The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.

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

January 21, 2008
Vol. 9 No. 3

Copyright © 2008
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

NCI Home Page:

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

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

  News Items…
Surface Transportation Commission’s Pro-rail Section
   Disappears from Report
Amtrak, Rail Unions In Tentative Accord; Nationwide Passenger
   Rail Is Strike Averted
Bi-Partisan Transportation Policy Report recommends Massive
   Change In America’s Broken, Inefficient Transportation System
  Off The Main Line…
Survey: People Want Mass Transit, Not New Roads
  Commuter Lines…
Council Seeks Comment on Central Corridor Line
  Safety Lines…
Polish Teen Derails Tram After Hacking Train Network
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Across The Pond…
Argentina Chooses Alstom-led Consortium to Build the First High Speed
   Rail Line in Latin America
Hong Kong Must Mesh With Mainland Rail Network
Beijing – Hamburg Freight Train to Start Rolling
Why Can’t We Have Fast Trains in Texas?
  Publication Notes …

Starts Next Monday! - Jan 28-29.

Carmichael Conference On The Future of American Transportation

St. Louis, MO

Click Here For Details


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


Bush Administration Scissors At Work:


Surface Transportation Commission’s Pro-rail
Section Disappears from Report

By DF Staff

© 2008 The National Corridors Initiative


Paul Weyrich
WASHINGTON ---The back-room editors of the Bush Administration, who apparently take their cue from Soviet-style air-brushing, are it again, and this time the target is one of the giants of the conservative movement in America.

While the media focus was on the Bush Administration’s use of Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters to denounce the bipartisan outcome of the Congressionally-mandated Surface Transportation Commission --- which she officially chaired --- the National Corridors Initiative has learned that an important pro-light-rail section of the report, written by Commission member Paul Weyrich and adopted by a 9-3 majority vote of the commission, has disappeared from the Commission’s final report.

If true, these actions could lead to Contempt of Congress charges against the Bush Administration employees found responsible for falsely editing --- in effect, lying about --- the content of the final report of the commission.

Weyrich, who founded the Heritage Foundation and also founded and is chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, has been a leader of the American conservative movement since the days of the Reagan Administration. He is also one of the most knowledgeable and sought after supporters of public transportation especially light rail, in America.

Here is the full text of what Weyrich wrote, was adopted by the full commission, and then mysteriously disappeared from the official version of the report: [ Publisher’s note: NCI will work to see to it that the NSTPC report now circulating on the internet is corrected to include the section on Light Rail excised by Bush functionaries ]:

What you should have seen in the NSTC final report, but did not:

The Case for Public Transportation

It is the view of the Commission that public transportation, especially in the form of electric railways, must and will play a significantly larger role in Americans’ mobility. Federal transportation policy should not only accommodate but encourage this development.

Many of the factors leading to an increased role for public transportation are widely recognized. They include:

To these well-known factors pointing toward greater reliance on mass transit, a highly important new consideration must be added: national security. Americans’ dependence on automobiles fueled largely with imported oil is the Achilles’ heel of our current foreign and national security policy. Rising oil prices threaten the prosperity of our economy, with dependence on oil imported from unstable regions adding the risks of actual fuel cutoffs, limited foreign policy options, and wars over oil sources and supplies. The Energy Information Administration reported that 71 million barrels of petroleum were imported from the Persian Gulf region in June of 2007, 18 percent of all petroleum imports. According to the same source, spot oil prices were $81.51 per barrel on September 18, 2007, over $50 dollars more than the $27.26 per barrel spot oil price just four years earlier.

In the face of the Global War on Terrorism, providing Americans with mobility that is not dependent on foreign oil may be second in importance only to securing our homeland against direct terrorist attack. Just as the Cold War brought about the National Defense Interstate Highway Act, so we think it probable that the future will require a National Defense Public Transportation Act. Current and near-future national transportation policy should take this likelihood fully into account.

As we look toward increasing reliance on public transportation, we must recognize that all public transit is not alike. In particular, public policy must acknowledge that buses and rail transit are not fungible. In addition to the obvious advantage of electrification, rail transit, including streetcars, light rail, heavy rail and commuter rail (which should in most cases be electrified once certain densities are reached) serve different markets and perform different functions from buses.

