Vol. 8 No. 39
October 1, 2007

Copyright © 2007
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

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www.nationalcorridors.org

Destination:Freedom
A weekly North American transportation update

The E-Zine of the National Corridors Initiative Inc.

Publisher - James P. RePass
Editor - Molly McKay
European Correspondent - David Beale
Webmaster - Dennis Kirkpatrick

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

IN THIS EDITION...  In this edition...

  Regional Forum On Infrastructure. Register Now!
  News Items…
Amtrak’s Talgo Tilt Trains Head Back into Cascadia Service
T&I Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) asks IG probe
   of South Dakota aircraft purchase
  Commuter Lines…
MBTA Keeps Haverhill Trains But Slows Them Down for Bridge
Tiered Fare Hike Proposed By MTA
‘Reverse commute’ train a hit with first passengers
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Freight Lines…
Mass Coastal Railroad Wins Cape Cod/SE Mass Freight Line
  Environmental Lines…
Taking Transit: The Most Effective Route to Cutting Carbon
  Events - Meetings…
Midwest High Speed Rail Association Fall Meeting
National Leaders to Gather in North Carolina To Discuss
   Future of High Speed Rail
  Commentary…
Traffic Jams: An Essential Need for Light Rail and Other Mass Transit
  We Get Letters…
  Errata…
  End notes…


 

   Regional Forum On Infrastructure
   Register Now!

 

   Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray To Chair
   Regional Leadership Forum on Transportation, Infrastructure
   October 11, 2007 - Boston, Massachusetts

Mass Lt Gov Tim Murray
BOSTON --- The National Corridors Initiative will hold a major regional forum on transportation and infrastructure, with leaders from New York, New England states and Eastern Canada, on Thursday, October 11 at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. It will be chaired by Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, a strong advocate for transportation and infrastructure investment. Lt. Governor Murray played a central role in Worcester’s economic revival during his tenure as Mayor.

In addition to Lt. Governor Murray, senior elected and appointed representatives from throughout New England, New York State, Quebec, Eastern Canada are expected to attend. The conference is to be held at Boston’s Omni Parker House Hotel.

The conference will be kicked off at 8 a.m. by Lt. Gov. Murray, with a session highlighting RI Economic Policy Council executive Director Chair Kip Bergstrom's unique presentation "Connecting to Compete" and a panel including the Lt. Governor, CT State Senate President Don Williams, Canadian Consul-General Neal LeBlanc, and Northern New England Rail Authority Executive Director Patricia Quinn.

Other leaders confirmed this far include:TrainRiders NorthEast Founder Wayne Davis, CT Transportation Commissioner Ralph Carpenter MA Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen, Délégation du Québec en Nouvelle-Angleterre France Dionne, New England Governors' Council Executive Director Charles Tretter, Lt. Paul Brawley, Executive Director of the Schooner Ernestina, Luncheon Speaker: Former Governor and Amtrak Chair Michael S. Dukakis, North South Rail Link Citizens Advisory Committee Co-Chair and former MA Rep. Chair John Businger, CT General Assembly Assistant Majority Leader David McCluskey, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Delegate Dan Lauzon, Sustainable Mystic Valley Initiative Chair and Aquarium SVP Peter Glankoff, Providence & Worcester Railroad President Scott Conti, DEPFA First Albany Securities LLC Managing Director Ned Flynn, Mintz Levin Partner Jonathan Ballon, Maine Transportation Deputy Secretary Greg Nadeau, Association for Public Transportation President Richard Arena, and National Corridors Initiative President & CEO James P. RePass.

This Forum and other regional transportation/infrastructure summits are being conducted to give the invited leaders an opportunity to meet face-to-face to discuss regional issues, but the meeting is open to the public. However, space is very limited, and attendees MUST register in advance at http://www.nationalcorridors.org/conf/ or by postal mail to NCI CT Office, 8 Riverbend Drive, Mystic, CT., 06355.

A fee of $95 for government and non-profit attendees, and $150 for private sector attendees, is required, and may be paid online (secure server) at http://www.nationalcorridors.org/conf/, faxed, or mailed by check. The National Corridors Initiative, a private 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation which advocates for investment in transportation infrastructure as an economic development and environmental tool, is organizing this October 11 event.

