Vol. 8 No. 45
Copyright © 2007
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elected and appointed officials at all levels of government.
In this edition...
NARPs Ross Capon Gets Claytor Award
By DF Staff and from Railway Age Magazine
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Ross B. Capon, executive director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), was given the 2007 W. Graham Claytor, Jr. Award for Distinguished Service to Passenger Transportation by Railway Age magazine, at its annual Passenger Trains on Freight Railroads conference held October 23 in Washington.
This is the 14th year of the award, given to honor those who have contributed to the advancement of passenger rail in America.
Noting his 32-year leadership of NARP, a record unmatched by any other, William C. Vantuono, editor of Railway Age, praised Ross credibility, political skills, and in-depth knowledge, as well as the respect he has earned from his constituents and Capitol Hill, for ensuring that the concerns of rail passengers are heard and acted upon by railroads and by state and federal policymakers.
Vantuono noted Ross role in NARPs efforts to help break the tension between freight and passenger rail operators regarding on-time performance, and his leadership in advancing a visionary 40-year plan to improve Americas freight and passenger rail system as just two of the reasons for honoring Capon with the award.
No one deserves this more, noted NCI President Jim RePass. Ross is truly a giant in this field. I think the very survival of Amtrak is in part due to the work of Ross Capon and NARP. We are lucky to have him, and his organization.
Under Capons leadership, NARP has increased membership from 4,300 in 1976 to 23,000 today. Capon also played a role in establishing the Dr. Gary Burch Memorial Safety Award, which is presented annually to the railroad employee judged to have done the most to improve the safety of railroad passengers.
In 1997, Capon helped establish Amtraks Customer Advisory Committee, whose goal is to improve the quality of service from the customers point of view and provide an avenue for direct input to management about customers perception of service. Capon is also a member of the Federal Railroad Administrations Railroad Safety Advisory Committee, the Transportation Research Boards Committee on Intercity Passenger Rail Systems, and the board of Travelers Aid International.
Established in 1994, the W. Graham Claytor, Jr. Award for Distinguished Service to Passenger Transportation honors the memory of the late Amtrak President W. Graham Claytor, Jr. A decorated World War II veteran, Claytor served as CEO of the Southern Railway, Secretary of the Navy, and Deputy Secretary of Defense and had an illustrious legal career prior to his 12 years of service as president of Amtrak. His skillful leadership, railroad expertise, and political skills are widely credited with Amtraks survival during particularly turbulent years.
Among past recipients of the Claytor Award are former Senators Claiborne Pell and Daniel Patrick Moynihan; former Amtrak President Paul Reistrup; former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson and former Governor Michael Dukakis (both of whom were Amtrak board members), and former U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Mortimer L. Downey.
With more than 23,000 individual members, NARP is the largest national membership advocacy organization for train and rail transit passengers, and has worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Its mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. In June, NARP unveiled a proposal to expand and modernize the countrys intercity rail system, helping to reduce both the nations carbon emissions and its dependence on oil, and facilitating the efficient movement of people and goods. More information on NARP and this vision can be found on its website, www.narprail.org.
First published in 1856, Railway Age covers developments in the $25 billion North American railway industry. The magazines editorial emphasis is on technology, operations, strategic planning, marketing, and other issues such as legislative and labor/management developments. Its circulation of 25,000 goes to railway management, railway suppliers, and consultants. Railway Age is the flagship publication of the Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation Rail Group, which also publishes Railway Track & Structures, and International Railway Journal and European Rail Outlook out of offices in Chicago, Ill., and Falmouth, England, respectively. More information on Railway Age can be found at their website: www.railwayage.com.
Mainstream media is beginning to get it about the relationship between Amtrak, other rail, and infrastructure in general. The public is demanding it. Government leaders are waking up to reality: train travel can no longer be considered the failing stepchild of our transportation system but rather an essential public service that must be supported.
