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 14, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 7

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…
NCI Reviews The Stimulus
Final Stimulus Bill Rewards High Speed Rail Massively;
   Falls Short On Transit
Freight Rail; A Component of Economic Stimulus Funding
Stimulus Bill To Put Millions Back To Work
  Amtrak News…
Special Employee Advisory - New CFO Appointed
  Construction Lines…
Boston to T.F. Green One Step Closer
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Freight Lines…
CN, NS To Create Joint Corridor
Seattle Port Sets Grain Tonnage Record in ‘08
Genesee & Wyoming: Revenue And Income Up, Operating Ratio Down
 
  Business Lines…
Graham-White Acquires The Vista Corp.
  Equipment lines…
Staten Island Railway Obtains Four New Locomotives
  Across The Pond…
Eurotunnel Resumes Full Operations In The “Chunnel”
Agility Trains Wins British High Speed Train Bid
  Opinion…
The “Stimulus” Has Become More Stimulating, But We Must
   Still Be Careful
  Special To Destination: Freedom…
Black American Celebration By Amtrak
  Publication Notes …


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

NCI Reviews The Stimulus

 


Final Stimulus Bill Rewards High Speed Rail Massively; Falls Short On Transit

By DF Staff and from Internet Sources: Websites of NARP, T4 America, and U.S. Pirg

FEBRUARY 13 -- In a bold and far-sighted move, both houses of Congress passed a landmark piece of legislation Friday night, the American Reinvestment and Economic Recovery Act, with more funding for rail and transit than advocates had ever imagined given the tough battles over spending amounts from a majority of Republicans.

Funding is a huge shot-in-the-arm for rail projects nationwide; transit funding is weak, though, and operating costs are not subsidized here

House, Senate, and Final Versions of the Stimulus Bill
ProgramHouse Bill Senate BillFinal Bill
Grants to Amtrak$800 m$850 m$1.3 b
State Rail Grants$300 m$250 m0
High-Speed Rail0$2 b$8 b
Total Rail$1.1 b$3.1 b$9.3 b
Transit Formula Funds$7.5 b $8.4 b$6.9 b
Fixed Guideway Modernization$2 b0$750 m
New Starts$2.5 b0$750 m
Discretionary Grants* 0$5.5 b*$1.5 b*
Total Transit$12 b$8.4 + $5.5 b*$8.4 + $1.5 b*

* Discretionary grants would be distributed by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to qualified “shovel-ready” transportation projects. Most of this money would probably go to highway and bridge projects, but some of the funds would likely go to transit and rail as well.

 

The final amount was a four-fold increase for intercity/high-speed rail from the Senate version of the bill and came on top of $8.4 designated for other public transportation uses.

“This bill, especially the money for high speed rail, marks a bold step for 21st century transportation,” said John Krieger, Transportation Advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG). “After decades of looking on with envy at efficient bullet trains overseas, American high speed rail is finally leaving the station.”

Clearly, “Friday the 13” was a good day for rail in America.

High speed rail push came from the President

When Barack Obama took to the road last week to promote his stimulus package, his response to a question on transportation in Fort Myers, Florida, was:

“It’s imagining new transportation systems. I’d like to see high-speed rail where it can be constructed. I would like for us to invest in mass transit because potentially that’s energy efficient. And I think people are a lot more open now to thinking regionally…

“The days where we’re just building sprawl forever, those days are over. I think that Republicans, Democrats, everybody… recognizes that’s not a smart way to design communities. So we should be using this money to help spur this sort of innovative thinking when it comes to transportation.

“That will make a big difference.”

He meant it. In the final hours of working on the bill, with the help of Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid, a substantial increase in funding for high speed rail was inserted into the bill and it passed. This fits in directly with Mr. Obama’s statements during the campaign about the benefits of high-speed rail and his repeated insistence that he would push for better train service, especially in his native Midwest.

