The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

Publisher: James P. RePass      E-Zine Editor: Molly McKay
Foreign Editor: David Beale      Webmaster: Dennis Kirkpatrick

Contribute To The Cause
Help NCI Help You!

January 12, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 2

Copyright © 2009
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 20th Year

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

This E-Zine is best viewed at
1024 X 768 screen resolution

IN THIS EDITION...   In This Edition...

  News Items…
New London Rail Conference Attendees Alarmed at NJT
   Changes to ‘ARC’ Plan; Issues Urgent Request
   To Obama Team
‘Access To the Region’s Core’ Hudson River Tunnel Project Changed
   For The Worse By NJT
NCI Regional Transportation Conference Sees Record Attendance
Major Address By Senator Chris Dodd To NCI Transportation Forum:
   Get America Moving Again
High-Speed Rail The International Scene
  Commuter Lines…
Phoenix Opens $1.4 Billion Light-Rail System
MTA LIRR Achieves Record On-Time Performance
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Across The Pond…
Bombardier-Deutsche Bahn AG Sign Agreement Worth
   Up To EUR 1.5 Billion
Record Setting Cold Temperatures Bring Traffic Chaos
   To Northwestern Europe
  Commentary…
New Jersey Transit’s “ARC” Tunnel Project: Costs Keep Rising
   Out of Control
  Publication Notes …


NEWS OF THE WEEK... News Items...

 

‘Access to the Region’s Core’ tunnel gutted by New Jersey Transit plan

 


New London Rail Conference Attendees
Alarmed at NJT Changes to ‘ARC’ Plan;
Issues Urgent Request to Obama Team

By DF Staff

NEW LONDON --- Participants at New London’s NCI/Sierra Club of Connecticut Transportation Forum “The Need For Speed” January 9 were alarmed to learn from New Jersey transportation advocates that the proposed new Hudson River tunnels --- originally designed to be provide access from New Jersey to Penn Station, then Grand Central Station, permitting much increased Northeastern-Eastern Seaboard rail connectivity, has been changed by project leader New Jersey Transit into a deep, dead-end tunnel ending near 34th Street in Manhattan, and serving only New Jersey commuters.

As reconfigured, and if approved by the US DOT, this $10 billion project would cut out Amtrak capacity needs, and with imminent repairs to the existing two-tube Hudson River tunnels, halve rail service to New England on weekends, and perhaps weekdays as well, depending on the severity of growing maintenance requirements for the 100-year-old, existing Hudson tubes.

Activists from the National Association of Railroad Passengers, the Lackawanna Coalition, the Sierra Club, NCI, and other organizations made a passionate plea Friday at New London’s transportation forum that conference attendees write and/or call President-elect Obama and their Congressmen, Senators, Governors, and state senatorial/house leaders at once to register their objections to the stub-terminal ARC plan, which differs greatly from the through-tunnel design originally envisioned, and threatens the economic viability of all of New England by introducing a new choke-point in its transportation system.

New Jersey Transit, they reported, was lobbying both the outgoing Bush Administration and the incoming Obama Administration to issue a so-called Record of Decision (“ROD”) on the $10 billion dead-end track project, rather than wait a few weeks to allow the new Obama Administration to weight the benefits of all proposals for the tunnel.

At the request of the New Jersey advocates at the New London regional transportation forum, a conference resolution opposing the dead-end plan was authorized to be issued to President-elect Obama, other relevant government officials, and the news media. It follows here:

 

‘Access To the Region’s Core’
Hudson River Tunnel Project
Changed for the Worse By NJT

 

January 9, 2009
Sent To President-elect Barack Obama
Via Obama Transportation Transition Team Leader Mortimer L. Downey
And to Northeastern Governors Via Charles Tretter,
Executive Director, The New England Governors’ Conference

 

WHEREAS...

