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
 

Contribute To NCI

May 3, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 19

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

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

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

  News Items…
Amtrak Runs Passenger Train On FEC
  Commuter Lines…
St. Louis Voters Approve Sales Tax Increase For Transit
  Government Lines…
Senators Continue Work On Climate Bill
  Safety Lines…
MBTA Gets New “Evac” Equipment For
   Boston Fire Department
  Off The Main Line…
Comments Wanted For National Rail Plan
  Selected Rail Stocks…
 
  Events…
APTA 2010 Rail Conference
Portland Convention on Light Rail
  Environmental Lines…
Amtrak’s Beef-Powered Passenger Train Debuts
  Across The Pond…
Siemens Gives A Peak At Velaro D High Speed EMU Train
China Opens Yet Another High Speed
   Rail Corridor: Fuzhou- Xiamen
  Editorial…
How Green Grows My Oil Company…
   Or, It’s The Infrastructure, Stupid (II)
  Publication Notes …


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

Amtrak Runs Passenger Train On FEC

The Purpose Of The Excursion With State And Local Officials, Is To Inspect Track For Future Passenger Service.
The Train Will Stop In West Palm Beach En-Route From Miami To Jacksonville

Sun Sentinel
Writer Michael Turnbell

APRIL 29 -- A passenger train headed for Miami last Thursday on the Florida East Coast Railway, a line that does not have passenger service, might have been a surprise to some onlookers. That train was “deadheading” to Miami to prepare for an inspection run from Miami to Jacksonville three days later.

State and local officials are pushing to return passenger service to the coastal tracks in Florida and Amtrak Board Chairman was expected to be on board with them. The “test” runs will help officials evaluate the feasibility of reintroducing Amtrak service along the FEC corridor between West Palm Beach and Jacksonville. Regular passenger service on Henry Flagler’s railroad was discontinued in 1968.

“We kind of have everything in reverse,” said Robert Friedman, a Jupiter councilor and chairman of Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization. “Tri-Rail goes through the lesser populated areas and the FEC runs through the heart of South Florida.”

The Florida Department of Transportation asked for $268 million in federal stimulus money for the project, but the application wasn’t funded because the project was not sufficiently developed.

Saturday’s train ride should demonstrate that the state is serious about this project and ready to move quickly, commented Friedman.

The state wants the track upgraded for 90 mph passenger service (it is now used only for freight) and plans to reapply for funding as soon as guidelines are released this spring.

The money would be used to build stations in Stuart, Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, Melbourne, Cocoa Beach, Titusville, Daytona Beach and St. Augustine; track sidings so trains can pass each other; and a new crossover north of downtown West Palm Beach that would allow Amtrak to switch between the FEC and the western CSX tracks.

At present, Amtrak runs along CSX tracks to go from West Palm Beach to Jacksonville, but the tracks veer inland and go through Orlando before turning north to Jacksonville. The trip takes nine hours.

Projected time on the proposed, more direct route would be six hours. Two trains a day would run each direction, traveling at speeds of 90 mile an hour.


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

St. Louis Voters Approve Sales Tax Increase For Transit

By David Peter Alan

In a month dominated by fare hikes and service cuts on many of the nation’s transit systems, there is good news from St. Louis. Following the approval by voters in St. Louis County of an increase in the local sales tax to pay for more transit, St. Louis Metro is planning to restore bus service and increase frequency of peak-hour service on MetroLink light rail.

Voters in the County approved Proposition “A” with 63% of the vote on April 6th, thereby implementing a half-cent County sales tax that will help to pay for transit. Sales in the City of St. Louis will be subject to a quarter-cent transit tax that was originally approved by City voters in 1997. Metro estimates that the measure will produce $74 million in revenue from the County and $8 million from the City. Metro expects that the new money will begin to flow into the agency’s pockets this fall. The extra funds will be used to restore service previously eliminated, expand para-transit for persons with disabilities (after severe cuts last year), and provide the “local” component of matching funds for future capital projects.

