Vol. 8 No. 41
October 15, 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...

  News Items…
“We’re All in This Together” October 11 at Boston Sense of Urgency,
   Commitment to Change Inspires Transportation Leadership Forum
Connecticut State Senate President Donald E. Williams’ Remarks
   To The Leadership Forum On Transportation
  Commuter Lines…
MA Governor Patrick seeks $300m for Green Line
  Technology Lines…
Nation’s First Train Equipped with New Brake Technology
   Begins Hauling
  Business Lines…
Changes at the Amtrak Throttle
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Off The Main Line…
States Restrict Truck Traffic
  Across The Pond…
German Transportation Ministers Reject “Giga Liner” Monster Trucks
Upper House of German Parliament Rejects Rail Privatization Bill
German Train Drivers Continue Strikes
Bavarian Transport Minister Applies the Brakes to Munich Airport
   Mag-Lev Train
  TV Program Alert…
CNN Business Travel Highlights Benefits of High Speed Rail in Europe
  End notes…


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

MA. LT. Gov. Tim Murray Oct 11, 2007

Four Photos: NCI

Massachusetts Lt. Gov Tim Murray, conference chair, addresses Boston Leadership Forum on Transportation “We’re All In This Together”

 

“We’re All in This Together” October 11 at Boston

 

Sense of Urgency, Commitment to Change
Inspires Transportation Leadership Forum

By DF Staff

BOSTON --- A sense of urgency, and a commitment to change, were the themes this past week as speaker after speaker from throughout New England and Eastern Canada focused on the ongoing weaknesses, and frequent breakdowns, of the transportation infrastructure in the Northeastern US and Canada, and the fact that the region must collaborate on addressing that problem, or face continuing decline.

NCI Oct 2007 Conference Poster

NCI October 2007 Conference Poster Courtesy of Doug Alexander.
Led by Lt. Gov. Tim Murray and supported by leaders such as Vermont Lt. Governor Brian Dubie, Connecticut State Senate President Don Williams, Canadian Consul-General Neil LeBlanc, and New Hampshire Passenger Rail Authority Chair Senator Peter Hoe Burling, the 100+ registered attendees at Boston’s famed Parker House heard that, despite areas of progress, the economy is hurting, businesses are leaving the area, young people are not returning, and the over-all quality of life is in decline.

The conference was organized by the National Corridors Initiative at the urging of Lt. Gov. Murray, who is recognized as a transportation expert and advocate because of his work as Mayor of Worcester in using better transportation access as a tool to help rebuild that city. Worcester has been hard hit by the same kind of economic changes that have affected so many other New England and Eastern Canadian towns and cities over the past decades, but is beginning an economic resurgence now.

Stressing the urgency of the situation, and unlike other events of this type, the group that gathered on October 11 wants to find solutions sooner rather than later, by working together not separately, and by acting now to create a regional solution to this large regional problem. As NCI President Jim RePass and others have said, “If America had been settled from West to East, New England would be all one state.”

Connecticut State Senate President Don Williams called for the gathered leaders to immediately begin working together on the establishment of a true region-wide rail system for both freight and passenger service, and Lt. Governor Brian Dubie, a pilot for American Airlines elected in Vermont in 2003 and re-elected twice since then, likewise called for better links between air and rail systems, and a comprehensive transportation approach that utilizes all elements in a functioning system.

Senate President Williams was one of 20 top political and business leaders from the Northeast to address the regional forum on transportation Thursday in Boston, Mass., calling for the formation of a regional transportation compact in order to improve New England’s economy and its environment.

“The New England states and Canada are an economic powerhouse whose engine is enormously dependent on rail and highway transportation,” Sen. Williams said. “What we need is a comprehensive and coordinated plan to address our increasingly obsolete transportation infrastructure. What we need is an interstate transportation compact.”

Sen. Williams -- who hosted a similar regional transportation summit in Hartford in April -- said such a compact would make the most of New England’s deep-water ports, get tractor trailers off our highways by putting more freight on rail cars, allow families to seek and commute to work on a regional basis, and help grow retail, residential and commercial development in and around transit hubs.

