Destination:Freedom Newsletter
Destination:Freedom
The Newsletter of the National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Vol. 3 No. 50, December 9, 2002
Copyright © 2002, NCI, Inc.
President and CEO - Jim RePass
Publisher - James Furlong
Editor - Leo King

A weekly North American rail and transit update


We wish you and yours a happy holiday, and a joyous new year. Our last issue of the year will be published on December 23. We will begin our fourth year (where does the time go!) on January 6, 2003.

FEC colors headed for museum

NCI: Leo King

Bright colors returned to Florida last week after a long absence. The story begins in “Power lines.”

 

Rail is on McCain’s,
other solons’ minds

Compiled from press reports

U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) last week briefed officials about the state of the region’s water and homeland security, including railroad protection.

The Arizona Daily Sun reported McCain said eventually rail would be the “threat du jour” and that, eventually, the government would have to address the vulnerability of the country’s rail system. He also commented on Amtrak, which has been at risk of losing federal subsidies for years, saying a new solution might put the burden of funding a transcontinental Amtrak line on the states through which the line passes.

“It’s hard to make an argument for a Miami-to-California line when you’re subsidizing at $300 per passenger,” McCain said. “We’re probably going to be asking states to contribute if they want the service through the state.”

McCain added, “We’ll probably see legislation that provides a lot of what the Northeast wants, but not all. There are very powerful supporters there, and rail service in the Northeast is finally becoming viable.”

On December 3, U.S. Rep. William Lipinski (D-Ill.) said he would introduce legislation to raise federal gasoline taxes by up to $15 billion to pay for transportation improvements, including creation of a special fund to spur modernization of the freight railroad industry.

Lipinski said users of highways, Amtrak and mass transit would benefit from the increased funding levels, wrote the Chicago Tribune, but his concept is focused on directing $5 billion annually into a proposed railroad trust fund.

The trust fund would be used to expand the capacity of freight railroads, relieve gridlock and improve the quality of life in communities whose residents are affected by freight trains blocking grade crossings and causing noise and air pollution while idling for hours.

The Blue Island area in Chicago is among the worst in the U.S.

”We have an aviation trust fund, we have a highway trust fund. I want to create a railroad trust fund,” Lipinski told the Tribune’s editorial board. He said he will introduce a bill in the House next month to fund his proposal.

The freight railroad industry has long opposed the idea of a railroad trust fund, even though the railroads’ investment in infrastructure has lagged far behind the growth in freight traffic, which is expected to almost double over the next 20 years. Officials representing the industry say they fear a railroad trust fund would create a new layer of bureaucracy and take away some control over their operations.

At the heart of Lipinski’s plan is a five cents a gallon increase in the federal gasoline tax (currently about 18 cents a gallon), coupled with an additional nickel a gallon increase based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. The gas tax hike would generate $10 billion to $15 billion a year, Lipinski said, including $1.7 billion he has earmarked for the railroad trust fund.

Lipinski acknowledged his proposed tax hikes will face opposition around the country and perhaps in Chicago, where motorists pay one of the highest gas taxes in the nation but Chicago is the only city in the U.S. served by all six of the largest freight railroads. Lipinski said the trust fund would stimulate the state economy by improving efficiencies for businesses that ship products by rail.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley supports the Lipinski plan.

“The freight rail system in this country is antiquated. It takes as long to get freight trains through Chicago as it does for the trains to get here from the West Coast,” said Chicago Transportation Commissioner Miguel d’Escoto.

“The solution is not to put triple-long trucks on the highways.”

Lobbyists for the freight railroads are pushing for an end to a 4.3 cent per gallon tax on diesel fuel that the railroads pay. The money, generating $170 million annually, goes into the government’s general revenue fund.

Lipinski is seeking to retain the diesel tax and transfer the money into the railroad trust fund. To generate the $5 billion a year for the railroad trust fund, his plan also calls for an array of new taxes and fees.

On the same day, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that region has lots riding on the future of Amtrak, but the passenger railroad can survive only if Congress gives it a green light for improvements.

That was the message from U.S. Rep. Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.) to about 75 members of the Richmond Friends of Rail, a business-backed advocacy group trying to upgrade local rail service.

Cantor said, “Development of rail means jobs; rail means making Richmond a better and more attractive place to live,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The 6 Main Street Station is expected to reopen by spring after a $48.2 million renovation.

Other efforts seek faster rail links for the Southeast, with Richmond playing a key role in a regional transportation network. Backers hope better rail service can provide an alternative to car and air travel.

The state has spent millions of dollars in recent years to replace tracks and interlockings in Northern Virginia and is working on making improvements in the Richmond area, yet service provider Amtrak “has been held hostage” by wrangling in Congress, Cantor said.

The solon helped secure $250,000 in federal transportation funds for improving local railroad grade crossings this year and also helped start a Virginia-North Carolina High Speed Rail Commission.

Two bills are pending in the House and Senate to finance Amtrak in fiscal year 2003, but neither measure addresses the railroad’s deeper need for help in maintaining thousands of miles of track, bridges and stations, Cantor said.

Amtrak has never made a profit, and that’s not likely to happen, Cantor said, unless Congress comes up with a way to finance a structural upgrade of Amtrak.

Cantor noted that during the past 30 years Congress has appropriated $750 billion for highway construction and billions more for airports.

Amtrak received $11 billion for improvements during that time, he said. “We have to change that,” Cantor said. “This country has to come to grips with its view of where rail fits in the pecking order.”

Congress should find a way to fix decaying rail infrastructure, and “let Amtrak focus on service,” Cantor said.

For its part, Amtrak needs to prove to Congress that it can get its financial house in order.

“It’s all about accountability,” Cantor said.

Speaking before key local business and government leaders, Cantor urged the Friends of Rail to keep lobbying Congress. By law, Amtrak can’t lobby on its own behalf.

S. Buford Scott, chairman of Scott & Stringfellow Inc.,a brokerage and investment banking firm, said after the meeting, “Groups like Friends of Rail become much more important because they’re the only ones that can lobby their congressmen.”

James Dunn, president of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, said Richmond is part of a regional business coalition pushing for high-speed rail service that would link the Southeast’s major cities.

Cantor said such regional alliances are vital for achieving better rail service in states such as Virginia and North Carolina, which have devoted considerable time and money to the cause.

Asked when central Virginians are likely to see faster trains, Cantor said, ”I hate even to guess, because so much has to do with making physical improvements along the way.”


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Crosbie takes Amtrak operations role
as two top managers resign

William L. Crosbie is Amtrak’s new senior vice-president for operations, but as he takes over his new job, the carrier’s Eastern and Western Region general managers were leaving.

Crosbie served as general superintendent of subway transportation at the Toronto Transit Commission from July 1998 to January 2001. TTC is Canada’s largest transit agency.

Crosbie began his career in transportation with the C.P. Rail System where he worked in signals and communications. During his tenure, he worked extensively on the planning and production of signal and communication circuit designs for the railroad in Canada and the eastern United States.

He will lead Amtrak’s operations team that includes 20,000 employees and supports Amtrak’s rail service through 46 states. He replaces Stan Bagley, who left last summer.

In a message to employees, Amtrak President David Gunn wrote, “Bill comes to us with great technical knowledge and management experience and we are very fortunate to get him. He’s been around railroads and transit systems most of his career. We worked together in Toronto.”

Gunn also stated the carrier’s Western Region general manager left on December 6.

“A couple of weeks ago, Bill Duggan announced his decision to retire from Amtrak, after close to 29 years of terrific service, to take a senior position with New Jersey Transit. Bill began his Amtrak career in 1974 and worked in operations most of that time. He has held management posts in Washington, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles.”

Gunn added, “I also learned yesterday of Eastern Region General Manager Lynn Bowersox’s decision to resign this month to pursue other opportunities. I’m sure there will be many, as her reputation for dedication, hard work and smart thinking is well known inside and outside of Amtrak.”

Bowersox joined Amtrak in 1998 as senior director of Communications for the Northeast Corridor and soon became acting NEC President.

Gunn told his general superintendents of the various divisions, “I’ve determined that the superintendents who reported to Bill and Lynn will now report directly to Operations Vice-President Ed Walker.”


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Nober joins STB; will become chair

Surface Transportation Board Chair Linda J. Morgan formally swore in Roger Nober as its newest member on December 2.

The Senate confirmed Nober on November 14, and he is to be designated Chairman shortly.

Nober is a Maryland Republican who was nominated by President Bush last July. His term will expire December 31, 2005.

Nober formerly was counselor to the Deputy Secretary of USDOT Michael P. Jackson. He also advised DOT Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.

He also is a former attorney for several House committees. From 1997-2001, he served as Chief Counsel for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the House Subcommittee on Surface Transportation of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (1995-97), and as Minority Counsel to the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation of the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation (1993-94).

Earlier, he was a lawyer working in New York City. He earned his J.D. in 1989 from Harvard Law School after receiving his B.A. degree in 1986 from Haverford College.


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Jackson, Miss., depot construction delayed

Construction of Jackson, Mississippi’s downtown Union Station Depot will not be completed until next spring, officials said December 2. Officials had hoped to finish the project by year’s end, according to The Associated Press.

The $19 million renovation that began in 2001 will turn the facility into a hub of rail and bus service. It will also feature a restaurant.

Changes in contracts, particularly the addition of Greyhound Bus Line facilities, and additional smaller changes on site have pushed the completion back to April, said Philip Barnes, acting manager of building and grounds.

“It’s been an inconvenience for the passengers because a lot of times there’s not enough ample space for everyone to be comfortable,” said Amtrak ticket agent Ruffin Wyatt, who has worked out of a trailer adjacent to the site for two years, “but the overall picture is it’s for a good reason, it’s for a good cause.”

