Vol. 8 No. 31
Copyright © 2007
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elected and appointed officials at all levels of government.
In this edition...
Proposed FRA Rule Would Strengthen
Rail Car Construction
WASHINGTON, DC --- The Federal Railroad Administration has proposed new rail car safety standards that it says will better protect Rail passengers and train crew under standards that significantly enhance the strength of key structural components of passenger rail cars to make them more crashworthy, announced Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph H. Boardman.
Mitigating the potentially damaging forces involved in train accidents is critical to preventing injury to passengers and crew, Boardman said, noting that crashworthiness can be significantly enhanced when the structure of a passenger rail car is engineered to absorb more energy and crush in a controlled manner.
Boardman explained that the proposed rule is designed to preserve more space in which both passengers and train crew members can safely survive a collision with another train, a vehicle at a highway-rail grade crossing, or other object by strengthening the cars forward structure. Specifically, existing federal standards would be upgraded for cab cars and multiple-unit (MU) locomotives which are used in the predominant method of operation by commuter and intercity passenger railroads across the country, he said. These types of equipment provide both passenger seating and an area for crews to operate the train in the same car.
The proposed rule can be found at: http://dmses.dot.gov/docimages/p102/480362.pdf
Written comments on the proposal may be submitted until October 1, 2007 by accessing the U.S. Department of Transportations Online Docket Management System website at http://dms.dot.gov. [Docket Number FRA-2006-25268].
NEW YORK --- The House has approved $415 in Federal funds for two of New York Citys major transit projects. The bill now goes to the Senate.
The East Side Access Project to give Long Island Railroad trains access to Manhattans East Side received $215 million, and Grand Central terminal, and the Second Avenue Subway project will receive $200 million, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has announced. She represents parts of Queens and Manhattan.
LaGuardia Airport will also receive $9 million for improved air traffic control, in the same bill.
The funding is part of the FY 2008 Transportation and Urban Development Appropriations Bill passed by the House last week, which now goes to the Senate.
According to a report by Reporter John Toscano in the Queens Gazette, Maloney hailed the continued financing for the Second Avenue subway project as the largest infusion of federal funding for the subway line on Manhattans East Side.
She promised, Theres more to come when the MTA and the federal government sign a full-funding grant agreement for the project.
The Congresswoman added: This is great news for all New York City straphangers, but especially those who ride the Lexington Avenue line, the most overcrowded subway in the nation.
Looking to the future, the Gazette reported, Maloney said, On day one, the Second Avenue subway will carry nearly 200,000 riders, reducing crowding on the Lexington Avenue line by 13 percent.
Construction on the long-awaited new subway line is already underway.
Maloney was joined in announcing the new funding by Congressman Peter King (R-NY) of Long Island, a sponsor of the bipartisan effort, The Gazette reported.
Springfield Lobby Day, Tuesday Aug 7
It has been hard to follow the news out of Springfield, IL. One minute everyone is convinced a budget deal is almost complete, the next minute everyone is sure the negotiations will drag on into September.
In all of this turmoil, there is an opportunity for us to get funding for key projects (such as the three-hour Lincoln Express and new service to Rockford & Galena and the Quad Cities).
It is critical that we remind legislators that small investments in Amtrak service can yield huge benefits for downstate communities.
Join us in Springfield this Tuesday to help spread the word. A group of us will be taking train # 301, which leaves Chicago at 7:00 am and is scheduled to arrive in Springfield at 10:15 am. For those not taking the train, meet us at the Springfield station when the train arrives.
Each person will be given a specific task to accomplish during our visit. We will also attend a press conference of downstate mayors and business leaders who favor Amtrak expansion. We will return on train 304, which is scheduled to depart at 4:57pm. There is no cost for this event. All transportation and food costs are individual settlement. You can book your train ticket at: http://www.amtrak.com. Please send an email to email@example.com if you might want to attend. We want to be able to notify you if plans change.
Thank you for your support. Please feel free to call me at 773-334-6758 with any questions.
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
PO Box 805877
Chicago, IL 60680
Join us at www.midwesthsr.org
Advocating for fast, frequent and dependable trains linking the entire Midwest.
