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 26, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 45

Copyright © 2009
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 10th Year

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

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

  News Items…
Crazy or Brilliant? Plan To Build Giant Floating Airport
   Off California Coast.
  Stimulus Lines…
Florida Senate Pres: “Time To Get Serious About Rail”
  Environmental Justice Lines…
Arlington Goes Its Own Way In Lawsuit Over HOV Lanes
   (They Mean HOT Lanes)
What Are HOT Lanes?
 
  Commuter Lines…
Austin Riders And Their New Light Rail Service
Amtrak Agrees To Run Calif. Commuter Trains
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Across The Pond…
European Union To Invest EUR 500 Million For TEN Projects
Azerbaijan, Russia And Iran Discuss The North–South Railway Project
  Publication Notes …


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

Crazy or Brilliant? Plan To Build Giant
Floating Airport Off California Coast.

From www.SignOnSanDiego.com, the San Diego Union Tribune, From Thursday October 22nd,
by Jebediah Reed, and provided to Destination:Freedom readers
as an illustration of how costly transportation infrastructure can be.

SAN DIEGO, OCTOBER 22 -- San Diego desperately needs a new airport. It has needed one for years. The existing facility, San Diego International, is crowded onto a puny 675 acre parcel. That’s a lovely size for a horse farm, but it’s infinitesimal for an airport serving a metropolitan area of 3 million people. All of San Diego shares a single runway–the busiest in the country and also one of the most dangerous.

So freaking build a new airport already, you say. To their credit, the fine people of southern Southern California have expressed a desire to do just that. They’ve had commissions and referendums and so forth. But the problem boils down to the fact there’s nowhere to put a new airport, except for a local Marine base. But San Diegans voted overwhelmingly in 2006 not to build an new airport on the Marine land, both because they didn’t want to see the military depart and because of noise concerns.

In the midst of this pickle, along comes a fellow named Adam Englund. He’s a local lawyer who studied international law at Cambridge and has long nurtured a fascination with the idea of floating cities. He’s got an idea–a $20 billion business plan, even.

It’s so incredibly simple, says Englund. We live next to all this open, watery space. Let’s put the airport… in the ocean.

The airport-in-the-ocean idea is not a new one. Among other places, Hong Kong did it recently–filling in 4 square miles of the South China Sea with rocks and dirt to build an artificial island. By all accounts the resulting facility is lovely. But the Pacific off San Diego is too deep to lend itself to that sort of scheme. So Englund has proposed a solution that’s both more dramatic and elegant: Build a giant oil rig-style floating platform permanently moored 10 or so miles off the coast of San Diego. It would be three square miles and afford plenty of room for two long and very safe runways. To move the plan along he and his partners have even put in a first-of-its-kind claim with federal government for “airport rights” to a 40,000 sq mile swath of the Pacific.

Two Images: Wikipedia     

Bound by the sea, the above two airports are already dealing with high volume traffic.
AT LEFT: Kansai International Airport in Osaka Bay, Japan.
AT RIGHT: Macau International Airport, China. It is a hub for traffic traveling between Taiwan and mainland China.

The structure Englund and his 40-strong group of collaborators–”pilots, naval architects, maritime engineers” as well as the standard array of finance types–are proposing is called OceansWorks Offshore Airport. The airport would be located mostly on the roof of the structure though. Below it would be four stories of open real estate open to almost limitless uses. “Hotels, restaurants, conference centers, free trade zones, distribution facilities, research facilities, universities…” Englund says, pauses for a moment, and then ticks off some more possibilities. “Even after all the space required for internal infrastructure, that leaves 200 million square feet. That’s more office space than currently exists in all of San Diego County.” The floating airport would be a city unto itself–a green city, even, as it would harvest energy from wind, waves and ocean currents. A massive on-board desalinization plant would also supply not only OceanWorks’s needs, but pump clean water back to coastal cities, taking some pressure off existing sources like the Colorado River.

Because the platform would be moored in water that’s a thousand feet deep, there wouldn’t be the same environmental concerns that crop up with projects closer to shore, where the ecology is more delicate. If anything, says Englund, OceanWorks would enhance the area environmentally by creating a massive artificial reef. He notes that the Sierra Club has declared “no opposition” to the project–a noteworthy accomplishment for a $20 billion, 2000-acre development in Southern California.