The additional high speed rail funds mark the second time that public transportation has bucked the general trend in the Recovery Act. When the bill came to the floor of the House, dozens of amendments for additional expenditures were all defeated – with the sole exception of a measure to add $3 billion to public transportation. That amendment passed on a voice vote without opposition and with speeches of support from Republicans.

The money for high speed rail will be spent largely on projects to build and improve tracks, signals, and stations, as well as to make pedestrian, auto and transit crossings safer near corridors where trains will reach speeds in excess of 150 mph. In many places, projects will also involve electrification. Californians recently passed a $10 billion ballot question for a North-South high speed rail link between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area for trains which will travel over 200 mph. The project will avoid the need for costly airport and highway expansion and millions of gallons of oil consumption.

International competition in HSR

The push for high speed rail and transit comes at a time of record levels of public transportation ridership and growing frustration with airports. Europe, Japan, and China, our major economic competitors, already have thousands of miles of high speed rail. Experts generally see high speed rail as a more efficient and time-saving option than airplanes for trips less than 500 miles.

Said Krieger, “funds for transit and high speed rail will get Americans back to work while reducing dependence on oil and congestion at highways and airports.”

A map of federally designated high-speed rail corridors appears below:

HSR Rail Map

The U.S. Department of Transportation will lead the distribution of these funds; most of the money is likely to go to existing programs such as California High-Speed Rail, Midwest High-Speed Rail, and Southeast High-Speed Rail. States will get no supplementary money for rail programs. The legislation says that some of the money can be used for standard-speed rail corridors, but that the Secretary of Transportation is to give priority “to projects that support the development of intercity high speed rail service.”

Disappointment over decrease in transits spending

The $8.4 billion for transit is considerably less than the $12 billion proposed by the House. According to a statement from Speaker Pelosi’s office outlining the amounts, the transit money, “Includes funds for new construction of commuter and light rail, modernizing existing transit systems, and purchasing buses and equipment needed to increase public transportation and improve intermodal and transit facilities.” Pelosi’s office noted that, states have 787 ready-to-go transit projects totaling about $16 billion.” Much more is needed to shore up budget-starved commuter systems across the country, but the $8.4 billion addition to transit formula grants, which will go to maintenance and capital costs for existing systems, is an excellent boost for public transportation. $750 million of that amount will go to the New Start and Small Start programs, which finance major new lines, and $750 million will go to the fixed guideways program, which goes towards rehabilitating existing lines.

Comments from T4 America website:

Despite some shortcomings resulting from current transportation law, Congress has adopted a bill that if properly enacted by state and local authorities, could be a down payment on a new direction for America’s infrastructure:

Aviation and maritime: $1.3 billion is slated for aviation, of which $1.1 billion is grants-in-aid for airports and $200 million is “supplemental Funding for Facilities and Equipment.” There are also maritime funds.

Comment from NARP (National Association of Railroad Passengers)

Overall, the transportation functions represent huge progress in recognizing the benefits of passenger and freight railroading, but the test will be how much money is actually spent on rail, and how effectively.  There will be heavy lifting for rail interests to make the law work for us in the states, particularly the highway flexible portion which does require state transportation improvement plans (TIP) to recognize the projects.

The House passed the conference report on a 246-183 vote with, again, no Republican support.  The vote in the Senate was 60-39. The fact that rail did this well in conference is extraordinary, considering that the bill’s overall price tab was reduced to $787 billion (from the $819 billion House approved version, and the $900 billion Senate approved version).

Five senators (Harry Reid (D-NV), Max Baucus (D-MT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Daniel Inouye (D-HI)) and five congressmen (David Obey (D-WI), Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Jerry Lewis (R-CA), and David Camp (R-MI)) were involved directly in the negotiations, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME),  Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Arlen Specter (R-PA) also played a major role.

Comparison with previous funding:

What we see in the stimulus bill, then, is a manifest change in funding priorities, increasing the share of sustainable transportation from 22% to 40%. This is a significant improvement.