Stops will include; Hermann, Independence, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Kirkwood, Lees Summit, St. Louis, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Washington
Amtrak will resume morning train service
from Kansas City to St. Louis
KANSAS CITY, MO, JULY 29 -- Kansas City is about to get back its morning train service to St. Louis. Last spring, Amtrak had to delay its daily morning train until 12:30 because of much needed track work on the line.
Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the line, undertook the repair work in April expecting it would take until fall to complete, but last week, the freight company announced that Amtraks morning train could restart on August 8.
The construction project called for installing new rail, ballast and replacement of surfaces at road crossings. The repairs are expected to lead to improved ride quality and reliability. Unlike 2006, when Amtrak and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) chartered motorcoaches during a period of track work, this year they ran two daily round-trips to be provided solely by train.
Although we were able to maintain frequencies by using buses last year, ridership numbers were down because the buses could not equal the seating capacity, schedules and appeal of Amtrak travel, said Rod Massman, Railroad Administrator at MoDOT. The Missouri Rail Passenger Coalition and other customers have made it clear to us they expect to ride a train when they buy a ticket, so we changed schedules to accommodate the UP track work and still provide twice-daily round-trips by train, he added.
Modified schedules for the Missouri Mule Service (Trains 311 & 316) and Ann Rutledge (Trains 314 & 313) were posted, showing two daily round-trips on the route. Amtrak reserved the right to occasionally charter buses to represent trains that would otherwise be greatly delayed. This is a practice also used in other parts of the Amtrak network.
Union Pacific is undertaking $27 million of rail work between St. Louis and Jefferson City, some of which will be done through the rest of 2007, but it is not expected to substantially affect service.
Amtrak is offering half off the cost of a second Kansas City-St. Louis ticket through December 10.
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PORTLAND, OR, AUGUST 3 -- Some Amtrak passengers arrived at Portlands Union Station last Friday only to discover that the Cascades trains had been canceled for the entire day.
The Cascades line runs between Eugene, Ore. and Vancouver, BC.
Amtrak had discovered cracks in the suspension of some of its train cars during a recent safety inspection. Service was canceled so inspectors could look at the entire fleet of cars that may have been affected.
While Amtrak said it would contact passengers to alert them of delays, there were still a number of people who arrived at Union Station early Friday morning not knowing their travel plans were affected.
An Amtrak spokesperson said there would not be charter buses for the Cascades passengers, but the company dispatched substitute railcars to the area. Amtrak said they would provide full refunds for unused tickets.
Limited train operation of the Cascades service was expected to resume on Monday, August 6 between Eugene, Oregon and Seattle.
Amtrak is sending additional train equipment from throughout the railroads network in order to resume limited train service next week, said Kurt Laird, Amtraks District Superintendent. We are working closely with Talgo and the states of Washington and Oregon in order to accommodate our passengers during this temporary service disruption.
Traveler safety is Washington States number one concern and we are taking extra precautions to make sure the trains are safe, said Interim Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. We appreciate Amtraks efforts to substitute equipment so we may serve our customers during this busy travel season.
Talgo has a long history of safety in the preventive maintenance practices and manufacturing of its equipment, said Antonio Perez, CEO & President Talgo, Inc. Through a routine maintenance inspection, we found certain cracks in the suspension support system. We are acting very conservatively by removing the equipment from service. The safety of passengers has not and will not be compromised. Talgo is following all regulatory requirements and working diligently with its customers, Washington State and Amtrak, to address this issue so that this equipment can be back in service as soon as possible.
Amtrak Cascades consists of four daily round-trips between Portland and Seattle, with service between Bellingham, Wash., and Portland, via Seattle; between Eugene and Seattle, via Portland; and between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.
One exception to the Amtrak Cascades suspension on the route was that Amtrak would continue to operate trains 510 and 517 during the weekend between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. utilizing Superliner train equipment.
Operation of the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight (Trains 11 & 14) and the Chicago-Portland/Seattle Empire Builder (Trains 7/27 & 8/28) continued on their normal schedules.
