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 24, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 36

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…
Rail Transit CEOs, APTA’s Millar Discuss Rail Safety
   With Secretary Lahood
Amtrak Launches Same-Day Rail Service Between Portland
   And Vancouver, B.C.
Track Extension To Pave Way For VRE Express Trains
  Stimulus Lines…
Stimulus $ In Public Transport Creates 4,400 New Jobs In June
  Economic Lines…
‘Transportation For America’ Details Transit Service Reductions
   Due To Budget Cuts
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Across The Pond…
Alcohol Prohibition On Metronom Passenger Trains
Deutsche Bahn Releases First Half 2009 Results
   – Freight And Logistics With Massive Decrease
  We Get Letters…
  Publication Notes …


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

Rail Transit CEOs, APTA’s Millar
Discuss Rail Safety With Secretary Lahood

From The American Public Transportation Association

WASHINGTON --- Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on August 20 called on leaders from various sectors of the rail transit industry to join him at the Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington to discuss how rail transit safety regulation could be improved.

The group included rail transit CEOs, union leaders, and state transit safety experts. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari, who chairs DOT’s Multimodal Safety Working Group, presided over the meeting. Also in attendance were Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff and Peter Appel, administrator of FTA’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

APTA President William Millar gave a summary of the recent survey of APTA rail transit CEOs regarding ways rail transit safety could be improved. Joining him were representatives of several APTA public transit member systems, including APTA Chair Beverly Scott, general manager and CEO of Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; Gary Thomas, APTA vice chair for rail transit and president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit; and Patrick A. Nowakowski, executive director of the Dulles (VA) Rail Project and chair of APTA’s Rail Transit Committee.

This meeting was the first of a series to be held in the months ahead with a wide variety of stakeholders, as DOT develops its policy and legislative ideas.

For more information, contact APTA’s Kathy Waters at  kwaters@apta.com  or 202-496-4030. Look for more details in the August 31 issue of APTA’s Passenger Transport, at http://www.apta.com/passenger_transport/)


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Amtrak Launches Same-Day Rail Service
Between Portland And Vancouver, B.C.

From Seattle Times, The Oregonian, And Other Internet Sources

PORTLAND, OR -- Amtrak began last Wednesday offering same-day rail service between Portland and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams and transportation professionals and advocates were scheduled to be on the first train as it left Portland’s Union Station.

This means that, finally, Vancouver bound Portlanders won’t have to transfer to a bus or wait until the next day for the final leg of the trip after Seattle.

The service was supposed to start last summer but Amtrak wouldn’t agree to the additional fees the Canada Border Services Agency wanted to impose for the second train. The Canadian Government has agreed to waive the fees . . . until after the 2010 Winter Olympics, at which point they will be reconsidered.

The new train will make it easier for business travelers and vacationers from Western Washington and Portland (where the train originates) to make quick trips to Vancouver. It will be especially convenient for travelers to B.C. during the Olympics, because vehicle border crossings will be busy and private cars will be restricted in much of downtown Vancouver.

Trains will leave from Seattle for Vancouver daily at 7:40 a.m. (current train) and 6:50 p.m. (the new train).

Trains will depart Vancouver daily at 6:40 a.m. (new train) and 5:45 p.m. (current train). The trip takes about four hours one-way.

Amtrak Cascades is operated by Amtrak in partnership with the Washington and Oregon departments of transportation.

An Amtrak train winds along Washington’s Samish Bay

Photo: Harley Soltes - Seattle Times

An Amtrak train winds along Washington’s Samish Bay on the scenic four-hour trip between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. There will be a second daily roundtrip between the two cities starting Aug. 19th.


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Track Extension To Pave Way
For VRE Express Trains

Stafford County Sun

STAFFORD, VA- AUGUST 18 — The state of Virginia is applying for $72 million in federal stimulus this month in order to build a third set of rails between Prince William and Stafford counties, according to a story by Uriah Kiser for the Stafford County Sun.

The application will be filed August 24 and if approved, the new tracks will go between Powell’s Creek in Dumfries and the Widewater area of Stafford County.

“The project is part of the state’s comprehensive vision to bring high-speed rail to Northern Virginia from Petersburg, and in part will pave the way for Virginia Railway Express to start running express trains on their Fredericksburg line,” the story continues.

The state last month applied for $1.5 billion in stimulus funds to extend a third rail from Petersburg to Washington, and for extending the platforms at VRE stations in Stafford and Fairfax Counties.

The express trains will be 10 cars long and will travel at speeds of 90 mph at first, but officials are working to increase the speeds to 110 mph while negotiating with CSX, which owns the tracks. Higher speeds will require a wider swath of land and more banking along the tracks, said VRE spokesman Mark Roeber.

VRE wants to create rail from Petersburg to Washington, DC

They will run at peak travel times and stop at only two stations along the route, he said.