It is also reasonable to see the stimulus bill as making up for years of neglect. After all, the Bush Administration repeatedly threatened to cut off funding for Amtrak entirely and only in the last year’s Congressional session did the agency finally get a strong and sustained funding guarantee on the order of $2.5 billion a year over the next ten years from the passage of the Lott/Lautenberg bill.

So the stimulus bill partially fills an important gap, funding rail to a degree that has never before been accomplished in the United States. Transit advocates would have liked to secure more funds from the bill, but we shouldn’t despair, because the roads lobby was hit directly here. It looks like Congress and the Obama Administration are taking their first big steps towards making surface transportation improvements a reality.

 

   Comparing the stimulus bill with transportation appropriations in FY 2008   

 

FY 2008| Stimulus Bill 
  Program 

Appropriation|% of totalAppropriation% of total
  Highways 

$37 b|78%$27.5 b60%
  Amtrak/Rail 

$1 b|2%$9.3 b21%
  Transit 

$9.5 b|20%$8.4 b19%
  Total Roads 

$37 b|78%$27.5 b60%
  Total Rail / Transit 

$10.5 b|22%$17.7 b40%

 

The discretionary funds in the amount of $1.5 billion are not included in the table above (the stimulus component) because they may be directed to transit, rail, or highways.


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Freight Rail; A Component of
Economic Stimulus Funding

Statement from Association of American Railroads (AAR)

Progressive Railroading Week of February 9

When President Barack Obama signs the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1/S.1) — since it’s almost a certainty he will sign some version of the legislation soon — freight railroads can expect a small chunk of the hundreds of billions of dollars to flow in their direction.

As the House and Senate compromise bill stands now, $27.5 billion would be provided for U.S. Department of Transportation highway formula grants to the states. The legislation would expand eligibility for these funds to include both freight- and passenger-rail projects at states’ discretion.

“The additional flexibility provided by this bill gives states the ability to direct the money to critical infrastructure projects regardless of mode,” said Association of American Railroads President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Hamberger in a prepared statement. “The bill is a victory for both passenger and freight rail. We’re glad the [House and Senate] negotiators recognize that rail projects will create jobs and improve the environment.”

The bill also would provide $1.5 billion for projects of “national and regional significance.” Rail, transit, port, highway and bridge projects would be eligible under the program, said Hamberger.

“The $1.5 billion opens up the possibility for critical investment in projects that would improve the efficiency and performance of the nation’s rail transportation services,” he said. “We have a number of rail projects, including the CREATE project in Chicago, that have local, regional and national significance, and create jobs immediately.”

“Chicago is in danger of becoming a bottleneck in the nation's transportation system, and that would have serious consequences
-- not just for this city, but for the entire nation.”
-- Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley

ABOUT “CREATE” - (Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program)

Chicago: Rail Capital of the World and America’s Transportation Center

For almost 150 years, Chicago has been the nation’s rail hub and the world’s rail capital. The growth of railroads in the 1800s made the city America’s crossroads.

Chicago’s freight rail network helped make the U.S. economy the strongest in the world. Indeed, the notions of Chicago as the City That Works and City of the Big Shoulders are inseparable from that as a city of railroads.

Chicago today remains the busiest rail gateway in the United States, accounting for one-third of the nation’s freight rail traffic. Each day, about 1,200 trains pass through the region, powering the Illinois economy with:

  • More than 38,000 rail-related jobs, accounting for more than $1.7 billion in annual wages
  • $22 billion in annual economic value to the region’s manufacturers and businesses

As the region has grown, so have traffic jams, commuter delays and rail shipping times due to the convergence of automobiles and trucks with passenger and freight trains. And now the nation’s transportation center faces its own crossroads.

A Growing Demand For Rail Service

Over the next 20 years, demand for freight rail service in Chicago is expected to nearly double. That means more jobs for Illinois workers and increased economic opportunity for Illinois businesses’ but only if we can meet the growing need for rail service.