The conference will begin at 7:45 a.m. in the Press Room of the Omni Parker House Hotel, Tremont and School streets, Boston, with luncheon in the Alcott Ballroom and surrounding rooms, and concludes with a reception from 5-6:30 p.m.

Additional information, directions, tentative agenda, and registration materials are available at:
http://www.nationalcorridors.org/conf/


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NEWS OF THE WEEK... News items...

Amtrak’s Talgo Tilt Trains Head Back
Into Cascadia Service

 

By DF Staff and from Amtrak

 

CASCADIA (EUGENE-PORTLAND-SEATTLE-BELLINGHAM) --- Amtrak has received approval from the Federal Railroad Administration to make needed repairs on the Talgo-manufactured railcars used in the operation of Amtrak Cascades service between Eugene, Oregon and Bellingham, WA, Amtrak announced this week.

The trainsets, built by Spanish manufacturer Talgo and immensely popular with West Coast travelers in Oregon and Washington State, were found to have suspension-parts manufacturing defects in early August and were taken out of service then for inspection and repair.

As the trainsets are repaired, they will be rotated back into service one at a time starting this past weekend, Amtrak said, and all trainsets are expected to be repaired by early November. Amtrak said that “…[we] anticipate that train schedules will return to normal in time for the busy Thanksgiving travel season.”

“We have determined the appropriate solution and are moving forward with the repairs,” said Nora Friend, Talgo’s spokesperson. “Once the repairs are complete, the trainsets will gradually be put back into service and travelers will once again enjoy all the amenities available on the Amtrak Cascades service.”

During a routine train inspection in early August, small cracks were discovered in welds of the upper portion of the car body’s suspension support system of several cars; WSDOT, Amtrak and Talgo agreed to remove the trains from service as a precaution, Amtrak said.

Talgo and Amtrak then determined that the cracks were caused by welding techniques in the manufacturing process, “…and did not compromise the safety of the passengers. The cracks are not deemed a safety hazard and will be repaired under warranty at the maintenance facility in Seattle,” Amtrak said.

Substitute train service is currently operating on the route at reduced speeds and does not include some of the amenities featured on the regular Amtrak Cascades service, such as business class, feature movies, checked baggage, or bicycle accommodations.

The Amtrak Cascades Service is operated by Amtrak under contracts with the Washington and Oregon Departments of Transportation. Under contract, Talgo has responsibility for the maintenance of the trainsets, and these maintenance operations are performed in Seattle.

Amtrak Cascades consists of four daily round-trips between Portland and Seattle, with service between Bellingham, Wash., and Portland, via Seattle; between Eugene and Seattle, via Portland; and between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.

Amtrak will continue to operate trains 510 and 517 between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., utilizing Superliner train equipment.

Operation of the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight (Trains 11 & 14) and the Chicago-Portland/Seattle Empire Builder (Trains 7/27 & 8/28) continues on their normal schedules. (See www.amtrak.com for all schedule information)


Top Left: Amtrak Cascades awaits boarding passengers.

Bottom Left: Some of the Talgo coaches at the station.

Photos Courtesy of Marcel Marchon. www.marcel-marchon.com


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Did South Dakota Use Amtrak Funds To Buy a New State Airplane?

 

T&I Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN)
asks IG probe of South Dakota aircraft purchase

By DF Staff and from Internet Sources

WASHINGTON --- House Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Jim Oberstar, long a champion of intercity rail and transit in America, is demanding to know if South Dakota has misspent money, originally intended by Congress for rail and transit, for a new state airplane, the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader is reporting in weekend editions.

“The purchase of [a] King Air 90 is the subject of an investigation by a Minnesota congressman. Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar recently asked for a probe of the purchase, because Amtrak money was used to replenish the aeronautics account,” reported Argus-Leader staff writer Ben Shouse, following a story by Terry Woster of the Argus-Leader the previous day which first broke the story.

Oberstar, who leads the House Transportation Committee, said in a letter to Amtrak’s Officer of Inspector General Friday that the state’s purchase of the airplane violated the purpose of the Amtrak funding,” the paper reported.

