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

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January 18, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 3

Copyright © 2010
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 11th Newsletter Year

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

  News Items…
It’s A New Day For Amtrak As It Announces
   “Big Plans For 2010”
Amtrak Ridership Sets New Record
Joesph Boardman - The State Of America’s
   Passenger Railroad
  Political Lines…
New Leadership Is Coming To New Jersey Transit
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Events…
Urban Pathways To Liveable Communities
 
  Station Lines…
Boston Train Platform Named For Celtics Legend,
   “Red” Auerbach
  Expansion Lines…
North Carolina Considering Rail In Northeast Charlotte
  Across The Pond…
World Gets On-Board Efficient Train Travel
Germany Rides The Train And Bus More, Flies Less
  Publication Notes …


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

It’s A New Day For Amtrak As It Announces
“Big Plans For 2010”

By DF Staff And From Internet Sources

WASHINGTON --- The nation’s intercity passenger rail system, operating for the first time in more than a decade in a largely supportive political environment and funded for the first time with what begins to approach sufficiency in both capital and operating costs, has announced an “aggressive game plan” for 2010 that among other major initiatives entails the first fleet-wide car modernization program in a generation, and projects “…that will benefit passengers, increase service, rebuild infrastructure, and put America’s railroad at the center of intercity and high-speed passenger rail development and expansion,” the company stated this week.

“Amtrak enters 2010 with a strong sense of optimism, enthusiasm and purpose,” commented President and CEO Joseph Boardman.

“We have an aggressive game plan to modernize, renew, and grow America’s passenger railroad,” he said, noting increasing ridership from 21.6 million in FY 2002 to 27.2 million in FY 2009, with an all-time record of 28.7 million in FY 2008.

Numerous projects and initiatives being undertaken in 2010 support goals established in Amtrak’s new Strategic Guidance program “…including becoming safer, greener and healthier and improving financial performance, customer service, and meeting national needs. In particular, Amtrak is playing a major role in the development and expansion of intercity and high-speed passenger rail,” the railroad said.

“This new outlook at Amtrak is a welcome departure from the decades of under- and dis-investment that nearly destroyed the passenger rail system in America,” stated National Corridors Initiative President James P. RePass in commenting on the announcement,” and is a direct result of an Administration and a Congress that for the first time in a generation are jointly committed to the goal of a functioning, modern, American High Speed Rail system such as those found in other advanced countries.”

“It is also heartening to see the broad bi-partisan support for Amtrak, in this contentious era when so little in Washington is being accomplished other than along party lines. Perhaps it should be obvious, but building America back up to being a world-class competitor in its ground transportation system should be a cause for all Americans, not just those on one side of the aisle or the other,” noted RePass, who founded the National Corridors Initiative in 1989 to reverse Bush (I) opposition to the Northeast Corridor Electrification Project, and in a bi-partisan effort succeeded in freeing up the money to build it; that corridor now provides America’s only high speed rail service to date, although RePass notes, “At long last, that is going to change.”

In his announcement, Amtrak President Joe Boardman continued: “As America’s provider of intercity passenger rail service and its only high-speed rail operator—operating trains at speeds up to 150 mph every day— Amtrak has unmatched knowledge, experience and expertise in the U.S. rail environment” and also noted that Amtrak is “partnering with 25 states in support of more than 100 projects submitted for funding from the $8 billion made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for intercity and high-speed rail capital improvement grants.”

An announcement from the U.S. Department of Transportation on which projects have been selected is expected later this winter.

During 2010, Amtrak also will undertake track and bridge construction projects, safety and security enhancements, and will release a plan to replace and expand its locomotive and passenger railcar fleet, among many other projects and initiatives.

Following are highlights of major activities Amtrak will begin, continue or complete during the coming year, as announced by Amtrak:

High-Speed Rail

In 2010, Amtrak will celebrate the 10th anniversary of America’s fastest train, the Acela Express, which began operating along the Northeast Corridor in 2000 and reaches speeds up to 150 mph. In addition, Amtrak will increase train speeds to 105 mph over a section of track it owns between Porter, Ind., and Kalamazoo, Mich., which will benefit Blue Water and Wolverines service. Amtrak currently operates nearly half of its more than 300 daily trains at speeds of 100 mph or higher on their routes.

Deploy WiFi and Upgrade Interiors on Acela Express

In March, Amtrak will deploy WiFi technology on Acela Express and make it available to every passenger initially free of charge. In late 2010, Amtrak will complete a program to upgrade the interior of all Acela Express trainsets to increase passenger comfort and amenities, including leather seating, improved tray tables, and better outlets to power laptop computers, DVD players and other electronic devices.

