The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

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

Publisher: James P. RePass      E-Zine Editor: Molly McKay
Foreign Editor: David Beale      Webmaster: Dennis Kirkpatrick
 

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October 18, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 42

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

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

  News Items…
Al Engel Named To Lead Amtrak’s New
   High-Speed Rail Department
Negotiations Continue Between US DOT And New Jersey
   In Effort To Save ARC
New York Times Publishes NCI Chairman’s Letter
   Re The ARC Tunnel Crisis In NY-NJ
  Legal Lines…
Railroads And Environmental Law
  Selected Rail Stocks…
 
  Across The Pond…
Innotrans 2010 Highlights Rail Transit
ICE-3 Runs In The Channel Tunnel
Stuttgart 21 Protests Continue While Mediation Resume
Strikes and Protests Shut-Down Transportation In France
Gotthard Base Tunnel Boring Completed
  Commentary…
The ARC Project: Where It Stands Now
  Publication Notes …


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

A Push For Higher Speeds

 


Al Engel Named To Lead Amtrak’s
New High-Speed Rail Department

From Amtrak And By DF Staff

WASHINGTON – Albrecht (Al) P. Engel, P.E., long one of the nation’s leading and most articulate High-Speed Rail advocates, has been named to head up Amtrak’s newly-created High-Speed Rail Department, Amtrak announced this past week.

Engel has more than 40 years of experience in the rail transportation business and over that time has been active in the study, advocacy and development of high-speed rail projects, including equipment procurement and infrastructure work on the Northeast Corridor in advance of the launch of Amtrak high-speed Acela Express service.

He currently serves as vice president and High-Speed Rail director with AECOM, a global provider of professional, technical and management support services, and is on the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) board of directors. Previously, he served as chairman of the High-Speed Rail Association.

“Al has considerable expertise, is a dedicated proponent for public transportation and shares our conviction that Amtrak plays a vital, leading and necessary role in expanding and operating high-speed rail service across the country,” said President and CEO Joseph Boardman.

“Amtrak is an integral part of America’s high-speed rail future as highways and aviation networks reach capacity in our urban areas,” stated Engel. “I am very enthused to have this opportunity to work for Amtrak and with national and regional leaders to help implement a new balanced transportation vision for the U.S.”

National Corridors Initiative Chairman James P. RePass praised the selection: “I have known Al Engle for 20 years and there is no one more knowledgeable, or more tenacious, than he is regarding the development of true High-Speed Rail in America. He combines skill, with passion.”

Engel will be charged with pursuing partnerships with states and others in the passenger rail industry to develop high-speed rail corridors such as the new projects moving forward in California and Florida, Amtrak said. In addition, he will conduct planning activities to significantly improve Amtrak high-speed rail operations in the Northeast and is serving as an AECOM Senior Advisor on a study commissioned by Amtrak to determine the feasibility of increasing top speeds beyond today’s 150 mph (241 kph), achieving major reductions in trip-times between Washington and Boston, and expanding the number of train frequencies. This concept report is expected to be released in the near future.

Furthermore, Engel will help Amtrak fulfill the high-speed rail goals laid out by the Obama administration and provide the leadership on high-speed and intercity passenger rail issues that Congress provided to Amtrak when it passed the Passenger Rail Improvement and Investment Act of 2008.

About Albrecht (Al) P. Engel

Prior to joining AECOM in 2009, Mr. Engel worked as a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley from 2006 to 2009. From 1991 to 2006, he was president and CEO of SYSTRA Consulting, a consulting firm affiliated with Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais (SNCF), the French national railway and Paris Metro specializing in rail transportation and public transit planning and engineering, including high-speed rail projects.

From 1985 to 1989, he served as president and CEO of LS Transit Systems, Inc., the company he launched which was later renamed SYSTRA Consulting. One of his several key consulting roles included the California High-Speed Rail Authority Implementation Plan.

From 1989 to 1990, he served as president and COO of Atlantic Track and Turnout Company, a steel product fabricator and distributor specializing in rail and track accessories. From 1978 to 1985 he headed the infrastructure engineering unit of Gibbs & Hill, the firm which serviced the Pennsylvania Railroad and later Amtrak on its electric traction engineering needs.

Mr. Engel spent the first decade of his professional life with General Electric holding various positions in the Locomotive Department including the management of the domestic electric locomotive business unit.

He currently serves on the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) board of directors and has served on several working committees of APTA and other industry associations. He was chairman of the High-Speed Rail Association from 1994 to 1995 and has won numerous awards for his leadership in public transportation advocacy.

Mr. Engel earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1968 and holds professional engineer licenses in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.


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Negotiations Continue Between US DOT
And New Jersey In Effort To Save ARC

By DF Staff

NEW JERSEY---Negotiations between Federal and New Jersey state officials that began almost immediately after New Jersey Gov. Christie cancelled on October 7 the multi-billion ARC Trans Hudson Tunnel Project were continuing as D:F went online with this week’s issue.

At stake is whether the project can be re-started at all, or whether its alignment could be changed from the existing dead-end terminal plan to the original, less costly, and more user-friendly Penn Station alignment that had been the chief justification for the project when first conceived.

The National Corridors Initiative, the National Association of Railroad Passengers, and thousands of rail-transit advocates in the Northeast have supported the Penn Station alignment as the most cost-effective and most broadly beneficial choice to serve the region’s rail passengers. The expensive NJT-only alignment grew out of difficulties encountered between Amtrak and NJT management, as well as issues with New York City agencies and the subway and Metro North systems, that made success of any kind seem uncertain, and militated against the original Penn Station through-connection.