...It is in both the nation’s and Northeast region’s interests that the capacity of the Northeast Rail Corridor (NEC) is increased and its security and resiliency be improved;

...The two existing NEC train tunnels under the Hudson River are now at capacity during rush hours, affecting both regional and intercity rail service;

...NCI has for 20 years urged, and the Northeastern Governors in 2008 approved, a resolution to increase NEC services in the next 25 years to reduce highway and airport congestion, and assist in the attainment of regional environmental air quality goals;

...Studies undertaken by New Jersey Transit (NJT) indicated increased demand by NJ commuters for destinations on Manhattan’s west side, served by Penn Station (NYP), and also its east side, served by Grand Central Terminal (GCT);

...The project requirements now listed for a new trans-Hudson tunnel are no longer satisfied by the compromised October 2008 version of the FEIS for the ARC project, despite its nearly $10 billion price tag. The most significant deficiency is the lack of an interlocking connection on the New York side of the Hudson for ARC tunnels with the NEC, which would forever preclude Amtrak intercity trains from using the new ARC tunnels. Another deficiency is the proposed $3 billion ARC stub-end terminal, 175 feet beneath 34th St in Manhattan, which is separated from the transportation hub at NYP. A third deficiency is that lack of a connection for NJT commuters to GCT.

...The backup NEC tunnel component in the original proposal for the RC tunnel but abandoned by this one remains vitally important for both the nation and the region;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, THAT...

...We, citizens of New England and the Northeast gathered in conference today January 9, 2009, in New London, Connecticut, do hereby respectfully ask President-elect Barack Obama to:

...Direct Secretary of Transportation-designate Ray LaHood to refrain from issuing any Record of Decision (ROD) based on NJT’s flawed October 2008 FEIS for the ARC, as the project outlined therein no longer addresses the original ARC requirements, and has substantial technical and analytic --- but discoverable and correctable -- errors.

...Direct NJ Transit to recall the same October 2008 ARCFEIS and take whatever steps necessary to expedite its replacement with a new FEIS based on the February 2007 DEIS which addresses Amtrak, Eastern Seaboard and NJT commuter rail needs. This important action will: (1) restore the connectivity (“interlocking” in rail jargon) of the ARC tunnels on the NY side of the Hudson to the NEC; (2) bring the new rail tunnels and NJT commuters into Penn Station adjacent to the original tunnels giving them access to existing platforms, instead of isolating them 200 feet to the North in an unconnected deep cavern; (3) ensure Amtrak will be able to use all tunnels for intercity rail service, (4) provide both NJT and Amtrak operational flexibility and backup redundancy, and (5) eliminate the costly, ill conceived, and unnecessary $3 billion, deep cavern, stub-end, six-platform ARC terminal, 175 feel under 34th St.. Further decisions on Penn Station improvements, GCT connection, and Moynihan Station developments can be taken at a later time, while the ARC tunnels are being bored, but review is essential to prevent the very major policy/infrastructure mistake that would result from issuing an ROD on NJT’s changed, and flawed, tunnel plan.


Return to index  


 

NCI Regional Transportation Conference
Sees Record Attendance

By DF Staff

NCI Jan 2009 New London Conference

Photo: NCI

A packed conference room of listens to questions from the floor at NCI’s January 2009 Regional Conference on Transportation.

Connecticut’s Senate President Don Williams (D-Brooklyn)

Connecticut’s Senate President
Don Williams (D-Brooklyn)

Transit advocates, transportation experts and a lineup of politically powerful speakers from six states in the Northeast, along with California High Speed Rail expert Rod Diridon from San Jose, gathered at the Radisson Hotel in New London last Friday to present a wide-ranging program on America’s urgent need for investment in rail and transit infrastructure if we are going to compete in global markets.. Organized by Connecticut Sierra Club and National Corridors Initiative, the forum was entitled The Need for Speed! Let’s Get Going On Better Rail NYC to Boston and Beyond!

Connecticut’s Senate President Don Williams (D-Brooklyn), who opened the morning session, spoke about the changing attitude of the public toward mass transit: “The irony is, now is when some folks who’ve opposed mass transit initiatives are starting to get religion. Does anyone think they are going to see fuel prices this depressed when we come out of this [downturn]?”

Williams emphasized the “need for speed” in the agonizingly slow process of getting rail projects off the ground. He quoted a 1995 testimony by then state Representative Chris Donovan (D-Meriden; now Speaker of the House) on the urgent need to bring back commuter rail service on the New Haven-Springfield line. The project, mired in red tape, is not projected to be completed until 2015.

The Senator also spoke of the importance of regional planning and cooperation among the Northeast states which will greatly benefit by connecting the dots throughout New England. For example, Shore Line East expansion to New London could connect with New London-Worcester commuter rail, which in turn will open up a stream-lined commute to Boston for eastern Connecticut residents.

