Vol. 8 No. 2
Copyright © 2007
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elected and appointed officials at all levels of government.
In this edition...
Former Amtrak President:
NJ Transit exec director Warrington
steps down to pursue other opportunities
TRENTON --- In a move that caught many by surprise, NJ Transit Executive Director George Warrington, a former Amtrak President with decades of Northeast Corridor operating experience, announced his resignation last week in a letter to employees to pursue other opportunities.
He will stay at the agency through March.
Industry rumors had Warrington, only 54, in line for the number-two spot at Connecticuts Department of Transportation with a specific, new Rail Commissioner portfolio, but that could not be confirmed at press time.
Warrington runs one of the nations biggest transit operators, third after New York and Chicago, and the largest statewide agency in the country. Appointed in early 2002 after leaving Amtrak in February of that year after a four-year run, he has been responsible for the agencys bus, rail and light rail network, which is used by more than 2.4 million people every year, and for overseeing the agencys 10,000 employees $2 billion capital and operating budgets.
Photo: NCINCI President Jim RePass and then-Amtrak President George Warrington aboard an Amtrak trains Amfleet Business Class car.
State Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri said he accepted Warringtons resignation with regret.
Im sorry to see him go but I respect the fact that he made this decision based on discussions he had with his family, Dolluri said. Hes not leaving without having made a positive contribution to the people of New Jersey.
Warrington was appointed to head up the agency by then Governor James McGreevey. At the time, New Jersey was in the process of improving and expanding their transit system while slowing down on new highway construction. For almost a decade, the state had been following a policy of Fix It First for highways in order to bring road condition up to a state of good repair while focusing on investing in major expansion of their mass transit system.
In a release the state said, The governor had taken a back to basics approach in making improvements to NJ Transit; his mission was clear ease crowding, improve customer service, implement internal efficiencies. By putting the customer first in all areas of the commuting experience, the agency strove to provide adequate, convenient parking, clean equipment, reliable, frequent service, increased capacity, expanded hours, and gave more attention to listening to customers concerns.
Warrington was also charged with improving internal efficiencies: As we looked at ways to improve the way we did business externally, we also had to take a hard top to bottom look at how we conducted business internally, Warrington said.
When Warrington arrived in May of 2002, one of his first tasks was to establish five task forces to focus on the critical areas outlined above. After six months, Warrington reported his accomplishments to transit board members: 34 new trains added to ease crowding, cleaner equipment improved the quality of the commute for customers, expanded hours for round trip excursion, rules simplified for senior citizens and persons with disabilities in response to customers complaints
Also, as featured last week in DF, NJ Transit has purchased new Multi-Level Vehicles from Bombardier to replace the Comet cars now in service. These rail cars feature soft lighting and four-abreast seating on two main levels and a mid-level, and are already popular with NJT commuters because of their quiet ride and comfort.
As for improving efficiency internally, Warrington announced that he expected they would realize an annual $29 million savings over the next year by optimizing the internal processes and reducing staffing levels.
Prior to joining NJ Transit, Mr. Warrington was President and CEO of Amtrak, having started his career at Amtrak in 1994 as President of its Northeast Corridor business unit, and moving up to the Presidency in 1998 after the Board dismissed then-president Tom Downs, now President of the Eno foundation. His tenure at Amtrak was marked with both innovation and controversy, as Amtrak confronted a hostile operating environment created by a GOP-controlled Congress and a White House whos Office of Management and Budget repeatedly cut Amtraks budget below the survival level, and sought to dismantle Amtrak in the latter years of his service. Warrington nevertheless led Amtrak to record growth focusing upon building and diversifying Amtraks lines of business. He introduced a number of highly successful customer-focused efforts and significantly increased the companys revenue through increased ridership and expansion of mail and express services, commuter operations and other commercial enterprises. Insufficient Congressional capital support for some of these efforts meant that they were unsustainable, however. He was succeeded by David Gunn in 2002, who with great courage confronted the White House with demands for sufficient capital to restore operating levels and to refurbish worn equipment. Gunn was fired in November 2005 for refusing to accede to persistent White House micro-management interference in Amtraks operations, including the break-up plan that new Amtrak management says is currently shelved.
