06, the Engineering department plans to complete the project, including the rebuilding of two major interlockings, Roy and Lancaster; rebuilding of the track layout at the Lancaster station to provide more operational flexibility (separating freight and passenger operations); and the installation of automatic block signals that enable bi-directional movement of trains.

Also this year, ongoing installation of a fiber optic system along the corridor will support high-speed communication between central control in Philadelphia, interlockings, power substations, the signal system, stations and railroad radio bases along the Keystone corridor. Amtrak has invested $2.3 million to replace the 70-year-old communication system, worn-out from age and weather. The system facilitates communication essential for improved trip time, reliability, centralized dispatching and other telecommunication needs.

Shorter trip times and a more comfortable ride are expected to draw more passengers to what promises to become an even more popular route. Year over year, ridership on the New York to Harrisburg service has grown nearly 19 percent and revenue 28 percent. On the Keystone Line specifically (passengers traveling through Philadelphia and points west), ridership increased 14 percent and revenue 22 percent this past year. To meet the anticipated demand, plans are being made to boost the number of weekday roundtrips between Philadelphia and Harrisburg from 9 to 13. Amtrak’s Transportation staff is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to finalize new schedules.

“This growth demonstrates a clear demand for Keystone corridor high speed rail service and also supports the need for improvements along this line,” said Project Management Director Vinay Mudholkar.

“The project certainly has proved to be a success, posting concrete results that benefit passenger as well as freight operations on corridor,” stated Chief Engineer David Hughes.

The corridor serves 20 Amtrak trains, 118 SEPTA trains and 12 Norfolk Southern Railway freight trains. Norfolk Southern is also participating in the program to upgrade certain track and bridges to carry 286,000 lbs. loads. The railroad has been cooperative in approving layout schemes to separate freight and passenger traffic flows, where possible. “We appreciate their willingness in joining the team’s efforts,” added Mudholkar.

Vinay Mudholkar contributed to this story.


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COMMUTER LINES...  Commuter lines...

Amtrak adding another train to Downeaster.
Passing track to be built in New Hampshire

Source: Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine - On Friday, Amrak announced that an agreement had been reached with New Hampshire allowing Maine to move forward with plans to add a fifth daily roundtrip to Amtrak’s Downeaster schedule.

The expansion of service between Portland and Boston comes after a transportation committee in New Hampshire this week approved using $1.6 million in federal funds for a side track near Dover, N.H.

The side track makes it possible for freight and passenger trains to move off the main line and allow other trains to pass. Without it, the line would be too congested to accommodate the additional trip.

Maine is providing $400,000 for the project, which is expected to boost the Downeaster’s revenues by 30 percent.


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The Salacia, Commuter Boat at MBTA Boston

Photo: MBTA

The Salacia, the newest addition to the MBTA commuter boat fleet.

 

Trains, trolleys, buses, and boats

MBTA has intermodal commuter solutions

By Dennis Kirkpatrick
NCI Webmaster
Source material: MBTA

MBTA and State Officials

State Rep.Garrett Bradley, MBTA GM Dan Grabauskas, Transportation Sec. John Cogliano, State Sen. Bob Hedlund, and BHC GM Alison Nolan Gather at Hingham Shipyard to unveil the Salaciathe newest addition to the Hingham commuter boat fleet.

Passengers board boat

Hingham commuters bound for boston board the Salacia.


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The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has launched a special winter addition to its existing commuter boat fleet. The Salacia, a new larger capacity vessel, will ply the waters between Boston and the old Hingham shipyard.

The commuter boat service that departs the coastal town of Hingham just south of Boston has experienced a 6% increase in ridership over the past year. According to report information from this past September, approximately 30,000 additional passengers have utilized the service this year. Ridership has risen from 538,315 in 2004 to 568,776 in 2005. To ensure customers continued comfort during the winter months, the MBTA is working with its contractor Boston Harbor Cruises who has offered to replace a smaller 350-passenger vessel with The Salacia, a 600-passenger hi-speed catamaran. The Salacia boasts 425 heated indoor seats.

“Better customer service translates into more commuters, which obviously helps the MBTA’s bottom line,” said State Transportation Secretary John Cogliano. “By providing more heated seats, we again highlight the ease, convenience and benefits of boat commuting.”