South Dakota recently replaced an aging state aircraft with some 14,000 engine-hours with a new plane purchased with $1.9 million in funds in a special account created in 1997 when Congress wrote the Amtrak Reform Act, which was passed in 1998.

At the time, and has been the case more than once over the nearly four decades since its creation in 1970, Amtrak funding was the subject of contentious wrangling in Congress, especially from some Republican lawmakers at that time in high ideological dudgeon about any funding for rail at all. As part of getting approval for legislation funding for Amtrak, the then-four states without any Amtrak service in the “lower 48” --- Maine, New Hampshire, Wyoming, and South Dakota --- were given special funds in the Amtrak appropriation bill to pay for rail or transit of some kind.

In the intervening years Amtrak service has come again to Maine and New Hampshire, which in the case of Maine used a special appropriation and the transit fund money to create The DownEaster, a wildly successful train which has after only seven years of operation become the number-one rated passenger train in the United States. New Hampshire, which is served by the DownEaster as it passes through on the way to Boston, this past week chose a chairman for its new statewide transportation authority which will tackle the new Nashua rail corridor immediately.

Only South Dakota and Wyoming remain without passenger rail service in the Continental United States, which excludes Alaska and Hawaii, although there is a possibility that a Denver-Cheyenne commuter rail connection, as Denver’s rapid growth continues to advance from the downtown core, will erase Wyoming from that list, leaving South Dakota alone without service.

States without Amtrak rail service got a one-time payment from the government; South Dakota got $23 million, reported Shouse, noting that the money initially could be spent only on intercity bus and rail service, “…but that was expanded in 1998 to include air service centers and ‘the purchase of intercity air service between primary and rural airports and regional hubs.’”

Oberstar’s letter states that the airplane purchase was “in violation of the express purposes for the funding,” Wrote the Argus-Leader. Republican Gov. Mike Rounds’ spokesman had no comment at press time, the paper reported.


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COMMUTER LINES...  Commuter Lines...

MBTA Keeps Haverhill Trains
But Slows Them Down for Bridge

From the Internet

HAVERHILL, MA --- Try to take away a popular morning commuter train and what do you get? A huge groundswell of opposition --- dozens of emails and phone calls to local officials and the transit agency ---- that, much to the surprise of some commuters, keeps the trains on the schedule --- but at super-low speed.

That’s what happened recently in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The railroad bridge spanning the Merrimack River between Haverhill and Bradford, which has been in need of repair for years, was abruptly brought to public attention back in August with the collapse of the I-35 highway bridge in Minneapolis: it is one of the 750 bridges nationwide that are of the same design, called a steel deck/through truss.

The bridge was built in 1919, has two tracks and 1,600 railroad ties, 75 of which are badly rotted. Upon further inspection soon after the Minneapolis tragedy, it was determined that the timber deck should be replaced and the granite pier underpinnings should be repaired. Inspectors confirmed that the bridge did not need to be replaced.


Photo: Scott Courier at www.oldrr.com

The May 2006 flood. Looking upriver at the railroad bridge over the Merrimack River in Haverhill from the Bradford side. Water is quite high and moving fast. Fortunately the wall that was built after the 1936 flood held and kept the downtown section from becoming flooded. Here an MBTA train crosses slowly. Amtrak Downeaster trains also use this bridge.

Train speeds over the deteriorating bridge had already been reduced, but last August they were reduced again, down to 5 mph. In addition, officials ordered that only one train at a time could cross the bridge.

Work began almost immediately to replace the 75 wooden ties that were in the worst condition. A spokesman for the MBTA, Joseph Pesaturo, said, “It’s going to be a major project.....but we are confident we will be able to keep one side of the bridge open at a time while we repair the other. That way, we can keep one track open at all times and not impact service.”

But that was last August. Ten days ago, MBTA announced they were considering canceling two morning commuter trains that stopped on the Haverhill side, a rescheduling that could be in place for two or more years. The proposal was to cancel the trains that leave at 6:55 and 7:25 AM.

Within days, the decision was reversed. When the story came out in Sunday’s Eagle-Tribune last week, the MBTA was besieged by phone calls from local and state officials opposed to eliminating the two morning trains.

“We received many calls and e-mails from upset riders,” said Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini. “This would have been terrible for the city. We asked the MBTA to please not do it, and they agreed. We are very happy about how it ended.”