Connecticut’s new Deputy House Speaker David McCluskey (D-West Hartford), who serves on the Transportation Bonding Sub-committee, explained that if Connecticut’s regional planning commissions were consolidated into five agencies, they could be empowered to prioritize bond projects that will benefit the region. Also, state DOT’s must talk to each other, he said. “Often that is not the case, thus the process drags on and things don’t get done. In speaking about the New Haven-Springfield service, he said, “If I were governor, we would get that done in the next two years!”

Legislators promised a new effort to break a “highways first” culture in state government. Former Congressman Rob Simmons described the Obama administration’s stimulus plan as an extraordinary chance to expand rapid transit throughout Connecticut and New England

“It’s easy to do roads and bridges. Rail takes extra effort,” Simmons said. “Don’t let anybody in Connecticut talk about ‘shovel-ready’ for roads and bridges without talking about ‘shovel-ready’ for rail.”


Return to index

 

Author of Infrastructure Bank Legislation

 

Major address by Senator Chris Dodd
To NCI Transportation Forum:
Get America Moving Again

 

[ Editor’s Note – As has become customary, NCI will be creating a section at its web site where presentations of this nature will be featured and archived for future reference. In the upcoming weeks we hope to compile and publish additional materials from the New London conference held January 9, 2009 which will be presented in Destination: Freedom as well as in the archive. ]

 

It’s a pleasure to be with so many men and women who care deeply about addressing our region’s transportation challenges – citizens, legislators, architectural firms, and advocates who understand the connection between infrastructure and our quality of life, our communities’ competitiveness, our collective ability to grow and prosper, and the kind of future we leave for our children.

I want to thank the Sierra Club and the National Corridors Initiative for not only their work in recognizing the role rail and transit will play in shaping that future, but bringing the stakeholders together with this conference today.

I wholeheartedly endorse the resolution you are sending to President-elect Obama. And I know Joe Courtney would agree with me and wanted to be here.

You have it exactly right – this is about getting our country moving again!


Photo: NCI

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) addresses the assembly at NCI’s January 2009 Conference.

We have truly entered a transformational moment – with an economy mired in a deep recession, and more than a half million jobs lost in just the last month.

At the same time, we have two ongoing wars abroad, a deepening dependence on fossil fuels much of which is imported from unstable parts of the world, an increasingly competitive global marketplace, and rising concerns about global warming – all of which impact our economy, our environment, our health and safety, and our ability to lead the world.

These are all enormous challenges. But combined they also present a once-in-a-generation opportunity for leadership and change.

And few issues give us the opportunity to tackle so many of these problems at once as transportation and transit.

Right now, we hear a lot about infrastructure in the context of economic growth. And it isn’t hard to figure out why.

It’s estimated that each billion dollars invested in transportation creates or sustains some 47,000 transportation construction jobs – jobs that on average pay nearly $1,000 per week.

Jobs that cannot be outsourced - at a time when we’ve lost more than a million jobs in two months, its importance cannot be overstated.

That’s why infrastructure investment will be at the heart of the economic recovery plan we hope to have on President-elect Obama’s desk soon.

It will likely include tens of billions of dollars for transportation infrastructure – highways, bridges, transit, passenger rail, and airports that will be critical to the success and continued vitality of states like Connecticut, which have some of the oldest and most congested roads, bridges and railroads in the country.

I am working hard to ensure that Connecticut gets its fair share.

But in a matter of days, we will have a president and a Congress that understand the benefits that investments in public transportation can bring not only on the macro level—to reducing congestion, increasing mobility, improving energy security, and addressing climate change—but the community level as well – helping connect workers to the jobs communities need, from the mechanics, nurses, and plumbers, to the young engineers and entrepreneurs, to those in our high tech and bio tech industries and others.

For too long, we’ve approached these issues discretely—as if they existed in some kind of vacuum—and with too little leadership at the national level.

I don’t pretend to believe that Congress always gets it right when it comes to deciding what issues come before what committee. How the House Energy and Commerce Committee can oversee biomedical research as well as travel and tourism remains a mystery to me.

But with the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee which oversees our nation’s transit policy, we did get it right.

As the chair of that committee and a member for some 28 years, I see it as my responsibility to connect these worlds so that we can invest in things like housing and public transportation strategically.

By coordinating housing and transit policy to encourage smart land-use, we can spur “transit-oriented development” that helps to increase ridership and create vibrant communities where people can live and work with a smaller carbon footprint.