If rail capacity and infrastructure issues are not addressed, studies show the Chicago region will miss out on 17,000 jobs and $2 billion in annual economic production within two decades.

Something must be done now to protect Illinois jobs, improve our quality of life and ensure businesses here and throughout the nation continue to have access to efficient, affordable rail shipping services.

For more information, go to http://www.createprogram.org/about-history.html


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Stimulus Bill To Put Millions Back To Work

Statement From Transportation Trades, AFL-CIO

WASHINGTON, DC, FEBRUARY 14 – Edward Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issued the following statement upon the House of Representatives and Senate final passage of the economic stimulus bill:

“Elections matter. President Obama has been in office for less than a month, and our leaders in Washington have enacted legislation that will jump start the hemorrhaging economy and create jobs for millions of Americans while make lasting investments in our transportation infrastructure.

“Voters elected a President and a Congress that understand that partisan bickering won’t put Americans to work, but a smart economic recovery bill that invests in good jobs will.

“Congratulations to the President and the leaders in Congress who worked tirelessly to make this important legislation a reality. American workers are depending on its success.”

The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, represents 32 member unions in the aviation, rail, transit, trucking, highway, longshore, maritime and related industries. For more information, visit www.ttd.org

CONTACT: Jenifer McCormick 202-628-9262   jeniferm@ttd.org


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AMTRAK NEWS... Amtrak News...  

Special Employee Advisory
New CFO Appointed

FEBRUARY 11--D J. Stadtler has been appointed to serve as the chief financial officer. Stadtler joined Amtrak as chief of staff to President and CEO Joe Boardman last month. Stadtler has 20 years of experience in federal financial management and most recently served as deputy CFO at the Federal Railroad Administration.

The appointment follows the departure of William H. Campbell from Amtrak yesterday. Campbell had served as CFO since he joined the company on May 21, 2007.


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CONSTRUCTION LINES... Construction Lines...  

Boston to T.F. Green One Step Closer

Construction on the Warwick Intermodal Facility in Rhode Island is finally well under-way, 17 years after the project was initially proposed.  Rhode Island transportation officials have announced the project is on schedule for 2010.  However, due to inflation and project expansion, the forecasted cost has gone from $25 million to more than $267 million.  When construction is completed, Providence’s T.F. Green Airport will be one of the few air terminals in the nation with direct access to commuter rail, connected by a 1,400 foot skywalk to a station serviced by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.  In an interview with reporters, Kevin A. Dillon, president of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation went on record to say “The overall project is a very important component of where we want to take the airport in the future.  It is an enhancement, getting people out of cars. This will allow us to market the airport internationally — where people expect interconnectivity of transportation. It will also let us better serve the Boston market.”


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)66.0472.94
Canadian National (CNI)35.7437.88
Canadian Pacific (CP)30.6132.55
CSX (CSX)29.2232.78
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)23.9829.47
Kansas City Southern (KSU)19.7321.46
Norfolk Southern (NSC)37.7341.27
Providence & Worcester (PWX)13.5012.75
Union Pacific (UNP)43.5149.27


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FREIGHT LINES... Freight Lines...  

CN, NS To Create Joint Corridor

From Progressive Railroading

FEBRUARY 11 -- Class I railroads are teaming up in the Midwest and Southeast to make hauling more efficient by sharing infrastructure and shortening some of the routes.

On February 10, Canadian National and Norfolk Southern announced a joint “MidAmerica Corridor” initiative, which calls for the railroads to share track between Chicago, St. Louis, and points in Kentucky and Mississippi to shorten travel distances and increase velocity.

Here are the three major components:

“This innovative track-sharing arrangement will expedite our customers’ shipments, improve asset utilization and generate new efficiencies for both CN and NS,” said CN President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison in a prepared statement.

In addition, the West Tennessee Railroad — a key component of the initiative — will be upgraded to handle heavier shipments and additional traffic between Fulton and Corinth.

