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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August 11, 2008
Vol. 9 No. 33

Copyright © 2008
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

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

  News Items…
MIT Scientists Score Major Breakthrough In Energy Storage,
   University Announces
Emirates First Airbus Superjumbo Lands At JFK
  Environmental Lines…
Bombardier and Swedes Test New High Speed Train For Efficiency
   And Environmental Quality
  Commuter Lines…
Kansas City Council Unanimous In Support Of Light Rail
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Business Lines…
First ScotRail and Transport Scotland Invest in Train Fleet
Major Orders Fuel Fast Growth
A Dangerous Direction
The Capitol Corridor
  We Get Letters…
  Publication Notes …

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

Makes Solar And Wind Power Far More Practical


MIT Scientists Score Major Breakthrough
In Energy Storage, University Announces

By DF Staff and from Internet Sources

CAMBRIDGE, MA --- In a “revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source,” MIT researchers have “overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn’t shine,” the University announced last week.

In a story released by MIT staffer Anne Trafton, and setting aside the measured, nuanced science-speak that usually accompanies university announcements, the University said of the discovery: “Requiring nothing but abundant, non-toxic natural materials, this discovery could unlock the most potent, carbon-free energy source of all: the sun.”

“This is the nirvana of what we’ve been talking about for years,” said MIT’s Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science. “Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon.”

Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera’s lab, have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun’s energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.

The key component in Nocera and Kanan’s new process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas, the University said. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity -- whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source -- runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.

Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today’s announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.

The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it’s easy to set up, Nocera said. “That’s why I know this is going to work. It’s so easy to implement,” he said.

Video Link (opens new window):

Daniel Nocera describes new process for storing solar energy

Flash Player or QuickTime Required

‘Giant leap’ for clean energy

Sunlight has the greatest potential of any power source to solve the world’s energy problems, said Nocera. In one hour, enough sunlight strikes the Earth to provide the entire planet’s energy needs for one year.

James Barber, a leader in the study of photosynthesis who was not involved in this research, called the discovery by Nocera and Kanan a “giant leap” toward generating clean, carbon-free energy on a massive scale.

“This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind,” said Barber, the Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry at Imperial College London. “The importance of their discovery cannot be overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels and addressing the global climate change problem.”

‘Just the beginning’

Currently available electrolyzers, which split water with electricity and are often used industrially, are not suited for artificial photosynthesis because they are very expensive and require a highly basic (non-benign) environment that has little to do with the conditions under which photosynthesis operates.

More engineering work needs to be done to integrate the new scientific discovery into existing photovoltaic systems, but Nocera said he is confident that such systems will become a reality, the University said.

“This is just the beginning,” said Nocera, principal investigator for the Solar Revolution Project funded by the Chesonis Family Foundation and co-Director of the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center. “The scientific community is really going to run with this.”

Nocera hopes that within 10 years, homeowners will be able to power their homes in daylight through photovoltaic cells, while using excess solar energy to produce hydrogen and oxygen to power their own household fuel cell. Electricity-by-wire from a central source could be a thing of the past, a fact with major implications for the electric utility industry, one of whose principal costs is the enormously expensive “grid” of power lines that criss-cross the landscape to distribute electrical power from large power plants, to substations, and then on to individual homes and businesses.

The project is part of the MIT Energy Initiative, a program designed to help transform the global energy system to meet the needs of the future and to help build a bridge to that future by improving today’s energy systems. MITEI Director Ernest Moniz, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, noted that “this discovery in the Nocera lab demonstrates that moving up the transformation of our energy supply system to one based on renewables will depend heavily on frontier basic science.”

The success of the Nocera lab shows the impact of a mixture of funding sources - governments, philanthropy, and industry. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation and by the Chesonis Family Foundation, which gave MIT $10 million this spring to launch the Solar Revolution Project, with a goal to make the large-scale deployment of solar energy within 10 years.

