The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.

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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October 11, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 41

Copyright © 2010
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 11th Newsletter Year

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

  News Items…
Provincialism On The Hudson As Practiced
   By The New York Times
Terminating ARC Project, New Jersey Gov. Christie
   “Enforces Budget Discipline, Protects Taxpayer $”
  High-Speed Lines…
High-Speed Rail Sessions Attract High Attendance
One Expert’s Comment on the ARC
  Builders Lines…
Boston’s Government Center Transit Station To Get A
   Multi-Million Dollar Face-Lift
New Jersey Governor Shuts Down Deep-Cavern Terminal
   Trans-Hudson Rail; Advocates Press For
   Penn Station Connection
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Across The Pond…
Stuttgart 21 Threatened By Construction Stop
Eurostar Decides To Buy Siemens Velaro
  Publication Notes …

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

A Statement From The Publisher Of Destination:Freedom


Provincialism On The Hudson
As Practiced By The New York Times

By James RePass

This past Thursday October 7, and as Destination:Freedom first reported in late September, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ordered the termination of the current Trans Hudson Tunnel/Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) project, because it’s projected costs were revealed to be as much as $5-billion over the publicly released estimates provided under the state’s previous Administration, i.e., from $8.7 billion to $11-$14 billion.

On Friday October 8, following an emergency meeting with United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Gov. Christie agreed to consider options other than outright cancellation over the next two weeks, and assigned his transportation leadership to work with Federal transportation officials. The National Corridors Initiative is assembling a team of private-sector experts to advise the Governor on, and help evaluate, those options. For new readers, and journalists, The National Corridors Initiative is a private non-profit, non-partisan transportation advocacy group founded in 1989 as the Northeast Corridor Initiative, to negotiate the release by the Bush (I) White House of $125 million in authorized but un-appropriated Federal funds needed to complete the electrification of the Northeast Corridor from New Haven to Boston. Successfully finished in 1999, the project has cut rail travel times Boston-New York almost in half.

In the case of the ARC project Governor Christie of New Jersey has come under withering criticism from The New York Times, first in an editorial September 30 with rumors that he was considering cancellation, and then over the past few days from columnists Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert. At no time in those denunciations did The New York Times editorial page or its columnists disclose the true size of the current project’s looming cost over-runs, and, more importantly, at no time did The Times report that the original ARC alignment had been switched from a less expensive one that went to and through Penn Station --- allowing for transportation capacity growth serving New England and Eastern Canada to the North, and allowing one-seat ride through commuter service for example Stamford-Trenton, Newark-New Haven, etc. --- in favor if an alignment ending in a deep-cavern dead-end tunnel under Macy’s Basement which would literally be a terrorist’s dream, and serve only New Jersey Transit riders.

As transportation investment advocates for 21 years, the National Corridors Initiative has sought, and continues to seek, a dedicated national commitment to transportation infrastructure, for two basic reasons:

  1. to reduce the cost of travel and shipping, and;
  2. to make America competitive again in the world’s economy.

The ARC project cancelled this past week by Governor Chris Christie would have done neither. It served only a fraction of the metropolitan area’s population, and did so with a grossly over-priced and poorly conceived dead-end rail project that no truly serious transit advocates wanted, or would have proposed.

Governor Christie did the right thing. He will take a lot of heat for it. But as transportation advocates for two decades, we say it is better to kill a bad transportation project that will sit in place for the next century, than to build it. And now that he has expressed willingness to consider other options, in last Friday’s meeting with US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, we can state flatly that this story is not over, and this Governor is not done. There is a need for new trans-Hudson tunnels, as everyone recognizes. But Chris Christie has a character trait needed if we are going to rebuild this country, and make America competitive again, as NCI, Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman, and others are calling for: he has the courage to make tough decisions.

Below, in full, is the October 7 statement of Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey announcing his decision, followed by the URL link to the state’s ARC oversight committee that led the Governor to his decision .We are reproducing his statement in full so as to provide our readers with the direct views of the Christie Administration’ position.

First, the Governor’s statement:

Terminating ARC Project, New Jersey Gov. Christie
“Enforces Budget Discipline, Protects Taxpayer $”

ARC Project Executive Committee Unanimously Agrees New Jersey Can’t Afford ARC Project
and Recommends Immediate Termination (see separate report below)

Trenton, NJ, October 7 – Today, Governor Chris Christie accepted the recommendation of the ARC Project Executive Committee to terminate the ARC Project based on a 30-day review which confirmed the project is expected to substantially exceed its current budget.  Based on calculations by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit), the final budget is expected to top $11 billion and could exceed as much as $14 billion, compared to the project’s current budget of $8.7 billion. 

The federal commitment is capped at $3 billion and the federal government requires that any costs above $8.7 billion must be absorbed by the State of New Jersey.  Cost overruns are estimated to be in a range from more than $2 billion to over $5 billion. 