I know I’m preaching to the choir.

Right here in New London, the Intermodal Transportation Center is an excellent example. This site is where Amtrak, the Cross Sound Ferry, the Southeast Area Transit public bus system, and taxis all converge.

When supported by safe and adequate pedestrian access, the Intermodal Center will truly be the economic engine for the New London community and a model for the region.

And so, what I want to talk about with you today is how we can leverage this moment to not only get our economy moving again in the short term but begin making the kinds of transportation investments we need to be competitive as communities, as a region and as a nation in the 21st century.

We have a golden opportunity in the coming months to not only rebuild existing transportation infrastructure and provide new capacity—and we need to—but to also start thinking differently about the role transportation plays in America – about how we get to work and school, how our businesses move and ship products.

Not just how we live our lives today, but how we want to live our lives tomorrow.

Thinking Regionally

As we prepare to make what President-elect Obama has said will be a historic investment in our country’s infrastructure, we should consider how our needs have changed in the last century.

The truth is, since our nation’s current highway system was built in the 1950’s, our economy has wholly reinvented itself, and in the coming years it almost certainly will again.

The bulk of this growth has occurred in metropolitan regions – and along with it, the bulk of the congestion.

Already, there are more people on our roads and rails than we can handle, traveling to different places than they were a half century ago, at different times, and often for completely different reasons.

Approaching transportation differently starts with thinking about transit regionally.

Public transit plays an important role in Connecticut. Already, we have critical regional infrastructure in place in our two commuter rail lines, Shore Line East and the New Haven Line, on which passengers take some 36 million trips every year.

Each help create the kind of transportation corridors we need to accommodate businesses and families.

And we all know the importance of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor to our region.

With Barack Obama and Joe Biden in the White House, I’m confident we will finally make the investments we need for a first-class passenger rail system – investments that make it better, faster and more reliable.

But the need to expand is obvious. In the 21st century global economy, states like Connecticut can’t afford to be isolated from its neighbors or only connected to New York, even.

People today may live in Rhode Island and work in Hartford or New London.

Or maybe they live in Connecticut and commute to Massachusetts.

That tells us that the future of commuter rail in our region will be projects like the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line.

The “Tri-City Connector” will take cars off the highways and link communities all the way from New Haven to Springfield.

It will improve access to Bradley International Airport, already one the region’s busiest airports.

And it is expected to result in an estimated 630,000 additional trips per year.

That not only means alleviating increasingly severe chronic vehicle congestion clogging the I-95 and I-91 corridors though Connecticut but also curbing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Tri-City Connector is but one idea whose time has come.

And if we start thinking about these challenges not simply community-by-community or state-by-state but region-to-region, I know there will be many more.

Opportunities

And we don’t have to wait. Congress is scheduled to reauthorize the surface transportation statute later this year, and the Banking Committee will play a critical role in that effort by writing the transit provisions of that law.

For sure, transit’s moment has already arrived.

The number of riders is growing and reaching levels we have not seen in decades. In 2007, Americans took over 10 billion trips on public transit, the highest number in half a century.

Public transit saves over 4 billion gallons of gasoline annually and reduces carbon emissions by some 37 million metric tons a year – that’s the equivalent to the electricity used by almost 5 million households.

While this increase has helped us to reduce both carbon emissions and congestion, challenges remain – not least of which is the fact that many transit systems are operating on aging infrastructures that are incapable of accommodating growing demand.

I hope you will reach out to me with your own ideas as we begin work on this important effort.

At this moment, with our challenges so great and so interconnected, our goal with the surface transportation reauthorization should be nothing less than reinventing transportation policy for the 21st century.

Big Ideas

But to fund these ideas now and into the future, we need to start thinking big as well.

One of my top priorities in this Congress as Banking Committee Chairman is creating a National Infrastructure Bank – an idea I developed over the course of several years with Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, former Senator Warren Rudman and Felix Rohatyn.

With the Federal Transit Administration estimating that almost $22 billion is needed every year over the next two decades to maintain and improve the operational capacity of transit systems, we agreed that the time had come to think differently about how we finance the projects most important to our communities and regions.

The need was obvious.

In fact, only hours after Senator Hagel and I formally proposed this legislation, the bridge carrying Interstate 35 over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis buckled and broke, killing 13 people and injuring than 100.

And of course, for those who remember the Mianus River Bridge collapse in Greenwich 25 years ago, this type of tragedy is all too familiar.