D:F readers can see the entire article in Science at

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Emirates First Airbus Superjumbo Lands At JFK

From the Internet and Reuters News Service

NEW YORK, AUGUST 1 – The world’s largest civilian airliner, Airbus’s A380 superjumbo, landed smoothly at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday, August 1st, marking the first commercial arrival of the giant, double-decker passenger plane on U.S. soil.

The Emirates aircraft, carrying 489 passengers in varying degrees of luxury, arrived on time after a 13-1/2-hour flight from Dubai.

The luxurious plane, whose interior provides passengers with lie-flat beds, flat screen televisions and spacious, windowed bathrooms was scheduled to return to Dubai on Friday, August 8.

As big as its delivery, images from Middle East news on-line and Gulf Times, Doha, Qatar


“Some of us were lucky, we had showers before we got off the airplane,” Emirates President Tim Clark said, shortly after disembarking, losing no time in marketing the plane’s two “shower spas,” 14 first-class suites, bar and lounge.

Emirates, owned by the government of Dubai, is the second airline to put the A380 into service, following Singapore Airlines, which started A380 flights to Sydney in October.

The plane cost $327 million at list price, and despite its huge capacity, it has relatively fuel-efficient engines. It represents the world’s hope that it will be the most cost-effective way of serving high-volume routes that link big cities.

According to Airbus, it uses up to 20 percent less fuel per seat than a Boeing 747 and, when fully loaded and flying long distances, it is more fuel efficient, per passenger, than a small family car.

The plane is being put into regular service right now with non-stop flights to New York.

The touchdown in New York represents a hard-won victory for Airbus, the company that spent $10 billion and more than a decade to develop and produce the giant aircraft. Built in Toulouse, France, there have been delays and other production problems that the company is still struggling to iron out, but at present, they have orders for about 200 of the planes from 16 airlines.

Despite problems, the plane is outselling its nearest competitor, Boeing Co’s revamped, expanded 747-8 jumbo.

Boeing, which invented the concept of mass travel over great distances with its original 747 in the 1970s, has sold only 27 passenger 747-8s so far. The plane, known as the Intercontinental, can seat 467 people in a standard layout and is set to fly first in Lufthansa colors in 2010.

Many of the parts for the Emirates A380 are supplied by U.S. companies, including Honeywell International, Rockwell Collins Inc., and Goodrich Corporation.

The engines are also U.S.-made, produced by the Engine Alliance, a joint venture between General Electric Co and Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

Emirates, the world’s number-seven airline in terms of international passengers, is the biggest buyer of A380s, with 58 on order. After New York, it plans to fly the planes to London starting in December, then Sydney and Auckland starting in February.

City-state Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, hopes the new planes will help transform it into a world business and leisure capital in the next few years, aiming to attract 15 million visitors a year by 2012.

Emirates’ Chief Executive Sheikh Ahmad bin Saeed al-Maktoum said last week when he was in the German port city of Hamburg ready to collect the jumbo plane, “A380 will represent one of the essential pillars for Emirates’ growth in the future.”

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ENVIRONMENTAL LINES... Environmental Lines...

Bombardier and Swedes Test New High Speed Train
For Efficiency And Environmental Quality

From A Bombardier Press Release

BERLIN, AUGUST 7 -- Banverket, the Swedish Railway Administration and Bombardier Transportation, together with other partners, presented the results of their Gröna Tåget (“Green Train”) project at a test ride between Västerås and Stockholm.

Research and development of the “Green Train” started in 2005 and is expected to continue until 2010/2011. Using the Bombardier Regina train for the demonstration, Bombardier and partners are developing a new generation of high-speed trains that meet the special technical and traffic requirements in the Nordic Countries. It is also part of Bombaradier’s ECO4 technology work to develop energy efficient trains.

Per Kyhle, Senior Technical Strategist Banverket, commented: “The main aims of the project are to achieve 20 to 30 per cent less energy consumption, reduce travel times and achieve fewer operational costs. We also want to operate as fast and efficiently as possible using the present infrastructure, which often means sharing single tracks with cargo and regional trains. The tests have proven that these aims are realistic. We have made significant progress in enhancing the competitiveness of rail compared to other modes of transportation.”

