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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September 2, 2008
Vol. 9 No. 36

Copyright © 2008
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

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

  News Items…
Amtrak Has Agreement With FEMA To Provide Evacuation Trains
Amtrak Considering Expansion of Acela Service
  Off The Main Line…
English “Amtrak” Ordered Liquidated
  Political Lines…
California Governor Signs Rail Bill To Get It On Ballot
  “Air” Lines…
More Flights Overbooked, But Payoffs Are Rising, Too
More Frustrated Fliers Taking to the Rails; Amtrak Gains Riders
   Weary of Price Hits, Delays
  Quality Of Life…
Highway Removal Olympics: Who Will Win The Gold?
  Selected Rail Stocks…
 
  Freight Lines…
Hurricane Gustav Prompts BNSF To Close New Orleans Facility
Springfield Terminal: Possible Bio-Energy
Providence & Worcester (P&W) Branch Clearance
Providence & Worcester: Rhode Island Customer Follow-up
Providence & Worcester: Win One Lose One
  Across The Pond…
Deutsche Bahn Raises Ticket Prices By 3.9 % Average
  Opinion…
McCain, Obama Overlook Transportation
  Editorial…
The Election Of The Century? At Least!
  We Get Letters…
  Publication Notes …


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

Amtrak Has Agreement With FEMA
To Provide Evacuation Trains

Special Advisory to Employees from Amtrak Regarding Storm Gustav

AUGUST 29 -- Amtrak released a bulletin today in order to put all employees on notice regarding their own safety during the storm and regarding possible work assignments for the evacuation trains.

Amtrak is closely monitoring the progress of Tropical Storm Gustav as it makes its way toward the Gulf Coast. At this time, it is forecast to become a hurricane and to make landfall on the Gulf Coast as early as Monday night. Because the safety and well-being of our employees is paramount, Amtrak is taking steps to help employees in the region, should Gustav make landfall. In preparation for the storm’s arrival, all employees in the region should ensure they have their supervisor’s contact information with them to maintain contact and so that they can obtain information about their work assignments.

To account for employees’ whereabouts and safety, all employees in the region are being asked to call in to verify their current location. Mechanical department employees in the region should call 800-424-0217 ext. 2082 or 302-683-2082 or 302-683-2083. All other employees in the region should call 877-872-2334.

As of this evening, this toll-free hotline will serve as a central reporting number and to field questions from employees affected by the storm.

The hotline personnel will manage a daily roster of employees and distribute it to department heads and supervisors to ensure that employees are accounted for.

On the operations front, as of today, regularly scheduled service has been suspended to and from New Orleans until further notice. Crescent Trains 19 and 20 will terminate and originate in Atlanta, City of New Orleans Trains 58 and 59 will terminate and originate in Memphis, and Sunset Limited Trains 1 and 2 will terminate and originate in San Antonio.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has already begun evacuating some Gulf Coast cities, including New Orleans. The company is preparing to run evacuation trains according to its agreement with FEMA. To that end, designated “Go Teams,” made up of T & E, Mechanical and OBS crews, along with APD and Mobile Security Teams, are being deployed to operate the evacuation trains from New Orleans to Memphis.

As more information concerning affected employees, facilities and services becomes available, additional advisories will be posted.


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Amtrak Considering Expansion of Acela Service

Amtrak Press Release

AUGUST 27 -- In response to increasing popularity, Amtrak is looking at the possibility of adding cars and raising prices for its high-speed Acela line.

“We’re out of capacity,” CEO Alexander Kummant said in an interview. “Most people know that’s a pretty tough ticket” because seats are hard to find except at “way-off-peak” times.

The Washington to Baltimore route has become a popular alternative to air travel and highways, according to Bloomberg. Acela ridership rose 20 percent to 3.19 million passengers in the 2007 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said. Its revenue was $403.5 million, or 27 percent of Amtrak’s ticket sales.

[See more on increases in Amtrak ridership in “More Frustrated Fliers.”]


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OFF THE MAIN LINE... Off The Main Line...

No, There’s No Relation…

 

English “Amtrak” Ordered Liquidated

By DF Staff and from Internet Sources

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND---An English package delivery firm that had named itself “Amtrak” was ordered liquidated by its receivers this week.

The Birmingham Post reported that “…Administrators E&Y.. sounded the death knell for West Midlands parcel delivery business Amtrak.”