Key differences between bus and rail transit include:

What changes in Federal transportation policy do the above considerations suggest? First and foremost, Federal policy should include a clear and unambiguous endorsement of a shift away from the private automobile to public transportation for travel in urban areas. It should be the objective of the Federal government to bring all aspects of transportation policy in line to support and encourage this shift, including provision of adequate resources.

Further, it should become Federal government policy to encourage the growth and spread of electrified rail transit as something that contributes directly to national security as well as strengthens efforts to re-develop our nation’s urban cores. Public Transit in America: Analysis of Access Using the 2001 National Household Travel Survey, published in 2007 by the Center for Urban Transportation Research, found that 53 percent of U.S. households were within one mile of bus service and 40 percent were within one-quarter mile, but only 10 percent of the population lives within one mile of rail transit. National security considerations suggest that funding the spread of electrified rail transit should be considered a national security function, at least in part.

These recommendations in turn suggest at least two actions be undertaken immediately. First, FTA criteria for the evaluation of requests for funding for electric rail projects, especially streetcars, should be re-written to take all relevant factors into account, including development impact, and to remove criteria that are not relevant, such as time of travel for streetcars. Second, the Small Starts funding program, which originated as the Blumenauer bill, should be returned to its original purpose, which was to encourage new streetcar systems. A streetcar system is a logical first step toward electrified rail transit for cities that currently have no rail transit, which means such new starts should receive especially strong encouragement in Federal transportation policy.

More broadly, Federal support for public transportation generally and electrified rail transit in particular should be made automatic, based on the population of the area served. For example, a city of 50,000 might qualify for automatic approval for a bus system (preferably with electric buses); an urban area of 100,000 for streetcars; of 250,000 for Light Rail. FTA approval would not be required for proposals fitting within each category (it would still be necessary for projects that lay outside the approved categories, e.g., Light Rail for a city of 50,000). Currently, a total of 72 urbanized areas have one or more types of rail service. There are 266 urbanized areas with populations greater than 100,000, of which just 27 currently have Light Rail service. 128 of those have populations greater than 250,000, of which only 26 have Light Rail service. Five of the largest urbanized areas without Light Rail do have Heavy Rail Systems, which are the basic level of rail service for those very large areas.

Most of those cities once had electric railways. They lost them, not to the fair market, but to massive government intervention in favor of highways and cars. As early as 1921, government was pouring $1.4 billion into highways. In contrast, the vast majority of electric railways were privately owned, received no government assistance and had to pay taxes. Further, their fares were often controlled by local governments, which did not allow them to rise despite inflation. As a result, by 1919 one-third of the country’s streetcar companies were bankrupt. After World War II, many local governments completed the destruction of their community’s electric railways by pressuring transit companies to convert to buses. Bus conversion in turn led many former transit riders to drive instead.

As federal policy is amended to reflect its support for public transportation as the preferred approach to urban mobility, with a strong focus on electric railways, many other specific policies will change with it. In the long term, it should be the objective of Federal transportation policy to provide every American the option of mobility without an automobile. In a 21st century where oil supplies will be increasingly uncertain, such a policy will give our country needed security in the form of security of mobility. For a nation as dependent on mobility as America, security of mobility is as important as security of life, liberty and property.

Intercity Passenger Rail...........................

Intercity passenger rail was a crucial factor in the settlement and economic development of the United States. It was the primary means of mid-and long-distance transportation from the mid-1800’s until the early 1950’s. It provided a vital connection between the East and West Coasts, opened the Western and Central United States to settlement, and was important to the military in transporting troops and supplies.

-------------- End of excised section ---------------


Weyrich was furious when he learned of the excision of the public transportation section:

“It is disappointing that after the paragraphs indicated were passed by a nine to three vote that someone without ever asking me would see to it to do away with these important policy considerations, Weyrich said to NCI. “ It is the kind of gutter politics which make people hate their government, and Washington in general.”

The National Surface Transportation Policy Commission was created by Congress in 2005, and its activities are governed by the legislation which created it; there are no specific references requiring governance by majority vote or even by Roberts Rules of Order, but many centuries of English common law, and two centuries of history of America’s democratically created and operated Congress, state that majority rule is the operative rule, and that votes by legislatively constituted bodies may not simply be ignored by the Executive.

The Bush Administration has throughout its life challenged this notion, and has so far prevailed in most instances.