But Englund’s most immediate problem is how to even begin going about applying for permission from the relevant authorities. “There is no legal regime for airports in the ocean,” he tells us. “The Dept of Interior’s Mineral Management service would seem to be the presiding authority.” They’re the same people who hand out oil drilling rights. The Interior Department, however, has not evinced much openness to the OceanWorks plan: they denied the group’s airport rights application without even offering a reason. OceanWorks is now planning to sue in federal court, hoping to establish that there was no legal basis for the denial.

“We’ve gone through economic, environmental and technical preliminary analysis and found no fatal flaws,” Englund says. “So we’re moving into the next stage–figuring out the financing and the politics.” A potential political tailwind is that the project could create tens of thousands of jobs in the region and establish San Diego a global hub for some future industry designing and building floating airports. By any measure, $20 billion is a lot of money, but Englund claims his group isn’t seeking any government funding–all they need from the Washington are airport rights to this swath of ocean.

At the local and state level they need a “coastal partner” — that is, someone who can agree host the shoreside passenger terminal. “We’ve made this claim from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border,” he says. So if San Diego doesn’t step up, the Oceanworks airport could theoretically end up serving greater LA, which is also bumping up against the limits of regional airport capacity.

For transporting passengers, OceanWorks would depend either on an underwater light rail connection–a submerged floating tunnel–or a series of fast ferries running to a string of terminals up and down the coast.

What’s most interesting here though, is the big idea. “Bluefield” development – as Englund calls it – could become standard operating procedure for coastal cities around the world in the next 50 years or so. It may be the only reasonable response to the near impossibility of building mega-projects today in most of North America and Europe. The idea of building an airport and new small city within 10 miles of the Southern California coast for $20 billion (or whatever) is so compelling that it’s hard to imagine it won’t someday become a reality.

(D:F invites readers’ comments on this entry)


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STIMULUS LINES... Stimulus Lines...  

Florida Senate Pres:
“Time To Get Serious About Rail”

Atwater Wants December Special Session On SunRail

From St. Petersburg Times On The Internet

WASHINGTON, OCTOBER 19 - Senate President Jeff Atwater wants Florida to show support for rail. Florida has applied for $2.5 billion in stimulus money for three commuter rail lines: Tri-Rail, Sun-rail, and increased funding for another commuter rail service.

Atwater has called for a special session on rail issues in December to show the federal government that his state is serious about a $2.5 billion federal stimulus request. The problem is there are several legislators who oppose the Sun-Rail project.

“I think there’s a strong opportunity now to consider a special session on the matter. … this administration in Washington wants to get moving with investment in infrastructure,” Atwater said.

“I think that’s a great idea,” Crist said. “I would certainly encourage that and I think that’s the right thing for Florida.”

“We have fumbled a number of times and it’s obvious this time that it might be the last horizon,” said Sen. Al Lawson, who joined Atwater along with Sen. J.D. Alexander. But others, like Senator Paula Dockery feel that the state cannot commit funds to rail in this “prolonged recession.”

A failed vote in May was partly because of liability concerns when passenger rail shares the line with freight rail. But Alexander and other proponents have been working to spread the virtues of rail and said that Florida could look to Massachusetts for a solution to issues over indemnity. He said that Massachusetts’ deal with CSX is better that the one Florida is considering.

U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and George LeMieux both support the initiative and are working in Washington to help Florida get the stimulus money.

“This is a solution that is begging for action,” Nelson said during a 2 p.m. news conference.

Added LeMieux, “Shame on us if we give up $2.5 billion and an opportunity to transform the way we get around Florida and the way we do business in Florida. These great leaders from the Florida Senate are working hard to not make it a missed opportunity. And I know that the House stands in support as well.”

Editors at the Orlando Sentinal couldn’t agree more. “It’s time to lead” their October 21 editorial said. “SunRail’s back on track. Now it’s a question of whether it gets where it needs to go.”

Thanks to Governor Crist and Senate President Jeff Atwater, the project has been righted, but several other legislators are of the mind that the state cannot afford to provide any funding.

“Yet this time,” the editorial continues, “other forces may compel a different outcome. Florida’s now suffering 11 percent unemployment. Many more people fear losing their jobs. That should make it harder than ever for SunRail’s opponents to tell their constituents they rejected a project that would create thousands of jobs.