The package delivery service, which had built up a substantial overnight delivery business in England, was done in by rising fuel costs, which made the truck-based service uneconomical to operate.

Joint administrators Ernst & Young (E &Y) yesterday closed “…the Walsall-based parcel delivery company Amtrak, which will result in the closure of its Aldridge hub and head office and the loss of 400 jobs. The administrators are also closing Amtrak’s 35 other depots across the UK, resulting in a further 500 workers being made redundant,” the Birmingham Post reports.

“After spending a week at the Aldridge office, E &Y decided the company, owned and operated by Netfold, would be wound up, the high cost of fuel and the squeeze on consumer spending having been blamed for the collapse.

When will the parcel be delivered?

Amtrak’s service was a “next day” delivery service with items delivered between 7am and 6 pm unless you have chosen one of the premium services, which will be delivered by the nominated time, e.g. before 9am. Postcode exceptions apply.

“Joint administrators Ernst & Young had spent the week at the Aldridge office in an attempt to salvage something from the collapse of the business. However, interest was minimal, perhaps due to the current economic conditions, and Ernst & Young announced that the company, owned and operated by Netfold, was being wound up,” the Post reported.

There is no connection between the British Amtrak and the American-based passenger rail service of the same name.

“Workers at the Aldridge facility voiced anger and shock at the closure. Phil Smith, who has been with Amtrak for 12 years, said: ‘I thought things were bad across the company, but I didn’t realize it was this close to the end,’” the Post reported

“Amtrak was launched in 1987 and chose the West Midlands as its base because of the region’s key location at the heart of the national transport network,” the paper said. “It had built up a nationwide network of depots and had more than 1,000 delivery vehicles operated by staff and franchised drivers.

Extensive investment had been made in the Aldridge distribution centre to make it one of the most efficient of its kind and the company was looking to develop the business into one of the major logistics operations in Europe.”


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...

Ahhhnold Supporting Rail

 

California Governor Signs Rail Bill
To Get It On Ballot
By DF Staff And From The San Francisco Chronicle
Matthew Yi, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO --- “Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who promised not to sign any bills until lawmakers reach a budget deal, reversed his position Tuesday and signed a measure for a statewide bullet train system that he strongly supports,” writes San Francisco Chronicle reporter Matthew Yi.

“The high-speed rail legislation will replace a $10 billion bond measure on the November ballot with a revised version of the proposal that makes the bullet train system more appealing to voters statewide,” reported the Chronicle on its SF Gate website.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who built Massachusetts’ commuter rail system and who was Vice Chairman of Amtrak under President Bill Clinton, teaches at UCLA in the winter season and has been actively lobbying Governor Schwarzenegger and his advisers to support rail, as well as meeting with Obama-Biden Campaign people in Denver this past week to push for greater emphasis on rail. Vice Presidential Nominee Joe Biden is seen as a strong pro-rail candidate, because, for 36 years, he has been commuting to Washington to his native Delaware via Amtrak [see separate story]

The Chronicle reported the amended rail ballot measure:

AB3034, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Tuesday, would change the language of the high-speed rail bond measure to:


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AIR LINES... “Air” Lines...

The Times Reports:

 

More Flights Overbooked,
But Payoffs Are Rising, Too

From The New York Times

AMERICA---Times reporters Micheline Maynard and Michelle Higgins are reporting that, while aircraft over-booking is leading to more bumping of passengers from their confirmed seats, the pay-offs for those who are bumped are going up, too.

“The bad news: the likelihood that travelers will be bumped from an overbooked flight may grow worse this fall when airlines shrink their fleets to cut unprofitable flights and inefficient planes, meaning even fewer empty seats than there are now.

The good news: airlines are required to offer richer rewards — twice the amount of money they used to pay out — for passengers bumped from a flight. The payoff can be even greater for people who know how to bargain,” The Times reported this week.

In the first six months of the year, about 343,000 passengers were denied seats on planes, according to the Department of Transportation, out of 282 million passengers. Most of those people volunteered to give up their seats in return for some form of compensation, like a voucher for a free flight, said The Times.