Jim Weinstein, Executive Director of NJ Transit stated, “While we recognize the importance and value of a cross-Hudson transportation improvement project, the current economic climate in New Jersey simply does not allow for this project to continue considering the substantial additional costs that are required.  The ARC project is just not a financially viable project that we can responsibly move forward.”

Governor Chris Christie stated, “I have made a pledge to the people of New Jersey that on my watch I will not allow taxpayers to fund projects that run over budget with no clear way of how these costs will be paid for.  Considering the unprecedented fiscal and economic climate our State is facing, it is completely unthinkable to borrow more money and leave taxpayers responsible for billions in cost overruns. The ARC project costs far more than New Jersey taxpayers can afford and the only prudent move is to end this project.

“There is no doubt that transportation projects are critical to creating jobs and growing our economy.  I have asked Commissioner Simpson and Executive Director Weinstein to work with all interested parties - Amtrak, the Federal Transit Administration, the Port Authority, the State and City of New York and our Congressional delegation - to explore approaches to modernize and expand capacity for the Northeast Corridor.  However, any future project must recognize the regional and national scale of such an effort and work within the scope of the State’s current fiscal and economic realities,” Governor Christie concluded.

On September 10, 2010, the ARC Project Executive Committee recommended and the Governor directed a 30-day pause in the execution of new contracts and any new expenditures in order to fully understand the status of project funding and the likely cost of moving the project forward as originally planned.  Based on this detailed financial analysis, the ARC project will be terminated and staff will immediately begin an expeditious and orderly shutdown of the project.

A memorandum from the ARC Project Executive Committee is attached below is available at:

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HIGH-SPEED LINES... High-Speed Lines...  

High-Speed Rail Sessions
Attract High Attendance

From American Public Transportation Association Weekly News Report

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, OCTOBER 5 – High-speed and higher speed rail breakout sessions at APTA’s Annual Meeting have been wildly popular this past week with attendance running higher than any other events.

Well known names in the rail community, David Carroll of sponsor Parsons Brinkerhoff and Karen Rae, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration and newly-appointed Amtrak Vice President of High-Speed Rail, took the podium to make introductions and give reports.

Rae spoke of the work as operating “in a greenfield site” with FRA’s high-speed rail development program. “We are looking for consistency,” she said. “We need to build domestic manufacturing capacity as well as human capacity.” Rae referred to HSR and HrSR as “a network of multiple lines connected to other forms of public transportation.”

One Expert’s Comment
On the ARC

Howard Harding’s response to the New York Times article announcing New Jersey Gov. Christie’s decision to terminate construction of NJT’s outrageously wasteful, misdirected trans-Hudson rail tunnels, offers the following:

“Thank you, Governor Christie, for terminating this wasteful, misdirected tunnel project. While there is no question that added trans-Hudson rail tunnel capacity is needed, NJT’s current plan is way off target. Any new trans-Hudson rail tunnel must connect with Penn Station and be part of a larger project to provide one-seat-rides between New Jersey and the Grand Central Terminal area; the eastern side of the Hudson Valley, Connecticut and Long Island with both Grand Central and New York Penn Station.

While any trans-Hudson rail tunnels will connect New Jersey to Manhattan, they have a much larger purpose as well -- to connect train travelers from south of Newark NJ to points north and east of Manhattan.

NJT’s current plan did not fulfill this larger purpose and was thus an inappropriate use of federal, state, Port Authority and local funds. A previously rejected plan -- Alternate G -- does accomplish the larger objective and thus is the appropriate model to follow. Do it right, not simply the politically expedient way that wastes money and fails to serve less parochial needs.”

Ohio’s Secretary of Transportation Jolene Molitoris, described as ‘perpetually exuberant,’ detailed Ohio’s ambitious plans for what she calls the “3C and D Project,” an HrSR network connecting Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton, “the densest population corridor in the nation without passenger rail service.”  They will start with 79 mph conventional passenger service by 2012 and, using that as a base, will build it up to 110 mph HrSR. The region is home to 220,000 university students located within 10 miles of proposed passenger rail stations. “With a reliable transportation system for these talented young people, they will be more likely to stay in Ohio,” she said.

Our public message now is that transportation must move our economies, Molitoris continued. “The [American Reinvestment and] Recovery Act taught us how to work faster, more collaboratively, more transparently, and more multimodality. Those same lessons will allow us to deliver the high-speed and intercity rail network of the future.”

She also noted Ohio’s commitment to freight rail. The state has invested capital dollars in public/private partnerships to build CSX’s National Gateway and Norfolk Southern’s Heartland Corridor.

In Florida, a high-speed rail line is planned to run in the median of Interstate 4, widened several years ago for that purpose, and not for cars! Kevin Thibault of Florida Rail Enterprise, an agency within Florida DOT established in order to administer the HSR program, reported that the first phase will consist of 84 miles and five stops connecting a downtown Tampa Multimodal Center to Orlando International Airport. Trainsets will operate at 168 mph, primarily using the median of Interstate 4. Fifty percent of phase one funding is already in place. They are looking at 2012 for construction to begin under a DBOM contract (design-build-operate-maintain) which they expect to be awarded in 2011.