With the involvement of US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and, it is expected, the President of the United States, who has made transportation infrastructure a centerpiece of his domestic program, it appears possible that a solution might be found that would re-start the ARC (“Access to the Region’s Core”) project but reduce its eventual cost, and improve its functionality.


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New York Times Publishes NCI Chairman’s
Letter Re The ARC Tunnel Crisis In NY-NJ

 

[The following letter, printed in the New York Times October 15 may help D:F readers better understand the ARC Hudson Tunnel project crisis in New York-New Jersey, whose outcome will affect the economic and transportation health of the Eastern Seaboard for generations---the Editor]

 

October 14, 2010
Re: Hudson River Rail Tunnel To the Editor:

Paul Krugman’s Oct. 8 column, “The End of the Tunnel,” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/08/opinion/08krugman.html?scp=2&sq=krugman tunnel&st=cse) though passionate and well written, does not mention key facts about the Hudson River train tunnel project that would help explain why Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey decided to kill it (though he has since agreed to a study of options to save the tunnel).

First, the new cost estimates are $11 billion to $13 billion, considerably more than the original $8.7 billion, largely because of a parochial decision by New Jersey Transit to abandon the original Penn Station through-running alignment in favor of one that dead-ends in a deep-cavern terminal under 34th Street, usable only by New Jersey Transit.

Second, the dead-end tunnel cuts out all of New England and Eastern Canada from essential rail capacity growth; the less expensive Penn Station alignment allows for it, and also allows a future connection to Grand Central Terminal that would take hundreds of thousands of subway riders off overcrowded lines in Midtown.

Governor Christie was absolutely right to try to kill this vastly over-budget, dead-end tunnel. Are new Hudson rail tubes needed? Desperately — but we must do it right, so that both New Jersey Transit and Amtrak can use them, and so that all of New England and Eastern Canada can benefit, not just New Jersey.

James P. RePass
Chairman
The National Corridors Initiative
Mystic, Conn., Oct. 9, 2010

On line at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/opinion/l15rail.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss


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LEGAL LINES... Legal Lines...  

A Guest Commentary

 

Railroads And Environmental Law

By Richard M. Kuntz
Bollinger, Ruberry, & Garvey
500 W. Madison, # 2300
Chicago, IL  60661-2511
(312) 559-4653

Railroads have played a key role in the development of environmental law. One of the very first cases decided under the first major Federal environmental statute, the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), was U.S. v. SCRAP, 412 U.S. 669 (1973), where students challenged a railroad freight surcharge on the shipment of recycled over virgin materials. So even in this first case, environmental laws were being used against railroads.

While railroads can and should be viewed as environmentally beneficial when compared with other modes of transport, rail facilities and operations have not always been considered benign. Most recently on October 5, 2010, for example, several communities and organizations in California, which has led the nation in development and restoration of passenger rail, brought suit in an attempt to prevent the California High-Speed Rail Authority from constructing a Los Angeles to San Francisco high-speed line, alleging failure to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, a state statute modeled on NEPA. The purpose of this article is to consider how the restoration of rail service on existing lines/rights of way can be attacked by the NIMBY crowd, and must satisfy NEPA and similar state requirements before construction may begin.

NEPA requires that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or equivalent environmental analysis, often requiring public notice and participation, be prepared in advance of any “major Federal action affecting the environment,” which includes projects undertaken by non-Federal entities such as railroads or local governments which receive Federal funding or require permission from a Federal agency such as the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Surface Transportation Board or Amtrak1. Although NEPA regulations adopted by the Council on Environmental Quality do provide that environmental benefits may be taken into account in determining whether an EIS is required, there is no statutory exemption in NEPA for projects which are thought to be environmentally beneficial, and court cases applying NEPA have not created any such exemption, Thus, for example, an EIS was required for the U.S. Park Service’s repair and expansion of the recreational towpath along the C & O Barge Canal. Berkson v. Morton, 2 ELR 20659 (D. Md. 1971).

Current regulations detailing NEPA requirements at 40 CFR 1501.4 require agencies to determine whether to prepare an environmental impact statement by following the following procedures:

(a) Determine under its procedures supplementing these regulations (described in § 1507.3) whether the proposal is one which:

(1) Normally requires an environmental impact statement, or
(2) Normally does not require either an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment (categorical exclusion).

(b) If the proposed action is not covered by paragraph (a) of this section, prepare an environmental assessment (§ 1508.9). The agency shall involve environmental agencies, applicants, and the public, to the extent practicable, in preparing assessments required by § 1508.9(a) (1).

(c) Based on the environmental assessment make its determination whether to prepare an environmental impact statement.

(d) Commence the scoping process (§ 1501.7), if the agency will prepare an environmental impact statement.

(e) Prepare a finding of no significant impact (§ 1508.13), if the agency determines on the basis of the environmental assessment not to prepare a statement.

(1) The agency shall make the finding of no significant impact available to the affected public as specified in § 1506.6.
(2) In certain limited circumstances, which the agency may cover in its procedures under § 1507.3, the agency shall make the finding of no significant impact available for public review (including State and areawide clearinghouses) for 30 days before the agency makes its final determination whether to prepare an environmental impact statement and before the action may begin. The circumstances are:

     (i) The proposed action is, or is closely similar to, one which normally requires the preparation of an environmental impact statement under the procedures
          adopted by the agency pursuant to § 1507.3, or

     (ii) The nature of the proposed action is one without precedent.

