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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June 19, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 26

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

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

  News Items…
NCI Founder RePass Succeeds John Robert Smith As
   Chairman Of The National Corridors Initiative
FRA-Class I Tussle Over Grant Rules Begins To Impact
   Pending Rail Projects
  Infrastructure Lines…
Amtrak Undertakes Major Upgrades In Chicago’s
   Transportation Center
  Off The Main Line…
Getting Around In Rural Montana
  Commuter Lines…
Major Milestone For South Coast Rail Reached
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Across The Pond…
South Africa’s Gautrain Goes Live With FIFA 2010
   World Cup Football
Bombardier Showcases Zefiro High-Speed Train Series
   At Berlin Press Event
Thank You, John Robert Smith
Get To Win-Win With Obama Rail
  Publication Notes …

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

NCI Founder RePass Succeeds John Robert Smith
As Chairman Of The National Corridors Initiative

By DF Staff

National Corridors Initiative founder James P. RePass has been elected to succeed long-time Chairman John Robert Smith, who was recently chosen to lead Reconnecting America, one of the nation’s longest-established advocates and policy development arms for the Livable Communities movement.

The vote of the Board was unanimous.

“John Robert Smith has very graciously allowed me to succeed him as Chairman after more than a decade of service,” commented Jim RePass. “When I founded NCI as the Northeast Corridor Initiative in 1989 as a former journalist and businessman with a strong desire for better ground-based transportation but with limited real knowledge of rail or other major infrastructure-oriented operations, I wanted to bring in as our Chairmen leaders who already had a track record in that field. John Robert Smith has proven to be a leader with national impact and reputation.

“We have done this for 21 years, starting with Chief Governor’s Counselor Atty. William G. Brody of Rhode Island, whose legal expertise and experience with transportation matters enabled Governor J. Joseph Garrahy to re-locate the railroad tracks through downtown Providence, change the course of the Providence River, build the first entirely new Amtrak station in that railroad’s history, and create the downtown Capitol development district which today, 30 years later, is seen as a national symbol of how an older American city can re-invent itself.”

The second Chairman of the Northeast Corridor unit who remained as its leader when NCI became the National Corridors Initiative in 1995, was Richard Flynn, then Chairman of the Board of the New York Power Authority, the largest non-Federal power authority in the United States. It was Dick Flynn, executive Director Lincoln Chafee, Bush fund-raiser Robert Pullman, William Brody, and James RePass whose three White House visits 1990-1991 led to the release of the funds needed to electrify the Northeast Corridor to Boston.

James P. RePass

James P. RePass
John Robert Smith

John Robert Smith
John Robert Smith

“In late 1994 and on into 1995 when John Robert and I first met and worked together to prevent the destruction of Amtrak --- the stated objective of many of those elected to Congress in 1994 --- his influence as the dynamic new Republican Mayor of Meridian Mississippi on Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) was absolutely essential in stopping the anti-Amtrak juggernaut which was then gaining ground in Congress every day,” incoming Chairman Jim RePass continued.

“I asked John Robert to join our Board in 1995 and then, in 1997, one year before President Clinton named him to the Amtrak Board of Directors, I asked him to consider standing for Chairman of NCI (by now called the National Corridors Initiative). He agreed and was elected, and has served ever since in that capacity until this week,” said RePass.

“He became Chairman of the Amtrak Board in 2002 and as such worked closely with another Amtrak Board appointee, former Democratic Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, to recruit and install as Amtrak President the legendary David Gunn, a rail executive famous for his unvarnished style and for his ability to turn around troubled rail operations. There is no doubt in my mind that had John Robert Smith and his Democratic counterpart Mike Dukakis not been Chair, and Vice Chair, respectively, of the Amtrak Board, and able to work together in a spirit of bi-partisanship that set the nation’s interests first, we would have lost the national rail system altogether in 2002.”

“Very few people realize that in the Spring of 2002 when David Gunn, the man John Robert Smith and Mike Dukakis recruited, took the reins at Amtrak, it was literally days from bankruptcy due to draconian budget cuts forced through by the Bush (II) Administration’s Office of Management and Budget, which was seeking to kill Amtrak by starving it to death,” said RePass.