MBTA General Manager Daniel A. Grabauskas said, “It is evident with the increase in ridership that customers are realizing the flexibility and comfort that water transportation can offer. With the introduction of the Salacia the needs of our existing customers will be met and new customers brought on-board.”

“I want to thank [State] Secretary [of Transportation] Cogliano and [MBTA] General Manager Grabauskas for their commitment to a better Commuter Boat service with the addition of the Salacia. The Commuter Boat service continues to be a great resource for many South Shore commuters. With the continued commitment by the MBTA, I look forward to seeing ridership continue to rise,” said State Senator Robert L. Hedlund.

State Representative Garrett Bradley stated “I am happy the MBTA has continued to invest in water transportation because it is by far the best, the cheapest and the fastest way to travel to and from Boston.”

The Commuter Boat service between Hingham and downtown Boston’s Rowes Wharf includes 18 round trips. Service begins as early as 6:00 a.m. with a convenient evening departure from Boston to Hingham at 8:30 p.m.

To ensure a smooth transition of the Salacia into the current schedule, Boston Harbor Cruises will construct a new gangway at the Rowes Wharf terminal in Boston to minimize boarding and alighting times due to the vessel’s increased ridership. Current departure and trip times will not change. A schedule of vessel assignments will be available shortly on vessels and at ticket offices.

“With a passenger capacity of 600 and 425 interior seats, the Salacia will increase interior seating capacity by over 250 seats on each of her departures,” said Alison Nolan General Manager of Boston Harbor Cruises.

In May of 2006, The Salacia will return to her summertime route as the Provincetown Fast Ferry.


Greensboro terminal

Photo: Amtrak Ink

The J. Douglas Galyon Depot in Greensboro offers the convenience of its downtown location as well as a hub linking other modes of transportation.

 

Passenger train service returns
to downtown Greensboro

Source: Amtrak Ink

Train service returned to downtown Greensboro, N.C., in October following major renovation of the historic building by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). The Carolinian, Piedmont and the Crescent now stop at this station, rather than a much smaller station in the Norfolk Southern freight yard a few miles away.

Extensive track work, tunnels that needed rebuilding and significant building restoration made this one of the more extensive station restoration projects in the state. The two-part, $30- million renovation transformed the 1927 Southern Railway train station into a multi-modal transportation center with provisions for Amtrak, intercity buses and city and regional transit buses.

The opening of the Greensboro Depot marks the completion of the last — and largest — station renovation undertaken by NCDOT. The department has partnered with communities across the state to renovate a dozen stations and build two new ones to improve passenger rail service and create multi-modal centers where possible.

The NCDOT has invested nearly $200 million in station renovations, construction and track improvements. Historic stations have been renovated at current stops in Burlington, Hamlet, High Point, Rocky Mount, Salisbury, Selma, Southern Pines and Wilson, and new stations were built in Cary and Kannapolis.


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SAFETY LINES...  Safety lines...

Two F59 class engines meet at Redondo for photo op.

Photo: Amtrak Ink

Pictured (L. to R.) in front of two F-59 PHI locomotives are: Onping Yu, Frank Alvarez, Steve Clarke, Paul Maloumian, Jason tanner, Nelson Veliz, Larry Stewart, Vic D’Agostino, Bob Rapp, Roger Mikkelson, Roger Mullinix, Margo Mullinix, Mike Sinanian, Mike Alfaro, Pete Abrahamian, Robert Hoyo, Millford Leonard.

 

Redondo Junction facility reaches
remarkable safety record

Source: Amtrak Ink

Los Angeles Redondo Junction Locomotive Facility recently celebrated more than 870 days without a reportable injury — which goes back to June 1, 2003. This accomplishment is particularly remarkable, considering the kind of work that takes place at a full-production locomotive facility.

While he served as general foreman at the locomotive shop, Dave Cowan, currently Mechanical superintendent, made a point to participate in daily Safety Briefings to deliver messages and updates, and to coach and encourage employees as safety milestones approached. He also discussed injuries that occurred in other areas of the company to educate and alert the work force about the similar potential hazards.