The loss of the morning trains also would have had an adverse impact on the city’s campaign to promote hundreds of new apartments and condominiums around the downtown station as desirable places to live for young professionals who would ride the train to jobs in Boston, Fiorentini said. A prospective downtown housing developer called the mayor to express concern about losing the two morning trains.

The change would have affected hundreds of commuters who live near the downtown station. They would have had to catch their train on the other side of the Merrimack River at the Bradford station 1500 feet away. Riders who drive to the station have free parking on the Haverhill side but would have to pay $2 on the Bradford side.

“It already costs $14.50 to take the train from Haverhill to Boston,” said resident Daniel Spurling, who rides the downtown train every day to his job as a law clerk at a Boston courthouse. “I was not happy at the thought of having to pay another $2 a day to park at the Bradford station.”

Upon hearing the news that his train would not be canceled, Spurling said, “I never in a million years thought they’d keep the trains after they told us they were going to get rid of them. This is great news.”

Many commuters and officials were afraid the scheduling change would have been permanent. David Evancha of Haverhill, when he heard the proposal, said, “Once the trains are canceled, they will never be brought back. This stop will just go away.”

But Pesaturo has reassured everyone. “We’re keeping all the downtown trains, and we won’t revisit it,” he said.

The MBTA has $8.4 to million to repair the span. They are advertising for an engineering firm to develop the restoration plan. No timetable has been set for the repairs but the authority hopes to begin within two years.

A T spokesman told DF staff last Friday that the entire timber deck will be replaced in the spring of 2008.

Besides the commuter trains, freight trains and the Amtrak Downeaster use the bridge to cross the Merrimack on a daily basis.


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Tiered Fare Hike Proposed By MTA

From the Internet

SEPT 27 -- The MTA’s proposed fare increase next year would charge less during off-peak hours, which could mean some riders would end up paying less overall.

In a story for NY1 News, transit reporter Bobby Cuza writes “You would pay $2 in the peak and $1.50 off peak. The idea is to encourage people not to ride when it’s really crowded.”

Charging subway riders less during off-peak hours has never been tried before. But it’s one idea being considered by the MTA as it prepares to raise fares early next year.

Under this proposal, the cost of a weekly unlimited-ride MetroCard would probably go up from $24 to about $25.50 or $26. A monthly MetroCard would likely go up from $76 to $81 or $82. Adding to the confusion, the base fare would go up to $2.25. But the base fare would only apply if you put less than $6 on your card.

The peak/off-peak price structure would only apply to pay-per-ride cards, not to unlimited-ride cards.

Those who can only afford to buy one or two rides at a time would have to pay the full price.

“I think the volume discount is a good idea,” said one straphanger, “but I know that it’s hard for people who are living paycheck-to-paycheck to manage to scrape together enough to pre-pay for a MetroCard. So I think maybe that’s not fair to that population.”

Judging from NY1’s experience, just explaining the concept could prove a challenge.

One straphanger said, “I don’t get it. Is that gonna help me? I work in the morning. I don’t ride the subway on off-peak hours.”

Another straphanger told the reporter that this sounds really complicated.

MTA says even just a tiny percentage shift translates into millions of rides annually, and could help reduce overcrowding during rush hour.

The public will have a chance to speak during public hearings and an interactive public forum in November.


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‘Reverse commute’ train a hit with first passengers

From the Internet

SEATTLE, SEPT 24 -- The Tacoma to Seattle commuter train arrived at 6:01 a.m. as usual last Monday but something different was about to happen: instead of sitting on the tracks to wait for the afternoon commute, the train opened its doors to passengers traveling from Seattle back to Tacoma.

A “reverse commute” was taking riders to Tacoma who normally would have to drive.

These rails are owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and in the past this “reverse commute” had not worked on the shared tracks, but a recent agreement with BNSF now allows the southbound train to access the rails it needs.

“With plenty of seats and leg room, first-time riders couldn’t contain their excitement,” writes reporter Jenni Hogan for YouNewsTV in Seattle.

“I’m looking forward to just being able to sit there and read and relax and not fight the cars all the way down,” said passenger Wade Strange.

But that extra room may not last long. Sound Transit has seen double-digit growth since the train service started in 2000, and passengers hope the trend continues.