The prospects for transit in St. Louis were bleak in 2009, when funding shortages caused the agency to implement drastic bus service cuts and a reduction of service on MetroLink. The cuts, which went into effect in March of last year, amounted to one third of service offered previously. Many bus routes that extended beyond the limits of the City of St. Louis were eliminated. Service was also reduced by one fifth on MetroLink, and much of the service offered by Call-A-Ride, Metro’s para-transit service for persons with disabilities, was also eliminated. Metro reported ridership losses of 21.1% of bus ridership, 10.6% of MetroLink ridership and 23.4% of riders on Call-A-Ride. Metro also operates a MetroLink line in Southern Illinois and bus service there, but the Illinois services were not subject to the severe cuts that affected the Missouri services.

Bus stop signs sported stickers that said “Service Suspended” after the cuts were implemented. A one-time grant approved by the Missouri General Assembly allowed 55% of the previously-eliminated bus service to be restored last August on a temporary basis, although those funds will be exhausted soon. Metro had expected to receive $12 million from the Legislature, but statewide fiscal constraints have caused the cancellation of the last payment of $4 million. Nevertheless, Metro expects to restore service as planned and is removing the “Service Temporarily Restored” signs on more than 2000 bus stops, now that long-term funding has been approved. The bus routes in question would have been eliminated if Proposition “A” had been defeated.

Metro management announced its plan for service “restoration and reconfiguration” at its April 16th Board meeting. Management plans to implement bus service restoration in three phases, on June 28th, September 6th, and November 29th. The first phase will also include an increase in MetroLink frequency from every 15 to every 12 minutes on each branch during peak hours.

Metro President Robert J. Baer thanked the voters of St. Louis County for their confidence in transit and their willingness to help fund the transit agency. He said: “The overwhelming victory on April 6 demonstrates that the voters understand the important role that public transit plays in getting people to jobs, medical care and important destinations, and the role transit plans in helping drive economic development and new jobs for the region.” Baer also noted that many transit workers would be able to keep their jobs as well as the riders.

Metro has been hosting a number of meetings billed as “community engagement opportunities” about the service restoration plan. Three of them will be held this week, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The Metro web site, www.metrostlouis.org, has the meeting schedule. The site also contains information on how to submit a comment by phone or in writing.

Joseph Clift, a New York rail advocate and former Director of Strategic Planning for the Long Island Rail Road, praised the increase in funding for Metro, but cautioned that oversight by citizens and their elected representatives is needed to make sure that transit managers spend wisely. “With limited funds available, transit managers must always be careful to deliver services efficiently,” he said.

Metro’s web site did not disclose how much service would be restored, but it appears that the program will allow most of the service restored last August to continue running. It does not appear, however, that service will return to the level operated before March 30, 2009.

In the current transit climate, any increase in funding is good news. Still, these bits of good news are islands in a sea of fare increases, service cuts and chronic instability of funding sources. Even the good news that St. Louis transit riders got was tempered by a negative turn that Metro reported on April 24th. The Legislature held back one third of the $12 million originally promised for transit operating assistance. Nonetheless, it is highly likely that transit riders in St. Louis are grateful that voters in the County approved funding for transit by such a large margin.


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GOVERNMENT LINES... Government Lines...  

Senators Continue Work On Climate Bill

From APTA (American Public Transportation Association)
Reprinted With Permission

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 30 -- Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) have continued to work on a new bill to address climate change and energy. The three senators planned to introduce the bill the week of April 26-30, but concerns by Sen. Graham that Democratic leaders would have the Senate debate immigration legislation before a climate bill have delayed the new bill’s unveiling.

The three senators continue to indicate their bill will levy some form of a pollution fee on motor fuels and create a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Their recent comments also indicate that using revenue from those fees for transportation investment is under consideration.