“Those trains would take as much as one lane’s worth of traffic off the highway in one fell swoop, and anyone who boarded the express service would be guaranteed to beat any car on the road and get to work faster,” said Roeber.

The third track will not be constructed over the Powell’s Creek bridge, which has only two tracks, because it would be too costly. Roeber said that the existing tracks can handle the anticipated traffic without creating a bottleneck.

Earlier this year, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced the state would use $17.2 million to fund new weekday high-speed rail service.

Beginning in October, a train will begin running from Lynchburg to Washington, and in December, a train will begin service from Richmond to Washington. The trains are part of a three-year pilot project and will cease if a dedicated source of funding is not found.

The two state-funded trains, operated by Amtrak, will also stop at a “handful” of VRE stations along the two lines.

State transportation officials have focused much of their attention on the rail line between Washington and Petersburg because it links to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor — the busiest rail corridor in the nation.


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STIMULUS LINES... Stimulus Lines...  

Stimulus $ In Public Transport
Creates 4,400 New Jobs In June

From APTA and the US DOT

WASHINGTON --- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted in his official blog that public transit projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act resulted in an estimated 4,400 jobs in the month of June alone. 

Secretary LaHood wrote on August 19, 2009:

The Obama Administration reasoned that an infusion of federal spending on shovel-ready transportation projects would help create jobs while providing needed upgrades to our transportation infrastructure. I’m pleased to report that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is doing just that.

For June, with the summer construction season just heating up, grant recipients reported that transportation stimulus spending directly resulted in nearly 15,000 jobs. This was almost triple the number for May.

Please stay tuned--we’ll be reporting the July data next month, and we expect to see another sharp increase in jobs.

And there are more stimulus awards coming this fall with $8 billion available to jump start high-speed passenger rail in America.

Plus, in the coming months, DOT’s discretionary TIGER grants will provide another $1.5 billion for multi-modal projects that will create jobs in economically distressed areas.

All in all, the signs are clear: DOT stimulus funds are generating needed jobs and rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

The Secretary’s blog is at: http://fastlane.dot.gov/2009/08/recovery-act-creating-transportation-jobs-june-data-indicates-progress.html


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ECONOMIC LINES... Economic Lines....  

‘Transportation For America’ Details
Transit Service Reductions Due To Budget Cuts

From the American Public Transportation Association

WASHINGTON---Report Documents Public Transportation Service Cuts; 2009 Fare Database Now Available: A new report titled “Stranded at the Station: The Impact of the Financial Crisis on Public Transportation” details the service cuts many public transit systems have been forced to undertake due to insufficient budgets. The report, produced by Transportation for America, complements the findings of APTA’s recent APTA member survey on fare increases and service cuts.

This report echoes the findings of APTA’s recent work to document transit fares in the newly released 2009 Public Transportation Fare Database, a comprehensive survey of APTA’s transit agency members on fares, including information on adult base fares, distance and time surcharges, fare payment options, special categorized passenger fares, and demand response passenger fares.  A total of 235 transit members participated this year, including 42 of the largest 50 public transportation systems in the United States. 

The survey confirms that the majority (52 percent) of public transit systems were forced to raise fares over the past year, with an average increase of more than 20 percent.  An additional 19 percent of systems report planned fare increases between July 2009 and July 2010.  The survey also highlights the increasing use of advanced fare collection technology, with 43 percent of systems selling fare media online.  The database is free to members and can be downloaded from the APTA bookstore; the report is online at http://t4america.org/resources/stranded/


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)84.7782.63
Canadian National (CNI)49.4049.08
Canadian Pacific (CP)47.8548.02
CSX (CSX)45.0644.58
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)31.0129.30
Kansas City Southern (KSU)24.0023.33
Norfolk Southern (NSC)47.5447.27
Providence & Worcester (PWX)11.0510.75
Union Pacific (UNP)61.9560.82


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

From David Beale
NCI Foreign Correspondent

 

Alcohol Prohibition On Metronom Passenger Trains

German Regional Passenger Rail Operator Runs Out Of Patience With Drunken Guests

Via HAZ newspaper and Metronom press release

UEZELN, GERMANY – Independent passenger rail operator Metronom indicated to numerous German news media organizations this past week that it will introduce a total ban on alcoholic beverages in all its trains and on train platforms which are under its authority in the coming months. Additionally, glass bottles will also become prohibited in its trains. The announcement is a follow-up to an earlier statement from the Uezlen-based company back in March 2009, whereby the company stated it was looking into an alcohol prohibition. A firm date for the start of the ban has not yet been announced.


Photo: Metronom

Alcohol-free – A Metronom regional express train from Göttingen to Uezeln via Hannover heads north with electric locomotive 146 539 (Bombardier TRAXX) pushing from the rear near Kreiensen, Germany in summer 2009.