“We expect further developments within the next week,” stated NCI President James RePass, “on this shameless behavior, which has come to be so expected of this Administration. It is nevertheless a disgrace that the White House would behave in this fashion for that is where this action, in all likelihood, originated.”

Return to index
NEWS OF THE WEEK... News Items...

Amtrak, Rail Unions In Tentative Accord;
Nationwide Passenger Rail Is Strike Averted

By DF Staff

WASHINGTON --- A nationwide passenger rail strike that would have shut down not only intercity rail but many of the nation’s busiest commuter rail lines was averted this past week when union and Amtrak representatives agreed on the outlines of a deal.

While details will be released over the next several weeks as the union members involved are officially notified, the recent Presidential Emergency Board report siding with the union negotiating position was seen by industry insiders as the catalyst that forced a quick resolution of the matter. Union members have been without a contract since the year 2000, receiving only Cost of Living pay increases as negotiations dragged on.

If the agreement closely follows the PEB recommendations, as expected, then the deal will cost Amtrak approximately $690 million in back pay and higher wages over the life of the ten-year agreement.

In a bulletin issued Friday last, Amtrak President Alex Kummant informed his employees, “A few moments ago, Amtrak and representatives of the nine unions before the Presidential Emergency Board signed tentative agreements, thereby averting a strike that could have taken place on Jan. 30. Details of the agreements will be sent to the respective union members for ratification over the next several weeks, and will not be publicly disclosed until that process has begun.”

The nine unions affected are the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; Joint Council of Carmen, Helpers, Coach Cleaners and Apprentices; American Train Dispatchers Association; National Conference of Firemen and Oilers/Service Employees International Union; American Railway and Airline Supervisors Association (Maintenance of Equipment, Maintenance of Way).

“On behalf of the board of directors,” wrote Kummant, “I want to thank the leadership of the labor organizations. It has not been easy for any of us, and I know they share our sense of relief and resolve to move forward in a productive and cooperative spirit to provide excellent passenger rail service. We have averted a strike that could have had a crippling effect on the lives of millions of Americans. More importantly, we have jointly reached tentative agreements that enable us to get back to what brings us together, rather than what sets us apart. For Amtrak to succeed, we all need to push forward in the same direction.”

In a statement looking toward future company operations, Kummant concluded, “I encourage everyone to put the disputes from the past behind them and to focus on what we can learn from this experience and how we can grow together.”

In a press conference, House Transportation & Infrastructure Chair Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Rails Subcommittee Chair Corrine Brown (D-FL) hailed the agreement: “We are very pleased that representatives from Amtrak and its nine labor unions have reached a final agreement on their contract. It is great news for the almost 10,000 workers, who have been seeking a wage increase for eight years. It is great news for Amtrak, which has experienced increased ridership. And it is great news for the traveling public, which has embraced Amtrak as an alternative to high gas prices and airline delays. By voluntarily reaching agreement, Amtrak and the unions avoided a possible strike or lock-out situation, which would have been harmful to all parties.”

Had a settlement not been reached, workers would have been free to strike January 30.

Union leaders had praised the PEB report, which essentially endorsed the higher-cost union position, while providing no money to Amtrak to pay for even the basic agreement, let alone the richer one granted by the PEB. Industry observers now expect the process of funding the new agreement will become part of the House approval process for the Lott-Lautenberg Amtrak bill, which would for the first time in more than 35 years provide solid funding for the nation’s passenger rail system. The bill would provide Amtrak with about $12 billion for capital improvements over six years.

Return to index
Bi-Partisan Transportation Policy Report Recommends Massive Change
In America’s Broken, Inefficient Transportation System

Bush Administration Objects to Fuel Tax Hike

By DF Staff

WASHINGTON --- Calling for a “new beginning” to reform the nation’s transportation programs, the bipartisan National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission last week unveiled its long-awaited “…comprehensive plan to increase investment, expand services, repair infrastructure, demand accountability, and refocus Federal transportation programs, while maintaining a strong Federal role in surface transportation. Policy changes, though necessary, will not be enough on their own to produce the transportation system the Nation needs in the 21stcentury.” Significant new funding also will be needed, the Commission said in a statement issued at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Congress created the twelve-member, bipartisan Commission in 2005 and it not only was charged with examining the condition and operation of the surface transportation system, but also with developing a conceptual plan and specific recommendations to ensure that the surface transportation system serves the needs of the nation now and in the future. After an intensive fact-finding program that included hearings in ten cities across America, the Commission released its Report to Congress, called Transportation for Tomorrow, at a news conference at the Press Club.