Earlier this month, APTA organized a coalition letter with 26 other national transportation groups to call on Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman to dedicate all revenue from new fees on motor fuels to investment in transit and transportation under a multi-year authorization bill. The enactment of new fees on motor fuels without resulting transportation investment could significantly hinder progress on a new transportation bill.


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SAFETY LINES... Safety Lines...  

MBTA Gets New “Evac” Equipment
For Boston Fire Department

By DF Staff and MBTA Press Release

Last week at Boston’s Maverick Station in East Boston, Boston Fire Department Commissioner Roderick Fraser and firefighters were greeted by MBTA General Manager Richard Davey, who formally presented new, specially designed evacuation chairs to the fire department.

“This represents the great partnership between the MBTA and the Boston Fire Department,” said General Manager Davey. “We all share the common goal of keeping the public safe, and being properly prepared when an emergency occurs.”

MBTA Execs and Local Officials

2 Photos: MBTA Press Release

From left to right Boston Fire Commissioner Rod Fraser, Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan, MBTA General Manager Rich Davey, Boston Fire Chief Ronald Keating.

Considered critical pieces of emergency response equipment, nearly five hundred of the specially-designed emergency evacuation chairs are currently being deployed throughout the MBTA system.

Purchased with a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the new equipment was selected and procured based primarily on input from advocates for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Firefighters demonstrate how a new evacuation chair works

Firefighters demonstrate how a new evacuation chair works. The MBTA today provided the Boston Fire Department with twenty specialized evacuation chairs for emergencies on the transit system and elsewhere.

Over the past several months, the MBTA training school and the Boston Fire Department’s Division of Emergency Planning and Preparedness have held joint training sessions to ensure employees at both agencies are fully trained in the use of this equipment.

It is uncertain if the new evacuation chairs were tested in last Thursday’s tunnel fire that affected the MBTA’s central subway system. The incident closed most of its connecting transit lines.

The electrical fire, which started near 10:00 PM and located in the tunnel between the Downtown Crossing and Park Street stations on the Red Line subway, resulted in acrid smoke entering the Red, Orange, and Green subway systems that interconnect at downtown Boston. The closure of that segment of the subway resulted in a cascading closure of other connecting lines, forcing the MBTA to “bustitute” the public for the remainder of the evening through to the subway system’s normal closure just after midnight.

Approximately 20 people were taken to area hospitals for various levels of smoke inhalation, and were later released. Television reporters broadcasting live from the vicinity of Downtown Crossing station complained that the smoke made them nauseous.

Service on the subway system resumed normal operations the following morning after temporary clean up and repairs were made, though the Red Line continues to experience delays in the damaged segment of the tunnel because the signal system at that location has been lost. The trains must proceed with dispatch orders by radio and at a reduced speed since operators are limited to line of sight within the tunnel confines.

The fire exemplifies the problems facing this and other transit systems nationwide as the aging infrastructure reaches and surpasses its expected life span. The fire will also force the MBTA to consider moving up necessary repairs and upgrades that they already know are necessary, but lack funds to accomplish.

For transportation news and updates on the MBTA visit the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) online at: www.mass.gov/massdot, or the blog at: www.mass.gov/blog/transportation, or follow MassDOT on twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot.


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OFF THE MAIN LINE... Off The Main Line...  

Comments Wanted For National Rail Plan

Federal Railroad Administration Is Seeking Responses On Issues Noted Below

This Information Has Been Distributed By The Sierra Club’s National Transportation Committee

In sum, the NRP must consider rail’s increasing role in meeting the strategic goals of the nation and must provide a long-range outlook for programs and investments that can improve corridors and connections for passenger and freight use. Those goals include: Improving safety; improving fuel economy; fostering livable communities; increasing the competitiveness of the United States; better understanding and integrating the unique economics of the rail industry; helping to bolster the domestic passenger rail industry and create jobs; developing passenger high-speed rail; improving freight rail.