As can be seen, proponents of rail improvement projects are well advised to avoid these cumbersome procedures if at all possible. We thus consider the question: If rail service is restored on an existing right of way, are the NEPA EIS requirements applicable? There is one case directly on point.

In Advocates for Transp. Alternatives, Inc. v. United States Army Corps of Eng’rs, 453 F. Supp. 2d 289 (D. Mass. 2006), plaintiffs alleged that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) violated several federal environmental statutes including NEPA, by issuing a permit to restore commuter rail service on the Greenbush Line. The Plaintiffs sought to vacate the permit or a temporary enjoinment of the permit until the Corps prepared an EIS and complied with other NEPA requirements.

The Old Colony Railroad system, which included the Greenbush Line, was in service from 1844 to 1959, with freight service running on part of the system until 1983. In 1984, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (“MBTA”) conducted a study and decided to restore commuter rail service on the system. However, the Federal Transit Administration and MBTA decided to separate the Greenbush Line from the other lines and make it an independent project.

For the Greenbush Line, the MBTA and Federal Transit Administration filed a supplemental draft EIS. MBTA determined that the commuter rail should be restored at grade on the existing Greenbush Line right-of-way and announced it would not be seeking federal funding. Then the U. S Army Corps of Engineers became the lead agency for the project.

The Corps prepared a preliminary Environmental Assessment in order to determine if an EIS was required under the NEPA for the Greenbush Line. According to NEPA, an environmental assessment is a concise public document that serves to provide evidence and analysis of whether to prepare an environmental impact statement or a finding of no significant impact. The environmental assessment resulted in a finding of no significant impact (“FONSI”) because the permit was “not a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” Therefore, an EIS was not required for the Greenbush Line project.

The plaintiffs alleged that the Corps environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact violated NEPA. The Court reviewed the administrative record and utilized an arbitrary and capricious standard to review Corps’ determination of FONSI.

The Court applied the four part “Waltham Test” to evaluate the Corps FONSI, which requires that “(1) the agency must have accurately identified the relevant environmental concerns 3; (2) once the agency has identified the problem it must have taken a “hard look” at the problem in preparing the environmental assessment; (3) if a finding of no significant impact is made, the agency must make a convincing case for its finding; and (4) if the agency does not find an impact of true significance, preparation of an EIS can be avoided only if the agency finds that changes or safeguards in the project sufficiently reduce the impact to a minimum.”

After evaluating the first factor, impacts that are beneficial and adverse, the Court determined that the Corps considered all types of impacts and mitigation measures to determine the significance of the potential impacts on the environment. Next, the Court evaluated how the Corps considered the affect of restoring rail service on public health and safety. The Corps assessed the risks of accidents and the mitigation measures taken by the MBTA in determining that safety was not a significant issue. In addition, the Corps’ assessed emissions and determined that the increase in particulate matter emissions was so small as to be considered zero. Furthermore, the MBTA used low sulfur diesel in all its trains which further reduced the impact on the public.

The plaintiffs alleged that the Corps failed to consider in its analysis whether the effects on the environment are likely to be highly controversial, uncertain or involve unique or unknown risks. The Court concluded that the Corps examined all substantive comments regarding the project and all potential alternatives. There was no uncertainty regarding the applicable requirements of the Greenbush project. The Corps used the air quality targets required under state law to assess the Greenbush Line project and all potential alternatives. The Court concluded that the Corps adequately addressed the uncertain risks.

Next, the Court evaluated the plaintiffs’ claim that the Greenbush Line project’s impact on designated Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, recreation areas, wetlands, and scenic rivers was significant because it implicated the uniqueness factor. State agencies already approved the Greenbush Line proposal. Therefore, the plaintiffs’ argument was undermined. Additionally, the Corps incorporated the MBTA’s mitigation plan. Therefore, the Court concluded that it was reasonable for the Corps to conclude that the impacts to the wetlands would not be significant. Similarly, the recreation loss by the project was mitigated by the MBTA’s mitigation plan.

The final factor evaluated by the Court was the historic resources impact. The plaintiffs alleged that the Corps failed to consider the extent to which the project will affect historic resources to determine whether there is an impact of such significance to require an EIS. It was undisputed that the Greenbush Line would have adverse impacts on twenty-seven historic properties and thirty-four historic districts. These adverse effects included the introduction of noise, vibration, traffic, and aesthetic impacts. In its environmental assessment, the Corps concluded that the MBTA mitigation measures would minimize the adverse impacts on historic resources. The Corps consulted with the Massachusetts Preservation Officer and the Advisory Council on the impacts of the Greenbush project on historic properties and resources, which the Court deemed sufficient to mitigate any historic impacts.

After a thorough review of the record under the Waltham Test 4, the Court concluded that the Corps’ finding of no significant impact was neither arbitrary nor capricious and was reasonably based on technical and scientific review.

Plaintiffs also alleged that the environmental assessment and FONSI were procedurally inadequate because the Corps utilized an improper process in determining the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative for the Greenbush Line. The Corps evaluated seven categories of alternatives that were considered during the draft state environmental impact report process initially for the entire system. In addition, six additional alternatives were considered. The Corps relied on ridership models prepared by the MBTA in connection with the state environmental impact report to evaluate all the alternatives. The Court held that the Corps’ reliance on the model used by the MBTA was neither arbitrary nor capricious and the analysis of alternatives was reasonable. In conclusion, the Corps’ decision to issue the permit for the Greenbush Line project was not substantively arbitrary or capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act and was procedurally adequate under the Clean Water Act and NEPA.

