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

June 7, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 24

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

This E-Zine is best viewed at
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IN THIS EDITION...   In This Edition...

  News Items…
Texas Joins ‘States For Passenger Rail’;
   National Membership Leaps To 32 States
  Political Lines…
FRA’s Proposed Stakeholder Guidelines May Endanger
   High-Speed Obama Rail
  High-Speed Rail…
Governor of NY Announces HSR Agreements With CSXT
CTDOT Announces Regional Meetings on HSR
  Commuter Lines…
New Piedmont Service Begins This Week
MBTA Moves to Add New, More Reliable Locomotives
   To Commuter Rail Fleet
  Accessibility Lines…
MassDOT Announce Accessibility Improvements To
   Science Park/West End Station
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Supplier Lines…
Caterpillar To Acquire Electro-Motive Diesel
  Business Lines…
James Hertwig Named CEO Of Florida East Coast Railway
  Sustainability Lines…
Massachusetts “GreenDOT”
  Security Lines…
Amtrak Launches National Recovery And Resiliency
   Exercise Program
  Opinion…
The FRA And The New York Region
  Editorial…
Scrap The New Stakeholder Guidelines
  Publication Notes …


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

Texas Joins ‘States For Passenger Rail’;
National Membership Leaps To 32 States

From States For Passenger Rail And By DF Staff

WASHINGTON, DC — Texas has joined the States for Passenger Rail Coalition (www.s4prc.org), bringing the coalition membership to a record 32 states, the organization announced this week.

With Texas joining, a significant portion of the southern half of the country is added to the coalition. Established in early 2000, the States for Passenger Rail Coalition is an alliance of state departments of transportation that supports intercity passenger rail initiatives and advocates for federal funding.

Since its inception, the coalition has successfully advocated for greater and more stable federal funding for intercity passenger rail service. The coalition was instrumental in obtaining the $8 billion in new funding for passenger rail projects in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and helped advance the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, which authorized $13 billion in spending for intercity passenger rail service over five years.

“With a more efficient, reliable and well-planned passenger rail system, communities across the county can realize reduced congestion, improved air quality and enhanced economic opportunity,’ said Ted Houghton, member of the Texas Transportation Commission. “Texas is pleased to join the States Passenger Rail Coalition in working to raise the profile of passenger rail in our nation’s transportation portfolio.”

Coalition Chair Frank Busalacchi, who is also Wisconsin Secretary of Transportation, said the addition of Texas demonstrates the growing commitment of states in all parts of the country to expand intercity passenger rail service.

“We are thrilled to have Texas as part of the States for Passenger Rail Coalition,” Chairman Busalacchi said. “The addition of Texas gives us a very important new presence in the South. I am pleased that Texas has such a strong commitment to intercity passenger rail growth, at a time the nation needs it more than ever before.”

National Corridors Initiative President Jim RePass praised the addition of Texas to the coalition: “This is a significant step forward in the continued development of America’s rail renaissance. Texas is a key state any way you measure it, and its presence at the table only serves to reinforce the idea that the re-creation of a robust and world-class American railroad system is an idea whose time has come and one that is increasingly grasped by the leaders of the major political parties. Hats off to SPR’s Frank Busalacchi, Ron Adams, and all the people who have made SPR one of the truly national rail advocacy groups,” said RePass.


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

FRA’s Proposed Stakeholder Guidelines
May Endanger high-speed Obama Rail

By DF Staf

WASHINGTON--- Newly-released proposed Federal Railroad Administration “Stakeholder Agreement” guidelines, intended to govern how President Obama’s $8 billion in rail stimulus money is implemented, are receiving major blow-back from the Class I railroads, some of whose CEOs are threatening to pull the plug on the projects altogether.

One CEO known for his cool demeanor and careful speech called the proposed regulations “...a potential calamity” for the country.

In particular, the freight railroads, over whose rights-of-way much of the Obama high-speed rail program is to be built, object to language in the proposed regulations that goes far beyond the rules outlined in the original interim regulations issued last year, and under which many of the railroads have negotiated preliminary agreements to proceed.

All of those agreements, some of which took months to execute and some of which are in the process of being signed this week (New York State’s, see separate article this edition of D:F) are now seen to be vulnerable to outright cancellation, a perhaps fatal setback to the President’s stated goal of rebuilding the nation’s deteriorating passenger rail system. One executive told Destination: Freedom, “This is simply micromanagement, and it will not work.”