Policy Questions and Comments: As noted above in the plan design, the second component of the NRP will consider a broad array of issues and address a number of policy questions. In addition to comments on the plan design, FRA is soliciting responses from interested parties on these issues and questions, which are noted below:

1. What strategies are appropriate for funding freight transportation investments? What strategies are appropriate for funding passenger rail and high-speed passenger rail investments? How do we find sustainable sources of funding among Federal/State/Local/private sectors for passenger operations? How do we better assess the public benefits of railroad infrastructure improvements?

2. When assessing opportunities and challenges for implementing passenger rail service on freight rail lines and rights-of-way, what are the issues and concerns of infrastructure access and liability (owner vs. user)? In shared use rights-of-way (freight and passenger use), what are the best examples of access agreements with freight railroads? How can rail corridor development for passenger service be balanced with freight railroad service requirements to assure that freight service will not be impeded?

3. What are the issues that should be considered with Governance, such as roles and responsibilities, including national leadership as well as those of State, and local governments? What is the proper framework for multi-State/regional agreements when corridors extend beyond the boundaries of a single State?

4. What issues should be considered in network design and network development (corridors and connectivity)? What role should rail play? What modal issues arise cooperation vs. competition? What are the best approaches to assess system performance? Should national standards be considered?

5. Identify areas where transportation safety can continue to improve (include technological and operational changes)? What consideration should be given to equipment improvement? What are the issues in joint freight and passenger use of track/corridors?

6. What issues should be addressed to continue and advance the rail system to effectively meet defense, emergency, and security transportation requirements?

7. What are the land use issues that must be considered in making transportation infrastructure investments? How can rail promote livable communities?

8. What opportunities does rail provide to improve energy use and the environment (include both technological and operational changes)?

9. What are the opportunities and challenges for professional capacity building passenger and freight? What are the challenges facing the nation in developing a labor force to meet the needs of a highly technical rail network considering implementation of high-speed rail and technological advances such as positive train control and electronically controlled pneumatic brakes?

10. When making infrastructure investments, how can project delivery be expedited and costs controlled?

For additional information go to:
http://www.fra.dot.gov/Downloads/RailPlanPrelim10-15.pdf


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week (*)
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe (BNI)

**

**

Canadian National (CNI)59.7962.90
Canadian Pacific (CP) 58.8659.52
CSX (CSX)56.0556.82
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)39.1038.65
Kansas City Southern (KSU)40.5538.28
Norfolk Southern (NSC)59.3360.88
Providence & Worcester(PWX)13.2512.64
Union Pacific (UNP)75.6677.10


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EVENTS... Events...  

APTA 2010 Rail Conference
June 6 – 9, 2010

Hyatt Regency Vancouver
Vancouver, British Columbia

For More Information And Registration, Go To:

http://www.apta.com/mc/conferences/90days/2010rail/Pages/default.aspx

APTA’s 2010 Rail Conference provides attendees with the most comprehensive learning and networking experience possible. The conference includes a complete slate of technical sessions relevant to the operation, management and maintenance of rail and fixed guide-way systems.

Highlights

The Rail Conference provides the opportunity to:

Webcasts

The 2010 Rail Conference is premiering two exciting webcasts - A New Era In Transportation Choices: Linking Transportation, Land Use,and Sustainability and Fact or Myth: The Return on Investment of a National High-Speed and Intercity Rail Program.

For those who are unable to attend the full Rail Conference we invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to experience two tremendous sessions. Whether you are at your desk or filling your conference room - one connection takes care of everyone!

Register for A New Era of Transportation Choices: Linking Transportation, Land Use, and Sustainability
http://www.apta.com/mc/conferences/90days/2010rail/Pages/NewEraWebcast.aspx

Register for Fact or Myth: The Return on Investment of a National High-Speed and Intercity Rail Program
http://www.apta.com/mc/conferences/90days/2010rail/Pages/FactOrMythWebcast.aspx

Who Should Attend

All rail system personnel, board members, policy makers, suppliers, consultants, and any other personnel involved with rail and fixed guide-way design, construction, operations and maintenance.


