The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

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

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

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July 6, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 29

Copyright © 2009
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 10th Year

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

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

  News Items…
High-Speed Rail Advocates In Midwest Looking To Build
   Fastest System In U.S.
  Environmental Lines…
Kansas City Southern Rolls Out EMD 710ECO™
   Repower Locomotives
  Legal Lines…
Transit Wins Major Court Victory In California
  Political Lines…
House Probes Resignation At Amtrak
  Expansion Lines…
Board Sets Orange Line Connection To DFW Airport;
   Opening Set For December 2013
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Business Lines…
US Railcar To Resume DMU Production
  Across The Pond…
Finances At Deutsche Bahn Suffer
Mehdorn Joins Air Berlin Board Of Directors
Safety Issues Ground Hundreds Of Berlin S-Bahn Trains
  Editorial…
Rail Safety And Accountability: Learning From The Europeans
  Publication Notes …


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

High-Speed Rail Advocates In Midwest Looking
To Build Fastest System In U.S.

DF Staff From The Internet

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association is promoting a $12 billion high-speed rail plan that would provide 220 mph commuter rail service connecting Chicago and St. Louis. The electric-powered system would cut trip time between the two cities to two hours and would put Champaign-Urbana within 50 minutes of Chicago. It would also have stops in Kankakee, Decatur, and Springfield.

High speed rail, a relatively new concept outside of the Northeast Corridor but now a household word since the Obama administration announced its commitment to building a nationwide system, refers to trains speeds of 110 mph and up. Midwest advocates are also proposing 110 mph service in other areas of Illinois including the Chicago-Springfield line that goes through Burlington-Normal.

“Ultra-fast trains are green, efficient transportation that brings people closer, stimulates the economy and creates jobs,” said Rick Harnish, the rail association’s executive director. “It’s the right investment at a time when we look to curb our emissions and our dependence on oil, while helping jump-start growth.”

If built, this high-speed line would be among the fastest rail lines in the country and would rival high-tech systems already in place in Europe and Asia.

Planning experts from TranSystems, commissioned by MHSRA to do the study, recommended that the best route for the 220 mph speed was St. Louis-Chicago via Champaign-Urbana, Decatur and Springfield.


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ENVIRONMENTA LLINES... Environmental Lines...  

Kansas City Southern Rolls Out
EMD 710ECO™ Repower Locomotives

From Internet Sources

Kansas City Southern (KCS) is having locomotives upgraded to a power system that cuts fuel use and emissions. Electro-Motive Diesel, formerly a division of General Motors, has delivered the first units of orders for twenty-seven of its 710ECO™ Repower locomotives.

This allows KCS to convert a group of tired GP40 and SD40 locomotives into EMD GP22ECO and SD22ECO repower units as well as GP22ECO-M mother/slug combinations – providing the ultimate operating flexibility for the locomotives, which will be deployed in both The Kansas City Southern Railway Company (KCSR) and Kansas City Southern de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (KCSM) systems.

Repower Locomotive

Photo Ian McCord / Repower

New Electro-Motive 710ECO Repower Locomotive Enters Service. Fifty-four years after its first delivery to the Canadian Pacific Railway as a new EMD GP9, the locomotive returns to service as a newly repowered EMD GP22ECO with significantly improved tractive effort, reduced fuel consumption and certified emissions better than EPA Tier 2.

“The 710ECO™ Repower solution provides a unique combination of emissions reduction, fuel savings, and locomotive reliability,” said Scott Arvidson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of KCSR.  “Those were key factors in the decision, allowing KCS to meet our commitment to continuously improve railroad operations while simultaneously addressing future environmental concerns.”

Repowering removes the 16-cylinder diesel engine that first came in the locomotive, and replaces it with either an 8- or 12-cylinder model and computer controls. The result is a unit that burns less fuel and meets the latest federal exhaust standards.

TERP had also paid for KCS to get two hybrid locomotives with rechargeable batteries, but the carrier said that experiment failed and KCS converted them to the gensets that it deployed in March.