“The nation was incredibly fortunate to have John Robert Smith at the helm of Amtrak, and I have been just as fortunate to have him as Chairman of NCI, and as a friend,” said Jim RePass, “and I can tell you that he and I will continue to work closely together on matters of national transportation and land use policy, as Reconnecting America continues to grow under John Robert Smith, and lead the effort to rebuild and reconnect the cities, large and small, all across America, just as NCI enters into its third decade of advocacy on behalf of transportation infrastructure and the freedom that transportation justice and mobility will bring.”

(NCI was originally founded for the purpose of getting the stalled Northeast Corridor Electrification Project between New Haven and Boston re-started ; it had been for decades electrified Washington-New York-New Haven, but a 1970’s Carter era project to finish the job on up to Boston had been killed by the incoming Reagan Administration in 1981. This primary objective was achieved in 1991 by convincing the Bush (I) Administration to reverse itself and release $125 million already authorized under Jimmy Carter, but blocked from appropriation, needed to re-start the project; this happened in 1991, and the project was completed in 1999, cutting travel times Boston-New York to 3 1/2 hours, from the previous 5-6.)

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FRA-Class I Tussle Over Grant Rules
Begins To Impact Pending Rail Projects

By DF Staff And From Internet Sources

SPRINGFIELD, IL---The mounting fight over new FRA contract rules governing Obama Administration rail projects is beginning to erupt in the general news media, as anticipated two weeks ago in Destination:Freedom [FRA’s Proposed Stakeholder Guidelines May Endanger high-speed Obama Rail, D:F June 7]

This past week the Springfield, IL State Journal’s Bruce Rushton, in an exceptionally well-written and researched story, reported that “…Freight railroad companies are balking at federal demands that they either pay for infrastructure upgrades to ensure high-speed passenger trains run on time or pay back billions of dollars in federal grants for high-speed rail if Amtrak trains fall behind schedule.”

At stake in Illinois is a $1.1 billion project to improve service between St. Louis and Chicago via Springfield. “The Union Pacific railroad owns the right-of-way, and no project can proceed without the railroad’s permission,” the paper noted.

Nationally, the Class I railroads (the largest freight railroads which include UP, BNSF, CSX, NS, KCS, and CN/IC) are pushing back against recently released regulations that go well beyond the preliminary regulations issued when the program was announced last year

“Under grant guidelines published last month by the Federal Railroad Administration, freight carriers could be forced to repay federal grants if passenger trains running on their tracks don’t meet schedule targets. Alternatively, freight companies could pay for improvements to accommodate passenger trains or make operational changes to ensure passenger trains aren’t delayed,” reported Rushton.

FRA spokesman Robert Kulat said the agency is sticking by the guidelines, the paper reported.

“Is the FRA concerned that railroads might refuse to allow high-speed passenger trains on their tracks if freight carriers could be required to make additional investments or re-pay grants? asked Rushton”:

“You’ll have to ask the railroads that,” Kulat answered. “I think the whole thing’s been overblown. They understand where we’re coming from.”

The FRA’s hang-tough attitude is seen as a by-product of many years of sub-par on-time Amtrak performance brought about by two factors: 1) increasingly aging and unreliable Amtrak equipment, especially over-worked locomotives, which can and do put trains behind schedule, and 2) increasing demands on freight rail capacity, which even more often has been the cause of late passenger trains.

The freight railroads by law must allow Amtrak trains to operate over their tracks, but after decades of mergers and thousands of miles of what had been considered redundant track removal since deregulation of the freight railroads in 1980, they find themselves with less capacity than they need for their own trains, let alone Amtrak’s. The current Great Recession has eased that capacity problem somewhat, but rail freight traffic, a pre-cursor of recovery, is coming back.

The Obama Administration’s high speed rail funding in large part will go to increase that capacity once again, but the fact that tax dollars are being used to put back capacity that the private sector eliminated for what turned out to be erroneous operational forecasting one and two decades ago is the sticking point, and the Federal Railroad Administration sees itself not only as the implementer of the President’s program, but as the watchdog of the public purse as well.