Among other things, the proposed FRA rules stipulate that host railroads use an FRA-prepared table to predict travel times resulting from the implementation of high-speed rail projects, but then holds the host railroad responsible for spending – without limit --- to meet those “measurable service outcomes” within two months or the completion of the project, or face revocation of monies already received.

The proposed rules also stipulate that any excess track capacity created by a project --- beyond that needed for operations of the project as proposed --- can be claimed at a future date, without limit, by the project grantee, and will therefore not be the property of the freight railroad that built that capacity --- albeit with Federal help.

The entire text of the proposed “High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program – Stakeholder Agreements” can be found at:

http://www.trains.com/trn/objects/pdf/stakeholder_agreements_guidance_052110.pdf

which is the website of Trains Magazine, whose Fred Frailey first broke this story last week.

The CEOs and other senior executives of the Class I railroads, some of whom have already met with FRA officials, will be meeting with US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood this week to voice their objections to the proposed regulations.


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HIGH-SPEED RAIL... High-Speed Rail...  

Governor of NY Announces
HSR Agreements With CSXT

By DF Staff and from the Utica Daily News

ALBANY – New York Governor David A. Paterson has announced that several key agreements have been reached between the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT) which will allow the state to move forward with New York State’s high-speed intercity passenger rail program.

The agreements, just achieved between the parties, will establish a framework for progress to establishing high-speed passenger rail in New York and will enable NYSDOT to move forward with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Empire Corridor, which contains CSX’s heavily traveled route which carries both passengers and freight between Albany and Buffalo.

The EIS agreement will allow New York to move forward on other projects funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that involve CSXT, which will create jobs and help improve the economy.

“The State’s agreements with CSXT are a significant step toward bringing high-speed passenger rail to New York on the Empire Corridor. The deadlock has been broken allowing for the program to move forward,” Governor Paterson said. “This agreement was essential to implement the high-speed rail projects for which New York State was awarded $151 million in funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. I want to particularly thank Congresswoman Slaughter, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo, Deputy FRA Administrator Karen Rae, and Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee for their efforts. The vision of high-speed passenger rail is now one step closer to reality for New Yorkers.”

Two agreements which make up the compact have been executed together. The Framework Agreement is a broad statement of core principles that will guide New York State and CSXT in establishing high-speed passenger rail service. Both parties, CSXT and NYSDOT, have pledged their cooperation in fully achieving the national goal of high-speed intercity passenger rail, while at the same time recognizing the rights and responsibilities of CSXT in connection with its property.

The Agreement on the EIS enables NYSDOT to move forward with preparation of a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 463-mile Empire Corridor, which runs from New York City to Albany, and west to Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and that will study and document proposed improvements to intercity passenger rail services in New York State at speeds of up to 110 mph. The EIS Agreement allows that critical planning effort to go forward immediately by setting forth the cooperative and supporting role of CSXT to the project, which will be lead by the FRA and NYSDOT.

A $1 million award from the Federal Railroad Administration is about 20 percent of the $4.5 million estimated cost for completion of the EIS.


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CTDOT Announces Regional Meetings on HSR

MAP CTDOT

Public Informational Meetings Concerning the 2030 Vision for
High-Speed, Intercity, and Regional Rail Service in New England

By DF Staff and From A CTDOT Announcement

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the Vermont Agency of Transportation are inviting the public to participate in informational meetings regarding the 2030 Vision for high-speed, Intercity, and Regional Rail Service along these two corridors. 

1) New York City-New Haven-Hartford-Springfield-Boston, and
2) New York City-New Haven-Hartford-Springfield-Vermont-Montreal.

The Connecticut and Massachusetts meetings will include a more detailed discussion of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) segment of the corridors. 

Development of this segment is critical to both of the two broader corridors, since trains serving both corridors will share this segment.  This segment has also been the subject of a more detailed study of commuter rail services over the last few years.  The meeting will include an update on that study.  

In making the announcement, CTDOT Commissioner Joseph Marie stated that: “The 2030 Vision for High-Speed, Intercity, and Regional Rail Service provides an exciting opportunity to greatly enhance rail service in New England.  The improvements being proposed along the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield segment of the corridor are the first major step in making the Vision become a reality and will include modifications to existing stations, construction of new stations, and improved rail service – both in efficiency and frequency.  The multi-state collaboration that already is occurring among Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont should position us well to compete for and receive additional federal funding for High-Speed, Intercity Passenger, and Regional Rail Service under the American Recoveries and Reinvestment Act.”

