The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

Publisher: James P. RePass      E-Zine Editor: Molly McKay
Foreign Editor: David Beale      Webmaster: Dennis Kirkpatrick

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May 19, 2008
Vol. 9 No. 20

Copyright © 2008
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

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

  News Items…
New Hampshire Senate OKs Rail Liability Cap At $75 Million
Pan Am Rail And Norfolk Southern In Major Regional Rail Agreement
Harvard Professor Sees Rail Comeback, Including Electrification,
   In America’s Future
“Saving Moynihan Station”
Governors Ask Amtrak For Alternative Service During Bridge
   And Track Repairs June 14-17
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Financial Lines…
Warren Buffett’s Company Increases Stake In BNSF
  Across The Pond…
The Land Needs New Routes
Siemens Mobility Division Wins Record-Breaking Order
Thalys Launches Onboard Broadband Wi-Fi
  Special To Destination:Freedom Readers…
  Publication Notes …

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

New Hampshire Senate OKs
Rail Liability Cap At $75 Million

By DF Staff

CONCORD --- In a major victory for the return of commuter rail to New Hampshire, the state Senate this past week voted 15-8 to place a liability cap of $75 million on accidents involving commuter rail service in that state.

The bill, which with minor differences is the same as one passed by the New Hampshire House, will now go back to the House to make the language identical, and then be forwarded to Gov. John Lynch, who has said he will sign the bill.

The vote will enable the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority to go forward with its plans to re-introduce passenger rail service between Lowell and Nashua, Manchester Airport, Manchester, and Concord. There is also a proposal to re-establish rail service between Manchester and Lawrence, paralleling Route 93, whose widening has been sought as a way to relieve travel congestion on that corridor. However, the cost of widening the road has jumped several-fold since the project was proposed, and the rail alternative may be pressed forward as a less expensive, and less environmentally damaging, alternative

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Peter Leishman, D-Milford, who owns an unrelated 18-mile short line railroad and has been a strong supporter of commuter rail.

The current all-freight Lowell-Nashua, and north, track is owned and operated by Pan Am Rail (formerly Guilford Transportation), which recently signed a major agreement with NS Rail to upgrade service in Massachusetts (see separate story, this issue).

The cost of liability insurance for the authority with a cap would be $375,000 a year, the Nashua Telegraph reported in an earlier story last week. Without any limit on damages it would cost $1.4 million.

Under this plan, the MBTA would self-insure with the state rail authority to cover injuries up to $7.5 million annually.

The state’s trial lawyers strongly oppose creating any cap and contend the Supreme Court would find one unconstitutional, the Telegraph reported New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte’s office contends it can defend a cap on liability.

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Pan Am Rail And Norfolk Southern
In Major Regional Rail Agreement

By DF Staff and from Internet Sources

NEW ENGLAND --- Pan Am Railways headquartered in Billerica, MA and Norfolk Southern Railway, a subsidiary of Norfolk Southern Corp, will set up a joint venture to invest in a rail route between Albany, N.Y. and greater Boston, the railroads announced this past week.

Pan Am Rail has agreed to transfer to the joint venture its 155-mile main line track that runs between Mechanicville (Albany), N.Y., and Ayer, MA --- The new “Patriot Corridor” --- along with 281 miles of secondary and branch lines, including trackage rights, in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. NS has agreed to transfer cash and other property valued at $140 million to the joint venture, $87.5 million of which is expected to be invested within a three-year period in capital improvements on the Patriot Corridor, such as terminal expansions, track and signal upgrades. The companies also anticipate the construction of new intermodal and automotive terminals in the Albany area. PAR’s Springfield Terminal Railway subsidiary has agreed to provide all railroad services for the joint venture, which will be called the “Pan Am Southern.”

In an announcement, the railroads said: “We are excited to partner with Norfolk Southern on the Patriot Corridor. Since the Conrail transaction was implemented in 1999, both Pan Am Railways and Norfolk Southern have been working to bring additional high quality rail transportation options to our New England customer base. This joint venture is the culmination of those efforts,” said David Fink, Pan Am Railways’ president. “With energy prices continuing to rise, the Patriot Corridor will give our customers additional capacity and speed to get their products to market.”