Striking the balance between protecting the public, and getting the project built, is the challenge facing the FRA, and the freight railroads as well.

For the full story see:

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INFRASTRUCTURE LINES... Infrastructure Lines...  

Amtrak Undertakes Major Upgrades
In Chicago’s Transportation Center

From Metro Magazine And Other Internet Sources

Chicago Skyline and Union Station

Photo: John Palmer, via the Chicagoist and Flickr Amtrak has awarded a $106.2 million contract to replace or renew approximately five miles of track and to renovate or repair buildings used to inspect and maintain Amtrak trains at Chicago Union Station.

CHICAGO, JUNE 17 -- Amtrak is undertaking major improvements to tracks, buildings and control systems in Chicago as part of a $1 billion construction program to upgrade infrastructure. The Chicago projects are projected to cost $115 million, funding that is available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“We are investing in our infrastructure in Chicago to improve our operations and support the growing demand to travel by Amtrak,” said President/CEO Joseph Boardman.

He noted America’s intercity passenger railroad posted a ridership increase of more than 7 percent nationally in the last nine months, including double-digit increases on the Chicago corridor to and from St. Louis, with strong results also on the Hiawatha Service corridor to and from Milwaukee and the Wolverine Service corridor to and from Detroit/Pontiac.

“These Chicago projects will create jobs and make a significant investment in the future of Amtrak and the Midwest rail system,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill). “These improvements are in tandem with the $1.2 billion in Recovery Act funding for work in downstate Illinois that will help bring high speed rail to the Chicago to St. Louis line.”

More than three million Amtrak passengers used Chicago Union Station last year, with more than 50 daily trains, making it the fourth-busiest in the national network. In addition, the nearly 130,000 commuters who pass through the station on an average weekday, with 248 weekday commuter train arrivals or departures, will also benefit from the infrastructure improvements.

Jacobs Inc and subcontractors Kiewit Western Co. and Swanson Contracting will replace or renew five miles of track; renovate or repair buildings used to inspect and maintain trains at Union Station; and replace or upgrade water, air, lighting, natural gas and heated track switching systems.

A new control center at a cost of $9 million is also part of the improvements. The center will manage and dispatch Amtrak and other trains in four geographically separate areas. Center operations involve interconnections with territories owned by Metra, BNSF Railway Co., CN and Norfolk Southern Railway. Pepper Construction Co. is building the center, which will help Amtrak better manage daily train operations, according to the railroad.

The projects in Chicago are expected to be finished by February 2011.

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

Getting Around In Rural Montana

By David Peter Alan

It’s about as far “off the main line” as you can get.  The place was once called “Siding 45” because it was the location of the 45th siding west of Minot, North Dakota on the Great Northern Railway.  Today it is known as Glasgow, Montana.  Legend has it that somebody, maybe railroad founder James J. Hill (the “Empire Builder” for whom the train is named), touched a globe and his finger pointed to Glasgow, Scotland, and that is how the town got its name.

Glasgow is a community of about 2500 in northeastern Montana.  It has as much rail service as cities like Columbia, South Carolina, Omaha, Nebraska and Reno, Nevada; and more than Cincinnati.  Every afternoon at 12:26, the “Builder” is scheduled to stop on its way to Seattle and Portland.  At 3:47, it is scheduled to stop on its way to Chicago.  So a visit to Glasgow can last for approximately 201 minutes, plus any multiple of 24 hours.

There is no scheduled transit in Glasgow, but the “locals” still have some mobility.  That is because of Valley County Transit, a provider which has no scheduled service.  Instead, the county provides demand-response service in the local area to anyone who needs it.  Local service is provided within Valley County, and the fare within Glasgow is $1.50 (75 cents for seniors and persons with disabilities).  Out-of-county trips can be arranged, if a van and a driver are available.

The staff is friendly and seems to know many of their riders.  Dispatcher Mary Jo James said that the service takes people shopping or to work, and often takes kids home from school.  Driver Glen Doran came from the Lake Tahoe area in Nevada, where he had driven buses, and came to like the small-town atmosphere in Montana.