“I empowered employees to come up with solutions to problems in their work places and they have come up with many good ideas that we’ve put to use. We would not have reached this milestone without the buy-in of every employee working at the shop,” said Cowan.

Safety Committee members Gary Howard and Margo Papadak-Mullinix also played an active role, which had a dramatic impact on the safety record.


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FREIGHT LINES...  Freight lines...

Canadian National Railway foresees 20
percent earnings growth this quarter

Source: Bloomberg

Bloomberg -- Canadian National Railway Co., Canada’s biggest, announced on November 18 that they are anticipating a 20 percent growth in earnings per share this quarter and a rise of up to 15 percent next year, as sales climb and profit margins keep going up.

“Sales will get a lift from rising demand for Canadian and U.S. grain, British Columbia coal, oil-related shipments in Alberta, and international shipments through the port of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, ” Executive Vice President James Foote said last week at an investor meeting in New York.

In such a productive climate CN is attracting investors; stocks have gained ninefold since 1995 and profit margins have remained the highest in the industry. At the same time, the company has cut costs (15,000 jobs cut as well as other measures) and acquired five other rail companies, BCRail Ltd. in western Canada, Illinois Central Corp. and three other U.S. railways.

“The company plans to cut as much as C$500 million in costs in five years through measures such as reducing time spent switching cars between trains,” Executive Vice President Ed Harris said.

“The railroad also is adding tracks in 23 western Canadian areas so trains don’t have to wait to pass each other, which will cut costs from delays,” Senior Vice President Peter Marshall said.

For the complete story, go to http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000082&sid=anFKasDxmcqw&refer=canada


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Frasier River Container Terminal

Photo: Canadian National Railway

Aerial view of the Frasier River container terminal.

 

Fraser River Port Authority and Canadian Pacific Railway
sign agreement to capitalize growing Asia-Pacific trade

The Fraser River Port Authority (FRPA) and Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX/NYSE: CP) announced last Thursday that they have signed a cooperation agreement to enhance service through the port and coordinate investments in infrastructure to capture growth opportunities in global trade.

This agreement will strengthen the competitive position of the port and the railroad in the Asia-Pacific trade arena, which is growing rapidly especially in the emerging powerhouses China and India.

“Together, we are sending a powerful signal that cooperation is the cornerstone of prosperity and success in international trade,” Rob Ritchie, Chief Executive Officer of CPR…

“Today’s initiative between CPR and the Port Authority, coupled with the significant Gateway infrastructure investments coming from industry and the federal and provincial governments, will ensure that the capacity of Fraser River Port can increase to handle a full one-third of the expected cargo that will pass through the Pacific Gateway by 2020.”

CPR is already doing a major expansion of its infrastructure between the Canadian prairies and Vancouver, its busiest stretch of track.

The Canadian government is making a significant investment -$590 million - for port and transportation infrastructure, another step in securing British Columbia’s position as a key-player in the Asia-Pacific markets. (Fraser River Port is Canada’s second-largest port, and encompasses 270 kilometres of shoreline along the Fraser River from Langley to the Strait of Georgia.)

“There is tremendous opportunity for Canada and for the Pacific Gateway,” Mr. Ritchie said. “We hope this joint initiative by FRPA and CPR will generate further momentum for collaboration and partnerships across the supply chain.”


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STOCKS...  Selected Friday closing quotes...

Source: MarketWatch.com

  Friday One Week
Earlier
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)66.6664.31
Canadian National (CNI)77.4475.58
Canadian Pacific (CP)41.6541.25
CSX (CSX)48.6346.94
Florida East Coast (FLA)42.5942.88
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)33.8133.90
Kansas City Southern (KSU)24.6323.86
Norfolk Southern (NSC)43.8742.39
Providence & Worcester (PWX)14.1514.04
Union Pacific (UNP)75.0070.75


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

Three installments by David Beale
NCI Foreign Correspondent

 

Deutsche Bahn to acquire USA presence
with purchase of BAX Global

Deutsche Bahn German Railways will move to purchase American freight forwarder and cargo airline BAX Global. BAX Global was originally a part of Brinks security and armored car company. Schenker, an over the road trucking firm already owned by Deutsche Bahn, has had a working relationship with Brinks for a number of years.