In Texas, where there are nearly 10,400 miles of rail lines and 44 freight railroads, only three intercity passenger trains operate in the state —Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer, Sunset Limited, and Texas Eagle. These are in the “Texas Triangle”—Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio—which is among the fastest-growing population center in the U.S. and “ripe for passenger rail,” said William (Bill) Glavin, P.E. Director of Rail Division in Texas DOT.

Albert (Al) Engel, P.E., recently appointed Vice President of a new High-Speed Rail Department at Amtrak, opened his remarks by saying that Amtrak “hopes it will have the opportunity to work with Florida, Texas, and Ohio as an operator.”

He described Amtrak’s long-range vision for Next-Generation High-Speed Rail in the Northeast, which he has named the “3T Corridor” because it “annually generates $3 trillion in economic activity with the largest population density” in the U.S. If all goes as envisioned, Boston-Washington trip times will be reduced to about three hours, “consistent with HSR systems in other nations.” Fully built out in about 30 years, Amtrak’s Northeast services will include Super Express, Regional Express, Shoreline Express, and Keystone Express services.

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BUILDERS LINES... Builders Lines...  

Boston’s Government Center Transit Station
To Get A Multi-Million Dollar Face-Lift

From an MBTA Press Release
Richard Weir, Boston Herald
And DF Staff

Many people have compared the entrance to Boston’s Government Center Station to a World War II bunker, be it in miniature form, but when it was built in the mid-1960s it was considered state-of-the-art. Under a plan recently announced, the bunker will get a modern make-over.

“It feels like you are walking into a cave,” said Frank DePaola, the MBTA’s assistant general manager for design and construction.

The station was previously known as “Scollay Square Station” (upper trolley level) as well as “Scollay Square Under” (trains to East Boston) until the mid-1960s when the area was designated for urban redevelopment. After demolition of a number of buildings, and a realignment of the streets and subway tracks, “Government Center Station” came into being. With that, the redeveloped land becoming a seat for many city, state, and federal offices.

The project will give the dreary, circa 1964 station a $72 million, top-to-bottom face-lift that will replace its bunker-style “head house” with a glistening, three-story tall glass tower, add two new elevators and rebuild the platforms.

Government Center Station 2007 and 2010 at Boston

Photo: Via Wikimedia Commons (Wikipedia)

The present “bunker” entrance as seen from Boston’s City Hall Plaza on a sunny day in June 2007.

The planned glass and steel design is a recurring theme in a number of the MBTA’s recent station make-overs, notably at Airport Station (Blue Line) and at the Savin Hill Station and Ashmont Stations (Red Line).

“This will feel like you are walking into the lobby of a hotel or the atrium of a shopping area,” DePaola said of the new structure - scheduled to be completed in late 2015 - that will serve as a giant skylight to filter daylight right down to the Green Line platform.

The transparency of the windowed cube is twofold: It increases security by allowing passengers and police to see in and out of the entrance-way and it also blends in with the surrounding buildings.

“It’s more of a minimalist architecture, the exposed-steel framing with glass,” he said. “By being transparent, it doesn’t really block or intrude on the architecture of the area or make a big statement.”

According to DePaola, MassDOT’s new leadership resulted in the hiring of a new architectural-engineering firm, HDR, and the creating of a new, more Spartan-like design that focuses resources more on improving the transit experience than on flair. The new concept calls for an 8,000-square-foot head-house - 3,000 feet larger than the existing one - with 10 fare gates, double the amount now that tend to bottleneck at rush hour.

The increase in fare gates will be most welcome as Government Center is being phased in as the new Boston terminus for the Blue Line subway which operates on the second level down. The Blue Line presently terminates and loops at the Bowdoin Square Station just a city block away but new six-car train consists do not fit the station platform and the station cannot be modified. Government Center is already the terminus for the Blue Line nights and weekends and may soon fill that role permanently. For now, Blue Lien trains only board passengers at Bowdoin Station on four of six cars with the nose of the trainset extending well into the subway tunnel.

The platform improvements will include brighter lighting, new tiles and improved Green Line platforms to allow people in wheel chairs or with canes and strollers easier access to trolleys. It will also include totally rebuilt connections to the Blue Line and a new evacuation stairwell for that line.

The planned stairwell is actually already there; a left over from when the station was known as “Scollay Square Under,” and is presently semi-capped and serving as a vent shaft.

Artist Concept drawing for new Government Center Station headhouse 2010

Image: MBTA

Looking toward Boston’s City Hall Plaza with Boston City Hall depicted at the right, this artist’s concept drawing shows the new station head house.