Four public informational meetings have been scheduled as follows:

DATE: Wednesday, June 2, 2010.
TIME: 6:00 PM
PLACE: Pioneer Valley Planning Commission,
2nd Floor, 60 Congress Street, Springfield, MA.

DATE: Thursday, June 3, 2010.
TIME: 6:00 PM
PLACE: Hartford Union Station, One Union Place, Hartford, CT.

DATE: Wednesday, June 9, 2010.
TIME: 6:00 PM
PLACE: City of New Haven – Hall of Records,
G2 Hearing Room, 200 Orange Street, New Haven, CT.

DATE: Thursday, June 10, 2010.
TIME: 6:00 PM
PLACE: Brattleboro Savings and Loan Bank, 221 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT.

Note: The entrance is at the rear of the building.

Any questions should be directed to Mr. Mark W. Alexander, Transportation Assistant Planning Director, CTDOT, Bureau of Policy and Planning, at (860) 594-2931.


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

New Piedmont Service Begins This Week

By DF Staff and From Amtrak This Week Employee Newsletter

Piedmont Service Locomotive

Photo: M. Cottrell Via Wikipedia/Wikimedia

An EMD F59PHI, NCDOT #1797 “City of Asheville” Leading the Feb 20, 2003 “Piedmont” passenger train north, out of Charlotte, NC.

Amtrak and the state of North Carolina will begin operating two additional Piedmont trains on June 5, increasing the state’s sponsored passenger rail service to six daily trains.

Piedmont service operates between Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina’s two largest cities. The new trains will provide midday service to complement the existing morning and late afternoon Piedmont departures. The New York-Charlotte Carolinian also serves the two cities with morning and evening service. As demand for passenger rail service in North Carolina grows, six more trains are planned to be added over the next seven years.


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MBTA Moves to Add New, More Reliable
Locomotives to Commuter Rail Fleet

By DF staff and MBTA Press Release

BOSTON - Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Board of Directors has approved the purchase and/or lease of up to nine commuter rail locomotives from the Utah Transit Authority (UTA). The purchase will mark the first time in 17 years that new locomotives will pull MBTA commuter rail trains.

“This agreement is just yet another sign of our commitment to improving service and reliability for the thousands of commuter rail customers who ride the rails to work or for travel every day,” said Governor Deval Patrick.

“Approval of this agreement is another step forward as Governor Patrick and our Administration continues to fulfill high quality transportation reform for our commuter rail customers,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.


Photo: via MBTA

An MP36 type locomotive similar to this one in UTA Front Runner Service will soon appear on various MBTA commuter rail lines. MP36 locomotives are used in UTA’s system as well as in Maryland’ MARC service, and are built by Motive Power, Inc.

Seeking to take advantage of UTA’s surplus of new locomotives, the MBTA is negotiating with UTA to determine the exact number to be procured and through what process (lease, purchase, or combination). Built in compliance with MBTA requirements, the new locomotives are ‘Commuter Rail-ready,’ and will be in passenger service by this fall.

“Whether you ride on our roads or our rails, Governor Patrick and MassDOT are focused solely on improving the condition of our transportation infrastructure so it’s safer and easier for people to get around,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan.

Built earlier this year, the engines are 3600 horse power, diesel electric locomotives. Because the MBTA had an option on UTA’s original 2005 procurement, the general construction of the locomotives is compliant with the MBTA’s needs and requirements. The purchase cost for each locomotive is $3.5 million, which includes the modifications necessary to ensure that each locomotive is ready for immediate entry into the MBTA service fleet.

“This is a great opportunity for us to get some quick help for our aging fleet of locomotives,” said MBTA General Manager Richard Davey. “As soon as these new locomotives arrive in the fall, we can put them into service immediately.”

The operational benefits of adding these new locomotives to the T’s fleet are immediate:

Compared to the locomotives in the current fleet, the new engines burn less fuel and emit lower levels of nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons. It’s estimated the T will save about $78,000 annually per locomotive because the new engines burn 36,500 fewer gallons of fuel each year. Employing new technology that makes the engines more fuel efficient and prevents unnecessary idling, the new locomotives reduce nitrogen oxide levels by 38 1/2 tons per engine annually.