Photo: Bombardier Transportation

Bombardier Regina

One aspect of enhanced competitiveness is shorter travel times. Gröna Tåget will cut the travel time between Stockholm and Gothenburg by 15 minutes. The Regina test train set a new Swedish speed record of 295 km/h on July 23, 2008.

Bombardier’sECO4technologies, designed to offer high environmental and cost-efficient performance, were also demonstrated in last week’s test run.

The two ECO4 products operating on the “Green Train” are:

“This project has demonstrated why we, at Bombardier Transportation, believe that the climate is indeed right for trains. This joint effort has shown that our ‘Green Train’ is not only the right train for operation in the Nordic region, but that it also presents a new generation of energy-efficient, sustainable high speed trains. Our ECO4 technologies can be customized to enhance the performance of any fleet, as we have shown today,” said Klas Wahlberg, Chief Country Representative of Bombardier Transportation Sweden.

The Gröna Tåget has been constructed to operate in the often harsh climatic conditions in the Nordic Countries, the report continued. It has been remodeled, achieving improved performance in terms of running at higher speeds with heightened safety and low track deterioration.

Special attention was given to the bogies, which are “track-friendly” -- unique passive self-steering. The benefits of the track-friendly bogies are increased running stability, lower track forces and less wheel-rail wear on curved tracks. The train is equipped with active lateral suspension for improved passenger comfort and wider car bodies to enable more passenger seating if required.

In addition, the train is geared for higher speeds with traction motors on six axles of which two are of Permanent Magnet motor type, and a pantograph for higher speeds on existing catenaries.

Partners of the “Green Train” project also include: The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) of Sweden, the Chalmers University of Technology, Konstfack (University College of Arts, Crafts and Design), the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova), the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI), AB Transitio, Branschföreningen Tågoperatörerna, SJ AB, Svenska Tågkompaniet AB, Interfleet Technology AB as well as Transrail Sweden AB.

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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...

Kansas City Council Unanimous In Support Of Light Rail

By DF Staff From Internet Sources And Personal Interview

KANSAS CITY, MO – AUGUST 6. In a city that, according to some statistics, is the third largest in the country, one might expect light rail transit to have been started years ago. But in Kansas City, Missouri, it’s taken three decades to reach this point.

The City Council has come to a consensus on supporting a light rail starter line and just recently co-sponsored a provision to put the $815 million line on the ballot in November.

Voters will then decide if they will support a sales tax increase of 3/8 of a cent to get the project going. Some help from the federal government is expected. City Council members are optimistic that the increase will be approved.

“Talk of light rail in Kansas City started in the late1970’s”, said Joe Miller, Communications Director for Mayor Mark Funkhouser, in an interview with DF staff. “It’s a long story. For many years, citizen activist Clay Chastain was the main advocate, relentlessly pressuring town leaders about the need for light rail in the congested city. Finally, some years ago, a starter line proposal was put to the voters, which passed after several referendums. But it was totally impractical,” Miller explained, “a 27-mile line with no tax increase – so, because there was no funding source, the City Council rescinded the vote.”

Chastain, who has since moved to Virginia, sued the city for the rescission.

This time, the Council’s support is unanimous, but that didn’t come about without considerable changes. Council members, protective of their districts, insisted that the plan serve their constituents, especially where the residents are dependent on transit. One such area is the 6th District, which covers the east and southeast sides of the city. Changes were made after their Councilman, John Sharp, said the plan lacked “social justice” because it did not serve some of the people who need transit the most.

“I’m very pleased that the changes I suggested to the starter line route were accepted by the City Council,” Sharp said. “The new route does provide service to an area where people are really dependent on public transportation. Secondly, the new extension provides a shot in the arm for economic development in the southeast portion of the city.”

The very southern portion of the city will not have the light rail tracks, which raises concern about how the vote will turn out. “That worries me very much,” said Councilwoman Beth Gotttstein. . “We need a really smart, really good bus system to go with light rail. Buses don’t really go into the southeast part of town and it’s limited on the southwest. Light rail won’t work unless there are ways to connect people to it.”