Colleen Pankratz, Coordinator-Manager for the system, said that Valley County Transit started in 1975, offering service to senior citizens and persons with disabilities; a common practice in many areas for demand-response transportation.  The service was first offered to the general public in 1980.  At the time, “people weren’t aware that service was offered to the general public, and they weren’t taking advantage of it” Pankratz said.  Today, the system provides 65,000 rides per year using six buses (mini-size) and two vans.  The service normally operates from early morning until 11:00 at night, but a ride can be arranged in advance for any time, 24 hours a day, and seven days a week.

This writer visited Glasgow for 201 minutes (actually 215, because the eastbound train was late) and used the service to go to the Valley County Pioneer Museum, about one and one-half miles from downtown.  Without the van rides to the museum and back to downtown Glasgow, there would not have been time to enjoy the museum exhibits.

Pankratz praised her employees for the high-quality of service they provide to their riders.  “My employees are key to the whole system operating the way it does” she said.

This writer had an unexpected companion for the museum visit; a man named Edward Docherty who lives at the New Jersey Shore.  Docherty was born in Glasgow, Scotland and wanted to see what Glasgow, Montana looked like.  He stayed in town for forty-eight hours and used Valley County Transit to get around while he was there.  Docherty caught up with this writer on the westbound “Builder” after his visit to Glasgow, and also praised the local transit.

The people of Glasgow, Scotland have plenty of intercity trains and local transit.  The people of Glasgow, Montana have limited airline service to Billings and Denver; as well as a train to Chicago, or to Portland or Seattle, every day.  They also have local transportation whenever they want it.  Not many Americans outside of New York City have that level of mobility without an automobile.

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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

Major Milestone For South Coast Rail Reached As
Patrick-Murray Administration Acquires CSXT Rail Lines

Transaction comes at same time MassDOT advertises South Coast Rail
TIGER ARRA project to rebuild three rail bridges

By DF Staff and MBTA Press Release

BOSTON - Thursday, June 17, 2010 - As part of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s commitment to the South Coast Rail economic development and transportation project, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has closed on the legal transaction with CSX Transportation to acquire the rail lines necessary for the restoration of commuter rail service between Boston and the South Coast region.

“Helping this region realize the promise of South Coast Rail has been our focus since day one,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “While others have stopped at talking about this project, we are making it happen. This agreement is another important example of our commitment to bringing this project one step closer to reality.”

“The Patrick-Murray Administration has been dedicated to delivering commuter rail service to the South Coast region,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “By partnering with CSXT, we have reached a major milestone in this process, and it will be critical to use this investment to leverage future job growth, transportation services, and economic development in communities like Taunton, Fall River, and New Bedford.”

“This is another important step towards bringing commuter rail to the South Coast to create jobs, reduce pollution, and relieve traffic congestion. It will link the economies, businesses, and homes of New Bedford and Fall River with Boston. Since 2005, we obtained more than $30 million in federal funding for this project from Congress because we know what it will do for our economy and our environment. Governor Patrick has been the first Massachusetts Governor to move forward on South Coast rail. I want to thank CSXT for their efforts and I’m proud to have worked so closely with Tim Murray and Jim McGovern - we just refused to quit before the job was done,” said Senator John Kerry.

MBTA Grand Junction Bridge at BU Bridge

Photo: MBTA

MBTA staff inspect the state’s newly acquired Grand Junction railroad bridge over the Charles River between Boston and Cambridge (MA). The bridge connects the MBTA/Amtrak Boston-Framingham branch to the rail yards at North Station and is used to move the Amtrak Downeaster consists from the Amtrak shops at South Bay (Boston) to their departure point at Boston’s North Station.

“Extending commuter rail to Southeastern Massachusetts is incredibly important for economic development in the region,” said Congressman James McGovern. “I applaud Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray for their tenacious work on this issue.”

The newly-acquired 30 miles of track run from Cotley Junction in Taunton to Fall River and New Bedford. As part of the agreement, the Commonwealth now controls the tracks and will be able to dispatch passenger trains once the South Coast Rail line begins operation.