“Norfolk Southern has been working with Pan Am Railways to improve rail service and increase transportation options between the Norfolk Southern system and the Boston area,” said Wick Moorman, Norfolk Southern’s chief executive officer. “The Patriot Corridor creates a new level of rail competition in upstate New York and New England by improving train speed, reliability, and capacity, as well as strengthening connections between the region’s short line and regional railroads and Norfolk Southern’s 22-state network.”

The parties will seek approval for the transaction with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. Additional materials describing the transaction will be posted on Norfolk Southern’s Web site,, and will be furnished to the SEC as part of a Current Report on Form 8-K.

Norfolk Southern is currently improving the Heartland Corridor, a high-capacity rail route linking the Port of Virginia (Norfolk), Columbus, Ohio, and Chicago, and has announced the Crescent Corridor, an initiative to divert freight traffic from highways to rail between New Orleans, Memphis, and the Northeast.

Pan Am Railways is the Northeast’s largest regional railroad. It operates over 2,000 route miles in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and Atlantic Canada. Pan Am Railways interchanges traffic with fifteen railroads throughout its network.

Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation’s leading transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates approximately 21,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serving every major container port in the eastern United States and providing superior connections to western rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is North America’s largest rail carrier of metals and automotive products.

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Harvard Professor Sees Rail Comeback,
Including Electrification, In America’s Future

By DF Staff and from Internet Sources

CAMBRIDGE --- Harvard Professor John Stilgoe sees a rail renaissance coming to America, and he thinks it is going to happen sooner rather than later.

In his new book” Train Time: Railroads and the Imminent Reshaping of the United States Landscape,” the Harvard Graduate School of Design educator claims that trains will surpass highway and air travel as America’s dominant mode of transportation over the next few decades.

In an interview with DF, Professor Stilgoe said that a lot of money was being invested, right now, in rail systems that once looked shaky or at least problematic. Warren Buffet, he noted, has been buying up shares of BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe), one of the nation’s largest freight railroads and considered by many in the industry to be the best run, under Chairman Matt Rosen. Buffet is known for picking winners.

In a lengthy interview with “Living on Earth with Steve Curwood,” the weekly environmental news and information program distributed by Public Radio International. Reporter Bruce Gellerman questioned Professor Stilgoe about the views expressed in his new book. Here is an except:

GELLERMAN: In his new book, “Train Time: Railroads and the Imminent Reshaping of the United States Landscape,” Professor Stilgoe says trains will supplant highway and air travel in the next few decades. I met Stilgoe to talk trains at Boston’s historic railway station.

STILGOE: We’re sitting at a table in South Station, which opens on a newly reactivated railroad line to Greenbush in Scituate, Massachusetts. The railroad line was abandoned in the ‘50’s, it was a nature trail for 50 years, and the train came back a year ago. From this concourse in about 57 minutes, you can arrive, even in rush hour, at a brand new railroad station that is a two minute walk from a world class marina surrounded by condos.

GELLERMAN: What indicators, if any, are there that more and more people are taking the train?

STILGOE: Well for one thing, the ridership statistics even on subway lines are up, especially in the last six months, because the price of gasoline has risen. For another thing, it is pretty clear that people are taking trains in places that didn’t have commuter rail service a little while ago, because the service has been installed in the last five years. And beyond that, it might be wishful thinking, but an awful lot of real estate investment is going into where the railroad used to run and where it’ll run again.

GELLERMAN: So people are investing more and more money. Big money?

STILGOE: Big money. I think more Americans should understand how much money is being invested along railroads, even if the investment doesn’t take physical form right now. People have bought the land because the train is coming back.

GELLERMAN: I’ve seen the ads on TV that say, you know, shipping stuff by rail is the cheapest way to go.

STILGOE: And it’s going to become much more efficient. You can’t use your cruise control on most highways now because there’s too much traffic. On a railroad locomotive, you can set the cruise control, and then the engineer has to merely monitor the system. It’s extremely efficient. But it’s nowhere near as efficient as the electric service that’s going to spread across the United States.