“But DOT statistics also show about 1.16 of every 10,000 passengers had their seats taken away outright because of overbooking — which may sound like a low rate, until your name is called. ‘I hear all kinds of nightmares,’ said Clay Escobedo, a supervisor at the Reno/Tahoe International Airport in Nevada. He was told earlier this week that there were not enough seats for his family on a Horizon Air flight to Los Angeles, where they were to connect for a trip to a resort in Mexico. ‘I didn’t think it could happen to me.’” The Times said.

Importantly, the Times reported, “Travelers can now receive up to $400 if they are involuntarily bumped and rebooked on another flight within two hours after their original domestic flight time and within four hours for international. They are eligible for up to $800 in cash if they are not rerouted by then. The final amount depends on the length of the flight and the price paid for the ticket. Even stricter rules apply in Europe, where compensation ranges from 125 Euros (about $185) to 600 Euros (about $888), depending on the length of the flight and the amount of time the passenger will be delayed. Compensation must be paid immediately in cash, or with a voucher if the passenger accepts it, and the airline must offer a choice of a refund, a return flight to their departure city or an alternative flight. Volunteers also receive compensation, which they negotiate with the airline. Passengers are learning, however, that if an airline does not get enough volunteers at a lower figure, they might be able to bid up the offer, and also obtain sweeteners that include vouchers for meals, hotels, transportation and even plane tickets.”

For the complete story go to http://www.nytimes.com/


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More Frustrated Fliers Taking to the Rails;
Amtrak Gains Riders Weary of Price Hits, Delays

Photos: Gerald Martineau - The Washington Post 

Passengers prepare to board the 5 p.m. Acela train from Union Station to Baltimore. Amtrak is considering expanding the high-speed train line.

Rising airfares push more people to Amtrak, whose ridership rose 13 percent from May to July, compared with the same period in 2007.

AUGUST 29 -- Travelers this Labor Day weekend expressed their preference for choosing Amtrak rather than flying. In a Washington Post story by staff writer Sholnn Freeman, it’s clear why ridership numbers on trains are soaring while airlines report a decline.

“Jada Golden stood in the waiting lounge at Union Station, explaining why Amtrak is a better way to travel than an airline. ‘It’s as heavy as we want,’ Golden said, pointing to an oversize suitcase. ‘We can put it on a rack in the rail car and get things out of it.’

“Golden, 36 and a Boston schoolteacher, pointed to another bag -- a large paper grocery bag filled with sandwiches, salads, water and fruit. ‘You can bring food,’ she said, ‘and pick your own seat. I don’t have a flight attendant telling me when to use electronics. And I don’t have to worry about security headaches and delays. You’re always delayed in the airport. You always have connecting flights.’ “

With delays, airport congestion, and sky-high jet fuel prices draining the romance and convenience out of air travel, Americans have increasingly turned to Amtrak for summer travel, the story continued.

The railroad was expecting 322,000 riders over Labor Day weekend, a 10 percent increase from last year, while the airline industry projected a decline of 6.5 percent in domestic travel over the holiday period.

Alexander Kummant, Amtrak’s president and chief executive, said the rail line has had “very strong numbers around the country” since spring, especially on routes connecting major cities. The biggest growth has been in California, which has some of the nation’s highest gas prices, he said.

Freeman’s story cites some impressive numbers:

  • The Pacific Surfliner -- which runs between San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo -- carried 301,000 riders last month, a 12.3 percent increase compared with July 2007.
  • Traffic on the Oakland and Sacramento line was 162,000 in July, up 33 percent.
  • In the Northwest, riders on the line connecting Portland, Seattle and Vancouver climbed last month to 78,000, a 12.5 percent jump.
  • In the Midwest, the Chicago to Milwaukee route carried 79,000 passengers in July, up 38 percent.
  • And in the Northeast, trains between Harrisburg, Pa., and Philadelphia, and between Boston and Portland, Maine, have also had double-digit gains.

Kummant said that the East Coast Acela has reached capacity with 273,000 travelers in July, a 5.5 percent increase. Amtrak is considering adding cars, an option that won’t be cheap or easy.

Even the most basic cars, he said, typically start at $1 million apiece. He also described an expansion as an engineering challenge that might entail upgrading power units and braking systems.

Amtrak’s recent growth doesn’t mean the service is ready to shed its federal support, Kummant said. The new revenue from growing ticket sales is eaten up by inflation and higher costs for energy, materials and labor. The railroad now receives an annual subsidy of about $1.3 billion.

