Happy Holidays


Vol. 5 No. 46
December 6, 2004

Copyright © 2004
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 - Leo King
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 Fifth Year *

This page is best viewed at 800 X 600 screen resolution

 

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


Toyota truck ad on engine body

For NCI, two photos: Ken Ziegenbein

Amtrak has begun painting their locomotives in advertising schemes.

 

Toyota takes to Amtrak tracks for ad campaign

Amtrak has begun painting its locomotives in advertising schemes. The first is for Toyota’s Tundra truck. Photographer Ken Ziegenbein, editor of Arkansas Railroader, Little Rock Chapter, National Railway Historical Society, said he took the photos at Union Station, Little Rock.

“Amtrak 22, the northbound Texas Eagle, had locomotive 115 in the lead, which was painted with the advertising for Toyota Tundra trucks. It is seen arriving at midnight on Thanksgiving night, one minute late.”

All the photos were 5 to 7-second time exposures, he said, with a digital camera. He uses a 5 megapixel Sony DSC-V1 with a Carl Zeiss lens.

So far, there is one other Tundra-painted engine, P-42 No. 84, which is plying CSX tracks between Miami and Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, Marc Magliari, manager of Amtrak media relations in Chicago, forwarded the web address containing the photos to Andy Kirk, who is RAILPACE magazine’s passenger news editor, and he forwarded the web address to D:Fwith several photos of engine 115. The address is http://www.trainweather.com/amtraktoyota112504.html.

Magliari told D:F, “The locomotives are painted, I’m told, out of a concern that cold temperatures in Chicago would make the vinyl too brittle and subject to cracking over the winter” if decals were applied.

“The paint was applied in Los Angeles,” he added.

Magliari could not say how much Toyota was paying Amtrak for the advertising blitz, and could only say, “Information about the payment to Amtrak is private and further details about Toyota’s decision to proceed with this project are best coming from them or their advertising agency.”

Toyota published a press release on November 29 with their spin. They stated, “one [engine] is running on the Texas Eagle route segment from Chicago to San Antonio, and the other running the Silver Service route segment from Washington, D.C. to Miami.

“The marketing theme for the Toyota Tundra Double-Cab is ‘A truck as big as your life... Life-sized,’ so we were looking for an opportunity to spread that message in a big way,” said Deborah Wahl-Meyer, Toyota’s corporate marketing communications manager. She didn’t say how much Toyota is spending on the project.

“Nothing says big, powerful and unstoppable like a speeding locomotive, so we think this is a great fit.”

She said the idea for painting the image on the side of the train came from Toyota’s ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi. Originally, the plan was to “wrap” the train with the image, similar to what is used on buses and buildings, but wear and tear concerns eliminated that option. So, Amtrak and Corporate Image Media, Inc., recommended the

unique paint solution that Amtrak uses for the stripes on the trains.

“Getting unique messages out to consumers is always a challenge, but with this Tundra and train tie-in, we are able to cut through the clutter and send a clear message about Tundra’s capabilities to the people riding the trains, as well as to all of those who see the trains en route,” said Meyer.

She added Toyota worked with Amtrak to choose routes that had high-exposure and travel through key markets for the automaker.

“Toyota is currently building a Tundra plant in San Antonio, so the Texas Eagle route was a natural choice. The Silver Service route will give the truck good exposure on the East Coast and through the Southern states.”

Toyota is the first automaker, and only the second company, to use Amtrak locomotives for advertising in this manner.

The Tundras are scheduled to ride the rails through the end of December.

Truck advert on engine

At trackside, it’s still quite a sight.


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Istook backtracks, apologizes
for transportation antics

Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) sent a written apology Friday morning to GOP lawmakers whose transportation projects he stripped from the omnibus appropriations bill in retaliation for their endorsement of additional funding for Amtrak.

The Hill reported on Friday about half the 21 House members who signed a letter May 14 urging support for Amtrak funding discovered early last week that either all or many of their highway projects were left out of the massive $388 billion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress nearly two weeks ago.

Istook, an Amtrak critic, said in his letter that he “hoped to keep Amtrak from draining transportation funds from every Congressional district.”

Istook, chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on transportation, treasury and independent agencies, apologized for not communicating better with his colleagues and promised to rectify the situation.

“In the Fiscal Year 2005 appropriations cycle, I hoped to keep Amtrak from draining transportation funds from every Congressional district. I should have communicated with you better before I treated your request for major additional Amtrak funding as a higher priority than your other projects. I apologize,” Istook wrote.

”I will do everything in my power to rectify this as promptly as possible, and to give your other requests every proper consideration,” the letter continued.

“We sent the letter to every member who contacted us,” said Micah Lydorf, spokesman for Istook.

21 House Republicans were punished for signing a letter in May that requested that Amtrak should be funded at $1.8 billion. In February, Istook warned his colleagues in a little-noticed letter that their transportation projects would be jeopardized if they pushed for funding hikes for Amtrak.

Lydorf declined to specify how just how many of the “Amtrak 21” received the letter, which she hand delivered, but she said that it was “under 10.”

Istook’s initial retribution punished several of the Republican majority’s most vulnerable members, including Reps. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) and Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.).

Simmons received Istook’s letter, but apparently, Gerlach did not.

“As of 2:15 [today], we haven’t received any letter,” said John Gentzel, spokesman for Gerlach. Gentzel added that his office had been in contact with leadership staff on the funding matter, but he was not certain if there had been any contact with Istook’s office.

Reps. John McHugh (R-N.Y.), Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), and Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), all received the letter, according to several knowledgeable sources.

Istook apparently sought to mend fences with his fellow Republicans – and not at the behest of party leaders.

“He didn’t talk to leadership. He has not talked to leadership on this matter” said Lydorf. She added that not all of the original signers of the letter had all of their projects cut from the final bill. “Not everyone who signed the letter didn’t receive anything,” she said.

In December, Istook will have to face Weldon and McHugh, both of whom sit on the House Republican Steering Committee, to plead his case for remaining at his post. Several sources said that McHugh had to be physically restrained from Istook when he learned that his projects were struck from the bill.

Istook spokesman John Albaugh told The AP there was no pressure from GOP leadership to issue the apology.

“We did not receive direction from leaders to do this. The chairman did this on his own,” Albaugh said.

Simmons spokesman Todd Mitchell said the letter “confirms what we have been saying for two weeks _ that it was wrong and it will be corrected. And the positive thing about it is that there is going to be a fix to this, probably sooner than later.”

Istook warned members early in the year that supporting Amtrak could hurt their other funding requests. In a February memo he cautioned “any request for Amtrak funding, even if submitted in a separate document, must and will be weighed against your other request, and I will consider it as a project request for your district.”

Simmons and others, who routinely write letters to appropriations committee leaders about funding projects, said they didn’t realize it would cost them their highway funding.

Istook on Thursday also tried to call Simmons and other members who received the letter.

Albaugh would not say how Istook plans to rectify the funding shortfalls, but the Congress often passes supplemental appropriations bills or other measures early in the year that could include money for highway projects.


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At Amtrak: what’s in service?

A snapshot of Amtrak equipment in service as of early in the morning (like around 3:00 a.m.) on November 29 showed 191 P-42 locomotives were active, and of 158 required, 167 were available with 24 out of service for various reasons. Most are in scheduled maintenance.

Amfleet II coaches showed equally good numbers, with 119 active, 96 required, 112 available, and only 7 out of service. There are only 22 active Amfleet II lounges, with 19 required daily, and 21 available. One is out of service.

Among Viewliner sleepers, 49 were active, 38 required, 42 available, and 7 out of service.

22 Heritage diners remain active, 15 are required, 17 were available, and 5 out of service.

There are 160 active Superliner coaches in the fleet, and of 133 required daily, 141 were available with 19 out of service. Among the 105 Superliner sleepers, 83 are required, 84 available, and 21 out of service.

Superliner diners showed 55 active, 38 required, 46 available, 9 out of service. 49 Superliner lounges were active, 36 required, 44 available, and 5 out of service.