The report was immediately attacked by the Bush Administration because it calls for a 40 cent hike in the fuel tax over a five year period, a position which disagrees with the President’s. In a lengthy dissent, signed by US DOT Secretary Mary Peters, the Chair of the Commission, and two other commissioners, but created at the direction of the White House, Secretary Peters said

“We believe … that a failure to properly align supply and demand, not a failure to generate sufficient tax revenues, is the essential policy failure” of the current system.  “When consumer demand determines supply, it will engender funding sufficient to meet the demand.  The problem is not how to raise a certain level of revenue, but rather how to develop a policy framework that will unleash efficient capital investments, empower consumers, reduce congestion, stimulate technology improvements, improve America’s quality of life, and support the increased productivity of American businesses.” 

Secretary Peters continued: “The broad policy failures we experience in these areas today are further exacerbated by a Federal-centric funding and regulatory structure that stifles creativity and innovation at the State and local levels.  Yet a majority of our colleagues on the Commission urge as a central recommendation, an expansion of that very system.  The Commission Report thus serves only to reinforce the misconception that substantially more Federal spending will improve America’s surface transportation system.”

“As a result of this core difference of opinion, our Commission has been unable to reach consensus on the report.” 

Observers noted that the Bush position was outvoted by as much as 9-3 on those matters not unanimously agreed upon, and that “Consensus” had in fact been reached: “The Bush Administration statement about a failure to reach ‘consensus’ is frankly pathetic,” said one industry analyst. “The fact is, a very bipartisan commission far more representative of America than the fringe ideologues running the Bush regime has called for a major overhaul of the transportation system, and for the money to do the job.”

Chaired by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, the bi-partisan twelve member Commission also includes Jack Schenendorf, Vice Chair, Of Counsel, Covington and Burling, LLP; Frank Busalacchi, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Transportation; Rick Geddes, Associate Professor, Department of Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University; Steve Heminger, Executive Director, San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission; Frank McArdle, Senior Advisor, General Contractors Association of New York; Steve Odland, Chairman & CEO, Office Depot, Inc.; Patrick E. Quinn, Co-Chairman, U.S. Xpress Enterprises, Inc.; Matt Rose, Chairman & CEO, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway; Tom Skancke, CEO, The Skancke Company; Paul Weyrich, Chairman and CEO, Free Congress Foundation.

The Commissioners “…unanimously agree that an efficient surface transportation system will be vital to the future economic growth, international competitiveness, and social well-being of the Nation. They also agree that major overhauls of current Federal surface transportation programs will be essential to achieve such a system. They did not agree, however, on all of the recommendations to reform and finance our surface transportation programs. Secretary Mary Peters (as Commission Chair), Commissioner Cino, and Commissioner Geddes provided a minority view to the report. Commissioner McArdle and Commissioner Rose each contributed an individual supplemental view.”.

The key recommendations in Transportation for Tomorrow include:

To fund the necessary investment, the Commission recommends new revenue strategies, including increasing the Federal gas tax between 25-40 cents (5-8 cents per gallon, per year), with the rate increase indexed and phased in over time. The fuel tax was the primary recommended user fee in the near term since it will continue to be a viable revenue source for surface transportation for some time to come. The most promising alternative user fee revenue measure is a vehicle miles traveled fee, provided that substantial privacy and collection cost issues can be addressed.

Other user-based fees also should help address the investment shortfall, such as tolling the deployment of peak-hour “congestion pricing” on Federal-aid highways in major metropolitan areas, a freight fee for freight projects, and ticket taxes for passenger rail improvements. Tax policy also can provide incentives to expand intermodal networks.

Governments on all levels should encourage public-private partnerships as a means of attracting additional private investment to the surface transportation system, provided that conditions are included to protect the public interest and the movement of interstate commerce.