The refurbished depot will consolidate rail, bus and taxi service in Jackson. Plans also include a local bus transfer station, trolley and taxi stands.


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Man rescues Amtrak F-40 engine;
‘angel’ comes forward to help out

Amtrak 231, an F-40PH

2 Photos - Chris Fussell

Before being mothballed in Beech Grove, Ind., Amtrak F-40PH No. 231 was a frequent West Coast traveler.
Its number is F-40PHR No. 231, and an Oregon man is trying to rescue the power plant before its number becomes ‘zero.” Amtrak’s numbers of working F-40s are dwindling.

Chris Fussell of Portland, Ore., started his preservation project more than a year ago. He said efforts are underway to preserve the locomotive for the local Northwest Rail Museum.

“Starting last year, we worked on generating contacts, making special trips out to Amtrak’s facilities to assess the possibility of obtaining the 231. Then, we received word on November 19 that Amtrak would let the F-40 go, but at a price of $20,000.”

Fussell said time was really short – but an “angel” came to the rescue.

“We also had a deadline – December 5 – to pony up the cash, or the 231 goes with another deal being finalized in mid-December for possible scrap.”

It was almost too late.

The December 5 deadline arrived, and Fussell said, “We’ve raised a pledge of over $4,000 from at least 20 persons in six days That is certainly encouraging news for all of us involved in the project, and that includes every contributor.”

Great news came, however, in a phone call “from a nice gentleman on the East Coast, who made an offer to loan the $20,000 at zero percent interest. The purpose of the loan,” he said, “would allow the project to meet its December 5 deadline, and it did.”

Fussell added the loan could be repaid within one year “through contributions made to the project.” So, he is accepting donations to pay off the loan.

“I gave Amtrak the notice, and received the sales order that details the purchase of locomotive,” but before he signs the document, he said, “I have a responsibility to ensure the remainder of the acquisition project is free of any obstacles that may terminate the efforts. We got some bad news from BNSF, which are no longer able to provide donated tax-501(c) transportation due to funding.” He said he an estimated cost of the move “would range between $3,000 and $4,500 for transport from Chicago to Portland.”

231 stops in Boston in its latter years

Atop No 231

He also pointed out “The contract states that the new owner is responsible for all inspections and parts for the locomotive. This is generally the wheels, roller bearings, air hoses – just good enough for transport in a freight consist. I’m no qualified mechanic, otherwise I’d fly out to Beech Grove myself.”

The FRA requires a qualified mechanic to sign off equipment prior movement, and Amtrak is selling the engine “as-is, where-is. I was informed that the 231 is just the way it was from when I checked it last July, but who knows – maybe a brake valve part was robbed.”

Since transportation options dissolved, he is looking into other alternatives, including a possible move by Union Pacific, running the engine dead-in-tow on the Empire Builder, or transporting on a flat-bed truck.

He now has some new deadlines to meet.

Contract signature – December 14, 2003.

Removing engine by January 18 (subject to late a fee of $75 per day, or $2,250 monthly).

Getting a qualified mechanic to inspect locomotive to ensure transportation of unit is FRA approved, and that all parts are there as they should be (note from Amtrak indicates everything should be.)

Fussell said transportation costs, by rail or truck are tax-deductible through a donation to the Northwest Rail Museum (501(c) non-profit status).

“As for pledges,” Fussell said, “I have been keeping track of each one e-mailed to me (
chris@portlandtransit.org). I won’t start actually accepting them until the contract is signed, when ensured a volunteer is willing to make the effort of inspecting the locomotive, and when transportation options become available. For now, those are our top priorities.”

He wrote an essay and posted it on a web site, http://www.portlandtransit.org/essay.html, in which he sated, “I’m making a last chance effort on the internet, to seek ideas and options.…”

He noted No. 231 was “the only one that stuck around,” in the Portland area.

“Sure, I saw Nos. 281, 340, 353, 369 – but look what happened to them. The 281 had a bad motor. 340 was gutted. 353 mowed down a house, and 369 just gave up.”

He pointed out “No. 231 really stuck it out on the West Coast, particularly on the Surfliners, Cascades corridor, and the Coast Starlight. Every time I saw it, or rode behind it, I always said to myself that one day, I was going to try to save this masterpiece of Amtrak.”

In November 2001, the 231, and many other F-40s, were recalled to Beech Grove, ending their heavy presence at Amtrak. A few lingered, some went to new owners, the rest rusted away in Indiana.

Last July, he traveled to Beech Grove “via Empire Builder and Cardinal, to meet with some Amtrak managers. We inspected the No. 231, and determined it was still in good shape.”

He wrote a proposal to Amtrak, “detailing why the No. 231 should be preserved, and seeking assistance from Amtrak.”

The principal reason was that the engine still ran.

“It had a heavy presence on the West Coast, so should be preserved on the West Coast. Another was the well-known nose decal ‘Operation Lifesaver’ with a safety message of ‘Look, Listen, Live.”

Fussell said he consulted several people. They agreed: it should be donated to the Northwest Rail Museum.

“Doyle McCormack assured there is a home for it at the Brooklyn Roundhouse in Portland for restoration and maintenance.”

He said he has “A team ready to get to work on it, which includes me, some folks from around town, and even as far as Southern California. I also have word from BNSF and UP for possible transportation at no cost.”

In late November he “received word from Amtrak that they will let the F-40 go, but at a price of $20,000. I was given a deadline, Thursday, December 5, to pony up the cash, or the F-40 goes to scrap. I tried to get more time, but the deal is about to be finalized in mid-December.”

He even met with bankers with written proposals of possibly getting a grant (which is tax-deductible) at the last-minute effort.

“No luck with the banks, but I did meet with a rail buff in the Portland U.S. Bancorp Tower who gave me a list of foundations that are likely to assist. The problem is, most of the foundations meet every two months.”

He said he tried to put a notice in the local newspaper about obtaining the locomotive for a local cause, a museum. That didn’t work, because of the last-minute efforts that did not meet their deadline.

He said he would like to get a donation of $20,000, or $10,000 from two persons, to buy the locomotive. The donation(s) would be made to Northwest Rail Museum, and it is tax deductible.

Fussell’s e-mail address is chris@portlandtransit.org

It may be possible to get a three-month extension from Amtrak, but not without some cash on hand.

Another option, he said, is “if the pledges we receive reach $20,000 from individuals, we can purchase the locomotive. That’s $1 from 20,000 persons, $20 from 1,000 persons, or $100 from 200 persons.

Chris Fussell’s yarn is further detailed at http://www.portlandtransit.org/f40phr231.html


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Spacewalker frees stalled space ‘train’

NASA got a scare on November 30 when a $190 million trolley car needed to finish construction of the International Space Station stalled on the tracks before it could complete its inaugural 55-foot run.

A spacewalking astronaut was sent to investigate and discovered the trolley was hung up on an antenna that was still in its cradled, pre-launch position, Reuters reported. Astronaut John Herrington grabbed a power tool and deployed the antenna so that it no longer rubbed against a cable reel on the railcar.

“Okay, I’ve freed the antenna,” said Herrington.

“Excellent words. We love to hear them,” said Mission Control.

Almost six hours after it first halted, the trolley completed the remaining 10 feet of its journey.

The trolley runs along a mini-railroad that is part of a lengthy truss segment under construction on the space station. Its primary task is to move the station’s six-story robot arm from one work site to another.

The two-ton “mobile transporter” came to an abrupt halt about 10 minutes into its run. An attempt to restart it through computer commands did not work.

It was the first operational use of the trolley, which is critical to the remainder of the space station’s construction schedule.

This was the first glitch in the mission since Endeavour arrived at the station five days earlier. The two spacewalkers, Herrington and Michael Lopez-Alegria, were still in their airlock at the time. Their departure was delayed when Lopez-Alegria reported discomfort in the heel of one of his boots, a complaint made before by spacewalkers using the same type of 600-pound spacesuits, designed for work outside in the vacuum and cold of space.

NASA told Endeavour pilot Paul Lockhart to cut away some material from inside both astronauts’ boots to ensure their six-hour spacewalk was comfortable.


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COMMUTER LINES...

Connex may run MBTA commuter lines

A Boston-based consortium that includes a former Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) general manager has been chosen by current MBTA boss to run the region’s commuter rail service.

The T’s General Manager, Michael H. Mulhern, will ask the MBTA board to award a $1.07 billion, five-year contract to the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. to operate the nation’s fifth-largest commuter rail operation, starting July 1, according to the Boston Globe of December 6.

If its bid is accepted, the new commuter railroad, made up of European rail powerhouse Connex, Canada’s Bombardier of North America, and a Boston transportation consulting firm headed by former MBTA general manager James F. O’Leary, would replace Amtrak as commuter rail operator. Amtrak declined to rebid on the lucrative contract last summer citing new and onerous requirements.

Boston’s commuter rail network, with 146,000 riders per weekday, is the nation’s fifth largest behind the Long Island Rail Road, New York’s Metro-North Railroad, New Jersey Transit, and Chicago’s Metra, according to Jane’s World Railways. Boston is also Amtrak’s largest and most profitable commuter-rail operation.

“By choosing the proposal that offered the lowest price and earned the highest technical evaluation, [Mulhern] is confident this recommendation will serve both to contain costs and improve the quality of service for years to come,” said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo. “He wouldn’t bring this recommendation to the board if he felt otherwise.”

Running the region’s commuter rail system would give Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad the chance to prove itself a worthy rail operator to succeed Amtrak.

“MBCR is very pleased to learn that its bid has been placed on the MBTA board agenda for next week,” said spokeswoman Tara Frier. “However, it’s premature to comment further until there is a final decision.”