Major Infrastructure Improvement Projects Funded by ARRA

Many major Amtrak infrastructure improvement projects funded in full, or in part, by $1.3 billion in ARRA funds will be under construction in 2010. Some of these projects include: replacement of the 102-year old movable bridge over the Niantic River in Connecticut; modernization of transformers and other electrical equipment used to power trains between Washington, D.C. and New York; improvements to tracks and switches at Chicago’s Union Station; and construction of new maintenance buildings for passenger railcar equipment in Los Angeles, Calif., and Hialeah, Fla.

In addition, ARRA funding is supporting: renovation of the station in Wilmington, Del.; expansion of the Auto Train station in Sanford, Fla.; restoration of locomotives and passenger railcars in Beech Grove, Ind., and Bear, Del.; improved emergency exits and fire detection and suppression systems in New York tunnels; and enhanced accessibility at more than 200 rail stations across the country.

Major Infrastructure Improvement Projects Funded by Annual Engineering Program

Beyond the ARRA funded projects, Amtrak will spend $442 million as part of its annual FY 2010 engineering program. Among these projects include: installation of more than 112,000 concrete crossties and more than 49,000 wood crossties on the Northeast Corridor; construction of a new air ventilation shaft for the New York tunnels; and repair to several bridges in Michigan, Maryland, New York and New Jersey.

In addition, Amtrak will: complete the multi-year modernization of the catenary wires on the Hell Gate Line in N.Y.; begin construction of upgrades to the Seattle maintenance facility; and improve accessibility at stations in Philadelphia, Pa., Baltimore, Md., Providence, R.I. and elsewhere.

New Plan to Replace and Expand Fleet of Locomotives and Passenger Railcars

Amtrak will announce a comprehensive and detailed plan to replace and expand its fleet of locomotives and passenger railcars to enhance current service and accommodate expected future growth. It will include the purchase of several hundred single-level and bi-level long distance passenger railcars and more than a hundred locomotives. This major equipment purchase will support American rail manufacturing industries and create jobs in the U.S.

Long-Distance Routes, Corridor Services and Commuter Contract

Amtrak will undertake an in-depth evaluation of the poorest performing long-distance routes to identify and implement changes where possible to improve key measures such as customer service, ridership, and financial performance. The five routes being analyzed are the Sunset Limited, Cardinal, Texas Eagle, Capitol Limited, and California Zephyr.

Also, Amtrak will expand corridor services in collaboration with state partners. In Virginia, a fifth Northeast Regional train will operate between Richmond and Washington, D.C. In North Carolina, a second Piedmont roundtrip between Raleigh and Charlotte will be added. In Washington, a second Amtrak Cascades train is now operating from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia through the duration of the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics Games. In addition, Amtrak is finalizing a new operating contract with the Los Angeles-based Metrolink commuter rail service to provide train and engine crews for all seven of its lines.

Installing Positive Train Control and Enhancing Safety

Amtrak is committed to an aggressive, self-imposed schedule to install Positive Train Control (PTC) by the end of 2012—three years ahead of a Congressional deadline for the rail industry— on sections of Amtrak-owned tracks not already equipped with the sophisticated technology capable of controlling train movements to prevent collisions. A significant amount of design, engineering, and some installation work will occur this year to advance the project. Amtrak is also implementing two industry-leading risk-reduction safety initiatives to complement traditional rules-based compliance programs. The Safe-2-Safer program strengthens the emphasis on safety within the corporate culture by promoting a more collaborative working environment and ensures a higher reliability of safe behaviors at all levels of the railroad.

In addition, Amtrak intends to participate in a Federal Railroad Administration sponsored Close Call Reporting project under which incidents that did not result in an accident or injury, but could have, can be anonymously reported by employees so that safety improvements can be made as appropriate.

Strengthening Security

Amtrak passengers will see a more interactive police and security presence in 2010 with greater emphasis on random and unpredictable patrols, baggage screenings and other activities in stations and on trains. Amtrak will continue to expand its K-9 explosive detection teams, harden stations and strengthen cooperative inter-agency operations with local, state, and federal law enforcement and counter-terrorism partners.

About Amtrak

As the nation’s intercity passenger rail operator, Amtrak connects America in safer, greener and healthier ways. Last fiscal year (FY 2009), the railroad carried 27.2 million passengers, making it the second-best year in the company’s history. With 21,000 route miles in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, Amtrak operates more than 300 trains each day—at speeds up to 150 mph—to more than 500 destinations. Amtrak also is the partner of choice for state-supported corridor services in 15 states and for several commuter rail agencies. Visit Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information.