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LEGAL LINES... Legal Lines...  

Transit Wins Major Court Victory In California

By David Peter Alan

Transit managers and riders in California won a major court victory this week, when the Third Appellate District Court ruled that funds earmarked for “mass transit” must be used for that purpose. In a unanimous decision released on June 30th, the court held that “mass transit” was different from other transportation purposes and directed the State to restore funds transferred from the Public Transportation Account for other transportation-related uses.

The court, in Shaw v. Chaing, No. C-058479, affirmed the finding of the trial court that certain funds were improperly transferred from transit to other accounts. In addition, the court ordered the transfer of these funds back to the public transportation account, reversing the trial court on that issue. Josh Shaw is Executive Director of the California Transit Association. John Chiang is the California State Controller. In cases like this, it is customary to name the appropriate official as defendant.

The case concerned funds generated under Proposition 116, the Clean Air and Transportation Act of 1990, which authorized a bond issue of nearly $2 billion to fund capital improvements, ranging from commuter rail to bikeways to the California Railroad Museum. Two of the major beneficiaries of this fund have been MetroLink commuter service in the Los Angeles area and the network of intercity rail corridors operated in the state. The statutory provision before the court was enacted in light of Proposition 116 and said that funds in the Public Transportation Account were to be used “only for transportation planning and mass transportation purposes.”

Proposition 2, approved by the voters in 1998, specified that any loans made from transportation funds to the General Fund must be repaid within three years and used for transportation purposes. The voters subsequently approved further restrictions on loans of transportation funds to the General Fund and authorized the use of gasoline tax revenues directly for transit purposes.

The trial court held that the transfer by the Legislature of $409 million in bond funds for past debt service did not serve a “transportation planning or mass transit purpose” and ordered the return of that money to the Public Transportation Account. Other actions were challenged, including transfer of funds for special transportation for developmentally disabled persons, school bus funding and debt service on past transportation-related obligations. The trial court refused to reverse those transfers.

The appellate court agreed that the transfer of $409 million violated statutes, and also held that the other transfers were similarly improper. The court construed the statutes that govern transportation funding and held that “mass transit” means transportation available to the general public. While the debt service, school bus and special transportation purposes for which the funds at issue were transferred were transportation-related, the court invalidated them because these were not for the “transportation planning or mass transit” purposes as required by statute.

The State has redirected approximately $3.4 billion of transit funds to other purposes over the past three years and, according to the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), the Schwarzenegger Administration is poised to transfer another $952 million during the fiscal year that has just begun. According to NARP, the court decision would appear to prevent such a transfer.

Transit management and rider advocates alike have hailed the decision as a victory for transit riders. Joshua Shaw, Plaintiff and Executive Director of the California Transit Association, said “The ruling clearly states that the rip-offs are illegal … [and] … they’ve been illegal since before 2007… This is a clear victory for the millions of Californians who depend every day on public transit to get to work, school and health care facilities.” NARP reported: “California transit riders won a monumental victory over the state government.”

Bart Reed, Executive Director of The Transit Coalition, based in the Los Angeles area, said: “The court decision clearly interpreted what the law declared. The Governor and his staff rephrased the law against the will of the People of California. This is another example of outlandish behavior that was totally inappropriate. It just goes to historically show the Governor’s disdain for the working poor and those in need of basic mobility.”

The state has indicated that it will appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court. While the decision of the Appellate Court is a victory for transit riders and users of California’s Amtrak corridors, it complicates efforts to solve the state’s financial problems. [The full-length opinion is available on the NARP website www.narprail.org and the opinion will be published in the California Appellate Court report within a few weeks.]

David Peter Alan lives and practices law in New Jersey. He is not admitted to practice in California.


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

Former Amtrak Inspector General, Fred Weiderhold House Probes Resignation At Amtrak

By Wall Street Journal Writer Christopher Conkey

WASHINGTON, DC --The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has launched an investigation of the resignation of Fred Weiderhold, Amtrak’s longtime inspector general. The committee cited concerns about oversight of the railroad at a time when it will soon be spending approximately $1 billion in stimulus funds.

