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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February 9, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 6

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

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

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

  News Items…
Nelson/Collins Senate Stimulus Compromise
APTA Calls On Congress To Provide $15.9 Billion In
   Transit Stimulus Funding
Obama Stimulus Leaves Bus Riders By The Side Of The Road
Vermont Could Face A Decade Without Amtrak
   If Ethan Allen Cut
  Economic Lines…
Furloughs Reported At CSX Shops
  Start-Up Lines…
Virginia Beach Inches Closer To Light Rail Goal Of $40 Million
  Commuter Lines…
Maiden Voyage Of Atlantic City-NYC Link
  Selected Rail Stocks…
 
  Technology Lines…
BART Signs Deal With Wi-Fi Company
  Across The Pond…
France Increases Investment in Rail Infrastructure
Infrastructure Offensive against Unemployment in Austria
Australia to Increase Investment in Rail Network under
   “Nation Building” Stimulus Package
Deutsche Bahn Signals Acceptance of Bicycles in High Speed Trains
  Opinion…
The Middle Class Needs Trains And Transit, Not More Highways!
  Editorial…
Managing America’s Decline
  Publisher Notes…
Come Aboard!
  Publication Notes …


 

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

Nelson / Collins Senate Stimulus Compromise:

From the Internet and Yonah Freemark
thetransportpolitic.wordpress.com

The final version of the compromise stimulus bill, which was formulated by a group of about 20 moderate senators, has been released by Senated Ben Nelson (D-NE). It does not decrease funds currently proposed to be allocated to high-speed rail or transit programs, but it does not meet the higher standards for funding for fixed guideways and New Starts that were provided in the amendment added to the House version of the bill by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Here’s a comparison of the passed House bill and the proposed Senate bill by the moderates:

 


ProgramPassed House Bill    Proposed Senate Bill    
Grants to Amtrak$800 m$850 m
Grants to States for Rail$300 m$250 m
High-Speed Rail0 $ 2 b
Total Rail$1.1 b$3.1 b
Transit Formula Funds$7.5 b $8.4 b
Fixed Guideway Modernization     $2 b0
New Starts$2.5 b0
Total Transit$12 b$8.4 b
Discretionary Grants0$5.5 b

 

The bills are quite different: the Senate bill provides a lot of money for high-speed rail, whereas the House bill provides nothing at all. Meanwhile, while the House bill provides $4.5 billion for fixed guideway modernizaion and new starts funds, the Senate bill provides nothing for those programs, rather placing $5.5 billion in a discretionary fund that the Secretary of the Department of Transportation will have control over; money in that pot can theoretically be transferred to both transit and highway projects.

For additional information see the Blog by Yonah Freemark:

http://thetransportpolitic.wordpress.com/2009/02/07/final-senate-compromise-appears-to-avoid-cutting-transit-funds/

http://thetransportpolitic.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/nadler-amendment-passes-house-rules-committee/

Also:

http://bennelson.senate.gov/news/details.cfm?id=307916&&


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APTA Calls On Congress To Provide $15.9 Billion
In Transit Stimulus Funding

By DF Staff

WASHINGTON, DC, FEBRUARY 5 -- More than 440,000 American jobs would be created and sustained if Congress included $15.9 billion for public transit in the economic stimulus package currently being debated on the Senate floor, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Transit agencies have identified nearly 800 projects that could launch construction within 90 days after federal funds are appropriated.

“The public transportation industry is ready to help America get back on its feet and help people get to work this spring,” said APTA President William Millar in a prepared statement.

As of Friday:

The House version of the Stimulus Bill, (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009-- H.R. 1), which passed last week, proposes $12 billion for public transit projects and $1.1 billion for intercity passenger rail -- $800 million for Amtrak and $300 million for intercity passenger-rail grants to states.

The Senate version, which is currently being debated, proposes $8.4 billion for public transportation, $1.1 billion for intercity passenger-rail grants and $2 billion for high-speed rail. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently introduced an amendment that proposes to boost transit funding to $14.9 billion by increasing the transit capital pot to $10.4 billion, and adding $2 billion for rail modifications and $2.5 billion for New Starts.

“With nearly 800 public transportation projects that are ready-to-go within 90 days of federal funding, jobs will be created at a rapid pace.”

“Given how quickly public transportation projects can be started, public transportation should be an essential, well-funded piece of this critical recovery legislation. American jobs are depending on this,” emphasized Millar.

“Investing in much needed public transportation infrastructure is not only good for the economy and for job creation, it’s good for promoting energy independence and for combating climate change,” he continued. “Now is the time for change and with significant public transportation investment in this legislation, public transit will bring positive changes in the three areas of economy, energy independence and environment.”