“The Mid-America Corridor is an important partnership that will create better routes for shippers on both railroads,” said NS Chairman, President and CEO Wick Moorman. “On the Norfolk Southern system, it will help level demand on our busy north-south routes, while improving service and velocity for many more customers.”

Both railroads must receive approval by the Surface Transportation Board to exchange trackage rights.


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Seattle Port Sets Grain Tonnage Record in ‘08

From Progressive Railroading on the Internet

Grain exports, which travel by rail to port, were up significantly in 2008

FEB 11 -- While most business percentages are plummeting, here’s a market that is booming. Last year, the Port of Seattle handled 6.4 million metric tons of grain, a 20 percent increase compared with 2007 volume and a new annual record.

Virtually all of the grain flowing through the port is grown in the upper Midwest and shipped by rail to Seattle, where the port operates a 40-acre terminal. Both Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad serve that terminal which can handle 4 million bushels of grain.


The increase over 2007 was driven by strong demand in China, Japan and other Asian nations for corn, soybeans and sorghum, and an ample grain supply in the United States. Almost all the grain in the Asian nations is used for livestock feed.

“Our port remains a viable and competitive gateway for the export of grain grown in the upper Midwest,” said the port’s Managing Director Charlie Sheldon in a prepared statement.


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Genesee & Wyoming:

 

Revenue And Income Up, Operating Ratio Down

From Progressive Railroading
Freight Rail Improves Despite Bad Economy In Nation

In the fourth quarter, Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (GWI) earned a net income of $25.3 million, up 81 percent compared with fourth-quarter 2007’s total. Income from continuing operations soared from $14.5 million to $25.3 million and operating income jumped 35.2 percent to $30.4 million.

Revenue totaled $149.2 million, up 10.9 percent year over year as revenue from acquisitions offset an $11.7 million decrease in same-railroad revenue. Freight revenue rose 15.9 percent to $95.2 million primarily because freight revenue generated by acquired railroads offset a $6.7 million decrease in same-railroad freight revenue.

Quarterly operating expenses totaled $118.8 million, up 6 percent compared with fourth-quarter 2007 costs. However, GWI’s operating ratio dropped 3.7 points to 79.6. Excluding net gains on asset sales and acquisition-related expenses, the operating ratio improved 2.4 points to 80.9.

“On the positive side, our less economically sensitive commodities such as utility coal, grain, waste and salt performed well, and our five recent acquisitions collectively met our financial expectations,” said GWI Chief Executive Officer John Hellmann in a prepared statement. “On the negative side, the severe deterioration of the industrial economy negatively impacted our results, especially in December.”

Meanwhile, GWI also reported traffic from continuing operations for January. Carloads totaled 72,015 units, up 12.2 percent compared with January 2008’s total.

Railroads that GWI acquired within the past 12 months — including CAGY Industries Inc., the Georgia Southwestern Railroad and Ohio Central Railroad System — handled a combined 13,887 carloads.

However, on a “same-railroad” traffic basis, carloads decreased 9.4 percent year over year. GWI attributes the decline to weak pulp and paper, metals and lumber/forest products traffic.

GWI owns and operates 63 regional and short lines in the United States, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, and owns a minority interest in a Bolivian railroad.


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BUSINESS LINES... Business Lines...  

Graham-White Acquires The Vista Corp.

Keeping manufacturing in the U.S.

From Railway Age

Graham-White Mfg. Co. says it has acquired The Vista Corp., based in Roanoake, Va., a remanufacturing facility for severe-duty locomotive engines.

In a statement, Graham-White President Jim Frantz said, “We are combining forces with a strategic, quality-oriented company that is comfortable with change as business and our customers warrant.” He added, “The mindset at Vista dovetails completely with the corporate culture Graham-White has spent years developing.”

“Vista’s scope of precision remanufactured components along with Graham-White’s commitment to REMANSM will provide our customers with innovative solutions and greater value,” said Stewart Bruce, Graham-White vice president of marketing. “We now offer a wider range of remanufactured components from four separate locations nationwide.”

