Vol. 8 No. 30
July 30, 2007

Copyright © 2007
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

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www.nationalcorridors.org

Destination:Freedom
A weekly North American transportation update

The E-Zine of the National Corridors Initiative Inc.

Publisher - James P. RePass
Editor - Molly McKay
European Correspondent - David Beale
Webmaster - Dennis Kirkpatrick

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

IN THIS EDITION...  In this edition...

  News Items…
New Hampshire Governor Lynch Inks History-Making
   Commuter Rail Bill
Congress Crushes Flake’s Attempt To Kill Amtrak,
   Cripple Passenger Rail
  Corridor lines…
Amtrak’s Downeaster Adds Fifth Run, Improves Schedule
   As Ridership Grows
  Commuter lines…
Big Apple Subway, Bus Fare Hikes On the Table as MTA Eyes Budget
Illinois County Pushes Commuter Rail Capacity
Officials Expect No Delay For Light Rail
  Labor lines…
Amtrak Police contract ratified.
  Freight lines…
National Steel Car to Build Plant in Alabama
Cholrine Repackager Serving East Coast May Shut Down
   due to Rail Embargo
Chertoff On Transport Of Chlorine By Rail
  Selected rail stocks…
  Financial lines…
It’s Electric, Boogie-Woogie: RTD Says ‘No’ Diesel
   To Denver International Airport or Arvada
  Obituary…
Earle S. “Stan” Bagley, Jr., Former Amtrak Exec, at 61
  End notes…


NEWS OF THE WEEK... News items...

New Hampshire Governor Lynch Inks
History-Making Commuter Rail Bill

By DF Staff and from Internet Sources

NASHUA, NH - New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch this past week signed, at Nashua City Hall a new law creating the New Hampshire Rail Authority, which will oversee development and operation of commuter rail in New Hampshire.

The signing ceremony July 27, witnessed by Nashua Mayor Bernard Streeter, Nashua Planning Director Kathy Hersh, Executive Director Steve Williams of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, and a host of Senators and Representatives, the signing was cheered by rail advocates who had worked for this day for more than 15 years.

“As the southern tier of our state continues to rapidly grow, we must ensure we have a strong, and diverse, transportation infrastructure in place,” Gov. Lynch said. “Re-establishing rail in New Hampshire is critical to our future economic growth as a state. It will help reduce congestion on our roads - improving public safety and reducing air pollution. It will help improve the quality of life of our citizens here in New Hampshire and the quality of life, and transportation networks, of our entire region.”


Photo: NCI

Gov John Lynch of New Hampshire signs rail authority bill July 27, 2007

Last year, Gov. Lynch established a passenger rail working group to plan for the development of rail service in New Hampshire. The group is comprised of representatives the cities of Manchester and Nashua, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, Nashua Chamber of Commerce, Pan Am Railways, and the Nashua and Southern New Hampshire Regional Planning Commissions. The group presented a report in January outlining the steps that need to be taken to implement rail service in New Hampshire. One of the first steps the group identified is the need for the creation of a rail authority.

Senate Bill 75 creates that authority and marks a significant step forward in the effort to bring commuter rail back to New Hampshire.

“This new law does not commit New Hampshire to either funding or operating rail service, but allows us to continue move forward with exploring the best way to return rail to Southern New Hampshire. Its work will include securing federal funding, negotiating contracts, setting fares and establishing rail schedules and rail service for our state. In addition, I included in my capital budget $1 million which can be used to construct platforms in Nashua and Manchester,” Gov. Lynch said.

“Expanding our highways is not the only solution to reducing congestion on New Hampshire’s highways. And, rail is also not the only solution. But bringing rail back to New Hampshire is part of an overall strategy to make transportation in New Hampshire easier and safer for our citizens and our environment,” Gov. Lynch said.

“Since I arrived in Concord five years ago I have fought to bring rail to Nashua and north. I am pleased those efforts are beginning to bear fruit,” said Sen. Joe Foster, one of the bill’s sponsors. “Increasing public transportation and particularly rail is good for the economy, the environment and will improve the quality of life for my constituents and the people of New Hampshire. I will continue to work on this effort until the dream becomes a reality.”