A recent editorial in the Christian Science Monitor [Help Amtrak keep on trackin November 9] on the passage of last weeks Senate bill, addresses the crux of the situation -- a need for the same kind of stable funding source that helped build the nations highway system --- the worlds best, but increasingly overburdened because of the lack of alternatives.
A Senate bill gives Amtrak a cash and accountability infusion. It deserves support, writes the Christian Science Monitor.
[While automobile and air travel were heavily subsidized throughout the twentieth century] Amtrak begged annually for federal subsidies, and in recent years, has fought efforts to dismantle it. Now, thankfully, the outlook for rail is brightening, it wrote.
Congested highways and airports, high gas prices, environmental concerns, and improved Amtrak services have all worked to bring about a train renaissance. Ridership has increased for five straight years, and more people now take the train rather than fly between Washington D.C. and New York.
Customer satisfaction is up, revenues from ticket sales are up, and ridership on the nation's first high-speed train the Acela, which serves the Boston-Washington corridor is way up (20 percent over last year).
All of this has impressed lawmakers, or at least US senators, who last week easily passed a bill that significantly increases Amtrak funding and accountability. It deserves support from both the House and the president, who has been no great friend of the rail service.
But the Monitor doesnt stop there. It actually says that the bill falls short. More money is needed to offer Americans greater choice in intercity rail travel besides Amtrak and its one and only high-speed rail, the Acela.
Must America really be satisfied with just one high-speed rail service? Investment in the Acela and improved on-time performance tapped latent demand that surely exists elsewhere in the country.
This editorial from yet another mainstream newspaper augurs well for change in public and political opinion and for continued pressure to level the playing field in government funding for highways, air and rail.
As Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) put it so succinctly, Providing transportation infrastructure is a basic function of government. The federal government has never built roads, runways or ports to make a profit, but to serve commerce....
For the complete editorial, see: www.csmonitor.com/2007/1109/p08s01-comv.html.
Amtrak Quotes NCI
Parade Article Highlights Benefits of Train Travel
November 5, 2007
Yesterday, Parade magazine, a weekly insert with readership of 71 million via more than 400 U.S. newspapers, ran a cover story entitled A Better Way to Travel? highlighting Amtrak travel as a viable solution to transportation gridlock. Below are a few excerpts.
Many transportation experts insist that the best answer to transportation gridlock is efficient intercity rail travel. Trains use one-fifth less energy than cars or planes. They run in bad weather. Theyre business-efficient and tourist-friendly.
Our national rail system is inadequate, relying on aging equipment and a shrinking route map.The system sorely lacks both financial resources and government support. ...
The transportation funding mechanism is skewed toward highway construction, says James RePass, principal executive of the National Corridors Initiative, a transportation advocacy group. The game is rigged against rail.
Amtrak, which is federally funded, received just $1.3 billion last year the same as 25 years ago. Compare that to the $40 billion allocated for highways and $14 billion for airlines in 2006.
Critics of federal funding for Amtrak argue that, since it was created by Congress in 1970, the railroad has never turned a profit Amtraks advocates in Congress point out that passenger rail systems around the world operate with government assistance. Im amazed at the rancor about our numbers they are so small, says Alex Kummant, Amtraks CEO. It costs about $1.50 for every man, woman and child to sustain this network one cup of coffee per person. Look at highway congestion, environmental issues, the capacity of airline travel. For city-to-city transportation, we need passenger rail.
Experts predict that, with the population climbing well past 300 million, the demand for travel will only grow. Severe weather will further add to the transportation turmoil, leading travelers to look for alternatives to air travel. Witness the Midwestern storms last winter that forced the cancellation of more than 1,000 flights in two days in Chicago and St. Louis.
The key to improvements may be federal incentives for state investment, say train watchers of all stripes.They point to two successful projects that relied heavily on state funding. Amtrak recently expanded service from Chicago to downstate Illinois and St. Louis, where ridership is up about 50%, and major improvements were made to the Philadelphia- Harrisburg line.