But that area is well served by bus, which will take riders directly to the light rail terminus, said Fellow 4th District Councilwoman Jan Marcason, who said she is not worried about the southern portion of the city.

Council members in The Wednesday Sun coverage area said the starter line should be the first step in a regional transportation plan.

Sixth District Councilwoman Cathy Jolly said “If we didn’t do anything and just kept the beginning of (a regional system), what would be the point? This is being laid down knowing it will work. If we quit here, then shame on us. But nobody has that intention.”

A key concern of the civic leaders had been the ability for people to use light rail not for just tourist destinations, but to get to work and other needed places.

“It’s never been just a tourist route,” Marcason said. “or it wouldn’t have met the federal formula for funding. It also has the highest concentration of jobs along the route and the most density of population.”

US Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond, (R), who serves on the Appropriations Committee has been very helpful in obtaining federal support for the light rail, Miller told DF staff. Also, Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat who is on Commerce, Science and Transportation, has been helpful.

“We’re also working to get commuter rail on the exiting tracks through the city which are owned by Kansas City Southern, whose officials are open to the idea,” said Miller. “Right now Amtrak, which comes through twice a day, is the only passenger rail we have.”

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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...


Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)101.43101.76
Canadian National (CNI)53.0052.60
Canadian Pacific (CP)62.6661.36
CSX (CSX)65.6166.17
Florida East Coast (FLA)62.5162.51
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)42.8339.73
Kansas City Southern (KSU)52.8053.30
Norfolk Southern (NSC)73.5570.62
Providence & Worcester (PWX)19.6518.70
Union Pacific (UNP)83.1879.44

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BUSINESS LINES... Business Lines...

First ScotRail and Transport Scotland Invest in Train Fleet

From Siemens, Inc. via the Internet

Siemens to supply 38 regional trains plus service


ERLANGEN, GERMANY – JULY 28 --Transport Scotland is the agency, First ScotRail, the operator. That’s how rail is organized in Scotland. The two -- call them partners -- have placed an order with Siemens Mobility for the supply of 38 Desiro UK type electric multiple units. The order is worth over 300 million euros (over 240 million pounds sterling) and also includes maintenance and spare parts service.

For Siemens’ Rolling Stock Business Unit, this is the first train order ever received from Scotland. And it will raise the number of units in the Desiro fleet in Great Britain to a total of 354.

The 38 new trains are due to enter passenger service in December 2010 and initially operate between the cities of Ayr and Glasgow. They will be built at the Siemens plant in Krefeld-Uerdingen, Germany.

The Siemens Industry Sector (Erlangen, Germany) is the world’s leading supplier of production, transportation and building technologies. Integrated hardware and software technologies combined with comprehensive Industry-specific solutions enable Siemens to increase the productivity and efficiency of its customers in industry and infrastructure. The Sector consists of six Divisions: Building Technologies, Industry Automation, Industry Solutions, Mobility, Drive Technologies and Osram. In fiscal 2007 (ended September 30), Siemens Industry generated sales of approximately EUR40 billion (pro forma, unconsolidated) with around 209,000 employees worldwide.

The Siemens Mobility Division (Erlangen, Germany) is the internationally leading provider of transportation and logistics solutions. With its “Complete Mobility” approach, the Division is focused on networking the various modes of transportation in order to ensure the efficient transport of people and goods. Complete Mobility combines the company’s competence in operations control systems for railways and traffic control systems for roadways together with solutions for airport logistics, postal automation, traction power supplies and rolling stock for mass transit, regional and mainline services, as well as forward-looking service concepts.


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Major Orders Fuel Fast Growth

Profit Rises in All Sectors - 2nd Tranche of Share Buyback Completed


Munich, July 30

Peter Löscher, President and Chief Executive Officer of Siemens AG:

“We shifted Siemens into a higher gear in the third quarter, reaching important milestones on our reorganization path. We are becoming faster, more efficient and more focused as a company, with the timely entrepreneurial approach that is required to stay on this course,” commented Siemens CEO Peter Löscher. “Regarding fiscal 2008, we affirm our full-year outlook. While we expect a less favorable macroeconomic situation in fiscal 2009, we still plan to grow at twice the rate of global GDP. We are also committed to achieving a combined Sector operating result of 8 to 8.5 billion euros for the year. Our new management incentive system should play an important role in our progress ahead, along with worldwide employee participation in Siemens’ success through equity ownership.”