“They’d also have to explain to voters that Washington’s actually on track to pay more of SunRail’s cost, and that the state likely won’t be assuming as much risk in case of accidents as previously thought.

“Should they nevertheless think to refuse SunRail a third time, they’ll also have to tell their constituents why they elected to make it harder for thousands of South Florida residents to get to their jobs. That’s because Tri-Rail, the commuter-train serving residents from Miami to West Palm Beach, needs more funding or it will have to dramatically cut service. It could get that funding if the Legislature approved a regional $2 rental-car surcharge.”

Instead of using the recession as a reason to oppose the project, legislators would be smart to give their constituents the opportunity to increase employment and in the process provide transportation for thousands to get to jobs!!

How will legislators explain these lost opportunities if they kill the project once again?!


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ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE LINES... Environmental Justice Lines...  

Arlington Goes Its Own Way In Lawsuit Over HOV Lanes
(They Mean HOT Lanes)

Civil Rights An Issue In Highway Case

From The Washington Post And DF Staff

ARLINGTON, VA, OCTOBER 23 -- No one is happy driving on Glebe Road after 3 p.m. on any given day in Arlington County, Virginia. Traffic on this road, which runs between interstate 395 and 95, is “voluminous,” states the Washington Post in an article by Derek Kravits and Jennifer Buske. “Cars slow, stop and snake around crowded intersections. Overheated vehicles cause tempers to boil over,” the story continues.

Arlington leaders say plans for three high-occupancy toll lanes on the nearby highways will make traffic worse on Glebe and other roads. But it’s not just a transportation problem, they say in a federal lawsuit; it’s also a civil rights issue.

A lawsuit was filed in Augusts requesting the judge to order a more stringent environmental study of the HOT “high occupancy toll” lanes. Opponents of the project are concerned about worsening air pollution in low-income neighborhoods where the highway ramps would bring in more traffic. The suit’s use of the Civil Rights Act in a highway issue is not appropriate in the view of many state and government officials

“I don’t think race or class warfare has any standing in this argument,” said Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield).

But Arlington County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac said the suit was not intended to “create some kind of wedge issue on race or income,” but rather to force state officials to reevaluate the effect of air pollution on nearby schools, day-care centers and low-income housing.

“We’re not just throwing this out there to throw in the race element,” MacIsaac said. “We believe this is an environmental justice issue.”

What Are HOT Lanes?

High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes are limited access lanes that provide free access to HOV-3+, transit and motorcycles.  Other vehicles that don’t meet the occupancy requirements can pay a toll to use the lanes for a faster and more reliable travel option.]

What’s in contention

An at-home day-care center in a predominantly black neighborhood is located near the highway where the HOT lanes would be built. Parents must park several blocks away and walk to the house to pick up their preschoolers. “Cars are parked all over the place. It’s terrible,” said Calvin Mitchell, the day-care owner.

Traffic caused by three planned high-occupancy toll lanes on nearby highways is going to make our headaches worse, he said.

Many have questioned Arlington’s decision to include discrimination claims in its lawsuit.

But they may have grounds for such a lawsuit. Studies have shown that the health of people, especially young children, is adversely affected by living near highways, and adding lanes always ends up increasing traffic where the expansion has occurred.

For more information, see the article in The Infrastructurist “Freeway Air Pollution is So Much Worse Than You Thought” http://www.infrastructurist.com/2009/07/09/freeway-air-pollution-is-so-much-worse-than-you-know.

Also, the American Lung Association has a story, Health Risks (Near Highways) on the risks to children from infancy to teen years if living within a third of a mile to a highway.

Below is an excerpt:

Living Near Highways May Be Especially Dangerous

Children and teenagers are among the most vulnerable — though not the only ones at risk. A new European study found infants and young children exposed to air pollution from traffic faced a greater risk of wheezing and of developing asthma. In Southern California, a 2007 study found that air pollution may limit the capacity of the lungs in ten- to eighteen-year-olds who live within about one-third of a mile of a freeway. Changes such as that can reduce their capacity to breathe for the rest of their lives and increase their risk of developing serious lung diseases.

FACT: Six out of ten Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution.