Based on Advocates for Transp. Alternatives, Inc. v. United States Army Corps of Eng’rs, it would appear that a much less cumbersome Environmental Assessment is sufficient to avoid the requirement of a full-blown EIS in rail restoration situations. However, as shown by the Court’s in-depth review of the Corp’s actions, rail restoration projects will still be subject to NEPA, which will add significant time and expense to such projects. It thus behooves the rail advocacy community to either insist on early attention to NEPA and state-equivalent requirements so that projects are not subject to further delay, or to lobby for statutory relief in Congress and state capitols by enactment of statutory exemptions for rail restoration projects from cumbersome environmental review requirements.

Footnotes:

1 ) Amtrak can be exempted from NEPA compliance as to service and routing decisions if Congress has expressly authorized such decisions. Kansas v. Adams, 608 F. 2d 861 (10th Cir. 1979).

2 ) In 1997 after a final EIS was prepared, the other lines of the Old Colony Railroad system were re-opened for commuter rail service.

3 ) The plaintiffs did not question the Corps actions in relation to the first part of the Waltham Test.

4 ) The Court did not address the fourth part of the Waltham Test as the Corps did not find an impact of “true significance” as discussed above.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Canadian National (CNI)66.4765.88
Canadian Pacific (CP) 65.2064.36
CSX (CSX)59.5457.49
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)44.7344.75
Kansas City Southern (KSU)41.4239.47
Norfolk Southern (NSC)61.5160.53
Providence & Worcester(PWX)13.0012.11
Union Pacific (UNP)85.2184.86


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

By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

Innotrans 2010 Highlights Rail Transit

NCI Visits Huge Rail Technology Show In Berlin

Part 2

All Photos by David Beale

Berlin – InnoTrans 2010, the latest in a series of bi-annual rail transit technology conventions, which take place in Berlin’s huge Berlin-Messe convention center complex, continued this year with a nearly unbroken string of new attendance records. With 106,600 visitors from 110 countries, attendance was up 20 percent verses 2008, which broke attendance records set in 2006. Likewise the amount of floor space and outside area used by InnoTrans was up by 20 percent verses 2008, with 330 companies, organizations, government agencies, and consultants renting exhibition booths and pavilions. The volume of visitors and exhibitors as well as the clear trend of setting new attendance records with each successive InnoTrans convention demonstrates quite dramatically the worldwide growth in rail transit and the high interest level as well as financial and technical resources this branch of the transportation industry is drawing.

Repeat Visitor In A New Outfit. - An Alstom Coradia Continental EMU train set in the colors of Germany’s Agilis, which operates in southeastern Bavaria. In 2008 a nearly identical train set was displayed in DB Regio colors for the Augsburg area. The Coradia Continental has endured a long and tedious path to gain EBA (German equivalent of U.S. FRA) approval for operation, but is finally in revenue operation in several regions in Germany. The Coradia Continental train set shares a number of features of trains from other supplies which have become standard in most newer commuter and regional trains in Europe: self propelled without locomotives, shared wheel trucks between cars (Jacobs bogies), lower floors for improved wheel chair user access, LED-matrix headlights / taillights, and centrally controlled automatic doors. In addition the most recent generations of EMUs have regenerative braking which returns electric power back to the power grid, and the very latest diesel versions (DMUs) from OEMs such as Bombardier and Stadler have been equipped with hybrid technology, similar in principal and operation to hybrid automobiles and buses, also to recover energy from braking.

New Kid On the Block – Poland’s Solaris came to Innotrans with its S1000 Tramino light rail vehicle. Solaris is known in Europe as a successful bus manufacturer, but the company has obviously decided to apply what it has learned in production of modern urban and regional buses to light rail transit.

The interior of the S1000 is lit with LED interior lighting (also becoming a standard in new passenger rail vehicles) as well as LCD passenger information screens. The interior lighting colors can be changed to various combinations simply by changing settings in the vehicles software.

Power Play - GE Transportation is number one in North America in locomotive sales, but in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East it is far behind the likes of Alstom, Bombardier, Vossloh, and Siemens – but the Erie, PA based division of perhaps one of the ten most powerful companies on the planet plans to change that with new products such as its Powerhaul series locomotive. The locomotive is produced in Pennsylvania currently for the UK market, including British rail cargo hauler Freightliner. But GE personnel at InnoTrans stated that GE is planning to develop a new version of the Powerhaul diesel locomotive for continental Europe and central Asia markets, most likely with final assembly somewhere in eastern Europe or central Asia with a local industrial partner and potential entry into service in the 2013-14 time frame.

The Powerhaul locomotive displayed at InnoTrans had an auxiliary generator set of approximately 16 hp (12 kW), which GE refers to with the aviation acronym APU for auxiliary power unit. The main purpose of this small diesel generator set is to provide power to the locomotive when it is parked or idle, thus allowing the main engine to be shut down completely and thereby saving a considerable amount of fuel. The APU supplies adequate power to keep the brake system air compressor operating as well as power for heat or air conditioning for the driver’s cabs, and in winter power various engine block, fuel and lube oil heaters and pre-start oil pumps. Generally large locomotive engines must be pre-warmed to at least 40°C (105°F) before starting in order to prevent piston – cylinder scuffing, which is the reason why, many diesel locomotive engines are left running at idle in colder weather for hours on end, while the locomotive is parked. This “APU”, which is showing up in locomotives from other OEMs as well, will put an end to this wasteful practice, by allowing the main engine to keep warm during shut-down periods ranging from 5 minutes to 24 hours while permitting the locomotive to be started-up and ready for full power within a minute or less, when required. Several supplies of these locomotive APUs offer retrofit packages for older existing locomotive models from all the major locomotive OEMs.