Return to index
Amtrak Ridership Sets New Record

From Amtrak Releases
First Quarter Ridership

Northeast CorridorFY10FY09FY08
Acela Express806,490805,910888,585
Northeast Regional1,881,3251,809,0321,941,885
Special Trains3,7001,7801,946
    
Subtotal2,691,5152,616,7222,832,416


State Supported and Other
Short Distance Corridors
FY10FY09FY08
Ethan Allen12,36212,36911,567
Vermonter21,99220,48918,139
Albany-Niagara Falls-Toronto90,68289,58083,270
Downeaster Service113,652113,924105,476
Shuttles
(New Haven-Springfield)
95,61186,29492,314
Keystone Service329,402323,176287,236
Empire Service
(New York-Albany)
253,604238,775254,513
Lincoln Service
(Chicago-St. Louis)
134,631124,528115,934
Hiawatha Service196,476192,923176,302
Wolverine Service106,501119,500117,414
Illini/Saluki
(Chicago-Carbondale)
68,39870,72166,819
Illinois Zephyr/Carl Sandburg
(Chicago-Quincy)
53,47954,69149,536
Heartland Flyer17,61718,24918,011
Pacific Surfliner611,101635,879658,571
Amtrak Cascades200,988179,477165,255
Capitol Corridor Service389,047427,902390,931
San Joaquin Service241,853241,693217,249
Adirondack26,08323,65725,114
Blue Water35,73335,98233,916
Washington-Lynchburg29,700--
Washington-Newport News119,633111,775109,409
Hoosier State8,3408,4237,672
Mo. River Runner
(Kansas City-St. Louis)
40,49037,04733,944
Pennsylvanian55,51453,04550,721
Pere Marquette24,03827,59327,734
Carolinian77,57977,84971,115
Piedmont18,78721,22516,229
Buses---
Special Trains19,53413,84421,040
    
Subtotal3,392,8273,360,6103,225,431

Long DistanceFY10FY09FY08
Silver Star100,97695,45187,326
Cardinal25,19428,97527,414
Silver Meteor90,10685,52475,424
Empire Builder131,545133,891133,521
Capitol Limited54,04357,21553,205
California Zephyr86,04090,02784,945
Southwest Chief80,20883,96181,134
City of New Orleans52,37448,06947,031
Texas Eagle66,78667,76857,392
Sunset Limited20,73919,56016,243
Coast Starlight110,866106,51389,279
Lake Shore Limited84,30687,68784,793
Palmetto44,70140,50140,850
Crescent70,13972,68172,476
Auto Train59,85754,78052,956
    
Subtotal1,077,8801,072,6031,003,989
    
Amtrak Total7,162,2227,049,9357,061,836

December Ridership

Northeast CorridorFY10FY09FY08
Acela Express251,336241,146252,359
Northeast Regional601,648583,605624,476
Special Trains3604401,040
    
Subtotal853,344825,191877,875


State Supported and Other
Short Distance Corridors
FY10FY09FY08
Ethan Allen4,6524,6824,646
Vermonter7,9417,4496,651
Albany-Niagara Falls-Toronto34,14532,19031,660
Downeaster Service35,20129,67734,240
Shuttles
(New Haven-Springfield)
32,58629,31632,071
Keystone Service111,239105,48592,110
Empire Service
(New York-Albany)
85,58274,74582,585
Lincoln Service
(Chicago-St. Louis)
49,14342,45739,879
Hiawatha Service67,98962,93559,405
Wolverine Service37,91141,93540,222
Illini/Saluki
(Chicago-Carbondale)
23,65223,65923,375
Illinois Zephyr/Carl Sandburg
(Chicago-Quincy)
18,42318,11117,548
Heartland Flyer6,7626,1516,178
Pacific Surfliner Service188,831195,887213,205
Amtrak Cascades73,43661,54961,277
Capitol Corridor Service122,649130,261119,507
San Joaquin Service82,93480,92074,045
Adirondack9,2708,8049,340
Blue Water13,74512,75412,233
Washington-Lynchburg11,200--
Washington-Newport News43,77240,02939,332
Hoosier State2,9132,8742,739
Mo. River Runner
(Kansas City-St. Louis)
14,02712,08711,455
Pennsylvanian19,69817,29616,831
Pere Marquette9,51610,32710,124
Carolinian28,96026,80024,242
Piedmont6,1316,4355,687
Buses---
Special Trains4,2002,8005,600
Special Trains3604401,040
    
Subtotal1,146,5081,087,6151,076,187

Long DistanceFY10FY09FY08
Silver Star36,74032,89431,617
Cardinal7,6019,4109,615
Silver Meteor33,06930,55427,216
Empire Builder51,08243,34849,328
Capitol Limited19,05719,23217,357
California Zephyr31,66032,37530,774
Southwest Chief27,95328,69927,181
City of New Orleans19,40416,78616,592
Texas Eagle24,73724,37322,077
Sunset Limited7,9556,8186,104
Coast Starlight40,62338,65332,220
Lake Shore Limited30,94427,42928,401
Palmetto17,09815,54614,134
Crescent24,98925,14625,553
Auto Train21,90720,55219,384
    
Subtotal394,819371,815357,553
    
Amtrak Total2,394,6712,284,6212,311,615


Return to index
Joseph Boardman...