[Editor’s note: For years, Amtrak officials struggled to keep the railroad afloat on a paltry $500 million a year, just enough for the corporation to die slowly, forced to defer billions of dollars worth of necessary maintenance.]

The Government Accountability Office has consistently blamed federal leaders for failing to establish stable funding for the rail service.

Amtrak’s growth has come as airlines are retrenching, trimming flight schedules primarily in response to high-energy prices. The flight cuts started showing up this summer and will intensify through the year.

John Heimlich, chief economist of the Air Transport Association, the airline industry’s Washington lobbying group, said the airlines are sacrificing volume to focus on the profitability of remaining flights.

“We simply can’t afford to carry every passenger who wants to fly,” he said.

Another reason travelers are turning to rail is cost; the fares are becoming more and more competitive with air travel. An Acela round-trip ticket from Washington to Boston can range from $290 to as high as $482 for tickets purchased for peak periods (though regular, slower service can cost as little as $87 each way when bought in advance). An airline ticket between the two cities purchased two weeks in advance, costs about $427. Purchase the ticket a day in advance and the cost could rise to $1,600. While the plane takes about an hour and 45 minutes and the Acela about 6 1/2 hours, travelers must add at least an extra hour on each end of the trip for security procedures at the airport.

Mikhael Garver, a theater director from New York City who travels frequently, said, “Every plane I’ve taken in the last two years has been at least an hour delayed if not seven to nine hours. It’s just not worth it when I’m doing East Coast travel.”


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QUALITY OF LIFE... Quality Of Life...

Mobilizing The Region

 

Highway Removal Olympics:
Who Will Win The Gold?

From The Tri-State Transportation Campaign

NCI Editor’s note: More than half a century after the Interstate Highway System was used not only to connect American cities by asphalt, but also as a tool to clear urban slum areas, the Tri State Transportation Campaign’s newsletter Mobilizing the Region reports that the “race is on” to see which major highway project will be ripped up and returned to its’ former “grid” residential pattern. The betting is on New Haven, and its city-wrecking “downtown connector.” New Haven earned the name “The Model City” under Mayor Richard Lee, who was President Lyndon Johnson’s poster child for Great Society slum clearing programs, many of which used highway construction as a tool to wipe out neighborhoods, largely minority, seen as blighted.

 

NEW YORK-NEW JERSEY-CONNECTICUT --- MTR readers may be surprised to learn that there are six serious proposals to remove urban highways in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Though the size, location, and economic situation of the host cities varies, all the projects aim to remove highways that bisect urban life and redevelop them into, well, cities, with things like housing, streets, parks, and offices.

The six projects are the Sheridan Expressway in the South Bronx, Route 5 in Buffalo, I-81 in Syracuse, Route 29 in Trenton, Route 34 in New Haven, and I-84 in Hartford. Right now, all but Route 5 in Buffalo (which is under litigation) are in the study phase. This situation begs the question: which project will win the “Race to Removal” gold medal? Below MTR offers an update on each project, along with speculation about who will win.

A Pratt Center rendering of future development on the Sheridan footprint.

Swapping the Sheridan in the South Bronx

There is the long discussed plan to remove the Sheridan Expressway in the South Bronx and replace it with 28 acres of parks and housing. Advocacy by the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance, which includes Tri-State, Pratt Center, Sustainable South Bronx, Nos Quedamos, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice and Mothers on the Move, successfully inserted the community plan into NYSDOT’s study of ways to increase access to Hunts Point market. The study is now reviewing four alternatives, two of these would remove the Sheridan.

Will it win the gold? It’s possible, but the silver is more likely. This project is on a good track, and NYSDOT Commissioner Astrid Glynn could use the Sheridan’s removal to step up her smart growth game, which so far has been rather passive. Recent design changes, strong community backing, and a blossoming interest in smart growth statewide also bode well for the teardown plan. The project is not moving rapidly however. It was first conceived in the mid-’90s (see MTR #s 124 and 181); the first step in the environmental review process was in 2003, the full environmental review did not start until last summer, and NYSDOT officials have said the study will not be complete until 2010. In other words, it may succeed, but it will take a few more years.

Battling in Buffalo

After years of study, the NYS DOT recently began the construction phase of a project to keep the berm-style elevated Route 5 roadway instead of replacing it with an at-grade boulevard that would increase access to Lake Erie. In response, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, city council members, and recreation groups sued the agency in January, hoping to win modifications to the plan. The boulevard design, which would run from the Buffalo Skyway to Union Ship Canal, would open 77 acres for waterfront development and create the same number of jobs as the elevated alternative.