Guilford Transportation Systems, Inc. officials (formerly Boston & Maine), said December 5 they were disappointed that Mulhern did not choose them, but they applauded the T for a fair and comprehensive bid process.

A third bidder, TransitAmerica, was disqualified for submitting an incomplete bid. Officials also said the selection process was equitable.

The MassBay conglomerate had emerged as the front-runner because of its rail operation experience, deep pockets, and worldwide clout.

Under the contract, MassBay would receive an average of $214.4 million annually from the T over five years, plus another $15 million under a separate contract for “mobilization services,” making the total cost of the contract $1.087 billion.

T officials said the one-time $15 million payment will be used to pay for the transition from Amtrak to MassBay. It includes purchase of support and maintenance vehicles, cost of a 100-person-plus transition team, inspections of all track and infrastructure, and setting up and meeting payroll for 1,700 employees when the changeover occurs on July 1.

T officials say the new contract will yield an estimated $50 million in savings over five years.

The cost of the new pact includes operating the planned Greenbush service on the South Shore and other costs Amtrak never had to pay for, Pesaturo said.

Other T officials said the increased price probably includes a 15 percent to 20 percent pay raise for current commuter rail workers, something rail unions had called for.

The new contract also includes financial penalties for poor service and financial incentives for accurate fare collection and for exceeding performance levels, he said.

Amtrak dropped out of the bidding process in July, saying the terms of the new contract would prohibit it from turning a profit.

Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad bid $1,072,194,212 on the contract while Boston and Maine Corp. bid $2.02 billion. It could not be determined why there was such a large financial discrepancy between the two bids. T officials refused to provide or discuss details of either proposal.

Many rail analysts say the new contract could be a key first step in bringing privatized rail services to the United States.

The pending move also marks the beginning of the end of Amtrak’s often-strained relationship with the MBTA.

A commuter rail passenger died of a heart attack this year after the Amtrak crew delayed getting him immediate medical help while making two scheduled station stops – but most likely those same Amtrak commuter lines crews will be the crews operating the new entity; they simply will have a new employer.

Mulhern told a legislative committee this week that the quality of service offered by Amtrak has recently begun to “drop off.”

Pending the award of the contract, legislators and T officials have said the focus will shift to the transition to the private carrier.

One of the most stubborn issues in the transition will most likely be over control of a section of the Attleboro rail line that stretches from Boston to the Rhode Island border. As it now stands, Amtrak dispatches all trains from South Station enroute to New York on the so-called “Southwest Corridor” and the mainline to the Rhode Island state line, Providence and New Haven, Conn., where Metro-North takes over. M-N runs the Amtrak trains as far as New Rochelle, N.Y. where they make a left turn onto “the branch,” and the Hell Gate line to Penn Station, New York City.

Also being considered is who will make the twice-weekly track inspections, and maintain communications and signals, especially at interlockings. There are 13 interlockings between South Station and the state line.

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black in Washington told D:F on Friday the railroad does not yet know the answers to many questions that have arisen with the coming changes, including who will do the dispatching from South Station’s fifth floor, or if the T, Amtrak or the new entity will dispatch the trains, at least as far as the 38-mile distant state line.

“All your questions are good ones, but most of them have not yet been resolved. Dispatching, for example: the issue of control of the “Attleboro Line” remains in negotiation between the T and Amtrak. As for transfer of jobs, they depend to large degree on the outcome of the Attleboro Line issue.”

Black said “Amtrak is working closely with the T to resolve these and many other transitional issues, including – but by no means limited to – disposition of motor vehicles, transfer of employees (and their benefits), and disposition of outside contracts (for materials,” for example.


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‘Extra’ gives Connecticut solons
a notion of commuter rail idea

The crowd had grown a little restless when the special Connecticut DOT train finally started moving again.

“We’re moving back onto a double-track section. No waiting here,” said Justin Fox, a transportation consultant working on a feasibility study for commuter rail service between New Haven and Springfield, Mass.

“We’re approaching our maximum speed of 79 miles an hour,” wrote a Meriden Record-Journal reporter who was aboard ConnDOT coach 1001.

The snow-covered tobacco fields of Windsor filled the windows as the three-car train rattled north on December 4 along a section of the line on which Amtrak did not tear up one of the two tracks. Only scattered sections, totaling 24 miles of the 62-mile line, remain double-tracked. Perennially facing financial difficulties, Amtrak tore up the rest of the tracks in 1990 to save money on maintenance.

In addition to existing stops in Meriden, Wallingford and Berlin that are served by Amtrak long-distance trains, the proposed commuter service would include new stations in North Haven and Newington as well as others between Hartford and Springfield.

Tour-guide commentary over the public address system by Fox and others also discussed the potential of the line, including the possibility of building a “regional transportation center” in Wallingford.

Featuring a train station, regional transit bus terminal and expanded commuter parking lot, the center would be at the junction of U.S. Route 5, interchange 13 of Interstate 91, and Toelles Road, just north of the Wallingford-North Haven line. The railroad runs alongside Route 5 at that point, two miles south of the downtown Wallingford railroad station.

The study is just getting started, but it was clear that pointing out problems with the condition of the line was one purpose of the excursion train. It carried about 50 public officials and transportation experts who are involved with the study as well s media.

Commentators made announcements each time the train entered track sections with reduced speed limits required for urban and suburban grade crossings. While service could be started with the current travel time, planners are concerned that double tracking of the entire line may be needed to run more trains, according to Harry P. Harris, chief of the state DOT’s Bureau of Public Transportation.

Amtrak, with five trains per day in each direction, runs New Haven to Wallingford in 13 minutes, Wallingford to Meriden in seven minutes and Meriden to Hartford in 22 minutes. For New Haven to Springfield, the timetable calls for an average speed of 47 mph, including station stops.

To eliminate speed restrictions, the line would need state-of-the-art crossing signals and gates, which cost about $1.5 million for each street. Some crossings might need to be eliminated by building bridges or tunnels or by closing them, Harris said.

He suggested that significant improvements should be made before the first commuter train rolls:

“When you start a service with minimal investment, you get minimal ridership.... We can start a service on a shoestring, but will it be successful? In all probability, no.”

No official estimates have been made of the possible cost of getting the rail service started, but All Aboard!, a Hartford-based commuter rail advocacy group, said last spring that the cost could range from $5 million to $10 million for a minimal upgrade of existing facilities to as much as $250 million for an all-out modernization of the line.

The New Haven-Springfield commuter rail study, one of many planning projects under the umbrella of the Connecticut Transportation Strategies Board, is scheduled to be completed by late next year.

Riding aboard the special train were state Reps. James W. Abrams and Christopher G. Donovan, both Meriden Democrats and leading legislative advocates of the commuter rail proposal. Representing a district that includes Meriden’s poorest neighborhoods, Donovan sees commuter rail as more than a remedy for congested highways.

“For Meriden, it’s of particular importance because it’s a question of accessibility for people to travel to different places for employment, people who can’t afford cars or can’t drive.”

However, in addition to competing with an array of other mass transit spending ideas, the proposal would have to survive scrutiny in Hartford amid projections of a massive state budget deficit next year. With the legislature’s regular session due to start next month, Abrams has an argument ready.

“Several economic cycles will come and go before this is a reality, even in the best case. We don’t know what the budget situation will be. This is long term, just doing the further planning that would be needed will be a few years. We have to consider this in a long-term context,” he said.


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

 

Washingtonians to get new line to Dulles

The national’s capital is getting a new Metrorail line – to Dulles International Airport, with 11 stations in between.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) directors said November 21 the line would extend Metrorail through Tyson’s Corner, Va., to Dulles and eastern Loudoun County, Va.

The $3.14 billion route includes a rail yard site on Dulles Airport property, and storage tracks and a new yard connection to the existing West Falls Church Rail Yard.

Plans call for the rail extension to begin from the Orange Line near West Falls Church, travel through Tyson’s Corner, continue through Dulles Airport, and end near Ashburn in Loudoun County.

WMATA said the existing enhanced express bus service will be modified to incorporate elements of Bus Rapid Transit to satisfy the increasing travel demand in the Dulles Corridor until the start of revenue operations for the Metrorail alternative.

Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board will act on the plan during December, at which time the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will seek Federal Transit Administration approval to start preliminary engineering for the project and to advance the process to the final environmental impact statement.


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Phoenix prepares light rail starter line

Valley Metro Rail directors in Phoenix have taken two key actions that keep the authority on track to begin construction in late 2003 on the initial 20-mile starter segment of the Phoenix metropolitan area’s regional light rail system.

The board gave authorization to award a contract for final design and construction design services, and also has appointed an acting executive director for the Central Phoenix-East Valley Light Rail Transit Project.

The board’s approval gives project staff the ability to sign a contract of up to $66.65 million with a team led by Parsons Brinckerhoff, pending final contract negotiations.

The six-year contract is for engineering and architectural design of the light rail starter segment. This includes stations, track, light rail bridges, parking facilities, transit centers, street reconstruction, the maintenance and storage facility, and other system elements, as well as technical assistance with purchasing and testing light rail vehicles and other required equipment.

Wulf Grote, P.E., who has been the project director for the Central Phoenix-East Valley Light Rail Transit Project since 1998, was named acting executive director. In his new position, he will be responsible for managing the design, construction, and operation of the light rail system, including the 20-mile starter line connecting Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa, and any future extensions.


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Toronto opens first new subway line in 36 years

Sheppard Subway, the first new Toronto Transit Commission subway line since 1966, opened for business two days after ceremonies on November 22 at the Don Mills Station.

Ontario Transportation Minister Norm Sterling and other dignitaries officially opened the $933.9 (Cdn.) line.

