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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May 10, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 20

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

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

  News Items…
Illinois Senate Creates Illinois And Midwest High-Speed
   Rail Commission
Chicago Commuter Rail Executive Dies When Struck
   By Metra Train
  National Train Day…
An Unusual Celebration
  Safety Lines…
ASLRRA Hands Out Annual Safety Awards
  Selected Rail Stocks…
 
  Legal Lines…
MBTA Sues Supplier For Cost Of Replacing Crumbling
   Rail Ties
  Political Lines…
GOP Tries To Kill Rail Resolution
  Off The Main Line…
Blackstone Valley Council To Recreate Abraham Lincoln’s
   1860 Visit, Speech
  Publication Notes …


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

Illinois Senate Creates Illinois And
Midwest High Speed Rail Commission

From Rick Harnish, Midwest High Speed Rail Association

SPRINGFIELD ---- The Illinois Senate today voted 59-0 to create the Illinois and Midwest High Speed Rail Commission with the intent of issuing a roadmap for the creation of bullet train lines in Illinois and neighboring states. Under General Assembly rules, such a commission can be created by a vote in just one of the two legislative chambers. No further legislative action is required.

The resolution creating the Commission, Senate Resolution 806, defines the group’s mission as “recommending the best governmental structure for a public-private partnership to design, build, operate, maintain, and finance a high-speed rail system for Illinois and the Midwest.”

The Commission is to be composed of 19 members as follows:

Earlier this week, mayors and county officials from across Illinois issued an open letter to fellow elected officials that said, “We urge you to work actively to secure approvals and funding for the planning and implementation of a Chicago-St. Louis 220-mph high speed rail line. This line would bring our business, research and government capitals within less than 1.5 hours of each other, and open vital new connections to O’Hare Airport.” The letter also was sent to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

“The Midwest High Speed Rail Association proposes to transform the Midwest into one cohesive, compact economic entity with a network of 220-mph bullet trains with Chicago at its heart, including a St. Louis to Chicago line that would serve Edwardsville, Springfield, Decatur, Champaign, Kankakee, the Southland, McCormick Place, Downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport. Traveling time from Chicago to St. Louis would be 1 hour and 52 minutes. The bullet trains would connect with both Amtrak and rapid transit at key points.

An expert economic impact study by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association found that a 220-mph high speed rail link between Chicago and St. Louis via Kankakee, Champaign, Decatur and Springfield would create 40,000 jobs and grow Downstate economies by 1 to 3 percent. The project also is estimated to take 200 million pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere each year,” said The MWHSRA.


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Tragedy In Illinois

 

Chicago Commuter Rail Executive
Dies When Struck By Metra Train

By DF Staff And From Internet Sources

CHICAGO --- Philip A. Pagano, one of the nation’s most respected and longest-serving commuter rail executives, took his own life Friday morning May 7 by stepping into the path of a speeding Metra (Chicago Commuter Rail) train, operated by the very agency he had headed for 20 years.

Photo: Metra  

Philip A. Pagano
Pagano had recently been put on leave pending an investigation into a $56,000 bonus he had received; this past week Cook County announced a criminal investigation had been opened into his affairs.

The Metra Board of Directors issued this statement Friday:

“It is with great sadness that we report the passing this morning of Philip A. Pagano. Phil served this agency with distinction for many years. Today, we shall remember the good work he achieved with our board of directors and the men and women of Metra. He was dedicated to our passengers and he always considered the men and women of Metra his family and there is a tremendous sense of loss within the agency. We shall remember him as a dedicated husband, father and grandfather who loved his family more than anyone. Our deepest sympathies as well as our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and all those who loved him.”

National Corridors Initiative President James P. RePass said of Pagano: “Phil was a phenomenal rail executive and a good and decent man. Whatever the outcome of any investigations now or in the future, I am convinced that his name will be cleared. In the meantime, our prayers are with his family, and his many friends.”

Here is how the Chicago Tribune’s Richard Wronski reported the passing of Phil Pagano:

“Metra has faced a trainload of crucial challenges in its 26 years as Chicagoland’s commuter rail system, including building ridership, replacing shoddy equipment and surviving funding woes. But instability at its top leadership hasn’t been one of its problems. Phil Pagano was a key player at Metra since the state legislature created the agency, serving as executive director for 20 years. Under his control, Metra thrived, developing record ridership on 11 lines built from a piecemeal network, including the bankrupt Rock Island and broken-down Illinois Central Gulf railroads,” wrote Wronski on May 8.