BAX Global had gross sales of nearly € 2 billion Euro last year and employs 12,000 in 500 locations aside from its headquarters in Irvine, California. Experts expect that Deutsche Bahn will pay approximately € 1 billion Euro (US $1.2 billion) to buy BAX Global.

Deutsche Bahn is buying BAX Global in order to protect and expand its logistics and express freight business conducted currently by its wholly owned companies, Schenker and Stinnes Logistik, as DB’s logistic competitors DHL, Danzas, Deutshe Post, UPS and FedEx also expand their world-wide reach. Deutsche Bahn moves significant quantities of containerized freight from its Stinnes and Schenker subsidiaries on its own freight trains (operated by DB Logistik Railion) within Germany.


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Berlin Zoo

For NCI: Photo courtesey of Matthias Roesler

The Berlin Zoo Station

 

80,000 Signatures gathered to keep ICE
train service at Berlin Zoo station

Via N24 News

80,000 signatures were collected for continued ICE stops at “Zoo Station”, more officially know as Berlin Zoological Garden, during a transit policy discussion with the title “The Railroad Leaves its Customer’s Behind With the Planned Closing of the Zoo ICE-Railway Station” on the 15. Nov. 2005 at Berlin Technical University. The organizer was the citizen group initiative “Citizens Against the Closing of Intercity Railway Station Zoo”. The Charlottenburg chapter of the SPD political party delivered an additional 3200 signatures. At Humboldt University, according to the initiative backers, a legal action is in work, whereby legal steps against the German railroad are being examined, because the closing of the famous Zoo Station to intercity traffic may violate existing German anti-monopoly laws. The authors, Dennis Adelsberger and Matthias Berberich, of the legal faculty came to the conclusion, that the removal of almost all intercity train stops at Zoo Station would be an offense by the German railroad against consumer protection laws.

Deutsche Bahn plans to re-route all ICE and most other intercity trains away from Zoo Station, when the newly built Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) opens for operations in May 2006. Zoo Station will continue to be served by S-Bahn urban commuter trains as well as numerous regional trains after the planned relocation of ICE and intercity trains to Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

Deutsche Bahn, along with the German federal government and other government agencies, has spent several billion Euros on remaking Lehrter Bahnhof, a former local S-Bahn station stop along this rail line, into a state-of-the-art intercity rail transportation hub in a decade-long massive construction project. The station will assume the name of “Berlin Hauptbahnhof” - Berlin Central Station. The original Berlin Hauptbahnhof, located in the heart of Cold War era East Berlin, was renamed “Ostbahnhof” (East Station) in 1999.

Berlin Zoo Station served as West Berlin’s de facto main central train station during the division of the city in the Cold War years. The historic station sits astride the Berlin “Stadtbahn”, an elevated 4 - 6 track wide rail corridor which winds through Berlin west to east. The rail corridor was built nearly 100 years ago and features a pair of S-Bahn tracks with third rail DC power with the other tracks used by conventional trains. The conventional train tracks on the Berlin Stadtbahn were electrified with DB’s standard 15 kV AC overhead power during 1993-94 to permit operation of ICE trains and other electrically powered intercity and regional trains through Berlin, including Zoo Station.


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Photo courtesey of Deutsche Bahn AG

DBAG Chairman Hartmut Mehdorn (center) und Dr. Klaus Kremper and Dr. Norbert Bensel pose in front of the test freight train (with a DB 189 series multi-voltage locomotive and a passenger coach from Russia’s RZD railroad) to Moscow before departure of the train from Seddin near Berlin.

 

Test freight train from Berlin
to Moscow in 3 1/2 days

DBAG press release

Four European railroads gave the start signal at Seddin freight railway yard in Berlin on Wednesday night (16 Nov.) for an extraordinary freight train: in only three and half days - and therewith considerably more quickly than highway trucks - it should travel the approx. 1800 kilometers (1120 miles) between the German and the Russian capital and thereby clearly accelerate the movement of freight between Germany, Poland, Belarus and the Russian federation.