The dignitaries traveled on the inaugural train along the full length of the route. TTC marked the official opening of the line when the train broke through a banner across the track at the Don Mills Station.

The four-mile route, which entered regular service on November 24, includes stations at Sheppard-Yonge, Bayview, Bessarion, Leslie, and Don Mills. The projected annual ridership is 15 million, of which one million are expected to be new TTC customers.


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Los Angeles summit seeks congestion solutions

Los Angeles County’s first-ever transportation summit wrapped up with a call for more state and federal funding for transportation improvements to combat the growing congestion that threatens the region’s quality of life and economic vitality. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored Mobility-21: LA County Moving Together.

Mobility-21 assembled a countywide group of elected officials, transportation providers, and business, labor, and community leaders on November 18 to develop practical solutions to the county’s transportation issues. The summit also was intended to foster a broad-based coalition that will seek significant increases in transportation funding in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

In addition to three general sessions, the summit included seven breakout sessions that produced a series of resolutions that were later adopted. The resolutions included endorsement of the state’s and the LACMTA’s principles for reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.


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Vancouver board okays vote on sales tax increase

C-TRAN directors in Vancouver, Wash., voted November 19 to place a sales tax proposal to support transit on the Clark County ballot in the next year or two. The current sales tax for transit, three-tenths of 1 percent, has been in effect since a countywide vote in 1980.

The 7-1 vote followed several months of research, calculations, and discussions showing that C-TRAN’s finances will be so depleted in several years that the only choice will be to cut service substantially or seek additional funding to remain at current service levels.

The passage of statewide Initiative 695 in 1999 meant that C-TRAN lost the matching state motor vehicle excise tax contribution, resulting in a $12 million revenue loss. Subsequently, C-TRAN cut or saved nearly $16 million in expenses over the last two years, and shored up the remaining loss by using reserve funds that had been set aside for capital facilities projects. That fund is expected to be exhausted in 2005, according to the board.


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Ruddell named Fort Worth transport chief

The Executive Committee of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority voted November 21 to recommend hiring Richard Ruddell, general manager of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority since 1989, as the T’s new president and executive director.

He will succeed John Bartosiewicz, who ended his 25 years as head of the T in December to join the corporate office of McDonald Transit Associates in Fort Worth as executive vice-president and COO.

McDonald Transit, the company that operates the T, is negotiating with Ruddell. He is expected to join the Fort Worth system before January 1.


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FREIGHT LINES...

CSX, Rail America lay off employees

CSXT, the parent company of Jacksonville’s CSX Transportation, laid off 67 workers in five different departments December 4 and announced that it wouldn’t fill 135 vacant positions. Rail America made a similar disclosure earlier last week, laying off 145 here and in Australia.

Forty of the laid-off CSX workers are in Jacksonville and the remainder throughout the company. The layoffs were done in accordance with the CSX business plan, not by seniority, the company said.

CSXT operates the third-largest railroad in the Unites States. The layoffs take place two months after the company reported higher third-quarter earnings but lower operating earnings at its railroad and intermodal divisions because of weak coal demand. It also came two weeks before Christmas.

The company delayed making the job cuts during the sluggish economy, CSX spokesman Adam Hollingsworth said.

“The economy continues to stall and we put measures in place to respond to that and we put off difficult people decisions as long as possible,” he said. “These are always difficult decisions to make, and there is never a good time to make them.”

John Bentley, spokesman for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers labor union, said the layoffs weren’t unexpected, but the timing was.

Norfolk Southern Corp. recently said it is laying off 81 employees; Union Pacific Corp., 17; Canadian National Ry., 1,100.

“It’s bad times, I guess,” Bentley said. “CSX isn’t the only one doing it.”

Shortline freight rail operator Rail America said it would be laying off some 145 people between now and year’s end in the U.S. and Australia. Australia’s drought is blamed for the layoffs in that country, and the U.S. weak economy here.

Rail America, Inc., headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., claims to be the world’s largest short line and regional railroad operator.

The carrier said the layoffs are intended “to reduce costs and increase future profitability in light of the prevailing soft domestic economy and reduced operating results in Australia due to the previously announced severe drought and weak grain harvest.”

A press release stated, “When completed by year-end 2002, the workforce reduction, which includes a number of personnel at both the corporate and operating levels” in both countries, “will total approximately 145 positions. RailAmerica had a total of approximately 2,800 employees worldwide prior to this reduction.”

Rail America said it “will take an after-tax charge of approximately $2 million in the fourth quarter of 2002.”

The carrier stated it would also be making other “operating and administrative expense savings and is in the process of implementing those by year-end. In 2003, the workforce and expense reductions are expected to result in pre-tax savings of over $10 million.”

RailAmerica chairman Gary O. Marino said, “Our Australian railroad, Freight Australia, has done a tremendous job bolstering revenues with new transportation contracts which will partially offset reduced grain revenues caused by the current 100-year drought.”

He also said, regarding American operations, “Despite the weaker economy, our North American rail operations have continued to provide strong carload and revenue growth this year. With our May 2002 financing we have lowered our interest expense by approximately $8 million per year. These measures have helped produce solid earnings for RailAmerica this year. However, we felt that in order to ensure that we were as streamlined and efficient as possible, we had to do a top-to-bottom operational and headcount review, which included some difficult decisions with respect to personnel.”

The railroad made some promotions at the corporate level. Michael J. Howe was named senior vice-president and chief financial officer. He was formerly vice-president and treasurer. He replaced Bennett Marks, who has left the company. The carrier did not state when or why Marks left.

Larry Bush was promoted to vice-president and treasurer. He was formerly vice-president for financial planning.

Four other high-level people moved to other vice-president jobs.


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Rail carload results mixed in November

U.S. rail carload traffic rose 0.8 percent (10,176 carloads) while intermodal rail traffic rose 6.4 percent (44,295 units) in November 2002 compared to November 2001, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported December 5.

Increases in carloads of metallic ores (up 19,917 carloads, or 38.6 percent), chemicals (up 4,735 carloads, or 4.4 percent), primary metals and metal products (up 4,102 carloads, or 9.0 percent), waste and scrap material (up 3,386 carloads, or 10.4 percent), and coke (up 3,166 carloads, or 21.6 percent) provided most of the gains in U.S. rail carload traffic in November.

These gains were offset by carload declines in November for coal (down 19,238 carloads, or 3.5 percent), crushed stone and gravel (down 6,064 carloads, or 7.9 percent), and grain mill products (down 2,244 carloads, or 6.0 percent). In all, 12 of the 19 commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw carload increases in November 2002 compared with November 2001.

“Much of the increase in U.S. rail carloadings in November can be tied to the steel sector. Domestic raw steel production in November 2002 was up 22 percent over November 2001,” noted AAR Vice President Craig F. Rockey.

“The steel sector, like many other sectors of the economy, depends on the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of railroads to deliver raw materials in and finished products out. Looking forward, railroads – like everyone else – hope that vigorous economic growth returns quickly.”

Through November, year-to-date U.S. rail carloadings totaled 15,879,018 cars, down 0.9 percent (141,504 carloads), including year-to-date declines in carloads of coal (down 226,773 carloads, or 3.5 percent), grain (down 38,043 carloads, or 3.6 percent), and primary forest products (down 11.4 percent, or 25,932 carloads).

On the positive side, carloads of metallic ores were up 62,083 carloads (9.3 percent) in 2002 through November, while motor vehicles and equipment (up 46,135 carloads, or 4.1 percent) and chemicals (up 27,798 carloads, or 2.1 percent) were also higher.

Year-to-date U.S. intermodal traffic through November totaled 8,656,597 trailers and containers, up 4.2 percent (352,897 trailers and containers).

Total volume on U.S. railroads was estimated at 1.376 trillion ton-miles through the end of November, up 0.7 percent from a similar period last year.

Canadian intermodal traffic was up 19.8 percent (28,690 units) in November 2002, while Canadian rail carload traffic was down 3.2 percent (8,035 carloads) during the month. In November 2002, Canadian grain traffic was down 10,459 carloads (26.0 percent) due to a sharp drought-induced decline in Canadian grain production, while coal traffic fell 3,632 carloads (9.8 percent).

On the plus side, carloads of chemicals were up 6.1 percent (3,159 carloads), carloads of motor vehicles and equipment rose 7.8 percent (2,369 carloads), and carloads of lumber and wood products were up 18.3 percent (1,981 carloads).

For the first 11 months of 2002, Canadian carload traffic totaled 2,874,063 units, down 2.7 percent (79,661 carloads), while Canadian intermodal traffic through November 2002 totaled 1,875,633 trailers and containers, up 11.0 percent (185,997 units).

Carloads originated on Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM), a major Mexican railroad, were up 45.0 percent (11,328 carloads) in November, while intermodal originations were up 129.1 percent (8,541 trailers and containers). For the first 11 months of 2002, TFM carload originations were up 14.9 percent (49,278 carloads), while TFM intermodal traffic was up 33.0 percent (36,605 units).

For just the week ended November 30, the AAR reported the following totals for U.S. railroads: 289,830 carloads, down 13.9 percent from the corresponding week in 2001, with loadings down 26.4 percent in the East and down 3.2 percent in the West; intermodal volume of 163,348 trailers and containers, down 11.2 percent; and total volume of an estimated 24.9 billion ton-miles, down 14.7 percent from the equivalent week last year.

The significant decline for the week year-over-year is largely due to the fact that the Thanksgiving holiday fell in the week ending November 30, but a week later than in 2001.

For Canadian railroads during the week ended November 30, the AAR reported volume of 58,191 carloads, down 9.5 percent from last year; and 42,169 trailers and containers, up 16.5 percent from the corresponding week in 2001.