“But with Pagano’s apparent suicide Friday amid a looming criminal probe into possible financial irregularities, the nation’s second-largest commuter rail system has arrived at an unprecedented junction. Whoever succeeds Pagano will face an array of daunting challenges, experts say. ‘I think Metra has played it safe for quite a few years,’ said Joseph Schwieterman, a public policy and transportation expert at DePaul University. ‘Some services are stuck in a time warp.’

“The agency, for example, needs to modernize ticket-taking practices and equipment, and adapt its schedule for more reverse commuters and nontraditional work hours. After the tragedy of Pagano’s passing, Schwieterman said, new leadership at Metra ‘should open up a more aggressive era. For the full story go to www.chicagotribune.com.


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NATIONAL TRAIN DAY... National Train Day...  

An Unusual Celebration

By David Peter Alan

Last Saturday was the third observance of National Train Day, a celebration of the passenger train originally proposed by the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) and now championed by Amtrak. It is observed on the Saturday nearest to May 10th, the date of the joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific (later Southern Pacific) Lines in Utah that linked the Mid-West and West Coast by rail in 1869. According to NARP Director of Communications Malcolm Kenton, “The more it [National Train Day] increases public awareness of passenger trains, the better the future for rail.”

One of the most unusual events occurred in Midtown Manhattan, near Penn Station. Instead of celebrating the rail travel experience or the nostalgia of the great trains of the past, the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) organized a tour of the West Side neighborhood where the original Penn Station (in operation from 1910 until 1960 and shamefully demolished) was located and where the proposed Moynihan Station will be built. It will be named after the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former Senator from New York State and a strong supporter of public transportation.

Matt Postal, an architectural historian with the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, led the tour. The Farley Post Office Building and annex (covering the “superblock” between 31st and 33d Streets, and Eighth and Ninth Avenues) would be converted to an intercity train station and retail mall. The atrium in the center of the building would become a train room, reminiscent of the original Penn Station’s train room, and the rest of the space would be used by Amtrak or rented as stores and eateries. The historic retail post office at the top of the steps would remain unchanged and still serve postal customers. Rail passengers would use the new station downstairs where platforms from the existing Penn Station already extend west of Eighth Avenue, under the Farley Building. Where letters and parcels were once loaded onto mail trains, passengers will board the trains in the future.

Rail advocates have endorsed the concept of a major station, but they believe the current plan does not meet future rail capacity or flexibility needs.

Joseph M. Clift, a member of the Regional Rail Working Group and former Director of Planning for the LIRR, calls for the lengthening of platforms and other modifications to accommodate future trans-Hudson rail tunnels that would serve the Moynihan-Penn complex directly. As previously discussed, however, New Jersey Transit is planning to build a deep-cavern terminal 20 stories below 34th Street that will not connect with Amtrak, New York’s commuter railroads, or other NJT lines in a central hub.

Clift cautions that if NJT succeeds in building its proposed 34th Street deep-cavern terminal and New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority completes its own deep-cavern terminal for East Side Access for the LIRR, there will be no need for the Moynihan Plan. It also appears that there are insufficient funds available to build the two proposed “deep caverns;” therefore, it follows that there would also not be enough money available to build the proposed Moynihan project, either. Rail advocates believe that building an enhanced Moynihan/Penn Station with new tunnels going there is the only cost-effective solution to the need for future rail capacity.

The tour itself was well-patronized, with about 25 attendees, who had braved the morning rain to show up. The sun came out just in time for the 11 o’clock start. They passed industrial buildings on 30th Street (including one designed by Cass Gilbert, who also designed New York’s Woolworth Building and the Minnesota State Capitol), the historic Post Office Building where Moynihan Station is slated to be built and West 34th Street.  

“An improved Penn Station will have a dramatic impact on the West Thirties in Manhattan,” said tour guide Postal.  He gestured toward Hammerstein’s Opera House on 34th Street, which was built as part of the development that accompanied the construction of the original Penn Station in 1910.  Hammerstein’s venture closed within a few years, but the building still contains a space that is used as a concert venue today.