Whether acquired through purchase or lease, Utah Transit Authority will deliver all of the locomotives to the MBTA by the fall. All but 20% of the purchase will be funded by federal grants.


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ACCESSIBILITY LINES... Accessibility Lines...  

MassDOT Announce Accessibility Improvements
To Science Park/West End Station

By DF Staff and MBTA Press Release

BOSTON, MA - Continuing the Patrick-Murray Administration’s commitment to providing accessible transportation service to all residents of the Commonwealth, MBTA General Manager Rich Davey joined local officials and members of the West End community at the Science Park/West End Station to announce a $22 million investment for accessibility improvements to the station. The project includes the construction of two elevators that will provide access from a new street level lobby to the train platforms at the top of the viaduct.

“Our singular focus in the reform of the Commonwealth’s transportation system is to renew our commitment to customer service and improving access for all,” said Governor Deval Patrick.

“It’s our job to make sure that each and every one of our customers has safe access to our transportation system. We aim to make the traveling experience safe, easy and more efficient for all Massachusetts residents,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan.

Excited to officially announce accessibility improvements to Science Park station, MBTA General Manager Rich Davey remarked, “With the support of the Patrick/Murray Administration we are on the road to ensuring all persons have access to public transportation. This project is testament to the Administration’s commitment to improving the quality of life for all individuals who take public transportation.”

Built in 1954 with minimal renovations over the years, rehabilitation to Science Park will include brand new at-grade automated fare collection (AFC) lobbies, new elevated platforms with canopy roof, new elevators, and stairs. Additional work includes upgrades to signage, installation of fire protection and alarm systems, and a generator for emergency power to the station.

Ceremonies at Science Park Station

Photo: MBTA

L – R Boston City Council President Michael Ross, MBTA GM Davey, MA State Representative Martha Walz, City of Boston Transportation Commissioner Thomas Tinlin, and FTA Region I Civil Rights officer Peggy Griffin.

FTA believes transit provides critical “lifeline” services that connect all members of the community with employment, health, educational, and other important opportunities and services,” said FTA Region I Civil Rights officer Margaret Griffin.  “Providing accessibility to Science Park Station will provide a new transit option for people with disabilities as well as improving the station for all riders making the community more livable for everyone.”

“This is a great day for the West End Community,” said City of Boston Transportation Commissioner Thomas Tinlin.  “Access to Science Park station will soon be a reality providing people with disabilities an enhanced sense of independence.   The quality of life for members of the community will improve dramatically,” added Tinlin. 

“The improvements to the Science Park/West End Station will be a welcomed addition to the area. This investment will finally allow for equal accessibility for all MBTA riders and bring the station up to ADA standards,” said Senator Anthony Petruccelli.

“The residents of the West End have waited a long time for a T station that all people can use,” said Representative Marty Walz whose district includes the West End. “I am delighted that once the station is complete, those with limited mobility, families with strollers, and those people who struggle with stairs will no longer have to walk to North Station to take the T.”

“I commend the MBTA and the Governor’s administration for their diligence in working with the community towards making this station fully accessible and safe to the disabled and elderly residents of the West End,” said Boston City Council President Michael Ross.

Slated for completion in spring 2012, renovations to Science Park will make the station user-friendly, and enhanced lighting and additional surveillance cameras will increase the station’s comfort and safety levels. Science Park station serves approximately 2,100 daily customers.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

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

**

**

Canadian National (CNI)56.5857.37
Canadian Pacific (CP) 54.7955.03
CSX (CSX)50.0252.25
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)33.9535.99
Kansas City Southern (KSU)36.7538.17
Norfolk Southern (NSC)53.4056.46
Providence & Worcester(PWX)12.0011.72
Union Pacific (UNP)69.3371.43


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SUPPLIERLINES... Supplier Lines...  

Caterpillar To Acquire
Electro-Motive Diesel

Construction Equipment Firm Strengthens Presence In Rail Industry

By David Beale
via Financial Times Deutschland with input from James Lashmer

LaGrange (Chicago), IL – Caterpillar made it known on the 1st of June that it plans to acquire Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) from its current owners, who consist mainly of equity investment firms Berkshire Partners and Greenbriar Group. The deal is expected to be closed by the end of 2010 if not earlier. EMD will become part of the Progress Rail division of Caterpillar, which itself became part of the Caterpillar corporation just over four years ago.