Combined cumulative volume for the first 48 weeks of 2002 on 16 reporting U.S. and Canadian railroads totaled 18,753,081 carloads, down 1.2 percent (221,165 carloads) from last year; and 10,532,230 trailers and containers, up 5.4 percent (538,894 units) from 2001’s first 48 weeks.

The AAR is online at www.aar.org.


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Railroad Facts available from AAR

The Association of American railroads says its 2002 edition of Railroad Facts is now available. The 80-page pocket-sized reference focuses mainly on Class I railroads and contains statistics and graphics for 2001 and selected prior years, in some cases as far back as 1929. It contains more than 80 pages of facts and statistics on finance, traffic, operations, plant and equipment, employment and compensation, fuel consumption and cost, and loss and damage.

AAR says copies for non-AAR members are $15.00, with discounts for greater numbers. AAR members pay $5.00.


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OFF THE MNAIN LINE...

From a 1921 interview

DT&I’s owner sees no need for stockholders

The October 27, 1921, edition of the Point Pleasant, West Virginia Register newspaper included a reporter’s interview with automobile magnate Henry Ford, whose company owned and operated the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad. Given Mr. Ford’s invention of the assembly line, the reporter asked what he might do to improve the efficiency of railroads, and what he had changed at the DT&I.

 

First of all, Ford said, he would get rid of individual stockholders, whom he characterized as parasites. Next, he would convert to lighter rolling stock, and finally fire all useless employees, beginning with the railroad’s lawyers.

Finance, as it applies to railroads, said Mr. Ford, is a failure. The roads waste money on useless red tape of all sorts, particularly in accounting. The real purpose of a railroad, Ford said, is to serve the public. There is no reason why it should be diverted from public service to doing an entirely different thing: putting money into the pockets of stockholders who make no contribution to the road’s actual operation. In the end, the public pays the dividends; they are essentially a tax on everyone.

There is a possible and practical system of financing railroads by which those contributing the money will be in a position to aid directly the success of the undertaking. If the brakeman on a railroad owns stock in it, he has an additional inducement to render competent service. If the railroad is a success, it is due to him and his fellow workmen, and they are entitled to the profit.

Railroads should not have to go to banks for money. They can be otherwise financed.

The first thing is to make the railroad work; to make it possible for people to use it as they want to. Then there will be no trouble with finances. The trouble is that we start with finance, and expect finance to make the road go. Finance can’t do that – finance is a failure.

Of course, if such an approach were attempted, we could expect a great outcry for the protection of invested capital. It would be said that persons had bought shares for the protection of their families. Protection from what? The necessity of earning a living? Their children would be better off if they had to finance themselves.

Proper financing, of course, would be easier on new railroads. On the old ones, however, it should be possible to retire the parasites – the non-contributing stockholders – and put the ownership into the proper funds. After removing the dividend, the second step is to remove the greatest physical burden - the excess weight of the rolling stock. A freight train is several times heavier than the load it carries, and a passenger train is 20 times heavier. The cost of pulling empty trains is needlessly large.

Contrast this with the efficiency of a bicycle, which weighs 20 pounds and will carry a man who weighs 200 pounds. On the DT&I, the old types of engines and cars will be displaced by better types.

The immediate step to take to improve any railroad’s performance is to expedite car movements. On the DT&I, by speeding up our freight over the preliminary part of its journey we have been able to shorten delivery times by 7 to 14 days. This means that our products get to their buyers that much faster. It also means that we carry on our books some $30 million less undelivered product than we otherwise would.

Most railroads have enough lawyers working for them to actually operate them, if they were engaged in truly useful work. One of the first things to dispense with is the legal staff. A well-managed road needs less of that sort of service.

The lawyers are mostly in the claims department, which is one of the most wasteful branches of railroad operation. Any small claim against a railroad is likely to knock about the claims department for weeks or months, and thus to cost many times as much as it would to simply pay it. When a claim is first presented, proper organization would lead establishing the facts about it and settling it on the basis of justice. This would keep all these details off the books.

The bookkeeping of railroads is complicated far beyond all necessity. We have simplified this department, reduced its cost, and transformed it into an actual help to the railroad, instead of a vexation and burden. How did we do it? By viewing the whole proposition as a service to the users of railroads and making everything fit into that, instead of having the fear of stockholders and dividends before our eyes. Our faith is that service will pay. Finance does not come first: work comes first.

We don’t claim to have done anything new in railroading – yet. We have only taken the old system of operation and cut off its obvious absurdities. Even the old system of railroading, brought up to efficiency, would be an immense change for this country. We have simply cut out the loafing of men, the loafing of engines, and the loafing of cars. The result seems to have surprised many persons, but there is no mystery or magic about it. Anyone applying plain, everyday, good management will create such a change. What may we not expect from really new ideas?

I don’t wish to appear to be criticizing any railroad manager, and I have never done so. With their stockholders on their backs and their banker bosses who don’t know anything about railroading, what else can they do?

They must be liberated from the present system – and you can’t do that by giving them millions to perpetuate the present bad system, either.

Via the Gondola Gazette, Huntington Chapter, NRHS; and Stephen S. Brandt.


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POWER LINES...

FEC engine

The fresh paint made for bright pictures on a clear, sunny Sunday. Purists were grumbling the paint job wasn’t quite accurate, and that Florida East Coast Ry. never owned an E-8 (they had E-7s and E-9s), but most railroaders and other folks were delighted seeing something that at least came mighty close.

 

Bright colors return to Florida

By Leo King
Photos by the author unless otherwise noted

Railroaders – especially Florida East Coast Ry. employees – and railfans between San Antonio, Texas and Miami were agog last week at seeing what seemed like an apparition from thirty years ago: a bright red and yellow EMD E-unit painted close to what the FEC’s Es looked like when the railroad ran passenger trains.

Not only that engine, but also an original Chicago, Burlington & Quincy E-9 repainted in its original colors, and an ex-U.S. Army, ex-Alaska Railroad chop-nosed GP-7 painted in royal purple Atlantic Coast Line colors.

Not only that, but the string was trailed by six GP-49s enroute to Florida Tri-Rail. They were all flat black, no-name engines with minimal lettering. The most prominent graphics were three-digit numbers.

Nose view close-up

Photographers call silhouette shots like this “high key,” but the Chicago Burlington & Quincy E-9 was in the right place in Bowden Yard, Jacksonville, Fla., to snap the frame. All three engines were headed for the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami.

 

Never underestimate the power of the Internet.

Railroaders as well as railfans began keeping up with the moves after a poster on an e-mail exchange group, “SERails,” reported from New Orleans on November 25 that Northbound Norfolk Southern train No. 314 passed through Slidell, La., around 2:00 p.m. with a pair of E-units, a couple of cars behind the road power. No. 314 is a run-through train from the UP.”

The note added, “The Es have been at a car shop in San Antonio for several months, and are reportedly heading for a museum in Florida.”

Indeed, they were – to the Gold Coast Museum in Miami.

All the engines arrived in FEC’s Bowden Yard in Jacksonville overnight on November 29 (early Saturday morning), and they remained tied up on a yard track directly across from the yardmaster’s office until late Monday evening (December 2).

“I wish they’d leave. I’d love to get rid of them,” one YM said on Sunday. He could have used the track for other trains and equipment.

FEC engineer David Shelley – “East Coast Hogger,” as he is known on John Boteler’s (“Bote Man”) web site and e-mail list at Florida East Coast Ry. Society (http://www.fecrs.com/) told readers, “I climbed up on the first two ‘E’ units and checked them out today. They’re sitting in front of Bowden yard tower along with the ACL unit and six black ‘800’-numbered units (no road names on these).”

Looking out from the cab

David Ogle

The windshield is a tad dusty from its long journey, but photographer David Ogle, who is an FEC engineer, snapped a few frames while he sat in the engineer’s seat. That switcher is a remote control unit, No. 510. “It is one of FEC’s remote control GP38-2’s (note the yellow beacons on top of the cab). He pulled up there... parked it and shut it down,” Ogle told us.

 

Shelley had also gleaned some details about the brightly colored engines.

“FEC (really ex-Santa Clarita Ry. No. 5794 E-8A), built in 1952, and Burlington (ex-Santa Clarita Ry. No. 9913, E-9A) built in 1956.

“The FEC E-8 is rated at 2,250 horse, and the Burlington E-9 is rated 2,500 horse.”

He said he didn’t check the ACL unit because he was “trying to get home to take the kids to see Harry Potter.” He also noted the waybill stated the six black no-name engines would be going to Florida Tri-Rail, a commuter railroad between Miami and West Palm Beach.

Chop-nose GP-7

To my knowledge, Atlantic Coast Line never owned a chop-nosed GP-7, but the colors are accurate applied to this ex-Army, ex-Alaska Railroad EMD product.

 

Another FEC veteran engineer, David Ogle, also snapped a digital photo while he was up in the cab.

“It sure felt good to be up in the cab on an old look-alike FEC passenger engine though, with the inside almost the same as our originals. Of course, the front is missing lower headlights (only the top round headlight where our “mars lights” used to be is there.) It is also equipped with lower “ditch lights.”

Late Sunday, FEC historian and book author Seth Bramson, 58, of Miami gave us some details about the engines. Bramson has great knowledge of the FEC, far more than the ‘average bear.” His book, The Revised and Enlarged Edition of Speedway to Sunshine: The Story of the Florida East Coast Railway (Boston Mills Press, 1984; Rev. 2002: Erin, Ontario) It carries republication date of January 2003 according to Amazon.com. It recently arrived in bookstores, and Seth’s home.