Inside one of the numerous exhibition halls was the large GE pavilion. GE also had numerous flags and pennants in the main entrance hall of InnoTrans, thus giving a conspicuous presence to the company at InnoTrans comparable to Siemens, Bombardier, Talgo, SNCF, Alstom, Kawasaki, Hyundai / Rotem, Vossloh and other rail industry heavyweights. Similar to Bombardier, GE has started emphasizing the ecological and low-carbon footprint of its rail industry products and services as a primary target of its market strategy in all of its sales campaigns and literature. Aside from diesel locomotives, GE markets numerous technology solutions to the rail industry ranging from asset tracking and train monitoring services, to signaling equipment and software to financial services.

Showtime – InnoTrans has its share of flare, fanfare and glitter similar to other industry trade fares, although I can’t remember seeing any scantily-clad young women modeling a locomotive or rock ballast cleaning machine, unlike what is typically seen at the Paris, Detroit or Frankfurt automobile shows. A number of InnoTrans exhibitors hired various dancing groups, actors, musicians and other artists to draw attention to their displays and products during the four days of the convention. Here a group of actors hired by Polish rolling stock manufacturer PESA pose in front of Siemens’ Velaro D (ICE-3 / DB Class 407) high speed train.

Siemens actually had only one-fourth of the new Velaro D (D for Deutschland) high speed EMU train set on display at InnoTrans; the other six cars of the rest of the train were not in Berlin. The Velaro D, currently with 15 firm orders for the eight-car long train set, will enter revenue service in late 2011 with Deutsche Bahn and is slated to operate Frankfurt – London via the Channel Tunnel starting in 2013, if safety regulations can be revised by then. The interior of the Velaro D differs from its ICE-3 and ICE-T predecessors with a surprisingly low-keyed and bland interior design with significantly less use of chrome and frosted glass in the interior compared with the existing ICE-3 and ICE-T trains. There is still plenty of simulated wood-grain panels in the vestibule areas, as in the earlier ICE-3 trains. The first class car is seen in this photo.

Prime Mover – Caterpillar had a large indoor pavilion at InnoTrans with displays for its Progress Rail division and of various engines for locomotives and DMU trains. Shown here is the CAT 3512 V-12 engine, two of which are installed in the Bombardier ALP-45DP dual mode locomotive. The other major engine suppliers, MTU, Cummins, and MAN, all had major indoor exhibits, as did new Caterpillar division, Electro-Motive Diesel.

A large number of companies, including Vossloh, displayed various products and technologies for infrastructure. Shown here is a sound reduction device known as a rail-web dampener. The rail industry has been investing heavily in technologies and hardware to lower the sound and vibration signature of trains. I have personally observed freight trains equipped with the latest sound reduction features, the reduction in wayside sound levels with applications of various sound reduction technologies to the wheels, rails, and track bed is truly astonishing, down to levels at or below a two-lane road with a mix of cars and trucks.

Another infrastructure technology supplier, Edilon-Sedra, had a large pavilion to show its various solutions for noise reduction of tracks, especially for light-rail and subway applications.

On Top – a number of second-tier suppliers such as Faiveley had large pavilions at InnoTrans. This lively sector of rail industry consisting of a handful of large companies such as Faivelely, Liebherr and Wabco, Voith and numerous smaller firms provide products ranging from pantographs, wheel brakes, doors, wheel speed sensors, cab-mounted signal systems, air conditioning, information displays of all kinds, and everything in between.

Many of these suppliers have taken newer technologies from the general market, such as LED lighting, miniature video cameras, LCD touch-screens, wireless and wired internet, and low-cost microprocessors and adapted them for the rail industry for all sorts of applications ranging from rear-vision cameras for train drivers to passenger-counting devices, to station information displays and ticket vending machines.

InnoTrans, like other trade fairs, has no shortage of ceremonies and speeches. Here Bombardier handed over the “keys” of a brand-new TRAXX F140DE diesel locomotive to Polish rail freight operator Lotos. The ceremony was conducted in Polish with translators on-hand to translate the speeches and comments into German language, with champagne and snacks provided to the audience.

In the background is Bombardier’s ALP-45DP dual mode locomotive for NJ Transit. Despite their wildly different appearance, the TRAXX F140DE and the ALP-45DP share a common design base and numerous components. Unlike the ALP-45DP, the F140DE is powered by a single MTU 4000 series V-16 diesel engine, the favorite engine of European locomotive builders.

[ NCI extends its thank yous to David Beale for attending this event and reporting on how “the other guy” does it. The show offers what is possible, and can be done, if the will is there. ]


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News Wrap-up – Headlines From Europe

 

ICE-3 Runs In The Channel Tunnel

Calais, France – An ICE-3 train set made a test run part-way into the Channel Tunnel this past Wednesday (13th October) for the first time. The train traveled under its own power into the Channel Tunnel, traveled about 8 km under the English Channel, then stopped and reversed direction back to France. The test run is a precursor to plans to operate similar trains from Frankfurt to London via Cologne and Brussels which could possibly start in 2013.

The train set used for the test run was an ICE-3M (DB Class 406), which is fully equipped to operate on French high-speed (LGV) rail lines and is normally used for scheduled services between Frankfurt and Paris. The Channel Tunnel and the HS1 rail corridor from the British end of the tunnel to central London (St. Pancras International) are likewise configured to the same signaling, positive train control, operational rules, and electrification standards as France’s LGV high speed rail network.