 

The State Of America’s Passenger Railroad

 

[ Complete Text Of Speech Presented By Amtrak President And CEO Joseph Boardman At The
Transportation Research Forum, Washington, D.C. January 12, 2010 -(Written Remarks As Prepared)
]

Thank you for inviting me to be here with you at the Transportation Research Forum.

The day before Thanksgiving in 2008 I became Amtrak’s CEO. In the past 14 months I have learned that there are so many others out there interested in making news about Amtrak, that the only news delivered by a CEO seems to be related to his or her resignation. I say that partly in jest. No, this is not a resignation speech — I plan on being Amtrak’s CEO for a long time.

But my point is that someone, somewhere already knows — or thinks they know — everything there is to know about what is happening at Amtrak or should be happening at Amtrak and they write about it somewhere: a newsletter; a blog; a widely dispersed e-mail; or even a trade journal.

Why is that?

I would like to offer three reasons:

  • The name “Amtrak” is a blend of the words “America” and “Track.” On May 1, 1971 Amtrak became America’s Railroad, and it still is. At Amtrak’s inception, rumors were already being spread that it was created to fail and to eliminate passenger rail in this country. Disquieted by the rumors, those who believed in America’s Railroad kept very close track of the railroad, making sure that any news would be known right away. They existed then, and they exist today Because of the way Amtrak was created, we must collaborate with lots of people before we can make important decisions, and in some cases even not-so-important decisions. About 70 percent of the train-miles traveled by Amtrak trains are on tracks owned by freight and commuter railroads. Changes require discussion, whether it’s with the host railroads, communities we serve, elected officials, or rail consumer organizations. In addition, we have 14 unions and two councils that represent our workforce and naturally they stay very engaged in changes that might be considered.

  • As a government-supported business, Amtrak must be transparent in what it does and what its strategy is. We provide testimony to Senate and House Committees, are evaluated by an Amtrak IG, USDOT IG, the GAO and a private financial audit every year. I raise this because there has been so much uncertainty in Amtrak’s history that the people who care about passenger rail – and some who don’t — appear to be conditioned to look for or make news about Amtrak. So my message is: Stop living in the past 39 years of worry that passenger rail is going away. The truth is that we’re in the midst of a transformational chapter for Amtrak and passenger rail in America. We’re taking action this year, and look forward to next year — Amtrak’s 40th — to shed that worry once and for all. Here’s why:

  • Congress has given America’s Railroad a strong long-term mission and the White House has presented a vision for passenger rail in America. That support yields funding to make enduring capital investments, including substantial funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. There is also tremendous support for new and expanded passenger rail at the state level. Accordingly, Amtrak is pursuing a growth-oriented mission — we’ve moved beyond mere survival. All of us (both inside and outside Amtrak), must reform our thinking and our approach to key issues. We must renew and rebuild our infrastructure and fleet of equipment, be innovative, and pursue opportunities and decisions that make good business sense.

I am proud to inform you that over the past year Amtrak is doing all of that — and more. Amtrak IS changing and rising to meet the challenge. And I can say without hesitation that THE STATE OF AMERICA’S PASSENGER RAILROAD IS STRONG AND WE ARE OPTIMISTIC. Amtrak enters 2010 with enthusiasm and purpose.

RIDERSHIP

We just closed the books on the best first quarter ever for ridership in Amtrak history. We carried nearly 7.2 million passengers in the first quarter — breaking the previous record set in FY 08, which was our best year ever.

In fact, Amtrak is experiencing a long-term trend of rising ridership, from 21.6 million in FY 2002 to 27.2 million in FY 2009, with an all-time record of 28.7 million in FY 2008.

Since FY 2004 through the most current numbers available in third quarter of FY 2009, Amtrak’s share of the rail / air market has been on the rise in many locations.

On the Northeast Corridor, the Amtrak share of the rail / air market between New York and Washington increased from 50 percent to 61 percent. During the same period, for the New York-Boston market, the Amtrak share rose from 39 percent to 50 percent.

Similarly, our share of the Chicago-St Louis market was 10 percent and increased to 16 percent. During the same period, for the Los Angeles-San Diego market, Amtrak’s share went from 73 percent to 97 percent.

AMTRAK GOALS

We are setting aggressive goals to maximize our new opportunities. To make certain Amtrak has a clear set of goals and priorities — and that they support those of Congress and the White House — last October we issued new Strategic Guidance and a detailed Five-Year Financial plan.

Combined, the two documents create a new vision for Amtrak — the first new vision statement for the railroad since 2005. That vision is built on six fundamental goals to be safer, greener, and healthier and to improve financial performance and customer service, and to meet national needs.

SAFER

Amtrak has a good safety record and we intend to be the safest railroad in the world for our passengers, our 19,800 employees and the communities in which we operate.