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OPINION... Opinion...

A Dangerous Direction

By Phineas Baxandall

Reprinted with permission.
First published in the Hartford Courant August 7

Money Being Diverted From Bridge Repair To Build Roads


A year ago America saw the horror of Minnesota’s I-35W bridge collapse, which sent drivers tumbling to their deaths into the Mississippi River. As we mark the anniversary of this tragedy, it is important to understand its systematic causes to avoid similar disasters.

The bridge collapse was unintended, but should not have been unexpected. The Minnesota tragedy is part of a broader nationwide problem with structurally deficient bridges.

The span on I-35 had been classified as structurally deficient since 1990, meaning that significant load-bearing elements were in impaired, though not necessarily dangerous, condition. Bridge inspectors have assigned this status to one in every eight bridges across America, including 358 in Connecticut. More than 50,000 bridges nationwide are sufficiently damaged that inspectors recommend they be replaced entirely.

The major reasons for this systematic failure are short-sighted politics and misguided policies that cause funding for bridge repair to compete unsuccessfully against money for new highways. Just last week, Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced another $6 million to widen I- 84 in West Hartford.

No powerful group or interest lobbies to protect against diverting bridge repair funds to new highways. On the contrary, well-connected developers and road builders lobby aggressively for wider lanes, new branch roads and additional off-ramps. Builders often prefer lucrative contracts to pour concrete and steel for new highways rather than the uncertainty of relatively complex and labor-intensive restoration and repair. Preventive maintenance is scarcely noticed or celebrated by the public, and politicians far too often prefer shiny new roads that they can point to and cut ribbons for.

Any homeowner with a leaky roof or cracked foundation knows how tempting it is to put off repairs until next summer.

The state of Minnesota consistently gave in to that temptation. The state auditor found that since 2002, more than half of the highway spending in the state was directed to expanding rather than maintaining roads, despite the department’s own “preservation first” policy to do the opposite. Minnesota repeatedly borrowed money for ambitious highway expansion projects while leaving insufficient funds to maintain existing roads. The auditor noted that state officials and local governments repeatedly pushed the department in that direction.

A ten-year study by the Minneapolis Star Tribune similarly found that state spending on new road and bridge construction rose every year and doubled between 1997 and 2007. Bridge repair funds stayed flat during the same period, despite rising costs.

Federal policies fail to foster proper stewardship of America’s bridges. Perverse incentives can actually encourage deferred maintenance. Federal formulas dole out money to states according to their outstanding costs for replacing deficient bridges, but there are is little accountability to ensure that states use the money for this purpose.

On the contrary, states that conduct preventive maintenance have traditionally been forced to pay for it out of scarce general funds that are fiercely fought over for education, health care and other programs. States that defer maintenance and allow bridges to deteriorate to the point of replacement can tap into more readily available federal capital funds — albeit at a much greater total cost to taxpayers.

The federal Highway Bridge Program allows states to transfer money between their bridge program and other highway programs. States can steer funds in either direction. A congressional study found, however, that 36 states transferred more money out of bridge repair accounts than into them during the past five years. Minnesota and Arizona were most lopsided, with 49 percent of bridge fund balances going to other highway programs.

Led by Minnesota Rep. James Oberstar, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed much-needed legislation this month that would provide federal direction and funding, while requiring state accountability, to repair existing infrastructure. Sadly, this reform appears stalled this session as no companion legislation has been taken up by the Senate.

Unless we change the way that America finances bridge repair, we remain doomed to repeat the tragic mistakes of the past. This anniversary should be an occasion to refocus on priorities that will otherwise remain forgotten. Without public pressure for reform, our nation’s crumbling bridges will remain neglected by the short attention span of politicians.


