Vol. 8 No. 36
Copyright © 2007
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elected and appointed officials at all levels of government.
In this edition...
New Hampshire Seeks New Commissioner
For its Department of Transportation
CONCORD --- New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch is advertising for a new Commissioner of Transportation for his state. What might be seen as an ordinary want ad (reproduced below) is in fact highly symbolic of the political ground shift taking place in this, for many decades, the most conservative of New England states.
The new Commissioner of Transportation will succeed current incumbent Commissioner Charles OLeary who assumed the unexpired term of current Transportation Commissioner Carol Murray, who resigned March 1. OLearys term expires December 3.
OLeary previously served as commissioner of the Department of Transportation from 1990 to 1996. After leaving the department, OLeary became president and partner of Northeast Concrete Products based in Plainview, Mass., a position he held until retiring in December 2004.
OLeary as transportation commissioner was opposed to rail projects in that state, and he has consistently been seen by transportation experts as hostile to progressive, i.e., non-highway, transportation strategies, calling rail advocates, in print Luddites.
As the Manchester Union Leader reported of OLeary: He hates trains. He said last week they are a 250-year-old transportation system favored by the Luddites of modern transportation, Buses, he says, are the new mass transit.
New Hampshire is facing problems of automobile congestion and sprawl development, especially in its increasingly densely populated Southern tier, which have been growing sharply worse in the 1990s and 2000s, as they have elsewhere inn America. It elected Governor John Lynch, and a Democratically-controlled House and Senate, in 2004 and then re-elected him in 2006, in a landslide over state Rep. Jim Coburn (R), giving Democrats control of both Houses of the Legislature and the Governors office for the first time since just after the Civil War. The National Republican Party is so concerned over these developments that they have targeted New Hampshire for intensive spending on behalf of GOP candidates in the coming 2008 presidential election year.
(Thanks to Peter J. Griffin for the news tip---DF)
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Governor John Lynch, on behalf of the State of New Hampshire, seeks candidates to apply for the position of Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. The DOT Commissioner leads a department of approximately 2000 people with a budget of $550 million. Utilizing strong leadership, vision and experience, the Commissioner is responsible for planning, constructing and maintaining a comprehensive, efficient, economic and environmentally sensitive transportation system for the State of New Hampshire.
Interested candidates are referred to http://www.nh.gov/governor/dot_commissioner.html for a detailed description of duties, qualifications and information on how to apply.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries to Test
Battery-Powered Light Rail Vehicle
Hong Kong --- Kawasaki Heavy Industries will begin test runs in October of a light rail vehicle powered by a Nickel Metal-Hydride battery, according to The Nikkei Weekly, an English-language business newspaper providing news, editorials and commentary about Japan.
The light rail car will be able to use power from overhead catenaries as well as the on-board batteries, reports Nikkei Weekly, which are installed below the passenger seats. The light rail car supports regenerative braking to recharge the batteries.
European rolling stock manufacturers Alstom and Lohr have been working with Saft NiMH batteries on similar light-rail vehicles for use in cities that want to keep historic areas clear of the catenaries, Nikkei Weekly reports.
In its press announcement, Kawasaki said:
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. today announced that it will start test runs of a tram car powered by its proprietary nickel metal-hydride Gigacell battery, developed for a next-generation light rail vehicle (LRV).
Kawasaki plans to complete production of the test car for the super-low floor LRV, dubbed SWIMO (Smooth WIn MOver), in 2007.
The test car is about 50 feet long, with a capacity of 63 passengers and a top speed of 25 miles per hour. The floor is only 13 inches from the ground at the entrance, making it easier for passengers to board. It has been kept flat to accommodate a variety of seat configurations. Kawasaki designed a new bogie that is the key technology in realizing the low floor height. The SWIMO generates power on braking, which charges the Gigacell battery.
Because the Gigacell enables operations without a constant supply of electricity from overhead lines, traffic systems can be designed with a reduced number of lines, thus helping to preserve the beauty of the cityscape, Kawasaki said.