A company spokeswoman stated that the company incurs approximately EUR 500,000 per year damages to its trains and property due to alcohol-fueled vandalism, aggression and violence, which it attributes mostly to drinking football fans on their way to or from football matches in Hamburg, Bremen, Celle, Hannover and other cities it serves on its north central German rail network. The spokeswoman added that damage costs are accelerating along with an alarming increase in cases of drunken train passengers assaulting its crews, employees and fellow train passengers. She added that marketing studies and random interviews conducted with the traveling public showed widespread support for the alcohol ban.

Metronom is a seven year-old independent passenger rail company jointly owned by several other German transportation companies. The jointly owned company was initially named Metro Rail GmbH, but it adopted the trademark name of its trains as the official company name several years later, after on-going confusion and mix-ups with similarly named transit organizations in North America. Its passenger train fleet consists exclusively of Bombardier multi-level passenger coaches powered with Bombardier TRAXX locomotives, all of which are leased long term from the state government of Lower Saxony. It operates mostly within the German state of Lower Saxony on routes Hamburg – Bremen, Hamburg – Cuxhaven, Hamburg – Uezeln, and Uezeln – Hannover – Göttingen.

A Deutsche Bahn spokesman, stated that the DB had no plans to prohibit alcoholic beverages in its trains, due to, among other considerations, the desire to keep drinkers off the road and away from the steering wheel of a car. Deutsche Bahn operates nearly identical regional passenger trains as Metronom in northern Germany, albeit on different routes such as Rheine – Hannover – Braunscheig, Hannover – Bremen – Norddeich and Hamburg – Lübeck. The spokesman added that DB monitors behavior of football fans with its on-board personnel and, as standard procedure, staffs many of its regional trains with numerous uniformed security personnel at football game time in order to maintain order on board and prevent violence and vandalism.


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Deutsche Bahn Releases First Half 2009 Results;
Freight And Logistics With Massive Decrease

Passenger Volume Remain Constant – Freight And Cargo Down By One Fourth

Via Deutsche Bahn press release of 21st August 2009

BERLIN– Deutsche Bahn AG (DBAG) – German Railways – released the first half of 2009 results this past week. The numbers show a company suffering from the massive reduction in world-wide freight volumes as well as from some of its own internal mismanagement and fiascoes. But passenger volumes on its trains bucked the otherwise negative trends.

Total sales revenues declined to EUR 14.3 billion (US $ 19.9 billion) from EUR 16.6 billion in the same period of 2008. Operating profit (EBIT) declined by more than a half to EUR 671 million from EUR 1.4 billion in the first half of 2008. The company employed 237,000 people worldwide in the first half of 2009, about 4000 less than during the first half of 2008 in divisions which range from local bus routes and even school bus services in Germany to international high speed passenger trains, long distance trucks, air freight, sea freight and of course main line freight trains in several European countries including Britain.

Despite reduced ICE high speed train services caused by the recent axle crack and axle inspections in the ICE-3 and ICE-T fleets, Deutsche Bahn carried more passengers than ever in its trains, 958 million in the first half of 2009, which is a 1.8% increase over the same period in 2008. Revenue passenger-kilometers (RPKs) on the passenger train network remained essentially constant at 37.3 billion RPK. Passenger volume on the numerous regional and local bus companies, which DB owns, showed a slight decrease in volume, off by 1.3% to 4.6 billion RPKs.

DBAG’ rail freight traffic declined by 26% to 145 million tons in the first half of 2009, again compared to the same period in 2008. Ton-kilometers were down to 45.3 billion, a decrease of 25 percent. Likewise DBAG saw a 27.5 percent decrease in air freight compared to first half 2008 with 456,300 tons air freight in the first half of 2009. Sea freight dropped by 9.8 percent and volume at it DB Schenker Logistics highway / over-the-road trucking division was off by 24.8 percent while Schenker’s containerized rail freight volume was down by 26.3 percent.

Deutsche Bahn’s urban and regional passenger rail subsidiaries showed increases in gross revenues of 4.9 and 1.3 percent respectively, but the full impact of the on-going wheel inspection program in Berlin’s S-Bahn network and resulting massive capacity reduction in the company’s Berlin S-Bahn division will probably not show up in financial data until the second half of 2009.

DBAG’s chairman, Dr. Rüdiger Grube indicated at a press conference in Frankfurt that the company expects it will take a couple of more years for freight and logistics volume to rebound to the record levels the company saw in 2007-08. He added the company will focus sharply on reducing fixed costs and optimizing the operations of the various freight and logistics units it purchased and acquired during the Mehdorn era of 1999 to late 2008, including restructuring and possible reductions in those units. He also indicated that company has run out of patience with rolling stock manufacturers who do not, he alleged, support their products after they are delivered to Deutsche Bahn and that DBAG would aggressively seek financial compensation from rolling stock and vehicle OEMs for future service problems experienced with new or relatively new rolling stock. The statement was an obvious reference to the recent wheel / axle cracking issues in the ICE-3 and ICE-T fleets as well as various other technical difficulties encountered in the E 424 and 425 series commuter trains, VT 612 tilt-body DMUs and certain newly delivered locomotives.