In the coming week further trials with the ICE-3 are planned in the Channel Tunnel, including a trip to London, albeit not under its own power, but rather towed with a locomotive. A test evacuation of the train in the tunnel is also planned in the coming days.

Separately several French government officials kept up their political attacks on Eurostar for its plans to purchase 10 new Siemens Velaro e320 trains which are similar in design and configuration to ICE-3 train sets except they are twice as long with twice as many cars. France’s environmental and transportation ministers allege that the Velaro / ICE-3 train series is unsafe for the Channel Tunnel, a charge which Eurostar, Deutsche Bahn, Siemens and the German government categorically refute. Caught in the middle is the British half of the safety authority with jurisdiction over the Channel Tunnel. Previous public statements from several British transportation officials indicated that the British government may side with Germany in the effort to approve both the 16-car long Velaro e320 and 8-car long Velaro D for operations in the Channel Tunnel.


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Stuttgart 21 Protests Continue While Mediation Resume

Stuttgart – an independent arbitrator, Heiner Geissler, resumed discussions again with both sides in the tense war of nerves between powerful supporters of the massive Stuttgart 21 rail station project, including Deutsche Bahn (German Railways), the state and federal governments plus others, and numerous anti-Stuttgart 21 organizations. The anti-Stuttgart 21 side had demanded a total and immediate construction halt as a pre-condition for talks. Deutsche Bahn insisted that at a minimum that construction of a number of concrete pipes, tunnels and pits, which will form a complex water removal and drainage system, be allowed to continue during the next 6 – 8 weeks before freezing weather sets-in, when pouring of concrete would have to be suspended until warmer weather returns.

The construction site continues to draw daily protests which vary from a few thousand to tens of thousands. The labor union which represents most police and law enforcement workers in Germany warned that its membership was straining heavily under all the overtime caused by the on-going Stuttgart 21 protests as well as a new wave of protests against government plans to extend by many years the phase-out of Germany’s nuclear power plants as well as upcoming semi-annual protests of the “Castor-Transport” shipment of spent nuclear fuel from the French border to a reprocessing plant about 100 km northeast of Hannover, Germany. All but the last few kilometers of the trip to the reprocessing plant is on train, thus requiring police barricades and crowd control along the entire 500 km plus route, along which anti-nuclear energy protestors in the past have ripped rails, placed bombs, dumped logs and welded iron blocks to the rails in order to stop the transport.


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Strikes and Protests Shut-Down Transportation In France

Destination: Freedom Travelers Advisory

Paris – massive protests and strikes in the past days across France have caused havoc with all forms of transportation in France. Destination: Freedom readers who are planning trips to, through or via France are advised to check carefully with airlines, rail companies and travel agents during the next few days and weeks in order to avoid severe travel problems.

The main cause of on-going strikes and protests in France is the government’s plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 (the age at which pension benefits may be received) and the standard retirement age from 65 to 67. France’s numerous and strong labor unions oppose the new legislation, which is aimed at keeping France’s social security system out of almost certain insolvency and bankruptcy in the coming decades. The strikes, which are now “open ended” according to various union leaders, have affected not only train and public transport services, but also airport and air traffic control services, highway administration and maintenance and commercial truck drivers. Some transportation experts expect that France may soon run out of gasoline and diesel fuel due to strikes by truck drivers and oil refinery personnel.

Airline flights and passenger trains and buses have been canceled by the hundreds and travel by automobile is risky due to fuel shortages at numerous gas stations and highway rest stops, and traffic jams are numerous. Many trains, subways / metros and local buses do continue to operate, but overcrowding is widespread.


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Gotthard Base Tunnel Boring Completed

Rail Tunnel Will Be World’s Longest

Switzerland – An underground ceremony with fireworks celebrated the final 5 meters of boring of the east tube of the Gotthard Base Tunnel this past Friday (15th October). Although the east bore for the tunnel is now complete, the 57 km (35 1/2 mile) long tunnel will need another five years of construction work to line the tunnel, install utilities, auxiliary tunnels, ventilation shafts and equipment, tracks, power and signals. Revenue service is planned to start in 2017 after an extensive testing and shake-down period of all the tunnel systems.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel will slice nearly an hour off of travel time for trains running between Zürich and Milano, Italy. Currently trains between Zürich and Milano follow a route through the original Gotthard pass and tunnel, with steep grades and numerous tight curves. The Gotthard Base Tunnel has been funded by the Swiss federal government and local governments after a series of voter referendums in the 1990s approved spending to build several new deep underground rail tunnels in order to take truck traffic off of Swiss roads and highways in the environmentally sensitive Alps Mountains. At certain points along its path, the Gotthard Base Tunnel is 2 km (1.3 miles) or more below the surface of the rugged Alps Mountains. The Gotthard Base Tunnel and the recently completed Lötschberg Base Tunnel further west in Switzerland provide a relatively straight, shorter distance and lower gradient / flatter path for trains running through the Alps than the nearby parallel “classic” rail routes and tunnels, which enables considerably faster train speeds as well as much quicker travel times as well as reduced energy consumption by the trains.

The original century-plus-old Gotthard rail tunnel is planned to remain in service even after the Gotthard base tunnel opens for business, but with obviously far less rail freight traffic and some reduction in intercity passenger trains.