“It shouldn’t take a bridge collapse or regular traffic jams for governments to realize the economic impact that a solid transportation system has, not only at the state level, but on a regional level as well,” Sen. Williams said. “I intend to work with my colleagues in other New England states and Canada in order to move this initiative forward,” he noted.

Senator Williams and Lt. Governor Murray met when both of them spoke at one of the first regional conferences organized by NCI and Connecticut Sierra Club in New London, Connecticut, 2004 when Tim Murray was mayor of Worcester.

This was the third in a series of regional summits organized by the National Corridors Initiative. A diverse group of transportation experts, business leaders, financial experts and elected officials from New Jersey to Canada signed on to take part as panelists, and for the opportunity to meet face to face, to discuss regional issues with each other and explore solutions to the crisis --- including how to pay for the work to be done. Subsequent conferences and workshops will carry on that work over the course of the next several years.

The common theme of on-going travel challenges pervaded the morning sessions: some speakers were an hour or more late, yet had to drive starting at 4 or 5 a.m., to get to Boston. The largest city in the region is virtually inaccessible to its own neighbors, except by automobile, or the highly inefficient use of short-hop air travel, because of decades of poor transportation planning, and over-dependency on highways.

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray and Connecticut State Senator Andy Maynard

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray and Connecticut State Senator Andy Maynard at Boston Conference

“Here they were in the heart of one of the largest cities on the east coast - a few got stuck in traffic and arrived late; others made it on time but not without the stress of many hours of driving after rising at 4 a.m.,” noted Connecticut Sierra Club Transportation Chair Molly McKay, “It was emblematic of the reason they were all there – the lack of a robust, world class rail system connecting cities and towns and our two countries.”

Lt. Governor Tim Murray opened the conference with the message that this gathering must lead to a plan of action and collaboration to re-make the region’s transportation system, and that by pooling the resources of “…this impressive group of leaders, solutions will be found”.

Kip Bergstrom, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council, who led the first morning session, “Connect to Compete,” spoke of the unique opportunity in the northeast where cities like Boston and New York can have the advantage of pooling the talents of the best and the brightest if these large metropolitan areas are served by high speed rail. A couple could live in Connecticut, he said, and commute to Boston and New York if such a system existed.

Molly McKay and Blossom Hoag

Molly McKay, Connecticut Sierrra Club and Blossom Hoag, Massachusetts Sierra Club at Boston Conference.

Bergstrom, who is emerging as a key leader in the region’s planning community, was formerly Economic Development Director in Stamford, Connecticut. During the 1990’s he helped reduce Stamford’s office and industrial vacancy rates by 80% and closed a total of 45 deals representing over 6,000 jobs including the 2,200-employee North American headquarters of UBS Warburg Dillon Read, the investment banking arm of the world’s second largest bank.

New Hampshire State Senator Peter Hoe Burling spoke of the poorly conceived current plan to widen I-93 in his state at a cost of at least $850 million, only to have it feed into an already overburdened highway system in Massachusetts. The senator is chair of the newly formed New Hampshire Passenger Rail Authority, and will be revisiting highway-only transportation decisions made in previous years in New Hampshire, policies whose continuation would threaten to cost the state many billions of dollars and then fail to work.

Featured luncheon speaker former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis called for the building of a true high speed regional rail system that would serve Boston-Worcester-Springfield and New York, and for an expanded role for the Coalition of Northeastern Governors.

“The list of governors should include the metropolitan area of Washington, DC,” he said, “ and they should work together for a world class rail system that this country deserves.” He cited the work of a former aide, Bob Yaro, who now serves as President of the Regional Plan Association of New York, which is developing a “Mega-Regions” approach to planning.

During his three terms as governor of Massachusetts, Dukakis improved and expanded the entire metropolitan transit services of Boston and has continued his involvement in advocating for better rail service, focusing on keeping alive the North South Rail Link, a project that would serve commuters from all sides of the Boston area and close the gap in the Northeast Corridor, making it a seamless service from Washington to Maine. “The Link is essential for a truly effective and efficient regional rail system in metropolitan Boston,” he said.