But the biggest addition will be two new elevators, which will make the station ADA compliant. Adding to the project’s huge price tag will be the building of a temporary, nearby head house so that the station can remain open during construction.

NCI web master Dennis Kirkpatrick is a periodic visitor to Government Center Station and added, “Additional ventilation will be most welcome. The MBTA has a loop track at the station where they store trolley cars during off peak hours and their idling motors can add a lot of heat to the station. It’s great in the winter but can be overwhelming in the summer.”

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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

But Wait, There’s More…


New Jersey Governor Shuts Down
Deep-Cavern Terminal Trans-Hudson Rail;
Advocates Press For Penn Station Connection

By David Peter Alan
Special To The National Corridors Initiative

“The ARC is dead. Long live the ARC.” Columnist Paul Mulshine of the Newark Star-Ledger wrote those words last week-end. In the intervening week, speculation became rampant that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would order cancellation of the proposed Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) Project. The project’s supporters made last-ditch efforts to save it, but the first half of Mulshine’s prophesy appeared to come true on Thursday afternoon, October 7th. Just when it appeared that the ball game was over, it was suddenly thrown into extra innings. To quote the song title: “What a Difference a Day Made!”

The fulfillment of Mulshine’s prophesy may have been delayed, as USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Friday that he was essentially granting a two-week reprieve to the ARC Project. LaHood made the following statement: “Governor Christie and I had a good discussion this afternoon, during which I presented a number of options for continuing the ARC tunnel project. We agreed to put together a small working group from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the office of NJ Transit Executive Director Jim Weinstein that will review these options and provide a report to Governor Christie within two weeks.”

Still, money remains a critical issue. Friday’s events do not change that, so the two-week delay may be that and nothing more. It could actually be a benefit to the advocates and the riders they represent, which allows new discussion of a less expensive and better plan than NJT had proposed.

Ted Sherman reported in the Friday edition of the Star-Ledger: “State officials said the temporary hold does not mean a reversal of Christie’s decision. They said the project is going to continue winding down. But the governor agreed to a two-week evaluation to look at various scenarios.”

Christie agreed to have Weinstein and his team work with USDOT over the next two weeks, although he did not change his mind about the affordability of the project. “The fact that the ARC project is not financially viable and is expected to dramatically exceed its current budget remains unchanged” the governor said in a statement reported by the Newark Star-Ledger.

Predictably, supporters of the project were elated. New Jersey’s senior senator, Frank Lautenberg, a strong supporter of the project as proposed by NJT, said “Maybe we might just see a light at the end of the tunnel.” Other supporters of the deep-cavern terminal issued similar statements.

One of these scenarios could be additional federal funding to cover the cost overruns that could raise the cost of the project to as much as $11 to 14 billion. This does not appear likely, since the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has already capped New Jersey’s potential grant at $3 billion. This means that New Jersey would be solely responsible for any overruns. Any additional federal funding would need to come from a source other than the FTA, unless the FTA changes its mind and risks the consequences, politically and to its reputation. Either of these scenarios creates a dangerous precedent and could become an issue in the current election campaign.

Another possibility is that the Moynihan/Penn Station First alternative, which is favored by advocacy organizations that represent rail riders, may come out on top. Advocates prefer a plan to enhance and expand the existing Penn Station and Farley Post Office Building across the street to create a rail hub for Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, the Long Island Rail Road and possibly Metro-North in the future. This plan would also build two new tracks under the Hudson River to Manhattan and the tunnels to hold them, but the new tracks would go to the proposed Moynihan/Penn Station facility. There would be no need for a separate deep-cavern terminal twenty stories under 34th Street, as NJT had proposed and Gov. Christie had ordered shut down. Advocates agree that some new engineering world be required, but the engineering job would be comparatively modest and could be done relatively quickly.

The original concept of ARC was to build two new tracks into Manhattan to increase capacity, eliminate the bottleneck caused by the two-track railroad on Amtrak’s Northeast corridor Line (NEC) between Newark and New York, and provide a one-seat ride to Manhattan’s East Side. Advocates for rail riders preferred Alternative “G” (for Grand Central), which would eventually extend the line eastward in Midtown Manhattan; the other two alternatives would not. The ARC plan was first proposed in 1995, when Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican, was governor. Since that time, Democrats had also favored it, and ground was broken on the New Jersey side last year, under former Governor Jon Corzine.

Advocates for rail riders, particularly the Lackawanna Coalition and the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP), became disenchanted with the proposal in 2003, when plans to go to the East Side were scrapped. The situation became worse in 2008, when plans were again changed to eliminate any track connection between the proposed new line and the existing Penn Station. All trains on the new line were to be sent to the proposed deep-cavern terminal, to be built 20 stories below 34th Street. Amtrak could not use the new line for its own trains, and the proposed terminal was to be built so deep underground that the City’s water tunnel would have prevented the line from being extended further east at that depth.