Prior to Amtrak, George Warrington served as the Executive Director and President of the Delaware River Port Authority and Port Authority Transit Corporation from July 1992 to January 1994. He was the Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation from November 1990 to July 1992.
San Carlos, CA --- The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (CALTRAIN) may not be a name familiar to all, but it has fired the first shot in what could be a revolution in American transit practices.
CALTRAIN is one of several joint-powers operating boards created in California to handle regional transportation systems by collecting mayors, local transit and other local agency heads under one umbrella, and appointing a single boss to operate the commuter trains in that region. Caltrains region includes San Francisco, Palo Alto, and the booming region known worldwide as Silicon Valley.
The 20-year plan Project 2025, written by PCJBB with the support of major industry consulting firms HNTB Corporation, Parsons Corporation, Parsons, Brinkerhoff, Quade &Douglas, Carter Burgess, and LTK Engineering Services, calls for the systemwide introduction of light-weight, highs speed EMU (electric multi-unit) self-powered commuter rail cars on the line, which runs the length of the peninsula from San Francisco south to San Jose and then, with limited service, to Gilroy. See system map.
This would require changes in current Federal Railroad Administration safety standards, which prohibit the operation of lightweight, European-style rail cars on lines also used by regular locomotives. Such changes have been granted in temporary waiver form in the past for specific train operations, but never for a permanent, system-wide change.
In its report, presented to the Board January 4, CALTRAIN executives showed two major options for the technological changes required to increase rail line capacity as commuter demand continues to soar in the region: replacement of current diesel locomotives with electrically powered locos, or the complete replacement of both the present locomotives and their conventional passengers with EMUs; the latter is the favored option in the report.
The first alternative under the electrified operating methodology is to procure Electric Locomotives to haul Bombardier style coach cars as are currently operated on the system. Comparatively, this solution is relatively low risk and supports operations to the Transbay Terminal. However, it is not compatible with proposed non-compliant high-speed rail equipment and has less operational flexibility than the second alternative, wrote Caltrain.
The second alternative is to procure Electric Multiple Units (EMUs), which are typically non-FRA compliant in a rail transit application. The advantages of an EMU fleet include the ability to operate seamlessly and efficiently to the Transbay Terminal, compatibility with potential high-speed rail vehicle technology, and superior operational flexibility and performance characteristics. EMUs offer the ability to overtake trains, resulting in a blend of express, limited and local service all on the same line. In addition, and most noteworthy, the EMU alternative has shown to be the most cost effective on a lifecycle cost basis. Caltrain noted
However, there is significant risk to implementing this solution because it will be a profound challenge to obtain the necessary support (and approval) of Federal and State regulatory bodies, including the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, the California Public Utilities Commission, noted the Caltrain report.
Even with additions to its present diesel fleet and conventional trainsets, Caltrain is running out of capacity even as demand is skyrocketing (see table below)
The Palo Alto Daily News, which covered the story, reported the news as a long-term vision in which it would replace its aging fleet of diesel locomotives with modern, lightweight electric rail cars. But to realize that goal, Caltrain will have to work with state and federal authorities to change long-standing regulations that prohibit the lightweight cars from operating at the same time as heavier locomotives.
If its efforts are successful, Caltrain will open the door for other agencies around the country to modernize their rail services with cheaper, more efficient rail vehicles like those used in Europe and other parts of the world, wrote PADNs Shaun Bishop. This is the time and this is the place to change an industry, PADN quoted Bob Doty, manager of rail operations for Caltrain. Once we pass this opportunity up, we wont get it again.
For the full PADN story see: http://www.paloaltodailynews.com/article/2007-1-5-smc-caltrain.
[ Editors note: for the complete report see: http://www.caltrain.com/project2025.html. Also, thanks to DF reader Martin Wasiak for alerting us to the story, which did not get wide coverage in the East.]