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Amtrak Train Halted, Searched
As Police Seek Florida Killer
WEST PALM BEACH --- West Palm Beach is noted for its mansions and swanky night clubs, but this past week it was a scene right out of a television cop show as police halted and searched a northbound Amtrak train, the Silver Star, November 7.
It was an intense hour for lawmen who surrounded the northbound train, reported WPTVs Eric Glasser and Katie Bracie, accompanied by photographers Jenny Newell and Tony Aeaujo. It was also intense for the passengers on board, who did not know who the lawmen were looking for.
Photo: WPTV-Channel 5An Amtrak conductor aboard the Silver Star, as it was stopped
The Amtrak train en route from Miami was literally stopped in its tracks at the intersection of Tamarind Avenue and Okeechobee Boulevard for close to an hour - as dozens of heavily armed officers surrounded the train, reported WPTV.
They had very specific information about this train, says West Palm Beach Lt. Chuck Reid, reported WPTV. Reid says police were acting on a tip from another law enforcement agency in Broward County. A car, they said, belonging to suspect, Michael Mazza had been left near a train station farther south. Police coordinated with the Amtrak conductor and just short of the platform at the West Palm Beach station brought the train to a stop, WPTV reported.
The departments SWAT team then entered the train going car to car with their weapons drawn, looking for suspect Michael Mazza who they believed was still armed, desperate, and extremely dangerous, reported the station. Our SWAT team was in place. They boarded the train. They train for this, says Reid. They don't take all the people off. They go in and search compartment to compartment.
They told everybody to put their hands on their heads and just stay -don't move, passenger Will Sanchez told the reporters.
After about 45 minutes, lawmen determined Mazza was not aboard the train and allowed it to continue on its way. Michael Mazza was arrested later at a pawn shop in Hollywood after the shooting death of 76-year-old Deputy Paul Rein. Mazza had been serving two life sentences for armed robbery, and was being transported by the deputy.
Mazza was reported to have been alone in a van with the deputy as he was being taken to court for trial in a second robbery. Mazza had the deputy's gun with him when he was found.
Authorities believe he may have had accomplices who ambushed the deputy.
Relieved, but still shaken, passengers who briefly stepped off the train and onto the platform at the West Palm station described the experience as terrifying, reported WPTV.
I was scared and I didn't know what was doing on, passenger Amy Fiesel told the reporters, They were pointing guns at our car that we were sitting in.
Nobody knows what's going on, Sanchez added. We don't know if the guy next to me is the guy who shot a BSO deputy - you know? It was a very scary situation.
Police said there was no indication and no specific information that Mazza would have been aboard any other northbound train like Tri-Rail, for example, so no other trains were stopped or searched, the station reported.
2007 Presidents Service & Safety Awards
Amtrak Honors MembersWhose Dedication
WASHINGTON, DC -- A number of TCU members are winners of 2007 Presidents Service and Safety Awards at Amtrak. Presentation was made at an awards luncheon held on October 29 in Washington, DC.
Amtraks President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Kummant himself wrote in the introduction to the event program, Amtraks workforce demonstrates a high degree of dedication that is hard to find in todays world.
Key among the honorees were several TCU members who received the award for Valor.
Recognized for their fast action on the Silver Star November 8, 2006 were members of The Train 91 crew based in Miami. The train, with 75 passengers, struck a tractor-trailer stopped on the tracks; fuel spilling from the truck ignited alongside and underneath the train. The crew quickly moved the passengers to safety and extinguished the fire.
Also winning an award for Valor was a Foreman II from Sanford, Florida. His quick thinking limited the damage done at the Sanford Auto Train terminal in November 2006, when a vehicle on the carrier caught fire.
Awards in Business Diversity, Environmental Achievement, Excellence in Training, and Safety Achievement were also presented.
For names of the recipients and more details on the awards, see Amtraks website www.amtrak.com.