Phineas Baxandall is senior analyst for tax and budget policy at the nonprofit
U.S. PIRG, a federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, in Boston.

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SPOTLIGHT... Spotlight...

The Capitol Corridor

Photo Courtesy of

The Capitol Corridor is an Amtrak-operated passenger rail service fully supported by the State of California, managed by the CCJPA. Its organizational structure and function is much like the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority’s sponsorship of The Downeaster service.

The Capitol Corridor started in 1991, following voter approval of a capital bond measure authorizing the construction and operation of a state-wide passenger rail system in California. The service started initially with 3 trains each way per day, and by 1998, had only 4 trains each way.

The Capitol Corridor route is a 170-mile long corridor, interconnecting the metro areas of San Jose, Oakland-San Francisco, Sacramento, and extending into the Sierra Foothills. Dedicated bus connections extend to Lake Tahoe, Reno, Nevada, and into approximately 80% of the state’s population areas. Today, there are 32 daily Capitol Corridor trains (16 each way), and it is the third busiest Amtrak-operated route in the country, with more than 1.6 million riders annually.

The CCJPA was created by state legislation in 1998 to manage and grow this service. Eugene Skoropowski has been managing Director since August 1999.

Annual Passengers: 1,600,000 (grown +14% in each of the past 2 years; ridership in 1998 was 463,000)

Route length: 170 miles
Average trip length: 70 miles
Annual passenger miles: 112,000,000
Equivalent VMTs not on highways: 95,200,000
State cost of service: $22 million per year
Farebox recovery: 54% current (up from 29.8% in 1998, and improving with ridership and revenue growth)
On-time performance: 86% (among the best in the Amtrak system, all on Union Pacific Railroad)
Rolling stock: owned by the State of California

Contact Information:

Eugene K. Skoropowski
Managing Director
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA)
300 Lakeside Drive, 14th floor
Oakland, CA 94612

510.464.6990 (office)
510.464.6901 (fax)

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WE GET LETTERS... We Get Letters...

Dear Editor:

I read with great interest, and am most encourage by the reported efforts by the New Hampshire Passenger Rail Authority and the Southern New Hampshire Regional Commission to bring passenger trains back to Central New Hampshire. Certainly the time for offering people the travel choice of trains has come. However, the news article published in your July 17, 2008, edition referenced that the last time passenger trains served Southern New Hampshire was in 1967. This is not quite accurate. Starting in early 1980, and continuing for about 13 months (until the federal government terminated the grant), daily passenger service (2 frequencies each day on weekdays, one on weekend days) operated from Concord, NH, Manchester and Nashua to Boston via Lowell. At the time, I was Chief Railroad Services Officer for the MBTA, and a contract was in place with the then New Hampshire Transportation Authority for operation of these trains.

Trains left Concord in the morning on weekdays, at the ungodly hours of 5.15 and 5.40 am, arrived in Boston for normal business trips, return at 5.00 and 5.40 pm to Concord. By April 1980, Merrimack, NH was added as a stop, due to local demand. The weekday trains averaged at least 125-150 passengers each way on the second train alone, about half of them boarding at Nashua, as it was the only civilized scheduled time for the service on weekdays. The reason for this limited schedule was simple: the MBTA did not have any more rolling stock, and New Hampshire did not have the funds to provide added rolling stock (locomotives and coaches). At the time, the MBTA was just receiving delivery of the then brand-new Pullman coaches, the first new passenger rolling stock in almost 30 years. To justify New Hampshire’s federal grant (at the initiation of NH Gov. Hugh Gallen), an experimental light vehicle called an “LEV “ (light-experimental-vehicle) was used initially for one of the 2 round-trips. The LEV was a combination of a rail vehicle and a bus. It had none of the comforts of a rail coach, and all the disadvantages of a bus (cramped seating, 56 passenger capacity, etc). After a crossing incident in Manchester, only a few weeks after it started operation, the LEV went wherever such vehicles go to their resting place, and the scheduled train was replaced by an old B&M “Bluebird” GP-7 locomotive, hauling 4 tired old B&M/MBTA Budd RDC cars (these RDCs having been mostly disabled and unable to run under their own power in the winter storms of 1977-78).