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A 2006 European rail transit wrap-up
2006 came to an end in Europe just three weeks after the switch over to winter schedules and the annual revision to passenger train (and scheduled bus) schedules all across the region - from Ireland to Greece and from Russia to Portugal and most places in between. With the arrival of the European-wide system schedule change just weeks before the start of 2007 came many new rail services while others met their end.
Overall passenger traffic on European rail systems was generally higher. The UK, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Finland and other countries experienced better than average growth. In Germany, Deutsche Bahn transported a record 1.7 billion passenger trips by rail, at least 60 million more than in 2005. Perhaps 8 - 9 million passenger trips of this increase are explainable as extra traffic generated by the FIFA football (soccer) World Cup. Overall train ridership was flat or slightly down in France and a number of eastern European countries. In France, the main factor seemed to be reduction of train services in a number of rural areas coupled with a slightly slower economy. In Eastern Europe, the automobile and airplane appear to be siphoning off ever-greater numbers of local and long distance train riders respectively as the populations in those countries obtain more money to buy cars and airline tickets.
Photo: Deutsche BahnA Deutsche Bahn multi-system ICE-3 train set undergoing compatibility tests in France in early 2006.
Freight traffic continued to grow across Europe with few exceptions. Open Access, an official EU government policy which provides access for independent rail operators to currently or formerly state-owned rail networks, appears to be having the desired effect of growing freight traffic on Europes various rail networks while at the same time giving shippers more choices. One disappointing exception is again France, where shippers are loosing their patience with state owned SNCF rail system and its frequent strikes, high labor costs, and inflexible work rules, so they are fleeing to over-the-road trucking. Another disappointment is freight traffic via the French-English Euro Tunnel (Chunnel), which is way down from volumes seen just after the Chunnel opened over a decade ago, due primarily to sky-high access fees charged by the financially troubled tunnel operating company.
High Speed Corridors
Europe continues to invest heavily in new high-speed rail corridors, a trend which has been in place since the 1970s without interruption. In 2006 Germany opened the Munich - Ingolstadt - Nürnburg high speed line, which includes an all new railroad right-of-way between Nürnburg and Ingolstadt built more or less along side an existing freeway (Autobahn auf Deutsch, of course). Work neared completion on the final phase of the new high speed rail connector from the Channel Tunnel on the southeastern English Coast to central London. When the rail connector is finished later in 2007, Eurostar passenger trains to/from Paris and Brussels will move from their current terminal at London Waterloo Station to St. Pancras, thus providing much smoother train-to-train connections for customers from areas north of London. The new rail connector is Englands first high speed train corridor built in nearly a century and ironically it has been built to French standards and specifications - there are no mile posts on this modern rail line in the heart of the English coastal countryside - everything is in metric - including distance markers in kilometers.
Holland finished work on a new high speed line from Antwerp, Belgium to Amsterdam via Rotterdam (called HSL Zuid) and began testing signaling, ride quality and the power supply systems on the new route. Major construction work on the new all-freight Betuweroute from the German border to Rotterdam also finished in 2006, although work on the electrification system and signaling system is not totally completed. Oddly both the HSL-Zuid and the Betuweroute are electrified at 25 kVAC 50 Hz, which neither existing German nor Dutch trains are designed to operate from. The exceptions are of a limited number of relatively new multi-system locomotives operating in the area, as well as the French / Belgian / Dutch Thalys train sets, which are essentially French TGV train sets modified to operate on the Dutch, Belgian, and German electrification and signaling systems in addition to the French rail network.
Photo: Deutsche BahnFrench TGV - POS train set undergoing compatibility tests in Germany in April 2006.
France, Italy and especially Spain also continued construction on a number of new high speed rail lines to expand their existing high speed rail networks. France finished most heavy construction work on the new LGV Est line, which will dramatically shorten travel times by train from Paris to Stuttgart and Frankfurt Germany as well as to Metz and Strasbourg in northeastern France. Finishing work including final installation of electrification equipment and signaling components will continue into early 2007.