Bombardier Gets Operations Contract
With Torontos Famed GO Transit
BERLIN --- Bombardier Transportation has landed contract to supply fleet operations services for the Greater Toronto Transit Authority (GO Transit) commuter rail system.
One of the largest such systems on the North American continent, serving the city of Toronto and its surrounding region, GO Transit is seen as a an example of best-practices operations by other transit systems, and its decision to bring in Bombardier for this work will be noted by others.
The five-year operations contract is valued at an estimated 95 million euros ($140 million US, $130 million CDN), includes options for up to 15 additional years. Should GO Transit exercise all available options, the contract could reach an estimated value of 353 million euros ($519 million US, $483 million CDN).
We are very pleased to be extending our successful relationship with GO Transit, said William Spurr, President, Bombardier Transportation North America. This is one of the most vibrant commuter rail operators in the Americas and a very important customer for our rapidly growing rail services business.
GO Transit oversees one of the premier urban public transit systems in North America, carrying approximately 49 million passengers each year on bus and commuter rail services. Its rail transit system moves an estimated 165,000 passengers each weekday via 181 trains, seven lines, 57 stations and rail routes totaling more than 360 kilometers.
Bombardier has provided maintenance services to GO Transits fleet of coaches and locomotives for more than a decade. Bombardier also supplied more than 400 Bi-Level commuter rail coaches that make up the transit authoritys commuter rail fleet. BOMBARDIER Bi-Level coaches are produced in Ontario, Canada at production facilities in Thunder Bay.
Under the contract, Bombardier will be responsible for train operations as well as management of train crews on six of GO Transits seven commuter rail lines. Bombardier is scheduled to assume train operations in June 2008 and will begin preparations for the transition immediately. Bombardier will be recruiting for more than 100 train operator positions and several supervisory jobs.
Our number one commitment is to manage a smooth transition and see that the thousands of commuters who rely on GO Transit each day get to their destinations safely and on time, said Mike Hardt, Vice President, Rail Services for Bombardier Transportation North America. We look forward to getting started.
Bombardiers rail services business provides fleet maintenance and/or operations services for commuter rail systems in Los Angeles, Boston, New Jersey, Ottawa, Miami, San Diego and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Bombardier also provides equipment overhaul and refurbishment services for rail vehicles and components. Current projects are being carried out for transit authorities in New York, Boston, Maryland, Cleveland, Salt Lake City and Sao Paulo.
Bombardier also supplies operations and maintenance services for fully automated rail systems and people movers in 12 North American cities. Bombardier Transportation has its global headquarters in Berlin, Germany with a presence in over 60 countries. It has an installed base of over 100,000 vehicles worldwide. The Group offers the broadest product portfolio and is recognized as the leader in the global rail sector.
A world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions, from regional aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, systems and services, Bombardier Inc. is a global corporation headquartered in Canada. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2007, were $14.8 billion US, and its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). Bombardier is listed as an index component to the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America indexes. News and information are available at www.bombardier.com.
The Ninth Annual Golden Spike Seminar
of the Indiana High Speed Rail Association
Is the Midwest Ready for the Chicago Olympics in 2016?
Indianapolis - Friday, November 16, 2007
Please make check payable to
You may pay at the door, but please RSVP via return email or (219) 887-1351
Chicago Mpo Director Is Luncheon Speaker
INDIANAPOLIS - The Ninth Annual Golden Spike Seminar is proud to present Randy Blankenhorn, Executive Director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (formerly Chicago Area Transportation Study - CATS), will speak to the transportation plans for the Chicago area leading up to International Olympic Games proposed for Chicago in 2016 and beyond. This information can be critical in our planning for the implementation of the Midwest Regional Rail Systems and other formidable transportation projects. Also presenting valuable data and information is Tim Hoeffner of the Michigan Department of Transportation and Alex Metcalf of TEMS, Inc. who have been with the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative since its inception, Mahmud Farooque of NEXTrans Region V and Purdue University, Frank Guzzo of Siemens Transportation Systems, Inc. Michael Claytor of Crowe Chizek, Lesa Dietrick of Ice Miller, and Gil Viets of the Indiana Department of Transportation. Hotel rooms are still available.
