The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

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

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

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August 17, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 35

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

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

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

  News Items…
U.K. Government Unveils High-Speed Rail Plan
   To Ground Short Flights
  Stimulus Lines…
Midwest Lines Up For Rail Bonanza
  Expansion Lines…
China Increases Commitment to Rail Infrastructure
  Selected Rail Stocks…
 
  Legal Lines…
State Of California Asks State High Court To Review
   Appellate Court Victory For Transit
  Editorial…
On Mobs, Public Policy, And The President
  Across The Pond…
Berlin’s Newest Subway Line, the U55, Enters Service
  Publication Notes …


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

Rail Chart High-Speed Rail Travel Is Possible In The UK

 

U.K. Government Unveils High-Speed Rail Plan
To Ground Short Flights

From The Guardian In The U.K. - On The Internet

The British government is targeting high speed rail as the best mode to replace short range travel by air, which is far less efficient and much harsher on the environment than rail, reports the online news service from the Guardian.

“Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis, said switching 46 million domestic air passengers a year to a multibillion-pound north-south rail line was ‘manifestly in the public interest.’. Marking a government shift against aviation, Adonis added that rail journeys should be preferred to plane trips.

“ ‘For reasons of carbon reduction and wider environmental benefits, it is manifestly in the public interest that we systematically replace short-haul aviation with high-speed rail. But we would have to have, of course, the high-speed network before we can do it,’ he said.”

Adonis revealed the main points of the plan for “a new generation of ultra-fast train services” in an interview with the Guardian:

• The publication by the end of the year of a route from London to Birmingham, including the framework to extend the line northward to Scotland.

• Building cross-party support for the network, which could see a line to the West Midlands built by 2020.

• Running high-speed trains on the existing network, which could reduce journey times from London to Scotland to three and a half hours.

• Possibly funding the £ 7billion London-to-Birmingham line with a public-private partnership.

Adonis said domestic and European flights to and from the UK, which carry 169 million passengers on 1.9m trips a year, should be “progressively replaced” by a high-speed (250mph) rail network.

Right now short-haul flights are the most popular journey in British aviation, accounting for seven out of 10 flights. But Britons like train travel, too, making 1.3 billion passenger rail journeys each year.

“I would like to see short-haul aviation – not just domestic aviation, but short-haul aviation – progressively replaced by rail, including high-speed rail,” Adonis said. “If we want to see [this] progressive replacement … then we have got to have a high-speed rail system that links our major conurbations and makes them far more accessible to Europe, too.”

Flights to north-west Europe are the most realistic target, while further-flung destinations such as Madrid or Prague are still expected to be dominated by air travel.

The government has pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050, prompting ministers to push for use of electric cars and more investment in cycle routes. Against that backdrop, Adonis said rail should take priority over air travel.

The airlines still see air travel between major cities as highly popular . “There are high-speed networks in France, Germany and Japan but they still have domestic air routes between their major cities. It does not have to be a question of one or the other.”

In light of this, new runways at Stansted and Heathrow airports are still called for over the next decade. The government estimates that air passenger numbers will nearly double to 465 million by the year 2030.

A high-speed line will have to be the UK’s main infrastructure project if it is to go ahead. “If we make it a national priority, then it is affordable. If we don’t, then it is not. It’s as simple as that,” Adonis said. He has established a company to draw up plans to be submitted to the Department for Transport later this year.

Additional video can be found at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2009/aug/04/adonis-high-speed-rail


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STIMULUS LINES... Stimulus Lines...  

Midwest Lines Up For Rail Bonanza

“In Other News” Week Of August 10
From Story By John Pletz


Photo: Erik Unger  

Jim Coston, head of Corridor Capital, says, “We see the stimulus as a way to restart the rail-car industry in this state.”
Jim Coston is looking to President Obama’s stimulus money aimed at a high-speed rail system as the boon that could “reassert Chicago’s place as the nation’s rail center — and jump-start his attempt to resurrect a business that flourished here a century ago: building passenger rail cars.”