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Portland Convention on Light Rail
September 3 – 7, 2010

Courtyard Portland City Center (a Marriott hotel in downtown Portland)

Sponsored by:
Electric Railroaders’ Association, Inc.
Box 3323
New York, N.Y. 10163-3323

www.erausa.org

Come to Portland for our big Labor Day weekend. Ride a large network of light rail, diesel railcars and streetcars in the “Rose City” and tour the only streetcar manufacturing plant in the United States.


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ENVIRONMENTAL LINES... Environmental Lines...  

The “Silver Steak”

 

Amtrak’s Beef-Powered Passenger Train Debuts

From “Fast Company” on the Internet
Ariel Schwartz, Writer

APRIL 26 --Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City could be the first beef byproducts- powered biodiesel train in this country. The train runs on 80% regular diesel and 20% beef-based bio-fuel from a Texas vendor. It will be test-run for the next 12 months courtesy of a $274,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration.

Amtrak says that the cow tallow (read: rendered fat from cattle) fuel reduces hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions by 10%, cuts down on particulates by 15%, and reduces sulfates by 20% compared to standard diesel.

But some question the morality of using fuel that is a by-product of slaughtered animals.

“The idea of sitting in a train powered by animal fat gives us pause,” writes Schwartz. “Unsurprisingly, PETA isn’t too keen on the idea.”

Heartland Flyer

Blog of Ariel Schwartz at FastCompany.Com

The Heartland Flyer

“The answer to pollution is not to use the ground up remains of tortured animals for fuel,” said Bruce Friedrich,   PETA’s VP for Policy. “Anything using animal remains is going to be both depleting of and polluting of our environment,” he explained.

Amtrak has yet to decide if tallow-based bio-fuel will make it past the test stages. Over the next year, the company will gather information about the potential impact of the fuel on train valves and gaskets.


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ACROSSTHEPOND... Across The Pond...  

From David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

Siemens Gives A Peak At Velaro D High Speed EMU Train

ICE-3 with many upgrades shown to the press – direct services to London hinted

Krefeld, Germany – Siemens and Deutsche Bahn gave members of the news media this past week a view of the latest high speed train model coming to Germany, the Velaro D, which will become class 407 in the German train numbering system. Deutsche Bahn ordered 15 units of the 8-can long EMUs for planned revenue service introduction in December 2011. The Velaro D is a member of the ICE-3 family, and therefore looks nearly identical to other ICE-3 train sets in operation in Germany and several neighboring countries since 2000.

Despite outward similarities to earlier ICE-3 train sets, the latest version of the Velaro series contains numerous upgrades and enhancements which came out of a decade of ICE-3 operational experience along with new features and upgrades developed for export versions of the Velaro series now in operation in Spain, China and Russia. Some of the differences from existing ICE-3 trains sets are redesigned wheel axles with improved strength and far longer crack inspection intervals, energy efficient LED lighting both inside and outside, enhanced heating / air conditioning systems, even lower interior sound levels than the already ghostly-quiet interior of the ICE-3, slight design changes to the form and profile of the train's nose for improved aerodynamics and decreased air resistance, improved train couplers and modified interior layout which provides more floor area for more passenger seats, planned to be 460 in two-class layout, which is 40 seats more than most ICE-3 trains currently in service, and about three times as many passengers as a B737-800 or A320-200 with a fraction of the energy consumption of those airliners.

Velaro D Trainset

Two Image by Siemens Mobility

An artist’s view of the new Velaro D – based closely on the current ICE-3 family.

The new train sets are equipped with pantographs and power converters which can operate from all four power supply standards in use on the main European rail network: 15 kV 16.7 Hz in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, 3 kV DC in in Belgium, Poland, Italy, and some of the rail network in the Czech Republic, 1500 VDC used in Holland and on some conventional rail lines in France; and 25 kV 50 Hz which used in much of France including all French high-speed lines as well as much of the rail network in Great Britain, Hungary, Denmark, parts of the rail network in the Czech Republic and Slovakia along with recently built high-speed rail lines in Belgium, Italy, Spain and Holland. A number of the existing ICE-3 fleet is similarly configured with multiple power system capability and are in use today for international trains between Germany, France, Holland and Belgium.