Reps. Edolphus Towns (D., N.Y.) and Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), are respectively chairman and ranking member of the Oversight Committee.

Close to the time of his resignation in June, a report that Mr. Weiderhold had commissioned made reference to problems in his office caused by Amtrak management. The report, which was prepared by an independent law firm, concluded that the “independence and effectiveness” of the inspector general’s office was “being substantially impaired” by Amtrak managers.

“In a statement, Amtrak said ‘there was no relationship between the timing of Mr. Weiderhold’s retirement’ and the report critical of Amtrak management. “We would like to maintain an open line of communication and are looking forward to cooperating fully with the committee concerning its request for information,” said Amtrak Chairman Thomas Carper. Mr. Weiderhold couldn’t be reached for comment.”

“In a letter to Mr. Carper, Messrs. Towns and Issa cited two main concerns, including that Amtrak managers are requiring the inspector general’s office to get their approval before it makes personnel moves or spends any money provided by Congress under the stimulus package. The lawmakers also criticized Amtrak’s pick of Lorraine Green, formerly its vice president for human resources, to replace Mr. Weiderhold.”

 

At Left - Former Amtrak Inspector General, Fred Weiderhold. Photo: WSJ


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EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...  

Board Sets Orange Line Connection To DFW Airport;
Opening Set For December 2013

From Dallas Area Rail Press Release

The final section of the DART Rail Orange Line will connect to Terminal A at DFW International Airport in December 2013. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board of Directors made the decision following a staff recommendation for direct terminal access from the future Belt Line Station on airport property.

Construction on the first two sections of the Orange Line, from the future Bachman Station in northwest Dallas to Las Colinas and then to Belt Line Station, began earlier this year. The sections are scheduled to open in December 2011 and 2012 respectively. A contract for the final section to the airport is scheduled to be awarded next year.

A DART Rail Unit

Photo: DART

One of the DART rail units.

The Board vote also adds a future light rail connection from the Orange Line to the Cotton Belt, a DART-owned rail line that crosses through airport property north of SH 114. This would provide additional rail access to the airport. Information on the Orange Line is available at www.DART.org/factsheet/orangeline.

DART owns 52 miles of the Cotton Belt, presently in use as a freight rail line, between the Collin County city of Wylie and Fort Worth. DART’s long-range plan is to connect the Red Line in the Plano/Richardson area to DFW Airport in 2027. The Fort Worth T currently has plans to operate rail service by 2013 on the western half of the Cotton Belt between Fort Worth and the airport as part of their Southwest/Northeast project. DART and the T are also exploring a public private partnership to accelerate the start of Cotton Belt passenger rail service. Information on the Cotton Belt project is available at www.DART.org/cottonbeltppp.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)71.1475.67
Canadian National (CNI)41.8643.57
Canadian Pacific (CP)38.6640.06
CSX (CSX)33.2236.20
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)25.3527.50
Kansas City Southern (KSU)15.9716.32
Norfolk Southern (NSC)36.9039.19
Providence & Worcester (PWX)12.0011.60
Union Pacific (UNP)50.9053.30


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BUSINESS LINES... Business Lines...  

US Railcar To Resume DMU Production

From A Story By Past D:F Editor Leo King
Jacksonville Transportation Examiner

When Colorado Railcar went belly-up in 2008, it did not mean the end of production of their Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) cars. In fact, it opened the door for more manufacturing jobs to stay in the United States.

A group of investors bought the rights to continue to build DMU’s. A spokesman for the investors, affiliated with Value Recovery Group, Inc. (VRG) of Columbus, Ohio, said it “will resume manufacturing this modern, domestically produced passenger train in a new manufacturing facility to be established later this year pending state and local incentives and final round investments. Assets acquired by US Railcar include the former Colorado Railcar DMU proprietary rights and information, manufacturing documentation, inventory, and other equipment necessary for production.”