Transition sleepers, those cars that fit between the high cars and single-level coaches, show 39 active, 30 required, 38 available, 1 out of service.

The Auto Train bi-Level auto carriers number 38 in all, with 32 required, 37 available, and 1 out of service.

Exactly 58 baggage cars remain in service, with 53 required but only 45 available. 13 were out of service, which was five more than Mechanical’s quota.


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Amtrak tunnels to get fix-up

Skanska Corp. said last week Amtrak has awarded a $127 million, four-year contract to renovate the ventilation and safety facilities at the railroad’s East River Tunnels in New York.

Work begins in January and is scheduled to be completed “within 48 months,” the Stockholm engineering firm said on December 1.

The project is part of Amtrak’s program to improve safety of tracks and tunnels. The ventilation system will be replaced and new airshafts added to ensure air supply and smoke ventilation. The project will also improve access to and from the tunnels for emergency personnel. The project covers work from the surface to nearly 100 feet deep.

Skanska USA Civil unit, Slattery Skanska, has total responsibility for construction as well as procurement and installation of all equipment, a press release stated.

The tunnels also accommodate Long Island Rail Road trains “and will remain in full operation with only brief outages during the entire construction period,” the builders stated.

Skanska USA Civil operations focus on transportation infrastructure and facilities for power generation, water and wastewater treatment in the eastern U.S., Colorado and California with 5,000 employees.


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Emergency Drill

Two photos: Amtrak Ink

During the simulated emergency drill, Lincoln and Flathead County’s Fire and Rescue teams enter Flathead Tunnel to begin a search and rescue mission. The engine has “smashed through” the simulated closed door

 

An ‘emergency’ at Flathead Tunnel
teaches rescuers about Amtrak

An Amtrak passenger train that encounters an emergency, such as an accident or fire, in western Montana’s Flathead Tunnel can be devastating if local response agencies are unfamiliar with the tunnel territory, Amtrak equipment or rescue procedures. That’s why Amtrak’s Emergency Preparedness team conducted a mock emergency drill in September at Flathead Tunnel with 138 responders representing 30 participating agencies to train local responders to manage passenger train-related emergencies at the tunnel.

Owned and maintained by the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Ry., Flathead Tunnel is the second longest tunnel – at 7.1 miles – through which Amtrak travels. Lessons learned from this drill are not only relevant to the Flathead Tunnel but are also applicable to other extensive tunnels.

Amtrak Ink, where this article originally appeared in its November edition, reported the longest tunnel along any Amtrak route is Washington State’s Cascade Tunnel at 7.8 miles, which also serves the Empire Builder. The third longest tunnel it uses is Denver’s 6.8 mile-long Moffat Tunnel, where the California Zephyr operates.

The scenario for the exercise had Amtrak’s eastbound Empire Builder, traveling from Seattle to Chicago, exiting Flathead Tunnel on Saturday, September 18, when a passing hunter noticed the stopped EB’s locomotive protruding from the north end of the tunnel with heavy damage to the cab and tunnel doors. Dust – or smoke – is rising. Realizing the severity of the accident, the hunter breaks the window of the nearby tunnel control building and calls 911. It appears the train has crashed through the tunnel door.

Several response agencies are dispatched to the scene, including local, state and federal emergency management, fire and rescue, law enforcement and emergency medical personnel.

Staged inside the tunnel and train are approximately 40 local high school students, scouts and other volunteers, posing as victims.

Responders gain entry to the train in almost total darkness while attempting to assess the number of victims and the nature of their injuries. Responders work by flashlight and other portable lights as they place the non-ambulatory victims on backboards to be transported off the train and to the staged triage area.

As Emergency Preparedness Manager Arthur Candenquist explained, “Simulated emergencies, such as this one, raise awareness of the potential hazards and strategies necessary that may not have been previously considered.

“One lesson learned from the exercise,” Candenquist continued, “was that a victim on a backboard could be removed from the inside of the train on the lower level by means of the side exit door.”

This is not easily accomplished because of the limited amount of clearance between the side of the train and the tunnel wall, but Candenquist noted that it can be done, provided the rail cars or locomotive are not up against the sides of the tunnel.

After completion of the drill, various components, such as notification, communications and response were critiqued.

“Evaluating the timeliness and accuracy of information transmitted during the drill is critical to identifying the reasons for any delays in the notification process,” said Emergency Preparedness Director Larry Beard.

One of the actions measured in the Flathead Tunnel drill was the timeliness of communication between the initial 911 call to fire and rescue teams, BNSF, Amtrak Police and Amtrak’s Consolidated National Operations Center.

“By understanding that every situation, actual or simulated, presents different conditions and different circumstances and by analyzing and measuring the effectiveness of the drill, including passenger train ingress and evacuation procedures, the Emergency Preparedness team can identify key elements that require improvement,” added Emergency Preparedness Manager Dave Albert.

Drilling in close quarters

Learning how to work within the tight confines of an Amtrak Coach car, Lincoln and Flathead County’s Emergency Medical Technicians prepare a “victim” for evacuation.

To ensure the effectiveness of the large-scale drill, preparations began early. In 2003, Emergency Preparedness Manager Josie Harper developed the Flathead Tunnel Emergency Procedures manual, which is distributed to all local emergency response agencies.

Like most manuals created for a drill, this one identifies equipment resources such school bus companies, potential facilities for shelter use, hospital and trauma units within a 100-mile radius, Amtrak equipment specifications, tunnel information and contact telephone numbers. The manual also outlines the Amtrak operating and onboard responsibilities and provides detailed information regarding the location of the on-board emergency equipment cabinet.

In March 2004, Harper, along with three BNSF officials and the Lincoln County Emergency Management director participated in a tour of the tunnel conducted by BNSF Emergency Preparedness Manager Jim Guseman.

Over the next several months, Harper conducted planning meetings with representatives from BNSF, Flathead and Lincoln counties to coordinate roles and responsibilities, policies, procedures, and administrative requirements to support the upcoming exercise.

To prepare local emergency response teams for the upcoming drill, last June Candenquist conducted a series of four-hour Passenger Train Emergency Response orientation classes followed by two-hour hands-on training sessions in Libby, Troy and Frontline, Mont.

During the classroom and equipment familiarization instruction, responders studied critical emergency procedures, including removing emergency exit windows.

Using an Amtrak locomotive and a Superliner coach, Candenquist demonstrated how to turn seats in coach cars, which can open up available working space in front of an emergency exit window and making it easier to access victims.

To facilitate interaction with train and engine and on-board service crews during a train emergency, Candenquist also acquainted responders with the duties of these employees, who in the event of an emergency can assist emergency personnel in navigating through the car.

Responders were also taught the locations and operation of locomotive emergency fuel cutoff switches and the electrical and pneumatic hazards associated with passenger trains, in order to minimize the risk of coming in contact with dangerous electrical cables and air hoses. To familiarize responders with the scene of the drill, on the following day, Guseman took emergency responders on a two-hour tunnel tour.

“I sleep better at night knowing that the safety and welfare of our passengers and crews are enhanced because the emergency responders are better prepared to handle incidents on our trains more quickly and safely,” said Candenquist.

“Participating in the Flathead Tunnel exercise gave responders an excellent opportunity to ensure maximum preparedness on behalf of their respective agencies. In addition to training and preparedness, team work is essential and the cooperation we saw between the various agencies made for a very successful drill,” said Harper.


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COMMUTER LINES...  Commuter lines...

Connex wins Western commuter deal

The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) last week awarded Connex the contract to operate Metrolink, its commuter rail network in suburban Los Angeles.

This five-year operating contract starting July 1 will earn the firm $98.8 million (€77 million) for the duration of the contract.

The network is about 516 miles long, comprises seven lines, 53 stations, carries 40,000 passengers daily and will employ 130 people.

Connex, the Transport division of Veolia Environnement, is present in Boston with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the fifth largest commuter rail network in the U.S., and “consolidates its growth strategy in the American market by getting this new contract,” the firm stated in a press release from Paris on November 23.