Europes rolling stock OEMs such as Siemens, Stadler, Bombardier, Alstom, Firema Transporti and others enjoyed a good year with strong sales both within Europe and abroad, especially in Asia. Siemens racked up orders in Spain, Russia and China for high speed trains based on its ICE-3 platform which has been in use since 2000 in Germany. Although initial production of the first units of these train sets will take place in Germany, in all three cases subsequent train sets will be built locally in the countries where the trains were sold. Bombardier continued to pull in orders for its TRAXX series of locomotives, the latest order coming from the freight division of Spains rail company. Bombardiers successful series of multi-level regional rail passenger coaches which are built in a former East German state factory near the Polish border continued to sell well with new orders coming from within Germany and from Holland, Austria, Denmark and other locations. Bombardier also picked up a major order for new EMU commuter rail coaches from the transit authority of the greater Paris region.
The trend away from locomotive hauled passenger coaches for regional and commuter train services continued all across Europe as it has for the past decade, as transit authorities and rail operators opt for either diesel or electric multiple unit trains for these services, due to the increased flexibility and lower energy consumption these types of trains offer. The exception to this trend is the growing use of locomotive hauled double-decker or multi level coaches in some countries, most notably Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Holland on densely traveled commuter and regional lines. France, Italy, Czech Republic and Switzerland are using EMUs in double-decker / multi-level configuration on numerous commuter and regional routes.
The double-decker / multi-level trend is not present in Great Britain due to the smaller vertical clearances on most British rail right of ways, however locomotive hauled multi-level coaches similar to those already in use in Germany, Belgium and France have been proposed for a fast (200 km/h) regional train service along the newly built Channel Tunnel Rail Line from London to Dover, as the CTRL is built to standard European UIC clearances and dimensions, rather than the smaller British loading gage.
Multi-system electric locomotives offered by Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom continued to sell relatively well to numerous rail freight operators and rolling stock leasing companies, who want locomotives capable of operating two or more of Europes four different electrification standards, which change typically at each countrys border. Diesel locomotives, which do not have the issue of varying electrification standards from one country to the next, were sold in somewhat limited quantities to leasing companies and smaller third party operators. The best selling diesel locomotive in Europe in 2006 probably was the designed for Europe but made in America (USA and Canada) Class 66 diesel electric from EMD, although none of this model were sold for passenger train use.
Passenger train stations continued to receive major investment in Europe. The highlight of 2006 was the grand opening of Berlins Hauptbahnhof, which is the crowning symbol and focal point of 13 year long, US$ 14 billion conversion of a little used and partially abandoned surface level north-south freight rail spur into a major underground (and under river) passenger rail connector in the heart of Berlin. The new station replaced a once famous passenger rail terminal, Berlin-Lehrte Bahnhof, which had become just another stop on the elevated S-Bahn urban rail line in East Berlin during the years between World War One and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Photo: Chris McKennaAn overview of British West Coast Main Line in Lancaster, England in 2006
A major rework of several train stations in Vienna continued during 2006 as did a rework of Londons St. Pancras station in preparation for the start of Eurostar operations there later in 2007. Work continued on a new airport train station in Hamburg, while major reconstruction of the rail stations and right-of-way approaches in Prague progressed in order to cope with increasing passenger volume and train operations in that historic city.
With a trend that has its roots in American cities such as Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia, several European cities continued in 2006 with detailed planning or with actual construction projects to build underground rail tunnels and train stations for intercity trains. As mentioned previously, Berlin opened its new Hauptbahnhof, half of which is located below ground level, where the platforms for the north-south tracks are located. Additionally Leipzig entered the tunnel boring phase of its City Tunnel project, which is an underground intercity and suburban rail link for connecting Leipzigs historic main station in the northern part of the city center to a rail station at Semmelweis Str. in the southern part of the city center with three new stations located underground in the heart of the city.