Amtrak Cascades is operated by Amtrak under contracts with the Washington and Oregon Departments of Transportation. Under contract, Talgo has responsibility for the maintenance of Talgo rolling stock, and these maintenance operations are performed in Seattle.
Amtrak Picture our Train Calendar
Contest Kicks Off ThisWeek
The Picture Our Train 2008 Wall Calendar Photo Contest, which begins this week, is an opportunity for Amtrak employees and train buffs to submit a favorite photo of an Amtrak train to be featured on next years calendar.
The grand prize winner will received a $1,000 travel voucher and a photo credit on the calendar.
Second through fifth-place contestants will receive travel vouchers as well, ranging from $100 to $500.The contest ends Sept. 21.
The Calendar Contest review panels are looking for the best original color photographs featuring a train with the current Amtrak logo and livery visible or trains displaying
Amtrak Cascades,Amtrak California and Amtrak Pacific Surfliner livery. Contestants must submit an 8 x 10 original color photo suitable for enlargement up to 25 inches.
Contestants are reminded to stay away from tracks and railroad rights-of-way and remain in public access areas. Look for complete contest rules to be posted on www.amtrak.com/photocontest.
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Photo: Fox 29 News TV
SEPTA Ordered To Stop Charging Riders
More For Transfers
PHILADELPHIA, AUGUST 1 SEPTA was ordered last Wednesday to continue to accept transfers without additional charge. The agency had planned to stop accepting them but a judge issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday night, July 31, to stop the change and require SEPTA to accept transfers at least until Monday, August 6. Lawyers for the city had argued that the additional costs of paying fares at every change would be an unfair burden on the citys poor and on students.
SEPTA rider Jerry Huggins says, Sometimes you have to take three buses to get where you need to go. How are you going to do that? Pay three fares? Im not a senior. Im 63-years-old on a fixed income. I cant afford to pay all that money.
SEPTA wants to get rid of transfers as part of a change to a more modern fare collection system, that has employees handling less cash.
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Selected Rail Stocks...
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Dream of Stuttgart 21 To Become True:
Central Train Station in Germanys Sixth Largest City
Will Be Relocated Underground
STUTTGART The German federal government, the state government of Baden-Württemberg and the city of Stuttgart (the state capitol) signed a final agreement to build Stuttgart 21 project, which is an ambitious plan to relocate the citys central train station (Hauptbahnhof) underground along with a connecting new high speed rail line to the city of Ulm. Present at the signing ceremony on the 19th of July were senior officials from the federal and state governments, including federal transportation minister Wolfgang Tiefensee as well as Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) chairman Hartmut Mehdorn. Construction will start in 2010 after two years of detail design work, contract tenders and construction planning. The entire project including a 57 km (35 mile) long high speed rail corridor to Ulm is expected to cost EUR 4.8 billion (US $ 6.4 billion), of which EUR 3.5 billion is for the new underground station, connecting tunnels and demolition / removal of the existing surface level station and switching yard. Construction may take between 8 and 10 years to finish, thus placing this project on a similar scale as the recently completed Berlin Hauptbahnhof.
Photos and Graphics: Deutsche Bahn AGAriel view of present Stuttgart rail station (looking north) with proposed new underground station and rail lines depicted in red dashed lines. Real estate in areas A1, A2 and B will be converted into housing, office and retail space and park land.
Schematic of present rail terminal and surface rail lines in Stuttgart center city. Not shown is the existing underground 2-track S-Bahn commuter rail line, which runs underneath the rail terminal and under the city center to the southwest.
Schematic of future rail station and main rail lines in Stuttgart center city after project completion. Again not shown is the existing underground 2-track S-Bahn commuter rail line, which will remain in-place.
Artist conception of underground station after project completion. The original terminal building will remain in operation with a food court, bars and cafes, hotel, shopping center and office space.
The current surface level central terminal station will be demolished (except for the front station building which contains shops, restaurants, a post office, and other facilities) and replaced with an underground through station. The land currently occupied by the southwest facing rail terminal and multi-track switching yard stretching northeastwards from the station for nearly 2 km will be cleared and redeveloped into a city park along with new apartment and condo buildings and low level office buildings. The new underground station will be positioned roughly under the location of the current terminal building with the tracks running in a northwest southeast direction. New tunnels will be built to connect the new station with the existing rail lines just outside the city center.