But we aim to further improve safety and security by making risk-reduction a top priority. This approach to safety complements, and does not replace, traditional rules-based compliance programs.

To that end, we are moving forward with two risk-reduction initiatives.

Underway now is Safe-2-Safer, an approach to safety and security that aims to reduce injuries by promoting a more collaborative environment in which employees at all levels work together to change at-risk behaviors to safe behaviors.

Working with our labor unions, we are helping supervisors become better leaders, and establishing teams of managers and front-line employees to identify ways to make our tracks, shops, stations and trains become even safer and more secure places.

By mid-2010, we intend to begin a Federal Railroad Administration-sponsored program called Close Call Reporting. It allows close-call events that did not result in an accident or injury — but could have — to be anonymously reported by employees so that safety improvements can be made as appropriate.

I realize this change in approach to safety will take time to take hold. Successfully changing habits and mindsets that have been in place for so long will take time, but I am convinced it will produce positive results.

Remember — the challenge is to reform our thinking and our approach to key issues. In addition, Amtrak is committed to an aggressive schedule to install Positive Train Control (PTC) technology. We have PTC on some, but not all, of our tracks now on the Northeast Corridor and in Michigan.

By our self-imposed deadline of the end of 2012 — three years BEFORE a Congressional deadline for the rail industry — we will have installed PTC on the remaining 308 route miles along the Amtrak-owned or maintained Northeast Corridor and on the last 50 route miles of our line in Michigan where the technology is not currently available.

On the security front, Amtrak has in place a range of robust behind-the-scenes and front-line security measures to help safeguard our passengers and employees.

We will continue to expand our K-9 explosive detection teams, harden more stations and continue to extend the reach of our security activities by strengthening cooperative interagency operations with local, state, federal and international law enforcement and counter-terrorism partners.

Our partnerships include representation on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces and conducting more than 130 joint VIPR security operations at 38 different stations with the Transportation Security Agency last year.

In addition, we now have 45 qualified K-9 explosive detection teams — nearly triple the number of just a few years ago. They are among the most sophisticated in the country and can detect various explosive substances, including the type used in the Christmas Day airline terrorist plot.

For 2010, passengers will see a more interactive police and security presence with greater emphasis on random and unpredictable patrol deployment, screenings and other activities in stations and on trains.

GREENER

In 2009, through our membership with the Climate Registry and Climate Counts, we joined efforts to voluntarily and publicly report our greenhouse gas emissions and undergo an independent assessment of our programs to reduce our carbon footprint.

Amtrak is a founding member of the Chicago Climate Exchange, and will meet or exceed our commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) from diesel fuel by 6 percent by the end 2010.

In addition, Amtrak is taking action to conserve energy, water and other resources at buildings and other facilities.

HEALTHIER

The health of a company relates to its vital signs. We are making enduring investments to better the reliability of our infrastructure and fleet and our ability to grow business with new and existing partners.

During 2009, Amtrak conducted a comprehensive examination of its locomotive and passenger railcar needs. Our fleet plan, with an identified funding mechanism, will be announced in February as part of our annual legislative and grant request to Congress. It will include the purchase of several hundred single-level and bi-level long-distance passenger railcars and more than a hundred locomotives. This major equipment purchase will replace and expand the fleet and support American rail manufacturing industries, creating jobs in the United States. Separately, but related, Amtrak expects to make contract awards this spring for 130 single-level long-distance cars and 20 electric locomotives.

How we pay for these plans could involve a range of options.

In fact, Congress is currently considering additional capital funding for Amtrak as part of Stimulus 2, as they call it. The House bill includes $800 million for rehabilitation and acquisition of new equipment. We will need to see what the Senate version offers, but we see the House bill as a positive statement of support.

Amtrak is making good use of the $1.3 billion we received from the Obama Administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Of the $1.3 billion, Amtrak has awarded $596.5 million in contracts for 113 projects.

With those funds, we will also be rehabilitating and restoring damaged or stored equipment including 60 Amfleet, one Viewliner and 20 Superliner cars, and 15 P-40 diesel-electric locomotives.

For those who question whether the stimulus funds have created jobs, I can tell you that so far we have created over 600 Amtrak jobs and another 200 in vendor organizations with which we have contracted as a result of ARRA-funded projects. Beyond ARRA, we will spend $442 million for our annual capital program for several other major projects to repair and replace tracks, bridges and other key infrastructure.

Being a healthier Amtrak helps position itself as THE provider and partner of choice for commuter, intercity passenger rail and high-speed rail service.

We currently have partnerships with 15 states accounting for nearly 50 percent of our average weekday departures and we plan to foster more. Over the next five years, Amtrak is seeking to establish at least eight service expansions as part of existing state partnerships and form at least two new state partnerships.