Containers, automobiles and palletized freight are on board the 600 meter long, approximately 1600 ton (1764 US ton) heavy and up to 100 km/h (63 mph) fast train toward Russia. On Sunday, the 20 November at about 8:10 in the morning the train is expected to arrive at the Kunzewo II rail freight depot in Moscow. Previously freight trains needed up to ten days on this route. Highway trucks can make it in four to five days. On board this test train will be the railroad bosses of the four involved countries: Hartmut Mehdorn, chairman of DBAG, as well as the general director Andrzej Wach from Poland, Vladimir Zerelo from Belarus and Vladimir Yakunin from Russia. The train is formed of 18 freight wagons and a single passenger coach coupled into the train expressly for the VIPs. The railroad chiefs want for themselves a picture of the complex customs and operation procedures at the borders of the three countries as well as the time intensive transfer of the freight at the boundary of the European standard track gage (1435 mm) to the Russian broad track gage (1524 mm) in Brest. Simultaneously possible improvements can be discussed while underway.

It is goal of the experiment, in close cooperation between the DB freight train operator Railion, PKP of Poland, BC of Belarus and Russian railroad RZD to create the base for a future acceleration of all goods trains on the Germany­Russia corridor and therewith for a clear increase in rail traffic recovery. Previously on this route the locomotives were changed repeatedly, as well as many planned operational stops and buffer time, used for example for the extensive customs formalities at the three boundary crossings. In the future with EDP-support and electronic transmission of the freight paperwork in advance, a large reduction for customs clearance times should be expected, therefore reducing total travel times.


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OPINION...  Opinion...

The following Op Ed article was published November 18, 2005 in The Boston Globe.
Used with permission.

 

Why Amtrak should backtrack

By Michael S. Dukakis and John Robert Smith

IF THE Hurricane Katrina fiasco has taught us anything, it is that there is no substitute for competence at the top of important federal agencies. Yet last week a new Amtrak board that has three vacant seats and only one member that has been confirmed by the US Senate removed a man who was almost universally seen as the best president in Amtrak’s 32-year-old history.

As the chairman and vice chairman of the Amtrak board in 2002, we recruited David Gunn to run Amtrak because we believed -- as did the rest of a bipartisan board that endorsed him unanimously -- that he is the kind of straight-shooting, hands-on rail executive needed to correct the long, slow slide in performance and credibility that Amtrak, for many reasons, was enduring.

Gunn is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and has vast rail experience. His performance justifies the confidence we placed in him. Since he took over at Amtrak, head count and management bureaucracy have been sharply reduced, operational efficiency has been improved, and more locomotives and cars have been overhauled at a record pace. As important, Gunn won back the respect of Congress. The proof of that came just days ago, when the Senate voted, 93-6, to support the Lott-Lautenberg bill authorizing $11.4 billion, over six years, for major infrastructure repair and a long-delayed start of work on other corridors across the country.

Amtrak has been seeking capital funds, but has been denied them, for almost all of its 32-year existence. Gunn was the first president in Amtrak history to show Congress why the railroad must have major investment support -- as do the nation’s highways and airline systems -- to serve the public successfully.

By any fair measure, Gunn was a brilliant and successful president. For the first time in decades, Amtrak’s management and Congress were moving forward with a clear vision for its future. To replace him in order to gamble on an ill-conceived attempt to mimic the catastrophe of British Rail privatization of more than a decade ago -- and make no mistake, that is what the administration is bent on doing -- is to take a step backward, not forward, on the creation of a healthy national rail transportation system.

It is not just the Northeast Corridor that needs Amtrak. It is people who live in the towns and cities across America who increasingly have no other transportation alternative -- whose airports have been closed or whose bus service has been discontinued. It is millions of motorists stuck in traffic jams on the nation’s highways or air passengers stuck in airports when fully a third of flights are for 350 miles or less -- an ideal distance for intercity rail corridors -- because outside of the Northeast Corridor, we have utterly failed to provide them with the kind of rail service that connects cities in Europe and Japan quickly, comfortably, and efficiently.

We need Amtrak as part of a transportation system that serves all Americans, not just those who can afford to fly or drive. Gunn was building such a system.