Millar pointed out environmental statistics that underscore the benefits of public transit: Every year, 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline are saved thanks to public transportation use in the United States. From a climate change perspective, public transportation saves 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year. The carbon savings from public transportation use is the equivalent to the emissions of 4.9 million households – which would be every household in Washington, DC, New York City, Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles combined.

Noting that 10.3 billion trips were taken on public transportation in the United States in 2007 – a 50 year high and a modern ridership record, Millar said, “People throughout America have demonstrated that they want improved public transportation service. They have showed this by taking public transportation in record numbers and also by voting overwhelmingly for the passage of public transportation state and local ballot initiatives.”

Despite record ridership numbers, funding sources for public transportation have fallen on the state and local levels, due largely to lower revenues because of the economic downturn. Last summer APTA did a survey which revealed that 85 percent of public transit systems were experiencing capacity problems.

“Investing in public transportation will not only be good for our country’s economic well-being, as well as addressing the public demand for greater public transit service,” said Millar. “It’s a win-win situation just waiting for congressional action.”

For more information on the economic recovery legislation, go the APTA web site at www.apta.com and visit the Economic Recovery Info section on the front page for more details. Activist pro-transit citizens can read the Legislative Alerts in the Economic Recovery Info section to find what actions need to be taken with federal representatives.

APTA is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 member organizations including public transportation systems; planning, design, construction and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; and state associations and departments of transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical public transportation services and products. APTA members serve more than 90 percent of persons using public transportation in the United States and Canada.

Virginia Miller
Senior Manager-Media Relations
American Public Transportation Association
Washington, DC
Phone : 202-496-4816


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Obama Stimulus Leaves Bus Riders
By The Side Of The Road

Posted: 29 Jan 2009
Blog Sent To Sierra Club Transportation List Serv
Writer Unknown

Data source: American Public Transportation Association

The House version of President Obama’s stimulus plan has left bus riders with nothing to look forward to but stiff fare hikes and painful service cuts. Bus systems got zero in immediate operating support from the bill that passed yesterday -- stunning neglect compared to the $150 billion in educational “operating assistance” to local schools and universities and $127 billion in emergency health care “operating assistance” to state Medicaid and private insurance programs. A relatively puny request for $2 billion in transit operating support was shot down before even reaching committee.

Buses carry 59 percent of American transit riders and are the core of transit service in both urban and small town settings. But according to the New York Times:

Fifty-one transit systems have recently proposed service cuts or fare increases... (which) make it harder for people to get to work (or look for work), and they will undermine one of the long-term goals of the stimulus package: laying the groundwork for a greener economy.

The burden of these transit cuts falls disproportionately on African Americans, who comprise 38 percent of all bus riders in the country, compared to 12 percent of the overall population. (There’s a reason that Rosa Parks acted for her civil rights on a bus.)

Unfortunately, the Obama administration and the House of Representatives have largely forsaken bus riders. It is now up to the Senate to provide emergency transit operating help to sustain service and reduce fare hikes. Otherwise, Americans will watch billions of stimulus dollars rain down on schools and hospitals while major transit systems teeter on the edge of insolvency, green collar jobs are cut, and energy-conserving transit riders are forced into cars.

There are a number of reasons why bus riders have lost out so badly in the struggle for stimulus help. One is that they have no effective lobby in Washington. This is partly the result of conventional thinking that hasn’t caught up to the current crisis. Transit agencies and advocates tend to equate “transit” with “infrastructure” or capital expenditures, so the federal government is not expected to help with operating expenses. This formulation is generally biased against buses, which are cheap to buy but relatively costly to operate.

The “transit=capital” formula also ended up hurting overall transit aid because Obama fiscal czar Larry Summers believes that transit projects take too long to get underway, and are not a good way to inject money quickly into a depressed economy. Unlike local schools, whose teachers’ unions made a strong case for an unprecedented infusion of $150 billion in federal operating help, transit agencies and their supporters have kept fighting for more capital aid and have not pressed their elected officials for the emergency operating help needed to bail out the nation’s floundering bus and transit systems. This must change. The same arguments for emergency help to schools apply to bus service.

The failure of the stimulus to help bus riders will have big implications for the working class and poor Americans hardest hit by the recession: Bus riders will be spending more for less service, while green collar transit workers will face rounds of layoffs. It’s bad public policy, bad urban policy and inequitable social policy. Not what bus riders were hoping for when they voted for Obama.