Last year, we added our 15th partnership when we entered into a contract with Virginia to provide new Northeast Regional service between Lynchburg and Washington, D.C. We expect to add another frequency between Richmond and Washington, D.C. this summer.

Also starting in 2010 is an additional Piedmont frequency between Raleigh and Charlotte in partnership with North Carolina. On the commuter front, Amtrak is currently working out final details to provide Train and Engine crews to operate all seven lines of the Los Angeles-based Metrolink commuter rail service starting this summer.

A healthier Amtrak also means we are dedicating significant resources to modernize and replace outdated IT (Information Technology) systems and business processes critical to the delivery of service such as internal business processes, and for reservation and ticketing.

IMPROVED FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE

It is those kinds of investments that support an efficient business. Amtrak is America’s passenger railroad. As government-supported business, we are fully aware of the responsibilities that come with taxpayer support.

For the current budget year, we received federal operating support of $563 million, and it is our duty to invest and spend that appropriation, along with the federal stimulus funds, in an efficient and smart manner.

In fact, for FY 2010, we will fund 81 percent of our operating costs from all revenue sources, excluding federal and state funds. And, in FY 2009, Amtrak had a farebox recovery rate of 71 percent — among the highest among all passenger railroads, including commuters and transit, in the U.S.

Amtrak completed a year-end financial audit containing no material weaknesses — the first time that has happened since 2004.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Amtrak offers riders an experience that is convenient, competitive, and pleasant.

The overall Customer Satisfaction Index scores have been steadily rising from 78 percent in FY 2007 to 82 percent in FY 2009.

On-time performance is one of the major drivers of customer satisfaction. In FY 2009 system-wide OTP was 80 percent, a 9-point increase over the prior year and Acela Express operated on time 87 percent of the time. In March, we intend to make WiFi available initially free of charge to every passenger on Acela and by November we will finish upgrading the interiors.

We remain focused on our Route Performance Improvement process to identify ways to enhance service on specific routes. One of the most recent results of that effort is restoring sleeper cars and dining cars to the Lake Shore Limited.

In 2010, Amtrak will also undertake an in-depth evaluation of the poorest performing long-distance routes to identify and implement changes where possible to improve key measures such as customer service, ridership, and financial performance. The five routes being analyzed are the Sunset Limited, Cardinal, Texas Eagle, Capitol Limited, and California Zephyr.

Three months ago, we launched our newest generation of Amtrak.com, which among other things makes booking tickets easier.

We also partnered with Google Transit to include Amtrak routes as part of its trip-planning tool that provides travelers with public transportation connections.

MEETING NATIONAL NEEDS

Amtrak was created to provide an essential national service and must support the government in moments of national need. As Amtrak grows, so does its capacity to meet those needs, such as contributing to national emergency response, congestion mitigation, emissions reduction, and reduction in the demand for foreign oil.

We also have a five-year contract with FEMA to use Amtrak trains and crews to help evacuate New Orleans during Hurricane season and we will continue to review other potential opportunities to assist when natural disasters occur.

INTERCITY AND HIGH-SPEED RAIL

Finally, as many of you are aware, the big news expected in the coming days or weeks will be the U.S. DOT and FRA’s announcement about which states and what projects will get a piece of the $8 billion in grants available for intercity and high-speed rail development and expansion. Leveraging our experience as the nation’s intercity passenger rail service provider and its only operator of high-speed trains, we partnered with 25 states to support more than 100 projects as part of the first round of grants.

It seems likely that a significant number of the grant awards will involve improvements to routes over which Amtrak operates. That is obviously good for Amtrak, but it is also good for America, our passengers, the communities we serve, and our state partners.

CLOSING

Our future together is not without challenges — the state of the national economy and condition of state budgets are a few factors that could hamper our growth. In addition, the opportunities that are being made available to us thanks to stimulus funds and unprecedented support for passenger rail are also opportunities for others, both domestic and foreign-owned to enter the market.

The investments we’re making and the steps we’re taking to improve are designed to secure our leadership position in the industry and to stand out from the competition.

As I told you when I began this speech, Amtrak IS changing and rising to meet the challenge, and I look forward to the next couple very exciting years at Amtrak. The days of wondering if Amtrak is going to survive another year and uncertainty are behind us. This year and the years ahead are, and will be, focused on growth.

They will be years of strong and optimistic leadership, filled with achievements that will demonstrate a safer, greener, healthier, improved financial and customer focused railroad that lives up to its role in meeting America’s national passenger rail needs.

Thank you.


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

New Leadership Is Coming
To New Jersey Transit

By David Peter Alan

A change in leadership will be coming soon to New Jersey Transit. The new Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) will be former Federal Transit Administrator James Simpson. The new Executive Director at NJT will be James Weinstein, who will be returning to the transportation scene in the Garden State. Governor-elect Chris Christie announced the appointments, which were among the first he made for his administration, this past Monday, January 11th. The same day, Richard Sarles announced that he would leave is current post as NJT Executive Director and retire. NJT did not say when Sarles would leave the agency.