Among the strong Canadian representation was France Dionne, a new delegate of the Delegation du Quebec in Nouvelle-Angleterre, who spoke of Quebec’s mission to ensure mobility “…via safe and efficient transportation that will enable healthy trade between the US and Canada, and foster sustainable trade corridor development.” 30 million consumers in Quebec live within a one-day travel distance to the US border, she noted. It is essential to improve transportation and develop a strategy to ease the Canada-US trans-border crossings, all the while maintaining effective security measures.

Mrs. Dionne closed by inviting everyone to the 400th Anniversary of Quebec City, in 2008.

Connecticut State Senator Andy Maynard, Sierra Club of CT’s Molly McKay, NCI President Jim RePass, Conference Speaker Michael S. Dukakis, and France Dionne, Delegate du Quebec en Nouvelle-Angleterre.

Charles Tretter, Executive Director of the New England Governors’ Conference, has held together the NEGC through some rough periods when two of the states, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, withdrew their support. Tretter has worked for 48 governors during his career and understands well the need for regional collaboration. “New England won’t survive well without being cooperative,” he said.

Connecticut’s Assistant Majority Leader Representative David McCluskey, whose request to Jim RePass last winter that we “get everyone together to talk” led to this series of regional summits, talked about the need for reliable revenue streams and the great damage to Connecticut when the state gas tax was cut by 6 cents in 1988. “Had we not cut that tax, many of the projects Connecticut badly needed could have gone forward,” he said.

The day-long agenda included talks on tourism, conservation and historic preservation (Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Seaport, restoration of the renowned nineteenth century schooner, “Ernestina”), transit-oriented development, and the importance of freight railroads in the regional infrastructure improvements, as noted by Providence & Worcester Railroad President Scott Conti and others. In addition, DEPFA First Albany Managing Partner Ned Flynn and Mintz Levin Partner Jonathan Ballan, who also chairs New York City’s Municipal Assistance Corporation, spoke of new, innovative ways to finance large infrastructure projects that are being developed by the financial community in response to the increased infrastructure needs around the world.

In addition to those cited above, featured speakers included: Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Representative Dan Lauzon, Connecticut Transportation Deputy Commissioner Albert Martin, Massachusetts Transportation Deputy Secretary Thomas Cahir, Senior Vice President of The Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration Peter Glankoff, Executive Director of the Schooner Ernestina Lt. Paul Brawley, Train Riders Northeast Chairman Wayne Davis, whose decades-long effort led to the start of the DownEaster, and Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority Executive Director Patricia Quinn, who has made the DownEaster the number-one ranked passenger train in the national Amtrak system.

In closing remarks, Lt Gov Tim Murray expressed his gratitude for the presence of so many dedicated leaders and attendees and reminded all that the next step must be a plan of action; he will be conducting meetings with interested parties over the next several weeks, including NCI President Jim RePass, in order to plan those steps.

RePass noted that Connecticut Deputy Secretary Albert Martin had called for such a collaborative effort as well; Secretary Martin has agreed to be the first member of and help get started on a region wide “Task Force on Transportation.”

Copies of speeches and power point presentations will be available on the NCI website. The full remarks of Senator Williams appear this week, as does the Lt. Paul Brawley’s presentation on the restoration project of the regionally historic ship “Ernestina,” whose present condition is emblematic of the condition of the region’s infrastructure, and whose restoration will serve as an inspiration to do the same with that infrastructure.


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Connecticut State Senate President Donald E. Williams’
Remarks To The Leadership Forum On Transportation

 

I want to thank Lt. Governor Tim Murray and Jim RePass from the National Corridors Initiative for organizing this event, keeping the dialogue going on regional approaches to transportation challenges in the Northeast. We started this dialogue in Connecticut with a similar “summit” in April. We were thrilled by the turnout then, and we continue to be energized by the interest shown here today.