Sen. David Gottesman, another of the bill’s sponsors said, “The commitment to return rail to Nashua and beyond has been a priority of mine. This new Rail Authority gives us the opportunity to work as a state, hand in hand with our federal representatives, to finally bring this important means of transportation to the citizens of the state of New Hampshire, starting right here in Nashua.”

SB 75 was sponsored by Sens. Gottesman, Foster, Betsi DeVries and Peter Bragdon; and Reps. Suzanne Harvey, Bette Lasky, David Cote, David Campbell and Cindy Roswenwald.


Return to index
Congress Crushes Flake’s Attempt
To Kill Amtrak, Cripple Passenger Rail

By DF Staff and From Internet Sources

WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives voted 328-94 this past week to turn back a proposal by Arizona Republican Congressman Jeff Flake to strip out $500 million from next year’s Amtrak budget.

A majority of both Democrats and Republicans joined forces to quash the Flake amendment. Flake, in his fourth term as a Congressman, has in the past submitted proposals to reduce the federal gasoline tax --- already at 18.4 cents a gallon among the lowest Federal gas taxes in the industrialized world --- and cut Federal transportation spending, which he regards largely as “pork”, with the states then left responsible for all transportation spending decisions.

Flake argued that “subsidies” of more than “$400 a passenger” on “the most inefficient routes” demonstrate that long distance train travel is obsolete. [Publisher’s note: these numbers are derived by dividing Amtrak’s total costs by its passengers, then multiplying per mile of the trip, a misleading statistic used most notoriously by the Reason Foundation and other oil-lobby-funded organizations which assigns Amtrak capital costs across all trains, when in fact those costs are largely incurred on the Northeast Corridor, which Amtrak owns, staffs, and operates. Its long-distance trains operate over freight-owned railroads and are dispatched by them when on that property, which is virtually all the time. The result of such averaging arithmetic is a headline grabbing “$400 a passenger” subsidy for some long distance trains which is in fact false, but which has enough surface validity to fool most people].

The bill at $1.5 billion total for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2007, is expected to pass.


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CORRIDOR LINES...  Corridor Lines...

Amtrak’s Downeaster Adds Fifth Run,
Improves Schedule as Ridership Grows

By DF Staff

PORTLAND, ME - Amtrak’s wildly successful Downeaster adds a fifth daily round trip August 17, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority has announced.

For the new schedule click on http://www.thedowneaster.com/documents/DE-ScheduleWeb.pdf

Track improvements recently completed also will allow the railroad to shorten travel times by another five minutes; 2 1/2-hour trips will be cut to 2 hours and 25 minutes; trips that are now 2 hours and 35 minutes will be cut to 2 1/2- hours. The train’s on-time performance and average speeds have both been steadily improving as the train operator gathers experience on its Boston-Portland route.

Under the new schedule, the Downeaster will use a trainset instead of a bus for its evening trips on weekdays. On weekends, there will be five train trips rather than the current four. Gov. John Baldacci of Maine has also asked the NNEPRA and the MaineDOT to explore extending the rail service to Brunswick and Augusta.

According to the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) which manages the service, the new schedule will enhance the opportunities for tourism because it adds a new evening departure (8:10p.m.) from Portland, Maine. Currently, the last southbound train departs Portland at 3:00p.m. on weekdays, making it difficult to attract day-trippers to the region. 

 The new schedule also returns the 11:20 p.m. northbound departure from Boston, currently operated by bus on weekdays, to a daily train.   ”Theatre-goers and Red Sox fans will be delighted to know that the late night train will be back every day!,” speculates Patricia Quinn, NNEPRA Executive Director.

 Weekend travelers to Boston will now have two peak-hour options to travel home, since a 5 p.m. departure from Boston has been added to the weekend schedule.

The new schedule is anticipated to have a positive impact on the Downeaster’s ridership, which has grown by nearly ninety-thousand riders annually in the past two years.

The addition of the fifth frequency was anticipated following the completion a $6M track construction program funded with a combination of federal grants allocated by the Maine and New Hampshire, and state funds from Maine, said NNEPRA.  The work program, being performed by Pan Am Railways, has been underway since fall 2006.   Quinn reports, “This has been a very successful work program which has proceeded on budget and ahead of schedule.”  The project included the replacement of approximately five miles of rail in Exeter, NH, the upgrade of a freight passing siding in Dover, the addition of a universal crossover in Wells to allow trains to pass in each direction, and the construction of a new siding in Scarborough/South Portland, Maine.