Kawasakis Gigacell battery is tailored to large-scale applications, with quick charge/discharge capabilities, the company said.
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Photo: KawasakiKawasaki light rail vehicle in Tokyo
Eurostar via Chunnel sets Paris-London record
LONDON-PARIS --- Eurostar, the trans-Channel supertrain that began service just over a decade ago, has set a record on the first-run journey Paris-London via Britains new high-speed line, the BBC reported this week.
The train, carrying journalists and VIPs, arrived at St Pancras, instead of Waterloo, for the first time. It took two hours, three minutes, 39 seconds, the BBC. That is thirty-one minutes faster than the regular 2 hour 35 minute run via Waterloo.
The new 68-mile line through the English countryside to St. Pancras is expected to help cut Paris to London journey times by 20 minutes to two hours, 15 minutes, when it begins regular service November 14.
Construction of the line and revamping St Pancras cost £5.8 billion (US$11.7 billion) in public funds.
The new route will carry passengers between London and a number of European cities far faster than they can fly those routes: London-Paris 2 hours and 15 minutes; London-Brussels 1hour and 51 minutes; London-Lille 1hour 20 minutes.
The BBCs Nick Higham, on board the train, told the BBC that a GPS device had recorded a speed of 202 miles per hour (325km/h) in France and 195miles per hour in Britain.
Trains will normally reach speeds of up to 186 miles per hour in Britain.
The train joins the new 68-mile (110km) line, known as High Speed 1, at the Channel Tunnel near Folkestone, and travels across England to Londons St Pancras International station
It passed through the new £100 million Ebbsfleet International station near Dartford, in Kent.
Ben Ruse, of London and Continental Railways, the company behind the new line, told the BBC: Its an absolute milestone in the history of rail travel in the UK.
It was a combination of the power of the train and top-notch, specific engineering of the track that had enabled the train to travel at the same speed on the continent and in the UK, he said.
Richard Brown, Eurostars CEO, told the BBC: Its as quick and more frequent and we will be matching airline prices.
Eurostar trains have always traveled along the French section of the route at high speeds but were forced to slow down on the British side because they shared a track with commuter services in and out of London (in the United States the high speed Acela Express must do the same). In Connecticut between New Haven and New York, which is owned but poorly maintained by the State of Connecticut, the 165-mph train is forced to crawl along at 70 miles per hour.
It nevertheless makes the 231 mile Boston-New York run in three and one-half hours, far better than the 5-6 hours required before the line from New Haven to Boston, owned or dispatched by Amtrak, was, after decades of delay, electrified (1991-1999). The National Corridors Initiative, non-partisan 501(c)3 publisher of Destination:Freedom, negotiated the release of the funds needed to restart that project in three negotiating sessions at the White House 1990-1991 with the Bush (I) Administration Office of Management and Budget. OMB, which had aggressively blocked the project since 1980, at last agreed to release the first $125 million needed, in September of 1991.
Richard Brown, chief executive of Eurostar, said he hoped that by 2010, 10 million people would travel by Eurostar each year. Today marks Britains entry into the European high-speed rail club, he told the BBC.
He said journey times to Paris, even for people traveling from Yorkshire, would be broadly the same as for those flying due to lengthier check-in times at airports.
Its as quick and more frequent... and we will be matching airline prices.
Nigel Harris, managing editor of Rail Magazine, said he was thrilled to be among the first passengers to travel on the new high-speed line.
He told the BBC it would mean that hundreds of thousands of people from north of London would be able to travel to Paris without facing the drag of traveling across London on bus, Tube or train to get to Waterloo.
Critics though say that unless passengers start their journey in London, the cost of rail travel to reach St Pancras is prohibitive.
But Brown told BBC News 24 negotiations were under way with train companies which operate north of London to put in place attractive through-fares from Yorkshire, Scotland and the Midlands to Paris and Brussels.