GELLERMAN: So you’re suggesting that it’s going to be not diesel trains but electric trains.

STILGOE: I’m totally convinced that the electrification of the nation’s freight railroads is in the immediate future. People are starting to talk about electrifying the commuter rail lines. The projection for the train service out of this station demonstrates that an electric commuter train would operate about 125 percent faster than a diesel-powered train…..

For the full interview go to:

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New York Times Calls For Port Authority
To Step In On Moynihan Station Project


“Saving Moynihan Station”


“New York City is a glorious place, but there is no glory in New York’s Penn Station,” The New York Times Editorial Board wrote this past week. “Unfortunately, plans to transform this abysmal place into a grand entryway called Moynihan Station have stalled, most recently because nobody is really in charge of the project. It is time to give the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey the lead role in rebuilding this major gateway.”

“There are many compelling reasons for giving this job to the Port Authority. It appears to have $2 billion to contribute, a very healthy start. Also, the Port Authority, which builds and maintains major public facilities, has hundreds of engineers, planners and experts. Transportation is their thing — bridges, ports, airports and, yes, train stations,” noted The Times.

“Today’s Port Authority also has the political leadership — and the transparency — needed to move forward successfully on this complicated project,” said the newspaper

For the complete editorial see:

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Governors Ask Amtrak For Alternative Service
During Bridge And Track Repairs June 14-17

From Internet Sources

MAY 16 -- New England governors are speaking up about the suspension of service planned by Amtrak during the four-day period in June when they will be repairing the bridge in New London, Connecticut.

Connecticut’s Governor M. Jodi Rell has announced that she has urged the president of Amtrak to make alternate arrangements for passengers when work on the Thames River Bridge disrupts Acela rail service from June 14 to 17, reported the Westport News in a story by Don Casciato.

The governors of Maine, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire and Vermont co-signed the letter written to Amtrak President Alex Kummant. Thousands of commuters and other travelers rely on the daily Acela service, according to Rell and the other New England governors.

“The plan to shut down service without providing any alternatives is unacceptable,” said Rell. “It will negatively affect travelers not only in the Boston-New Haven corridor, but also travelers to and from New York City and beyond.

“To force travelers to fend for themselves for four days represents a significant hardship. My colleagues have joined me in calling upon Amtrak to work with our state transportation departments to put temporary alternatives in place.”

She also pointed out in the letter that the Boston-to-Washington, D.C. corridor is the most heavily traveled of all Amtrak rail lines in the United States.

“The respective transportation agencies in our states stand ready to work with Amtrak to develop alternate rail routes and/or bus service to meet the needs of thousands of commuters and travelers,” the letter noted.

The correspondence also requests a meeting between the states’ transportation agency heads “to explore alternatives for the traveling public while the bridge work is completed.”

The chance of suspended Acela and Regional service comes at a time in which gas prices have soared and passenger volume between Boston and Washington, D.C., has increased, according to recent press reports.

Despite the increase in passengers, the Bush administration has made efforts to reduce funding for the rail service. The cash-strapped railroad is forced to make choices that don’t always accommodate its customers, as some Amtrak supporters have noted: “While we agree with the Governors that alternative service should be provided, any extra costs to do so need to be made up by a special appropriation by Congress,” stated National Corridors President Jim RePass.

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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...


Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)108.56103.47
Canadian National (CNI)56.8754.62
Canadian Pacific (CP)73.2573.12
CSX (CSX)65.5463.24
Florida East Coast (FLA)62.5162.51
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)39.0137.61
Kansas City Southern (KSU)47.0045.90
Norfolk Southern (NSC)64.3161.90
Providence & Worcester (PWX)21.0520.05
Union Pacific (UNP)153.00146.28

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FINANCIAL LINES... Financial Lines...