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Vermont Could Face A Decade
Without Amtrak If Ethan Allen Cut

By DF Staff From Burlington Free Press And Rutland Herald On The Internet

Rail Council And State Officials Hear Ideas To Increase Ridership

MONTPELIER, FEB 5 --The Vermont Rail Council has cemented their opposition to eliminating the Ethan Allen, citing the reality of how difficult it will be to get it back. At a meeting of the Council last week, an aide to State Senator Bernard Sander told the members that Vermont would have to wait perhaps a decade for new rail equipment if the state eliminates the Albany-to-Rutland train route.

Also the president of Vermont Railways said the train’s prime timeslot on Canadian Pacific Railway’s privately owned track, used by Amtrak for the service, could be in jeopardy if Vermont proceeds with the cuts.

“The consequences of (cutting Amtrak) … is if we want it back we wouldn’t get it for 10 or more years,” Sanders aide Jeff Munger said. “I think somebody ought to think about what it is they’re doing here. Within an hour that equipment would be gone. And if we cut it with the hopes of getting it back in four to five years, it’s not going to happen.”

The state had hoped to buy train cars if Amtrak equipment was no longer available, but the company that builds the cars went out of business in December.

The Ethan Allen Express, a daily Amtrak train to New York City launched in 1996, has been seen as the toehold for the long-dreamed-of revival of passenger rail service linking Burlington to points south.

The Douglas administration has proposed cutting the service and substituting a bus as a way to save money in the financial downturn. Tax revenue of all sorts has plummeted, creating multimillion-dollar budget gaps.

Ethan Allen Express at Croton Harmon,VT

Ethan Allen Express Train #291 enters the Croton Harmon station en route to Rutland, VT.

Ethan Allen Route Map

Burlington Free Press  

VERMONT TRAIN FACTS

Train advocates, lawmakers and the Douglas administration want passenger train service to run from Burlington south through Rutland and Bennington, and on to New York City - eventually. The state’s budget crisis, however, has put the Ethan Allen passenger service between Rutland and New York on the chopping block.

But Carl Fowler of Putney, who sells railroad tours to travelers throughout North America and Europe, is convinced that Vermont could quickly increase ridership and revenue on the two passenger trains operating here.

“Eliminating the Ethan Allen now,” Fowler says, “would be a dreadful mistake.” He points to investments already made in a train station in Burlington and in track improvements along sections of the line from Burlington south to Vergennes.

“So much has been done,” he said, “and we would be squandering all of it.”

He suggested to the Council (an advisory panel to the Vermont Agency of Transportation) that they work with bus operators throughout the state to create connections with the trains. He also proposed that the state spend money to advertise the train. “No one knows when it runs or how to buy a ticket,” he said.

At the meeting, Council members urged state officials to follow up on Fowler’s ideas.

“There are revenue opportunities sitting right in front of their faces,” David Allaire, a council member from Rutland, said after the meeting.

Mike Coates, Vermont Rail Council

Photo: Ryan Mercer - Free Press

Mike Coates, a member of the Vermont Rail Council, is not only strongly opposed to ending the Ethan Allen Express train that runs from New York City to Rutland, he and many others want it expanded to Burlington.

An economic engine:

For the Rutland region, the Ethan Allen already is an economic dream come true. It deposits visitors in Rutland’s struggling downtown and delivers tourists, particularly skiers, to nearby resorts.

“There is not a lot going well in Rutland,” Rep. Peg Andrews, D-Rutland, told the House Transportation Committee, which will make a decision about funding the Ethan Allen. “This is sort of a beacon of hope. We are pegging our future on this train.”

Allaire, who is also president of the Rutland City Board of Alderman, said Vermont should not pit short-term financial savings against the future of an important economic engine.

“Not only should Vermont retain western-corridor train service,” he said, “it ought to embark this construction season on the rail improvements needed to make a Rutland-to-Burlington train a reality.

“It’s time to turn the argument around and instead of talking about cutting service, we need to make a positive move and forge ahead with the upgrade of that rail,” Allaire said.

What’s next?

The Legislature postponed its decision about the Ethan Allen back in December when the administration first proposed the cut, citing a need for a thorough investigation. The House Transportation Committee has taken the lead, and the panel even plans to ride a section of the route next week.

The availability of a big bundle of bucks for rail in the pending federal stimulus package has made a quick legislative decision more complicated. “Until we know what the federal stimulus is, there are still a lot of questions,” said House Transportation Chairman Richard Westman, R-Cambridge.

Contact Nancy Remsen at 578-5685 or nremsen@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com


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ECONOMIC LINES... Economic Lines...  

CSX Logo Furloughs Reported At CSX Shops

From The Internet Via WSAZ News Staff

EASTERN KENTUCKY, FEB 6 -- Furloughs have hit two CSX shops in eastern Kentucky.

CSX spokesperson, Garrett Francis told WSAZ.com that 16 people have been furloughed at the Shelby, Ky., facility, and 11 people at the Russell shops.