EMD was a long-time division of automobile giant General Motors. In 2005 GM sold EMD to independent investors including Berkshire and Greenbriar. Under GM’s ownership the company ushered in the era of the diesel locomotive across North and South America, as well as in other regions such as India, Australia and Africa from the late 1930s onward. EMD’s E-series and F-series became icons for modern diesel electric locomotives in North America. The familiar front cab design of the E and F series was copied over to many other locomotive models in Europe and the UK in the 1950s and 60s. The company also sold limited numbers of locomotives in Europe, most notably in Ireland, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and the former Yugoslavia during the post-World War 2 and Cold War eras.

An EMD E8 locomotive in commuter train operations

Photo: via Wikipedia

An EMD E8 locomotive in commuter train operations for Chicago’s Metra runs through Eola, IL in the early 1990s.

More recently EMD has lost market share in the North American market, dominated by high-power mail line freight diesel locomotives, to rival GE Transportation, with EMD’s current market share slightly under 40 percent. In Europe EMD has had much better success in the past decade. Its “Class 66” diesel, used mostly for freight, is in widespread use in the UK with two large freight railroads, one of them, EWS, now owned by Germany’s Deutsche Bahn.

A Class 66 (EMD Model JT42CWR) locomotive

Photo: ElectroMotive Diesel

A Class 66 (EMD Model JT42CWR) locomotive is shown in continental European configuration. This model is assembled in London, Ontario, Canada with major components manufactured in EMD’s Chicago, IL area plants.

In continental Europe the Class 66 locomotive has achieved widespread popularity with a number of independent rail freight operators, and the model can be seen in frequent operation in France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Poland and several other countries. Until very recently EMD had nearly shut-out its North American rival GE Transportation in Europe, where GE has market share in the EU locomotive market in the low single-digit range against competition not only from EMD, but also from heavy-weights Bombardier, Siemens, Alstom and Vossloh plus others such as Voith and CAF.. Neither EMD nor GE currently offers electric locomotives, which are dominant in Europe, although both EMD and GE have built electric locomotives in the not-so-distant past of the 1970s and 80s.

A Class 66 locomotive pulls a EWS (England, Scotland and Wales) container freight train

Photo: Deutsche Bahn AG

A Class 66 locomotive pulls a EWS (England, Wales and Scotland) container freight train through southwest England in the summer of 2008.

Aside from complete locomotives, EMD also supplies its engines and propulsion motors to other locomotive builders, most notably Vossloh in Germany and Spain. In the European diesel locomotive market, EMD is a major supplier of diesel engines, along with MTU, Cummins, and EMD’s future owner Caterpillar. Interestingly locomotive engines from MTU, Cummins, and Caterpillar are mostly 4-cycle designs, while EMD’s engines are 2-cycle.

Caterpillar is expected to be able to give EMD a much needed boost in the tough American rail market while broadening Caterpillar’s access to the rail supplier industry and adding to Caterpillar’s impressive line of diesel engine models which range from small units in the 100 hp range for small construction and farm equipment to massive ship engines which produce in excess of 20,000 hp and are as large as a single family house.


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BUSINESS LINES... Business Lines...  

James Hertwig

Photo: CSX File Photo
James Hertwig
  

James Hertwig Named CEO
Of Florida East Coast Railway

From The Internet and Transportation Topics Online

Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) said that longtime trucking and transportation executive James Hertwig will become its chief executive officer, effective July 1, 2010.

He will succeed David Rohal, who will continue in his RailAmerica role as senior vice president and will remain on FEC’s board of managers.

Mr. Hertwig was previously president and CEO of Carolina Freight Carriers Corp., president of Landstar Logistics and, most recently, president of CSX Intermodal.

He currently serves on the board of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver and is beginning his third term on the board of the Intermodal Association of North America.

FEC is a regional freight railroad that extends along a 351-mile corridor between Jacksonville and Miami, with exclusive rail access to the Port of Palm Beach, Port Everglades and the Port of Miami.


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SUSTAINABILITY LINES... Sustainability Lines...  