Warren Buffett’s Company Increases Stake In BNSF

DF Staff from and other Internet sources

OMAHA -- Warren Buffett, now listed by Forbes magazine as the wealthiest man in the world, has increased his shares in Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation once again. Just one month ago his company, Berkshire Hathaway, increased its shares of BNSF from about 37.4 million to 39 million. By May 16, the Oracle of Omaha’s holdings in the railroad came to 63.8 million, up from 60.8 million, according to a story by Carl Gutierrez at

In the process of this recent purchase, Berkshire Hathaway sold its entire stake in Ameriprise Financial, which at the end of the fourth quarter totaled 661,742 shares.

Chuck Hamilton of FTN Midwest Securities said that the move out of Ameriprise by the world’s richest man makes sense. “Ameriprise is a consumer finance company,” Hamilton said, “and when consumers are getting whacked by rising food and energy prices, along with dropping housing prices, its not a company you want to have a stake in.”

“Burlington seems like a play against the rising cost of energy,” Hamilton said. “As trucks get hit by higher costs, the transportation of goods will be transferred to the railroads.”

Berkshire’s subsidiaries include insurance, clothing, furniture, natural gas, corporate jet and candy companies. Berkshire also has major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co. and Anheuser-Busch Cos.

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

Installments by David Beale
NCI Foreign Correspondent


The Land Needs New Routes

Local Transit Booms, Regional Trains Full Like Never Before – Will Restoration of Abandoned Rail Lines Help?

HANNOVER – In a full page story and analysis Saskia Doehner, regional news editor for the “Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung” (HAZ), reports how regional rail transit is booming in the northern German state of Lower Saxony. But with success come new challenges and problems for rail transit in the German state with a land area slightly larger than the combined land areas of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island and a total population of just under 8 million, 3 million less than the combined population of the three southern New England states.

Evermore people in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen in German) travel with commuter and regional trains – 40% more since 2000 – to a record of 80 million in 2007. Exploding gasoline and diesel fuel prices are certain to increase ridership even further. However this blessing could soon turn into a curse, fears Wolf Gorka, head of LNVG, the state agency which administers local and regional transit in Lower Saxony. “In two to four years we will have the first collapse.”

Six Photos: David Beale

Red White and Bahn – This set of Bombardier multi-level coaches and Bombardier TRAXX (DB 146 series) electric locomotive, heading to Rheine as RE 14016 after a stop in Haste, are owned by the State of Lower Saxony and operated by DBAG subsidiary DB Regio. The freight train headed in the opposite direction on the 13th of May 2008 hauled by two DB 152 series electric locomotives operating in multiple is wholly owned by DBAG subsidiary DB Logistics Railion.

The rail corridor Hannover – Celle – Luneburg – Hamburg is already considered as hopelessly overloaded. Additional freight traffic growth thanks to seaport activity in Germany’s port cities of Hamburg, Kiel, Luebeck, Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, and Wilhelmshaven, which is growing at nearly 10% annually, will only make matters worse, despite a third track to be added between Luneburg and Celle. The controversial “Y-corridor” proposal, which will convert a “Y” shaped set of mostly non-electrified single-track secondary rail lines with end points in Hamburg, Bremen and Hannover and a junction in the northern Lower Saxony town of Soltau into a multi-track high speed rail system also will not bring complete relief.

Also on other routes extra capacity is nearly exhausted. “At some point in time we will not be able to take all of the folks along, who are standing on the platforms”, Mr. Gorka warns. “We are already using double-decker passenger coaches and we can hardly increase train length, since many station platforms will not fit longer trains.”

New Rail Lines and Old Rail Lines

Numerous transit consultants, experts, state political leaders and even pro-rail advocacy groups agree that a large scale program to build all new rail corridors in Lower Saxony is highly unlikely to become reality. Aside from the “Y-corridor” proposal, the only other significant all-new rail line under serious consideration for construction in the state is a high-speed bypass rail corridor from Seelze, a town in Hannover’s western suburbs, to Minden, just over the state border with North Rhine Westphalia (NRW). This proposed but highly controversial bypass rail line would remove all intercity (IC, EC, EN and NZ) and intercity express (ICE) passenger trains from the heavily loaded double-track Wunstorf – Minden mainline, which is Lower Saxony’s primary rail connection with Germany’s densely populated Rhine-Ruhr region and the cities of Cologne, Bonn, Aachen, Düsseldorf, and Dortmund as well as to Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris.