A billboard in Buffalo evokes a famous Ronald Reagan quote to call for the transformation of Route 5 into a boulevard.

Bizarrely, the first phase of construction involves knocking down part of the roadway only to rebuild it again at a taller height. Equally frustrating, according to Riverkeeper executive director Julie Barrett O’Neil, is that NYSDOT was supportive of the boulevard design until the very last minute. The group also notes in a press release that an elevated Route 5 would work against efforts to eventually remove the nearby Skyway. In December 2006, Congress for the New Urbanism, Center for Neighborhood Technology, and Smart Mobility studied traffic patterns along the corridor and found that its low traffic volumes could easily be accommodated on a surface street. For more on this project, see this excellent video and Riverkeeper’s website

Will it win the gold? The project may not win the gold medal, but the staff of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper should receive one for their hard work and advocacy.

Studying in Syracuse

The Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council commenced a study in April to investigate options for I-81, an elevated roadway that is reaching the end of its life. The multi-year study is being co-led by NYSDOT and will include three parts: a study of potential alternatives for I-81, a traffic modeling analysis, and a public participation process. The Onondaga Citizens League, a non-profit organization, is also conducting its own study to “think creatively” about the future of I-81, including the social, cultural, and economic impacts of various alternatives.

Will it win the gold?

Probably not. Like I-84 in Hartford (see below), the I-81 viaduct is part of the interstate highway system, raising the degree of difficulty for plans to remove the road or reroute traffic. Governmental timelines for the project are infinite; there is no completion date for any of the three studies. However, the Onondaga Citizens League’s study will be complete next spring and could help push the project along. Still, the group’s executive vice president, Sandra Barrett, predicts “a five to ten year process” before the roadway’s future is decided.

At Left: I-81 runs through downtown Syracuse, bisecting the city and prohibiting development.

Trenton Proposal
The City of Trenton released a Request for Proposals this past May for a market feasibility study of potential development along the Route 29 footprint. Route 29 runs along Trenton’s waterfront, and prohibits community access to the Delaware River. A boulevard design for the roadway has been studied by NJDOT for many years as part of its innovative “NJFIT” approach to connecting land use and transportation. The project has been split into two parts, one north of Calhoun to Sullivan Way and one south of Calhoun to Cass St. Only the southern study is moving forward and the market feasibility study is running about four months behind schedule; a consultant has not yet been selected.

Will it win the gold? Probably not, but the silver or bronze is very possible. The project has backing from the city and state, though disagreements remain about who will pay for the project. Another issue is the reduction in NJFIT program staff at NJDOT, and the agency’s focus on state-level financial problems (see TSTC’s report, “Trouble Ahead? Tracking NJDOT’s Priorities“). However, the results of the market feasibility study should help push the project along.

L-R: New Haven’s Oak Street neighborhood in the 1950s, the area in the 1970s after the construction of the Route 34 Connector, and today.

The Elm City Express

In New Haven, Mayor John DeStefano and community groups are working to remove Route 34, which bisects the city, recreate the street grid, and add housing and office opportunities. The project is now part of the Mayor’s larger, exciting vision to reconnect the city to the New Haven train station, and promote development nearby. The project is anticipated to cost to 100 million dollars and is now moving forward at a rapid pace.

Will it win the gold? This one looks like the front-runner. The project is being pushed by the mayor and has strong newspaper editorial board and community support (over 150 people attended Tri-State’s symposium on the issue in April). In fact, the City’s community planning process for the corridor’s redevelopment, which started in July, is expected to be finished in just eight months. The funding is not lined up yet, but cost estimates are not prohibitive and new leadership from ConnDOT Commissioner Joseph Marie bodes well for state support.

Finding Hartford’s Hub

Responding to news that the I-84 viaduct through Hartford will need to be replaced in 10-15 years, TSTC board member and Project for Public Spaces associate Toni Gold mobilized the Hub of Hartford group last year to study methods to reduce the roadway’s impact on the city. Though near-term maintenance projects are commencing, the Hub group, a coalition of citizens, and the local MPO, the Capital Region Council of Governments, are seeking a consultant to study alternatives such as bringing Interstate 84 to ground level, rerouting the highway around the city, or burying the highway.