By the end of 2008, Sound Transit plans to add a second morning reverse commute train to Tacoma.

In addition to the new run to Tacoma, the first run to Seattle now leaves at 5 a.m., 45 minutes earlier than last week.

And officials have added another daily roundtrip train between Everett and Seattle.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)81.1781.41
Canadian National (CNI)57.0055.33
Canadian Pacific (CP)70.2968.50
CSX (CSX)42.7340.29
Florida East Coast (FLA)62.5162.51
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)28.8429.32
Kansas City Southern (KSU)32.1732.59
Norfolk Southern (NSC)51.9151.25
Providence & Worcester (PWX)18.2517.50
Union Pacific (UNP)113.06112.87


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FREIGHT LINES...  Freight Lines...

Mass Coastal Railroad Wins Cape Cod/SE
Mass Freight Line

Operating Franchise for 10 years, Beats Cape Cod Railway

By DF Staff and from Internet Sources

BOSTON --- Massachusetts Coastal Railroad, LLC (Mass Coastal) has been awarded the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ freight rail contract for southeastern Massachusetts, Mass Coastal announced this past week.

The contract was awarded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation, in a ceremony at his office. Mass Coastal is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cape Rail, Inc., a railroad management and holding company that also owns Cape Cod Central Railroad, a successful passenger, excursion and dinner train company operating on Cape Cod since 1999.

The rail lines awarded comprise approximately sixty (60) miles of tracks throughout southeastern Massachusetts, including the line from Middleboro to Hyannis, with branch lines to Yarmouth and Falmouth. Also included are lines in Taunton, North Dartmouth and Westport. Mass Coastal will commence freight rail service to the line’s customers on January 1, 2008. The contract with EOT is for ten years, with options beyond 2018, Mass Coastal said in a press statement.

The Hyannis-based railroad is best known for its award-winning sister company, Cape Cod Central Railroad, and for being an organization that is deeply rooted in the communities that it serves. The companies are owned and operated by John F. Kennedy, chairman and chief executive officer; Andrew J. Reardon, chief financial officer and treasurer; Christopher Podgurski, vice-president and chief mechanical officer, and Ted Michon, executive vice-president. Andrew Eldredge of Barnstable will be superintendent of the lines.

“As with its Cape Cod Central Railroad operation, Mass Coastal will operate with the core value that partnership with its true community stakeholders is imperative for long term success,” the railroad said.

The contract was awarded by EOTPW after a Request For Responses was issued in late 2006. Coastal takes over service from Bay Colony Railroad, which had held the contract for two decades. A large part of the railroad’s work is the hauling of trash for burning at the SEMASS energy plant in Rochester.

The contract is with Massachusetts Coastal Railroad, the freight arm of Hyannis-based Cape Rail, Inc. The company is also the parent company of Cape Cod Central Railroad, operator of passenger, excursion and dinner trains from Hyannis to Buzzards Bay.

Something else new will be a timetable for all freight and passenger operations, reported the Barnstable Patriot. “We’ll continue the excursion trains,” Kennedy said in an interview with the paper’s Edward F. Maroney, Associate Editor.

“We hope to operate more of them into Buzzards Bay, and more trains to Wareham. Next year, we’re seriously contemplating running some dinner trains, family supper trains, possibly others out of Buzzards Bay and Wareham,” Kennedy said to the paper.

At some point, Kennedy told the Patriot, he envisions people coming from those towns to Hyannis to shop and enjoy a meal, or dine on the train.

He said he is, “certainly interested in continuing to pursue the feasibility” of connector service to Middleboro and the MBTA’s commuter line to Boston. That’s an even more interesting question now that the town is being considered as the host for a casino, the paper noted.


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ENVIRONMENTAL LINES...  Environmental Lines...

Taking Transit:

 

The Most Effective Route to Cutting Carbon

Groundbreaking New Analysis

DF Staff, APTA and other Internet sources

SEPTEMBER 27 -- With global warming in mainstream news, people are more aware today of all the uses of oil in our daily lives that contribute to global warming, and some conscientious citizens are learning to calculate their own “carbon footprint.”