Graham-White, which produces new and remanufactured components for heavy rail, rail transit, bus, and industrial clients, also has manufacturing facilities in Salem, Va., Shreveport, La., and Carson City, Nev.


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EQUIPMENT LINES... Equipment Lines...  

Staten Island Takes Locomotive Delivery

Photo: Staten Island Advance

Michael McWeeneyThe first of four locomotives are transported from the Stapleton home port.
Staten Island Railway Obtains
Four New Locomotives

Trains Manufactured in America

FEB 11 --Staten Island Railway is closer to readiness for the 21st century with the arrival of four new low-emission diesel locomotives last week. The locomotives cost $1.6 million each and were part of a combined order with MTA Metro-North Railroad, (which received six), and the Connecticut Dept of Transportation.

They will replace four aging “workhorses” two of which date back to the 1940 and two went into service in 1968. That equipment was so old, at times replacement parts had to be ordered on eBay.

The new, low-emission locomotives each weigh 230,000 pounds, or 104.5 tons, and have a lifespan of about 35 years. They will be used to pull work trains for maintenance, including cars that carry the rocks that line the right-of-way. In the fall, they will be used daily to propel work equipment that steam-cleans the rails.

They will also be used to apply a special traction-enhancing gel to the rails that counteracts the gunky build-up that forms when slippery, wet autumn leaves get crushed under the wheels, making it difficult to stop trains.

The locomotives can also be used in extremely heavy snowstorms to help pull passenger trains when the snow covering the rails prevents the electrified trains from rolling on their own.

The locomotives were made by Brookville Equipment Corporation in Brookville, Pa., and were transported via rail to Newark, N.J., where they were lifted onto a barge and brought to the Stapleton Homeport.

A little history:

The Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority, trading as MTA Staten Island Railway (or SIR), is the operator of the lone rapid transit line operating in the borough of Staten Island, New York City. It is considered a standard railroad rail line, but is currently disconnected from the national railway system. SIR operates with modified R44 New York City Subway cars but there is no rail link between the line and the subway system proper. Commuters typically use Staten Island Ferry e to reach Manhattan. The current SIR line has been completely grade separated from intersecting roads since 1966.


Photo MTA

Staten Island Rail Map

The Staten Island railroad is one of the oldest elements of the nation’s busiest mass transit system and predates the New York City subway by 44 years. It began running on April 23, 1860, when James Buchanan was president and the island was a sparsely inhabited collection of hamlets.

SIRT Coaches

Photo: Joe Testagrose

From a Rail Fan trip in 1973, an SIRT unit is shown at Pleasant Plains.


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

From David Beale
NCI Foreign Correspondent

 

Eurotunnel Resumes Full Operations In The “Chunnel”

Source. Lok Report

FOLKERSTONE, UK – the Channel Tunnel, damaged by an intense fire in September, resumed full services on the 9th of February after three and half months of repairs. A part of the northern tunnel (southeast bound traffic) called “section / interval 6” was extensively fire and heat damaged on the 11th Sept. 2008 by a chemical hauling tanker truck, which caught on fire, thus igniting a number of other trucks riding piggy back on a Euro Shuttle train.

With the resumption of full services Euro Shuttle trains with cars or trucks will again make the trip from the U.K. to France or vice-versa in 32 minutes. EuroStar passenger trains will again make the London – Brussels trip in 2 hours or the London – Paris trip in 2 hours 15 minutes.


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Agility Trains Wins British High Speed Train Bid

Source. Die Welt newspaper and Lok Report

LONDON – the British secretary of transportation, Mr. Geoff Hoon, announced on the 12th of Feb. that the Agility Trains consortium had won the bidding for new high speed trains to be deployed on the “Great Western” and “East Coast Main Line” rail corridors. The new train sets, called “Super Express” will replace two and three decade old diesel “HST / InterCity 125” and electric locomotive hauled “InterCity 225” train sets. The new train sets will be produced in diesel, electric / diesel bi-mode, and all-electric EMU configurations. The exact product mix will be specified later, dependant upon an upcoming decision on whether the “Great Western” rail corridor from London to Wales will be electrified. The diesel and the electric / diesel bi-mode versions will include hybrid technology batteries to store energy from dynamic braking, thus reducing fuel consumption by 15%. The all-electric versions will have similar regenerative braking, which returns energy back to the overhead catenary during train deceleration.