Will it win the gold? Probably not. The study is meant to be long-term and an expressway of this size will be costly to bury or move. But stay tuned: the Hub of Hartford members have proved their ideas credible and their effort serious, so speedier timelines and broad backing by elected officials is likely.

That’s six urban highway removal projects in three states that are seriously being studied and pushed forward. And that doesn’t even include ideas to bury the Cross Bronx or Gowanus Expressways in NYC. Who do you think will win the gold?


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)107.40103.47
Canadian National (CNI)52.5350.77
Canadian Pacific (CP)60.7559.70
CSX (CSX)65.3963.73
Florida East Coast (FLA)62.5162.51
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)43.0142.17
Kansas City Southern (KSU)51.4350.53
Norfolk Southern (NSC)73.5370.99
Providence & Worcester (PWX)19.4019.35
Union Pacific (UNP)83.9079.55


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FREIGHTLINES... Freight Lines...

Hurricane Gustav Prompts BNSF
To Close New Orleans Facility

From Dallas Business Journal On The Internet

AUGUST 28 -- Burlington Northern Sante Fe Corporation announced on Thursday, August 28, that it would close one of its intermodal facilities in New Orleans in preparation for the landing of Hurricane Gustav.

A spokesman for Fort Worth-based BNSF Corp., a railroad operator, said the New Orleans facility will be closed, effective noon Friday. Trains going in and out of the city will be temporarily shut down.

BNSF has approximately 20 employees at that location. Train operations will be delayed until the company gets a better idea of what the conditions will be in the area, the spokesman said.


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Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports:
Operating Railroads + Ports, Intermodal Facilities,
And Government Environment
By Chalmers (Chop) Hardenbergh
Publisher And Editor
Used With Permission

www.Atlanticnortheast.Com

Springfield Terminal: Possible Bio-Energy

SOUTH PORTLAND, MAINE, JULY 25 -- Maine Renewable Energy Consortium (MREC) outlined plans for a bio-energy complex to South Portland City Council members, located on land off Duck Pond Road in Rumery Park, an industrial park. Councilors made no decision on the project, which is in early stages.

Led by local developer James Talbot and partners Don Johnson of Portland (owner of Phoenix Welding) and Gordon Hurtubise of South Portland, MREC would build the $60 million project in three phases:

• A 4MW biomass-burning steam and electricity generator. MERC would sell output to local businesses and the New England power grid.

• A ‘fermentation bio-reactor’ to produce butanol and acetone from sugar beets. Butanol could be a fuel additiveor alternative fuel. Initially, the butanol and acetone would go for traditional uses as paint thinner, brake fluid and solvents.

“We want to get this up and working and be the first in the country to do this. This would be a showpiece,” said Talbot. Although making motor fuel from fermented sugar has been explored, the US has no commercial-scale sugar to butanol operations because of production costs. Talbot said the technology is improving to make the economics work.

• Use the carbon dioxide and distilled water created from the fermentation process to grow specialty crops or flowers in a commercial greenhouse, possibly located on top of the city’s old landfill, which has been capped and sealed.

“This is a completely bio-friendly production process” that sends the emissions back into the production process, noted David Martin, an engineering consultant with the project.

Rail or port use

Talbot told the City Council that his group is looking at other Maine sites, as well. He said after the workshop that MRECis also considering a site in Aroostook County, but prefers the South Portland site because the finished product could move by pipeline, tank truck or rail line. The plant also could receive shipments of wood chips by rail or by barge.


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Providence & Worcester (P&W) Branch Clearance

WORCESTER, AUGUST 21 --- P&W Has Undercut Two Highway Bridges on the Gardner Branch, and can now run 19’6” high cars (autoracks and mixed double intermodal) from Worcester to Gardner. The track work, announced in April, took place from 16 to 18 August.


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Providence & Worcester: Rhode Island Customer Follow-up

CUMBERLAND, RI, AUGUST 20 ---Kik Customer Products will end production on 26 September, according to an official at the plant. It announced in March that it would close in the autumn, meaning the loss of about 10 carloads a year for PW.