VRG Chairman & CEO Barry H. Fromm said that US Railcar intends to reestablish passenger train production in the U.S. “Currently, passenger trains purchased in the U.S. are produced by European and Asian suppliers. We want to keep American jobs and U.S. public investment at home.”

Fromm added, “There is a major commitment by the Obama Administration and the Congress to make investments in intercity and high-speed rail to promote economic growth and mobility, create jobs, conserve energy and address climate change. This opens a new era for passenger trains and railcar manufacturing in the U.S.”

Colorado RailCar, now US Railcar, Test Units

NCI Stock Photo. Original Colorado RailCar.

A set of DMU test units under the previous Colorado Railcar ownership. Units were to be available as single-level or bilevel designs.

On March 10, 2007, a pair of DMUs visited Jacksonville under the auspices of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) and Reps. Corrine Brown (D) and John Mica (R). The rail equipment is now toiling for TriRail. Both solons were touting the benefits of commuter rail for our region, from Nassau County to St. John’s County via Duval County.

“One of Colorado Railcars’ customers was Florida TriRail, a commuter rail agency that operates between Miami and West Palm Beach over former CSX tracks. The route was recently upgraded to double-tracking,” writes King. “On March 10, 2007, a pair of DMUs visited Jacksonville under the auspices of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) and Reps. Corrine Brown (D) and John Mica (R). The rail equipment is now toiling for TriRail.

“JTA plans to unveil a study in August that has been ongoing for more than a year that will spell out in detail what commuter rail would entail for the First Coast. In a preliminary report last year, professional planners at Gannett Fleming, Inc. named locations where stations could be built over the three lines of the as yet unnamed commuter rail service. They would radiate from the Prime Osborn Convention Center – once known as Jacksonville Terminal – to St Augustine over Florida East Coast Ry. tracks, north to Yulee via CSX, and on the west side of St. John’s River over CSX to Green Cove Springs.”


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

By David Beale
NCI Foreign Correspondent

 

Finances At Deutsche Bahn Suffer

First Half Of 2009 Shows Dramatic Decline In Profits – Freight And Logistics To Blame

Via Hannover Allegemeine Zeitung

BERLIN – Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railways) stated that results for the first half of 2009 will show around a 30% decline in profits compared to the same period in 2008. In order to halt the decline the company stated that many cost reduction initiatives must be realized in the second half of 2009.

Revenue in the first half of 2009 declined in each month of the first half of 2009 at increasingly negative trend month to month, according to information obtained by Reuters from confidential sources within the company. The rail and logistics firm expects gross sales of EUR 31.8 billion (US $43.0 billion) in 2009, a decrease of about 4.7% from 2008. One factor is that DB Schenker, the rail, trucking and logistics sector of the company was at the end of May 2009 more than EUR 700 million behind targeted sales volume. The company is developing plans to cut costs in rail freight, trucking and air freight operations in order to counter the negative trend.

Meanwhile financial performance from DB’s two passenger rail divisions (Intercity/long distance and regional/commuter) remained stable. In contrast to freight and logistics, DB’s passenger rail operations registered increased revenues and passenger-kilometers in the first five months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008. Regional and commuter rail operations in particular showed growth in volume and revenues.

DBAG predicts profit in terms of EBIT (earning before interest and taxes) approximately EUR 1.8 billion compared to EBIT of EUR 2.5 billion in 2008.

A Deutsche Bahn Inter City (IC) train

Photo: Deutsche Bahn

Still profitable – A Deutsche Bahn Inter City (IC) train blast through wine country in Baden-Württenburg at 200 km/h along the Stuttgart – Mannheim high-speed corridor with a DB 101 series locomotive pushing from behind in May 2007. The 101 series locomotive, introduced in the early 1990s, was meant as a stop-gap method of keeping conventional locomotive hauled IC trains in operation until all IC trains would be replaced with ICE train sets by 2005-06 or so, at which time the 101 series fleet would be re-geared and re-deployed for freight duties. Nearly 15 years later the 101 fleet continues to pile on thousands of kilometers per day in passenger train operations in Germany, Austria and occasionally in Switzerland. The cables seen in the center of the tracks is the ground / track based antenna of the LZB variable speed cab signaling and positive train control system – the LZB antennas on the train are located on the bottom of the locomotive just behind the couplers.