The current Amtrak board has a choice. It can stick to its decision and destroy the enormous progress that the company has made under his leadership which they called “splendid” and “brilliant” just months ago. Or they can do the right and responsible thing and reinstate him as the chief executive officer of the nation’s rail passenger system.

We know what they ought to do. Let’s hope they have the wisdom and the good sense to do it.

Michael S. Dukakis was vice chairman of Amtrak’s board, a teacher at Northeastern University and former governor of Massachusetts. He was the Democratic nominee for president in 1988. John Robert Smith served on Amtrak’s board 1997-2002, ending as chairman. He is the Republican mayor of Meridian, Miss.


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EDITORIAL...  Editorial...

FEMAtizing America

By Jim RePass
Publisher, Destination Freedom

Cong. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said it best. The Bush Administration’s ham-handed attempt to disembowel Amtrak by firing its professional management and running the railroad --- literally, maliciously, and in secret --- into the ground with a rump Board is exactly that: FEMAtizing.

As a native of New Orleans who watched some of my neighbors dying on live television while FEMA’s feckless and unqualified director worried about his wardrobe, and whose childhood home was destroyed by a failed levee whose design strength the Army Corps of Engineers had THREE TIMES ordered weakened to save construction money, I am perhaps not entirely objective about this. So I am going to let Congressman Jerrold Nadler, of New York, speak for me, with the words from his statement at the November 15 hearing into the shameful firing of Amtrak CEO David Gunn. Nadler is one of those blunt, wise New Yorkers who may seem a bit pushy but can always get a cab…and he said:

“Amtrak is now being run by a Board made up Members who have virtually NO experience in passenger rail.  When [Amtrak President & CEO] David Gunn voiced his concerns about some of the bad decisions the Board was making, he was fired.  In short, Mr. Gunn was fired because he would not agree with ‘FEMA-tizing’ Amtrak.    His firing is a sign of the lengths Amtrak opponents will go to in order to eliminate passenger rail service in this country. It must be stopped.”

“I want to know what gives the Board the right to thumb its nose at Congress, and take drastic actions, such as spinning off the Northeast Corridor.  I want to know on what grounds David Gunn was fired.  The Board issued a press release claiming that Amtrak ‘needed to intensify the pace and broaden the scope of its reforms.’  Exactly what reforms is the Board referring to?  That same release mentions the strategic reform plan that the Board approved in April, and says that Amtrak needs ‘a leader with vision and experience to get the job done.’ Well, that strategic reform initiative does not call for spinning off the Northeast Corridor.  In fact, it states that such an action would be ‘inadvisable.’  It would seem that David Gunn is more committed to the strategic reform plan than is the Board.  It seems to me that it is the Board that should be replaced, not Mr. Gunn,” said Nadler, noting the trouble their actions have caused.

The Bush Administration is in trouble on a lot of fronts, but its biggest problem is that more and more Americans see it as sneaky and dishonest. Unless the kind of behavior that justifies such an opinion ceases --- like secret prisons, secret torture, secret Amtrak votes at unpublicized Board meetings, or fraudulent firings of superb people by political appointees in every sense their inferiors, --- the President will soon find himself standing out in front, all alone, and exposed.

For whatever reason, although there are some fine people in his Administration, he has also allowed himself to be surrounded by corporate con men and political manipulators who fundamentally distrust democracy and the common man, who want to govern in secret, and who are the kind of people you encounter on the way to fascism. When the President confronts and deals with this fact, he may begin to rise again in his standing with the American people. If he does not, his Administration is effectively over, and we are in for three years of very bad governance. Amtrak’s attempted destruction, which must be stopped, is only a symptom of what is to come unless there is fundamental change.


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WE GET LETTERS...  We get letters...

Dear Mr. Repass:

I am so overwhelmed and flabbergasted by the actions of this administration on Amtrak! Reading the news blurb about China investing heavily in high-speed rail just made me a lot more frustrated. How come people in power can not understand and realize the importance of this mode of transportation and start investing heavily, similar to the Eisenhower Interstate System a long time ago? What will it take? Will I see it in my lifetime? I am 33 and I sure hope so...

Thanks for listening to my rant! Keep up the fight!

Lou Harris


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End Notes...

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

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


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