Ten Outcome-Based Programs to Replace Over 100 Existing Programs

The report calls for the replacement of over 100 current Federal surface programs with ten comprehensive programs that are outcome (rather than modally) based. For the most part, the U.S. Department of Transportation, in cooperation with State and local governments, multi-State coalitions, transportation system users, and the full range of public and private stakeholders, would develop national performance standards for each applicable program area. State and local performance standards would form the basis for State and metropolitan plans. In combination, these would comprise a national strategic plan and the basis for distribution of Federal funding to implement these plans.

In brief, the streamlined new federal program structure the Commission recommends is:

For a full copy of the Report, detailed descriptions of each program and more information on the Commission and its activities, please visit

Return to index
OFF THE MAIN LINE... Off The Main Line...

Survey: People Want Mass Transit, Not New Roads

© Daily Real Estate News -

Reprinted from REALTOR Magazine Online
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

The solution to crammed highways and gridlocked streets? Not new roads, according to the majority of Americans who responded to the 2007 Growth and Transportation Survey.

Nearly half of respondents said that better public transportation is the best long-term answer to traffic congestion, while 26 percent thought the ideal solution would be to develop communities that encourage residents to walk more and drive less. Only one in five said building new roads would solve traffic problems.

The survey, which looks at what Americans think about how development affects their immediate community, was sponsored by the National Association of Realtors and Smart Growth America. Responses revealed that traffic congestion was a top concern.

“With increased traffic congestion and longer commutes, Americans are receptive to new ideas for handling growth, such as better transit or mixed-use communities that allow people to cut down on their driving,” says NAR President Pat V. Combs.

Schools Good, Growth Bad

For the most part, respondents gave their communities high marks when it comes to providing good public schools, parks, and open space. But they were less optimistic about their community’s ability to provide practical and convenient transportation and manage growth and development.

While one-third approve of growth in their local area, the percentage of those who disapprove of local growth has doubled since 1999, from 10 percent to 20 percent.

This year’s survey also showed that Americans are more concerned today about how their community is handling that growth and development than they have been in eight years of polling.

Only 39 percent say their community is doing an excellent or good job of handling growth, while the majority – 58 percent – believes the community is doing a fair or poor job.

Fear of Strip-Mall Mania

When asked about their top concerns regarding growth and development, respondents consistently cited the loss of farmland to development (72 percent), increased traffic congestion and commute times (70 percent), and loss of open land such as fields and forests (70 percent).

Other concerns include the loss of individual character of communities, increased reliance on cars because of sprawl, and the loss of historic landmarks and neighborhoods. The greatest increase was among those concerned about the rise in highway commercial development such as strip malls, up 25 percent in the past six years.

This year the survey also asked about climate change, and more than 70 percent of respondents are concerned about how growth and development affect global warming. Americans expressed strong support for bold measures to combat climate change

Nearly nine in 10 believe that new communities should be built so people can walk more and drive less; cars, homes and buildings should be required to be more energy efficient; and public transportation should be improved and made more available. Americans strongly disapprove (84 percent) of increasing gasoline taxes as a way to discourage driving and reduce energy use.

“With concern about climate change rising along with gas prices, Americans are looking for options that allow them to reduce the time they spend in the car,” says Don Chen, executive director of Smart Growth America. “Americans see smarter development patterns as a viable way to achieve that goal, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Redevelop, Don’t Build New

Eight in 10 respondents prefer redeveloping older urban and suburban areas rather than building new housing and commercial developments on the edge of existing suburbs. More than half of those surveyed believe that businesses and homes should be built closer together to shorten commutes, limit traffic congestion and allow residents to walk to stores and shops instead of using their cars. Six in 10 also agree that new-home construction should be limited in outlying areas and encouraged in inner urban areas to shorten commutes and prevent more traffic congestion.

With road building costs often exceeding revenues, many states are turning to tolls as a key funding source. Americans are divided on tolls, although 55 percent approve of charging tolls on more roads if that improves roads and decreases congestion. On the other hand, six in 10 are opposed to charging tolls on freeways during rush hour to reduce congestion. Respondents are evenly split on charging tolls during rush hour, even if the money is used to provide transportation alternatives to the freeway.

When it comes to spending taxpayer dollars, respondents believe Congress should spend more money to maintain and repair roads, highways, freeways, and bridges and to expand and improve public transit rather than build new roads.

Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to the private ownership of roads; that is, selling key roads and highways to private companies who would charge a toll and give a portion of the toll money to the state. Eighty-four percent of respondents oppose private ownership of roads; only 14 percent support the concept. Similarly, 66 percent are opposed to allowing private companies to build, own and collect tolls for new roads – even if those companies gave a portion of the toll money to the state.

About the Survey

The 2007 Growth and Transportation Survey was conducted by telephone among 1,000 adults living in the United States in October 2007. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Smart Growth America is a diverse coalition of nearly 100 nonprofit organizations with a stake in how metropolitan expansion affects our environment, quality of life and economic sustainability. Coalition partners include national, state and local groups working on behalf of the environment, historic preservation, housing affordability, social equity, land conservation, neighborhood redevelopment, farmland protection, business, labor, public health and town planning and design.

REALTOR ® Magazine Online
Editor-in-Chief, Managing Director
Stacey Moncrieff

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

Council Seeks Comment on Central Corridor Line

DF Staff from Internet Sources

ST. PAUL, MINN, JANUARY 15 — The Metropolitan Council wants to know how the public feels about a proposed light rail line that would connect St. Paul and Minneapolis. The Central Corridor University Avenue light rail line won’t be complete until 2014, but planners are inviting people with questions about the project to attend a series of meetings that will be held at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn.

A year ago, members of the Council put together a strategy for public involvement in the process of developing this project. A Communication and Public Involvement Strategic Plan was established in order to: (1) develop and maintain broad public support, (2) create transparency and build mutual trust, (3) encourage meaningful public participation, and (4) ensure that messages are clear, consistent and responsive.

MPR File Photo - Dan Olson  

A Hiawatha light rail stop in Minneapolis.

Proposed Route.

In late February, the Metropolitan Council will decide how the line should be built. Met Council member Kirsten Sersland Beach, whose district includes a portion of the line, says staff will explain what is going on with project.

“They will be presenting current information about the project and people attending these events will be able to listen to a brief project update and talk to the staff, the engineers, the project staff, the outreach coordinators and get some of their questions answered,” explained Beach.

All the meeting dates and locations are on Met Council Web page.

Return to index
SAFETY LINES... Safety Lines...

Polish Teen Derails Tram After Hacking Train Network

Turns city network into model train set.

From The Register on line news, a UK newsblog
© The Register - By John Leyden
Reprinted with permission

A Polish teenager allegedly turned the tram system in the city of Lodz into his own personal train set, triggering chaos and derailing four vehicles in the process. Twelve people were injured in one of the incidents.

The 14-year-old modified a TV remote control so that it could be used to change track points, The Telegraph reports. Local police said the youngster trespassed in tram depots to gather information needed to build the device. The teenager told police that he modified track setting for a prank.

“He studied the trams and the tracks for a long time and then built a device that looked like a TV remote control and used it to maneuver the trams and the tracks,” said Miroslaw Micor, a spokesman for Lodz police.

“He had converted the television control into a device capable of controlling all the junctions on the line and wrote in the pages of a school exercise book where the best junctions were to move trams around and what signals to change.

“He treated it like any other schoolboy might a giant train set, but it was lucky nobody was killed. Four trams were derailed, and others had to make emergency stops that left passengers hurt. He clearly did not think about the consequences of his actions,” Micor added.

Transport command and control systems are commonly designed by engineers with little exposure or knowledge about security using commodity electronics and a little native wit. The apparent ease with which Lodz’s tram network was hacked, even by these low standards, is still a bit of an eye opener.

Problems with the signalling system on Lodz’s tram network became apparent on Tuesday when a driver attempting to steer his vehicle to the right was involuntarily taken to the left. As a result the rear wagon of the train jumped the rails and collided with another passing tram. Transport staff immediately suspected outside interference.

The youth, described by his teachers as an electronics buff and exemplary student, faces charges at a special juvenile court of endangering public safety.

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


Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)76.9378.11
Canadian National (CNI)44.1243.59
Canadian Pacific (CP)58.2560.83
CSX (CSX)41.1842.48
Florida East Coast (FLA)62.5162.51
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)24.0923.92
Kansas City Southern (KSU)30.8830.87
Norfolk Southern (NSC)44.1546.46
Providence & Worcester (PWX)17.5517.42
Union Pacific (UNP)110.45114.11

Return to index

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

Installments by David Beale
NCI Foreign Correspondent

Argentina Chooses Alstom-led Consortium to Build the First High Speed Rail Line in Latin America

Source: Alstom Press Release

The President of the Argentine Republic, Cristina Fernàndez Kirchner, officially announced on 16 January 2008, that Alstom and its partners IECSA, Emepa, Isolux Corsan have been awarded the first very high speed link project in Latin America, between Buenos Aires, Rosario and Cordoba. This adjudication is a decisive step in the project, before the finalization and signature of the contract, which is scheduled in the next few months.