A National Infrastructure Bank would create a new funding stream and a new competitive process that ensures that those projects with the greatest economic and environmental benefits receive funding.

That means projects that promote economic growth, smart growth and good urban land use policies – projects that provide tangible environmental benefits.

I know many of you are interested in how the bank works.

We are working to reintroduce this bill in the 111th Congress, but I have brought a summary with me that I hope you will look over.

President-elect Obama co-sponsored our infrastructure bank legislation as a Senator and endorsed the idea during his campaign as well.

So, I’m hopeful to see action on the bill this year – either as part of the recovery plan or the surface transportation bill.

However it happens, finding new ways to provide new funding for large, complicated infrastructure projects will be a priority for me, because at a time of great economic challenges, it’s priority for this region and for America.

And if we think big, we can make it a reality.

Closing

President James Garfield’s greatest contribution to the American presidency was probably that he was America’s first ambidextrous president.

But he once said something that struck a chord with me.

He said, “The American people have done much for the locomotive, and the locomotive has done much for them.”

Those words reaffirm for me the impact transportation policy can have – on our people, on our economies and the kind of society we want to be.

They remind me that the moment has arrived to bring transportation policy into the 21st century.

For all the challenges to our economic and environmental security, we do not lack the resources or the ingenuity to face them – we never have.

And I need only look out at the people in this room to know that.

But moments don’t transform themselves. They require us to consider what is possible when we act in common purpose.

If we do—and when it comes to transportation policy, I believe we all want to—we can face our challenges with confidence and optimism for the future.

We can rebuild our region and our country to meet the challenges of this new century.

With this “perfect storm” of needs and opportunities before us, that’s what this conference is about – and it’s what I pledge to you I will be working toward in the coming months.


Return to index

 

High-Speed Rail
The International Scene

By DF Staff

A Summary of a Presentation by Rod Dirirdon, Chairman Emeritus, California High-Speed Rail

 

“They are going to eat our lunch.”

While founder and present Chair Emeritus of the California High Speed Rail Authority Rod Diridon inspired the audience with news of California’s High Speed Rail project which will connect San Francisco and the Los Angeles area, he proceeded to stun the group with facts about high speed rail projects elsewhere in the world. China presently has 230,000 kilometers of high-speed rail and is planning to build 13 more projects in the next nine years

Around the world, the industrialized countries are way ahead of the United States in this arena. France, which is the most aggressive in improving technology, is working on a train, steel wheel on rail – not mag-lev, which will go 357 mph. China, India, Italy, Taiwan, Korea and some areas of Africa are all making major investments in high-speed rail.


Photo: NCI

Chair Emeritus of the California High Speed Rail Authority Rod Diridon.

Mag-Lev, which has been studied by China and built by Germany (although only for export to Japan, never for Germany itself) has been ultimately rejected. It uses four times the energy in operation as steel wheel on rail and is at least three and a half times as expensive to build. One test train in overheated and burned up.

The safety issue gives trains a tremendous advantage over car-dependent travel, said Diridon. Japan, which has been running high-speed trains since 1964, has not had a single fatality. There are NO at-grade crossings in high-speed rail corridors. In the United States, 43,000 people were killed on the highways last year, and hundreds of thousands injured.

Other interesting facts in Diridon’s presentation underscored the opportunities the United States is missing. Building high-speed trains is a multi-billion dollar industry in other developed countries. The U.S. is not doing it.

Despite the disadvantages of the Northeast Corridor where, because of the curves, the average speed is only about 85 mph, that service has captured 40 percent of the air travelers between Washington, DC and Boston. A dedicated environmentalist, Diridon noted that air travel for short hops is the most polluting.

“For sure, transit’s moment has arrived,” U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd told the crowd. “We have entered a transformational moment, a once-in-a-generation opportunity. But these moments don’t last long.”

Dodd, whose Banking Committee has major influence over federal transportation policy, described 2009 as a pivotal year for rebuilding half-abandoned rail routes and extending new ones. That will create good-paying construction jobs in the short term, and will transform the region in the long run, he said. {The complete speech of the Senator is included below.}

Speakers from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire gave information on projects that are almost ready to go and others that are in the planning process. Tom Irwin from Conservation Law Foundation’s New Hampshire branch spoke about the total absence of rail in New Hampshire ten years ago whereas today there is a New Hampshire Rail Authority and there is tremendous interest in pursuing commuter rail from Nashua to Boston.