Since April, events have happened that have more intensely focused our nation’s attention on infrastructure. The Minneapolis bridge collapse put a spot light on the neglected roads and bridges throughout our country. It caused us all to scrutinize how our states approach transportation projects, and how we protect our citizens. But that tragedy also had another effect: it generated interest in the general public about finding a solution to our transportation crisis. The neglect of our infrastructure will not be tolerated anymore. We must make investments in our roads and bridges, but it can’t take away from our continuing investment into mass transit.

This meeting today will be about finding regional approaches to solutions. Our states, and provinces are not islands, we are not isolated in our own economic sphere. We are interconnected on an economic level, and in order to compete in this global economy, we must find a way to cooperate with each other to make our region more economically robust. A perfect place to start that cooperation is in transportation. Commerce doesn’t stop at our borders and neither should our transportation planning, and infrastructure.

As an example: From Connecticut’s perspective, we are changing our approach to commuter rail. Twenty years ago, the only focus was how to get workers in and out of New York City. Today, our focus is on mobilizing our work force. It’s about connectivity, not just to New York City, but from New York City into Connecticut. It’s about getting around our state, making all of our cities viable places to work. And it’s going to be about connectivity throughout the region.

I was encouraged this week to see our state Department of Transportation announce new services on our Shoreline East commuter rail. These new trains will offer so-called “reverse-commute” options for those looking to travel from western destinations, such as New Haven, into eastern Connecticut. This is something we have been pushing for years. There are some pretty startling statistics in Connecticut in terms of commuter rails. Reverse Commute is now becoming the norm. In fact, of the approximately 35 million passengers who use the New Haven Line of Metro-North, approximately 30 percent are reverse commuting into cities such as Stamford, Bridgeport and New Haven. The rate of new reverse commuters is outpacing other commuters by a 2-1 margin. It was estimated in 2006 that over 4,500 passengers are getting OFF the train in Stamford every morning.

With ridership increasing by double-digit percentages on our Shoreline East service, it is assumed that there is a growing market for reverse-commuters on this line. These reverse commute options now and in the future are not just from New York City into Connecticut, but from Boston into New Hampshire or Maine as well as Boston into Worcester or Providence. Our region can truly grow if we continue to encourage this connectivity throughout the region.

In the last two years we in the Connecticut Legislature have approved investing over $2 billion into mass transit that will bring our Metro North Railroad into the modern age, with new rail cars that will increase capacity, encourage ridership and help take cars off of our crowded highways. This money will also go to starting a new commuter line from New Haven to Springfield, which offers the promise of someday being a backbone service all the way to Canada. We have plans to continue to invest in our Shoreline East service, which will greatly improve service from New London all the way to New York City. Wouldn’t it be great if this service connected in the other direction to Providence?

It is my hope, and something that Lt. Gov. Murray and I have discussed, that this service connects to another new service from New London to Worcester. What a connected world this would lead to in Southern New England. Our workers could travel from Worcester to New London, or Providence to New Haven, or New London to Boston without having to use their cars and sit in traffic.

The time has come for us to not only think about these issues regionally, but cooperate as a region to tackle these issues. We need to think about the potential of some type of Northeast Rail Compact. If we could get together as a region and agree on a few fundamental issues regarding rail passenger service, all of our citizens would benefit. Coordination, shared costs and shared goals, all would be met by such a compact. Extending service beyond borders, such as we hope to do with our New Haven Springfield Line, Shoreline East service and in the future New London to Worcester Line, will be easy, convenient and efficient.

This new Northeast Rail Compact could also help us tackle some of the challenges to rail freight throughout the northeast. First and foremost might be in replacing a bridge across the Hudson River that would jumpstart freight rail throughout the northeast. Since the fire in 1974, lack of river crossings has sent freight rail into decline in our region. If we could pool our resources to address the challenges facing rail freight in the northeast, we could make significant improvements in traffic and pollution throughout the region.

An improved rail freight system would allow us to better access our deep water ports. In Connecticut we are fighting to improve access to our ports in Bridgeport, New Haven and New London. Better rail access to our ports could help economic development from Bridgeport, throughout Massachusetts and Maine, all the way to the Canadian Maritimes.