The challenge for America is to redesign our communities and make them far less automobile dependent so neighborhoods like the one around Glebe Street in Arlington, VA can be clean, healthy places for children to grow up.

What’s Being Done

With this proposed project, HOT lanes would enhance the existing HOV system in Northern Virginia. The 56-mile project would add a third lane to the existing 28 miles of HOV lanes between Arlington and Dumfries, and would include building two new HOV lanes for an additional 28 miles south to Spotsylvania County. The HOT lanes for this project would allow buses, carpools, vanpools and motorcycles to ride in the new lanes for free – just as they do now. Vehicles carrying one or two people could either travel in the regular free lanes, or pay a toll to ride in the HOT lanes when they need a faster trip. In addition, thousands of new Park & Ride lot spaces would be built.


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

Austin Riders And Their New Light Rail Service

They Still Don’t Know When They’ll Get It!

By David Peter Alan

The cover on the Austin Chronicle, a community weekly newspaper, showed a potential rider waiting on the platform for a light rail train. The wait was so long that the rider had turned into a skeleton. The headline was “Waiting for the Train” and the accompanying story raised the question of when rail would actually serve the Texas capital. That was on April 24th. Six months have passed, and that crucial question has still not been answered.

The city’s unofficial motto is “Keep Austin Weird” and it has certainly earned that description in transit circles. Most lines begin service when the local transit agency says they will, but Austin’s Metro Rail may not start carrying commuters until a full year after the previous date set for the opening. At one time, service was slated to begin during the fall of 2008. Then the opening date was postponed until March 30, 2009. That “opening day” was cancelled, and now nobody knows exactly when service will start.

Capital Metro, the city’s transit provider, had bought a railroad and operates freight service on it (Austin Western), while a tourist railroad also uses it for excursions (Austin & Texas Central). Eventually, there were plans formulated to build a commuter line between downtown Austin and Leander, about thirty-two miles to the northwest.

Metro built nine platforms, ordered six diesel multi-unit (DMU) units from the Swiss firm Stadler and built the shop and yard facilities normally associated with an operation of this sort. Pre-revenue testing began last February and the date of March 30th was set for the start of service. There were some celebrations at the stations the previous week-end with one of the units present for each of the festivities, although there were reports that other such events were cancelled.


Photo: Stadler

A picture of a GTW 2-2/6 diesel multiple unit train set for Austin’s Metro Rail shown on test run at a Stadler Rail facility in Switzerland in summer of 2007.

Then the announcement came that service would not begin as promised. First it was postponed briefly; now nobody knows when revenue service will begin. Pre-revenue testing continues, and it is now in its ninth month, with no sign of a changeover to actual revenue service. The Austin American-Statesman, the daily paper that serves the city, characterized the Metro Rail chronology as “A Tale of Whoa” on September 1st.

Capital Metro management claims that the villain in this drama is the Federal Railroad Administration. The FRA has been on Metro’s back lately, requiring signal upgrades on the line where the commuter service will run, improvements in braking systems, additional safety features on the cars themselves and other changes. A management source expressed pride in the agency’s success at upgrading track for 60 mph operation (up from 10 mph), building a second track or passing sidings on the line, and adding Centralized Traffic Control (CTC). To management, it seemed that there was no delay with the FRA; it just takes time to build a railroad when you already run one.

Paradoxically, Capital Metro seems to do well with its bus operation, and it also appears to operate its railroad well, although occasional freight moves and even more occasional excursion trains are far easier to run than daily service on a fixed schedule. The vehicles that management intends to operate are not FRA-compliant (nobody in this country manufactures units that are), so the FRA requires a temporal separation between light rail operations and freight or passenger excursion trains. Safety and temporal separation regulations enforced by the FRA, along with the procedures required to comply with them, are uncharted territory for an authority that only runs buses on city streets and highways. Railroad managers who only operate occasional freight or excursion trains may be equally unfamiliar with these aspects of the FRA.

Still, Capital Metro’s managers should have known about the requirements that the FRA would impose on them before commuter service could begin, using non-compliant vehicles. The Chronicle criticized the Metro Board for not having the expertise needed to oversee the start of the commuter operation, so it is unlikely that the Board was in a position to give management the advice they needed. With respect to the managers, rail advocate Jan Six said that they did not understand the complexity of dealing with the FRA: “They thought it just required paperwork, not engineering.” E. Marcus Barnes, also a local rail advocate added: “They didn’t know what they didn’t know.”