Bramson explained FEC owned several types of “Es” over the years, beginning with early E-3As 1001 and 1002. Later, the carrier added four E-6As, 1003 through 1006 and E-6B 1051 (a cabless unit which added power). E-7As 1007 and 1022 then came along, as well as “B” units 1052, 1053, and 1054.

FEC never owned an E-8, he said.

The last covered wagons the railroad bought were five E-9As, 1031 through 1035.

All the locomotives had two powerplants inside.

“I keep seeing mention that the Gold Coast diesels are ex-Santa Clarita Ry., but I haven’t seen any other information on the FEC list. Ken Ardinger forwarded this information originally provided by Robert Lehmuth.” Ardinger lived in south Florida for many years, and Lehmuth “is a good friend who I see at the Buena Park show in Los Angeles each year.”

So, at last, we all had the nitty-gritty.

The FEC 1594 was originally Pennsylvania Railroad E-8 No. 5794 built in June 1952 and carrying EMD builder’s number 15659. Apparently, and it is only speculation, during the Penn Central era, it toiled with the same number. Its next owner was Conrail, where it carried the number 4254. It then became Boston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (now the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) power carrying the same number, until it was sold to a movie prop shop in Saugus, Calif., doing business as Santa Clarita Ry.

The CB&Q E-9, No. 9913 in the middle of the set, was another EMD product with builder’s plate No. 20545, and was assembled in January 1956 for CB&Q as No. 9989. After the CB&Q merged with Great Northern, it eventually was renumbered 9913, and later, Burlington Northern 9984.

It, too, eventually wound up in the same back lot in Saugus, Calif.

GP-7 1804 began its days soldiering for the U.S. Army, possible at Ft. Wainwright, near Fairbanks, Alaska. It carried EMD builder’s plate 15704 in August 1951, and was numbered 1834. When it was sold to the Alaska Railroad, it kept the same number, but eventually it was changed to 1804.

Steve Wilhelm of Almo, Kentucky wrote, “The GP-7 ex Alaska 1804 was also owned by Short Line Enterprises and was used in the film Under Siege 2: Dark Territory in 1994 starring Steven Segal.” He added, “The 1804 was painted a brown color and used as the lead unit in the film. After it was done filming, it returned to California and was stored.

“I remember seeing the 1804 in Klamath Falls, Oregon, back in the late 1980s in very bad shape. The unit had been parted out and was just a hulk that the local hoodlums had set on fire. The unit was bought by Shortline and sent to the McCloud River Railroad and returned to service in 1990, I believe.”

EMD nose profile

EMD had a body styling that lends itself to graceful photography.

Later, it became Nevada Industrial switcher No. 1804, who sold it to the movie lot.

Dates of all sales remain a mystery, as of this writing on December 6, 2002.

All three engines became the property of Gold Coast Museum during 2002.

Meanwhile, FEC engineer Dave Shelley told us the engines would leave Bowden Yard late Monday evening, on southbound train No. 121, for Jacksonville at 9:00 p.m. It actually left one hour later following some air problems and swapping out an engine.

When I visited Bowden Yard on Sunday, I found an EMD builder’s plate on the black engines. They were listed as GP-49s. I found no builder’s plates on the FEC nor CB&Q units. I did not climb onto or into the equipment. I was a guest on the railroad, courtesy of trainmaster Dave Yarber.

I started taking photos around 11:30 a.m., and the sunlight was streaming down directly on the front of the FEC engine, and provided very little side lighting. Even though the engine was dusty, it only appeared so when either looking through the cab window from inside (as Dave Ogle’s photo shows) or looking at the cowcatcher with a little mud splattered on it.

GP-49 No. 815-former Norfolk-Southern

The high-nose ex-Norfolk Southern GP-49 No. 815 and its five sisters were enroute to Florida Tri-Rail. The painted-out number in the number board is 4603

 

The engines were facing southward in the yard, abreast of the YM office. The consist, in order, was FEC 1594, CB&Q 9913, ACL 1804 followed by six black no-name engines destined for Florida Tri-Rail, and all were marked up in white numbers – 815, 816, 817, 813, 814, 812.

The engines finally arrived in Miami the following morning around 7:30 a.m. “Bote” told us, but we learned it might be a day or two before FEC and CSX would be able to get together to make the interchange to pull down the Lehigh-Sterling-Homestead blocks after picking them up at Oleander.

The move was almost entirely in darkness, Boteler said.

He added, “Randy Sounds and I hope to get some video of it as the sun rises Tuesday morning if all goes according to current plan. Of course, this information could change, so stay tuned.”

They succeeded.

No. 1031 leaving Jacksonville, FL

Joseph Oates Collection: Howard Robins

FEC E-9 1031 and two others are about to leave Jacksonville with the Illinois Central’s City of Miami to its namesake city, ca. 1959. In the background is E-7 1021 heading up another southbound.
Engineer Dave Shelley was at South Bowden at 7:30 p.m. on train 119 with engines 413 and 718 trailing (the Pineda turn tomorrow) and about 70 cars, wrote engineer Ogle.

A poster named Nick nearly had the final word.

“The much anticipated arrival at Hialeah yard of the historically inaccurate E units and GP-7 finally took place this morning at 7:30. Randy Sounds and the Bote Man were in Fort Lauderdale with multiple video cameras at 6:45 documenting this. I was at MP 356, with my still camera documenting this historic occasion.

“Train 121 passed MP 356 at 7:00… Train with engines, mixed freight and pigs was 8,500 feet.”

The next day, poster Mark Wurst wrote, “The heritage on this unit sounded awfully familiar, so I started digging through my slides from about 15 years ago.”

He found what he was looking for.

Where the Engine really came from

Mark S. Wurst, 1988

Believe it or not, this seeming junk pile left over from the MTA (MBTA) is the Gold Coast Railroad Museum’s shiny new acquisition painted in Florida East Coast colors.

 

“Bote Man” got the last word.

“Nick got a late (as in up-to-the-minute) intelligence report from unnamed sources at Fort Pierce yard. Then he relayed the key parts to me, at which point I made an executive decision to snooze another hour.”

He had been up much of the night checking the train’s progress so he could chase the train… “Except, I took the call in front of my ’puter and started reading a few other e-mails about this move and couldn’t get much sleep anyhow.

“Randy called me about six-ish as I was hunting for coffee, so I picked up a cup for each of us. He’s got a cold, but he braved getting up earlier than usual to get these shots.

“He brought two video cameras, so I volunteered to climb up the stairs on the exterior of the parking garage at Broward Boulevard and the tracks.

“I had a great view north as the train came around the bend and the gates went down. I got a shot of the FEC-painted E-8A as it passed beneath me, so there might be some roof details there for the ‘rivet counters.’ Only trouble was that between running up the parking ramps and stairway, too much coffee, and being just plain excited by the whole deal, the video at tight zoom is a bit shaky.

“You can see the image jitter a bit between my breathing and heartbeat, so next time we do this, we’ll use a tripod.”

[Cut to S.E. 7th Street],” he wrote.

“Randy got the train at ground level coming at him across the drawspan, as the FEC blue 437, then ex-UP, then E-8A, then E-9A, then ACL-painted GP-7 (L/m/u/your letter here), then the six Tri-Rail GP-49s.

“Randy will recuperate from this cold bug and decide how he wants to edit and package the video later on. I’m glad we made the effort.”

Boteler said he had “proper credentials and permission to get into Hialeah Yard as part of the No. 253 steam locomotive restoration project down there,” so most likely he’ll also be on hand to photograph the engines leaving the yard and moving into the museum.

FEC’s public relations rep, Husein Cumber, told D:F “We interchanged these cars to CSXT on Wednesday morning.”

No word from the museum on how they plan to display the engines.

FEC engine ready to roll

The entire string left Bowden Yard late Monday evening to arrive Tuesday morning some 400 miles south in Hialeah yard, Miami. The engines were expected to be interchanged and delivered by week’s end


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ACROSS THE POND...

Russian describes Kim as ‘fun guy’

President Bush calls him evil and says he is building nuclear bombs. Japanese officials say his missiles are aimed at Tokyo. Human rights groups say he uses concentration camps to stay in power. Even at the movies, his North Korean soldiers are torturing James Bond – but to Konstantin Pulikovsky, a rare foreigner who has spent time with North Korea’s secretive leader, Kim Jong Il is a fun guy.

The New York Times reporter James Brooke told Times readers on December 2 drinking wines imported from France, nibbling on gourmet meals with silver chopsticks, and joining in rousing choruses of old Soviet songs with “beautiful lady conductors,” North Korea’s remote “Dear Leader” emerges in flesh and blood from the pages of a new memoir by Pulikovsky, the representative of President Vladimir V. Putin in Russia’s Far East.

Called Orient Express and published this fall in Moscow, the 200-page snapshot-laden book prompted a diplomatic protest from North Korea and teeth gnashing in Russia’s Foreign Ministry. It draws heavily on a confidential report prepared by a Russian Foreign Ministry notetaker on board during Kim’s leisurely one-month train ride across Russia in the summer of 2001. Kim made a second, shorter train trip into Russia last summer, also accompanied by Pulikovsky.

“Pulikovsky published what he was not supposed to publish,” said Alexandre Mansourov, once a Soviet diplomat in North Korea. “He violated a personal trust, not just of Kim Jong Il, but of the people who put the report together.”

“More copies of this book have probably been bought by foreign governments and intelligence agencies than by Russians themselves,” Mansourov added, who now teaches at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu.

The book appeared shortly after the mysterious Kim’s officials admitted that the country had a nuclear weapons program. With estimates of his nuclear arsenal ranging up to five bombs, intelligence agencies around the world are gleaning this limited-edition memoir for new clues about the North Korean leader.