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Mehdorn Joins Air Berlin Board Of Directors

Former Deutsche Bahn Chairman Assumes New Role At One Of DBAG’s Main Competitors

BERLIN – Hartmut Mehdorn, recently ousted chairman of Deutsche Bahn, was named to replace retiring director Claus Wuelfers for a seat on the Board of Directors of Air Berlin PLC, Germany’s second largest airline and one of Europe’s largest low cost / no frills airlines. The 66 year-old Mehdorn has plenty of indirect airline experience during his decades of work for the German aerospace firm MBB and its successors DASA and Deutsche Airbus – now EADS (European Aerospace and Defense Systems) – where he worked on development and production of the A300, A310 and A319/A320/A321 series of commercial jetliners, before he became chairman and CEO of Deutsche Bahn.

Air Berlin’s CEO Joachim Hunold stated. “ I am truly pleased that Air Berlin can benefit from Mr. Mehdorn’s extensive career as one of the best known and leading top managers in Germany. His wide-ranging experience in the aviation and logistics industries will enhance Air Berlin in the future.

Air Berlin was originally founded in the late 1970s by former Pan American Airlines pilots, who used to fly PanAm B727s and B737s between West Berlin’s Tegel Airport and Western Europe during the later part of the Cold War. It initially operated as a charter airline to numerous tourist hot-spots in Spain, Greece, Turkey and elsewhere from Germany. The company transitioned to all-German ownership and management in the early 1990s and then re-made itself into a scheduled low-cost airline in the late 1990s with a route network that now covers numerous domestic city pairs within Germany as well as scheduled flights all across Europe and to several cities in the Americas and Asia. Along with Ryanair, Easy Jet, TUI, and WizzAir, Air Berlin has become a serious competitive threat for numerous European passenger railroads in the past decade.


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Safety Issues Ground Hundreds Of
Berlin S-Bahn Trains

Four Senior Managers Forced To Resign

via NDR Radio

BERLIN – a minor incident of a cracked wheel which occurred on the 1st of May of this year on a Berlin commuter train has now ballooned into a full-blown crisis for the Deutsche Bahn AG subsidiary company which operates the Berlin S-Bahn system. The executive management of S-Bahn Berlin was asked to resign this past week: included among the casualties are Tobias Heinemann (chief officer), Thomas Prechtl (head of finance), Olaf Hagenauer (personal director) and just recently hired technical director Peter Büsing.

Allegedly the company ignored a safety directive issued by the EBA, the German equivalent of the U.S. FRA, after the May 1st incident in Berlin-Kaulsdorf station. The EBA required that the company perform a repetitive inspection of all wheels of similar design as the failed wheel every seven days. The company assured the EBA that it would comply with the new safety directive, but an audit by the EBA on the 29th of June determined that the company had mostly ignored the safety directive.

With the EBA threatening to take both punitive / criminal and regulatory actions against the company for violating the safety directive, Deutsche Bahn began on the 30th of June removing numerous EMU train sets from service in order to inspect or replace wheels, resulting in a massive reduction in capacity on Germany’s largest urban rail network along with rush hour chaos for commuters. The EBA allegedly uncovered additional safety issues unrelated to the wheel cracking incident during these special audits. On the 2nd of July the company decided to move to completely replace the top management of S-Bahn Berlin.

The Berlin S-Bahn is made of extensive network of commuter rail lines which criss-cross and circle the city of Berlin and several inner suburbs. Due to its DC-third rail power system, dedicated / exclusive right-of-ways, a number of underground / in-tunnel sections and relatively frequent trains (5 minute headways) in the central areas of Berlin, it could be confused with a subway or Metro system. It has perhaps more in common with American rapid transit systems in cities such as Atlanta (MARTA); San Francisco (BART), and Washington DC (MTA), than a traditional S-Bahn commuter rail system in cities such as Cologne, Düsseldorf, Hannover, Munich or Frankfurt, which operate with German standard AC overhead electrification and typically share tracks and rights-of-way with conventional trains beyond the city centers.