Photos: artist conception of new “Super Express” train sets. Images from British Ministry of Transportation.

Agility Trains, a British based consortium formed by Hitachi, John Laing Co. and Barclays, will build a new production center for the train sets as well as set-up maintenance centers in Bristol, Leeds, Doncaster, Reading and London West, thus securing and creating about 12,500 jobs in England. As many as 1400 train sets could be built under the agreement. The agreement is valued at GBP 7.5 billion (US $11 billion).

The second place bidder, Express Rail Alliance, which includes Siemens, Bombardier and Angel Trains, has been retained as back-up in case of difficulties with the contract with Agility Trains. The new train sets are expected to start services in 2013.

Separately the British Ministry of Transport announced that Bombardier had won a contract to supply 120 new EMU train sets for use between London and Standsted Airport. Bombardier will assemble these EMU train sets at its Derby, England facilities.


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OPINION... Opinion...  

The “Stimulus” Has Become More Stimulating,
But We Must Still Be Careful

By David Peter Alan

It’s amazing! Rail is back in the Congressional “stimulus” package. That’s good news, and it is much better than we expected only one week ago. For the past two weeks, I have complained in this column that there was too much highway and not enough transit and rail in the package. Jim RePass, our publisher, complained even more loudly about this imbalance.

Then it happened! Just before press time, the new numbers were announced. Rail funding is up to $9.3 billion, including Amtrak, high-speed and other intercity rail. Transit is down slightly at 8.4 billion, and highway funding was actually reduced by nearly 10%, to $27.5 billion. This amazing comeback for rail gives rail and transit 39% of the total pot, not counting air ($1.5 billion) and other state grants ($1.3 billion). This share is significantly higher than the 29% originally requested by Chair Oberstar and essentially doubles the percentage for transit in the current TEA-LU statute, with Amtrak’s separate funding added for comparison.

Congress deserves credit (or at least the Democrats do) for coming to their senses and realizing that rail infrastructure is vital to our nation’s future. I am disappointed that the three Republican senators who voted for the final package extracted such a high price for their votes. Sacrificing schools is not good for the nation. Still, rail and transit come out well, and there is now some recognition that it is time to begin containing the growth of highways. Maybe Federal operating support for transit will come next. In my opinion, it must.

I am sure that everybody in the rail and transit advocacy community is at least delighted, and many are ecstatic. “This is an important opportunity for the Upper Midwest Region to re-connect itself” said Chicagoan Rick Harnish, Executive Director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. Harnish is right, of course, but our joy masks a peril that must be recognized.

The Bush Administration was openly hostile to new rail starts. One of the few projects approved during the Bush era was New Jersey Transit’s proposal to build new rail tunnels to Manhattan, and terminate them twenty stories below the street in a dead-end, deep-cavern terminal. We of the rail advocacy community are united in supporting increased capacity. However, we object to NJT’s proposed terminal, which would exclude Amtrak trains and preclude access to Manhattan’s East Side.

Therein lies the rub. NJT is counting on Stimulus funding for $3 billion, just for an underground parking garage for trains, which will not benefit the riders. New York’s MTA plans to build a similar deep cavern under Manhattan’s East Side for the LIRR. California wants grants for high-speed rail and other projects. So do Midwestern states, as Rick Harnish noted. So, also, does virtually every transit provider that can propose a project and call it “shovel ready” in time to apply for funds.