Mr. Coston, a Chicago lawyer and railroad veteran, is just one of the entrepreneurs and business owners lining up to share in the billions that could create jobs and transit improvements to the Midwest region.

“This is the real deal,” says Joe Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. “The Midwest has become the odds-on favorite to bring home big dollars.”

Although competition is fierce and the applications far exceed $8 billion, insiders say Illinois might get $2 billion, leading to thousands of jobs in manufacturing, construction and railroads.

“Much of the high-speed rail money likely will be spent on laying track,” says Joseph DiJohn, director of the metropolitan transportation support initiative at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “The first step toward high-speed rail is to separate passenger traffic from freight.”

With the money, Illinois will be able to replace the second lines of track that were ripped up along the Chicago-St. Louis corridor. Union Pacific owns the line and looks forward to all the jobs this will create, says Mike Payette, vice-president for governmental affairs at Union-Pacific.

Illinois will be able to order the dozen Amtrak trains they have wanted and also restart the rail-car industry. Jim Coston’s Chicago-based company, Corridor Capital, bought options on 50 former Amtrak cars that could be rebuilt within the two-year time frame required for stimulus projects. If he won even part of the order, Mr. Coston says, he could immediately put 25 people to work, doubling employment at Gateway Railcars in Madison, near St. Louis, a contract partner. Since Pullman Co. ceased production in 1981, Gateway is the state’s sole maker of passenger rail cars.

National Railway Equipment Co., a locomotive manufacturer based in Downstate Mount Vernon, could put its 1,100 workers back to full employment.

All in all, if Illinois’ projects were funded, the Midwest’s high-speed rail plan could generate up to 15,000 construction jobs and 57,000 permanent ones, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has estimated. Chicago is at the heart of that plan, which includes high-speed lines to St. Louis, Madison, Wis., and Detroit.

The biggest stimulus winner likely will be the six-year-old Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program. It includes 78 rail projects to speed up freight traffic, at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion in improvements. Beyond that are the major construction projects which will have to wait for backing.

The state has set aside $322 million in its capital budget to fund projects under the program. If the big-ticket items, such as highway overpasses and railway “flyovers” get stimulus funding, it will trigger a flurry of work for construction companies, says Tom Livingston, a vice-president at CSX Corp.

“Eventually, after all the infrastructure work is done, that means operating jobs at the back end,” says Bob Guy, legislative director in Illinois for the United Transportation Union, which represents railroad workers. “If everything comes through, it should be a boost in railroad employment across the board.”


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EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...  

China Increases Commitment to Rail Infrastructure

From Railway Age and Transport Politic on the Internet

China has embarked on the second largest public works program in history, following only the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System in size. China plans to spend more than $1 trillion on expanding its railway network from 78,000 km today to 110,000 km in 2012 and 120,000 km in 2020. The Interstate Highway System was originally authorized to be 66,000 km long, but has expanded past that goal to 75,000 km today. The two nations are of basically equivalent size, and this means that China, which already has a passenger rail network about the size of our highway system, will be practically doubling its mileage of intercity connections.

China’s goal is to reshape its landscape around train services to a similar degree that the Interstates have reshaped the American one.

China - US Comparison

Perhaps the most audacious element of China’s rail investment is its goal to invest in 13,000 km of high-speed rail by 2020. The map, pictured below, documents where those lines are either already in operation, being constructed, or being planned with the goal of being ready for service in 2020.

China will invest more than $100 billion per year in rail construction on average during the next three years, an increase from a previously announced increase to roughly $88 billion this year, Vice Railway Minister Wang Zhiguo said in published remarks.

Wang also said the ministry would seek approval for 20,000 kilometers (12,400 miles) of additional rail construction, requiring a total investment of more than 2 trillion yuan, or roughly $280 billion, by the end of next year.