On weekends, the one round-trip from Concord to Boston operated with the new Pullman cars (5 cars train plus locomotive), and the schedule left Concord at a more civilized hour, allowing visitors and families to take the train and spend a day in Boston. This train was often ‘sold-out’ as it left Nashua, and for the first time in decades, the B&M was calling for an ‘extra’ train to operate from Lowell to Boston, since the packed New Hampshire train would have to run ‘express’ from Lowell to Boston (there was no more room on it!), and passengers destined for points south of Lowell would need to change trains to the ‘extra’ (local) at Lowell.

By the end 1980, the New Hampshire service was still growing, and the Merrimack and Nashua weekday markets were as large as most MBTA commuter rail stations in Massachusetts (about 125 boarding at Nashua, 30-40 at Merrimack), in spite of the early (and limited) departure times to Boston.

The New Hampshire service was not more frequent because there was no additional funding provided locally. MBTA had suggested a 5 or 6 frequency train schedule so that passengers could use the trains both to get to, as well as from, New Hampshire, and MBTA was able to operate mid-day and off-peak service, since those were the times of day when MBTA rolling stock was available, as well as on weekends.

The New Hampshire service terminated abruptly at the end of January 1981, when the federal grant was cancelled by incoming President Ronald Reagan, and the State of New Hampshire declined to put any operating subsidy into supporting continuation of the service. MBTA, at the request of the then Mayor of Nashua (Sullivan) attempted to try to preserve at least one round trip at day to Nashua, since the market was already there. The cost at that time was $5,000 per year. No funds could be procured, and the service died.

Most of the New Hampshire federal grant, some $3.0 million, was provided to the B&M to upgrade the tracks from Lowell to Concord, and to reset all the grade crossing warning gates to 60 mph from Lowell to Manchester, and to 40 mph to Concord. That work had been done, the tracks were actually in very good condition, and B&M/MBTA operated the service reliably. Clearly, this very limited experimental service proved that the rail market in New Hampshire was indeed there to be tapped. Untouched, but still there, is the enormous Southern New England market that can be tapped to come to New Hampshire by train (and many folks in Southern New England already come, but they bring their cars, and all the associated costs for New Hampshire in building roads for the cars of those Southern New England visitors). Having a travel “choice” to go by rail is not only for residents of New Hampshire, although that would be its primary purpose, but such a travel option is very attractive for visitors and tourists to come to the Granite State without as many of the cars that crowd the state virtually every weekend, and certainly during peak weekday work-trip times. The common quip out here in California is now “we want you to come, we want you to bring your wallet, but we’d just as soon if you took the train and left your car home.”

So, my message here is that there WAS regularly scheduled passenger service to Nashua, Merrimack, Manchester and Concord as recently as 1981, and it was a well used service, even with its limited one directional schedule. The only reason the trains did not continue to exist was New Hampshire’s inability/unwillingness to provide any financial support for it once the federal grant was terminated. If those modest state/local dollars had been provided, Central New Hampshire would likely have today a corridor service that would be at least as frequent service, and as much ridership, as the MBTA-Rhode Island service to Providence, and/or the Downeaster Service to Maine.

Since New England is my original home, and I am still a property owner and taxpayer in New Hampshire, I have a very strong interest in seeing New Hampshire become a real partner in a region-wide New England rail network, especially to its key cities which are the economic engine of the state, and tie those cities to Boston by rail, which is the economic engine of New England. Thanks to the State of Maine, the New Hampshire communities of Dover, Durham and Exeter have passenger rail service, and are demonstrating what even ‘suburban type’ communities can generate for ridership.... more than anyone’s wildest expectations. Just think of what a ‘corridor type’ service could do for New Hampshire, with time-competitive, frequent, comfortable and driving-free train service. Bus services that connect from train stations to other places that people want to go to, but where maybe there are no tracks, have worked exceptionally well in California, and can also do the same in New England.

Passenger Rail is a worthwhile investment for our nation, and certainly for New Hampshire.

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