To find your footprint. Go to: http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/carboncalculator/

While you may be taking measures such as making your house more energy efficient, the biggest impact in reducing one’s personal quotient of carbon dioxide pollution is to switch from cars to public transit, according to a groundbreaking new study recently released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

The researchers found that that public transportation in the United States saves approximately 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline and about 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

This means, they conclude, that using public transit compared to other household actions can be more than ten times more effective in reducing this greenhouse gas. Even if we use a “green” car, driving has a significant impact on climate change. Transportation accounts for more than 30 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

The APTA study took on four big questions:

  • How much CO2 is public transportation currently saving in the US?
  • How much additional CO2 savings are possible if public-transit use increases?
  • What’s the carbon impact of a household whose members drive to work instead of using public transit, and how can households reduce that impact? And
  • Does public transit lead to better land use (and thus environmental and social benefits)?

In 2005, the report stated that “public-transit use reduced CO2 emissions in the United States by 6.9 million metric tons--the net difference between the emissions produced by transit and the emissions prevented by reducing congestion and taking cars off the road. A single individual with a 20-mile commute could reduce her personal carbon production by more than 20 pounds a day simply by switching to public transit. And although it’s hard to precisely measure the land-use impacts of increased transit use, various studies have estimated that the number of vehicle miles traveled goes down between 1.4 and 9 miles for every passenger-mile traveled on transit.”

The impact is greater than any other measure an individual could do, the study concluded. Making one’s home more energy efficient and lowering the thermostat can save about 2800 pounds a year while using public transit, assuming a 240-day work week, eliminates more than 4800 pounds of CO2 a year.

The study also concluded that public transportation can save a family on average $6,200 annually, which is more than most households spend on food.

Transit has to be available to people for this to work, and gradually things are improving in that direction. According to the latest available numbers, the number of miles transit vehicles spent in revenue-generating service went up 31 percent between 1996 and 2005. Light rail built during that period increased 85 percent and vanpools increased three-fold. Nationwide, buses make up more than half of all transit systems, but light, heavy and commuter rail systems continue to grow.

Still, much needs to be done to increase transit availability: only 14 million Americans use public transportation daily while 88 percent of all trips in the United States are made by car—and many of those cars carry only one person.

According to Treehugger.com, if just one in 10 Americans used public transportation daily, U.S. reliance on foreign oil would decrease 40 percent.


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EVENTS - MEETINGS...  Events & Meetings...

Midwest High Speed Rail Association
Fall Meeting

Saturday, October 20, 2007
Greater Cleveland RTA
1240 West 6th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Registration: $35
www.midwesthsr.org/events
Or call 614-228-6005

Breakfast and Lunch are provided!

Tentative Agenda

9:30 a.m.Meeting Registration.
10:00 a.m.Welcome to Cleveland!
Joe Calabrese, GCRTA CEO.
10:05 a.m.All Aboard Ohio business meeting.
Member ratification of election reform package.
10:45 a.m.Break
11:00 a.m.Ohio: A look at the current situation and the Ohio Hub,
Midwest Developments, and other updates.
12:00 p.m.Luncheon - Tower City Presentation.
1:00 p.m.Rail Leadership Conference and Issues
Lake Shore a focus and possible initiatives and discussion.
2:00 p.m.Roundtable Breakouts.
2:45 p.m.Roundtable Reports and Discussion on Plan of Action.
3:30 p.m.Agreement on Plan of Action and Follow Up.
4:00 p.m.Adjourn

Join the Midwest High Speed Rail Association online at www.midwesthsr.org.
Advocating for fast, frequent and dependable trains linking the entire Midwest.

Rick Harnish, Executive Director
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
PO Box 805877 - Chicago, IL 60680
773-334-6758


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National Leaders to Gather in North Carolina
To Discuss Future of High Speed Rail

 

Registration opened September 24 for this summit to be held on Monday, Oct. 22, in Raleigh. Virginians for High Speed Rail is a sponsor and has been involved in the planning since March.

The Summit Steering Committee, headed by Julie Hunt of Moffatt & Nichol in Raleigh, includes representatives from Departments of Transportation in Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, New York and Georgia. Also working on this meeting have been representatives of CSX, NS, Amtrak, the Coalition of Northeastern Governors, AREMA, Don Itzkoff and the I-95 Coalition among many others -- especially representatives of sponsors, the Women’s Transportation Seminar and the North Carolina DOT Rail Division.