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Providence & Worcester: Win One Lose One

OXFORD, RI, AUGUST 22. R & M Leasing has begun accepting rail cars at its facility on Dana Street, said President Ron Perry. “Over the last month we have received 10-12 rail cars of wood pellets for two customers, the latest from Tennessee. The customer uses its own trucks to pick up from his warehouse and deliver direct to its recipients using a forklift riding on the back of the truck.

While in 2006 PW had quoted possible rail customers a too-high rate, now “the railroad is sending customers my way,” Perry noted. Its rates, over which he has no control, now clearly permit the use of rail.

Perry said he offers customers trucking: he has 47 tractors and 300 trailers at his fleet facility on Town Forest Road in Oxford.

TI Logistics closed

But another Oxford rail user, TI Logistics, closed, said Perry. It had expanded from Worcester to Oxford in 2002. TI sold the Worcester facility on 66 Atlas Street (formerly Sack Storage), on CSXT to Regency Warehouse.


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

From David Beale
NCI Foreign Correspondent

 

Deutsche Bahn Raises Ticket Prices By 3.9 % Average

Politicians And Consumer Advocacy Groups Enraged

BERLIN – Deutsche Bahn – German Railways – announced today that it will raise ticket prices by an average of 3.9% for its intercity (IC), intercity express (ICE), Eurocity (EC), and Euronight (EN) trains effectively in mid-December when the new system timetable for 2009 goes into effect. A Deutsche Bahn spokesman stated that the fare increase was necessary in order to cover dramatically increased energy and personnel costs. Additionally, DB will start to add a surcharge of EUR 2.50 (US $3.75) or more for persons who order tickets either over the phone or at Deutsche Bahn ticket counters.


Photo: Deutsche Bahn AG

A Deutsche Bahn ICE-1 high speed train blasts along the Hannover – Würzburg high speed corridor (opened in 1991) north of Göttingen in summer of 2006.

The announcement drew swift and harsh criticism from the left-leaning SPD and Green political parties as well as several consumer advocacy groups and passenger rail alliances. A number of members of Germany’s parliament objected to the fare increase and stated that the increase is meant to bolster Deutsche Bahn’s impending stock market debut, and has little do with personnel costs or energy prices.


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OPINION... Opinion...

McCain, Obama Overlook Transportation

By Dave Demerjian
Sent To D:F By Howard Harding

For better or worse, the presidential campaign has kicked into high gear and both Barack Obama and John McCain are touting platforms covering everything from the economy to Iraq. We’re disappointed to see neither candidate considers transportation a top-tier issue.

Transportation isn’t even listed under the “issues” tab each candidate has on his website (McCain here, Obama here). That’s a big mistake because transportation lies at the heart of some of the biggest issues we face -- energy, the environment, public infrastructure and competitiveness in the global economy, to name a few.

Both candidates need to realize this and make transportation a front-burner issue.

Los Angeles Traffic

Of course, the proposals they offer are as broad as they are vague, and each takes a different approach to addressing the issue. Obama spells out his ideas in a two-page policy paper (single spaced with half inch margins) titled “Investing in 21st Century Transportation” two-page policy paper that offers the following points:

Strengthen infrastructure -- Obama acknowledges our nation’s railways, highways, bridges, airports and city streets are a mess and says “strengthening the transportation system” is a top priority.

Support Amtrak -- Obama supported the Passenger Rail Investment and Innovation Act, Passenger Rail Investment and Innovation Act which promised a long-term financial commitment to Amtrak, but says the railroad needs reform. Running-mate Joe Biden takes the train between D.C. and Wilmington weekly and is a vocal supporter of Amtrak, but what will that mean for policy?

Ease congestion -- Obama’s game plan is to empower the states by requiring them to roll out more bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly roads and giving them the money to do it.

Overhaul the nation’s air transport system -- Obama supports maintaining the Essential Air Service Program, Essential Air Service Program hiring more air-traffic controllers and modernizing the country’s creaky air-traffic control system.

McCain is more focused on making cars more efficient and moving them beyond petroleum, and he explicitly links transportation policy with energy use. That much is clear in the title of his policy paper his policy paper -- – “The Nation Cannot Reduce Its Dependency on Oil Unless We Change How We Power Our Transportation Sector.” So what does he suggest?

Automaker tax credits - “ McCain wants to issue a “Clean Car Challenge” to Detroit with a $5,000 tax credit for each customer who buys a zero-emission car. The idea is to start a race between automakers to put new technology on the road.