The track work caused a number of planned service interruptions during May and June, temporarily impacting the Downeaster’s superior on-time performance.    According to Quinn, however, most passengers were understanding and realized that an investment was being made to improve overall service by increasing frequency and reliability while reducing the overall travel time. 

NNEPRA Board Chairman, Martin Eisenstein adds, “This increase in service is a testimony to the transportation partnerships which have been developed in this region.  Without the cooperation of the Federal Transit Administration, the Maine Department of Transportation, the New Hampshire Executive Council, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Amtrak, Pan Am Railways and the intercity bus providers Concord Trailways and C&J Trailways, this could not have been possible.  As a result, the traveling public now enjoys better schedules and more options to automobile travel.”

A celebration is being planned to launch the expanded service on August 17, 2007.  Details will soon be made available.

Amtrak also recently announced that a number of Seacoast stations featuring the Quik-Trak system will see a new version of the self-service ticketing machine. The new machines feature upgraded touch screens and brighter graphics and are ADA-compliant, with the goal of being more user-friendly for passengers with disabilities.

Right now the Downeaster stations in Exeter, Durham, Dover and Wells, Maine, have Quik-Trak machines. In Exeter, they are operational from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. In Durham, the machines can be accessed between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight, Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to midnight on Sunday.

The machines at the Dover station are functional from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Quik-Trak machines are operational all day, seven days a week, in Wells. For an online Quik-Trak demonstration and a complete list of stations that feature the machines, see the “Stations” section on Amtrak.com.

For information or reservations on the Downeaster visit www.AmtrakDowneaster.com or call 1-800-USA-Rail.


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COMMUTER LINES...  Commuter Lines...

Big Apple Subway, Bus Fare Hikes
On the Table as MTA Eyes Budget

By DF Staff and from Internet Sources

NEW YORK, NY - An estimated $965 million deficit projected for 2008 is forcing New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs the cities subways and buses, to look at fare hikes that would affect millions of daily riders, both commuters and tourists. Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s chief executive Elliot Sander this past week proposed raising fare and toll revenues by 6.5 percent next year, and by a projected 5 percent more in 2010, according to news reports out of New York.

Sander’s proposal calls for the first fare hike to take effect in the winter of 2008, or early spring. Then, a second increase would lick in during 2010 to match the inflation rate, so that revenues keep up with costs.

MTA revenue sources include a variety of taxes and revenues, including: (Metropolitan Transit Authority, Long Island Railroad, Metro North) a 1/4% sales taxes throughout region, tax on gross receipts of petroleum business, tax on long-distance transportation and communications, mortgage recording taxes in the region, and any surplus tolls from bridges and tunnels. In addition, these revenues are used to support debt that finances much of the MTA capital program, according to the regional Council of Governments.

The MTA has benefited from a real estate boom, which helped produce a surplus of about $940 million last year, but that boom has ended, and a drop in revenues is predicted without the fare increase and help from the state.


Return to index
Illinois County Pushes
Commuter Rail Capacity

From Internet Sources and the Chicago Tribune, and by DF Staff

CHICAGO -- Kane County transportation officials are lining up behind an effort by Metra “…to secure the federal funding needed to greatly improve capacity and speed on its Union Pacific West line between Chicago and Elburn, William Presecky of the Chicago Tribune reports.

“The 44-mile commuter rail line, which serves 62 communities in Cook, DuPage and Kane Counties, handles about 29,000 passenger trips a day on 59 trains. The aim of the proposed $441 million upgrade is to allow service to expand to as many as 80 trains a day and to increase the number of express trains from 20 to 3,” the Tribune reported.

As has happened in many metropolitan regions, the growth of suburbs driven by the massive investment in the interstate highway system has lead to major sprawl and automobile congestion. Unfortunately, the commuter rail tracks are often owned by freight railroads who have their own capacity problems, such as the Union Pacific, where Amtrak trains are often delayed by many hours due to a shortage of track capacity.