“We are most grateful for this vote of confidence awarded to us by the SCRRA. This contract represents a milestone for our subsidiary, Connex North America. It opens the doors of the California passenger rail market which is one of the most vibrant in the U.S.,” declared Stéphane Richard, Connex general director.

The French company also operates the urban and intercity bus networks in Washington DC, Los Angeles, and in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Texas, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Connex claims to be the “number one private surface passenger transport operator in Europe.” It operates in 23 countries and employs 56,000 people. In 2003, Connex generated a turnover of €3.7 billion. The company operates 26,000 road and rail vehicles and carries more than 1.5 billion passengers per year.

Meanwhile, the Victoria, Australia Herald Sun reported on November 8 Connex was hit with a record $4.6 million fine for again failing to meet service standards.

It is the largest penalty dished out to a private train company.

The state government collected more than $10 million during the past year for poor performance by metropolitan train operators.

More train services were late from July to September than in any other three-months during the year.

About 9,000, or 5.8 per cent, of trains were not on time – either more than a minute early or more than six minutes late.

Most affected were the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines. During the same period, about 2,200 trains were cancelled, a rate of 1.4 per cent.

Connex communications manager Lea Jaensch said it had been a poor three months.

“As the system improves incrementally, our penalty rates will decrease likewise,” she said.

“We will continue to pay penalties as per our contract until such time that our system is at a more acceptable performance level.”

During September, train system reliability was rocked by a number of rare events, including a death and a derailment.

A shortage of locomotive engineers also affected services, as did an unattended package at Flagstaff station on September 20. Police later found the item to be harmless, but the incident led to the delay of 162 trains.

Connex does not expect lasting improvements until next year when more engineers finish training.

Penalty payments imposed by the government increased sharply during the most recent period. From October to December last year, Connex and the now-defunct “M” train were fined $1.3 million. That jumped to $2.3 million from January to March this year.

Connex took over the system in April and was penalized $2.4 million for the three months to June.


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Photo ban gathers steam in New York

New York Transit officials are moving ahead with a planned ban on taking pictures, filming and videotaping in the subway system, saying it’s a necessary security measure in the post-9/11 world.

The proposed rule was published without fanfare a fortnight ago in the State Register. The 45-day comment period in which people can voice their opinions by writing, E-mailing or calling the Metropolitan Transit Authority ends January 10.

When the plan was first outlined, in May, subway riders, transit advocates, civil libertarians and even New York’s Mayor Bloomberg roundly blasted it as excessive.

Authorities considered a less expansive ban that would cover only sensitive locations, such as dispatchers’ towers and equipment rooms, and would allow tourists and subway buffs to continue taking photos in trains and stations – but it was ultimately rejected, the New York Daily News reported last week.

“In this time of heightened security, we don’t want individuals documenting anything that could be used to harm riders,” TA spokesman Charles Seaton said.

The MTA board must approve the proposal. Violators would face fines of $25.

Train buff David-Paul Gerber, 36, of Brooklyn railed against the possible crackdown.

“Photographers are not terrorists,” Gerber said. “We are hobbyists. This tramples on the Constitutional rights and freedoms of every New Yorker and every American.”


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SEPTA in limbo; sends layoff notices

The Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said last week that it has sent out layoff notices to hundreds of employees, is preparing to eliminate all weekend service, and raise fares 25 percent if the governor doesn’t do something to fill the agency’s budget deficit – but Gov. Ed Rendell said he is sticking by his demand that lawmakers return to Harrisburg and resume a legislative session that they ended November 21.

The Bucks County Courier Times reported from Harrisburg on November 30 with just a few hours to go before the legislative session must end by law, Rendell again called on lawmakers to make up the shortfall by having motorists pay higher fees on new tires, emission stickers and car rentals.

“The governor is still holding out hope that the legislature will return and enact a mass transit fix that will avoid layoffs and catastrophic cutbacks to service,” said Kate Philips, the governor’s press secretary.

Republicans on Monday said they’re not returning. Besides, they said they have already offered the governor a solution: Use federal highway funds to make up the $62 million shortfall for SEPTA and $30 million gap for the Port Authority of Allegheny County, or PAT.

“He has the ability to transfer funds and... take care of this crisis,” said Stephen Miskin, spokesman for House Majority Leader Sam Smith (R).

“Then if there is a problem caused by the transfer of highway funds, we take care of the roads during the budget process.”

So, more than two weeks after the showdown between Rendell and the legislature over mass transit spending began, there has been no compromise by either side on how best to find $92 million for the state’s commuter trains and buses.

SEPTA’s director of public affairs, Richard Maloney, said his agency’s board of directors will hold a special meeting to consider contingency plans if funding doesn’t come through. He said in addition to the elimination of weekend service and the fare increases, about 1,400 workers would eventually lose their jobs. There has been no decision as to whether individual train lines or bus routes would be eliminated entirely, he said.


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Red tape delays Greenbush line

More than a year after construction began, the Greenbush commuter rail line project remains mired in regulatory battles that are causing months of work delays and preventing contractors from getting key permits in several communities.

The project completion date is now postponed until the end of 2006, several months later than planned, MBTA officials told the Boston Herald on November 29.

“If this continues, costs will rise,” T project manager Jim Eng said. “We have contingencies built into the $479 million (project budget), but it could go over that.”

Meanwhile, local activists are accusing T officials of doctoring reports to win environmental approvals and failing to provide enough information to local conservation commissions scrutinizing the project.

“We would just like them to do the job right and follow environmental laws,” said John Bewick, a former state secretary of environmental affairs who is leading the fight against Greenbush.

In court papers, opponents who have appealed environmental permits in Scituate, Cohasset and Weymouth Landing accuse project officials of failing to accurately map wetlands that would be impacted by construction.

While those appeals are pending, construction crews are prevented from doing work needed to keep the project on time and within its budget.

T officials deny environmental reports were ever altered to minimize impacts, noting the project has been extensively reviewed by state and federal regulators and has withstood multiple legal challenges.

“At every turn a court has ruled on one of (opponents’) appeals, it has been in our favor,” T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said. “The same small group of people are being obstructionists, but we’re going to get this done.”

In 2003, T officials postponed construction on the Scituate-to-Boston commuter rail line because of concerns that permitting troubles and other logistical snags could lead to cost overruns.

While most of those issues have been resolved, construction is now under way in all five communities along the rail line, but crews have been forced to avoid areas where permits have not been granted.

Eng said contractors have not been able to begin work on the Weymouth Landing station or begin a complicated sewer relocation project in Scituate.

Bewick said the delays are justified, charging that the T has inaccurately mapped wetlands around the rail line to skirt environmental regulations. Bewick said Greenbush officials incorrectly mapped one brook in Scituate and also did not disclose the true boundaries of a nearby aquifer.

Once completed, the Greenbush line is expected to serve 8,400 passengers a day and help reduce traffic along the crowded Route 3 corridor, which is scheduled for its own expansion to help ease a worsening commuter logjam.


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Pawtucket wants old station

After years of efforts to rehabilitate the Pawtucket-Central Falls, R.I. train depot, about three miles from the Providence station, the Pawtucket Redevelopment Authority is asking the two cities that bear the station’s name to allow it to take control of the building and property through eminent domain.

The Pawtucket Times wrote on November 27 the former depot and property is privately owned by Jean Vitali, mother of City Councilor-elect Albert Vitali, Jr.

The Redevelopment Authority, a quasi-public agency, needs both the Pawtucket and Central Falls city councils to approve the depot’s acquisition via eminent domain.

The Pawtucket City Council voted last week to send the issue back to its Ordinance Committee in hopes of gathering more information from the redevelopment authority.

Councilor Donald Grebien, a member of that committee, said the issue of eminent domain needs more investigation.

“The authority has still not answered some questions to this day,” he said.

Redevelopment Authority director Michael Cassidy, who is also the city’s planning director, could not be reached for comment Friday, but in a September 3 memo from Cassidy to Pawtucket Mayor James Doyle and City Council president John Barry, Cassidy asked the council to amend city law to allow the authority “to enter into negotiations or eminent domain taking procedures” on the station.