The Summit, titled, “High Speed Rail for the East Coast-It’s Time,” will focus on the nation’s east coast rail corridors with particular emphasis placed on the connection between passenger and freight rail. A series of panels throughout the day will feature national and international rail transportation experts who will examine technical, policy and funding issues related to these corridors.

Neal Peirce, a nationally syndicated columnist and Chairman of The Citistates Group, and Wisconsin Secretary of Transportation Frank Busalacchi, known nationally for his support of high speed rail, and the Commissioner for the New York State Department of Transportation, Astrid Glynn, will be among the 20 speakers and panelists participating in this intensive one-day event.

“We believe our growing crisis in passenger and freight transportation requires leaders to come together to explore the long talked-about high speed rail corridors, especially on the east coast. Our goal is to continue to build the support that is necessary for implementing high speed rail as a relief measure for our over-capacity roads and air quality challenges,” said Julie Hunt, vice president of the Women’s Transportation Seminar North Carolina Triangle Chapter and convener of the Summit. “We’re pleased to have the participation of high-level industry leaders from North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, New York, United States Department of Transportation, Amtrak, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern. We’ve also extended invitations to additional railroad operators and policy makers around the nation.”

The Summit will feature four panels aimed at exploring the key issues related to the future of high speed rail service on the east coast corridors. On the agenda are:

  1. Identifying and Defining the Corridors - How it all comes together;
  2. Benefits of an Integrated High Speed Rail Corridor - Passenger and Freight Rail;
  3. Lessons Learned - What is working or not working for high speed rail around the nation and the globe, and;
  4. Corridor Challenges - Policy and Funding Issues

Panel moderators include Patrick Simmons, Director, Rail Division, North Carolina Department of Transportation; Mark Yachmetz, Associate Administrator for Railroad Development, USDOT; Louis Thompson, Principal, Thompson, Galenson and Associates, LLC; and Don Itzkoff, Partner, O’Connor & Hannan.

Other speakers include (to date): Nancy W. Dunn, Chair, Transit, Ferry & Rail Committee, NC Board of Transportation; Andrew M. Perkins, Jr., Chair, Rail Sub-Committee, NC Board of Transportation; Nina S. Szlosberg, Chair, Environment Planning and Policy Committee, NC Board of Transportation; Lisa Mancini, Vice President, Strategic Infrastructure Initiatives, CSX; Drew Galloway, Assistant Vice President Strategic Partnerships and Business Development, East, Amtrak; Astrid Glynn, Commissioner for the New York State Department of Transportation; Craig Lewis, Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Norfolk Southern; Frank Busalacchi, Wisconsin Secretary Of Transportation; Dr. Anthony Perl, Director of Urban Studies, Department of Political Science, Simon Fraser University; Smedes York, Chairman, York Properties; Jennifer Esposito, Majority Staff Director, Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (invited - pending congressional calendar); Stephen Gardner, Professional Staff Member, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security (invited - pending congressional calendar); Anne Stubbs, Executive Director, Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG); and Mortimer L. Downey, Chairman, PB Consult Inc.

Details:

October 22, 2007, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fletcher Opera Theatre
2 East South Street (Downtown)
Raleigh, North Carolina

On-line registration at
www.wtsncevents.org

A summit fee of $100 includes seated lunch and theatre floor seating for the first 300 registrants. A late registration fee of $50 applies after October 15.

About WTS

Founded in 1977, WTS is an international organization dedicated to the professional advancement of women in transportation. Boasting more than 4,000 members - both men and women - WTS is helping women find opportunity and recognition in the transportation industry. Through its professional activities, networking opportunities, and unparalleled access to industry and government leaders, WTS is turning the glass ceiling into a career portal. Additional information on the international organization is available at http://www.wtsinternational.org/.


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COMMENTARY...  Commentary...

Traffic Jams:

 

An Essential Need for Light Rail
and Other Mass Transit

By Paul M. Weyrich
Reprinted with permission

SEPT 27 -- An article by the Associated Press stated that on average drivers spend forty hours a year in traffic jams. This was a companion to a piece which reported that Washington, D.C. had become second only to Los Angeles in traffic congestion. If one commutes from Virginia, there are only five bridges which cross the Potomac River.