Massachusetts “GreenDOT”

MassDOT adopts a greenhouse gas reduction target, making climate-change emissions
a key consideration in building and operating its transportation system

From an MBTA Press Release

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced it has launched “GreenDOT”, a comprehensive environmental responsibility and sustainability initiative that will make MassDOT a national leader in “greening” the state transportation system. GreenDOT will be driven by three primary goals:  reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; promote the healthy transportation options of walking, bicycling, and public transit; and support for smart growth development.

“By making this commitment, MassDOT has declared its contribution to creating a clean energy economy for Massachusetts,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “In the coming years, we will see the results in smarter growth, cleaner vehicles, and jobs devoted to building a lower carbon transportation system.”

“GreenDOT helps realize the Governor’s vision for transportation reform by refocusing our transportation system on combating climate change by investing in healthier transportation options and building communities that support all transportation users,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jeffrey B. Mullan. “I look forward to working with MassDOT’s customers, our Board, our Divisions, EOEEA on achieving the goals of this important initiative.”

GreenDOT calls for MassDOT to incorporate sustainability into all of its activities, from strategic planning to project design and construction to system operation.  The initiative includes greenhouse gas reduction targets mandated under the Global Warming Solutions Act, signed by Governor Patrick in 2008. This law requires an economy-wide 2020 emissions reduction mandate of between 10 and 25 percent by January 1, 2011, the first step toward a required 80 percent reduction by 2050. The transportation sector generates more than one-third of the total greenhouse gas emissions produced in Massachusetts.

GreenDOT sets a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions over 2 million tons by 2020, a reduction of about 7.3 percent below 1990 transportation sector emission levels. If left unchecked, 2020 transportation emissions would increase by 19.0 percent over 1990 levels.  Instead, the GreenDOT initiative, combined with other state and federal government policies, is expected to reduce 2020 transportation emissions by almost 30 percent below this “business as usual” level.

“I am pleased to see that MassDOT has taken this large step toward becoming more environmentally friendly,” said Senator Marc R. Pacheco, chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. “This Green DOT initiative will help reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and will continue to promote a green culture in Massachusetts. Initiatives like this will ensure the Commonwealth is a leader in protecting the environment.”

“Carbon emissions from the transportation sector are intrinsically tied not only to the kinds of vehicles we drive and the public transit options available, but also to our development patterns,” said Representative Frank Smizik, chair of the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. “I’m pleased MassDOT is planning to tackle this large, complex issue from all angles. This initiative will help improve our infrastructure, our natural environment, and our health.”

 ”By making this climate change commitment, MassDOT has taken a position of national leadership in environmental stewardship,” said Secretary Bowles. “I applaud Secretary Mullan and the MassDOT team for formally including consideration of greenhouse gas impacts in planning and operations – and making Massachusetts a clean energy leader in transportation.”

Secretary Bowles noted that the GreenDOT Initiative will help to foster innovation in green and sustainable transportation technologies and services. Massachusetts is already home to leading firms in this area, such as A123Systems, which manufactures batteries for hybrid buses, and ZipCar, the car sharing service.

The GreenDOT initiative will achieve the greenhouse gas reductions through a range of measures. In cooperation with regional planning agencies, MassDOT will set statewide greenhouse gas reduction targets, and meet these targets by balancing highway system expansion projects with other projects that support smart growth development and promote public transit, walking and bicycling.  Example include transit and rail projects, complete streets planning that includes bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, and investments in greener, more efficient fleet vehicles and renewable power.

GreenDOT was designed in response to several existing state laws, Executive Orders, and MassDOT policies. These include the 2009 Transportation Reform Law that created MassDOT and established the Healthy Transportation Compact that promotes improved public health through active transportation; the Global Warming Solutions Act, which calls for measurable and enforceable economy-wide greenhouse gas reductions; and MassDOT’s Complete Streets design approach that calls for appropriate accommodation of all transportation system users.

For transportation news and updates visit MassDOT at our website: www.mass.gov/massdot, blog: www.mass.gov/blog/transportation, or follow MassDOT on twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot.


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SECURITY LINES... Security Lines...  

Amtrak Launches National Recovery
And Resiliency Exercise Program

From Amtrak This Week Employee Newsletter

To further strengthen Amtrak’s ability to provide America with safe and reliable passenger rail service in the wake of a large-scale emergency, the company is launching a Recovery and Resiliency Exercise Program.