In another major milestone for South Coast Rail, last week a new request for proposals was released on Thursday June 10 for the reconstruction of three rail bridges in New Bedford. In February, the Obama Administration awarded MassDOT $20 million in competitive stimulus TIGER funds to replace the deteriorating railroad bridges. Bridge construction will begin in the fall.

For additional information on how the Patrick-Murray Administration’s agenda has led Massachusetts out of a global recession sooner and stronger than the rest of the nation, visit

MassDOT is the new, unified transportation organization created in 2009 under the historic reform legislation passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Patrick. MassDOT’s four divisions are focused on delivering safe and efficient transportation services across the Commonwealth. For transportation news and updates, visit the MassDOT website at, the MassDOT blog at or follow MassDOT on twitter at

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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...


Week (*)
Canadian National (CNI)62.4960.36
Canadian Pacific (CP) 60.2957.73
CSX (CSX)54.9552.15
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)39.8938.99
Kansas City Southern (KSU)41.1139.22
Norfolk Southern (NSC)59.0956.80
Providence & Worcester(PWX)11.5512.32
Union Pacific (UNP)76.3773.55

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ACROSSTHEPOND... Across The Pond...  

By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor


South Africa’s Gautrain Goes Live
With FIFA 2010 World Cup Football


Photo: Eugene Armer, Johannesburg, South Africa

On its first day of public service and just 3 days before the start of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, a Gautrain Electrostar EMU races downgrade away from the photographer towards Modderfontein, en route from O.R. Tambo International Airport to Sandton. The track alignment continues across the valley and can be seen above the red rooves on the right of the picture.

Turn-key rail system from Bombardier is tested by 2010 World Cup fans

Johannesburg – The new Gautrain rail line in Guateng Provence in South Africa underwent a successful “baptism by fire” with the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Foot ball (soccer in the USA) championship series in South Africa. The standard—gauge (1435 mm) railway differs from the rest of the so-called “Cape Gauge” rail network in South Africa, which is a 1067 mm (3.5 ft.) track gauge. The rail network currently links Johannesburg with the international airport and with the nation’s capitol in Pretoria. The rolling stock consists of Bombardier Electrostar EMUs, which are nearly identical to the EMU trains of the same model name in operation in Great Britain with a few modifications such as increased capacity air conditioning for the hot South African summer.

Although the rail line was not originally planned and built specifically for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it quickly became a major feature of South Africa’s infrastructure upgrade program for the football championship series, the first on the African continent. The Santon – Airport link was the only section that opened in time for the games with the remainder of the network to be finished later in 2010 and in 2011. The project has not been without controversy, especially regarding project costs which dramatically exceeded original estimates.

Gautrain uses a dedicated bus network to feed passengers into train stations. Gautrain customers can also ride on the “classic” Metrorail train network in the province with one ticket or fare card. The Gautrain rail network project is managed by a consortium headed by Bombardier Transportation, the consortium being responsible for nearly all design, planning, construction, and operational aspects of the network.


Photo: Guatrain

Football Fan Express – a Guatrain Electrostar EMU leaves O.R. Tambo International Airport on a test run in January 2010

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Bombardier Showcases Zefiro High-Speed Train Series At Berlin Press Event

German-Canadian Company Announces Numerous New Products And Services During Press
Open House At Its Berlin-Hennigsdorf EMU / DMU Passenger Train Development Center

Berlin – Bombardier Transportation, one of the four or five leading full-range rail transit providers in the world., hosted a pre-InnoTrans press conference and facility tour of its electric multiple unit / diesel multiple unit (EMU and DMU) passenger train product center in the Berlin suburb of Hennigsdorf on the 18th of June. NCI was there, as were approximately 60 members of the press. Top management from Bombardier Transportation gave several presentations and fielded a number of questions from the press corps during several extended question and answer sessions. A young, energetic and enthusiastic group of design and aerodynamic engineers took additional questions from the press while demonstrating a number of computer aided design tools and computer simulation models used for train design and analysis. The event finished with the group taking a ride aboard a brand-new TALENT 2 EMU train set on the facility’s rail vehicle test track.