This issue is worsening, as more and more manufactured goods come from Asia, and must be shipped to the United States and distributed.

The major rail improvements being proposed for the region include signal system upgrades, additional track and restructuring the line in Chicago where it intersects the Milwaukee West line, Milwaukee North line and North Central line. The crossing is the busiest in northeastern Illinois, Metra officials said, reported the Tribune.

Relief is seen as at least seven years away, given the lengthy planning/building process.


Return to index
Officials Expect No Delay
For Light Rail

From Internet Sources and Carolina Channel 14

Photo - TV 14

CATS officials say the South Corridor Light Rail will be open by its target date of Nov. 26.
CHARLOTTE, NC- Despite reports to the contrary, Charlotte transit officials say the South Corridor Light Rail line will open by its target date, reports Carolina News 14 and reporter Shawn Flynn.

The confusion came over a letter sent by Charlotte Area Transit System CEO Ron Tober to Archer Western Contractors, the chief contractor on the project, reported the news program. The letter issued some concern about a two-week slippage in schedule.

CATS officials say the South Corridor Light Rail will be open by its target date of Nov. 26.

The slippage, however, would not affect the Nov. 26 opening date, but it could reduce the likelihood that the line will open a few weeks earlier than expected, reported Channel 14: “This was all looking at potential for early opening. They’re negotiating now how to bring back that gap in the schedule but it has no bearing on the Nov. 26 date. It is still a firm date for opening.”

An early opening could mean the train would be running right before voters go to the polls to determine the fate of the half-cent transit tax, noted the news program. Charlotte is also the setting for the annual meeting of the American Public Transportation Association, October 7-11; see CATS officials say the South Corridor Light Rail will be open by its target date of Nov. 26.

The slippage, however, would not affect the Nov. 26 opening date, but it could reduce the likelihood that the line will open a few weeks earlier than expected, reported Channel 14: “This was all looking at potential for early opening. They’re negotiating now how to bring back that gap in the schedule but it has no bearing on the Nov. 26 date. It is still a firm date for opening.”

An early opening could mean the train would be running right before voters go to the polls to determine the fate of the half-cent transit tax, noted the news program. Charlotte is also the setting for the annual meeting of the American Public Transportation Association, October 7-11; see www.apta.com/conferences_calendar/annual/preliminary_program_07.cfm.


LABOR LINES...  Labor Lines...

Amtrak Police contract ratified.

Source: Amtrak Press Release and internet sources

Amtrak Police officers have voted in favor of a new labor contract between Amtrak and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), ratifying a contract that will improve compensation for Amtrak’s approximately 288 sworn police officers and 45 security and communications officers.

In effect through 2010, the contract provides compensation and workplace flexibility comparable to major municipal law enforcement agencies and health care cost containment. The contract will also help the company recruit and retain a skilled and well-qualified police force.

“Having a contract in place that will help maintain a first-rate police force is a key component of our strategy to advance the modern-day security needs of the railroad,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Kummant. “We remain committed to negotiating fair agreements with the other unions.”

Ratification of the FOP labor contract comes on the heels of a tentative agreement with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen announced on Friday.


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FREIGHT LINES...  Freight Lines...

National Steel Car to Build Plant in Alabama

ALABAMA - National Steel Car announced that it would build a new $350 million manufacturing facility in northwestern Alabama, Railway Age Magazine reported this week.

A NSC spokesman said that the new plant, which is expected to open in early 2009, would be able to manufacture approximately 8,000-to-10,000 freight cars annually and employ up to 1,800 persons. The plant will be nearly a mile long and 450 feet wide.


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A selection from this week’s
Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports e-Bulletin
By Chalmers (Chop) Hardenbergh, publisher and editor
e-mail: C_Hardenbergh@juno.com
To subscribe go to: www.atlanticnortheast.com

 

Cholrine Repackager Serving East Coast
May Shut Down due to Rail Embargo

MERRIMACK, NH - Jones Chemical is considering closing its treatment chemical facility, because of high rail shipping prices, according to Jones’ President Jeff Jones, reports the Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports (ANRP) newsletter.