City officials have long talked about reopening the almost 40,000-square-foot depot as an operating commuter rail station. According to the PRA’s own redevelopment plan, the long-term goal of the public acquisition is to revive the transit station.

“In the past three years there has been interest in reviving the station platform as a potential Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail stop,” the plan states.

“Studies are underway examining the feasibility of this idea. Since the property is located partially in Pawtucket and partially in Central Falls, both cities have great interest in seeing the property put back into beneficial use.”

The MBTA operates commuter trains between Boston and Providence and is expected to extend its operations to in the next couple of years as service is extended to T.F. Green Airport in Warwick along Amtrak’s main line.


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NJT considers reopening rail line

New Jersey Transit is holding two open-house meetings to take public comment on the possible reopening of passenger rail service on the West Trenton Line between Ewing and Bridgewater townships. The next public forum will be held December 7 between 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Hillsborough Township Municipal Complex, 379 South Branch Road, Hillsborough.

The first open house was held December 1 in Ewing.

NJT is proposing to reinstate passenger service between West Trenton and Newark Penn Station with connecting service between the current West Trenton freight lines and the Raritan Valley Line.

The line, owned by CSX, has been used solely for freight service since 1982. Prior to that, it was used for passenger service.

– The Princeton Packet


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LABOR LINES...  Labor lines...

Unions ask FRA to oppose UP

Citing a string of recent derailments and other safety and national security concerns, five labor unions are asking the USDOT Secretary Norman Mineta to oppose a request by the nation’s largest railroad, Union Pacific, to allow its trains to skip inspections after entering the country from Mexico.

The New York Times reported on December 2 the railroad has asked the Federal Railroad Administration to waive federal rules so its trains, about nine each day, can be inspected by Mexican railroad workers. It said this would reduce rail traffic congestion in the U.S.

In a letter last week, the unions asked Mineta to intercede on their behalf with the FRA, which is reviewing UP’s request.

The labor leaders said the Mexican government “has not adopted inspection and testing regulations that are compatible with U.S. standards,” nor has an enforcement agreement been reached between the two countries.

They added the FRA would not have the authority to hold the railroads accountable, “nor has UP adequately explained how required hazmat inspections will be required.”

The unions said they approached Mineta because of their concerns that the FRA, part of USDOT, could not impartially reach a decision on the waiver request.

“Given the alarming rise of accidents involving UP and renewed questions about the relationship between the FRA and the industry it regulates, we wanted to bring this matter directly to your attention,” the unions said in a letter.

The five labor leaders signing the letter were Edward Wytkind, Transportation Trades Dept., AFL-CIO; Teamster boss James Hoffa; Don Hass, national BLE and trainmen president; Freddie Simpson, president, Brotherhood of Maintenance-of-Way Employes; and Robert Scardeletti, Transportation-Communications Union international president.


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Union, politicians disdain subway automation

New York City’s transit union began a campaign last week to mobilize riders against a plan to replace train conductors with a computer-controlled subway system.

Members of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union of America, handed out leaflets at stations along the “L” train route in Manhattan and Brooklyn, where New York City Transit officials hope to begin introducing the fully automated trains by the mid-2005.

A motorman would continue to ride in the cab in the event of an emergency, but the new system would eliminate the jobs of many conductors.

“This is a gamble, a dangerous gamble, and passengers will pay,” said union president Roger Toussaint, who contended that conductors were essential during emergencies. The city’s public advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, and two Democratic members of Congress from New York City said the plan was reckless.

“When was the last time you saw a computer lead people to safety?” asked Rep. Jerrold L. Nadler.

“When was the last time you saw a computer evacuate a train?” he asked.

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez said that the transit agency had failed to demonstrate how computerized operation would work in a subway system as intricate and antiquated as the city’s.

“There is no proven track record for computer-based train control for a subway system like ours,” she said.

Paul J. Fleuranges, a spokesman for New York City Transit, said the criticism overlooked the need to overhaul a signal system that has remained “basically unchanged over the past 100 years.” The agency’s plan, which would phase in computerized train operations – is based on “careful study, peer review and an extensive safety certification plan,” he said.

The first phase of the plan, at a cost of $287 million, is expected to be approved when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, the parent agency of New York City Transit, votes on its capital budget on December 16.

The City Council has scheduled a January 13 hearing on the plan, according to Councilman Lewis A. Fidler who criticized the proposal.


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CN, UTU sign pact

CN and the United Transportation Union (UTU) said on November 30 UTU members working on the railway’s 1,200-mile Northern Quebec Territory (NQT) ratified a new collective agreement. The three-year agreement provides for annual pay increases of 3 per cent and preserves flexible work practices and hourly pay for UTU members. The agreement, effective December 15, also improves employee benefits.


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FREIGHT LINES...  Freight lines...

Shuffling freight around Chicago
may be harbinger of more moves

The decision by Canadian National and Union Pacific to divert some freight traffic around Chicago could be the first of more moves to bypass North America’s largest rail hub if the region’s gridlocked system isn’t overhauled, industry executives said November 26.

A recent agreement CN and UP to shift freight shipments bound for points beyond Chicago is aimed at avoiding the city’s rail bottleneck that can add as many as five days to a cross-country shipment.

CN said the traffic shift would allow it to divert about 14,000 to 15,000 freight carloads annually from Chicago. That’s less than half the number that the railroads typically move every day through Chicago.

The railroad stated no jobs will be eliminated as a result.

While a small step, The Chicago Tribune reported on November 27, it’s a move that has worried civic leaders for more than two years. They have been trying to convince federal, state and local officials to help finance plans to rejuvenate the area’s outdated freight system, which funnels $8 billion worth of freight through Chicago each year,

The system requires railroads to shuffle freight cars at 12 mph between 57 rail yards around the area. Another 3,500 tractor-trailer trips occur daily as containerized freight is moved between the yards. The traffic jam delays shipments and causes trains to block motorists at hundreds of railroad crossings.

The agreement, which will be phased in over three months, comes as railroads and West Coast ports have faced shortages of equipment, workers and the biggest backlog of ships since Southern California port operators locked out workers two years ago to force a contract settlement. Some retailers, such as Home Depot, Target and Wal-Mart, have shifted work to the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma to avoid the California delays.

Omaha-based UP, which has faced some of the biggest backups, suspended service in November on 16 lines in the western U.S. in order to avoid a repeat of a service meltdown in 1997 and 1998 that snarled traffic for months.

Some executives fear that Chicago’s rail industry will face more bypasses unless legislation is passes to reconfigure the region’s rail hub.

Legislation that would free up the $1.5 billion needed to finance the project is pending in Congress.

The money would help pay for the construction of some 40 railroad overpasses or underpasses to ease traffic congestion as well as six bridges to separate freight traffic from passenger railroad traffic.

“This one may not mean lost jobs, but it could mean jobs that don’t come here in the future,” said John Gates, former chairman of the Metropolitan Planning Council and co-chairman and chief executive of CenterPoint Properties Trust in Oak Brook, which helped construct massive intermodal freight yards in Joliet for the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad and in Rochelle, Ill., for the UP.

“If freight service is diminished, it could cause companies to not want to locate here or put their distribution centers in places where freight service is growing,” he said.

In a separate deal, CN said it will shift traffic bound for Memphis from Eastern Canada to tracks owned by the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railroad at Griffith, Ind. Those trains will be re-routed back onto Canadian National tracks at suburban Matteson. The re-routings will cut one to two days from the transit time for shippers using those routes, according to Mark Hallman, a CN spokesman.


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Conductor dies in CSX collision

A CSX trainman died when two freight trains, Q44128 and K91628, collided head on at about 2:19 a.m. on November 29 in Vitis, Fla.

Conductor C.J. Jones was crushed to death, and engineer E.E. Anderson survived with broken bones. Both men are from the Miami area. Both men were on the northward string.

Jones, 28, had only worked for the railroad for three years and Anderson, 34, for five years.