The line will link Buenos Aires and Cordoba, 710 km (441 miles) apart, in three hours instead of the 14 hours the journey takes today. It will be served by eight double deck very high speed trains, each with a capacity of 500 passengers, operating nine return trips every day at speeds of up to 320 km/h.

Photo: Alstom

Artist concept of high speed train for Argentina

This turnkey project will involve the construction of the infrastructure, including 7 stations and 780 kilometers of tracks, electrification, signaling (ERTMS level 2), the supply of rolling stock and maintenance. Alstom, the consortium leader, will undertake the overall management and engineering of the project, the supply of rolling stock, signaling, communication systems, electrification and maintenance. The trains will be manufactured at Alstom’s French plants and assembled at the Alstom site at La Plata, in the province of Buenos Aires. IECSA will be in charge of civil works with Isolux Corsan and EMEPA will participate in the construction of the tracks with Alstom.

“The Buenos Aires-Rosario-Cordoba line constitutes the largest very high speed rail project since the KTX project in Korea. It represents an essential component in the economic development of Argentina, underlines Philippe Mellier, President of Alstom Transport.

Return to index
Hong Kong Must Mesh With Mainland Rail Network

Source: South China Morning Post

Hong Kong lacks “sensitivity” in railway development and could be marginalized if it fails to catch up with the mainland’s fast growing transport network, according to Dr. Victor Fung-Kwok, head of the Pearl River Delta Business Council and chairman of the Airport Authority.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Dr. Fung reiterated that the cross-delta bridge must have a railway to further speed up passenger flows and logistics in the region. He called for early completion of the proposed bridge which would connect Hong Kong with Zhuhai and Macau.

Photo by Joseph K. Kwan Lee

In April 2007 a KCR Siemens ER20 “Hercules” diesel locomotive with EMD G26 diesel locomotive number 58 “Gordon Graham” just behind run through University Station on the KCR East Line with a Chinese freight train to Hung Hom terminal in downtown Kowloon, central Hong Kong . The KCR East Line becomes the Shenzhen - Dongguan main line at the Hong Kong - Shenzhen border station. The ER20 “Hercules” locomotives in use with KCR are nearly identical to Deutsche Bahn 223 series and Austrian Railways (ÖBB) 2016 series of diesel locomotives made by Siemens Transportation. Note the center mounted semi-automatic coupler and absence of buffers, unlike the tow-hook and chain type couplers and buffers common on German and other European locomotives.

“We are expecting a dramatic increase in cross-border traffic. If we build the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macau bridge, a rail link is a must,.” Dr. Fung stated.

“The rail system in the country is developing at an amazing speed and we should think about what its impact on our economic development will be. The country (China) is promoting passenger flows between major cities on high-speed trains while using the remaining capacity for cargo. The rail system is now massive,” he added.

Dr. Fung continued, “In Hong Kong we always talk about road links, sea links and air links. But we don’t have adequate sensitivity in rail links.”

Proposals to build a bridge from Hong Kong across the Pear River delta bay to Zhuhai and Macau have been on the drawing boards for years. Currently a massive fleet of various high speed ferries and hydrofoils haul thousands of passengers daily between Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai over a distance of 30 – 40 km, while freight is transported on small and mid sized cargo ships or via truck on a circumferential highway route via Shenzhen. China Railways is currently building a freight-only rail line to Zhuhai’s industrial area in the northern part of the city, the new rail line will connect with the existing Guangzhou – Dongguan – Shenzhen main line.

Although Hong Kong is one of the biggest sea freight and air freight hubs in Asia, relatively little freight is moved within the territory or to/from mainland China via railroad. Hong Kong is linked to the mainland China rail network by just one rail line, the KCR East Line from Kowloon to Shenzhen. Due to the high volume of local passenger mass transit trains running on this line, significant use of the KCR East Line by freight trains is not possible unless major expansion of the line is undertaken.