The new VelaroEMU train sets will undergo a long and rigorous testing program over the next 12 months in order to ensure a smooth entry into revenue service, which the original ICE-3 EMU train set model unfortunately did not enjoy when it started operations ten years ago. They are planned for operations primarily from Frankfurt to Cologne, Amsterdam and Brussels via the Frankfurt – Cologne high-speed line and into France along other routes. If the EuroTunnel (between France and England) is opened up to other passenger train models aside from only the uniquely configured Eurostar trains – built specially for the EuroTunnel nearly 20 years ago, which looks increasingly likely, the Velaro D will most likely handle the first-ever Frankfurt-London direct express train services, simply by continuing on from Brussels along the existing high-speed route between Brussels and London via Lille, France and under the English Channel via EuroTunnel.

Members of the press view one of the Velaro D EMU rail cars in the Siemens assembly plant in Krefeld, Germany.


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China Opens Yet Another High Speed Rail Corridor: Fuzhou- Xiamen

Latest section of Hong Kong – Shanghai high speed route begins operation

Via “Welt am Sonntag” newspaper

Xiamen, PRC – China inaugurated high-speed passenger train services along the newly constructed 275 km (171 mile) long high-speed rail line from Xiamen to Fuzhou last Monday the 26th of April. A 500 km extension of this rail line to Shenzhen, which neighbors Hong Kong, is currently under construction and should open to passenger trains in about one year from now. Both high speed rail line sections are part of a 1650 km (1025 mile) long high-speed rail line from Shenzhen / Hong Kong to Shanghai.

Travel times from Fuzhou to Xiamen are slashed from 11 hours on the old “classic” rail line, which follows a winding and difficult alignment through the hilly terrain with numerous rivers and streams, to 90 minutes on the new coastal route. Services will be initially operated with CRH2 high speed train sets, which are based on the design and layout of later versions of Japan's Shinkansen “bullet” trains, specifically the E2-1000 model series, and built in China under license from Kawasaki Railcar and Hitachi.


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EDITORIAL... Editorial...  

How Green Grows My Oil Company…
Or, It’s The Infrastructure, Stupid (II)

From the National Corridors Initiative, Inc.

As if we needed another example of why conservation and the development of non-fossil-based energy is critical to man’s future on this planet, then last week’s coal mining disaster, followed by this week’s unfolding environmental oil-spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is proof once again that when it comes to a sane energy policy, we have met the enemy, and he is us.

BP’s exploding floating oil rig in the Gulf, coming just weeks after the President announced plans to permit even more off-shore drilling, is tragic on several levels:

No major oil company in recent years has advertised itself more heavily as “Green” than BP Oil (formerly British Petroleum); the company even went so far as using the phrase “Beyond Petroleum” in much of its corporate advertising, to reinforce the notion that it was truly “going Green”.

The policy to promote Green-ness started earlier in this decade when the former Chairman of BP, Lord Browne, who began delivering a series of speeches that startled observers for their overtly Green viewpoint and advocacy, which, while they might be an expected stance for the Sierra Club, were hardly so when coming from the leader of one of the largest and most storied oil companies in the world.

Lord Browne (as quoted in a New York Times Magazine article written by Darcy Frey, December 8, 2002) said this to a Stanford University audience:

“Climate change is an issue which raises fundamental questions about the relationship between companies and society as a whole, and between one generation and the next.” He even said, ‘”Companies composed of highly skilled and trained people can’t live in denial of mounting evidence gathered by hundreds of the most reputable scientists in the world.’”