Advocates continued to press for the project to be reconfigured to bring the new tunnels and tracks into the existing Penn Station. With the renewed interest in New York in the Moynihan Station proposal for the Farley Post Office Building, the advocates pushed for the Moynihan/Penn Station First alternative. Albert L. Papp, Vice-Chair of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) and a Director of NJ-ARP, called on the State to “right-size” the project, and the other advocates joined in his call.

Against this backdrop, advocates representing other constituencies (including business and labor organizations), as well as elected office-holders of both parties, continued to push for the deep-cavern terminal at the end of the tunnel. They touted the economic benefits that more commuting capacity into the City would bring, along with 6000 construction jobs. The fact that most of those jobs would go to workers in New York, rather than New Jersey, and the fact that the proposed deep-cavern terminal would have been inconvenient for rail riders, did not seem to detract from their zeal.

Recently, the tide began to turn. Christie had campaigned on a promise to cut back on government and eliminate waste. He had battled with public-sector unions and ordered cuts in government services like schools and libraries. Rider advocates kept questioning whether New Jersey could afford the proposed deep-cavern terminal and pressing the point that it would cost $3 billion more than building and implementing the Moynihan/Penn Station First alternative with an enhanced and expanded facility that includes the existing Penn Station. They also continued to point out that the latter plan would allow connectivity between NJT and Amtrak and provide a useful line for both railroads. They continued to stress the facts that, under their preferred alternative, the line could be extended to the East Side in the future and through-running operation would also be feasible.

The alliance of rider advocates grew beyond New Jersey’s borders, to include national organizations, as well as state and regional coalitions throughout the eastern half of the nation. They included the National Corridors Initiative (NCI), the Association for Public Transportation (APT), NARP and the Rail Users’ Network (RUN). The rider advocates kept pressing their argument that the project as proposed could not be cost-effective; it would cost too much and deliver too little effectiveness. In addition to the inconvenience that the proposed deep-cavern terminal would force on riders, another flaw became widely apparent - that the project would cost so much that New Jersey could not afford its contribution, including all cost overruns, for which it would have been solely responsible.

Christie had ordered a 30-day moratorium on new contracts and real estate acquisition for the project on September 10th. Ten days later, NJT Executive Director James Weinstein revealed during his testimony to the Assembly Transportation Committee that the project would have to include $750 million worth of the Portal Bridge Capacity Enhancement Project, now known as “Portal Bridge South” (later increased to $775 million in the October 7th report) and the cost of a flyover at Hunter Interlocking, where Raritan Valley Line trains come onto the NEC as they approach Newark Penn Station.

These costs, added to the $8.7 billion previously claimed as the project’s total cost, pushed the total up by another billion dollars, which New Jersey would have to pay. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the PANYNJ were each willing to contribute $3 billion toward the project, but New Jersey was having difficulty raising the remaining $2.7 million of the previously-claimed cost of $8.7 billion. Nobody offered any suggestions for how New Jersey could also pay for any cost overruns.

That fact was not lost on the advocates. In the same hearing, Joseph M. Clift of the Regional Rail Working Group, a regional alliance of transit advocacy organizations, placed the actual figure at $10.7 billion. Philip G. Craig of NJ-ARP added the amount of funding that would be needed for improvements on the NEC to accommodate the proposed operating plan, and said the total cost would be closer to $12 billion.

Christie ordered the project shut down on affordability grounds, citing a report issued the same day (October 7th) by the ARC Executive Steering Committee that said the project could cost anywhere between $11 and $14 billion, up to $5 billion more than the figure of $8.7 billion that was first proffered in October, 2008. The ARC Executive Steering Committee was composed of senior managers from NJT and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ). They concluded: “it is the judgment of this Committee that, in the current economic climate, New Jersey and its project partners cannot afford this project and recommend its immediate and orderly shutdown.”

The report marks a significant change in position for NJT and the Port Authority. In the past, both organizations had supported the ARC Project with the deep-cavern terminal. That support had been enthusiastic and unwavering. As of Thursday, senior managers of both organizations went on record with the admission that the project would, indeed, cost far more than they had previously believed. It appears that, with this admission, they cannot credibly support a deep-cavern terminal proposal in the future. Plans from Friday call for NJT to participate in further decision-making concerning the project and whether it should be modified. Still, it would be difficult for NJT to claim a lower overall cost than the $11 to $14 billion, for a project of the same scope, which their senior managers admitted on Thursday.

Many elected leaders, especially Democrats, asked Weinstein and Transportation Commissioner (and former FTA head) James Simpson to attempt to secure more Federal funding. New Jersey’s senior senator, Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat, pleaded with the PANYNJ to increase its contribution, but his plea did not produce the desired result. The Port Authority managers on the ARC Executive Steering Committee agreed on the new, higher cost. It does not appear likely that the Port Authority is in a position to fill in the financial gap, whether or not it would choose to do so.