The new underground rail line heading southeast out of the new station will transition into the new high-speed rail line to Ulm beyond the city limits. The new rail line will supplement the existing classic rail line to Ulm and further east to Munich, Salzburg and Vienna. It will consist of 16 tunnels and 18 bridges in order to provide a relatively straight and low gradient route through the rugged Schwabian Alps.
The Stuttgart 21 project is yet another in a series of multi-billion dollar rail infrastructure projects launched so far this decade in Europe including the new Vienna (Wien) Hauptbahnhof, which just began construction last month, the recently opened LGV Est high speed line in northeastern France, and the newly agreed road / rail bridge from Germany to Denmark. The Stuttgart 21 project has been on the drawing board since the mid 1990s.
Friday, August 3.
Contact Your Senators During August Break
The Senate did not take up the FY 2008 Transportation Appropriations bill approved by committee in July, deferring floor action on the measure until September, at the earliest. While the House passed its version of the bill, which funds public transit at the SAFETEA-LU authorized level of $9.731 billion, the Senate committee bill falls short of the authorized level by $134 million, with all of the shortfall in the new starts/small starts program. While your senators are home during the August recess, please urge them to fund transit at the level authorized in SAFETEA-LU.
Email Rob Healy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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Congress Authorizes $3.4 Billion For Transit Security
Good news! Last Friday, Congress approved H.R.1, the 9/11 Commission Recommendation legislation, and authorized $3.4 billion over four years (FY 2008-2011) for transit security. This is the first time that an authorization bill for transit security has been passed by Congress and sent to the President for signature. Once signed, it will give appropriators guidelines as they deliberate on transit security funding. Many of the bills provisions mirror the recommendations of APTAs Security Task Force led by General Manager Dennis Louwerse (Reading). More details will be in an upcoming APTA Legislative Update.e.
Email Tom Yedinak (email@example.com).
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Senate Approves Transit Security Appropriations
Last Thursday, the Senate approved the FY 2008 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill which provides nearly $400 million for transit security grant funding. Similarly, the House approved $400 million. If enacted into law, this would represent a $125 million increase over what was provided in FY 2007. It is expected that the legislation will go to conference some time in September.
Email Tom Yedinak (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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APTA Testifies Before Senate On Safety And Security
Last Thursday, Metrolink CEO David Solow, APTA Vice Chair for Commuter and Intercity Rail (Los Angeles), testified on behalf of APTA on the draft Railroad Safety Enhancement Act of 2007 before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security. This bill is similar to one approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Both bills would modify current law relating to hours of service and limbo time, and mandate the use of positive train control systems by freight and commuter railroads. Go to (http://www.apta.com/government_affairs/aptatest/testimony070726.cfm) to read the testimony.
Email Rob Healy (email@example.com).
[ Editors note: Positive Train Control (PTC) refers to advanced signal and train control technology that is capable of preventing train collisions, over speed derailments, and casualties or injuries to roadway workers. Positive Train Control systems vary widely in complexity and sophistication based on the level of automation they implement and the degree of control they are capable of assuming. While PTC systems can be designed to independently operate, most of the developments focus on enhancing a previously existing method of rail operations. This technology has the potential capability to limit the consequences of events such as hijackings and runaways that are of special concern in an era of heightened security.] More information on PTC can be found on the Federal Railroad Administration website. ]
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American Association Of State Highway Transportation Officials
(AASHTO) Issues Visioning Report
Last Tuesday, APTA joined AASHTO and other partnering organizations in the release of a report, AASHTOs Transportation Vision and Strategy Summit. The report calls for an increase in transportation infrastructure investments, and transition when necessary, from fuel taxes to a more diversified, reliable funding base. Among its recommendations, the report calls for a doubling of public transportation ridership by 2030 (doubling it again by 2050) and calls for curbing the growth rate in vehicle miles traveled. The report was submitted by AASHTO last week to the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. Go to(http://www.transportation.org/news/68.aspx) to review the report.