Francis said that system-wide, some 1600 CSX workers have been furloughed due to market conditions.


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START-UP LINES... Start-Up Lines...  

Virginia Beach Inches Closer To
Light Rail Goal Of $40 Million

From The Virginian-Pilot On The Internet
Staff Writer Deirdre Fernandes

VIRGINIA BEACH, FEB 6 — Six million dollars of federal funds will help buy a section of the Norfolk Southern right-of-way, the most likely route for a light-rail line, and a light-rail study.

Virginia Beach, so clogged with traffic it has nearly destroyed the charm of the area, is on its way to getting transit.

A committee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization has agreed to let Hampton Roads Transit use the $6 million for the purchase and the study.

Artist concept Virginia Beach Light Rail

Image: Virginian-Pilot

Artist rendition of the proposed light rail line.

The members of the planning organization will have to formally approve the use of the funds in April.

And, HRT expects to receive an increase in transit funds from the federal stimulus package.

Tom Holden, the agency’s spokesman, said, “We want the flexibility to use the money when it gets here.”

About $5 million of the federal funds would help pay for the right of way and the rest would be spent on a light-rail environmental study, said Bob Matthias, assistant to the Virginia Beach city manager.

The city plans to submit a grant request for $20 million from the state, Matthias said, and a State Senator Kenneth Stolle put in a budget amendment in January requesting $25 million in state mass-transit funds.

The total price for the 10.6-mile line, which bisects the city roughly parallel to Interstate 264, is $40 million.

The City Council will spend $10 million to buy the land, and Norfolk Southern would continue to receive $5 million in utility easement payments.

“I think we’re just about there,” Mayor Will Sessoms said. “I feel good about it.”

Between the grant request and Stolle’s amendment, city officials are hoping to get the state money, Matthias said.

“One is the backup,” he said. “It’s belts and suspenders.”

For additional information and some interesting computer graphics see: http://hamptonroads.com/2007/12/interactive-animated-map-norfolks-light-rail

Deirdre Fernandes, (757) 222-5121, deirdre.fernandes@pilotonline.com .


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

Maiden Voyage Of Atlantic City-NYC Link

Philadelphia Inquirer On The Internet
Staff Writer Jacqueline Urgo

ATLANTIC CITY, FEB 6--The inaugural run of the Atlantic City Express Service train between the Big Apple and the Queen of Resorts took place on Friday afternoon, February 6, when a crowd of gamblers, honeymooners, vacationers, and casino entertainers boarded the train for the two and a half hour trip.

“Every week, it’ll be a different crowd with different people with different reasons for wanting to take this train from New York to Atlantic City,” said Joseph Tyrell, regional vice president for Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, as he surveyed the crowd of about 100 paying customers who joined casino and state officials and media representatives on the maiden voyage yesterday. “And it’s what’s going to help make Atlantic City a destination that’s easier to get to for a whole new market of people.”

Photo: Michael Wirtz/Philadelphia Inquirer   

Conductor Kim May gives the all-clear for the first ACES train trip from New York to Atlantic City. Officials hope service will be a spark that helps reignite the flickering casino business.
How did this happen?

A group of executives from various casino and resort businesses put together $19.8 million in a joint venture to run a “gamblers special” (editor’s phrase) linking New York City’s Penn Station with Atlantic City by rail for the first time in decades. These “rail entrepreneurs” hailed from Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, all with the same goal of boosting business in Atlantic City by making it easier and pleasanter to get there.

“After pulling out of Penn Station precisely on schedule at 2:30 p.m.,” the Inquirer reported, “the train made a brief scheduled stop in Newark’s Penn Station and then journeyed nonstop southwest across New Jersey, over a Delaware River railroad bridge and into a Philadelphia freight yard. There, the ACES train halted for more than 20 minutes as the engines were switched from electric to diesel, and then waited for the tracks to clear of Amtrak trains before being given the go-ahead to proceed to Atlantic City. The train arrived in Atlantic City about 5:15.”

“We live in Florida, work in Manhattan, and we like to go to A.C. a couple of times a month and gamble when we’re in New York,” said Norman Payo of Orlando, on the ACES train with his wife, Carol. “We would usually rent a car and drive down. We’ll see how this goes and do this instead if it’s quicker.”

But for Elizabeth Ross of Aberdeen, Wash., the train ride was more about savoring the experience than it was about getting to Atlantic City quickly.

“I’ll be spending about a week down there, so I just wanted to be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery on the way,” said Ross, traveling solo on a three-week East Coast jaunt. “When I contacted AAA, they told me about this new service, and it sounded great, so I said, sign me up.”