China has said it seeks to expand its rail network to promote economic growth and ease transport bottlenecks. It hopes to have upgraded or put in place 86,000 kilometers (53,320 miles) of rail by year’s end, expanding to 110,000 kilometers (68,200 miles) by 2012.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)82.6383.72
Canadian National (CNI)49.0850.34
Canadian Pacific (CP)48.0246.98
CSX (CSX)44.5844.33
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)29.3028.35
Kansas City Southern (KSU)23.3323.18
Norfolk Southern (NSC)47.2746.37
Providence & Worcester (PWX)10.7510.51
Union Pacific (UNP)60.8261.37


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LEGAL LINES... Legal Lines...  

State Of California Asks State High Court To Review
Appellate Court Victory For Transit

By David Peter Alan

In a move that came as no surprise, the State of California asked the California Supreme Court to review, or alternatively to “depublish” an Appellate Court opinion that handed a major victory to transit riders. In the case of Shaw v. Chiang, decided on June 30th, the Third Appellate District Court invalidated several transfers of state funds away from public transportation, and toward other transportation purposes that did not provide transit to the general public. These purposes included debt service, special transportation for disabled persons and school buses.

In a petition filed on August 11th, the California Department of Finance (defendant John Chiang is California State Controller) asked the high Court to review the decision of the Appellate Court which directed that the money in question be returned to the Public Transportation Account (PTA) and used for transit purposes.

The case concerns revenue from gasoline taxes (“spillover revenues”) that had been placed into the Mass Transportation Fund (MTF) and used for purposes other than public transportation. The State argued that “Mass Transportation” and “Public Transportation” are different; the latter being narrow and encompassing only transportation available to the general public, while the former is broader and covers other transportation purposes. The State’s first argument was that the Legislature had validly allocated the gasoline tax revenue to the MTF instead of the PTA, and that the court lacked the authority to change the Legislature’s designation (petition at 6-7).

The State also argued that the Legislature properly appropriated funds from the PTA to the MTF for “Mass Transportation” purposes and criticized the Appellate Court for interpreting the phrase “mass transportation” to mean “public transportation” (petition at 10). According to the State, the voters intended to distinguish between the two when they passed Proposition 116, the legislation that governs transportation funding. The State also argued that Amtrak, a major intended beneficiary of the PTA, was an example of “mass transportation” that is not considered “public transportation” under Federal law (petition at 11).

Reaction came swiftly from California’s transit community. “At a time when volatile fuel prices and economic hardship are prompting more and more people to turn to public transit, transit providers are having to resort to fare increases and service cuts in order to make up for the funding the State has taken away” said Joshua Shaw, Executive Director of the California Transit Association and lead plaintiff in the litigation. “Instead of taking the lead to support this demand, the State is blowing the opportunity by continuing with the same accounting gimmicks that have only exacerbated the budget crisis.”

It is expected that the Court will decide within sixty days whether or not to take the case. If the Court allows the ruling of the Appellate Court to stand, the victory won by California’s transit managers and riders will remain undisturbed. Transit Association spokesperson Jeff Wagner expressed the association’s concern in a press release: “In the meantime, a stay could be issued regarding the Appellate Court’s ruling, meaning the raids [of the Public Transportation Account for other purposes] would be allowed to continue until the high court renders a decision.” Wagner went on to say: “In that case (or in the case of the high court ultimately ruling in transit’s favor), the state could be on the hook for the $4 billion taken since the budget plan that prompted the original suit.”

In light of California’s severe financial difficulties, the issue of how to allocate declining tax revenues will loom large in the Golden State’s political and legal future. Plaintiff Shaw expressed this concern: “We recognize the horrendous crunch that budget crafters face, but the appellate court decision is one more obvious sign that the whole budget process needs serious reform.”

Shaw was also quoted on the Association’s web site as saying that, in the wake of transit’s victory at the appellate court level, numerous other interests and organizations are preparing their own lawsuits over similar budget diversions. With the scramble for scarce dollars reaching a fever pitch, the Supreme Court could reverse the Appellate Court in an effort to prevent further litigation over budget allocations. If that should occur, transit’s apparent victory would be nullified. Alternatively, the Court could strongly affirm the Appellate Court and send a clear message that legislative appropriations should be made in accordance with the reasonable expectations of the voters and hold that “mass transportation” and “public transportation” are two phrases that express the same concept. In that event, transit managers and riders would clearly have something to celebrate.