In power for almost a decade, Kim has given few speeches at home, has rarely traveled outside his isolated nation, and has granted no interviews to Western reporters.

“I am the object of criticism around the world,” Pulikovsky quotes Kim as saying during one meeting on the long train ride, “but I think that since I am being discussed, then I am on the right track.”

For North Korea’s government, the most damaging accounts are descriptions of lengthy banquets, jarring tales for a country where as many as two million people starved to death during the mid-1990s. Human rights groups charge that the government diverted international food shipments to North Korea’s 1.1 million-member military and to families of loyal cadres.

In contrast, the Russian wrote, “Kim Jong Il can be called a gourmet.”

“It was possible to order any dish of Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and French cuisine,” he wrote of the specially outfitted train that carried Kim.

The North Koreans made sure that live lobsters were shipped to the train to provide Kim with fresh delicacies during the tedium of crossing Siberia. Cases of Bordeaux and Burgundy red wines were flown from Paris. Even Putin’s private train “did not have the comfort of Kim Jong Il’s train,” Pulikovsky wrote.

With meals on the train stretching sometimes for four hours or more, entertainment often took the form of singing Russian and Korean songs. The North Korean leader, who had left his wife back in Pyongyang, particularly enjoyed the charms of four young singers, who were introduced as “lady conductors,” Pulikovsky wrote.

In a telephone interview, Yevgeny A. Anoshin, Mr. Pulikovsky’s spokesman, said that when Pulikovsky last met Kim, he told the North Korean leader that he was about to publish a book about their train trip.

“Kim approved, saying, ‘There are too many mysteries about me; let the people know the truth about me,’” Anoshin said of the conversation that he said took place last August.


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COMMENTARY...  Commentary...

Kudos for Plano

By Jim RePass
NCI President and CEO

DART

Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s inaugural train arrives Plano, Texas December 6.


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Hats off to the people and the leadership of Plano, Texas for having the fortitude to stick with transit and, indeed, to expand service which opens today, December 9. They are about to enjoy the unique and substantial pleasures of light rail travel, and to experience what its advocates have known for years, that light rail is one of the single most important elements in the successful economic development of a city.

Unlike most other means of travel, light rail sends a strong signal that the city’s leadership is committed to a powerful, environmentally friendly infrastructure investment, and growth and development invariably follow the route of the new lines. In addition, by making travel easier and more pleasant than driving, light rail effectively expands the employee pool for a given locale, giving employers in turn a reason to expand in cities with convenient transit service.

It has also been a pleasure to follow the superb coverage of this story in the Plano Star Courier, whose reporter Paul Meyer and others have taken the trouble to learn about light rail, and report on it thoroughly. The reporters and editors of Destination:Freedom have experience at places like The Washington Post and Dow Jones Newswire, and we recognize and admire good journalism when we see it.

Light Rail is making an amazing comeback all across America, for two very simple reasons: It works, and it’s fun.

Kudos to Plano for understanding that fact, and acting upon it.


OPINION...

Amtrak Reform Council goes out of business

By Wes Vernon

The stormy five-year life of the Amtrak Reform Council came to an end this month. From Day one, this tiny agency was at the center of a storm that spawned political intrigue worthy of a suspense novel for policy addicts, and with just enough backroom bickering to make it worthy of a movie script, perhaps with some life-and-death issue substituted for passenger train operations. For details, check the D:F archives for a complete early 2000 accounting in “Politics and the Amtrak Reform Council.”

One does not need to defend or advocate every one of ARC’s recommendations to realize that the panel served some useful purposes. It brought to light the fact that Amtrak’s politically driven and money-starved cut-and-paste operation did not encourage good business practices. All sides agreed that some change was in order.

It also focused more public attention on the simple fact of imbalance in our transportation priorities, whereby air and highways were assured of funding through a “trust fund” mechanism, while rail is left to fend for itself. Forced to make do with a skeletal network, Amtrak is then criticized for not serving more than “a tiny percentage” of the traveling public.

ARC’s focus indirectly resulted in an increasing awareness that the “tiny percentage” statistic is irrelevant unless Amtrak becomes a practical mode for trips to the dentist or to pick up a prescription.

While the Congressional stipulation that Amtrak aim for operational “self-sufficiency” by December 2002 was impractical, ARC’s assignment to ride herd on that goal clearly brought out in the open accounting practices that obscured the fact that the company was heading toward bankruptcy.

It can be argued that ARC’s insistence on “facing the music” ultimately made inevitable the approach to David Gunn to take on the thankless task of untangling a fiscal mess by applying professional railroad industry expertise to the operation.

Many of Amtrak’s supporters believed that the cut-and-paste would have to continue or Amtrak would necessarily go out of business. Although there were indeed some anxious moments in that regard, a little sunshine has proven to be a good thing. Facing reality arguably is the first step toward recovery.

The Amtrak Reform Council, whose members were not paid for their time and work, came under fire from those who thought they had an investment in maintaining the status quo at all costs.

Organized labor, for example, feared that any upset apple carts would necessarily be to the disadvantage of the men and women who work the trains, yards, ticket counters, and phone reservations system. That has not proved to be the case. Nonetheless, before ARC even held its first meeting, labor operatives planted stories in the media that argued the drop-in-the-bucket funding for the council was somehow bleeding the taxpayers. Even radio commentator Paul Harvey fell for that one.

In the end, although labor called into question a number of ARC’s assumptions, the panel’s overall conclusions did not reflect an animus toward Amtrak workers. Nor – to say the least – did ARC spend money above shoestring proportions.

“First, we told the truth about the state of passenger service in this country,” said Amtrak Reform council Chairman Gil Carmichael in a sign-off letter to his colleagues. The hearings, he said, showed that “there is a need for more funding, but only if we can restructure the old Amtrak and create a new Amtrak program that can use the funding effectively.”

The chairman argued ARC’s nationwide hearings and annual reports spotlighted “the problems of Amtrak and the possibilities of improvement,” and a multifaceted proposal for bringing about that “restructuring.”

The results of testimony also argued that a strong government agency is needed to oversee and administer the program.

Providing the states with “the wherewithal to upgrade the freight railroad lines on which they need to expand economic passenger services, and to make sure that passenger service expansion adds to the capacity and ability of the freight railroads to serve our country” was also a finding.

As reported by D:F, at a recent meeting in Chicago, freight and passenger railroaders discussed prospects for upgrades to their mutual benefit. Whether one agrees with every method ARC proposed to accomplish that end, the agency can rightly take a part of the credit for elevating the discussion to that level in the industry.

ARC’s proposal to split the Northeast corridor’s infrastructure from its train operations, whatever its merits, calls attention to the undeniable fact that the infrastructure “trust fund” route has caused air and highways to make great leaps forward while railroading – especially on the passenger side – has receded.

Carmichael stated, “If the states, in partnership with the freight railroads, are to finance the bulk of the improvements to the freight railroads for passenger improvements, then they should have the possibility of choosing their passenger service operator through a competitive bidding process.”

This may be ARC’s most controversial policy proposal. While the idea of multiple intercity passenger train operations worked well when the private railroads were in charge of both freight and passenger trains, the Class I carriers are understandably less than enthralled with the ARC plan to open up passenger train operations to a “franchise” operator system. Having to deal with many different rail passenger entities instead of “the devil they know” causes concern the freight carriers will lose effective control of their own property.

The Bush administration has embraced the “franchise” idea. The general feeling on Capitol Hill is that, with both the freight railroads and Amtrak opposed, it faces an uphill battle.

On balance, the Amtrak Reform Council’s contribution has been constructive. The small agency has given the passenger train problems a public focus that was less evident before.

Amtrak, under previous management, did itself no favors by its foot-dragging in providing information in answer to ARC’s lawful requests.

Council Vice-Chairman Paul Weyrich says he was miffed at the sheer “arrogance” he found when he was told in so many words, “We will still be here after you’re gone. So why should we listen to you?”

One more thing: ARC was given a five-year lease on life. The Reform Council is actually shutting its doors after five years.

Imagine that!

It is not unusual for government agencies to dream up reasons to perpetuate themselves. This particular agency shuts down when its mission is accomplished. No wailing about how the world will come to an end if it does not continue into the indefinite future. For that, those who lament the endless increase in alphabet bureaucracies can be thankful.


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Why transit supporters should oppose transit tax increases

By Daniel G. Jennings

One of the biggest mistakes that transit backers make is to mindlessly support tax increases designed to pay for new transit systems. The backing of such tax increases is the worst thing that transit backers can do for several reasons and here are several reasons why:

Transportation funding in America is already at an adequate level. There is plenty of money available for transportation projects. This includes existing highway funds raised by gas taxes, and federal and state funding for transit construction, which has been increasing. The problem is not the amount of money spent on transportation but how it is spent. In most cases, money diverted from highway and freeway-building funds is more than enough to pay for new rail lines and bus system improvements. Nor is diversion from highway spending necessary in some states such as Colorado. It may be possible to get gas tax funds diverted for purposes such as “general government operation” (read increasing funds for politicians pet projects here) reallocated to transit construction.

Major transit system construction can be funded without tax increases. In city after city, transit officials and politicians who claimed that new rail lines couldn’t be built without tax increases have found the funds for new transit lines after tax increases were defeated by voters. The prices of proposed transit systems often go down when the tax increase bonanza disappears.

In Denver, several major tax increases for rail construction have been defeated at the ballot box, yet nearly 20 miles of light rail have been built since then. Portland, Ore., too, has opened at least two major new light rail lines since a tax increase was defeated.