And while ACES, with its plush leather seats, might be all fun and games for the passengers on the Friday-through-Sunday service who are willing to plunk down $50 each way for a coach seat and $75 for a first-class ticket, officials are hoping service will be a spark that helps ignite Atlantic City’s flagging casino industry, which has seen revenue declines and layoffs in the last year.

Aggressive marketing

With billboards in Times Square and at Penn Station and other locations throughout Manhattan, and a marketing campaign that includes mailers and radio, newspaper and television commercials, said Auggie Cipollini, senior vice president at the Borgata, Atlantic City casinos were hoping to attract people who had never even thought of setting foot in a casino before.

That thinking worked for Melanie and Lance Malone, a twenty-something newly married couple who, in these recessionary times, had planned on forgoing a honeymoon when they married last month. Then they saw the sign in Times Square.

“We don’t have a car, but we wanted to get away cheap, and taking a bus seemed so unromantic,” said Lance Malone, a graduate student at New York University. “Now, we can get away for a few days, do the casino and the spa thing, and feel like we at least had a little bit of a honeymoon.”

The Governor comments

And that’s why Gov. Corzine, who rode the train briefly between New York and Newark, said such an expensive investment at a time when the nation’s economy remains in peril was a good idea.

“This train is a connector, a connector of one of the most important marketplaces in the world, the Northern New Jersey-New York market, with Atlantic City,” Corzine said. “This is something that will generate revenue at a time when we sorely need more revenue generated.”

Contact staff writer Jacqueline L. Urgo at 609-823-9629 or jurgo@phillynews.com.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)72.9466.25
Canadian National (CNI)37.8835.00
Canadian Pacific (CP)32.5530.26
CSX (CSX)32.7828.96
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)29.4727.17
Kansas City Southern (KSU)21.4618.16
Norfolk Southern (NSC)41.2738.36
Providence & Worcester (PWX)12.7513.06
Union Pacific (UNP)49.2743.79


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TECHNOLOGY LINES... Technology Lines...  

BART Signs Deal With Wi-Fi Company

From San Francisco Chronicle On Internet

SAN FRANCISCO, JAN 31 – Internet access has come to BART, the commuter rail system that serves the San Francisco metropolitan area, reported the Chronicle.

A pilot project that tested high-speed Internet access on portions of BART in the downtown underground stations for a year will now expand system-wide, allowing people to surf the Web, send e-mail and videoconference when riding the rails or waiting in the stations.

BART Train

The goal is to outfit the 104 miles of track and the 43 stations by the end of 2011, Cooper Lee, CEO of Wi-Fi Rail Inc., told the Chronicle. Wi-Fi Rail Inc., based in Gold River (Sacramento County) is the startup company that will provide the communications system.

More than 16,000 users signed on to the service during the demonstration project, which was free. The company reported seamless service even as the trains ran at high speeds.

BART Train

When the next phase is finished, which will include the Transbay Tube and all the subway stations in San Francisco and downtown Oakland, they will start charging, said Lee.

Fees will be about $30 a month, $9 a day, $6 for two hours and $300 for a year’s subscription, but not until the system is fully complete. Before that, service will be offered at reduced rates.

In the future, there will be free Internet access – but with a catch. Access will be cut off after 3 1/2 minutes and the users will have to endure 30 seconds of ads before being able to surf the Internet.

BART Train

The BART model uses fiber-optic equipment which has the capability of handling heavier loads at faster speeds than satellite or cellular service which other Wi-Fi projects use. Lee described the system as the first of its kind in the world. The company hopes to showcase BART as it pursues other markets.

“This is a unique opportunity to demonstrate what high-speed Wi-Fi access, interconnected by a huge fiber-optic backbone, can mean to a transit system and its passengers,” Lee said.

BART Train

The system can be used as a backup to the agency’s radio system and some day will be able to provide information to the public via video monitors in the stations and on the trains, said BART spokesman Linton Johnson.

During the demonstration, riders found that the range was limited and it took quite awhile to log on. “When I could get connected, I liked it,” said Thomas Hawk, a BART regular, “but most of the time it was more of a hassle than it was worth.”

Some riders, even though they liked the idea of Wi-Fi on the train, said they would not be willing to pay to have it. “But for those who spend a lot of time on the trains,” said Lisa Rein, a digital librarian, “the service could be really helpful and help reduce work stress.”

The contract, which was crafted to give BART a share in the expected revenues, is for 20 years.


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

Installments by David Beale
NCI Foreign Correspondent

 

France Increases Investment in Rail Infrastructure

Source: Lok Report

Paris – The executive board of AFITF, the French government agency with responsibility for managing the country’s transport infrastructure, approved an annual operating budget for the rail sector of EUR 2.8 billion (US $3.6 billion) in 2009, which is a 34% increase from 2008. Additionally it authorized a budget of EUR 4.2 billion for new projects, an increase of 28% over 2008.