The bottom line is we need to get together as a region on these issues. In the global economy, we can’t afford to “go it alone” any longer. And the collective resources we all can bring to the table can make improving our economies more affordable than ever.


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COMMUTER LINES...  Commuter Lines...

MA Governor Patrick seeks $300m for Green Line

 

DF Staff, from Boston Globe and Internet Sources

BOSTON, OCTOBER 13 – The Green Line extension into Somerville and Medford has been a source of worry for many who fear more delays will leave commuters and other users in the dark about when it will happen.

Governor Deval Patrick, seeking to allay those fears, announced yesterday that the state is applying for $300 million in federal funding and taking other steps as well to move the project forward, reported The Globe. He promised that if federal funding is not approved, the state will borrow money to pay for the $560 million project.

He also told residents of Somerville and Medford that the MBTA will begin designing new trains and that a consulting firm has been hired to do the environmental and engineering studies.

The state has organized a citizens’ advisory group which will meet monthly until the project is complete, starting on October 25.

“The Green Line extension is an important project,” Patrick said. “I’m here to affirm my 100 percent commitment to see it gets built and gets built while I am in office.”

The governor said he hopes the extended service will be up and running by 2014, not 2016, as his office had projected.

In August, improvements to the D line made it possible for riders to get to Red Sox games at Fenway the last weekend of the month. The completion of the work came three days early, just in time for the game. It was the first time since June 22 that service between Riverside and Kenmore was uninterrupted. Throughout the summer, riders had to transfer to shuttle buses to get to their destinations.

MBTA Green Line Trolley

The Green Line “B” Branch on Commonwealth Avenue. This trolley, bound for Boston College and composed of two Type 8 cars, is waiting at a light on Commonwealth Avenue at Carlton Street.

The Green Line is a light rail/streetcar system in the Boston, Massachusetts area, run by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). It is the oldest line of Boston’s subway, running underground downtown and on the surface in outlying areas. With a daily weekday ridership of 235,300, it is also the most heavily-used light rail line in the country. The line was given the green color because it goes primarily though the area of Boston called the Emerald Necklace of Boston. The four branches are the remnants of a once large system of streetcar lines, begun in 1856 with the Cambridge Horse Railroad. The Tremont Street Subway carries cars of all branches under downtown, and is the oldest subway tunnel in North America, opened in stages between September 1, 1897 and September 3, 1898 to take streetcars off surface streets.

 

[ Editor’s note: Because of the Green Line, I was one of the few attendees at last Thursday’s summit who enjoyed a seamless, one-seat transit ride to the event. I boarded at the outlying suburban stop, called Riverside, which was only a five-minute drive from where I had spent the night, and arrived thirty minutes later at the Park Street station in downtown Boston, a three-minute walk to the Parker House. ]


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TECHNOLOGY LINES...  Technology Lines...

Nation’s First Train Equipped with
New Brake Technology Begins Hauling

By DF Staff from Norfolk Southern press releases and other Internet Sources

Norfolk Southern first in line to use the new system

 

OCTOBER 11 – The first train in the US to be equipped exclusively with electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes made railroad history last Thursday when it rolled over Norfolk Southern tracks in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The train, owned by Norfolk Southern (NS), consists of three new locomotives and 115 new hybrid coal gondolas, and is used in regular service between coalmines in southwestern Pennsylvania and the Keystone Generating Station in Shelocta, Pa.

ECP brakes have the potential to reduce train stopping distances by as much as 60 percent over conventional air brake systems, according to the NS press release that announced the news. ECP brakes utilize electronic signals to simultaneously apply and release throughout the length of a freight train. This differs from the conventional brake system, developed back in the 1870’s, in which freight train cars brake individually at the speed of the air pressure moving from car to car along trains that are often well over a mile in length.

Freightcar America Hybrid Coal Gondola

Image: FreightCar America

Hybrid Coal Gondola

 

Last March, the Federal Railroad Administration granted a waiver to NS and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) to allow for testing of the ECP brakes on locomotives and rail cars.