Contrary to liberal orthodoxy, tax increases and high taxes do hurt average Americans. In particular, the tax increases demanded by transit backers hit the poor and working classes hardest. These are sales, property and gas tax increases which raise the price of necessities required by everybody regardless of income. Sales tax increases raise the price of things like clothes and household goods, property tax increases raise the price of housing – and yes, property taxes hit renters. When property taxes go up, landlords have to raise the rent to pay the increased property tax.

Fuel tax increases hit almost everybody, especially the working poor, who need to buy gas to get to jobs. Is it fair to finance new transit lines on the backs of the poor and working class, especially when such lines often serve affluent suburbs where developers who make big campaign contributions are building new subdivisions?

The huge amounts of money raised by such transit tax increases often make transit systems too elaborate and expensive. When bureaucrats and politicians get a blank check, they act just like the rest of us: they spend more. They design transit lines that are too long, too big, and too elaborate. At the same time, contractors, and others who profit from such construction, smell more money, and start making more campaign contributions to politicians who drive up construction cost and contractors’ profits. Politicians with a big stash of cash are also less likely to stand up to community groups demanding that a subway be built under main street so there can be a few extra parking spaces in front of Mr. Chang’s restaurant or so Mrs. Smith doesn’t have to see the train from her garden.

The result is we get subway and elevated lines that aren’t needed, expensive art works in transit stations and other massive wastes of tax money that turn the public against transit. When politicians and bureaucrats know that only a certain amount of money is available to build new transit systems, they can and will design transit systems that can be built within that budget.

Linking transit taxes to transit makes the debate not about what it should be – transportation – but about taxes. Average people will see not hard working public servants trying to improve their communities but another gang of politicians and bureaucrats trying to raid their pocketbooks. Many people who might normally support new transit systems will oppose them because they don’t want higher taxes.

Linking transit to taxes makes transit opponents job easier. The transit opponents can count on the support of the third to half of the population that always votes against any tax increase. Worse, they can portray transit supporters as arrogant liberals trying to finance their pet project on the backs of working Americans. This means it is easy for a tiny minority of anti-transit fanatics to defeat any transit proposal.

When transit proposals haven’t involved tax increases the public has voted for them. For example, the T-Rex proposal in Colorado, which diverted some freeway funds to rail construction, passed by a wide margin in 1999.

If transit supporters want to see many more transit systems constructed in the United States they have no choice. They have to forget about the idea of tax increases.

- Denver


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  Across the Pacific Pond...

China prepares to run maglev train

Chinese and German engineers are rushing to prepare the world’s first commercial magnetic levitation train, capable of speeds of around 250 mph, for a debut run some time around New Year’s Day.

The futuristic German-made “maglev” train has begun trial runs on its 19-mile-long track in Shanghai, Shi Qiong, a spokeswoman for the Shanghai Maglev Transportation Corp, said December 3.

The $1 billion train connects the three-year-old Pudong International Airport with the city’s new Pudong financial district. It would be able to cover the distance to the airport in seven minutes, compared to a half hour by taxi, according to a dispatch from The AP.

Maglev can attain speeds far faster than any conventional passenger train because it floats in the air, held inches above its running surface by powerful magnets.

Other potential customers have been put off by maglev’s high price and daunting technical challenges, but China’s largest, richest city seems to hope that having the first will add to its image as a high-tech hub.

Critics say the project will never pay for itself, in part because customers will balk at its reported one-way ticket price of $6.25.

Shi and other officials refused to disclose details of the trial runs, but the government-run Xinhua News Agency said the train had reached a speed of 250 mph in a test run last week, nearing its design speed of 260 mph.

By contrast, bullet trains such as France’s TGV, Germany’s ICE and Japan’s Shinkansen top speeds from 187 mph to more than 200 mph.

Shi said last-minute adjustments are still being made to the track, built by Chinese contractors in just 18 months. The exact date of the unveiling will depend on the tests now underway.

“Time is not the most important thing. We have to guarantee 100 percent safety and quality,” Shi said.

The trial runs are being made with three trains delivered in August from Germany, where the technology was developed.

State planners will also be watching the train in considering whether to use the new technology in larger projects, such as a planned high-speed rail link between Shanghai and Beijing.


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LETTERS...

Dear Editor:

I was just looking at your December 2 newsletter (a late Sunday-night habit for me). When I came to the picture of Denver light rail, I thought, “Gee, that looks familiar.”

Just as a clarification, I have no particular connection with the Light Rail Progress web site; I simply gave them permission to use some of my pictures.

I have no problem with your using them, either. You’re welcome to browse http:/web.presby.edu/~jtbell/transit/ and “borrow” whatever might be appropriate. Just let me know, even though I’ll probably see it anyway, so I can file the message away in case the college’s administration asks me to justify using our server resources.

Also, I’m sure our PR people would appreciate a mention of the college in the credit line.

Regards,

Jon Bell
Dept. of Physics & Computer Science
Presbyterian College
Clinton, South Carolina

Thank you for your letter, Jon. When we ask various contributors for permission to use photos or text, our assumption is they have the right to grant publication rights. Perhaps it would be in our best interest to be sure they do, from now on. After three years of preparing this publication, this is the first time this concern has arisen. – Ed.


Dear Editor:

I would like to comment Uli Hertel’s vision of an ideal North American high-speed network, to be seen at the beginning of his highly interesting article on electric traction and supply systems (D:F December 2).

The idea of running high-speed freight trains on high-speed passenger lines was championed by the German Railways (DB). DB set up a network of night fast freight trains (running at 120 to 160 km/h, that is 75 to 100 mph), pulled by the very first asynchronous-drive locomotives (the traction type Mr. Hertel introduced to readers), using the first two high-speed lines on their way; but, their experience was negative: the track wear is too big, consequently, newer lines are built passenger-only.

The reasons are multiple.

First, larger axle loads (TGV, 17 tons per axle; DB main lines, 21.5 tons per axle) mean larger lateral forces, deforming track geometry stronger. The first generation of German high-speed passenger trains also had this high axle-load, which increased and conserved the problem.

Second, brake tusks on freight cars make their wheel surfaces uneven, which in turn erodes the rail surface.

Third, blocked wheels during braking also scrape along the rails. The resulting uneven surface means strong vibrations and increased wear for the high-speed passenger trainsets.

High-speed freight trains would need cars with low axle weight, disc brakes, and more sophisticated suspension – in effect, rebuilt passenger coaches – which greatly increase transport costs, adding to the extra costs of increased energy consumption. There are few products for which the time-saving is worth the extra money. Rail freight has an edge over air transport.

The intimate connection between track maintenance costs and vehicle technology is one of the reasons to criticize the current European trend to divide railroads into monopolistic infrastructure companies (owning, maintaining and developing tracks) and competing operating companies (those running trains). A leading opponent of this idea is the head of the best-run European state railroad, the Swiss SBB.

Yours Sincerely,

Dániel György Kemény
Budapest, Hungary


Dear Editor:

I enjoy reading D:F every week because it often has stories that other rail-zines miss. However, a couple of issues cropped up in the last two issues (November 25 and December 2) that need to be addressed.

In the November 25 issue, you cite “dollar per passenger” loss figures when comparing subsidies given to trains running on California’s Capitol Corridor to the transcontinental Sunset Limited.

These are the type of figures that anti-passenger rail folks repeat (and repeat and repeat) to make their case. However, “dollars per passenger” makes sense only when passengers on the service in question make trips that are all or nearly all the same length, as would be the case in an urban transit system.

The correct measurement is “dollars per passenger-mile”. This measure properly accounts for the fact that a passenger traveling between San Jose and Sacramento and a passenger traveling between Los Angeles and Jacksonville cannot be directly compared. After all, you wouldn’t compare a Guilford’s performance to that of the BN&SF solely by looking at ”revenue per ton.”

In the December 2 edition, mention is made of new Amtrak Director David Laney’s apparent independence from Bush Administration orders. The article states that former Amtrak Board-member Gov. Tommy Thompson (of Wisconsin) “left the Amtrak governing panel because his position as a member of the Bush administration cabinet put him in an awkward position if he actually were to disagree with the White House on an Amtrak issue.”

However, as was widely reported at the time of Thompson’s departure from Amtrak’s board, he left because there cannot be two federal employees on the board at any one time. Since, for reasons that are still unclear, the governor was appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services, and not Secretary of Transportation, so he couldn’t stay on Amtrak’s Board of Directors. It had nothing to do with fear of contradicting the Administration’s dictates.

Peter Laws
Lombard, Illinois


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MEETINGS...

January 11-15

National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Assn.
Annual exhibit, technical meeting

Weston Mission Hills
Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Contact Giovanna Bauguess at gbaugess@nrcma.org


January 25-29

APTA General Manager’s Seminar

Tampa Marriott Inn
Contact Tom Urban, turban@apta.com


February 9-11

APTA Legal Affairs Seminar

Savannah Marriott Riverfront
Savannah, Ga.

Contact: Kristen O’Grady, kogrady@apta.com


Looking Ahead...

June 4-9

APTA International Rail Rodeo

San Jose, Calif.
Hotel to be announced

Contact Anitha Tharapatla, atharapatla@apta.com


June 8-12, 2003

APTA Rail Transit Conference

Fairmont Hotel
San Jose, Calif.

Contact Heather Rachels, hrachels@apta.com.


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THE WAY WE WERE...

Wheels in the shop

NCI: Leo King collection via NYNH&H; Robert Yarnall

Ask any old-timer from the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Co. if he knew anything about the Readville shops in Massachusetts, he would probably gush with enthusiasm that was where the New Haven made its heavy locomotive repairs throughout the steam era. Consider these heavy drivers. We guess they are 73-inch diameter wheels, but it’s hard to say without know which engine they came from. The PR office only put a label on the back of the 8-by-10-inch print, “Wheels, RR_1538-27.”

End Notes...

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

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

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

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

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


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