Eurostar tickets from London to Paris start from £59 (about US $119.44) for a round-trip ticket. Because Amtrak was ordered by Congress, in 1998, to break even or face shut-down, it has sharply raised its fares, so that an Acela round trip ticket between Boston and New York, while still very cost-competitive compared with flying, is $196, about 64% more for a trip that is actually 70 miles shorter than the 302 miles between Paris and London.
Texans Debate Value of Trains
DALLAS-FORT WORTH --- An agreement between transportation officials from East Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth region could be the turning point for getting high speed passenger rail service along the Interstate 20 corridor. The first railroad spike is still years away, if it happens.
The idea for high-speed passenger service between East Texas and the Dallas metroplex is one of several similar proposals across the state. There are ideas for two proposed south central Texas corridors for high-speed rail to connect Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Killeen.
Local rail advocates say the service would create additional evacuation options in case of disasters and trim the reliance on automobiles and fuel burning.
It could also relieve traffic on existing railroads and provide reliable transit for East Texans, according to rail and Longview city officials. They point to the Amtrak Texas Eagle, which has been taken off the national system because of delays at several stops along the route. Because the Texas Eagle has been taken off the national system, its passengers usually must wait overnight in large cities when they try to connect with another Amtrak route.
You have freight and passenger traffic on the same track ... Everywhere (the Texas Eagle) goes, its running late, Longview Partnership President Kelly Hall said on Aug. 7 during a signing of a memorandum of understanding in which about 75 officials in the region agreed to help spur rail expansion from Fort Worth to Shreveport. She said existing rail lines need dual tracks lines that run parallel to double transit capacity.
Its so much more cost effective to build new rail than build new interstate highways, Hall said. We just need the dual tracks to make this happen, and thats going to happen with a lot of lobbying efforts.
Pushing for the system:
Among the rail advocates in this region is the East Texas Corridor Council, a group that began with informal conversations about six years ago to save the Amtrak Texas Eagle. The council joined officials from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to secure a loan that kept the train running temporarily until the Texas Eagle got help from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson at the federal level, according to Celia Boswell, chairman of the council.
(Hutchinson) didnt start out pro-rail. She started from a grassroots request from those of us in East Texas to get through some hard spots, said Boswell. She listened and responded, which led me to believe that maybe the system works.
For the system to continue working in Boswell and other rail advocates favor, they will need support from many different sources. In 2003, a high-speed rail corridor between Austin and San Antonio received funding for planning under a $284 billion federal transportation bill. That stretch could one day become part of the Texas T-Bone, a connection of high-speed rail routes that would reach Houston, Dallas, Killeen and south Texas. An Interstate 20 corridor would bring East Texas and Shreveport onto the tracks.
To get local efforts off the ground and running, a memorandum of understanding was signed in August between the East Texas Council of Governments and the North Central Texas Council of Governments in support of a high speed rail along the Interstate 20 corridor. More than 75 elected officials, rail advocates and residents from both regions signed a document that some of them say will provide a new reliable form of transportation for two growing regions.
Theres no longer reliability on the roadway system, because you could have an accident or construction on the interstate. In Texas, were blessed with a redundant system, so if Interstate 20 shuts down, you can take U.S. 80, said Michael Morris, transportation director of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. We know everyone is not going to take the train, but more and more, a larger share of travelers will go by passenger train. Thats why were building them as fast as we can.
Numbers at a high:
According to a recent story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the number of passengers using the Texas Eagle from Chicago through northeast Texas and on to San Antonio has more than doubled, and ticket revenue has increased about two-thirds in the past decade. Ridership growth leaped from about 150,000 passengers a year in 2003 to more than 230,000 passengers by 2004, and it has remained at that plateau ever since. Since 2000, ticket revenue has remained between $13 million and $16.8 million which was recorded in 2006.
Despite the increase and ridership and revenue, only one Amtrak route the high-speed service between Washington, D.C., and New York City captures enough revenue to cover its costs, according to Salya Thallam, a former fiscal and urban policy analyst for the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute. He is now a research fellow and graduate student in Washington who has written and spoken on issues of urban growth, transportation, fiscal and tax policy and regulation.