View of the Bornholmer Strasse S-Bahn station in eastern Berlin

Photo: Deutsche Bahn

View of the Bornholmer Strasse S-Bahn station in eastern Berlin with an ET 480 EMU train set leaving the station in March 2003. This station sits at the intersection of two major S-Bahn routes.


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EDITORIAL... Editorial...  

Rail Safety And Accountability:
Learning From The Europeans

This week’s report from Europe by NCI European Editor David Beale (see elsewhere in this issue) contains two noteworthy stories about the European reaction to rail safety challenges, and provides valuable insight to how American railroads of all kinds might improve both its safety record and its operational.

The first of these concerns the German reaction to what was initially a minor wheel-cracking problem May 1 on a Berlin’s S-Bahn train, part of an extensive passenger rail system that criss-crosses the Berlin region and provides fast and inexpensive service in a place that only 20 years ago was divided by the infamous Berlin Wall.

The interesting news wasn’t the wheel-cracking itself, but the aftermath: the German rail regulatory authority, roughly equivalent to America’s Federal Railroad Administration, immediately ordered a system-wide inspection of the S-Bahn trainsets. That’s not so remarkable; any rail authority would do the same.

What is remarkable, as David Beale cites in the NDR Radio story, is that the minor incident on “… a Berlin commuter train has now ballooned into a full-blown crisis for the Deutsche Bahn AG subsidiary company which operates the Berlin S-Bahn system.”

How so? “ The executive management of S-Bahn Berlin was asked to resign this past week, included among the casualties are Tobias Heinemann (chief officer), Thomas Prechtl (head of finance), Olaf Hagenauer (personal director) and just recently hired technical director Peter Büsing. Allegedly the company ignored a safety directive issued by the EBA, the German equivalent of the U.S. FRA, after the May 1st incident in Berlin-Kaulsdorf station. The EBA required that the company perform a repetitive inspection of all wheels of similar design as the failed wheel every seven days. The company assured the EBA that it would comply with the new safety directive, but an audit by the EBA on the 29th of June determined that the company had mostly ignored the safety directive.[Emphasis added]

David continues: “With the EBA threatening to take both punitive / criminal and regulatory actions against the company for violating the safety directive, Deutsche Bahn began on the 30th of June removing numerous EMU train sets from service in order to inspect or replace wheels, resulting in a massive reduction in capacity on Germany’s largest urban rail network along with rush hour chaos for commuters. The EBA allegedly uncovered additional safety issues unrelated to the wheel cracking incident during these special audits. On the 2nd of July the company decided to move to completely replace the top management of S-Bahn Berlin.”

Make all the jokes you want about Teutonic thoroughness: that’s the way to run a railroad.


Photo: Eurostar

Two High speed trains at Gare du Nord in Paris. At rear (yellow-white livery) is a Eurostar. At foreground (red livery) is a TGV trainset operated by Thalys.

The second incident involved a GATX-owned liquefied gas tank car in Italy two weeks ago that killed nineteen people when it derailed and exploded in the town of Viareggio on the Italian coast in North Tuscany. Italian rail management immediately banned all GATX tank cars from their system.

The accident was attributed to axle failure in a 1974-vintage tank car that was built in the former East Germany, but a system-wide total ban was nevertheless imposed.

In the United States, where hazardous and/or explosive chemicals run by rail through many towns and cities, we need to take a harder look at our own inspection process. The previous Washington Administration gutted the safety inspection divisions of scores of government agencies, not just rail, and allowed much self-inspection to be substituted. So far, we have been lucky, but we hope the new team at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will step up to the plate on this matter, as well as aggressively moving to bridge, tunnel, or close every grade crossing where either passengers, or hazardous materials, run through on a daily basis. Let’s learn from the Europeans on this one.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2009 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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