Could the managers at Metro have acted differently, and set the machinery in motion that would have allowed service to begin as scheduled, on March 30, 2009? It appears that they could have done so. The managers of the railroad could have advised the managers of the future light rail operation that the FRA would be involved. There are employees at Metro who are familiar with the FRA, but senior managers with decision-making authority may not have consulted them. Management has also turned over many of the responsibilities of preparing the line to Violia Transportation Services, Inc., thereby distancing itself from direct control over the preparation and eventual operation of the line.

There are also plenty of rail advocates in Austin and elsewhere in Texas who could have advised Capital Metro’s managers about the situation, if those managers had sought them out. David Dobbs and Lyndon Henry have been campaigning for rail in the Texas capital for decades through their web site, www.lightrailnow.org. Glenn Gadbois of the Alliance for Public Transportation has also joined the campaign, and other proponents of increased rail service around the state belong to the Texas Rail Advocates. It seems reasonable to assert that management knew or should have known about these potential allies and their knowledge of rail issues. If managers were not ready to deal with the FRA, they had many potential sources of information that they could have used to help them prepare meet the FRA’s requirements.

Local rail advocate Jan Six told this writer: “The safest train is one that is standing still.” That is what Austin has at the moment. Until the management of Capital Metro can satisfy the FRA that they have done everything required for safe operation, Austin will have nothing more. Capital Metro’s credibility has already suffered because rail service did not start on schedule, or at least shortly after the promised date.

It appears that effective communication could have eliminated much of the delay that keeps Austin’s trains idle. It is not too late for other transit providers to learn from Austin’s experience and implement appropriate communications practices, if they have not done so already. That does not only mean communication with potential riders; communication with local transit advocates could be the key to avoiding delays and a loss of reputation. In Austin such communication certainly could have helped.


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Amtrak Agrees To Run Calif. Commuter Trains

San Diego Union-Tribune, Associated Press And Amtrak Employee Advisory

In a notice to his workers, Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman announced that the Railroad has reached a tentative agreement with the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA which lays the groundwork for Amtrak to operate the Metrolink commuter rail service, starting July 1.

The final agreement is being worked on and should be completed by December 11, said Boardman in his message.

Metrolink commuter trains have been operated by a private company, Connex, for several years. It was their engineer, 46-year-old Robert Sanchez, who was text-messaging while operating the train about one year ago and missed a red signal, causing the train to crash into a freight train near Chatsworth, California. The crash killed 25 people and injured over 130. It was the worst rail accident in Metrolink’s history.

An Associated Press report states that the tentative agreement – which must be finalized by year’s end – would be worth more than $100 million. It calls for the national rail service to begin providing crews for all seven Metrolink lines next July, after Metrolink’s contract with Connex Railroad LLC expires.

If the deal is finalized, Amtrak would have a four-year contract and the potential for two three-year extensions. Metrolink would pay about $28 million a year, compared to the $24 million annual cost of the Connex contract.

Amtrak currently staffs trains on four Metrolink lines. They operated the Chatsworth service from 1992 to 2005.

Excerpt from Mr. Boardman’s statement:

The SCRRA board “chose to proceed with sole source procurement — meaning not putting the contract out for competitive bid — because it recognizes that Amtrak “provides a depth of relevant experience and of management support for Metrolink operations that is unique in the current passenger rail environment.”

It is our experience and depth of expert knowledge that makes Amtrak the right choice. But we now live in a new era of passenger rail. The opportunities that are being made available thanks to stimulus funds and unprecedented support for passenger rail are also opportunities for others to enter new markets. Don’t kid yourself — we have competition and we must work and act like it.

We were all saddened and disappointed when we learned last Friday of the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) Operations Board’s recommendation to award its commuter service contract to another bidder. Our T and E crews provide outstanding service and they maintained an excellent safety record for the 17 years Amtrak has operated the service. In a letter I sent to those employees today, I described how proud I am of the work they do, and that I value their dedication to providing safe and reliable service. I sincerely hope they will choose to remain part of the Amtrak family when the contract with VRE ends on June 30.