Christie had the last word on Thursday: “Considering the unprecedented fiscal and economic climate our State is facing, it is completely unthinkable to borrow more money and leave taxpayers responsible for billions in cost overruns. The ARC project costs far more than New Jersey taxpayers can afford, and the only prudent move is to end this project.” He agreed to two weeks’ further study on Friday, but still said that New Jersey does not have the money to contribute its share of the cost.

The proponents of the project as formerly proposed by NJT had always presented it as an all-or-nothing choice: either the tunnel and the deep-cavern terminal had to be built together, or else nothing should be built. Even after Christie’s announcement, they continue to lament the decision to kill the project, rather than change their position and call for new tunnels to be built and connected to the existing Penn Station. With Friday’s announcement that the subject of the project had been re-opened, proponents of the project still appear to stick to an all-or-nothing position.

Except for the rider advocates, nobody brought up the middle-ground plan of Moynihan/Penn Station First. The advocates stressed that building new tunnels and connecting them into an enhanced Moynihan/Penn Station would increase capacity, while allowing riders to connect easily from one line to another at a central passenger hub. Eventually, when further funding could be secured, the line could be extended to the East Side and through-running between New Jersey and New York State (including Long Island) would be feasible.

That situation appeared to change with Christie’s statement that ordered the shutdown of the project. He said: “I have asked Commissioner Simpson and Executive Director Weinstein to work with all interested parties – Amtrak, the Federal Transit Administration, the Port Authority, the City and State of New York and our Congressional delegation – to explore approaches to modernize and expand capacity for the Northeast Corridor.” While Simpson recused himself from the report of the ARC Executive Steering Committee, advocates have speculated that he acted as a voice of concern for transit in the region, a possible result of his experience as head of the FTA in the Bush Administration.

The advocates’ campaign has changed, but it continues. Clift reacted to the Christie announcement by saying on Thursday night: “The realities are sobering. The governor’s announcement brings an entirely new economic reality to the campaign. The key here is for the advocacy community to understand that yesterday, we were comparing our proposal to an overly expensive, under-performing alternative. Tomorrow, we’re faced with selling an alternative at a price that fits within the fiscal realities of the state. It’s important for all parties to do this quickly enough to keep the $3 billion in federal New Starts funds and the $3 billion pledged by the Port Authority.” Friday’s events did not change the situation. New Jersey still does not have enough money for its share of the cost, according to Christie.

On Friday, October 1st, it became clear that New Jersey was running short of money for transportation projects. The legislature had refused to approve bonds that would have been needed for New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) to continue funding highway projects and a few transit projects. On that day, Simpson ordered all work on State-funded transportation projects stopped (see last week’s edition of D:F). The work stoppage lasted only one day; the Legislature relented and approved the bond issue on Monday, October 4th. Still, the TTF remains in trouble. Nearly everyone concerned speculates that the governor will take as much of the money that would have gone for ARC as he can, and give it to the TTF, primarily for highway projects. This concern caused some environmental advocates to express a last-minute preference for the ARC project with a deep-cavern terminal, over using the money for highway projects.

Rider advocates are concerned that Christie’s announcement will mean the loss of funds from the FTA and the Port Authority. James T. Raleigh, Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition’s Political Committee, urged Christie to call another “time out” to examine technological and geological issues to confirm that the Moynihan/Penn Station First alternative is feasible. Raleigh and Clift have led walking tours of the Penn Station area to demonstrate that it is. “If they can acknowledge that our plan is feasible, they can start building it and keep the money. New Jersey could afford its share of that project. If the Governor and his transportation team can reach an agreement with the U.S. DOT sooner that would allow New Jersey to keep the money, so much the better.”

Raleigh’s hope may yet become reality. If Christie’s call for Amtrak, the FTA, New York State and City and other stakeholders to participate in future decision-making is heeded, the result will reflect the needs of the region, rather than only the interest of NJT managers. This could include the entire nine-state Northeastern region of the country. If Amtrak participates, the likelihood increases that any project built will serve Amtrak, as well as NJT. If New York participates, their needs for the project count as much as New Jersey’s. The overall result of region-wide participation could be a project that benefits the entire region. It could even bear a close resemblance to the Moynihan/Penn Station First alternative that the advocates want.

Papp noted that most media coverage mentioned only the project with the deep-cavern terminal or the no-build option. He told the Asbury Park Press: “There is a third way which would permit the construction of the mega-project to move forward while reducing overall outlays to stay within tight budgetary constraints. Moynihan/Penn Station First will be a win, win, win situation – for the Governor, for the project’s proponents, and most importantly, for the riding public.” On Saturday, October 2d, Press reporter Larry Higgs reported extensively on the walking tour he took with Raleigh and Clift, which demonstrated that the Moynihan/Penn Station First alternative is feasible. Advocates have expressed the hope that the Higgs article influenced Gov. Christie when he made his decision.