K91628 was operating north on the Vitis Sub enroute to Wildwood, after originating in Miami with 60 loads and no empties (7,692 tons, 3,312 feet.

Q44128 was operating south from the Wildwood Sub moving to the Yeoman Sub enroute to Tampa after originating at Waycross, Ga. with 99 loads and 38 empty cars (12,293 tons, 8,634 feet long).

Engineer G.M. Whitehead, 33, was operating the train, and is a 10-year CSX employee. His conductor W.E. Taylor, 54, is a 34-year CSX veteran.

Q44128 appears to have had a signal to move from the Wildwood Sub to the Yeoman Sub. Signal logs indicated no problems with signal appliances. Signal requests from a Jacksonville dispatcher and log indicates that the signal cleared for Q44128 south.

The engineer and conductor on the northbound train apparently jumped from the lead engine when it appeared that a collision was about to happen. Anderson said they jumped about three or four car lengths before the collision.

All were taken to a local hospital.

Engines derailed from Q44128 (CSX 4695, CSX 7803) and K91628 (CSX 8101/CSX 4810). About 14 cars derailed in a general pileup including two tank cars , which spilled up to 30,000 gallons of concentrated liquid fertilizer. As of Tuesday, most was cleaned up.

“Twenty thousand gallons were accounted for either in the tank cars or in the ditch and we were able to siphon it up,” CSX spokesman Gary Sease said.

The National Transportation Safety Board suggested one of the two trains that collided head-on in Pasco County might have run through a signal light in heavy fog, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

Investigators said on Tuesday that signals and tracks at the accident scene appeared in good working order. That left the possibility that human error, abetted by the weather, caused the crash.

“One of the things they mentioned was the amount of fog there was,” NTSB spokesman Terry Williams said after interviewing the trainmen. “That’s what stood out.”

The National Weather Service in Ruskin confirmed fog was in the area of the crash after midnight.

“It could have been locally very dense in particular areas,” forecaster Tom Dougherty said. “Visibility could be a quarter-mile or sometimes down to 100 feet.”

Once the train crews saw each other, they started to brake. The conductor and engineer of the northbound train, hauling 60 cars of rocks from Miami, leapt for their lives, according to Pasco County rescue workers.

They didn’t jump far enough to avoid being trapped under crumpled and flipped rail cars. The position of Jones’ and Anderson’s train could be key to the crash. Their train had just entered the main.


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New Yorkers hear tunnel objections

With visions of freight trains barreling through their neighborhoods, New York City Council members and neighborhood activists hand-delivered 10,000 written objections to the city’s Economic Development Corp. November 30.

The EDC is studying whether the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Project, an aggressive plan to increase the amount of freight moved by railway through the region, is a good idea for the five boroughs.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who obtained $22 million in federal money for various studies, has pushed the project.

“The Cross Harbor Rail Freight Project will benefit all New Yorkers by dramatically reducing truck traffic by as many as 1 million trucks per year,” Nadler (D) said in a statement, according to the New York Daily News on December 1.

The plan includes construction of a tunnel under the harbor between either Staten Island or New Jersey to connect Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island to the national railroad freight network.

Council Members Simcha Felder (D) and Dennis Gallagher (R) said increasing the number of freight trains in Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods will be dangerous and ruin the quality of life for people who have lived there for years.

“If this becomes a reality, there will be 15 trains and 1,600 cars every day,” said Felder, who represents parts of Borough Park and Midwood, where the train lines run. “That will destroy these neighborhoods.”

The line from the proposed tunnel runs through Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Borough Park, Midwood, Flatbush, Brownsville, New Lots, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ridgewood and Middle Village.

The Economic Development Corp. “really hasn’t heard any opposition to this project,” Gallagher said. “We brought opposition to their doorstep.”

EDC officials said public comments would be included in the environmental impact study. The agency has not taken a stand on the project.

“It has become clear that there are very serious concerns about the impact that a cross-harbor rail tunnel would have on communities in Queens and Brooklyn,” said EDC spokesman Michael Sherman.

“These significant issues would need to be addressed before the city could further evaluate the project. We are always glad to engage in an open dialogue with members of the community, and we appreciate their concerns. We hear them loud and clear.”


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NS to spend $938 million next year

Norfolk Southern Corp. (NSC) plans to spend $938 million in 2005 for capital improvements to its railroad operations and subsidiaries.

“Our planned 2005 capital spending budget will help the company improve service levels and handle business growth by increasing capacity, improving efficiency and ensuring safety of operations,” said NS chairman and CEO David R. Goode in Norfolk on December 2.

“The anticipated spending includes $671 million for track projects and $225 million for equipment,” he said.

In track and right-of-way improvements, “The largest expenditure will be $438 million for rail, crosstie, ballast and bridge programs. In addition, $23 million is provided for communications, signal and electrical projects, $22 million for maintenance-of-way equipment and $14 million for environmental projects and public improvements such as grade crossing separations and crossing signal upgrades,” he said.

Equipment spending includes $154 million to purchase 52 six-axle locomotives, upgrade existing locomotives, certify and rebuild 300 multilevel automobile racks and purchase 317 bilevel racks at the end of their lease. Equipment spending also includes $44 million for projects related to computers, systems and information technology, which will improve operations efficiency and equipment utilization.

Business development initiatives total $107 million and include spending for increased track capacity and access to coal receivers, bulk transfer facilities, and vehicle production and distribution facilities; and investments in intermodal terminals and equipment to add capacity to the intermodal network.


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CSX opens Atlanta training center

With rail industry projections pointing to the need for thousands of new employees over the next few years, CSX Transportation has consolidated in Atlanta all of its training for front-line employees who operate trains and maintain railroad assets and infrastructure.

The $8 million consolidated training center is a multi-disciplinary facility for students who are training to be locomotive engineers and conductors, track and signal technicians, mechanics, and yard managers. Conductor training is expected to begin in January with other subjects offered by midyear. More than 3,500 students are expected to visit the facility annually when fully operational.

“The railroad industry, including CSX, is expected to need thousands of new employees each year for the next five to seven years to offset retiring front-line employees,” said Wayne Richards, assistant vice-president-contract staffing and training.

“Our Atlanta facility will be a key part of our overall plan to recruit, train and qualify employees for fulfilling careers in our company,” he said.

Located adjacent to CSXT’s Tilford Yard rail classification facility, the training center will provide state-of-the-art equipment, including locomotive simulators, and the opportunity to apply classroom learning in a hands-on railroad operating environment. Some management training will also take place.

Advantages of the consolidated center include reduced time to complete training and begin actual work, as well as close proximity to ongoing railroad operations. The training center will also offer enhanced opportunities for students specializing in one craft to get exposure to other, related disciplines.

New employee training today takes place in Cumberland, Md. (locomotive engineers); Jacksonville, Atlanta and Cleveland (conductors); Barboursville, W.Va. (track engineering and train control); and Savannah, Ga. (train control).

“In addition to technical training, our facility will emphasize CSXT’s core value of safety in every aspect of railroad operations,” Richards said. “In this way, we can provide students with the technical background and the safety consciousness necessary to be successful and safe in their careers.”

CSX is online at http://www.csx.com.


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BNSF starts double-tracking

Burlington Northern and Santa Fe has begun grading, building bridges and installing signals for adding a second main track to its route between Milan and Attica, Kansas. Track construction work may begin any day now.

The Wellington Daily News, of Wellington, Kansas, reported on November 30 BNSF is installing an upgraded signal system along with the new track. It will involve installing new signals and bungalows at the new interlockings. The work will continue through the winter, the newspaper stated.

The new second main track in Harper and Sumner counties will allow present train traffic to move through the area more expeditiously and leave room for future business growth.

The track is part of BNSF’s premier rail route between Chicago and Southern California and carries many of the consumer goods and packages that millions of Americans consume every day. Once the additional track BNSF is constructing on this route is completed next year, more than 90 percent of this 2,214 mile route between Chicago and Los Angeles will be double-track.