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

The ARC Project: Where It Stands Now

Fourth In A Series

By David Peter Alan

As we reported in last week’s edition of D:F (October 9 special issue date), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ordered a shutdown of the ARC Project on Thursday, October 7th and later appeared to back off from that position the next day, after meeting with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff.

In reality, he did not back off very far. Before and after the meeting with LaHood and Rogoff, Christie maintained that New Jersey could not afford the project, with its tunnels to a deep-cavern terminal.

The most under-reported aspect of this story is that New Jersey Transit now acknowledges that the cost of the proposed project (including “Portal Bridge south”) is now between $11 and 14 billion, rather than the $8.7 billion previously claimed by NJT and used as a basis for local approvals during the past two years. NJT Executive Director James Weinstein signed the report, which was released by the Governor, along with his Thursday announcement.

There are still three alternatives under consideration, although it appears now that, if the alternative with the deep-cavern terminal is not dead, it is in critical condition. The other alternatives are: to build nothing at this time; or to adopt the recommendation of the advocates for New Jersey’s rail riders and build the Moynihan/Penn Station First alternative.

That plan would also build new tracks and tunnels into Manhattan, but they would go to an enhanced Moynihan/Penn Station facility, which would include the existing Penn Station. All New York-bound NJT trains would go there, along with Amtrak trains, as they do now. Expansion to the East Side and through-operation of trains between New Jersey and New York (Long Island or possibly Metro-North territory) could be added in the future.

Christie said in his original statement that he was ordering a shutdown of the ARC Project because “New Jersey cannot afford it,” saying that estimates of the project cost were at least $11 billion and could exceed $14 billion. He said: “The bottom line is this: New Jersey has gone for too long and too many decades ordering things that they can’t pay for.” He continued: “In the end this decision is a financial decision. When weighing all the interests, I simply cannot put the taxpayers of New Jersey on what would be a never-ending hook.”

He noted that the federal government was willing to pledge $3 billion toward the project “and not a penny more,” while any amount of cost over the prior figure of $8.7 billion would be borne solely by New Jersey. He admitted that he had supported the project during the campaign last year, but also said that the project had gotten too expensive, and the State could no longer afford it.

While maintaining that the primary reason for ordering the shutdown was the cost of the project, Christie also stated that it had “some flaws to it, which have been pointed out by a number of folks, both in the media and in the transportation world.” He elaborated: “I think it was flawed because it was sent to a place where there are no other connections for any other trains, where we’d have to spend in excess of $1 billion to build a station, and that there was no connection in that station to other trains on the East Side of Manhattan at Grand Central, or even over to Penn Station or Moynihan. So there were flaws in the plan.”

The actual cost of the deep-cavern part of the project is FAR in excess of the $1 billion that the governor mentioned. Rail advocate Joseph M. Clift has estimated that it would cost $5 billion, including approach tunnels, ventilation plants, railroad systems, real estate and contingencies. This estimate was based on January 2008 preliminary engineering documents provided by NJ Transit. In comparison, building the Moynihan/Penn Station First connection to NY Penn Station and improvements within the station would save up to $3 billion.

In other respects, Christie stated the same objections that the allied rider advocacy organizations had been raising for years.

Christie’s conclusion that the project was too expensive was bolstered by a report from a new entity, the ARC Executive Steering Committee, which Christie appointed to review the cost of the ARC Project and report before the end of the 30-day moratorium. All members of the committee were board chairs and senior managers at New Jersey Transit (NJT) or the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (Port Authority), which has pledged $3 billion toward the project.

Executive Director James Weinstein represented NJT, along with CFO Kim Vaccari and Assistant Executive Director Lynn Bowersox. Bowersox is a veteran at NJT, having held the same position under former Executive Directors George Warrington and Richard Sarles, both of whom strongly supported the ARC proposal with the deep-cavern terminal.

Transportation Commissioner and NJT Board Chair James Simpson was also on the panel, but he recused himself, presumably because of his involvement with the project during his tenure as head of the FTA in the Bush Administration.

In its three-page report, the Committee acknowledged that the review of the project began in May, 2010, and that the purpose of the review was to reach an agreement with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which would result in a federal share of $3 billion under a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA). In August, NJT claimed that the cost of the project would range between $8.7 billion (a number from 2008) and $10 billion. The FTA’s range was $10.9 billion to $13.7 billion.

The report continued: “It is critically important to note that these ranges do not include the additional cost for the construction of a new railroad bridge (Portal Bridge south) which is necessary for the operation of the railroad after the tunnel is constructed. Such additional costs are estimated at $775 million and must be paid for by the State of New Jersey.”

The FTA’s cost range was significantly higher than NJT’s, which started at the number that proponents of the project claimed they could raise ($8.7 billion) and went up from there. The FTA’s range ran from at least $900 million to as much as $3.7 billion higher than NJT’s highest estimate. There are also extra costs: the cost of a flyover at Hunter Interlocking near Newark for the Raritan Valley Line (an estimated $300 million) and the cost of keeping the railroad in a state of good repair ($1 billion) which would also have to be paid by New Jersey. At its highest, the total cost could have risen to over $14 billion; $2 billion more than Philip G. Craig of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP) warned the Assembly Transportation Committee about, and a number that would make the project New Jersey’s “Big Dig.”

Significantly, Weinstein signed the report and two of his high-level managers’ names were also on it. NJT has acknowledged a range of $8.7 billion to $13.7 billion for the cost of the project, not including the newly-segmented “Portal Bridge South” project. It is now impossible for NJT to claim that the entire project could be completed for $8.7 billion, and still keep its credibility. For future evaluation, NJT has admitted that costs have increased, and is bound by that admission.