In New York City – a good project gone bad:

A $10 billion project, “Access to the Region’s Core,” was originally going to do just that ....build a new tunnel under the Hudson River that would go to Penn Station and continue on to Grand Central Terminal, providing much needed through travel to the east and west sides the city. It has morphed into a catastrophe -- a tunnel ending in a stub end terminal two blocks from Penn Station, excluding Amtrak from the new tunnel and blocking through connections to the east and west sides.. See ARC Resolution in this edition of DF. Full and complete information about the new plan has been kept secret, while proponents are lobbying heavily for the project to be included in Obama’s stimulus plan.

Dollar gas tax proposal

Tax increases make politicians shudder. But Matt Nemerson, President of Connecticut Technology Council, who is proposing such a tax, argues that while gas prices are low, this is the perfect time to prepare for the future. Such a tax would raise billions of dollars which could be used to transit and rail investments. Thus when oil prices go up again, we would be ready. And it would reduce our dependence on foreign oil and be far better for the environment. Trains are at least six times more efficient and less polluting than the automobile.


Return to index
COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

Phoenix opens $1.4 billion light-rail system

By David Schwartz via Reuters

Phoenix Light Rail

Phoenix Light Rail
PHOENIX (Reuters) – With a hearty “All Aboard,” Phoenix launched a sleek new $1.4 billion light-rail system on Saturday amid uncertainty people will hop out of their cars and onto the train.

About 75 people became the first riders of the 32 km (20 mile) system that snakes through a sprawling desert metropolitan area that includes the cities of Tempe and Mesa.

Planners project building 30 additional miles of light-rail lines by 2025, but it has yet to be determined if the area’s love of cars will trump trains.

“The novelty is going to wear off and you’ll see whether it catches on or not,” said Sam Mazzeo, 50, a mortgage broker who was at a downtown Phoenix light-rail station. “People use mass transit in other cities. You know, gas is not going to stay cheap forever.”

Critics question whether enough people will be willing to switch from air-conditioned cars and trucks to the light-rail system where they will have to sweat out summertime waits at train stations. The average high temperature for Phoenix in July is 41°C (106° F).

Phoenix had been the largest U.S. city without a public rail transit system. The fifth-most populous U.S. city has about 1.6 million people, with more than 4 million in the Phoenix-Tempe-Mesa area.

Phoenix’s old trolley system shut down 60 years ago.

The economic crisis should encourage ridership, said Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.

“Everybody realizes that the days of three- or four-car families are a thing of the past,” Gordon told Reuters. “We can no longer afford to do that.”

Phoenix Light Rail

Holiday crowds are accommodated.

Gordon said commuting by train was cheaper than car travel, reduced traffic congestion and helped cut auto emissions, which are linked to global warming.

Rides will be free until Thursday, the first day of 2009, when they will cost $1.25. A day pass will cost $2.50. Metro officials expect 26,000 boardings a day in 2009.

Other Western U.S. cities that built train systems in the past two decades include Dallas, Denver, Houston and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Plans for the system were first envisioned in the 1980s, but voters rejected several ballot measures before finally approving a sales tax to help finance light rail. Federal funds paid roughly half the cost.


Return to index
 

MTA LIRR achieves record on-time performance

Via Metro Magazine

JAN 8 -The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Long Island Railroad (LIRR) achieved a 95.14 percent on-time performance (OTP) in 2008, breaking 2007’s record setting 94.07 percent by a full percentage point.

The 95.14 percent OTP is the best since modern record keeping began in 1979. The LIRR reached the 95.14 percent milestone in 2008 while operating 245,933 trains – 1,368 more trains than last year.

A train is considered on time if it reaches its final destination within 5 minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled arrival time. The standard measure, used throughout the commuter rail industry, was adopted by the LIRR in 1979.


Return to index
STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)74.5878.45
Canadian National (CNI)38.7437.93
Canadian Pacific (CP)35.4034.35
CSX (CSX)34.5234.62
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)28.4131.54
Kansas City Southern (KSU)21.3820.39
Norfolk Southern (NSC)46.5549.07
Providence & Worcester (PWX)13.0712.25
Union Pacific (UNP)48.1250.13


Return to index

ACROSS THE POND... Across The Pond...