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Alaska Railroad buys US&S system

The Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) has awarded a contract to Union Switch & Signal to install a vital (fail-safe) “Positive Train Control (PTC)” system, according to US&S on December 1.

“This project is very significant because it sets a new standard for safety in the industry,” said Eileen Riley, an ARRC vice-president. She is in charge of Projects, Engineering, Technology and Signals.

“Alaska Railroad felt very strongly about having a vital system in place, and we knew that Union Switch & Signal was capable of providing this for us,” she said.

Neither US&S nor the Alaska Railroad said how much ARR is spending on the system.

The new system is intended to prevent train-to-train collisions, enforce speed restrictions, including permanent speed restrictions and temporary slow orders, and provide enforced protection for roadway workers (track gangs) and their equipment operating under specific authority.

“This will be the first vital stand-alone PTC system ever to be put into service,” said US&S president and CEO Ken Burk.

“Our patented technology for vital PTC is another industry first for us. Other PTC systems that have been implemented to date have been overlaid on existing signaling systems.”

The US&S scope of work includes delivery of a computer-aided dispatching system, a safety server implemented using US&S’s “MicroLok II” vital logic controller, and an on-board computer based on US&S’s MicroCab platform.

Most Alaska Railroad territory is dark. Train locations are determined by on-board Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, which are already in service.

In unsignaled territory, trains will be dispatched via direct traffic control authorities – written orders – that will be digitally transmitted to the locomotive via a data radio network. The US&S MicroLok safety server will validate the DTC authorities prior to issuance. The OBC will provide vital limit of authority and speed enforcement.

The PTC system is expected to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2007.


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UP’s Christmas tree trains are rolling

Union Pacific Railroad is highballing Christmas trees from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California. UP said it expects to carry more than 1,000 trees this year.

Among those trees is one special tree from UP’s largest tree shipper, Holiday Tree Farms of Corvallis, Ore. That tree has been shipped to Omaha where it will be decorated and displayed for the first Christmas in UP’s new headquarters building, Union Pacific Center.

The plantation-style tree farm, founded in 1955, started moving truck trailers loaded with trees on railroad flatcars in 1988. Over the past 17 years, they have moved more than 7,600 trailers loaded with more than 5 million Christmas trees.

Originally the railroad moved the trees in boxcars to Los Angeles where they were spotted for unloading by a wide variety of vendors. In recent years, the trees have been moved in intermodal truck trailers and containers primarily for large retailers.


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MM&A appoints Jones to VP post

Frederick M. Jones is Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Ry. new vice-president for sales & marketing. He took over his new post on December 1, succeeding William R. Schauer, who retired after 41 years in the railroad industry.. Schauer was MMA’s vice-president for marketing since the railroad’s start up in January 2003.

Jones has 18 years of railroad sales and marketing experience and most recently served as a logistics and sales training consultant. He worked in multiple sales and marketing positions with Canadian National in New York and with CSX Transportation in New York and Jacksonville, Fla. He also served in several sales and marketing roles with PPG Industries Chemicals Division in Pittsburgh, Pa. and New York.


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Call it ‘Tellier Tunnel’ now

Now you can call the former Sarnia-Port Huron railway tunnel “The Paul M. Tellier Tunnel.”

CN renamed its underwater railroad tunnel between Canada and the U.S. to honor its former CEO. Opened in 1995 as the St. Clair Tunnel, it runs under the St. Clair River between Sarnia, Ont., and Port Huron, Mich.

Tellier, CN president and CEO from 1992 to 2002, envisioned the St. Clair Tunnel as a vital rail link in international commerce between Canada and the U.S., the world’s largest trading partners.

E. Hunter Harrison, who succeeded Tellier as CN president and CEO, said “Renaming the tunnel is especially fitting because Paul Tellier realized his vision for CN as a truly North American transportation company by completing the tunnel and successfully extending the railroad’s reach into the U.S.”

During Tellier’s tenure, CN acquired the Illinois Central and Wisconsin Central railroads in the U.S.

When tunnel construction began in 1993, Tellier said that the “tunnel will give CN the efficiencies it needs to become a strong competitive force in North American transportation.” Last year, trans-border traffic, of which a substantial amount passed through the tunnel, generated 34 per cent of CN’s total revenue of $5,884 million.

The Paul M. Tellier Tunnel is 6,128 feet long. Its 28-foot interior diameter can accommodate doublestack containers, multi-level auto carriers and other large freight cars and payloads. The tunnel significantly reduces transit times for rail traffic that previously had to be barged across the river, as well as for container traffic between Halifax and Chicago, and the U.S. industrial heartland.

To build the tunnel, a consortium from Canada, the U.S. and Europe used large-bore tunneling technology perfected during the digging of the Chunnel linking Britain and France.


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BUSINESS LINES...  Business lines...

Bombardier

Bombardier, Inc. reports it maintained profitability through the third quarter, despite an exceptionally challenging business environment in both the transportation and aerospace sectors – but it intends to lay off European workers.

Financial results for the quarter showed consolidated earnings before taxes (EBT) and before special items of $52 million, compared to $49 million the previous quarter. Special items amounted to $43 million and net income was $10 million. Consolidated revenues reached $3.6 billion compared to $3.9 billion.

Paul M. Tellier, President and CEO said the company intends to take its restructuring of Bombardier Transportation to the next level by reducing the net permanent workforce by an additional 2,200 employees. The enlarged plan increases the previously budgeted restructuring envelope by $25 million or 4 percent.

Bombardier Transportation continues to post positive results, Tellier said, “but the unit is not yet performing to market expectations despite productivity improvements.”

Faced with lowered growth projections in the core European market for rolling stock, Bombardier Transportation proposed to extend its restructuring, increasing total net contemplated workforce reductions to 7,600 by April 2006, or 21 percent of Transportation’s global workforce, 7,300 of which represent permanent positions. The additional proposed reductions are spread across 14 countries and 27 locations, but impact primarily Germany, the U.K. and Canada.


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Lehman lowers CSX, CP ratings

CSX Corp. and Canadian Pacific were cut to “underweight” at Lehman Bros. Last week.

Worried about the sustainability of 2004’s market share shift to the railroads from the truckers, Lehman Bros. on Thursday downgraded the rail sector to “negative” from “neutral” in a valuation call.

“Fundamentals look strong and we are forecasting roughly 25 percent EPS growth in 2005 for our rail universe. However, even with such high growth rates, multiples look lofty,” analyst Jennifer Cooke Ritter told clients.

The rail universe, she noted, is trading at 16.2 times earnings – above its historical range of 7.5 times to 14.1 times estimates. In connection with the sector call, Ritter downgraded both carriers.


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KCS

On November 29, The U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) approved Kansas City Southern’s application filed on May 14, 2003, for authority to control The Texas Mexican Ry. Co. (Tex Mex) and the U.S. portion of the International Rail Bridge at Laredo, Texas, KCS stated last week.

“This action finalizes KCS’ effort to obtain control of these assets, which are both wholly owned by Mexrail, Inc. (Mexrail) and allows the controlling shares of Mexrail to be released to KCS. The Mexrail shares had been placed into an independent voting trust on August 16, 2004, pending regulatory approval of KCS’ application,” KCS said in a press release.

Michael R. Haverty, KCS chairman and CEO, said “This approval will allow us to move forward with our effort to bring better, more competitive rail service to NAFTA shippers in the NAFTA trade corridor as well as provide better rail service in south Texas.”

The decision becomes effective in 30 days, when KCS will dissolve the voting trust and obtain control of Mexrail and its assets, including Tex Mex.

In reaching its decision, the STB did not impose any conditions unacceptable to KCS, and rejected almost all of the conditions requested by competing carriers that had filed objections to the transaction. As a result, the transaction is expected to be completed on December 29.