Transit was on a starvation diet during the Bush era. Now it has been upgraded to a weight-loss diet. The feeding frenzy is already starting, and there will not be nearly enough money available for every meritorious project that transit providers and states would like to build. Just reforming NJT’s pet project will not save enough.

Instead, we all need a fair and just system of allocating the funds that will soon become available. Transit providers, state DOT officials and citizen-advocates for rail and transit must all have their say. If we can all combine forces and assist with the screening process, so much the better. I urge Secretary LaHood and the decision-makers at the FTA and FRA to listen to the representatives of the riding public, as much as they listen to the transit providers and state officials. Our constituents need, want and deserve more trains and better transit. We also need, want and deserve Federal transportation officials who will wisely and judiciously choose the improvements we get.

David Peter Alan
Chair, Lackawanna Coalition
NJ Transit Advisory Committee


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Special... Special To Destination: Freedom...  

Black American Celebration By Amtrak

Amtrak, as part of the celebration of Black History Month, held an event on Tuesday the 17th to honor African-American porters and their contribution to the railroads.  Black Americans have played an important part in the American railroads since as early as the 1830s, when slaves were made to work on the construction of rail lines in the South.  After the Civil War, the westward expansion of trains created demand for the labor of newly freed slaves.  By the 1920s, more than 20,000 blacks worked for the railroads, regularly facing discrimination from both management and passengers, according to the A. Phillip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum.  It took the nearly all-black Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, founded in 1925, 12 years of struggle with the Pullman Company to be recognized as a union, making them the first African-American union to sign a collective-bargaining agreement with a major US company.  “These gentlemen worked during a time when the service they provided was top-notch under difficult and stressful circumstances. This is an opportunity to celebrate them and what they achieved.” said Amtrak spokeswoman Darlene Abubakar.  One of the men Amtrak will be transporting in from across the nation to honor, Seattle’s Thomas Gray, 71 years of age, recalls a working on the railroad with his grandfather.  “We knew if our two trains would be passing, so he’d hold his railroad lantern and I’d hold my flashlight. At 70 miles an hour, we couldn’t see one another, but we knew who was holding the light.”

East Rutherford, N.J .-- The Nets and Amtrak have joined together for the fourth consecutive year to celebrate Black History Month with events to honor African-American contributions to the nation’s railroad.

The Nets and Amtrak will tip-off the program with an art contest at the IZOD CENTER on Monday, February 9 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Students in 9th through 12th grades at Arts High School of Newark, NJ will be asked to create and display artwork that either describes African-American contributions to the nation’s railroad system or demonstrates how the railroad impacted lives of African-Americans after the Civil War.

Nets players Vince Carter, Keyon Dooling, Jarvis Hayes, Josh Boone, and Trenton Hassell will join representatives from Amtrak to judge the winning piece of art from the school.  The selected works will be on display at the IZOD CENTER concourse before the Nets host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, February 25. The young artists will also be honored on court during halftime activities.

In addition to the art contest, the Nets will host an online chat focusing on black history. The chat will feature Nets player Devin Harris on Friday, February 6 at 2 p.m. Fans can enter the chat room at www.njnets.com. During the month of February, the Nets’ Web site will also feature daily black history facts, quotes, historical moments, and Nets player testimonials. The celebration of Black History Month will also include several in-game features honoring historical figures and landmark accomplishments.

“In partnership with the Nets, we honor the legacy of African-Americans who played such a vital role in the development of this country’s passenger railroads,” said Lorraine Green, Amtrak’s Vice President of Human Resources and Diversity Initiatives. “Through this partnership, we continue our efforts to educate both young and old about African-Americans in railroad history.”

“We are proud to celebrate Black History Month by teaming with Amtrak and giving young people a host of events in which to reflect on African-American history and achievement,” said Vince Carter.

“The Nets are honored to join Amtrak in this important celebration of Black History Month and the crucial role of African-Americans in the building of America’s passenger railroad system,” said Nets CEO Brett Yormark. “We appreciate our partnership with Amtrak and thank Arts High School for taking part in the events.”


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