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor
 

Bombardier-Deutsche Bahn AG Sign Agreement Worth up to EUR 1.5 Billion

DBAG’s Mehdorn: Large Investments in Coaches Will Bolster DB’s Ability to Compete
for Local Transportation Tenders As Well As Sending an Economic Message
 

Source: Deutsche Bahn AG (DBAG) and Bombardier Transportation Press Releases

Berlin – Bombardier Transportation and Deutsche Bahn (DB) signed a framework agreement for 800 double-deck coaches with a total value of up to EUR 1.5 billion (US $2.1 billion). With the new generation of vehicles, Deutsche Bahn will actively compete for tenders in the local rail transport market within Germany and perhaps in neighboring countries in 2009 and beyond.

“In particular in these difficult economic times, we have decided to invest in the future. This decision is also intended to communicate an economic message. It will enable us to make outstanding transport bids in the regional transportation market and offer convincing quality. Economical and powerful transportation demands a modern fleet of energy-saving vehicles that can be used in flexible combination with one another,” says DB CEO Hartmut Mehdorn.”

Artist concept of a new multilevel Bombardier regional train in Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Photo: Bombardier

Double your pleasure – a artist concept of a new multilevel Bombardier regional train in Berlin Hauptbahnhof. The 800 newly ordered rail vehicles will closely resemble the existing fleet of more than 1600 Bombardier multi-level coaches in operation in Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Israel and elsewhere.

The agreement allows DB to alter and customize the exact configuration of the passenger rail cars as required for its operations. New for Germany and Deutsche Bahn will be the delivery of many of these double-decker cars in EMU configuration. All previous examples of the approximately 1600 Bombardier double-decker passenger cars delivered in Germany have been locomotive-hauled versions. Aside from the EMU or self-propelled operation or unpowered configuration, DB will also have leeway in specifying how many of the cars will have a driver cab and what type of floor plan the car will have. The new cars will be compatible in operation in train sets with the existing fleet of Bombardier double-decker trains built in 1992 or later for German operation.

The newly signed contract is the second major contract between DBAG and Bombardier for regional and commuter trains. Slightly over a year ago the two companies signed a similar but somewhat smaller agreement that specifies the supply of several hundred Bombardier “Talent 2” low floor EMU train-sets to DBAG’s regional and commuter rail divisions.

In a separate and earlier press release, Bombardier announced the sale of 34 double-decker locomotive-hauled passenger coaches to the German state of Lower Saxony. The cars will be titled to the state’s public transport agency LNVG and most likely leased long-term to Metronom, a company which operates regional express trains in the eastern and northern parts of the state, including services on the Hamburg – Hannover – Göttingen corridor and the Hamburg – Bremen route, under a contract to the state government.


Return to index
 

Record Setting Cold Temperatures Bring
Traffic Chaos To Northwestern Europe

Cold, Ice and Snow hit Germany’s Deutsche Bahn hard

Hannover – The first full week of 2009 proved to be the coldest on record in many decades in much of northern and western Europe. After a series of unusually warm winters in the past decade in Europe, the sub-freezing temperatures apparently caught much of the transportation system off-guard.

Temperatures dropped to the –10°C to –25°C (+14°F to –13°F) range in much of Germany and northwestern Europe by Monday morning, after a medium strength winter storm dropped snow, sleet and freezing rain across the region on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday evening (4th Jan.) traffic jams on the regions highways and autobahns grew to lengths of 30 km (20 miles) or longer as snow and ice related accidents brought road traffic to a standstill. More traffic jams formed around the region on Monday and Tuesday due to ongoing problems with snow and ice on roads and highways.

The unusually cold weather exacted a doubly heavy toll on the rail system in much of Germany, with many otherwise automobile commuters leaving their cars at home and riding the trains instead, along with various and widespread weather related operational problems in the rail system. Train delays mounted as ice and cold caused passenger train doors to malfunction, interlockings to freeze and heavy arcing and sparking from frost and ice built-up on the cantenary played havoc with locomotive and EMU electrical systems. By Monday evening, the remaining commuter and regional trains which were still operating were standing room only and running with delays anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours behind schedule.


Photo: David Beale.

Snowbound – an eastbound pair of ICE-2 train sets blasts through Haste at 160 km/h (100 mph) in the western suburbs of Hannover during the snow storm on the 4th of January on the way to Hannover and Berlin.