Elsewhere at KCS, counsel for TFM, S.A. de C.V. (TFM) has been advised by the Fourth Collegial Tribunal for Administrative Matters of the First Circuit (Tribunal) that it has sustained TFM’s complaint arising out of the failure of the Treasury of the Federation to adjust the value added tax (VAT) refund certificate issued to TFM to reflect interest and inflation. As previously announced by Grupo TMM, S.A. (TMM) and KCS, TFM received the VAT refund certificate in its original face amount of approximately 2.111 billion pesos from the Treasury of the Federation on January 19, 2004.

When the Treasury of the Federation refused TFM’s request to actualize the VAT refund certificate in accordance with Article 22 of the Mexican Fiscal Code of 1997, TFM sought judicial relief.

TFM has not yet been served with the written decision of the Tribunal, but reports of the Tribunal’s decision have appeared in the Mexican Press and TMM has reported the decision to the Mexican Stock Exchange. Until TFM is formally notified of the Tribunal’s written decision, “KCS cannot make any statements concerning the scope of the decision or its possible implications.

“As soon as TFM receives written notification of the decision, KCS will proceed to analyze it and issue a statement to the public,” the carrier stated in a press release.


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NYRR

New York Regional Rail Corp. (NYRR) reported November 29 that during the three months ended September 30, the company reported net income of $33,833 on revenue of $1,644,527 compared to a net loss of $16,446 on revenue of $1,499,713 for the three months ended September 30, 2003.

Joel Marcus, chief financial officer stated, “Our third quarter results show some of the progress we have made this year. During the nine months ended September 30 the company had an increase of $2,469,031 or 57.4 percent in revenue. Revenue for the nine months ended September 30, 2004 totaled $6,767,956 and net loss was reduced to $405,616.”

Marcus added, “The company is moving steadily in the right direction, the influx of capital, reductions in debt, infrastructure and capital improvements and cost cutting efficiencies are helping our P&L, cash flow and balance sheets to continue to show improvement.”


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STOCKS...  Selected Friday closing quotes...

Source: CBSMarketWatch.com

  Friday One Week
Earlier
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)46.4044.99
Canadian National (CNI)58.8857.33
Canadian Pacific (CP) 32.0532.05
CSX (CSX)38.3837.99
Florida East Coast (FLA)43.8941.97
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)27.4328.48
Kansas City Southern (KSU)17.4816.64
Norfolk Southern (NSC)35.8634.35
Providence & Worcester (PWX)12.2512.30
Union Pacific (UNP)63.8163.41


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Railroads continue solid traffic gains

U.S. railroads originated 1,343,632 carloads of freight in November 2004, up 2.6 percent (33,478 carloads) over November 2003, and an additional 889,978 trailers and containers, up 12.2 percent (96,733 units) over November 2003, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported Thursday.

Coal paced the November traffic increase, with carloads originated up 5.2 percent (26,680 carloads) to 538,164 – equal to 40 percent of total U.S. rail carloads for the month. Other commodities showing traffic gains in November included metallic ores (up 13.3 percent, or 6,888, to 58,720 carloads); crushed stone and gravel (up 8.3 percent, or 6,458, to 83,965 carloads); and metals and metal products (up 8.0 percent, or 3,886, to 52,674 carloads). Carloads of petroleum products rose 8.0 percent (1,701 carloads) to 22,854 carloads in November.

Commodities showing traffic decreases in November included motor vehicles and equipment (down 9.9 percent, or 9,597, to 87,170 carloads); grain (down 4.9 percent, or 4,671, to 90,667 carloads); and farm products excluding grain (down 19.2 percent, or 1,662, to 6,978 carloads). Carloadings of chemicals in November were down 0.7 percent (848) to 114,613 carloads.

For the first 11 months of 2004, total U.S. rail carloadings of 15,834,519 were up 2.9 percent (443,751 carloads) over last year. Carload increases during this period were paced by coal (up 3.1 percent, or 186,807, to 6,238,043 carloads); chemicals (up 4.4 percent, or 59,004, to 1,413,739 carloads); and metals and metal products (up 8.9 percent, or 52,960, to 646,424 carloads). Carloads of waste and scrap material — predominantly scrap metal (much of it bound for steel-making minimills) and waste paper – were up 8.9 percent (40,125) to 489,121 carloads. Carloads of motor vehicles and equipment were down 3.7 percent (42,103) through November to 1,083,135 carloads.

Of the 19 major commodity categories tracked by the AAR, 13 saw carload gains in 2004 through November compared with 2003 through November.

U.S. intermodal traffic in 2004 through November totaled 9,964,115 trailers and containers, up 9.9 percent (894,951 units) over 2003. Three of the top four highest-volume intermodal weeks in history for U.S. railroads occurred in November 2004.

Total volume through the first 47 weeks of 2004 was estimated at 1.458 trillion ton-miles, up 5.1 percent from a year ago.

“From now through the end of the year, every intermodal container or trailer carried on a U.S. railroad will be a record breaker, since total U.S. intermodal traffic through November already exceeds the previous annual record set last year,” noted AAR Vice President Craig F. Rockey. “That kind of success, in tandem with the solid growth we’re seeing in carload traffic, cannot occur unless railroads are doing an awful lot of things right.”

Canadian rail carload traffic (which includes the U.S. operations of Canadian railroads) was up 2.3 percent (6,367 carloads) in November 2004 to 280,771 units, thanks largely to solid increases in carloads of grain (40,180 carloads, up 7.7 percent, or 2,860 carloads, over November 2003) and metallic ores (11,829 carloads, up 26.0 percent, or 2,442 carloads, over November 2003). Carloads of chemicals in Canada were up 3.0 percent (1,726) to 59,036 carloads. Canadian intermodal traffic totaled 173,338 trailers and containers in November 2004, down 0.8 percent (1,347 units) from November 2003.

For the first 11 months of 2004, Canadian carload traffic totaled 3,167,671 units, up 7.1 percent (209,132 carloads), while Canadian intermodal traffic was up 0.2 percent (4,255 units) to 1,979,213 trailers and containers.

Carloads originated on Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM), a major Mexican railroad, were up 8.8 percent (2,922 carloads) in November 2004 to 36,134 carloads, while intermodal originations of 17,195 units were up 23.9 percent (3,320 trailers and containers). For the first 11 months of 2004, TFM carloadings of 410,604 units were up 3.6 percent (14,394 carloads), while intermodal traffic rose 8.4 percent (13,870 units) to 178,556 trailers and containers.

For just the week ended November 27, which included the Thanksgiving holiday, the AAR reported the following totals for U.S. railroads: 299,994 carloads, up 4.8 percent (13,698 carloads) from the corresponding week in 2003, with loadings up 5.1 percent in the East and up 4.5 percent in the West; intermodal volume of 183,670 trailers and containers, up 13.0 percent (21,126 units); and total volume of an estimated 28.1 billion ton-miles, up 5.2 percent from the equivalent week last year.

For Canadian railroads during the week ended November 27, the AAR reported volume of 68,882 carloads, up 4.7 percent (3,085 carloads) from last year; and 42,817 trailers and containers, up 0.6 percent (260 units) from the corresponding week in 2003.

Combined cumulative rail volume for the first 47 weeks of 2004 on 15 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads totaled 19,002,190 carloads, up 3.6 percent (652,883 carloads) from last year, and 11,943,328 trailers and containers, up 8.1 percent (899,206 units) from 2003’s first 47 weeks.

The AAR is online at www.aar.org.


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

Britain’s last builder cutting 750 jobs

The United Kingdom’s last remaining train builder is axing up to 750 jobs at two factories after a “significant change” in the global rail market outlook.

The Birmingham Post of Birmingham, England reported on December 2 Bombardier said 510 permanent and 239 non-permanent jobs faced being cut, mainly at Derby and Ilford in Essex.

Around 560 jobs will be cut in Derby, the company’s main site, and 165 in Ilford, where maintenance work is carried out, as well as a handful elsewhere.

It is the second major blow to the sector this year - train- making at the Alstom plant in Birmingham ended last month - and produced anger from the unions The Rail Maritime and Transport union called for Government action to prevent the ‘death’ of British train-making.

General secretary Bob Crow said, “It is nothing short of insane to see British workers’ train-building skills thrown down the drain while contracts for new trains for the Northern and Kent rail franchises are being exported to China and Japan.”