Email Art Guzzetti (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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APTA Testifies Before Final Policy Commission Hearing
Last Wednesday, I testified again before the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. Using the following statement, In 2050 America is a thriving nation whose multi-modal, environmentally responsive transportation system is the envy of the world, as a point of departure, I advocated that in the coming decades every urbanized area is served by a high-quality, high-capacity, energy efficient public transportation system, and that all persons living in small urban and rural areas have the opportunity to use public transportation appropriate to the needs of that area. Go to(http://www.apta.com/government_affairs/aptatest/testimony070725.cfm)for my statement.
Email Art Guzzetti (email@example.com).
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FRA Rulemaking Addresses Push-Pull Operation
Last Wednesday, FRA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning rail safety issues including the federal preemption of push-pull operations and passenger safety equipment standards. Go to http://www.apta.com/government_affairs/safetea_lu/rulemaking_page.cfm for more details.
Email Jim LaRusch (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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A 2003 AARP Study Ranked The 15 Best Places
To Live When You Retire
Public transportation accessibility was one of the criteria used to rank locations. Go to http://www.aarpmagazine.org/travel/Articles/a2003-03-27-mag-bestplaces.html to read more.
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Its The Infrastructure, Stupid
Last weeks tragedy in Minneapolis, as terrible as it was and is for those directly involved, should come as a surprise to no one. Readers will remember past editorials here and elsewhere about the sorry condition of Americas infrastructure roads, airline systems, and, especially, the decrepit freight and passenger rail system --- and even the very same, somewhat offensive headline, cribbed from that 1992-election-campaigns related, Its the economy, stupid.
When I-35s westbound span hit the waters of the Mississippi last Wednesday afternoon, ending the lives of many and ending as well any illusions that we can continue to ignore the maintenance of our infrastructure.
The problem is, of course, weve built more highways than we can maintain, and we continue to build them even though it is clear that highway congestion can not be cured by more ribbons of concrete: there are more miles of cars than there are miles of highways, and pretty soon after they are built/widened/lengthened/ or improved, highways fill up again. One recent example: in Boston we just spent $16 billion on the so-called Big Dig traffic improvement program, which buried the old Central Artery and all its exit ramps and entrances under the city. The result: within two years of the opening of the road, starting at 2 p.m. every day, the Southeast Expressway begins to back up, and stays backed up for about six hours. Your tax dollars at work!
In Minneapolis, five people (at least) died because a bridge that had for decades been officially labeled deficient was never properly repaired, or even maintained. And it is not alone. You can be sure that, in a neighborhood near you, a similarly neglected span sits similarly awaiting the day when the deficient rating makes it into the local headlines, along with a few fresh obituaries. It doesnt have to happen. But it will. To change that fate, which others will share, requires several steps, which we (once again) call for here today:
It is only in the last 20 years, when the idiotic Reason Foundation and other kook-libertarian organizations, with their the marketplace solves everything ideology, began to dominate the Republican Party, that have we had any real division over this issue: thats where the constant sniping to kill Amtrak comes from, for example. That era is ending, although not soon enough for the normal, Main Street Republicans who are going to get their heads handed to them in 2008, as their ship goes down along with the booting of the ideologues that is already taking place (see 2006, Elections).
There is a point in the life of any great civilization when large changes take place, but are not broadly noticed at the time. We are in such an era now, and it can be frightening as it begins to become evident that the present way of doing things must be altered. But that is the case, and our democracy can still take it. In a few years the People, in whom Jefferson and Adams, and Lincoln, and Truman, truly believed, are going to right the ship and steady the course.
If you believe in democracy, you have to believe in that, so hang on, roll up your sleeves, and pitch in. We have built a great highway system, and it is a marvelous thing, but it can not continue to be the only thing. It is past the time to change the way we build infrastructure, as Minneapolis showed last week. Fine. Lets make the most of it.
[ James P. RePass is President of the National Corridors Initiative (www.nationalcorridors.org), a private non-profit founded in 1989 that advocates for infrastructure investment, and publisher of its on-line magazine, Destination:Freedom) ]
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