However several consumer and rail passenger advocacy groups such as Pro-Bahn and Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD) strongly advocate reactivation of a number of rail routes which have either been abandoned or restricted to freight only. A region with high priority for expanded passenger rail service is Ostfriesland, a coastal area in the northwest corner of Lower Saxony boarding on Holland. Pro-Bahn and VCD have begun to lobby hard for reactivation of the mothballed coastal rail route from Esens to Norden. This would then bridge an existing gap for rail passengers from Emden to Wilhelmshaven.

The last train has left this station – One abandoned rail line which almost certainly will never be restored is the Bad Nenndorf – Lauenau – Bad Münder “Süntelbahn”. This building used to be Bad Nenndorf’s main rail station, now half of it is a Greek restaurant (owned by friends of my wife and I), the other half a youth activity center owned by the Township of Nenndorf. Bad Nenndorf’s former “Nordbahnhof” (north station) on the single track “Deisterbahn” between Haste and Weetzen is now the only train station in this town of about 11 000 residents.

In the same region the large town of Aurich is served by a recently restored freight only rail line, passenger rail services were discontinued several decades ago. For Michael Froemming of VCD it is absurd that the county seat with 40,000 residents has been disconnected from Germany’s passenger rail network. He proposes that local passenger trains start operating to Emden on the currently freight-only line. On the 30th of April several communities including Aurich commissioned a feasibility study which would be the first step in brining passenger rail service back to the area.

Tracks no more – this is a view directly behind the old Bad Nenndorf train station on the “Süntelbahn”. The last passenger trains rolled through here in the late 1960s, the last freight train in the late 1980s. By 1990 most of the track had been ripped up and items like signal masts removed. Today much of this route lies under open fields, various country roads, parking lots of small strip malls, housing developments, or as can be seen here a newly developed residential street with a jogging and bike path.

Pro-Bahn’s chairman in Lower Saxony, Björn Gryschka, sees expansion potential in the region’s numerous tourist and museum rail lines. Nearly all of these rail routes, such as the Moore Express (between Bremen and Stadte) or K affkier (between Syke and Eystrup) are former Deutsche Bahn rail lines, which DB abandoned in the 70s, 80s and 90s, but were picked up by rail fan clubs or railroad historical societies and museums. Mr. Gryschka states: “an increase in the services offered is important. It is of little use to operate these rail lines only during holidays and on weekends during the summer vacation period.”

The VCD has insisted on reactivation of the Stadthagen – Rinteln rail line. The mostly single track rail line is currently used only sporadically by a rail enthusiasts club, which runs steam locomotive hauled excursion trains from Stadthagen to various locations around Germany on about ten weekends per year. “About 3000 commuters per day could ride on this connection” Mr. Froemming stated and cited the example of the west central German state of Rheinland-Pflaz, where in the past decade ten old formerly mothballed or abandoned rail lines have been restored and returned to passenger rail service. “Here in Lower Saxony this has not been taken to heart”, regrets Mr. Froemming.

However Mr. Gorka, speaking on behalf of Lower Saxony’s LNVG, is not a big fan of this approach and says ” it is expensive and not fiscally prudent.” Mr. Gorka added: “the Haller Wilhelm route between Osnabrück and Bielefeld returned to operation [with new generation Talent DMUs from Bombardier] in 2000, but with 1700 passengers per day, it is clearly behind original traffic projections.”

Rail track expansion goes deep into the pocketbook. But a deep pocketbook is something the state does not have. The latest reduction in annual payments to the state from the German federal government for local and regional public transport amounts to EUR 240 million (US $360 million) cut-back over three years. After massive protests against reductions in public transit services the state was forced to spend EUR 15 million this year and next year from general sales tax revenues to partially offset the reduction in money from the federal government. The state must find at least an additional EUR 30 million per year to make up the difference. Pro-Bahn’s Mr. Gryschka demands a budget resolution by the end of the summer, so that planning for the 2009 local and regional bus and train schedules can be accomplished with some level of confidence.