The program, which will involve employees from every department, includes a series of exercises that will help preserve the rail system's operational viability following a large-scale emergency.

“With these exercises, we will talk through our current plans, identify gaps, and improve the way we operate during an emergency,” said William Crosbie, chief operating officer.

Exercises will be conducted nationwide and will specifically challenge the 15 Station Action Teams currently in place at major locations. Three SATs have volunteered to pilot the program: San Diego, Chicago and Baltimore. Each will hold a discussion-based exercise (commonly referred to as Tabletop Exercises) in July where teams are presented with a scenario and talk through how they would respond. Upon completion of the local exercises, an Executive Committee-level tabletop exercise will take place in September 2010. This program will utilize the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program, a proven method for preparing individuals to respond to and recover from potentially disabling disruptions of critical services. It is funded by the DHS Transportation Security Grant Program.

Every aspect of this exercise series will be carefully analyzed in order to learn as much as possible and make improvements to the policies and procedures currently in place.

“This program will better prepare us to minimize our vulnerabilities, and advance our preparedness and response to real-world attacks. It will be a component of an overall Continuity of Operations plan for Amtrak,” said Susan Reinertson, chief operations administrator and director of the program.


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OPINION... Opinion...  

The FRA And The New York Region

By David Peter Alan

Two weeks ago, I reported on the conference in New York, which the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) conducted as part of its outreach effort toward developing a national rail plan. If nothing else, the FRA deserves credit for even holding conferences like that one, and the ones held one year ago about the Passenger Rail Improvement and Investment Act of 2008 (PRIIA) grants to develop high-speed and upgraded rail corridors.

A variety of stakeholders, from Class I railroads to Amtrak, from commuter rail operations to citizen advocates, from construction firms to rail labor, seem to like the FRA these days. Administrator Joseph C. Szabo started out on a train crew in Chicago and came to leadership through rail labor. Szabo, his deputy Karen Rae and their subordinates seem to connect well with the various stakeholders. Today’s FRA leaders seem to acknowledge that the passenger train is here to stay, and that the nation needs to maximize rail capacity to carry both passengers and freight.

The scene was very different six years ago. At the Commuter Rail Conference sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in 2004, this writer and Eugene Skoropowski (then head of the Capital Corridor line between Sacramento and the Bay Area in California) confronted FRA Administrator Allan Rutter over his apparent indifference to passenger rail. Three weeks after the incident, he quit and went back to the highway side of transportation.

It is beyond dispute that an FRA that considers passenger rail to be an integral part of the overall rail scene is a vast improvement over an FRA that is indifferent to passenger trains and, by implication, the people who ride them. Still, this improved institutional attitude is only the first step in helping to build a first-rate rail system in this nation.

It is now time for the FRA to balance the many competing interests, both on the “provider” side (railroads and planners) and on the “consumer” side (freight shippers and riders on passenger trains - whether commuter rail, corridors or long-distance). This is not always easy, and the controversy over a terminal for New Jersey Transit’s proposed “ARC” (Access to the Region’s Core, now known as the “Mass Transit Tunnel”) is a case in point.

Today, there are two points of rail access into Manhattan (not counting the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) line, which is also under FRA jurisdiction); Metro-North into Grand Central Terminal and Amtrak and New Jersey Transit into Penn Station. There are also a number of plans to provide more rail access to the island. The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) is building a “deep cavern” terminal near, but far below, Grand Central Terminal on the East Side (LIRR East Side Access Project). Metro-North wants to go the West Side, on the line used by Amtrak for the Empire Service trains (Hudson Line) and the Hell Gate Bridge Route toward Boston (New Haven Line). New Jersey Transit wants to build its own “deep cavern” terminal 175 feet (20 stories) below 34th Street in the Penn Station area and a rail tunnel to end there, while Amtrak wants to build its own tunnels to bring new tracks into a place slightly south of the existing Penn Station (named “780 Project” after the designation of the affected block on the New York City zoning map). All of these projects have one thing in common: they are all “go it alone” projects that do not accommodate convenient connections between one railroad and another, or even between one line and another.

This uncooperative attitude among rail service providers in the New York area precludes the sort of efficient rail network that can serve riders well by bringing them to a central hub that would allow easy connections between lines. If left completely to their own decisions, each of the railroads would build its own facilities and operate them as separately as possible. This is an optimal situation from the perspective of the operator, but it will have less-than-optimal results for rail riders, the City of New York and the region as a whole.