Can any options save the project with the deep-cavern terminal? To this writer, that appears unlikely. Christie has said publicly that New Jersey cannot afford the new, higher cost of the project. If he were to approve further State expenditures on the project, he would risk his own credibility and the political capital that he is now developing in Republican circles; Christie is beginning to emerge as a national figure in the Republican Party, and has been much in demand in other states this campaign season.

It is also highly unlikely that the Port Authority would increase its own contribution, since equally-high-ranking Port Authority managers and the Chair of its Board agreed with their counterparts at NJT that the project should be shut down. If the Port Authority suddenly increased its contribution, it would do so at a similar risk to its own credibility.

The report concluded: “The Committee fully recognizes the value and benefit that a cross-Hudson transportation improvement would bring to New Jersey’s transportation system and that of the entire region. The Committee also understands that this action may result in the loss of $3 billion in discretionary federal New Starts money. Nonetheless, it is the judgment of the Committee that in the current economic climate, New Jersey and its project partners cannot afford this project and recommend its immediate and orderly shutdown.”

It does not seem likely that any federal source would pay for the cost overruns, either. The FTA has its own credibility to consider. Any FFGA from the FTA would be capped at $3 billion, and the FTA has made that clear. If the agency were to increase that amount, other cities with their own projects, like Chicago and Denver, would have a proverbial fit. The FTA is also bound by its prior statements; any significant increase in their contribution would be politically untenable.

The same could be said from any other agency in the Obama Administration. There seems to be no chance that the private sector would pay the extra billions, especially since there was little mention of private-sector money at any time during the development of the project. It is difficult to imagine that the private sector would fund a project that leaders in the public sector have acknowledged has become so expensive that New Jersey can no longer afford its share.

There is always a “no build” alternative to any project. In this case, if the entire project is shut down, there will be no deep-cavern terminal or no new tunnels to anywhere else. The October 7th report said that $478 million had been spent on the project as of September 30th, and that some of it could be recovered. It is a fundamental principle of management, as taught in business school, that “sunk costs” should not be considered when making decisions about future outlays.

The $3 billion that would have come from the FTA toward the project would go to projects elsewhere if it did not go to New Jersey, and there are several cities that would like to have that money. While there are several New Jersey projects that are not moving forward (Lackawanna Cutoff to Scranton, South Jersey Light Rail from Camden to Glassboro, Northern Branch Light Rail, West Trenton and others), it is unclear that New Jersey could take the New Starts money that would have gone to the ARC Project and use it somewhere else.

From the standpoint of the rider advocates, the proposed deep-cavern terminal would have been a disaster to be avoided, no matter what other circumstances may exist. If it were built as proposed, the result would be permanent and disastrous. A total shutdown of the project would at least allow a better project to be built in the future, whether by NJT, Amtrak or someone else. Any new tracks into the existing Penn Station could be used by both NJT and Amtrak, which would solve the current capacity problem much more effectively than a deep-cavern terminal could, and at a cost saving of several billion dollars. Furthermore, the time is long past due for the commuter rail lines serving the region develop trains that will run through Penn Station in New York to destinations either in New Jersey, Connecticut, or upstate New York.

The proponents of the project with the deep-cavern terminal, as well as most media outlets, continue to treat the two alternatives mentioned above as the only ones available, saying in effect, “Either build the deep-cavern or build nothing.” But some journalists and political office-holders have been shown that there is another solution, and have come to agree with the rider advocates that an alignment that serves Moynihan/Penn Station is the way to go.

Building new tunnels into the existing Penn Station would preserve the original goals of the ARC Project: capacity, NEC reliability with four trans-Hudson tracks, and future East Side access. It would also preserve a potential FTA grant, because the project would still include a tunnel under the Hudson River.

Potential access to the East Side

There are major differences between the Moynihan/Penn Station First alternative and the NJT proposal. The former calls for new tracks that NJT and Amtrak would both use, and those tracks would go to a facility comprising the existing Penn Station. The Penn Station alignment would not be placed at a deep level, so it would not interfere with New York’s water tunnel. Therefore, it could go to the East Side, when money becomes available for the expansion. Some new engineering work would be required, but the job would be modest and could be completed quickly. Enhancements beyond the original Moynihan plan would also be required to achieve the full benefit that the project could deliver, but they would be far less expensive than the cost of a deep-cavern terminal.

The advocates are frustrated that their plan, although reported here, has not received the media attention it deserves. To them, it solves all of the problems inherent in the plan that Christie ordered shut down on October 7th. It not only cures the flaws that Christie mentioned in his statement, but it also saves billions of dollars. They find it difficult to fathom that the facts of such a worthwhile project are not disseminated broadly.

Still, they know that Gov. Christie, Commissioner Simpson and other opinion leaders and decision-makers are aware of the Moynihan/Penn Station First alternative. Some, like Lackawanna Coalition Political Director James T. Raleigh, hope that a victory is in sight, while waiting in an air of quiet expectancy.

Is it all over but the waiting? Nobody knows. The formidable forces that want the deep-cavern terminal, mostly big business and labor interests, continue to push for their preferred alternative. The advocates are still talking, sometimes with an added mention that they were the first to see the operational and fiscal flaws in the proposal. Some of them believe that their preferred alternative is so inherently sensible that a series of events that will lead inexorably to its acceptance and eventual construction has already begun.

Are they correct? Time will tell. We stand near the midpoint of a long two weeks.


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