Norfolk Southern equipped 30 locomotives, 210 quick-drop coal hoppers and 230 hybrid gondolas with ECP brakes for use in dedicated coal train service. The locomotive supplier General Electric, the ECP brake system provider New York Air Brake and the rail car provider FreightCar America all worked with NS throughout the testing period.

In September, FRA issued a proposed rule based on the provisions of the waiver designed to further promote the deployment of ECP brakes on more trains. The rule requires that the railroad clearly define a process for rectifying brake problems discovered en route, ensuring that ECP brake inspections are only performed by qualified mechanical inspectors, and providing appropriate training to train crew members.

Besides saving time, this new braking technology could significantly enhance rail safety by lowering the possibility of derailments and giving train handlers better control.

FRA Administrator Joseph H. Boardman said that BNSF Railway is expected to operate trains with the new brake technology before the end of 2007. “These railroads understand using ECP brake technology can bring significant safety and business benefits, and I encourage other railroads to follow their lead,” he said.

Some specifics about the new technology:

Boardman said he believes the technology can prevent accidents, in part because ECP brakes allow the engineer to “back off” braking effort to match track grade and curvature, without completely releasing the brakes — with these significant added benefits:

The FRA waiver allows NS and BNSF trains equipped with ECP brakes to safely travel up to 3,500 miles—more than double the current maximum distance—with fewer stops for routine brake inspections then currently required by federal regulations, because the technology provides continual electronic self-diagnostic system checks that inform train crews when maintenance is required, making routine brake test stops unnecessary, Boardman said.


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BUSINESS LINES...  Business Lines...

Changes at the Amtrak Throttle

Excerpted from railpac.org E-newsletter

Former Amtrak West President Gil Mallery, who has been President for Strategic Planning and Contract Administration working out of Washington DC, has retired from Amtrak. His replacement is Don Saunders, who has been Superintendent for the Central Division in Chicago after working here on the West Coast for some years. Mr. Saunders’ new title will be, Assistant Vice President, State and Commuter Partnerships-West, and he will be stationed in Oakland. This does not mean the return of Amtrak West...but does mean more localized decision-making. The Committee applauded this idea.

In another announcement, Amtrak Board Chairman David Laney has indicated he does not want another term, which opens another board seat. When replacements will be appointed is unknown.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)83.5686.78
Canadian National (CNI)54.3556.41
Canadian Pacific (CP)71.7374.01
CSX (CSX)42.6043.52
Florida East Coast (FLA)62.5162.51
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)29.2629.85
Kansas City Southern (KSU)34.7634.62
Norfolk Southern (NSC)53.6053.40
Providence & Worcester (PWX)19.3018.66
Union Pacific (UNP)119.52117.35


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

States Restrict Truck Traffic

Efforts spread as big rigs clog roads

USA Today

OCTOBER 11 -- On the same day as NCI’s seminal conference on transportation and infrastructure, a front page article in USA TODAY addresses the problem of escalating truck traffic on the nation’s highways that is adding to congestion and stressing the drivers of passenger cars.

“Truck-only lanes and a plan to divert some truck cargo to ships along the Atlantic Coast are among the initiatives getting scrutiny from state and federal agencies,” writes USA TODAY reporter Larry Copeland. “About 75,000 more big rigs cruise onto already crowded highways every year.”

The explosive growth in truck traffic is creating a nightmare for some drivers, says Gerald Donaldson, senior research director of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “Joe Blow is terrified,” he says. “There’s a greater proportion of large trucks in the traffic stream than 10 years ago...We have more older drivers than ...ever before, and they do not like being next to large trucks.”

A long list of states are looking for solutions and some have already taken action:

The trucking industry, according to Tim Lynch, Senior Vice President of the American Trucking Association which represents about 40,000 trucking companies, does not oppose separate truck lanes if they are free.

Congress and the Bush administration are looking into private industry proposals to divert some truck cargo to ships along the Atlantic Coast.