The solution involves requiring that the railroads work together to build and operate a central hub station, for the good of the riders, the City and the region. With Amtrak’s involvement as the operator of long-distance trains, benefit for the nation is also an issue. Only the FRA has the authority to supervise the construction and operation of a central rail hub that will serve riders from around the region and across the nation.

Whether the recent administrations in Washington like it or not, railroads engage in interstate commerce. That includes carrying people. Interstate commerce is governed by the Commerce Clause of the U. S. Constitution, which states that such commerce is under Federal jurisdiction. In the case of the railroads, the FRA is the agency with the proper Federal Authority.

There is a plan under consideration that would build the rail hub that New York City and the surrounding region need (the Moynihan Plan, which rail advocates call “Moynihan/Penn Station First”). The plan can use some improvement and the proposed station needs some enhancements. Still, such an enhanced station can handle Amtrak, NJT, the LIRR and potential future Metro-North use. It is feasible, and it can eliminate the need for the deep-cavern terminals that New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is building for the LIRR and NJT wishes to build for some of its trains. It can also save $3 billion in costs for New Jersey alone.

This is an opportunity for the FRA to stand up for an efficient, economical and rider-friendly rail terminal. New Jersey Transit would not like such a move, and Amtrak and the MTA might not, either. Still, trains are for people, and they enhance the cities they serve. A reliable and efficiently-operated rail system that provides an appropriate level of service will attract commuters and visitors to a terminal city. The establishment of a metropolitan hub for all rail services (or, at least as many as can be brought there in a feasible manner) is a priority for the region and the nation, and only strong governmental authority can direct the construction and operation of such a facility.

In the specific case of the “ARC“ tunnel plan, the FRA should exercise its leadership and authority by requiring that any terminal for such a new tunnel facilitate connections between all of the various rail lines in a safe and appropriate manner. In New York City, that means an enhanced Moynihan/Penn Station where arrivals will be celebrated and riders will have convenient connections between trains. Such a hub station would benefit the region and the nation, as well as the individual rail riders. This is a job for the Federal Government. A case of this sort is one of the reasons why the nation has an FRA.


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EDITORIAL... Editorial...  

Scrap The New Stakeholder Guidelines

The proposed new guidelines for current and future “High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program --- Stakeholder Agreements” as issued by the Federal Railroad Administration May 12 need to be scrapped.

While the objective of these guidelines --- to protect the taxpayer against the [mis]use of their money when Federally-assisted railroad projects are built --- is a valid one, the prescriptive, punitive nature of the proposed FRA regulations are and will be non-starters for any normal business person who has to carefully assess projects for risks to his company, or face the wrath of his stockholders.

This will be especially true for railroad executives, who under the proposed regulations, could face a literally limitless bill if the passenger service implemented on their rail lines fails to operate exactly as projected. While accountability is everyone’s desire, it is also everyone’s business, and it is unfair to place all of the burden of success --- and all the risk of not achieving it on only one member of what will be multi-member partnerships, especially when the terms “on time and under budget” are rarely applied to one of the other key partners in this endeavor, the Federal Government.

The National Corridors Initiative has been an advocate of investment of public funds in freight railroads for two decades, because 1) we need a passenger rail system that is world class if America is to become truly competitive again, and; 2) the business model under which railroads operate in the United States will not support passenger service without it. It can be direct, it can be indirect; it does not matter: but first and foremost it has to be present.

The way forward has got to be collaborative, not adversarial and prescriptive. We propose that:

1) The FRA re-define the existing “interim” project guidelines, in effect since last year, and under which projects have been negotiated and were getting ready to move forward, as the “operative stakeholder guidelines” with the force and effect of law, and immediately thereafter, that;

2) The office of the Vice President convene a regular Project Guidelines Working Group of FRA, rail industry, and independent non-profit rail advocacy organizations from both inside and outside the Washington DC Beltway, and negotiate guideline modifications, over time, as the need arises. Why the Office of the Vice President? Because this essential national project, which will have repercussions down the decades and on into the 21st century, demands and will require on-going White House involvement; the Vice President is the right person to shepherd that process.

We know that people on both sides of this issue are as passionate in their views as we have always been in ours. All the more reason for us to work together, and get this country moving again.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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