The City of Stuttgart as well as the state government and German federal government spent 2006 negotiating ways to finance Stuttgart 21, which is a proposal to demolish the current main passenger rail terminal in Stuttgart and replace it at the same time with an underground through rail station located directly underneath the footprint of the existing rail terminal with a new connecting tunnel running from the terminal site southwesterly towards a surface level interchange with the existing rail network on the other side of the city. In place of the current surface level rail terminal, a large park would be built with a large glass roof over the proposed underground central station in the center of the park. The large rail yard and approach to the current terminal would be redeveloped as office buildings, apartments and retail shopping areas. Estimated costs for the project are in the EUR 4.5 billion range (US $6.3 billion).
Londons city planners continued to revise their proposals for Crossrail, which is a plan to improve and expand the existing north-south Thames Link suburban rail line through London and possibly build an all new east-west rail connection through the British capital. With the exception of Thames Link, all of Londons intercity and suburban rail stations are terminals, there is no way to travel by suburban or intercity train through London from east to west or north to south without either using a train traveling via Thames Link or by using the London Underground subway/metro system.
Tunnels and Infrastructure
Aside from numerous operative and planned construction projects for train stations and new high speed lines already mentioned above, several European countries continued in 2006 to invest heavily in several major infrastructure and tunneling projects. Work continued on the record-breaking Gotthard base and Lötschburg base tunnels under the Alps with completion planned in the next decade. In Austria exploratory tunnels were started in 2006 in preparation to bore the Brenner base tunnel. All three tunnels will provide a low gradient and more direct path for trains traveling from central Europe to southern Europe via Italy as well as relieving the very heavily used St. Gotthard Tunnel and Brenner Pass rail route in the region.
In 2006, Deutsche Bahn opened a new ground breaking automated freight car sorting and train marshalling system at its Seelze-Letter freight yard west of Hannover. The system took nearly three years to install in the busy freight yard and cost somewhat over US$ 100 million. DB plans to install similar systems in its other major freight sorting yards.
Great Britains state-owned rail infrastructure authority Network Rail proceeded in 2006 with major track, signaling and power supply upgrades started in 2005 on its so called West Coast Main Line (WCML), which is a busy, mostly four-track electrified rail corridor from London to the major cities and towns in the northwestern part of the country ending in Glasgow. The upgrade will add significant more capacity for extra trains and make nearly the entire route capable of 200 km/h speeds with 220 km/h available on certain stretches. Completion is scheduled for mid 2008 at a staggering cost of nearly US$ 25 billion for the over 400 mile-long route.
Light Rail and Metros / Subways
All around Europe numerous cities and regions expanded existing light rail systems and added new light rail routes. A typical example was here in the Hannover area, where the citys thirty-five year old light rail system opened a new section in the northeastern part of the city to the inner suburb of Altwärmbuchen. Several cities also added to their subway and heavy urban rail networks in 2006, including Rome, Italy, which began preliminary work on a new underground metro line, which would be only the third metro line in that city.
Photo: Chris McKennaNew light rail vehicle and station in Nottingham, England
Photo: J. PedrosaA light rail vehicle in underground metro station in Porto, Portugal
Security and Terrorism
After the terror attacks on the Madrid commuter rail system of March 11, 2004 (now commonly referred to as 3/11) and the terror attacks on London busses and subways in July 2005, law enforcement and rail security spent 2006 on high alert all across Europes extensive rail transit network. A planned terror attack on German regional trains on the 31st of July failed when the ignition devices used in two large suitcases filled with explosives and flammable liquids planted on two different trains did not work correctly. The suspects, foreign students from Lebanon, were later arrested after train station security camera photos of the suspects were made public.
Eurostar trains from London to Paris and Brussels saw a major increase in traffic in August when British airports went into virtual gridlock after emergency security measures were rushed into place at all of the U.K.s commercial airports to deal with a possible air travel threat posed by liquid based explosives. Hundreds of flights were cancelled and hundreds of others were delayed, sometimes by as much as 12 hours. Many travelers discovered it was faster to travel to North America, Africa or Asia from London via Paris or Brussels with Eurostar trains than it was to fly directly from Londons airports.