The documents from the case can be found on the California Transit Association’s web site, www.caltransit.org.
David Peter Alan is a New Jersey attorney who follows legal issues concerning transit and has reported on this case in the July editions of D:F.


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EDITORIAL... Editorial...  

On Mobs, Public Policy, And The President

There can be no doubt that the violent “town meetings” of the last week were the product of a well-organized campaign to use a combination of dis-information and rage to disrupt the President’s message on health care, including but not limited to the invention of non-existent “death panels” (taken from a Republican proposal, by the way, which was actually a benign suggestion about counseling but was used nevertheless to panic some elderly).

A lot of ink has been used to assail the Limbaughs and others in the media world who were a part of this show, but we think a different response is called for.

The angry mob may be largely manufactured, but it has its basis in a deep and abiding belief that the game is rigged against ordinary people, and that nothing short of a revolution will keep the government in check. It’s a long and historic strain that runs throughout American history, starting with the Administration of George Washington, whose political opponents thought of him as far too regal, and filled the newspapers of the day with calumny. That is long forgotten by most now, and scarcely mentioned in the written-by-committee history books used in most public schools, but it remains a fact of American life.

The response should not be to shout down the mob with another mob of one’s own creation. The correct response should be to welcome the chance to educate and inform, by conducting a national town meeting based upon direct questions to the President, broadcast live, and allowing all points of view --- even what may seem to be the most absurd --- to be heard. President Obama is one of the most level-headed people to occupy the Oval Office in a very long time. He can handle it, and it will defuse a large chunk of the tinderwood being stoked by the enemies of health care (or any other) reform. A hard core will remain unconvinced, but in going directly to the people in a town meeting format will reduce the number of potential Brownshirts, next time around. That by itself makes the effort worthwhile.


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ACROSSTHEPOND... Across The Pond...  

By David Beale NCI Foreign Correspondent

 

Berlin’s Newest Subway Line, the U55, Enters Service

Germany’s Shortest and Most Expensive Subway Line Opened

Via NDR and HAZ

Berlin – this past Monday marked the full start of operations of Line U55, the latest edition to Berlin’s subway system. The short underground rail line is so far the most expensive urban rail line per km in Germany’s history with construction costs totaling EUR 320 million (US $435 million) for about 1.8 km (1.1 mile) route.

The line runs between two of Berlin’s perhaps best known landmarks, the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) and the still relatively new Berlin Hauptbahnhof with a single intermediate station at Bundestag (parliament). The opening ceremony took place on Saturday, 8th of August, with free rides offered to the public over the weekend. The city plans to build an extension of the U55 from Brandenburger Tor to Alexander Platz with a direct rail connection to the existing U5 line. The project is one of many infrastructure programs that came to life with the re-unification of Berlin and the rest of Germany in the early 1990s.

New German Subway Map

The “Kanzler” U-Bahn (subway), so nicknamed due to its route past Germany’s parliament and the Chancellor’s residence.

The construction project has not been without controversy due to many cost overruns, which along with the city’s long-running financial crisis lead the Berlin Senate to suspend construction for nearly three years. The unfinished tunnels remained without construction for more than two years. The construction project was originally meant as simply an extension to the U5 line until the construction was frozen in 2001. By 2003 a compromise was reached to complete the already-bored tunnels from Brandenburger Tor to the site of the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof as the U55, with completion of the line all the way to the current end of the U5 sometime later.

The completion and opening of the new subway line has dominated numerous TV documentary programs in Germany in the past few weeks, including the show Galileo, a documentary series on German television targeted at teens and young adults. Galileo condensed the entire construction process of the subway line into a 20 minute segment that tried to portray the project like the construction of a new house. If only it were that easy. The city plans to start construction of the remaining section between Alexander Platz and Brandenburger Tor in 2010, thus joining the U5 and U55 into one subway line sometime in 2017, if all goes well.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2009 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

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