The session demonstrated that rail advocates and others with allied interests can work together for the common goal of improving transit.  Rail advocates focus on such transit-oriented issues as operations and customer service, while other organizations are concerned with neighborhood and other benefits that better transit will bring.  James T. Raleigh brought his fellow rail advocates back to their main concern – the Hudson tunnels. .  “We want the tunnels to count for Amtrak.  That’s why we’re here on National Train Day,” he said.


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SAFETYLINES... Safety Lines...  

ASLRRA Hands Out Annual Safety Awards

From Progressive Railroading

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) presented its President’s Awards, Jake Awards with Distinction and Jake Awards — which honor small railroads’ safety achievements — during its annual meeting in Orlando, FL this past week.

More than 300 railroads received the awards, which are sponsored by Genesee & Wyoming Inc., OmniTRAX Inc., RailAmerica Inc., the National Academy of Railroad Sciences and Zurich.

ASLRRA presented President’s Awards to the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad Inc. for the most hours of injury-free operations and for maintaining the best safety rate in the more than 250,000 man-hours category. Willamette & Pacific Railroad Inc. was honored in the 150,000-to-250,000 man-hours category; Illinois & Midland Railroad Inc. won a President’s Award in the 50,000-to-150,000 man-hours category; and Central California Traction Co. took top honors in the less than 50,000 man-hours category. In addition, the Panhandle Northern Railroad Co. received a President’s Award for achieving the greatest improvement in safety over the previous year.

ASLRRA also bestowed Jake Awards with Distinction to 254 railroads that achieved a zero injury rate in 2009 and Jake Awards to 38 railroads that last year attained an injury rate equal to or better than the industry average of 3.0. The Jake Awards are named after Lowell “Jake” Jacobson of the Copper Basin Railway, who created the short-line safety awards and has been a long-time advocate of short-line and rail safety.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

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

**

**

Canadian National (CNI)55.6859.79
Canadian Pacific (CP) 53.9358.86
CSX (CSX)52.6756.05
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)34.8839.10
Kansas City Southern (KSU)35.9340.55
Norfolk Southern (NSC)55.2259.33
Providence & Worcester(PWX)12.2513.25
Union Pacific (UNP)71.0775.66


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LEGAL LINES... Legal Lines...  

MBTA Sues Supplier For Cost
Of Replacing Crumbling Rail Ties

From The Boston Globe

BOSTON--- The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has sued the manufacturer of crumbling ties on its Old Colony commuter rail lines, the Boston Globe’s Eric Moskowitz reported this past week, “demanding that the company reimburse the T for an estimated $91.5 million replacement project and pay other costs and damages.”

“The faulty ties, barely a decade old, have hampered travel on the Old Colony Line’s Plymouth/Kingston and Middleborough/Lakeville branches and forced the T to impose speed restrictions. The full replacement project for all 147,500 ties on those branches is scheduled to begin this summer and last nearly two years, imposing significant delays and disruptions for thousands of riders between Boston and its southern suburbs,” the Globe reported.

“Rocla Concrete Tie Inc. marketed those ties with a 50-year life span and sold them to the T for $9 million with a 15-year warranty, but several thousand began failing just a decade after the Old Colony commuter lines resumed service in 1997. The T is suing the company for negligent misrepresentation, unfair or deceptive trade practices, and breach of warranty. ‘When confronted with the discovery of the defective ties, Rocla admitted that the MBTA would need to replace the entirety of the concrete ties installed on the Old Colony Line and that its concrete ties should never have been marketed as having a 50-year life span,’ the T’s lawyers, from Ropes & Gray, wrote in the lawsuit, which was filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court.

A spokesman for Colorado-based Rocla did not return multiple messages seeking comment yesterday or last week, when T officials acknowledged the magnitude of the problem and outlined plans for replacement work,” the Globe reported.

For the complete story go to www.globe.com


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

GOP Tries To Kill Rail Resolution

From Politico On The Internet

WASHINGTON, MAY 5 -- A simple resolution recognizing National Train Day would seem to be a sure bet to roll through the House.