Return to index
Beijing – Hamburg Freight Train to Start Rolling

Source: South China Morning Post

A new rail freight service between Germany and China, that would be twice as quick as sea travel, has been backed by six countries, Chinese news media stated.

The China Daily state newspaper said China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany have agreed to develop the Hamburg to Beijing train route. The countries will work together to ease customs and border checks to minimize travel time.

China Railway Container Transport said the 20-day-long freight journeys between China and Germany should start in early 2009. Several transportation consultants stated that 15 days was easily achievable, but depended heavily on how much time trains remain parked at international borders awaiting customs clearances. Currently such trains can spend days waiting to clear customs.

“Barring any complications, a scheduled container train should be shuttling between China and Germany in a year’s time,” said the firm’s chairman Zheng Mingli.

A trial run is under way, with a container train taking a sample of Chinese products to the north German port city.

After it arrives the six countries will analyze ways to improve the rail route, including easing customs barriers, and integrating different railway types.

Moving goods by sea between the two cities usually takes 40 days and means passing through the Indian Ocean, which adds an additional 10,000km to the journey. The main physical obstacle for trains between China and Western Europe is the change of track gage at the Russian – Chinese border and again at the Poland – Belarus border. Russia, Belarus and other former republics of the old USSR use the so-called Russian broad gage track standard, while China, Poland and most of the rest of western Europe use the 1435 mm international track gage standard. Russia and China use semi-automatic couplers based on North American rail car design standards. Germany, Poland and the rest of western and central Europe use a tow hook and chain with buffers method of freight car coupling.

Return to index
EVENTS... Events...

Why Can’t We Have Fast Trains in Texas?

What went wrong with Texas’ first attempt at higher speed passenger and freight rail service? What is keeping Texas from being more than a one track congested railroad system? What can be done to have a seamless transportation system in Texas and the Southwest?


DALLAS, TEXAS (PRWEB), JANUARY 15 -- What went wrong with Texas’ first attempt at higher speed passenger and freight rail service? What is keeping Texas from being more than a one track congested railroad system? What can be done to have a seamless transportation system in Texas and the Southwest?

Presenters from government, business and industry and advocacy sectors will address these issues as Texas Rail Advocates hosts the 4th Annual South Central Rail Corridor Conference on Friday, February 1 at the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Dallas.

Details on the only all-day all-rail conference in Texas can be found at

This year, the French are in the spotlight as attendees. Hear how that country developed their rail network into today’s modern high-speed system. Representatives from the high-speed TGV rail network and the French government will discuss long-term construction and development aspects.

Presenters from Union Pacific, BNSF Railway, Texas Department of Transportation, Midwest High Speed Rail Association and others will discuss present and future plans for both freight and passenger services in Texas, the Southwest and across the country. International transportation columnist Don Phillips who was transportation reporter for the Washington Post, shares his insight on why the U.S. can’t wait any longer to develop a dynamic railroad system.

Presenters include:

A Thursday night, January 31 dinner will precede the conference. The rail forum draws attendees from local, state and federal agencies, passenger and freight railroads, business and industry sectors and rail advocacy organizations.

Texas Rail Advocates is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit who mission is to accelerate Texas’s economic growth and enhance the quality of life enjoyed by its people by advancing the development of rail service to its full potential as a carrier of freight and passengers.

Media contact: Peter LeCody, Executive Administrator. (214) 803-7285
General information: Paul Mangelsdorf, Executive Director (214) 749-3549

Who should attend?

Civil Engineers, shippers, local, county and state officials, Chambers of Commerce, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Commercial real estate developers, architects, Council of Governments, rail industry suppliers, and advocates for improving freight and passenger rail in Texas.


There will be a Thursday evening dinner on January 31st with a special speaker. The main conference will be held during the day on Friday, February 1st.


The conference is being held at the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Dallas. The Magnolia has a special “South Central High Performance Rail Conference” rate of $139 for the evening of Jan. 31st. This discount rate has been extended to those who make reservations by Jan 11th.

A limited number of hotel rooms are available at a reduced rate at the Magnolia Hotel. Contact the Magnolia Hotel for details and ask for the reduced conference rate for our conference.

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

Copyright © 2008 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 Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at

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.