Thallam said New York City and Washington are ideal places to subsidize rail transit, but the issue transforms when considering Western cities and states where growth and a dependency on cars developed during post-World War II growth. The landscape of cities like Houston and Dallas is spread out, to less densely populated areas away from the central core, which lead to the development of regional cores, or suburbs.
All this said, a new rail line may have at best an initial minor effect on adjacent traffic. But as cars become cheaper and cheaper (relative to the median income), people will always prefer to travel by car and truck when they can, and they will be able to do so more and more, Thallam said in an interview. Thallam noted that total transit-miles have increased several-fold since the 1950s while total passenger-miles carried on rail has fallen from near 50 percent during World War II to less than 2 percent now.
Local Amtrak and rail advocates, who report that more and more tickets for passenger rail service are being sold in Longview, are not deterred. Getting people to want to use rail service, though, has been complicated by delays in the Texas Eagle schedule, according to volunteers with the East Texas Corridor Council. Because Amtrak shares a rail line owned by Union Pacific Railroad, the Texas Eagle waits for freight trains to clear the track before it can depart the station. On Tuesday, passengers heading west to Dallas on a 9 a.m. departure were delayed about 90 minutes. Some days, the wait is three hours long, according to Griff Hubbard, president of the Gregg County Rail District.
Union Pacific is a private corporate and theyre overrun with business, said Natalie Rabicoff, a founding member of the Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Group, a coalition of mayors and rail advocates in Texas and Arkansas. She says new rail lines need to parallel existing lines just to meet existing freight demands.
Were going to have to double- and triple-track places that arent double- and triple-tracked, Rabicoff said. The freight train doesnt have enough track, from what it sounds like. Thats why Amtrak is made late.
In a brochure the East Texas Corridor Council released in February 2005, it was estimated that the cost of building high-speed rail lines between Marshall and Dallas is between $235 million and $250 million about the same cost as building a clover-leaf freeway interchange.
Rep. Tommy Merritt, R-Kilgore, introduced a proposal in this years legislative session to create a high-speed rail authority for the Texas-Louisiana and Texas-Mexico border regions. A House committee voted 5-0 in support of the bill, but it was never scheduled for full House debate and died.
Mr. Merritts bill is very forward thinking, said Hubbard, who spoke in favor of the bill before the 5-0 committee vote.
Hubbard told representatives on the panel that passenger rail service should not stop at a border, but that Texas should work for interstate connectivity with Louisiana, Arkansas and other neighbors. A North Central Texas Council of Governments study reported that everything inside a circle connecting Little Rock to Oklahoma City, to Dallas-Fort Worth, to San Antonio, to Houston and then north around Lufkin, Shreveport and back to Little Rock make the sixth-largest gross domestic product, or economy, in the world, Hubbard said.
You cant connect the major population centers of 500 miles or less without coming through the front door or the back door of East Texas, he said. Thats why I know its not a population issue.
The need for high speed
Texas is the second-largest state in the nation, with about 23 million people, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates. That population is predicted to reach 50 million by 2040.
The explosion of bodies moving here and across the state, weve got to have another mode of traffic, said Rabicoff. This is not just for freight and passenger rail, but its also for emergency evacuation, which we hope we never need. We all cant get in our cars, and rail service is the one mode of transportation that moves lots of people and freight.
Rail advocates believe expansion of passenger rail service, including high-speed rail, would ease congestion on existing freight rail lines.
I dont know if youll ever get the Texans out of their car, but it could potentially provide a small town resident a way to work, Mineola Mayor Pete Smith said. It reduces pollution, plus it provides an opportunity that you might not have otherwise, because sometimes the small town doesnt pay the same wages as the larger cities.