But conservative Republicans nearly derailed the non-binding tribute Wednesday because they objected to passages praising Amtrak.

Under expedited House procedures, the measure needed a two-thirds vote for adoption.

It barely won, 296-119, meaning it would have failed if 18 of the 50 Republicans who voted for it had voted against it.

Just before the vote, the conservative Republican Study Committee circulated a memo outlining concerns with the measure.

“The resolution notes that the ‘stimulus’ law provides ‘$8,000,000,000 for intercity passenger rail and high-speed rail corridor development as well as an additional $1,300,000,000 to Amtrak for capital, safety, and security improvements.” the memo reads. “Taxpayer subsidies enable Amtrak to avoid necessary reforms and keep losing money.”

A related objection: “Amtrak and the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) use National Train Day to advocate for taxpayer subsidies for passenger rail.”


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

Blackstone Valley Council To Recreate
Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 Visit, Speech

From “The Call” Of Pawtucket And From Internet Sources

PAWTUCKET, RI --- A visit and speech made long ago by then-candidate Abraham Lincoln will be re-created May 15 at Pawtucket, when the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council stages a special train excursion to commemorate the historic event.

The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, one of the most innovative bodies of its kind in the United States, will be marking the occasion using a special train operated by the Providence & Worcester Railroad, the same railroad that carried then-candidate Lincoln to his speech.

For ticket reservations, call the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council at 401-724-2200.

Here is how reporter Donna Kenny Kirwan of the Pawtucket Call, one of the events sponsors, reported the story:

“It was 150 years ago this month that then-presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln made a train journey from Providence to Woonsocket where he delivered one of his most significant speeches to a crowd of 1,500. On May 15, the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council is making it possible to experience some of the excitement of that historic campaign visit with a special event.”

“The 150th Abraham Lincoln Train Tour will recreate this journey that was made in 1860 by America’s 16th president. Participants will ride on an excursion car on the Providence & Worcester Railroad, the same railway line that carried Lincoln from Providence to Worcester.

With sponsorship from The Times, The Call, and Neighbors publications, and Navigant Credit Union, tickets are now available at a reduced price of $25 per person.”

“Participants will join ‘Abraham Lincoln’ as he travels once again from Providence to Woonsocket on the Providence & Worcester Railroad. The tour runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The train leaves Amtrak Station, 100 Gaspee St., Providence (across from the Rhode Island Statehouse) at 9:30 a.m. for a four-hour visit to Woonsocket. Passengers are encouraged to dress in period costume.”

“Along the journey, ‘Abe’ and some of his advisors will be passing through the train to bring to life that historical period, discuss what the landscape looked like at the time, and answer questions about Lincoln’s presidency and the politics of the day. Rhode Island Chief Justice Frank J. Williams (ret.), a noted Abraham Lincoln scholar and author, will also be taking part in the event. Once in Woonsocket, participants will be invited to Harris Hall (now Woonsocket City Hall at 169 Main St.) to hear Lincoln’s historic Cooper Union speech. This speech earned Lincoln national acclaim and is considered to be one of his best political oratories. The speech presentations will be at 11 a.m. and again at noon.”

“The Providence Brigade Band will be playing period music for the tour participants and several National Park Service Rangers will be available to lead walking tours of the city. While in Woonsocket, participants will also have time to visit the Museum of Work & Culture, visit local shops, and dine at one of the many nearby restaurants before the return train ride back to Providence. Each passenger will receive a signed commemorative print from an original painting of Abraham Lincoln that was done by Blackstone Valley artist Peter Campbell. Each ticket to the event includes a chance to win the original portrait done by Campbell that is valued at $2, 000,” wrote The Call.

Donna Houle, project manager for the BVTC, said “We realized that this year would be the 150th anniversary of the speech that was given by Abraham Lincoln at Harris Hall. Many people don’t even realize that Lincoln was ever in Woonsocket, and we wanted to commemorate this special event.” She added, “This was the first time we have brought this train from Providence to Woonsocket.”

Ross Silva, marketing manager for Navigant Credit Union, said “We are proud to support this event and the efforts of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council. He added that the credit union is “always here to help our local community and the organizations that serve it.”


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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.

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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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