A total of EUR 1.44 billion for advance planning and development of several high speed rail lines (LGV) was authorized, including construction of the LGV Rhin-Rhône (east branch) and LGV Perpignan-Figueras corridor as well as engineering and planning for the LGV Bretagne Pays-de-Loire and LGV Est Phase 2 rail projects. Funding for detailed studies and advance planning was also authorized for the LGV Sud-Europe-Atlantique, rail bypasses around Nîmes and Montpellier, the LGV Rhin-Rhône (west and south branches), the LGV Provence Alpes Côte d’azur (PACA) corridor, Lyon-Turin and the Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) airport express train.

The AFITF approved a 2009 budget of EUR 672 million for on-going rehabilitation of existing local and commuter rail lines and construction of new commute rail lines, which will be extended by a total 1500 km (932 miles) around France by the year 2020. Also included in the 2009 budget are EUR 210 million for support of rail freight and sea freight infrastructure.


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Infrastructure Offensive against Unemployment in Austria

Vienna – Austria’s Infrastructure Minister Doris Bures announced that the country will increase investment in numerous rail and road infrastructure projects to combat rising unemployment levels. Mrs. Bures made the statement during s press conference on the 2nd of February where the latest economic and unemployment statistics for the month of January were made public.

“It is currently the most urgent of tasks of the entire government to counter unemployment with all possible means. In the area of infrastructure a record volume of investment in expansion of the rail and highway networks will be made. We have set the priorities in such a way that maximum effectiveness for the job market and transportation infrastructure will be realized”, stated Mrs. Bures.

The first projects will be started in the first quarter of this year. An additional EUR 900 million (US $ 1.2 billion) of investment during 2009-12 will be authorized. EUR 700 million thereof will go to the Austrian rail network. The remaining EUR 200 million will be used for upgrading several highways and expressways in Austria. The result will be an additional 5400 full-time jobs added to the approximately 50,000 jobs supported by infrastructure development and maintenance in Austria.


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Australia to Increase Investment in Rail Network
under “Nation Building” Stimulus Package

Source: Commonwealth of Australia Press Release

Canberra – According to a press release from the 3rd of February, the government of Australia will inject A$1·2billion (US $800 million) into Australian Rail Track Corp as part of a A$4·7billion (US $3.1 billion) package of investment in railways, roads and education which was announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on the 12th of December.

The ‘Nation Building’ spending is intended to boost the competitiveness of the Australian economy. Rail’s share includes bringing forward projects to upgrade infrastructure and increase capacity, including the construction of cut-offs and deviations, longer passing sidings and replacing wooden rail ties with concrete ones. A$580 million will be provided towards the A$1 billion project to expand capacity between the Hunter Valley coal mines and Newcastle from 97 million to 200 million metric tons a year.

A$45 million will go towards the Advanced Train Management System. Lockheed Martin has a A$73·2 million contract to deploy a prototype of the GPS-based train control system on 120 km of the interstate network between Adelaide and Port Augusta.

Asciano CEO Mark Rowsthorn said the announcement “demonstrates that the government recognizes the economic importance of rail over the next 20 to 50 years and the need to prepare for the predicted doubling or tripling of the national freight task.”

Infrastructure Australia is currently examining a preliminary list of proposed infrastructure projects, and next month will present the government with an analysis of schemes to be prioritized within the A$12·6 billion Building Australia Fund.

In an unrelated press release from the 6th of February, the Australian state of Victoria announced that is would order an additional 20 “X Trapolis” EMU train sets, in contract valued at approximately US $250 million. The six-car long train sets will be placed into service on the commuter and regional rail network in the Melbourne area. The State of Victoria already operates 58 train sets of this EMU design in the Melbourne region.


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Deutsche Bahn Signals Acceptance of Bicycles in High Speed Trains

Source: Hannoverische Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper

Hartmut Mehdorn, chairman of Deutsche Bahn AG – German Railways – indicated during a question and answer session with the caucus of German speaking members of the European Parliament, that future deliveries of ICE high speed trains to the company will include a multi-purpose seating area where bicycles can be stored. Currently none of the ICE trains in service with DBAG have provisions for bicycle storage, thus restricting carriage of bicycles by ICE passengers to only certain bicycle models which can be collapsed and folded-up for storage in a similar volume as a small or mid-sized suitcase.

The ICE high speed train fleet in Germany is a notable exception to other trains in Germany and even other high speed trains elsewhere in Europe. Most local and regional trains in Germany have at least one car in the train set where open floors and folded seats accommodate passengers traveling with bicycles. A large number of InterCity (IC) and EuroCity (EC) locomotive-hauled trains even have one car in the train set which is equipped with bicycle racks.