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WE GET LETTERS... We Get Letters...  

Dear Editor,

I am writing to again express displeasure with the newsletter’s editorial decisions in the this week’s issue. As stated in the editorial, the prominent topic of the town halls during the current Congressional recess has been health care. While it is respectable that the editor supports town halls and promotes calm, civilized discussion that is key to democratic debate, it has nothing to do with rail transportation. As a reader, my concern is not to hear about the National Corridors Initiative’s view of the health care debate or any parties involved in the topic. My concern is for development of rail corridors, a subject with goals that include facility of movement and commerce, development of towns and cities in a smart and efficient manner, and ultimately economic development.

My last complaint was one year ago in regards to a guest editorial from former Vice-President Al Gore in which the subject was energy policy and climate change. This editorial included plenty of rhetoric on Mr. Gore’s personal interests but no mention of rail transportation. It was argued that this was relevant in the context of the newsletter due to the connection between rail transportation and energy efficiency. While I can somewhat understand the editorial having been related to the newsletter’s focus--albeit extremely tangential--there is no arguable connection between health care and rail transportation. In fact, I would dare say that the controversy and single-minded focus on the first are a complete distraction that has stopped any discussion or progress regarding the second. If the editor would like to hold opinions regarding health care, the perceived character of the President, or the behavior of the public at town halls, that is fine. One is entitled to his personal opinions. However, to use a medium with a specific policy focus to express general views that are not even tangential, but rather completely off-topic, is a waste of space and an insult to the newsletter’s readers. If you have any respect for your readers, please keep to the topic of the newsletter and save unrelated issues for elsewhere.

Michael A. Zekas
Washington, D.C.

 

We respectfully beg to differ; the tone of the political debate in the United States is being set by bullies funded, whether they know it or not, by the same corprorate interests who always find democracy to be an inconvenience. That fact needs to be addressed whenever it arises, because they are the same kinds of people who will bully, or try to bully, rail advocates.


Dear Editor,

I was interested to see the article about your vacation in Europe, where you saw that some TGV stations (like Avignon and Valence TGV) were:

(1) a long way from the cities they served and
(2) surrounded by very full car parks.

Opponents of high speed rail in the United States sometimes express the view that while it works in Europe and Asia, it won’t in the US because there are very few cities with dense urban transit networks to act as feeders.

I have never accepted this argument.

Supposing, today, you wish to travel from your home in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to a meeting in Irving, Texas. You’ll drive your own car to Chicago O’Hare airport and park it there. You’ll fly to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. And you’ll hire a car there to drive to Irving.

Tomorrow (or maybe the day after) you’ll do much the same. You’ll drive your car to the high-speed rail station - which might be in downtown Chicago or at O’Hare airport - and park it there. You’ll take the high-speed train to whichever station in the Metroplex is closest to your destination. And you’ll hire a car to drive to Irving.

Is there a difference? Does the absence of urban transit cause a problem? Does it make high-speed rail impossible? I think not.

What you saw in France shows that the system works! High speed rail works and satisfies a need despite the fact that some stations occupy a central position in the middle of nowhere. Park and ride is perfectly feasible for high speed rail.

A subsidiary issue is the reason for locations like this.

One reason is that it is cheaper to build high speed rail lines through open countryside. You are perfectly correct in your observation that there are plenty of ramps connecting the new high speed network with the conventional network, so that high speed trains can serve the city centres. However, it’s not necessary for all trains to serve all stations: they don’t all have to go into the city but a park’n’ride station can serve the city without incurring the delay of a city centre stop.

Second, it can be a benefit for the locals. The high speed line between Frankfurt and Cologne (Köln) runs through two States. Both of them said that they were getting the down-side of the new high speed line (noise, severance) and none of the up-sides. So two new stations have been created at Montabaur and Limburg Sud: both are park‘n’ride stations some distance from the communities they serve.

Andrew Sharp
www.airrailtoday.com


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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.

Web page links as reproduced in our articles are active at the time we go to press. Occasionally, news and information outlets may opt to archive these articles and notices under alternative web addresses after initial publication. NCI has no control over the policies of other web sites and regrets any inconvenience experienced when clicking off our web site.

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the editor at editor@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

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In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other transportation initiative sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives – state DOTs, legislators, government offices, and transportation organizations or professionals – as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. If you have a favorite link, please send the web address (URL) to our webmaster.

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