“We are getting railcars, yet under a heavy financial strain that will be passed on to the tax payers. We have gotten out of two significant water treatment products and are making a business decision to close our Merrimack facility or go to another means of supply....” said Jones. “[I]t is likely that serious business decisions regarding our supply will affect thousands of good folks in the NE due to this Embargo/Surcharge that has no factual merit. Again, what is lost in this, is [that] JCI is the only re-packager of chlorine for the whole NE Seaboard. If we leave there will be what [Homeland Security Chief] Secretary Chertoff suggests: ‘a serious problem.’”


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Chertoff On Transport Of Chlorine By Rail

The US Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, said this to the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce on 23 April: “At the end of last year, we issued a proposed regulation that will require major railroads to improve the monitoring of rail cars that carry toxic inhalation chemicals. Rail companies have to make sure these cars are not left unattended in rail yards, especially where they are near major cities or population centers. They have to be able to track the whereabouts of these cars at all times, and then they have to put these rail cars on the safest, economically practicable routes.....Unlike some people, we didn’t say, well, let’s eliminate the risk entirely, by simply preventing anybody from transporting toxic chemicals by rail. In fact, most toxic chemicals and necessary chemicals in this country are, in fact, transported by rail. And although some of them can be dangerous if released in the environment, many of them are critical to our health and economy all across the country.

“The fact of the matter is, if we banned chlorine, you would not be able to drink the water, and people–literally thousands of people–would die because of water-borne illnesses,” said Chertoff.

[ NCI Publisher’s note: Springfield Terminal rail has begun passing on higher costs associated with toxic/hazardous waste monitoring. Jones is objecting that these charges are excessive. ]


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)82.7490.36
Canadian National (CNI)52.1857.09
Canadian Pacific (CP)75.0083.12
CSX (CSX)46.4150.76
Florida East Coast (FLA)62.5182.65
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)25.9130.85
Kansas City Southern (KSU)35.1440.28
Norfolk Southern (NSC)52.3456.84
Providence & Worcester (PWX)18.7019.45
Union Pacific (UNP)119.12125.87


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FINANCIAL LINES...  Financial Lines...

It’s Electric, Boogie-Woogie:

RTD Says ‘No’ Diesel To Denver International Airport or Arvada

By Kevin Flynn, Rocky Mountain News

DENVER, JULY 24 -- The RTD board tonight bowed to political pressure and financial reality, dropping talk of converting two FasTracks corridors to diesel-powered cars instead of electric.

Some board members a few months ago believed FasTracks, which is $670 million over its $6.2 billion budget, could save up to $200 million by changing rail projects to Denver International Airport and to Arvada and Wheat Ridge from electric commuter rail to diesel.

It adds about $4 million per mile to electrify a rail line.

But faced with staff research that showed the upfront savings would be overwhelmed by the higher operating costs of a diesel system, the few board members left who supported going diesel joined their colleagues in voting 13-0 to stick with the current arrangement. The DIA line is expected to be completed in 2014; the Arvada line in 2015.

If that wasn’t enough, 26 speakers led off by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper unanimously urged the board to back the communities’ choices. No one spoke up for using diesel cars; many of the speakers demanded RTD abandon current plans to use diesel power on two other FasTracks lines, Northwest Rail to Boulder and Longmont, and North Metro to Commerce City and Thornton.

“Pretty firmly, the whole city has come down on the side of EMU,” Hickenlooper told the board. EMU is the acronym for the self-propelled passenger cars called Electric Multiple Units. “When you take the long view, it’s the right choice.

Mayor Ken Fellman of Arvada and Mayor Jerry DiTullio of Wheat Ridge joined Hickenlooper in endorsing the use of electricity. Residents who live near the proposed lines also told the board their concerns over pollution, noise and keeping promises to voters.

The selection of an all-diesel system would save RTD $89 million in construction costs, mostly because it wouldn’t have to build overhead electric lines.

But financial consultants on privatizing the construction and operation of FasTracks lines have told RTD that it could actually be $184 million less costly to build an electric system on the Gold Line to Wheat Ridge and East Corridor to DIA. That’s because operating costs are less than diesel, and if financing is privatized, RTD would reap the savings in the first year.

Diesel is the stronger candidate to serve the other two heavy-rail commuter corridors in the program, the Northwest Rail to Boulder and Longmont and the North Metro Corridor to Commerce City and Thornton.