Success Model: Privatization

In privatizing the rail network no other state in Germany is as far ahead as Lower Saxony. Deutsche Bahn AG – German Railways – operates just a 45% share of the local and regional rail routes, which the state’s transit agency LNVG administrates. Across all of Germany DBAG has an impressive 85% share by comparison. The largest private rail companies in Lower Saxony are currently Uelzen-based Metronom and Nordwest Bahn, based in Osnabrück. Nordwest Bahn is apparently in the lead to be awarded the contract to operate the new S-Bahn commuter rail network in the Bremen area, which will consist of new EMU train sets in frequent commuter rail services on existing rail lines in and around the city of Bremen.

Out with the Red, White and Grey and in with the White, Yellow and Blue – Lower Saxony’s state government switched service providers on the Uelzen – Hannover – Göttingen regional route in 2005 from DB Regio to private rail company Metronom / Metrorail GmbH (now simply called Metronom). A side benefit: In a move to counter further loss of business to Metronom / Metrorail, DB Regio quickly moved to phase out 1960s vintage “Silebrling” locomotive hauled commuter coaches on the Braunschweig – Hannover – Bielefeld route and leased in much newer Bombardier multi-level coaches and Bombardier TRAXX locomotives from the State’s pool of regional train rolling stock.

Significantly smaller passenger rail operators such as Euro Bahn (Hameln – Hildesheim – Bodenburg) and Westfalen Bahn (Osnabrück – Bentheim) are also under contract to provide regional passenger rail services around the state. Lower Saxony’s state transit agency LNVG has enabled the success of these third party rail operators via its own fleet of rolling stock. The State of Lower Saxony leases out its substantial fleet of rolling stock to the various regional passenger rail companies operating in the state, including DB Regio, which is a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG (DBAG), still federally owned but scheduled for partial privatization in the coming year. The state has invested nearly EUR 1 billion (US $1.5 billion) into this fleet of modern rolling stock ranging from various DMU train sets made by Siemens, Bombardier, and Alstom, to EMU train sets, electric and diesel locomotives and multi-level passenger coaches.

Train to the Sea – EVB is another private rail company with a contract to operate local and regional trains for the State of Lower Saxony. This is an Alstom “LINT” diesel multiple unit (DMU) train set standing in Cuxhaven on the 12th May 2008. The graphic “Niedersachsen” under the driver’s side window indicates the vehicle is property of the State of Lower Saxony.

An investment, which is well worth it, believes LNVG’s Mr. Gorka. After privatization the number of rail passengers has clearly increased. On the Weser-Elms rail network in the central part of the state, which is operated by Nordwest Bahn, passenger volume is up 130 percent since the year 2000. Since Euro Bahn took over operations on the Löhne (NRW) – Hameln – Hildesheim – Bodenburg route in 2003 passenger traffic is up 95 percent. However it is not about driving DBAG out of the market, according to Gorka. But the formally federal government run Deutsche Bahn, must adapt itself to the competition, cautioned Gorka. Whether in Emsland, a region in the northwestern part of the state, where DB Regio operates several “Regional Express” rail routes with modern double-decker coaches (leased from the state government), or in the Hannover region, where DB Regio operates both regional trains and the S-Bahn commuter train network, DBAG has clearly improved service quality and level in the last eight years, according to Gorka.

Diesel Locomotive of the Future – A brand-new Bombardier TRAXX diesel locomotive was displayed at InnoTrans 2006 in Berlin. This locomotive, part of an order from the state government of Lower Saxony for new diesels, is now in regional passenger train services between Cuxhaven and Hamburg operated by Metronom. The TRAXX P160DE diesel locomotive is essentially a Bombardier TRAXX P160AC electric locomotive without the main transformer and pantographs but with a 3500 hp (2600 kW) diesel powered generator and related accessory equipment such as engine cooling system and fuel tanks. The power available for traction is actually 2200 kW, the other 400 kW is electric power provided to the passenger coaches for lights, heating and air conditioning via a 1500 VDC cable from the locomotive.