Boswell adds that a high-speed rail project between East Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth may not see substantive action for several years. The Interstate 35 corridor is the most congested in Texas, she said. After that, its the east-west corridor, which brings East Texas into play. Still, the region must continue to work with neighbors in Dallas, Louisiana, Arkansas and others to work as a team for federal transportation dollars, she said.
Transportation has to be seamless. We dont stop once you pass out of the East Texas corridor, said Boswell. It gets us working together for scarce dollars. All transportation things are partnerships. They have to be. As we work together with scarce dollars, we accomplish things.
She said that coalition must lobby federal and state lawmakers to get the funds for planning routes through the regions. The message should include that partnerships have been formed with adjoining urban centers, and that help is needed to get the job done, she said.
Boswell adds, If I was a representative of the people, I would hear that message. Find this article at: http://www.news-journal.com/news/content/news/stories/09022007_high_speed_rail.html
Commuter Rail Could Bring Business Perks
Click for Slide Show and Video Clip
ORLANDO --- The Orange County Commission was told this month that there will be more to commuter rail than just getting people from here to there and back.
The commuter rail system will run 61 miles, north and south, through Central Florida.
The first phase will run from DeBary in Volusia County through Seminole County to south Orange County. It is supposed to be up and running in three years, by 2010.
Orange County government will be responsible for one of the stations on that initial leg -- Sand Lake Road. According to Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, it is a critical station.
To the east youve got one of the biggest and best airports in the world, with now about 35 million passengers. To the west, youve got one of the biggest and best convention centers in the world, and its a tenant convention district, and youve got some theme parks. Yeah, some little known theme parks in the neighborhood. The opportunity to tee it off and run east-west, as well as north-south is pretty fabulous, Crotty said.
At one time the plan called for a route between the airport and the convention center that may be a dream now, but Crotty said they can certainly run buses in the meantime.
The development is called Transit Oriented Development, or TOD. It can become a small-scale urban center on its own with retail, residential, office space and more, all within walking distance. Pedestrian scale, say the planners, is important, and so are amenities.
Its not a panacea and it doesnt just happen. That is why planners briefed the county commission, because achieving TOD will take changes in the countys comprehensive plan.
As it turns out, Sand Lake may not be the best spot for full-blown TOD because of space limitations. Major roads already in the area create boundaries, but the idea definitely appeals to the county commission.
Some of the commissioners are already talking about possibilities at potential future stations.
There are 17 stations currently planned along the full 61-mile commuter rail route. Each station has its own distinct characteristics depending on location and already existing development.
Orange County planners said each community involved in stations is taking a different approach on how to develop them.
Selected Rail Stocks...
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A New Freight Railway Proposed
NEW BRUNSWICK, CA --- A proposal to build a new freight railway on the Acadian Peninsula in New Brunswick is moving ahead, according to entrepreneur Peter Swire. In December 2006, he presented to provincial ministers his plans.
The information below is based on responses to a series of questions about his proposal, in early 2007 from rail correspondent Steve Boyko, and in July from your editor.
Peter Swire, 50 and long time resident of Hamilton, Ontario, has a business degree from Queens University. In the 1980s, he advised two shortline Ontario railways: Trillium Railways Port Colborne operation incorporating under a Special Act, and a planned 48-mile freight operation over the former CN Uxbridge subdivision, bought by CN before it started operating. For a brief period of time in the mid-1990s, he served as officer and director of a NASDAQ-listed railway holding company based in Florida.
The traffic Swire anticipates is over 10,000 carloads in the first year. We already have sufficient shipper commitment (verbal and written but not contractual) to use the line. We would expect that the contractual commitments be firmed up in September....We have met about thirty shippers and we do have sufficient interest to warrant the development of the line covering a broad spectrum of industries and sizes, most moving under 500 cars per year. Swire declined to name any shippers, citing non-disclosure agreements....
From the onset of operations, there will be five days per week service over the entire system. Where demand warrants, a second turn is possible weekdays.
The product moved by rail:
First, Swire plans to provide an outbound daily service to the various peat producers. Outside of the cost of processing and bagging peat moss, freight is the largest S, G & A [sales, general and administrative] cost.