The first half of Mulshine’s prophecy almost came to pass on Thursday, and it has not lost its ring of truth, since funding is still a problem. The second half could still happen as soon as two weeks from now. In any event, advocates will continue to push for the second half to come true. Time will tell, and the advocates are ready. Even though the first game has gone into extra innings, the next phase of their campaign has already begun.

David Peter Alan is Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition, which supports the Moynihan/Penn Station First alternative. He participated in the campaign on behalf of the Lackawanna Coalition.

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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...


Canadian National (CNI)65.8864.14
Canadian Pacific (CP) 64.3661.13
CSX (CSX)57.4955.16
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)44.7542.90
Kansas City Southern (KSU)39.4737.26
Norfolk Southern (NSC)60.5359.02
Providence & Worcester(PWX)12.1112.05
Union Pacific (UNP)84.8681.03

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

Stories and Reports By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

Stuttgart 21 Threatened By Construction Stop

Arbitrator Demands Time-Out For Highly Controversial Rail Station Project

Stuttgart – Politics and emotions escalated even further this past week over the highly controversial “Stuttgart 21” rail station project in this prosperous city and capitol of the German state of Baden-Württemberg. A state appointed mediator, 80 year-old Heiner Geissler, a member of the moderate-conservative CDU party, asked that all construction of the US$ 6 billion project, which will radically transform the current surface level passenger rail terminal into an underground through-station, be halted until negotiations between pro- and anti-Stuttgart 21 groups can be resolved. His request for a total construction stop quickly triggered his suspension as official arbitrator by order of the state governor, Stefan Mappus, also of the same CDU political party as Mr. Geissler. The governor pointed out that a construction stop would cost close to EUR 1 billion (US $1.3 billion) and place in jeopardy a project that will “shape the economy for 100 years”.

Political cartoon

Image from Hannoverische Allgemeine Zeitung News

Off The Rails – Political cartoons such as this one in the Hannoverische Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper portray the numerous points and counterpoints of the Stuttgart 21 debate. Here the position of Heiner Geissler, until recently the official mediator for the highly disputed project, is portrayed.

The state governor, Mr. Mappus, saw the recommendation from the official mediator, Mr. Geissler, as so potentially damaging to the state, that he canceled a planned official visit to several Persian Gulf countries in order to stay in Stuttgart and deal with latest crisis in the Stuttgart 21 project. His suspension order shall keep Mr. Geissler out of the role as official government mediator through at least December 2010.

Tensions and protests over the massive rail station project have been steadily increasing as the project moved into a new phase in the past two months to demolish parts of the existing station building and remove trees, smaller buildings and other structures as part of preparations to begin underground construction. This past Thursday slightly over 100 people were injured as police in riot gear forcefully removed protestors from the construction site with tear gas and water cannons.

Mr. Mappus’s decision to suspend Mr. Geissler as official mediator may have removed for the short term the chance of a stop to construction, but it did nothing to calm political fighting over the project, rather it only further enraged opponents of the project, who consist of a coalition of left-wing environmentalists, right-wing anti-tax and anti-spending activists and independent pro-rail transit groups and Stuttgart area neighborhood organizations. The Green Party leader in the German parliament, Volker Beck, stated; “One might think that Mappus wants to put an end to talks before they’ve even begun …” He added that the CDU’s rejection of their own appointed mediator’s comments was particularly strange.

A number of reports from anti-Stuttgart 21 groups, based on several studies performed by construction consultants and financial auditors, allege that the currently stated cost estimates for the rail station project and related projects to build a new high-speed rail line to Ulm as well as building a new high-speed train station at Stuttgart Airport adjacent to the existing underground S-Bahn airport rail station are low-balling the true costs by as much as 50 percent. A major concern is that the exploding costs of the project will nearly eliminate public funding for numerous other rail transit projects in the rest of the country for a decade or longer. Several pro-rail transit groups, such as Pro Bahn and Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD) have proposed a series of incremental infrastructure improvements to the existing Stuttgart central train station and various rail junctions, overpasses and underpasses in the approximately 3 km (2 mile) long approach to the rail terminal, which would vastly improve rail traffic flow in and out of central Stuttgart but at a fraction of the cost of the Stuttgart 21 project.

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Eurostar Decides To Buy Siemens Velaro

Billion Dollar Train Order Seen As Defeat For Rival Alstom Of France

via Eurostar press release and CNN’s “Quest Means Business” financial / business news show

Paris – German conglomerate Siemens scored a major victory for its Velaro series of high-speed electric multiple-unit (EMU) train sets with Paris-based Channel Tunnel passenger train operator Eurostar announcing Thursday it had ordered 10 high-speed Siemens Velaro trains. The order is a setback for French firm Alstom, which built the existing fleet of TGV-derived high-speed trainsets currently in service between London-Paris and London-Brussels via the Channel Tunnel, often referred to by their British designation of BR Class 373. The new Velaro trains for Eurostar will most likely be built in Siemens Mobility’s passenger train assembly complex in Krefeld, Germany. “Eurostar International intends to order ten high-speed Velaro trains from Siemens for its London-Paris route,” a statement said. “Eurostar plans to invest some EUR 800 million (US $1.1 billion) in the purchase of new trains and the overhaul and refurbishment of its existing train fleet,” it added. The deal is however subject to completion of talks on final terms, said Eurostar, an international railway operator majority owned by Group SNCF, the state-owned passenger and freight rail operator of France.