Rail in Europe also faced challenges in Europe, the most significant continued to be alternate modes of travel such as car, truck and airliner. Several new highways and expressways opened or expanded in western Europe while in eastern Europe new highways and expressways were added at a strong pace. Low cost airlines continued to expand their fleets with Air Berlin, Ryanair, easy Jet and TUI / Hapag Lloyd all announcing major orders for new Boeings and Airbuses in 2006. Tax free jet fuel continues to give airlines an advantage on the expense side, but moves by France and Britain in 2006 and proposals by the central EU government may soon end the tax free status of jet fuel enjoyed by European airlines.
The German highway administration announced that it had collected slightly over EUR 3 billion in truck tolls on Germanys autobahn network. Although some of this revenue can be used for capital projects on rail systems, most will be used to pay for maintenance and capital expense of the highway network, as well as funding for future highway projects. When one considers that the truck toll amounts to about EUR 18 cents per km traveled per truck, the collected sum of EUR 3 billion in tolls provides a hint to the massive volume of trucks on German highways.
Photo: David BealeSomething old something new - Soviet built DB 232 series diesel locomotive with a Czech train bound for Plzen next to a DB ICE-T train set bound for Berlin - April 2006 in Nürnburg
Labor relations, always a sensitive issue in rail transit, presented numerous challenges to expanded rail use in Europe. A series of hour long strikes in Germany caused massive delays for hundreds of thousands of passengers in Germany in late summer of 2006. Labor difficulties on the state owned French railroad caused similar problems for passengers there, but the real damage appears to be happening on the rail freight side of the French network, where freight traffic fell again in 2006, while freight traffic by truck was way up. French railway labor unions could do themselves and the rail industry a big favor by studying the history of rail freight in the USA during the mid-late 20th century. Numerous work rule restrictions, differing employee qualification requirements, and cross border personnel restrictions continued to affect international freight trains operating all across Europe, most especially in the Alps region of Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Austria, France and Hungary. International over the road trucks have none of these issues in this part of Europe, one truck with one driver can drive unrestricted (other than the normal traffic regulations and driving time restrictions) from Italy to Holland, for example.
Photo: David BealeDiesel or electric? Diesel MU of DB 612 series next to an ET-424 series EMU at Hannover central station in May 2006
2007 will see the completion and entry into operation of numerous rail construction projects which were underway in 2006, such as the new high speed rail corridor from Paris to Frankfurt and Stuttgart, Germany. After being battered by competition from low cost airlines as well as by private automobiles and SUVs for the past ten years, 2007 maybe the year that rail systems in Europe benefit from dramatically increased focus on CO2 emissions from airliners and automobiles. Newly announced goals by the EU government to reduce CO2 emissions across the European Union to levels of 1990 or lower can only be achieved by switching more people over to extremely energy efficient transportation modes. Since modern passenger trains consume 1/3 to 1/4 of the energy used by a jetliner or private automobile on a passenger-mile basis, the future roll rail will have in reducing overall energy consumption for transportation looks very bright.
- David Beale
[ Comments: RE: Jim RePass January 8, 2007 NCI editorial. ]
I wholeheartedly agree with the points Mr. RePass makes in it.
Ironically - and unfortunately - too many of the higher-ups on Harvards administrative, faculty and planning staffs are from the most economically-privileged sector of our society - and therefore live and work far above and beyond the concerns Mr. RePass expresses. Most could not care less about the harm they likely will do to Massachusettss economy or the environment should Harvard carry out its rail-yard take-over plan. What happens as a result wont affect them personally.
Unless something forceful is done to deter Harvard University from carrying out its plan, it will march arrogantly, unthinkingly and uncaringly into Beacon Park yard, come what may.
My words are harsh. Nevertheless, they cut uncomfortably close to the heart of the matter, and are crucially important to understanding and dealing with it.
Chicago, Illinois (formerly from Brookline, Massachusetts)
January 9, 2007
P.S. - Has anyone thought of a compromise solution whereby Harvard builds its facilities on air-rights above the yards, allowing the railroad to continue operating beneath?
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