As Transportation Commissioner, Simpson will also serve as Chair of the Board of Directors of NJT. He began his transportation career as an over-the-road truck driver and remained in the trucking business into the 1990s. He was also a commissioner at New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority later in the 1990s, and he headed the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in the Bush Administration from 2006 through 2008. He has also promoted public-private partnerships in the transportation field.

New Jersey rail advocates have reported mixed reviews about Simpson as a prospective Chair at NJT. He has been criticized as not being strongly pro-transit. There is also concern that Simpson’s experience in the trucking business could be a factor in his opposition to raising New Jersey’s gasoline tax, one of the lowest in the nation. Christie also opposes raising the motor fuels tax, even though it funds the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), which will soon run out of money.

On the plus side, Simpson supported Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “congestion pricing” initiative that would have charged tolls for automobiles going into Midtown Manhattan. Transit advocates in the region strongly supported the move, but the New York legislature did not approve it.

Simpson has also drawn praise from the advocacy community. New Jersey rail advocate Albert L. Papp, who is also Vice-Chair for Legislative Policy and Strategy for the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) complimented Simpson for saying that the idea of a rail connection between New York’s Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal was worthy of future consideration.

New York rail advocate George Haikalis, who serves as Chair of the Regional Rail Working Group, praised Simpson for meeting with him and other representatives of NARP in April, 2008 about NJT’s proposed trans-Hudson rail tunnel and deep-cavern terminal. Haikalis and other rail advocates from the region oppose the proposed deep-cavern terminal, suggesting instead that any new tunnel should bring new tracks into the existing Penn Station. Haikalis said that Simpson “provided an opportunity for frank discussion. He invited me to meet with all of his senior staff. What more could you ask for?”

Haikalis asked the FTA to support new capacity in Penn Station, as an alternative to the proposed deep-cavern terminal. He and other rail advocates continue to make that request, for reasons of cost, rider convenience and security. “This is the time to save resources, not throw them away” Haikalis said. He would also ask Simpson to consider the implications of a serious emergency in the proposed terminal, which could lead to as many as 6000 casualties, most of them New Jersey voters. Haikalis, along with experts on emergency preparedness, have raised concerns about the inherent risks of a large terminal station so deep underground (see last week’s edition of D:F for story).

Christie’s choice for Executive Director of NJT is James Weinstein, who served as Transportation Commissioner from 1998 to 2002, in the previous Republican administrations of Governors Christine Todd Whitman and Donald DiFrancesco. Recently, Weinstein has been an executive with construction firms DMJM Harris and AECOM, both firms that have been awarded contracts by NJT. Weinstein is familiar with NJT through his experience at NJDOT, and advocates hope that he will keep an open mind on the issue of bringing new tunnels to Penn Station. The original Access to the Region’s Core (“ARC”) plan called for that, along with extension to Grand Central Terminal on the East Side (as Alternative “G”). That plan was under consideration during Weinstein’s former tenure at NJDOT.

Longtime advocate William R. Wright, who now serves on two advisory committees at NJT, praised Weinstein, saying that he was not anti-rail during his previous tenure, which was a difficult time for NJT. He also expressed concern that the position of Executive Director changes when the politics change in Trenton.

Christie’s early appointments of transportation leaders may indicate a strong interest on his part in transportation policy. Still, both the voters and the politicians in Trenton know that New Jersey faces serious financial difficulties, and both rail advocates and transit riders are bracing for service cuts. Christie has also refused to rule out a transit fare increase, which would be the seventh since the motor fuels tax reached its present level in 1988. Nobody will hazard a guess about how the Christie Administration can keep both the Transportation Trust Fund and NJT going without increasing the gasoline tax, but everybody expects to hear proposals within the next few months.

Rail advocates have said that administration can save at least $3 billion by scrapping the deep-cavern terminal plan and running new tracks into the existing Penn Station instead, and that the Penn Station plan will substantially improve rail service at the same time. They consider this issue a “litmus test” of Christie’s announced policy of curbing State spending.

Some state spending will be necessary, however, at least for the operating side of NJT. It appears that the new leadership will implement service cuts, and the advocates are prepared to do what they can to keep any service reductions to a minimum.

David Peter Alan is Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition, which supports new capacity for Penn Station and opposes the deep-cavern terminal proposal.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week (*)
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)99.1198.95
Canadian National (CNI)53.6556.74
Canadian Pacific (CP)52.9355.40
CSX (CSX)50.0452.38
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)30.9032.34
Kansas City Southern (KSU)32.9233.86
Norfolk Southern (NSC)52.7854.36
Providence & Worcester (PWX)11.2110.61
Union Pacific (UNP)65.5768.04


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EVENTS... Events...