This is not the passenger rail environment of yesteryears — the competition is real. While we have expertise and experience that stands up to competition, we are also making (and will continue to make) significant investments to better position ourselves not simply as a provider, but as the provider of choice. But getting there also involves changing the way we think. When I first came to Amtrak, it seemed as though we only thought about why we couldn’t do something. Thinking about what we can do and what we need to do to get there is how we remain competitive and beat out the other guys.

In the past, we seemed focused on survival; today our survival relies on being focused on growth. We all — management and agreement-covered alike — must think big, be innovative and pursue opportunities and decisions that make good business sense. It’s incumbent on us to shape a company that thinks beyond just tomorrow and that sets the stage for the newer members of the Amtrak family because they represent our future, and they deserve their chance at building a career of service and contributing to the advancement of Amtrak’s mission. I think we all envision the Amtrak that we can be. No matter what your job, each and every one of us can contribute to a changing mindset and attitude.

As some of you may recall, we’d operated this service before, from 1992 to 2005. According to the SCRRA board, they chose to proceed with sole source procurement — meaning not putting the contract out for competitive bid — because it recognizes that Amtrak “provides a depth of relevant experience and of management support for Metrolink operations that is unique in the current passenger rail environment.”

It is our experience and depth of expert knowledge that makes Amtrak the right choice. But we now live in a new era of passenger rail. The opportunities that are being made available thanks to stimulus funds and unprecedented support for passenger rail are also opportunities for others to enter new markets. Don’t kid yourself — we have competition and we must work and act like it.

We were all saddened and disappointed when we learned last Friday of the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) Operations Board’s recommendation to award its commuter service contract to another bidder. Our T and E crews provide outstanding service and they maintained an excellent safety record for the 17 years Amtrak has operated the service. In a letter I sent to those employees today, I described how proud I am of the work they do, and that I value their dedication to providing safe and reliable service. I sincerely hope they will choose to remain part of the Amtrak family when the contract with VRE ends on June 30.

This is not the passenger rail environment of yesteryears — the competition is real. While we have expertise and experience that stands up to competition, we are also making (and will continue to make) significant investments to better position ourselves not simply as a provider, but as the provider of choice. But getting there also involves changing the way we think. When I first came to Amtrak, it seemed as though we only thought about why we couldn’t do something. Thinking about what we can do and what we need to do to get there is how we remain competitive and beat out the other guys.

In the past, we seemed focused on survival; today our survival relies on being focused on growth. We all — management and agreement-covered alike — must think big, be innovative and pursue opportunities and decisions that make good business sense. It’s incumbent on us to shape a company that thinks beyond just tomorrow and that sets the stage for the newer members of the Amtrak family because they represent our future, and they deserve their chance at building a career of service and contributing to the advancement of Amtrak’s mission. I think we all envision the Amtrak that we can be. No matter what your job, each and every one of us can contribute to a changing mindset and attitude.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)79.1286.39
Canadian National (CNI)50.3052.70
Canadian Pacific (CP)46.7947.56
CSX (CSX)43.3246.77
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)31.0732.90
Kansas City Southern (KSU)26.8028.66
Norfolk Southern (NSC)46.8849.15
Providence & Worcester (PWX)11.3011.30
Union Pacific (UNP)57.7363.53


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

By David Beale, NCI Foreign Correspondent

 

European Union To Invest EUR 500 Million For TEN Projects

Highways Receive Lion’s Share – Rail Projects Also Benefit

Via Eu Press Release

BRUSSELS – On the 22nd of October the European Commission announced the first group of projects that will benefit from a total of € 500 million (US $720 million) worth of investment in vital transport infrastructure projects across the EU. The grants will be allocated under the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) program, which helps to fund works to build missing transport links or remove bottlenecks in order to enable people and goods to circulate quickly and easily between Member States. The € 500 million package constitutes a vital part of the EU Commission’s response to the economic crisis. The funding announced today will go towards projects in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom. A second group of projects benefiting from TEN-T funding will be announced later this year.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, in charge of transport, commented: “I am pleased to be signing these funding decisions today. It is my conviction that the EU’s capacity to grow depends on the quality of its transport infrastructure and the TEN-T program plays an essential role in ensuring its progress. Unlocking this funding shows the Commission is serious about tackling the economic crisis as it is targeted to encourage further economic growth. This funding released under the TEN-T program plays a crucial role in keeping Europe moving forward.”