The Derby plant, where employment is already being cut back to around 2,000, is currently making Turbostar and Electrostar trains for train companies including ScotRail, South Eastern and Southern Trains.

The first of the new cutbacks will happen after next April.

Tony Tinley, regional officer of Amicus, said, “The country that invented the train will soon have no capacity to build trains for its own tracks unless there is urgent action.”


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OFF THE MAIN LINE...  Off the main line...

Commonality: Virginian, New Haven

It was 49 years ago when the Virginian Railway Co. ordered a dozen 3,300-hp rectifier locomotives from the General Electric to replace its original split-phase locomotives and, together with the four 6,800 hp motor generator locomotives built in 1948, they would handle all traffic on the railroad’s 134-mile electrified section over mountainous territory.

Functional in design, the engines were similar in engineering detail to 10 rectifier locomotives delivered to the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad between Grand Central Station and New Haven, Conn. In general appearance, they resembled the hood-type diesel-electric switcher with the cab located near the front end and using the diesel’s mass-produced GE-752 traction motors.

The 197-ton units, with two 3-axle trucks, could operate singly or MUed with pantographs collecting 11,000 volt, 25-cycle single-phase DC current and forwarding it through the main transformer to 12 main rectifier tubes, then to 6 traction motors. Dynamic braking will be provided.

– From ERA HEADLIGHTS, October 1955, via Dennis M. Linsky, Brooklyn.


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EDITORIAL...  Editorial...

Integrity vs. the Bullyboys

It seems that Oklahoma Rep. Ernest J. Istook (R-Okla.) is out to show that, although President George Bush has called for the two major political parties to work more closely together in Congress, that need not apply to fellow Republicans.

Last week Istook, Chairman of the Transportation Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, stripped Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) of his prized earmarks because he signed a letter seeking broader support for Amtrak. He also stripped away projects for several other solons – without telling them he had done so (D:F-November 29).

Leaving aside for the moment Istook’s erroneous comments about Amtrak, used to justify his vindictiveness, what are we to make of a political party whose leadership –and Istook is in a leadership position – has problems with freedom of speech?

If the GOP would like to convince people outside the hard-core Democrat ring that it is comprised of bullyboys and intolerant, ignorant ideologues, Istook’s behavior towards Simmons is one sure-fire way to do it.

The President has won a solid re-election victory, and deserves to enjoy its afterglow, but just as the anti-terrorism law will need his active engagement to be resurrected and passed, so too does his party; or at least some of its members need some guidance on fair play. After all, that used to be what Americans were always noted for.


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WE GET LETTERS...  We get letters...

Dear Editor:

The IG report on Amtrak (D:F, November 29) does highlight the tough choices that may have to be made given limited capital and operating assistance that is available, however, in criticizing the Superliner repairs it gives no credit to the fact that David Gunn is trying to manage Amtrak as a business.

Even in “normal business,” companies are often “capital constrained,” and must choose between capital investment that is needed to preserve a supporting asset in operation for the long run, and capital investment to preserve or add revenue-generating capacity.

That certain NEC bridges need to be replaced is a fact, but their failure and removal from service is at some point in the future (2, 5, 10 years or more?). Repairing them now will preserve future revenue streams.

As for the Superliners, their repair does one of two things: preserve an existing revenue stream that can be lost due to expected equipment fallout, or to add to the revenue stream by adding capacity. While not party to actual average revenues, if one assumes a 50 percent load factor (22 passengers) generating $200 per day per person in revenue, each Superliner sleeper can generate $4,400 per day in total revenue.

Over, say, 340 operating days per year, that’s nearly $1.5 million. If you then multiply that by 5 or 6, the total number of transcontinental sets “in motion,” you see the potential revenue impact of repairs to maintain or add one “car line” on a train. Excluding running repairs and operating costs, it is likely that a Superliner repair pays for itself in a year or less.

The IG is correct that Congress should tell Amtrak what it is to do, and then provide the requisite funding, but given that no part of the Amtrak system “makes money” in the conventional business sense, it is purely political for the IG to single one investment out over another in the way this one is singled out.

As for politics, it should now be abundantly clear to our Republican friends, those who campaigned for “term limits” and changing the way the Democrats used to run Washington, to take action and remove Congressman Istook from his position as committee chair. Perhaps now that he has damaged his own party using “old style politics,” someone will take action to replace this punitive, narrow-minded and highway obsessed individual with someone who is more open minded and progressive.

Jim Langston
Clearwater, Fla.


Dear Editor:

The rosy comments by Jennifer Dorn in the November 29 issue about the new American dream have somewhat of a hollow ring to me.

My wife and I moved to a close-in suburb of Philadelphia to take advantage of the proximity of transit and walking. Now, due to the repeated failure of the Pennsylvania state legislature to create dedicated funding sources for the state’s transit systems, Philadelphia’s SEPTA is threatening a 25 percent fare hike, reduced weekday service, and elimination of every commuter train, bus, trolley, and subway run on weekends, and after 8:00 p.m. on weeknights, beginning in January.

SEPTA is the sixth largest transit agency in the country and carries a million weekday trips, plus 600,000 weekend trips. A weekend shutdown would kill the region’s economy as devastatingly as any terrorist attack.

You don’t need to publish this letter, but I believe this is an issue that deserves a broader audience, if only as a warning not to take anything for granted.

Please look at www.dvarp.org, www.septa.org, or www.savetransit.org for SEPTA details.

Andrew Koniers
Jenkintown, Penn.


Dear Editor:

On November 24, the New York City Transit Authority formally proposed to ban all unauthorized photography in the subway system, except for press photographers with credentials from the New York City police.

A public comment period has now begun, and will run through January 8. I have not heard of any public hearings being planned.

They first proposed this ban (unofficially) back in May. After much negative reaction, in September they announced that they would try to find a way to restrict photography only in “sensitive areas.” Now they have decided to go with a complete ban after all.


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EDITOR NOTES...  Editor’s notes...

No. 50 gets ‘Keystone Cops’ kinds of delays

Here’s a yarn that comes to us via e-mail from John Sita of New Orleans. He tells us “This one is choice – and a true classic.”

It seems eastbound train No. 50, the Cardinal of November 23, was delayed at South Shore, Ohio on CSX, milepost CA548.1 on the Cincinnati Subdivision, C&O Division. Locomotive 77 shut down with a rectifier problem.

The crew spoke to Amtrak’s Consolidated National Operations Center in Delaware and Washington Mechanical. The crew was able to restart the unit after pulling the MU cables ahead of some private cars added at Cincinnati and resetting several additional faults.

After head-end power was established in “standby” and a freight unit off a coal train, N569, was added, the train was able to proceed eastward.

Total delay without head-end power was approximately one hour.

Meanwhile, Amtrak P-42 locomotive No. 24 was dispatched from Washington on No. 51 of November 24 in the trailing position to drop enroute for No. 50 to pick up at Clifton Forge and drop the freight unit.

At Russell Yard, a CSX electrician boarded the Amtrak unit and was able to reset all of the faults and recycle the main computer. The freight unit was cut at Russell and No. 50 continued eastward under Amtrak locomotive 77 power – but the train was further was delayed at White Sulphur Springs because the 77 shut down again.

Meanwhile, westward No. 51 had dropped engine 24 at Charlottesville after 77 was reset at Russell.

When No. 50 developed problems at White Sulphur Springs, the engine was added back to No. 51 and was cut off at Clifton Forge, then added to No. 50.

Two buses were ordered for Indianapolis to represent an on-time train 51 to Chicago. Delays to No. 50 were 2 hours at South Shore, 45 minutes at White Sulphur Springs, and four hours at Clifton Forge.

Train 51 lost 3 hours and 13 minutes at Charlottesville, Va., and another half-hour at Clifton Forge.


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End Notes...

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the crew at leoking@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write.

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

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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 rail travel sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives – state DOTs, legislators, governor’s offices, and transportation professionals – as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists.

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


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