The European Parliament has placed pressure on many of Europe’s passenger railroads to do more to accommodate passengers traveling with bicycles. EuroStar train sets in service between London, Paris and Brussels, as well as the most recently delivered Thalys train sets in operation between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne, Germany have areas on board to store bicycles. Thalys is in the middle of a program to renovate and update its existing fleet of 15 – 20 year-old TGV-based high speed trains, including adding bicycle storage areas.

Mr. Mehdorn apparently satisfied attendees of the question and answer session that all future ICE trains delivered new to the company will be capable of handling passengers traveling with bicycles, he left open what will done with existing ICE fleet. The ICE-1 fleet is in the last phases of a major cabin retrofit and upgrade program, and the ICE-2 fleet will soon begin a cabin retrofit program based largely upon the design and features of the ICE-1 retrofit package, which does not have any provision for accommodating passengers traveling with bicycles. The current ICE-3 and ICE-T fleets are still relatively new, and are at least a decade away from undergoing any major retrofit program similar to what ICE-1 fleet is undergoing.


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OPINION... Opinion...  

The Middle Class Needs Trains And Transit,
Not More Highways!

By David Peter Alan

President Obama recently expressed concern about the deteriorating status of America’s middle class. He appointed Vice-President Biden, a long-time Amtrak commuter, to form a commission to study the subject. As a middle-class person under pressure to stay that way despite a rapidly-worsening economy, I now submit my suggestion through this column.

Middle-class people need to keep their jobs, if they are going to keep their status. They do not need more highway construction, unless they happen to work in the highway construction industry. Most of us need reliable, frequent and affordable transportation to our offices and other workplaces, as well as to other destinations. In a word, that means TRANSIT.

If middle-class families could reduce the number of automobiles they own, they would have much more money available for other purposes. A one-car household spends approximately $6,000 per year less than a two-car household, according to transportation experts. In cities like New York and San Francisco, where many residents can rely on transit for all of their transportation needs, the number of automobiles per household has declined in recent years.

This trend may not be good for General Motors, but it IS good for the country. On the macro side, less automobile use means less air pollution, less need to spend scarce capital resources on highways (instead of something more urgently needed) and less dependence on foreign oil, much of which must be imported from dictatorial or unstable countries. On the micro side, owning fewer automobiles means fewer car payments, more space available for uses other than storing cars, and the health benefits that result from more walking and more time outdoors.

If people are expected to reduce their dependence on automobiles, however, they need public transit that is frequent and reliable enough to satisfy their normal mobility needs: like going to their jobs, shopping or a trip “downtown” for the afternoon. Millions of “middle-class” people in and near our major cities use subways, streetcars, light rail and commuter trains for basic mobility, along with intercity trains on Amtrak for longer trips. They also use buses, especially if part of their trip is made by rail. Some people could even get along without a car altogether.

Current policies work against the efforts by middle-class transit riders to retain their jobs and their status. As the New York Times reported on February 2d, fare increases and drastic reductions in transit service are looming in many metropolitan areas. Many of our cities and states are experiencing financial difficulties ranging from serious to drastic. Officials from these areas claim they can no longer afford to continue operating transit service, even at 2008 levels, and it is difficult to dispute these claims.

Still, a transit fare increase is a tax increase of the most regressive sort. And service cuts can be a catastrophe for people who need transit to get to work. They could lose their job if they have no reliable transportation. . America cannot recover and prosper while shouldering such an enormous waste of human capital. Only the Federal government can solve this problem. The answer is operating assistance for our transit systems, to ensure that they will continue to operate frequent, reliable and affordable service.

Without transit, the status of many middle class workers would deteriorate from tenuous to desperate. All Americans deserve better, and our nation deserves better.

With all of government’s other responsibilities that are so much more costly and difficult to implement, better transit is not a particularly burdensome request. However, its fulfillment can generate huge benefits for the nation and its people.


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EDITORIAL... Editorial...  

Managing America’s Decline

By James P. RePass

Be advised: as the Stimulus Bill stands now (before the Senate, at $827 billion $819 billion House), it is tens of billions of dollars shy of what is needed to rebuild America’s transportation competitiveness.

The transportation infrastructure portion of the bill virtually mirrors the typical highway bill of years past, with a vast amount of money going to new road projects (instead of demanding that bridges and roads be fixed first) a fraction of that for transit, and next to nothing ($2 billion) for intercity rail.

How can $2 billion be “next to nothing?” When you are competing against China (which is putting $100 billion into intercity rail between now and 2010); Europe (a similar amount, totaling all countries) and the rest of Asia (likewise), that’s when.