Second, the Acadian Railway will provide regular service for inbound semi-finished steel products and outbound fabricated goods. The area is well known for its expertise in manufacturing. Third, Swire will assist in the attraction of new businesses into the Peninsula by providing scheduled daily freight services. Several businesses were looking to expand in the region only to be turned away due to the absence of rail. I am aware of a number of opportunities which could land very quickly once the railway is being constructed.
The line will serve the same areas served by a predecessor railway, beginning in Bathurst and proceeding through Caraquet, then splitting to Tracadie and Shippagan. Initially, Swire planned an overland route between Bathurst and Caraquet. After detailed analysis of the issues of land assembly, hydrological issues, peat bogs, construction time and so forth, we are leaning towards utilizing most of the former right of way. However, this route has not yet been affirmed by the various stakeholders. The largest physical structure will be the construction of a new bridge crossing the Pokemouche River capable of handling weight and speed. We are fortunate that a Tracadie-based fabricator has the necessary ability and permitting to erect such a structure and even do the welding on the rails. The entire line will be [continuous welded rail]....Rail connection to Lameque Island will be handled through a rail barge. Complimenting the rail structure will be a small station (head office) and an inter-modal transloading facility in Caraquets Industrial Complex.
Service to two ports:
The original line that passed through Caraquet did have a small spur that worked its way to the edge of the wharves. This spur will be replaced and extended further into the port area. This past fall, a RO-RO vessel was in port to take on a cargo for St. Pierre. There is also an opportunity to develop part of the port lands at Bas-Caraquet for the purpose of a shipbreaking business. Until such time as the plans for the ship breaking business are finalized, no spur will be laid. The other shippers that are in the Bas Caraquet industrial part will use a transload / intermodal facility at Caraquet.
No government funding:
As we outlined in our December 6th press release and in our December 7th meeting with several Cabinet Ministers in Fredericton, the Acadian Railway Company did not request any form of capital or operating subsidies from the government. The railway development must be able to stand on its own two feet from the get go.
Reduction of truck traffic:
I can see a loss of longer haul freight off Highway 11 and 113 numbering in the thousands of existing and potential truckloads. However, when you consider the efficiency of labor and capital in the Acadian Peninsula, I would expect more commercial activity would require a significant number of shorter-haul truck movements from the planned inter-modal and transloading facility to the shipper.
Truckers now operating in the Acadian Peninsula, facing the cost of fuel and the spring thaw conditions, may consider that they could redeploy their assets in the south.
The Province has amended its Short Line Railway Act to permit the construction of new railways. Until the amendment in March of 2007, the Act only addressed the operation of current provincial railways, those whose operations did not cross the provincial boundary.
Swire wrote in early August: The [Act] was amended this past March at our request....The Honorable Denis Landry, Minister for Transportation, NB, was advised of the gap in the legislation and introduced Bill 36. It took about a month to enact the legislative changes. A government bill from first reading through committee and finally to Royal Assent in a month is a land speed record.
What Acadian must do for DOT:
Under the Act, as amended, Acadian must enter, with the Minister of Transportation an agreement for the purpose of establishing and ensuring safe and efficient shortline railway operations within the Province.
The regulations reference other, federal railway regulations the short line must abide by.
What NBDOT will do:
After NBDOT and Acadian have entered the agreement governing how the railway will operate, NBDOT will request Transport Canada to inspect the track, signals, and equipment of Acadian before it begins operation. Robb Francis, NBDOT transportation policy officer, rail safety and rail policy, said the province contracts out the inspection of provincial short lines to Transport Canada. Once Transport Canada has reported to NBDOT that Acadians operation will be safe, and Acadian has fulfilled the other regulations, it may begin operation.