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

Installments From David Beale
NCI Foreign Correspondent

 

German Transportation Ministers Reject
“Giga Liner” Monster Trucks

But European Union Considers Future Approval for Giant Trucks

Hannover Allegemeine Zeitung, story by Thomas Würpe

BERLIN, OCTOBER 11 – The so called “Giga Liner” extra-long over-the-road trucks will no longer be allowed to operate on German highways and streets, according to a statement by state transportation ministers from Germany’s 16 states who met here in Berlin. The 60 metric ton (132,200 lbs.) heavy and 25.3 meter (83 ft.) long vehicles have been operating in Lower Saxony and two other German states since early 2006. The principal reasons given were the increased potential for highway accidents and collisions as well as faster deterioration of roads and bridges caused by the giant trucks.

For German federal transportation minister Wolfgang Tiefensee the decision is a “clear signal” to Brussels (headquarters of the EU central government). By next summer a study will be under review in Brussels for possible clearance for Europe-wide operation of the giant trucks as a possible way to slow the rapid rise in the number of trucks traveling on roads and highways across Europe. The Bündis Allianz Pro-Schiene, a German association of pro-rail groups and rail transit organizations, fears that the danger from the “monster trucks” is far from over.

The  “Giga Liner” Monster Truck.

Photo" HAZ

The “Giga Liner” Monster Truck.

The Infrastructure Minister from the state of Brandenburg in eastern Germany, Reinhold Dellmann, welcomed the decision. “We don’t need extra large trucks, since they will take freight traffic from the rails onto the roads.”

Transportation analysts predict that the introduction of these extra-large monster trucks will pull traffic away from not only rail freight but also from inland barges and cargo ships operating along Germany’s numerous canals and inland water routes. The current size limits on highway trucks of 40 metric tons and 18 meters gives both rail and water freight transit a slight edge over their highway based competition. Despite this advantage, over-the-road trucks continue to dominate the German freight transport scene, with a near 85% market share of all freight traffic.

The group “Bündis Allianz Pro Schiene” announced further measures against any additional certification of monster trucks. “We can relax only when this issue is officially dead and buried in Brussels,” stated Allianz Pro Schiene chief Dirk Flege.


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Upper House of German Parliament Rejects Rail Privatization Bill

States Demand Changes to the Privatization Process / Worries Over Constitutionality

Source HAZ News Service

Berlin - The “Bundesrat”, the upper house of the German Parliament, on Friday essentially vetoed the long awaited partial privatization legislation passed over a month ago by the lower house of Parliament (Bundestag). The legislation would have resulted in the German government selling off 49% of Deutsche Bahn - German Railways - to private and institutional investors and additional separation of DBAG’s operations from DB Netz, which owns and operates the tracks and related infrastructure.

German state governments, which appoint and exercise control over members of the Bundesrat, have remained deeply unsatisfied with the legislation, and anticipate that the partial privatization of the rail system and further division of operations from the track network, as proscribed in the proposed law, will saddle the states with either dramatically increased operating subsidies for numerous secondary rail lines or will about a new round of line closures and abandonment, or both.

Two state transport ministers, Oliver Wittke of Northrhein Westphalia and Walter Hirsch of Lower Saxony, stated that they believe the proposed law may be unconstitutional. “The Bundesrat is not fighting the federal government about if Deutsche Bahn should be placed on the stock market, but it is questioning how the process shall be handled.”

“Seldom have diverse groups such as Economic Council, the Anti-Trust Department and various economic experts been so united with major doubts about a legislative proposal as they have been concerning this rail privatization bill. When the requirements of the states to deliver a nationwide solution will not be fulfilled, the states have no choice but vote against this proposed federal law.” stated Karl-Heinz Daehre, state transportation minister from Saxony Anhalt and chairman of this past week’s conference of state transportation ministers.

The veto from the Bundesrat is a major blow to the legislative agenda of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU political party) and her transportation minister Wolfgang Tiefensee (SPD political party). Both the German federal government and Deutsche Bahn AG were planning to begin the partial sale of the railroad on the equity markets as early as this November. The federal government was planning to use proceeds from the sale to reduce public debt, while Deutsche Bahn was hoping for a major cash infusion from private and institutional investors for additional expansion of its logistics business as well as further concentration on its core network of intercity high speed passenger trains.