 

Urban Pathways To
Liveable Communities

Building Partnerships For
Healthy Neighborhoods

Feb. 25 & 26, 2010
New Orleans, LA

Click Here For
More Information


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STATION LINES... Station Lines...  

Boston Train Platform Named
For Celtics Legend, “Red” Auerbach

From Internet Sources With Some Information From The Associated Press

The North Station main concourse at Boston’s North Station has been renamed “Red Auerbach Concourse” in honor of the Celtics legendary player and manager, who died in 2006.

On Friday, January 15, the team held a ceremony with a short speaking program and the unveiling of two bronze plaques. Present at the dedication were such luminaries as Celtics Coach Doc Rivers and Captain Paul Pierce, Auerbach’s daughter, Nancy Collins, Friends of Red, the City of Boston, Delaware North Companies and the MBTA.

Ms. Collins highlighted the program when she unveiled the plaque with the image of her father and his trademark cigar. Next to it stands a bronze shamrock and it was suggested that anyone looking for a little luck should come up to touch the fixture.

Banners of Auerbach and signs featuring Red’s famous signature will be placed around the station entrance, where so many fans have arrived by train to watch games at Boston Garden and now the TD Garden.

Auerbach, who lived to the age of 89, and was a member of the Celtics’ organization for 57 years. He was involved in all but one (2007) of the Celtics’ 17 championship seasons.

Writer Daniel Kobialka of NESN’s new media team commented, “Red most certainly deserves this honor. What would have been really cool was Red living another few years to see this team win in 2008 and beyond. We miss ya, Red.”


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EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...  

North Carolina Considering Rail In Northeast Charlotte

From The Charlotte Observer On The Internet

JANUARY 12 -- The N.C. Department of Transportation is considering building a second rail line next to the existing N.C. Railroad-Norfolk Southern Line. The new track would run from near Orr Road in northeast Charlotte to just south of N.C. 49 in Concord.

It is part of a bigger project, a new track farther north for the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor, which is designed to provide much faster passenger and freight service between Charlotte and Washington.

To improve train safety, some grade crossings, both public and private, will have to be closed.

Other proposals include improvements to crossings in the Orr Road/Newell-Hickory Grove Road area in Charlotte, and on Caldwell and Pharr roads in Cabarrus County.


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ACROSSTHEPOND... Across The Pond...  

Installments by David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

World Gets On-Board Efficient Train Travel

Rail travel is between three and ten times more energy efficient than highways and airlines

Hong Kong – In a story on its internet site, CNN reports how new high-speed trains in China, Europe and elsewhere will be replacing airline travel on many heavily traveled corridors. A significant side benefit will be a substantial reduction in energy usage and output of CO2 emissions. The reductions range from one third to one tenth of the current energy consumption of existing airliners and automobiles.

D:F readers can click on the below link to see the article in its entirety.

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/01/10/green.trains/index.html


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Germany Rides The Train and Bus More, Flies Less

Government statistics for 2009 detail trend of increased travel in public transit

via HAZ

Berlin – The Germany agency for statistics within the German federal government released data this week on passenger transportation trends within Europe's largest economy. The data for 2009 showed that rail transit held or increased market share within Germany, while air travel suffered a significant decrease in its market share. Rail and bus ridership increased by 1.2% while air travel dropped by 4.8%. Preliminary figures for 2009 show that 10.4 billion trips were made with train and bus in Germany, an increase of 1.3% compared to 2008.

In local and commuter transit the average trip was for a distance of 9.3 km (5.8 miles). In a different metric, passenger – kilometers (PKM) traveled were 98,6 billion, a slight increase of 0.4% compared to 2008 data. Local bus usage increased by 0.4%, commuter and regional rail (including S-Bahn trains) ridership was unchanged compared to 2008 and urban rail transportation (subway, light rail and street car / trams) showed a ridership increase of 3.7%.

In intercity travel within Germany trains had a slight decrease in ridership of 2.2% to 34.8 billion PKMs, intercity / long distance highway bus ridership was down by 9% to just under 500 million PKMs.

In air travel domestic (within Germany) travel was down 4.9% to 24 million passengers, international air passenger volume dropped 4.8% to 135 million passengers.

A Deutsche Bahn IC train from Berlin to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport at Haste, Germany

Photo: David Beale

A Deutsche Bahn IC train from Berlin to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport blasts through Haste in heavy winter snow with DB 101 series electric locomotive number 101 105 in the lead on the 3rd of January 2010. In Bentheim, Germany (on the border with Holland) the 101 series locomotive is disconnected from the train and a 1600 series electric locomotive of Dutch state railways (NS) is coupled on to complete the trip the rest of the way through Holland to the underground rail station complex beneath Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The change in locomotives at the national border is required due to both different electric train power voltages (Germany 15 kVAC, Holland 1500 VDC) and different design of the train protection and PTC systems in the two countries.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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