Talent 2 EMU

Photo: David Beale

The press group leaves the TALENT 2 EMU commuter train (DB series ET 442) after taking a test spin on the Bombardier Hennigsdorf test track on the 18th of June. The TALENT 2 EMU train set has not yet been certified for revenue service operation by the German EBA (similar to the U.S. FRA); certification is expected later in 2010.

The Hennigsdorf facility has built locomotives and trains for the past 100 years, the past decade under ownership of Bombardier Transportation, headquartered a few dozen kilometers away in central Berlin. Prior to acquisition by Bombardier, the Hennigsdorf facility was part of the Daimler-Benz division ADTranz, which was formed out of German train manufacturers Henschel and the train division of AEG plus the transit division of Swiss-Swedish firm ABB. Daimler sold ADTranz to Bombardier in 2001 as the automobile, truck and bus manufacturer divested itself of non-automotive divisions such as ADTranz, MTU and Deutsche Aerospace. Bombardier has designated Hennigsdorf as its focal point and center of excellence for self-propelled passenger trains, ranging from commuter trains, subway / metro trains to high-speed EMU trainsets. Other Bombardier plants in various other locations are focal points for products such as locomotives, standard passenger rolling stock, light rail trains and trams, and people mover / shuttle systems.

Talent 2 assembly

Photo: David Beale

TALENT 2 production facility in Hennigsdorf. The Bombardier facility in Hennigsdorf consists of a number of buildings in a campus-like arrangement, including several assembly halls. This hall is the newest at about 12 months old. It is used for mass production of TALENT 2 EMUs, with one car built per work day on a moving assembly-line basis – the order book for the TALENT 2 is in the 300 train-set range and likely to increase further. Another older assembly hall a few hundred meters away is used primarily for production of lower volume train models, in quantities ranging from six to fifty train sets.

Bombardier used the event to inform the press of its upcoming displays of the new Zefiro family of high-speed EMU trains. The first Zefiro trains for China Railways, the Zefiro 250, are currently starting production and entering operation in China in a 250 km/h max. configuration with the train sets configured in a combination 8 or 16 car long sleeper coach models. The next model in line for production is the Zefiro 380, which will come in 8 car and 16 car configurations capable of 380 km/h (236 mph) in-service speeds along the new high speed rail network currently being built all across China. Bombardier plans to offer an Americanized version of the Zefiro 380 for new high-speed rail projects in North America, such as California.

Zefiro 380 artist drawing

Photo: Bombardier Transportation

Artist concept of Zefiro 380 very high-speed train for China. D:F readers will notice the external similarities to Alstom’s AGV electric multiple unit high speed train.

Bombardier also plans to produce and sell a European market version of the Zefiro high-speed passenger EMU train set, called V300Zefiro, which will conform to UIC vertical / horizontal clearance profile (somewhat smaller than the car height and width for China and North America). The V300Zefiro will feature an interior which operators can relatively easily re-configure with their own seats and furnishings in order to meet changing market demands or resale / lease-out to other rail operators. The V300Zefiro will be capable of operating from all four types of railway electrification in Europe in order to make the train cross-border operational from the start. The V300Zefiro will be capable of en-route speeds of 300 – 360 km/h and will compete head-on against the AGV from Alstom and the Velaro from Siemens and against various high-speed train sets offered by Kawasaki Rail Car and Hitachi, based on various “bullet train” models they have already produced for Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. Paradoxically Bombardier is a major sub-contractor and risk-sharing partner for the Velaro high-speed EMU train series from Siemens.

V300 Zefiro

Image by Bombardier Transportation

Artist concept of the V300 Zefiro interior in the first class cars.

Aside from the introduction to Zefiro, Bombardier used the press event to introduce details of its ECO4 series of products and services developed to enhance energy efficiency, passenger comfort, lower life cycle costs and emissions and improve acceptance of rail transit in communities. The products and services in ECO4 range from clean diesel technology for DMU passenger trains to energy conserving heating and air conditioning for passenger trains, software to optimize the acceleration and deceleration curves / schedules in the propulsion control system, hybrid energy storage and recovery systems for both electric and diesel powered trains, and advanced aerodynamic designs to help cut the wind resistance on high-speed trains, sound reduction technologies, and various other packages and services for both new and existing trains.