With the rejection from the Bunderat, the legislation for privatization of Deutsche Bahn is for all intense purposes dead for the short and medium term. The lower house of Parliament would have to re-write the legislation, a process which is far from certain to have support from the existing constellation of special interests involved in the matter, before the subject can be officially considered again.


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German Train Drivers Continue Strikes

From various news sources and personal observations

HANNOVER – For a second week in a row the German train drivers’ union GDL mounted several more morning rush hour strikes against Deutsche Bahn AG (DBAG), thereby crippling not only Germany’s passenger rail network but also bringing automobile traffic on roads and highways to the point of total collapse. Strikes targeted local commuter and regional trains operated by DBAG’s commuter and regional passenger train division DB Regio, while DBAG’s freight trains and intercity trains operating mostly per normal schedule, due to a court order which prohibits the union from striking those operations.

The anticipated cancellation of thousands of commuter trains, including S-Bahn, Regional and Regional Express services, this past Friday (12th October) forced millions of commuters to drive to work, to school or to other daily appointments, resulting in massive traffic jams all across Germany. Traffic jams quickly formed on many autobahns (freeways), some approaching lengths of 12 km or more (8 miles). The German automobile club ADAC (similar to the AAA in the USA) posted warnings and advisories on its web site advising motorists to take alternative routes or avoid driving altogether, if possible, during the strike.

The train drivers’ union met Thursday with DBAG management in another round of negotiations to end their dispute, apparently without success. Yesterday the union stated it would suspend strike action for the remainder of October, in order to further study the proposed settlement agreement from DBAG of Thursday.

The strikes have placed the train drivers’ union under considerable pressure from the public, DBAG management, politicians and even other rail labor unions. Transnet, the largest labor union of DBAG employees, was particularly critical of its sister union GDL and its chief Manfred Schell. Transnet chief Norbert Hansen called the GDL action “a totally unnecessary strike.”

Hansen added: “Schell should have cancelled his strike call pending the new Deutsche Bahn offer. I can only say that GDL strike leaders are no longer in control of events.”


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Bavarian Transport Minister Applies the Brakes
to Munich Airport Mag-Lev Train

 

MUNICH -- One day after his inauguration into office as state transport minister, Guenther Beckstein (CSU political party) has placed the proposed Munich Airport Transrapid mag-lev train into question. The proposed mag-lev train line which is based on design and technologies developed by German companies Siemens, Thyssen Krup and others, would connect Munich Airport to Munich’s central train station with fast (300 - 400 km/h) trains with travel times of about 10 minutes. The airport is currently connected to the central train station with a conventional steel-rail commuter train line operated with S-Bahn electric multiple unit train sets.

Beckstein stated, “if the projected costs run over the current EUR 1.85 billion (US $ 2.5 billion) price estimate, then Bavaria will not be on-board.” He ruled out Bavaria, Germany’s largest and perhaps most wealthy state, paying more than the currently committed EUR 480 million in state government funds pledged to the project.

At Left:

Photo: Lok Report

Commuters waiting for information in an underground S-Bahn station in central Munich during the Oct. 5th strike

Artist’s concept of the Transrapid mag-lev train

Photo: Deutsche Bahn

Artist’s concept of the Transrapid mag-lev train crossing over the existing S-Bahn rail line near Munich’s Franz Josef Strauss International Airport

 

TV PROGRAM ALERT...  TV Program Alert...

CNN Business Travel Highlights Benefits
of High Speed Rail in Europe


ATLANTA--
In this week’s Business Traveler series, CNN’s flamboyant Richard Quest takes viewers on a journey across Europe via its modern high-speed train network from a business traveler’s perspective. Highlights include the Paris – Barcelona “Hoteltren” and the newly operational Paris – Stuttgart high speed rail corridor. Destination Freedom readers are strongly encouraged to watch this edition of “Business Traveler” on CNN. Go to: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/BUSINESS/10/12/oct.show/index.html.


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NEWS ITEMS...  End notes...

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