If we spend $2 billion to modernize our ground transportation system, while our competitors spend 50 times that much, you can be sure of one thing: your children are going to be learning Chinese, or German, or French --- not because it is fun or a good thing to do, intellectually --- but so they can speak to their masters.

The current Stimulus Bill repeats the same pattern of ground transportation spending that has saddled this country with more lane-miles of roadway than it can ever hope to maintain, while rail, the one system that is actually cost-effective, as the Europeans and Asians have not only decided, but are proving --- has been wrecked in America.

We need to budget $17 billion or so – that’s three years worth of shovel-ready freight rail right of way projects --- to put back the railroad track ripped up from existing rights of way over the past few decades due to a very poor strategic decision made by the freights --- under their old management, now departed--- to do that. That right of way is wide enough and straight enough, in most cases, to permit 125+ mph passenger trains on dedicated tracks, and 79-125 mph on some if not all shared tracks

The National Corridors Initiative has been educating political leaders at both the national and state level, laboriously and expensively (non-profit transportation advocates like us get a pat on the back, but not much else) year after year, for 20 years now, and thankfully an increasingly large numbers in both bodies, in both parties, “get it” strategically. It is time for members of the Senate and the House who understand this fact, like Chris Dodd in the Senate and Jim Oberstar in the House, to name just two of the brainiest members of the Congress, and the growing cadre of others who realize America’s very economic survival was at stake even before the current crisis made everything so obvious, to educate the rest.

Such a decision would enable three- or four-hour --- and even much shorter --- intercity travel between hundreds and hundreds of American city-pairs that are 100-600 miles apart. It would also lower the operating costs of long-distance trains, which would also operate on those corridors at one or the other end of their trips, but at far higher speeds than the 40 mph average they now experience. It would also make airlines more profitable, and less polluting, as they would cease operating short-haul flights, as has largely occurred already in Europe

Critics of rail like to say that America is not as densely populated as Europe, and therefore rail works there, but won’t work here. Bull feathers! Their disingenuous and dishonest use of statistical averages deliberately ignores the fact that the population centers of America: the Northeast, the Mid Atlantic, the Gulf South, the Chicago/Midwest nine-state population center, California’s coast, and the Northwest’s Cascadia Corridor, are ALL just as densely populated as European centers, and even some states that used to be thought of as “open spaces” are catching up. Not long ago one of the oil-lobby shills, who flaunts a list of “institute” credentials as legitimization for his words, noted in a Florida Op Ed piece that, after all, “high density” European countries such as France could be justified in having high speed rail, but “low density” places like the state of Florida could not.

For an answering Op Ed we wrote that appeared later in response, we did a little actual research, and here’s the news: Florida, allegedly too unpopulated to support rail, actually surpassed France in population density nearly a decade ago. By the shill’s own logic therefore high speed rail is justified in Florida. (The population density of France is 289 people per square mile; that of Florida is 333).

It is time to put the ideological bullies in their place, and build America. Put some REAL rail money in the Stimulus Bill --- out of $800 billion+, some $17, $20 or even $100 billion for rail infrastructure doesn’t seem like much --- and put this country back to work.

(James P. RePass is President & CEO of the National Corridors Initiative, a bi-partisan non-profit transportation advocacy organization)

jprepass@nationalcorridors.org


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PUBLISHER NOTES... Publisher Notes...  

Come Aboard!

NCI is interested in expanding its base of volunteer contributors to our weekly E-Zine. Are you a journalist, writer, or member of regional rail and transit advocacy group? Maybe you are interested in contributing stories or commentary to our pages regarding transportation issues in your area.

We envision six regions within the USA; Northeast, Midwest, and Northwest plus Southeast, Mid-South, and Southwest, and clearly there are stories to be told and rail initiatives needing support in those six regions. If you are interested in contributing news stories and/or commentary from one of these regions to Destination: Freedom on a regular or periodic basis, please contact us.

Also, NCI is seeking to expand its national outreach to additional reporters, journalists, and others in media, as well as in the transportation profession, government, and advocacy organizations. If you know of someone who may be interested in receiving our press releases, and/or a click-able link to our weekly E-Zine, please let us know so we can contact them, or simply refer them to our web site. We have set up an easy press sign-up page accessible from the home page.

Go to: http://www.nationalcorridors.org and see the Press Room link.

We hope to broaden NCI’s message, and improve our coverage of transportation issues across the USA, as well as continue to report on that topic across the globe since what happens elsewhere can have an influence or impact here.

Editor: Molly McKay – mollymckay@nationalcorridors.org
Publisher: Jim RePass – jprepass@nationalcorridors.org


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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