Other permitting authorities:
Swire noted that other departments also play a role: Environment; Natural Resources; and Local Community Boards. Obviously, the Environment is the key player through the linear planning process. The Department of the Environment [will write] the process for the Environmental Assessment. Our planner is well versed in these issues and has made contact with the correct people within the civil service to guide us through the process. I consider this more of a regulatory hoop than a deal breaker. From a common sense perspective, we do not believe there are any issues or concerns. The ownership of the right-of-way Swire acknowledged that: The former right of way is in the ownership of the Province and managed by the Department of Natural Resources. This is a matter of the public record. Since the project will generate a great number of jobs, it is believed that the existing rail trail will be converted back to a railway. He anticipates providing trail users with an alternative.
A proof of concept paper has been presented to local shippers, the local town councils, the senior civil servants as well as to several members of the Provincial Cabinet in December 2006. Since then, the proof of concept paper has been updated for upward estimates of volumes and lower capital costs. The final plan will be ready in the not too distant future.
As with every project of this scope, it will depend on how fast the permitting process will take to get the project approved. I would hope that groundbreaking will take place in the first half of 2008.
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Pay Attention to Bob Crandall
It can hardly have escaped the notice of transportation advocates, let alone other people, that former American Airlines Chairman Robert Crandall has observed that high speed rail lines over short distances (300-500 miles) might be the way to solve the nations airport overcrowding and congestion problem.
Indeed, for two decades NCI and other rail organizations have called for the building of such a system as a way not merely of reducing airport congestion, but of improving fuel economy, environmental air quality, and overall economic competitiveness of the American economy.
It seems that after 20 years and more people outside the rail business like Bob Crandall, who have given transportation more than just a little thought, are coming to the same conclusion. Its gratifying to see that.
Good. Lets do something about it. Weve got great some transportation advocates in the House, like Cong. Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Congressman Steven C. LaTourette (R-OH), and Trent Lott (R-MS) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in the Senate, and that support goes right across party lines.
Lets make sure that in run-up to the next Presidential election in November 2008, already in full cry, that the candidates hear from us, and understand that this time around, we are through with ideological nonsense about subsidies and the paid con artists that for so long have clouded the debate about intercity rail, commuter rail, and light rail with their half-truth statistics.
Toward that end, former Federal Railroad Administrator Gil Carmichael this past week asked Jim RePass of the National Corridors Initiative to organize a national summit for transportation advocates for St. Louis this Winter, and we are doing that now with other national transportation leaders: we are working around the schedules of Trent Lott and Jim Oberstar, and others, to find a good date, always hard to do with senior people, but we will do it.
If you care about the future of your country and its transportation system, and want to make sure that the rail system is once again a viable part of our national transportation mix, prepare to meet us in St. Louis, to consider the following questions: Where are we now? How did we get there? Where would we like to be? How do we get there? And then, we will create a platform document, suitable for either party, that sets out a blueprint for Americas transportation future.
If you want to be part of this, email us at NCI, and we will put you on the list.
America at War
Now is the time for meticulous planning, resolute will, and a ruthlessness which most Americans normally disdain, but which is called for here. We should and must possess the controlled fury of a great democracy grievously wronged, yet unbound in its will to survive, with a united people determined to triumph over the forces of darkness which would destroy our way of life.
Our prayers are with the families and friends of all who have suffered, and also with the employees of Amtrak, all of the commuter and regional rail authorities, the airlines, and of all of the nations transportation system, which is about to undergo a difficult transformation. We must be especially alert for continued probing and testing by the trained murderers who are without question still in our midst, and at the same time we must be careful not to harm anyone merely because of his or her appearance.
We will be sorely tested by what has happened, and by what is yet to come. Many of our friends and fellow advocates have emailed us since Tuesday with the idea that we must redouble our efforts to balance our national transportation system which was woefully inadequate before Tuesdays mass murders in New York and Washington, and which will become even more strained, and they are right: we need to begin aggressively building modern rail capacity, as Rep. Don Young of Alaska, and Rep. John Mica of Florida, and others, have called for. But for now, we need to concentrate in the days and weeks and months ahead on one thing: freeing the world from the evil of terrorism.
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