Reporter Frey then notes: “Around the time Browne was at Stanford, sounding strikingly unlike an oil executive, BP was trying its own kind of identity shift, sounding strikingly unlike an oil company. Two years earlier, at a cost of $200 million, it began an enormous corporate rebranding exercise, shortening its name from British Petroleum to BP, coining the slogan ‘Beyond Petroleum’ and redesigning its corporate insignia. Out went the old British Petroleum shield that had been a familiar image in Britain for more than 70 years, and in came a green, yellow and white sunburst that seemed to suggest a warm and fuzzy feeling about the earth.”

But this week’s massive oil well blowout on the seabed floor off Louisiana certainly makes it tempting to dismiss BP’s corporate makeover as an exercise in public relations, despite the passion with which Lord Browne --- forced to resign in 2007 over a personal matter unrelated to his job --- ---spoke about a topic, the environment, that most oil company executives would Rather Not Discuss in public.

Here, in part, from BP’s website (www.bp.com), is the official corporate position:

To read such statements on the website of BP Global neither changes the environmental and human horror of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, nor does it mitigate the enormous negative impact of the spill on the Gulf’s seafood industry and on tourism, which will no doubt be seriously harmed. The cost of the clean-up will be huge, but nothing like the collateral costs to society as a whole which this fiasco has engendered.

BP has allowed a terrible thing to happen, and it is one of the best of the lot. What does that say about the way forward?

It says that we have to renew our efforts to conserve energy by making choices that are wiser than those we have made in the past, and free ourselves from dependency on oil by developing renewable energy resources. That is one reason why for two decades we have advocated for investment in rail --- passenger and freight --- because it uses a fraction of the energy to move the same amount/tonnage of people/goods, as the automobile or truck, but which investment has been fought by the oil lobby in a highly organized disinformation campaign going back to the 1930’s.

This is not simply the view of aging 1960’s radicals or 1970’s Gas Crisis victims. It is also the view of the former Chairman of British Petroleum, who perhaps late in life, or in his career, came to a decision to Do The Right Thing. The current catastrophe is just that, a catastrophe. But it is not a rebuke to Lord Browne and the policies he set down for BP. On the contrary, just the opposite: Lord Browne was right, and the first among his peers in saying what needed to be said. That won’t fix the Gulf of Mexico. But his policies, if adopted by the rest of his industry, and by governments world-wide, will help prevent future such disasters. It’s time to start over again.

Not too long ago, in an event for which we are all still paying, a wildly unregulated financial industry nearly tanked the world’s economy by selling bogus bonds so toxic that their very issuers sold them “short.”

But, because they were “too big to fail” --- yet too much under water to keep themselves afloat --- these institution’s toxic products’ collapse not only drove down the value of almost everyone’s home, but simultaneously forced governments --- i.e., the taxpayer --- to step in with bailout money to stem the panic. That the bankers have used a substantial portion of the bailout money to issue themselves huge bonuses is a topic for another day, a topic which will, with any luck, be advanced in a criminal court.

BP, the best of the oil bunch, is nevertheless this year’s poster child, this time of yet another “too big to fail” scenario. Its response to the oil spill in the Gulf has, in BPs own words, taken every resource it has to give ---- and that’s too bad, because it wasn’t enough, and won’t be enough, and won’t ever be enough.

And that is because, over the past 30 years we have taken the regulations off of virtually every industry, and while in some cases that has proved helpful --- railroads were crushed by regulation for 60 years, and have begun to recover without them --- we have continued to permit, virtually unwatched, drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the richest of seafood, bird, and other wildlife environments, knowing full well that if ever --- if ever --- ONE deep well head blew out of one of the big wells, the region would be destroyed.

Is that what we are now witnessing? We will know soon. And when we finally know, what, then, will we do? One step: put teeth back into the Environmental Protection Agency. And two, when it comes to the environment, and any activity whether by a private company or government, whose result can be the catastrophic destruction of that environment, America’s territorial waters have no boundary.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2010 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.

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