Various free market think tanks state that Americans love their automobiles and do not desire rail systems as an alternative. Really? Each year Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), D.C.’s subway and bus system, reaches a new high in ridership.

I have an employee who drove to work. He often was upset upon his arrival. He now lives less than one block from a Metrorail station. He comes to work smiling and continually points to the virtues of the Metrorail system. Metrorail carries close to 600,000 riders per day. Some are tourists but most are workers. If these riders were stranded on the streets of Washington, there would be gridlock beyond comprehension.

Many of Free Congress Foundation’s visitors live in the suburbs and take Metrorail and Metrobus. They sing the praises of mass transit. Sure, Americans love their cars. But cars are only good when they are moving.

The fact is more cities want to build light rail systems. Depending upon the definition of “light rail,” the country has progressed from five to 22 light-rail systems since 1970.


Photo: www.MediaWiki.org

The Portland Streetcar at the Portland State University stop.

Portland, Oregon is leading the way in building and operating streetcars. The Portland Streetcar line runs ten miles through downtown Portland. Over thirty cities have built streetcar lines recently or are planning to do so by 2010. Even after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina at least two of New Orleans’ streetcar lines are working again. Many cities are taking the streetcar revolution so seriously that a company is now building vintage streetcars. If one wants to buy so-called Authentic Trolley Cars, they are available from GOMACO, which is located in Iowa.

The last modern streetcar was built in the United States in 1952 for San Francisco. There is now no American manufacturer, although Oregon Iron Works plans to start building streetcars to a Czech design.

The biggest problem is the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). FTA has an inherent bias against streetcars. Indeed cities that want streetcars, both “Heritage” streetcar systems and modern systems, find that they simply cannot obtain FTA funding. Approximately 30 cities have shown interest in streetcars. The FTA answer is always no.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Senator James M. Inhofe (R-OK) created the Small Starts program in 2006 under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. The primary focus of Small Starts was to assist cities that wanted to build streetcar lines with less than $75 million from the Federal Government. Cities that applied found that they were told that they had to initiate bus rapid transit programs. What a typical response from the bureaucracy.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recently predicted a remarkable number of light rail and streetcar systems would operate within the next thirty years. A colleague of mine from an organization known as the Streetcar Coalition stated that regardless of who wins the next Presidential election, rail will be on the agenda. Whether we speak of light rail, which is used to relieve traffic congestion (and is often interurban), or streetcars, which simply circulate around a city, rail is necessary unless people are willing to spend days in their cars.

Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation


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WE GET LETTERS...  We Get Letters...

Dear Editor,

Thanks for your Destination Freedom Newsletter.  I read it every week.  I actually look forward to Monday!

I wanted especially to thank you for the inclusion of the maps which accompanied some of the articles this week.  The articles are greatly enhanced by being able to see the routes and communities discussed - some because they are far-off and unfamiliar, others because they are well-known, where every detail of a discussed route is of relevance.  It also saves jumping back and forth between the articles and a mapping website to clearly understand the topic.

Your editorship of Destination Freedom has allowed me to learn and enhance my perspective on transportation/infrastructure issues far beyond that of simply being “pro-rail.”

Sincerely,

Braden Toan
btoan@rcn.com


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ERRATA...  Errata...

Last week (DF 24-Sept-07, Vol 8 No. 38) we ran a story on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and its recent testing of GenSet locomotives for shunting coaches at its Readville yard and service facility. We erroneously labeled the article as having to do with a “hybrid” locomotive which was an unfortunate carry-over from regional news reports on the topic.

In fact, the locomotive under test and planned for order from National Railway Equipment of Chicago, operates using multiple generators (GenSets). As more power is required to do the workload, additional generators kick-in to power the locomotive on an as-needed basis. This allows the locomotive to generate and consume only necessary power, thus reducing overall fuel consumption.

A true “hybrid” would be akin to the “Green Goat” series of locomotives as manufactured by Rail Power Technologies wherein the locomotive is fitted with a bank of batteries that are recharged by a small (by comparison) electrical generator.


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NEWS ITEMS...  End notes...

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