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Siemens Mobility Division Wins Record-Breaking Order

Belgian Railways Orders Siemens Trains For More Than €  1.4 Billion

Press Release from Siemens Transportation

ERLANGEN, GERMANY - Siemens Mobility Division has received an order from the Belgian rail operator Société Nationale de Chemins de Fer Belge (SNCB) to supply 305 electric multiple-unit (EMU) trains to be used in Belgium’s regional rail service. The contract signed today is worth more than €  1.4 billion (US $ 2.1 billion) and marks the biggest order Siemens has ever received for rail vehicles. The first train sets will be manufactured at the Siemens plant in Krefeld-Uerdingen in Germany beginning in the summer of 2009 and are scheduled for delivery in the period from 2011 to 2016.

The train sets are based upon the design adopted for a new platform for regional trains. The Desiro ML can accommodate 280 passengers and has a top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph). With a low boarding height it also offers easy access for passengers with impaired mobility. The Desiro ML design complies with current European collision, safety and technical standards and is therefore especially well suited for operation in all European countries. The first vehicles of this new product line are currently in the certification phase in Krefeld, Germany and are scheduled to enter service for German regional rail operator Mittelrheinbahn at the end of 2008. Previous generations of Desiro multiple units are already in successfully operating in such countries as Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, the UK, Slovenia and the USA.

Image by Siemens

Desiro ML shown in a computer aided artist’s concept in Brussels Midi Station.

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Thalys Launches Onboard Broadband Wi-Fi

Source: Thalys Press Release

BRUSSSELS – Thalys has become the first international train operator to launch Wi-Fi broadband internet access across European borders with the inauguration of Wi-Fi services on its trains from Paris to Brussels, Amsterdam, and Cologne. Thalys operates high speed trains based on several models of France’s TGV train sets between France, Belgium, Holland and Cologne, Germany.

A consortium of Nokia Siemens Networks, satellite communications operator 21Net, and Belgian broadband cable company Telenet designed the system, provided all equipment, and operates the service. The system combines satellite, GPRS and UTMS networks with Wi-Fi technologies to provide uninterrupted, cross-border internet access at speeds of up to 300km/h.

“Our top priority is to increase our services to meet the demands and expectations of our customers, so that every trip wit Thalys is incomparable”, stated JeanMichel
Dancoisne, CEO of Thalys International.

Thalys has already equipped a quarter of its fleet of 26 trains and the remainder of the fleet will carry the technology by autumn 2008. Deutsche Bahn already offers WLAN internet services in some of its ICE-3 trains which travel domestically between Frankfurt and Cologne, through partner T-Mobile, part of Deutsche Telekom.

Photo: Thalys International

Thalys in Germany – a Thalys TGV train set near Cologne (Köln), Germany in 2002

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Special To Destination:Freedom Readers....

The news this past week has brought the world horrifying images and stories of suffering on a massive scale after natural disasters struck in Myanmar and in nearby China due to unrelated but all the same incredible acts of nature. Not since the infamous tsunami of the 26th December 2004 has Asia seen such mass destruction and loss of human life, as the earthquake in Sichuan Province China and the hurricane (cyclone) in Myanmar have unleashed in the past week.

We report frequently from Asia about the breathtaking developments and advancements in rail transportation in this dynamic region. It is with sorrow and regret that we learn of the tragic loss of life occurring now in Myanmar and China due to these totally unrelated yet tragically time and geographically linked catastrophes.

Closer to home this spring has seen a devastating number of tornadoes sweep across the American Midwest and South. Nearly three years on and the American Gulf Coast still stuffers from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Although the loss of life and property damage at first glance does not appear to be on the same scale as the disasters in Myanmar and China, the suffering and pain is nevertheless just as significant.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have lost loved ones in these disasters as well as with those who are assisting in the recovery and rescue efforts.

If you want to help, please go to: and donate now.

Sincerely yours,

The staff of National Corridors Initiative

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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2008 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

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

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

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

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

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

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