The € 500 million funding was originally intended to be spread out over several years, but was brought forward earlier this year because of the EU Commission’s coordinated response to the economic crisis. As transport plays such a central role in the economy, improving the infrastructure can act as a catalyst for increased economic activity.

TEN-T grants play a key role in making infrastructure projects possible by either funding studies to help overcome early stage project difficulties or by financing part of the actual project. Traffic between Member States is expected to double by 2020. To accommodate this growth, major investments will be needed until 2020 to complete and modernize the network in a sustainable way.

Austria
• Four-track development of the Western Line Vienna-Linz: Melk railway station (€ 3,400,000)

Belgium
• Rebuilding of Noorderlaan Bridge (€ 1,342,000)

France
• New railway high speed rail line “LGV Est” Second phase: section Baudrecourt-Vendenheim (€ 75,996,000)

Germany
• A3 Autobahn (expressway), Frankfurt-Nürnberg, renewal of the Main bridge at Randersacker (€ 2,395,000)
• Tri-modal enlargement of Cologne Port (€ 3,330,000)

Hungary
• Construction of a terminal for combined Schengen and non-Schengen operations and seamless passenger transfer at Budapest Airport (€ 7,560,000)

Italy
• Rome Ring Road Motorway – northwestern section – upgrade to three lanes in both directions from km 11+250 to km 12+650 – completion works (€ 2,981,000)
• Implementation of nautical accessibility in the port of Venice-Marghera: operational and remedial dredging in two stretches of the West and South ship canals (€ 3,912,000)
• Hub of Torino, section Susa-Stura, removal of bottleneck (€ 52,740,000)
• Integration of communication and surveillance (IP1) (€ 4,048,000)

The Netherlands
• Elimination of the bottleneck of the north-south artery A2 (E25) highway, building of the urban highway tunnel in Maastricht (€ 15,000,000)

Portugal
• Faro Airport Development Plan – Phase 1 (€ 6,016,000)

Spain
• Express Route SE-40 (Seville). Section Coria del Rio-Dos Hermanas (North and South tunnels) (€ 23,969,000)

Sweden
• Port infrastructure facilities in the Malmö Northern Harbour (€ 5,922,000)
• E6.21 Partihall Connection road (€ 16,296,000)

United Kingdom
• Thames Estuary dredge and reclamation works to support the integrated multi-modal London Gateway port and logistics development (€ 14,174,000)
• A14 highway Corridor Traffic Management Scheme (€ 11,670,000)
• Felixstowe-Nuneaton Route work (€ 9,234,000)


Photo: David Beale

Hang TEN – an SNCF TGV (actually an ex-Eurostar train set intended for operations via London to central and northern Great Briatain) waits in Paris Gare du Nord on the 1st of August 2009. Several TGV rail lines (called LGV) are part of the Trans European Network (TEN).


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Azerbaijan, Russia And Iran Discuss
The North–South Railway Project

Yet Another Iron “Silk Road” Proposed In Central Asia

Via Azerbaijani Trend On-Line News Magazine

BAKU - Azerbaijan, Iranian and Russian working groups will meet in Tehran during the 3rd and 4th of November to discuss the project which includes the construction of a railway freight corridor, said Nadir Azmammadov, head of Azerbaijan Railways. The North–South corridor will link rail transport between Europe and India, through the three main participating countries.

The pre-feasibility studies showed that the project implementation will require US $ 400 million in funding, the Azerbaijan part consisting in the construction of an 8.5 km access line towards Astana railway station which will also include the modernization of the railway station. This first stage of the project is valued at US 35-40 million. It is foretasted goods transportation via this corridor will be 5 million tonnes per year in the first stage, and further planned to increase to 15 million tonnes per year.

Currently the only viable Asia – Europe rail corridors lie in Russia along the Trans Siberian Railroad and a main rail line to western China via Almaty, Kazakhstan. There are various proposals to construct a rail “Silk Road” to Asia via Turkey, Iran and several central Asian countries as alternative southern route to the existing routes to China via Kazakhstan or Russia. A potential challenge for this particular proposed project is the issue of track gauge: Iran has standard 1435 mm gauge, Azerbaijan and Russia use the 1520 mm “Russian broad gauge” while Pakistan and India use an even wider track gauge.


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