A battery-technology prize “- A McCain administration would award $300 million to whoever develops a battery that leapfrogs everything we’ve got in terms of size, capacity, cost and power.

Flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) -- U.S. automakers have committed to making 50 percent of their cars capable of burning gasoline, ethanol and other fuels by 2012, but McCain wants them to move faster. He cites Brazil as a model.

Expand alcohol-based fuels and eliminate tariffs - “ McCain says alcohol-based fuels offer great promise but subsidies and mandates focusing solely on corn-based ethanol are short-sighted and must be eliminated.

Enforce CAFE Standards “- McCain’s camp says he has long supported fuel economy standards but some automakers ignore them, pay the penalty for doing so and simply roll the fines into the price of their cars. McCain wants to raise these penalties until all automakers are compelled to meet CAFE Standards consistently.

Both men offer some good ideas, even if they’re vague on details, but neither one says anything about how they’ll pay for them. Given all the issues the next president will face and the general lack of emphasis the candidates are placing on transportation, it isn’t hard to see the issue being all but ignored by the next administration.

That would be a shame, because aggressively promoting alternative fuels, developing battery technology and laying the groundwork for moving us beyond oil would go a long way toward addressing some of the issues already at the top of the next administration’s to-do list.


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EDITORIAL... Editorial...

The Election Of The Century? At Least!

By James P. Repass, Publisher
Destination:Freedom

Well, they’re off. The longest campaign cycle ever – it started in November 2004 when the current president, who can not succeed himself, was elected --- and this one looks like it will go down to the wire.

Right now, the Democrats are far ahead in the polls when asked what party most closely represents their own views, but when the choice is McCain vs. Obama, the numbers drop to even. We will see who gets the bigger “bounce” after the conventions finish up – the Democrats last week, the Republican this --- but one thing is certain: a donnybrook is at hand.

What does this campaign mean for those of us who believe in infrastructure and the need to make America strong again by investing in it – especially in its most neglected mode, rail, which far and away offers the best hope of restoring America’s competitiveness while reducing our dependence on foreign oil?

Right now, if there were a poll of advocates, we suspect that Obama would win hands down. His running mate, Joe Biden, is a long-time Amtrak supporter – and rider --- and Obama himself has reached out to the advocacy community.

John McCain is famous for his hatred of Amtrak, and his vice presidential choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is not likely to have Amtrak high on her list --- Alaska has no Amtrak service --- but the jury is still out on that ticket, because they have yet to define their views and make them public when it comes to infrastructure and the challenges America faces at home and in the world.

We may get a chance to learn, though, because, on October 10, Mayor John Robert Smith of Meridian, MS, is hosting an important regional conference of the Southern Rapid Rail Transit Commission, with the help of the National Corridors Initiative, and both candidates have been invited to attend, and address, the conference on their views.

The October 10 Summit Conference On the Transportation Future of the American South, which is being held for state officials, transportation leaders, and advocates, will take place at Meridian’s Union Station.

It should be noted that Mayor Smith is not only the former Chairman of the Board of Amtrak, he is also the Chairman of the National Corridors Initiative, and along with his colleague Amtrak Vice Chairman Michael Dukakis, will both be present in Mississippi on October 10 to welcome the campaigns of both parties, and afford them the opportunity to make their views clear – not just on Amtrak, but on America’s failing infrastructure. In addition, the all-star event’s keynote speaker is States for Passenger Rail Chairman Frank Busalacchi, who is Secretary of Transportation of Wisconsin, Chair, and was Passenger Rail Working Group, US Congress’ National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission.

So, we shall see, and so will America. This is one election that counts.


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

Dear Editor

Georgia State Sen Mullis, speaking of MagLev, said that he felt the US was 30 yrs behind other countries. Unfortunatly that is true if you are looking for working evidence, but that can be changed if people like him actively promote it. Millions have been spent on studies but not a spadeful of dirt has been turned.

Dr Robert Goddard, the Father of American Rocketry, wrote a paper in 1905 on the idea of magnetically suspended trains. The technology wasn’t available then but it is now. At Goddard Space flight Center we successfully developed magnetically suspended attitude control devices. They are up there now, running continuously for years. This U.S. technology is available here and now, if all the seed money were not spent on studies.

What we need is the “Can Do” spirit that made America great.

Sincerely,

Philip A. Studer
pastuder@netzero.com


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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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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