Because those trains will run farther and less frequently, the savings of going electric are reduced.

It would take 20 years of running electric on those routes to make up the difference in construction costs.

RTD board member Lee Kemp, the primary backer of going to diesel, said public sentiment and staff analysis changed his mind, but he would fight any move to convert the other two commuter rail corridors, initially planned for diesel, to electric.

Planners on the Northwest Rail corridor, for example, said if RTD had to pay to electrify the line to Boulder and Longmont, there would only b enough money to get the train built from Denver to Louisville, and no farther.

Copyright 2007, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.


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OBITUARY...  Obituary...

 

Earle S. “Stan” Bagley, Jr., Former Amtrak Exec, at 61

 

Former Amtrak operations Chief Earle S. “Stan” Bagley, tough railroad man very much admired by his peers as well as his subordinates, and who played a pivotal role in the introduction of high speed rail to America’s Northeast Corridor, died July 15. The cause of death was cancer. Services were private.

A 28-year career Amtrak executive following Air Force service, Stan Bagley was appointed president of the Northeast Corridor strategic business unit of Amtrak in 1999, after serving as acting president of the NEC the previous year. Prior to that he was vice president of NEC Operations. He was named Executive Vice President of Amtrak by former Amtrak President David Gunn in 2002 when Gunn re-organized the company’s management structure shortly after assuming the presidency.

However, Bagley’s tenure as Gunn’s second-in-command was short-lived. In the Summer of 2002, under pressure from the Bush Administration’s draconian budget for Amtrak and the consequences of the Amtrak Reform Act which in 1998 had given Amtrak five years “to break even” as a company, Gunn slashed executive positions heavily. When more cuts ordered by Gunn were not made by Bagley, and when confronted about this in the summer of 2002, Bagley chose to leave the company rather than lay off the people he had worked with for the better part of three decades.

At the time, Gunn, who by all accounts deeply respected Bagley and his management skills, and was in turn held in high regard by Bagley, wrote: “After 28 years of service to Amtrak, Stan Bagley has chosen to retire. His many years of contributions to the railroad will long be remembered by all of us. In fact, his years of leadership are evident throughout the operations that we run every day.”

“Through the years, many of you formed life-long friendships with Stan, which will continue on. In fact, Stan's legacy is that he is leaving us a strong train operations foundation with dedicated people who work every day to provide outstanding service. We should all thank Stan for this contribution and the countless others he has made during his career with the railroad,” Gunn wrote.

Amtrak was created by Congress in 1970 and began operating in 1971. Initially promised both capital and operating funds to build up a nationwide passenger railroad system from the remnants of the then-bankrupt and/or failing freight railroads from which it was created, it was instead given used-up, 30-year old locomotives and passenger cars and a small operating subsidy. With the exception of capital improvements to the Northeast Corridor, largely stopped when President Ronald Reagan took office in January 1981, Amtrak received little operating support and virtually no capital investment except for rail cars and locomotives until 1991, when the National Corridors Initiative sought and received from the Bush (I) White House an agreement to release $125 million authorized by Congress during the Carter era for the electrification of the Northeast Corridor. These funds were released in September of 1991, and the project got under way. Once begun, it was completed in 1999 after a total cost of $2.7 billion (electrification plus new trainsets).

The introduction of high speed rail to America, begun under the administration of Amtrak President Graham Claytor and then continued through the administrations of presidents Tom Downs and George Warrington, was at last accomplished by Warrington and Stan Bagley as head of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor unit in 1999-2002. This introduction was complicated by serious equipment problems due to the great weight of the trainsets, which resulted from the Federal Railroad Administration’s late decision to require compliance with 800,000-psi American buffing (crashworthiness) standards as opposed to the much lighter standards for which the European-style trainsets were initially designed. The resulting increase in vehicle weight caused sequential and highly predictable wheel, suspension, and brake component failures which Amtrak and the manufacturer, Bombardier, had to scramble to correct. These failures, caused directly by federal government regulations, were blamed on Amtrak or the manufacturer by the conventional news media, which has never investigated the story, and has never understood it.


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NEWS ITEMS...  End notes...

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