On Wednesday evening, when temperatures had moderated to a tropical –6°C in the Hannover area, a westbound ICE high speed train from Berlin came to a commanded stop in the countryside in the outer eastern suburbs of Hannover due to a brake fault message displayed on the train driver’s desk in the locomotive cab. The ICE remained stationary for slightly over two hours until network control managers and technicians, in consultation with the train driver, decided to move the train at very low speed to the next station in order to unload the passengers on to other trains for continuation of their trip. The Berlin – Wolfsburg – Hannover rail corridor was essentially shut down for several hours as a result of the stalled ICE-2 train. The event lead to more criticism of DB in the local press the following morning. DB technical personnel later determined that ice build-up on some of the train set’s disk brake actuators caused diagnostic sensors to trigger the electronic fault message to the train driver.

As temperatures moderated by Saturday (10th Jan.) into the 0°C (32°F) range, operations on both the rail system and highways were nearly back to normal. With freight train traffic very much down from the same period last year (up to 30% less in some cases), due to numerous German automotive, construction and chemical industries making an extended holiday shut-down because of world-wide economic instability, the past week’s travel chaos could have been much worse than it was.


Return to index
COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

New Jersey Transit’s “ARC” Tunnel Project:
Costs Keep Rising Out of Control

By David Peter Alan

By June, 2007, New Jersey Transit’s “ARC” Project was a shadow of its former self, despite severe cost increases. The proposed tunnels would no longer connect with Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Line (NEC), while riders on the Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton Lines would lose access to the existing Penn Station. The original goal of “Access to the Region’s Core” was forgotten, and there was nothing left to be gained for the massive investment required, except increased capacity under the Hudson River.

There were more cost increases and another scope reduction in 2008. In June, estimated costs of the Portal Bridge Project more than doubled, rising by $900 million to $1.7 billion. In October, a new cost estimate for the “ARC” project of $8.7 billion was released. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) also called for an additional expenditure of $400 million for equipment that would be needed for the projected operating plan, so the actual new total was $9.1 billion. This constituted an increase of $1.7 billion over the previous year’s $7.4 billion (23%), with a saving of $200 million by eliminating tail tracks on the upper level. Combined with the 2008 estimate for Portal Bridge, the total cost of the mega-project is currently estimated at $10.8 billion.

This figure is 238% higher than the cost estimate for Alternative “G” from 2003, which would have included access to Grand Central Terminal, prevented any West Side riders from being evicted from the existing Penn Station and allowed Amtrak to use the proposed new tunnel. The estimated cost increase since 2003 is nearly ten times the increase in the Producer Price Index, which rose only 24% during the same period. Since June 2005, the cost estimate for the mega-project has risen from $6.1 billion to $10.8 billion, an increase of 77%. By contrast, the Producer Price Index rose by only 15% during the same period. By any reasonable comparison, costs for the mega-project have vastly outstripped inflation.

With an anticipated contribution from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey of $3.0 billion, as well as $2.5 billion expected from the FTA, New Jersey must still contribute $5.3 billion toward the entire mega-project. Even with an expected contribution of $1.25 billion from an increase in tolls on the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike, New Jersey still faces a shortfall of $4.05 billion for funding the combined projects. So far, anticipated funds add up to $6.75 billion; $2.35 billion short of the total cost of the “ARC” Project alone.

In addition, nobody seems to know how the Portal Bridge Project will be financed, even though the FEIS clearly states that Portal Bridge is needed for the operation of the line to be built under the “ARC” Project. This is another $1.7 billion that must be raised, and nobody has yet addressed the issue of where this money will be found.


Return to index
END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2009 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

Web page links as reproduced in our articles are active at the time we go to press. Occasionally, news and information outlets may opt to archive these articles and notices under alternative web addresses after initial publication. NCI has no control over the policies of other web sites and regrets any inconvenience experienced when clicking off our web site.

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

Photo submissions are welcome. NCI is always interested in images that demonstrate the positive aspects of rail, transit, intermodalism, transportation-oriented development, and current newsworthy events associated with our mission. Please contact the webmaster in advance of sending large images so we can recommend attachment by e-mail or grant direct file transfer protocols (FTP) access depending on size. Descriptive text which includes location and something about the content of the image is required. We will credit the photographer and offer a return link to your web site or e-mail address.

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

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

|| Top of Page || Past Newsletter Editions || NCI Home Page || Contact Us

  || page viewings since date of release.