Armed with data and statistics Bombardier is prepared to market modern passenger train technology as a potent method to reduce the energy consumption and green-house gas output of the transportation sector compared to automobile, bus and airline-based transportation. Bombardier has supplemented its motto from the 2008 InnoTrans trade fare “The Climate is Right For Trains” with a new motto for its high-speed train products “The Fastest Way to Save The Planet”.

Transportation Graph

Graphic by Bombardier Transportation

It’s about the environmental cost – data presented by Bombardier regarding external costs of various modes of transportation. After the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico one has to wonder if the external costs of the Car and Aviation have not in-fact dramatically increased.

Of course Bombardier is not alone; its competitors such as Alstom, CAF, Stadler, Siemens, Rotem and Kawasaki are not standing still as they follow the developments in rail transit in China, North America and Europe with great interest. Not to be forgotten is the once and perhaps future giant in rail transit: General Electric, now known as GE Transportation. Although GE has been a leader in the large diesel locomotive market for several decades, the company has been largely absent from the passenger rail transit scene since the late 1970s and its presence in Europe in the past couple of decades has been minor at best. That may soon be changing. GE has been re-making itself into a “green” company with the slogan “Ecomagination” for the past eight or nine years, and it has been very busy expanding its profile in the rail industry in the last few years.

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EDITORIALS... Editorials...  

Thank You, John Robert Smith

Dear John Robert:

For the past 16 years you have always been there not just for the National Corridors Initiative, and for our work, but for the American people as well.

I know you share my vision that transportation = mobility = freedom, and that the kind of transportation system we choose influences greatly not only the type of land use and development that then takes place, but the very nature of our democracy, and that we must rebuild our nation’s ground transportation system with a healthy rail component if our democracy, and economy, are to thrive.

I remember very well how Meridian, the small but crucially important Mississippi city that elected you four times as Mayor, looked two and three decades ago, and more. As a native of New Orleans raised in the Northeast, I spent many years traveling between New Orleans and New York or Connecticut or Massachusetts on the Crescent or its predecessor trains like The Southerner.

I remember how small and beaten-down that city looked many decades ago, and then I see it now, with its wildly successful new transportation center district, its walkable streets, and its miraculous Grand Opera House (now known as the MS Riley Center for the Performing Arts), an opera house restored to a glory that would rival New York’s old Metropolitan Opera House --- indeed, the famed theatre designer J.B. McElfatrick  of New York and St. Louis was the designer of the lavish interior, which is literally, by itself, worth a trip to Meridian. And I know that under your stewardship Meridian landed a major developer for the long dis-used “Threefoot Building,” at 16 stories Meridian’s own skyscraper, to convert it into what will be a landmark hotel when completed. All of that was done on your watch, John Robert, and with your leadership as well.

But most of all I remember how we joined forces in 1994, literally North and South coming together, to stop the destruction of Amtrak and the national railroad passenger system, and then your tremendous leadership at Amtrak which literally, in partnership with Mike Dukakis, saved the day.

I could go on, and on, but let me wrap up this public thank you as follows: thank you for what you have done for us, and for me, and for the nation. This is a better country because you were born into it, and Reconnecting America is lucky to have you at the helm, and I know we will continue to work together in the future. If you can do for the small and large cities of America what you did for Meridian, the 21st Century will see a rebirth of the joyous, walkable, livable communities that once dominated this nation’s public life, and are the bedrock of its greatness.

With affection and respect,

Jim RePass

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Get To Win-Win With Obama Rail

The on-going fight over contract regulations between the Federal Railroad Administration and the Class I freight railroads needs to come to a quick and positive conclusion, and the White House, probably via Vice President Joe Biden, needs to act on that.

The FRA is absolutely right that the freights have to come through on performance, because they are getting public money to improve their rights of way so that fast passenger service can be accommodated.

But we can neither write every contract to forecast every eventuality, nor should we try. Set performance targets, by all means, but don’t hang 100% of the performance risk on the freight railroads; the people of this country, not just the railroads, will get the benefit of these important projects, and they absolutely cannot be delayed, or we will all be the worse off for 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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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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