The Velaro trains ordered, now called e320 by Eurostar, will be somewhat similar to Deutsche Bahn’s existing ICE-3 (DB Class 403 and 406) high-speed EMUs and nearly identical to new and yet-to-enter service DB Class 407, which Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) is pushing to have approved for its own Channel Tunnel operations between Germany and London. The most immediate difference between the DB Class 407 train set and the e320 Velaro train sets ordered by Eurostar will be the train length and number of cars per train set, the e320 trains ordered by Eurostar will be twice as long and with 16 cars, double the number of cars in the Class 403, 406 and 407 Deutsche Bahn ICE-3 train sets and approximately the same length as the existing BR Class 373.

A full scale mock-up of a lead car of a Velaro e320 train in Eurostar colors on display in London

Photo: Der Mobilitäts Manager magazine

Coming to London – a full scale mock-up of a lead car of a Velaro e320 train in Eurostar colors on display in London.

The order announced on Thursday will expand Eurostar’s current fleet of 27 trains, “whose design and technology will also be overhauled starting in 2011,” the press release stated. Around nine million passengers take the train each year on the Eurostar routes between Brussels, London and Paris, with ridership increasing steadily since services began in 1994. The additional ten new train sets may also enable Eurostar to develop new high-speed train services far beyond its current core services between London, Brussels and Paris. The existing BR Classs 373 train sets could be deployed by Eurostar on new high-speed train services within the UK and France, a theoretical example would be London to Edinburgh, or Paris to Marsielle, or with the new e320 Velaro train sets possibly on a Brussels - Berlin route, all of which would be in competition with existing incumbent passenger rail operators on those routes.

The announcement comes as German rail operator Deutsche Bahn prepares to offer services to London starting in 2013, meaning that for the first time two European railway operators will compete on a cross border route that does not connect their respective countries. Deutsche Bahn will make a much-awaited test run to London on the 19th of October with a brand-new Class 407 ICE-3 train, but Eurostar chief Nicolas Petrovic stated during a live TV interview with CNN’s Richard Quest that the new and renovated trains “will bolster our position as the dominant rail operator between the United Kingdom and the continent.”

The Velaro high-speed train is one of Siemens’ flagship products, and can carry up to 900 passengers in the Eurostar e320 configuration, or 20 percent more than the BR Class 373 trains presently in operation, at 320 km/h (200 mph) maximum revenue service speed. Siemens has already sold the Velaro to railways in China, Russia and Spain, but lost out to Alstom’s AGV high-speed EMU train set in a tender from Italian passenger train operator NTV, also majority owned by Group SNCF. The press release said the Siemens trains, consumed the equivalent of 0.33 liters of petroleum per passenger per 100 kilometers, or “just enough to fill a can of Coke.” For comparison, a typical modern 4-seat passenger automobile has an average energy consumption equivalent to 1.6 liters of petroleum per seat per 100 km traveled.

Shortly after the Eurostar announcement of acquisition of Velaro train sets from Germany (which had been rumored since June of this year) several news reports in various industry news media appeared, which stated that one or more cabinet-level ministers in the French government were furious with Eurostar for not choosing a French company to build the new trains, namely Alstom, and that they would investigate if there were ways to technically block the use of Velaro train sets in the Channel Tunnel with regulations for the Channel Tunnel, due to the EMU configuration of the e320 Velaro with its traction motors distributed in at least half of the 16 cars, rather than concentrated in just two power cars or locomotives, as is the case with the current Eurostar trains built by Alstom.

Unique regulations for the Channel Tunnel have required that passenger trains have separate power cars or locomotives and be able to split in half and drive to the exit of the tunnel after evacuating all passengers into the operable half of the train. However several safety inquiries into two major fires in the Channel Tunnel in past years as well as numerous incidents on Eurostar trains and similar inquiries into tunnel incidents of other passenger trains in land-based tunnels elsewhere in Europe have challenged the logic and basic premise of these unique regulations for the Channel Tunnel. Furthermore ICE-3 and ICE-T EMU train sets have operated for nearly a decade in numerous long-distance tunnels in Germany without any safety deficiencies or problems attributed to their distributed power EMU configuration – the safety level and incident rate in numerous multi-mile long tunnels in Germany is no different between EMU-configured ICE-3 and ICE-T train sets and more conventional power-car equipped ICE-1 and ICE-2 train sets, which are similar in configuration to the existing BR Class 373 Eurostar train sets.

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