You will not want to miss out on this important transportation event. Please R.S.V.P. TODAY
For additional information:
Contact: W. Dennis Hodges - (219) 887-1351
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[ Publishers Note: NCIs October 11 Conference Were All In This Together had far too many speakers, not to mention attendees fully qualified to keynote let alone attend any conference, to do justice to the issues raised. We are therefore taking the step of serializing, as they become available over the ensuing weeks and months, not only speakers presentations but attendees comments in Destination: Freedom, both to give them a thorough airing, and provide their thoughts to our readers whether or not present at the event. While the conference concentrated on New England and the Northeast and its deteriorated infrastructure, the lessons learned, and ideas put forward, have relevance to infrastructure issues across the continent. All thoughts and comments are also welcome, and will be likewise published by us. Previous comments by CT State Senate President Don Williams address calling for the creation of an interstate compact to build a true regional rail system, by Delegate du Québec France Dionne on the importance of better NE/Québec transportation infrastructure, and the comments of conference attendees Vincent Terrill and Ronald OBlemis on the subject of regional rail, have all been published and are collected in the NCI conference archives.
This week, we have the talking points used by Vermont Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, who is also a professional airline pilot, in his presentation --- Jim RePass, Publisher, Destination: Freedom and President and CEO, NCI ]
Rail Talking Points
Regional Leadership Forum on Transportation & Infrastructure
Regarding Vermonts planned new DMU service:
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Selected Rail Stocks...
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BOSTON --- Atlantic Northeast Rails and Ports reports in its November 9 edition (www.atlanticnortheast.com) that the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs the Port of Boston as well as Logan Airport and other infrastructure facilities, says its Conley Terminal is the busiest it has ever been.
In 2006, total container volume surpassed 200,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). This year, the 100-acre facility is on pace to eclipse that mark, with 181,984 TEUs moved in the first 10 months of the year.
Import and export container volume on the Asia route since 1 July increased 41% from the same four months in 2006. Overall container growth at Conley Terminal was up 21% year over year in the same four months.
The service is provided by China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) and its partners, K Line, Yang Ming Line, and Hanjin.
A two-year, $28 million upgrade, completed in June, expanded the capacity of the terminal by 50% even though the 100-acre footprint of the terminal was not changed. In the four months since the projects completion, turn-time at the gate has averaged 36 minutes as compared to 58 minutes in July, August, September, and October 2005.
The upgrade included reconfiguring the terminal with a new layout that allows higher and wider container stacks. The addition of eight, new Rubber Tire Gantry cranes (RTGs) and four other machines to handle empty containers also helped increase efficiency. Additional improvements to the terminal included new reinforced pavement and painted markings, and the implementation of new drainage and lighting.
Why the increase in Asian traffic?
Mike Leone, head of MassPort maritime, said: We have received a greater allocation of vessel space on the [Asian] service and have been easily able to absorb it. Imports from China continue to grow not just at the Port of Boston, but across the country. We have seen an increase in the Port of Boston in commodities such as furniture, seafood, footwear, and other retail products. The decline of the US dollar has been a factor in increased exports.
Deutsche Bahn Cuts Auto-Train Services
DORTMUND, GERMANY (dpa) Deutsche Bahn Germany Railways subsidiary DB Autozug will dramatically reduce its offerings for the coming winter schedule. A DB Autozug spokesman confirmed last Wednesday (7th Nov.) that the number of Auto-Trains in the 2007-08 winter schedule would be reduced by about one fourth compared with the same period last year. He said, the company will discontinue unprofitable services.
The German automobile club ADAC had protested before about massive cut backs in auto-trains. The rail company is breaking new ground in the wrong way by contributing to increasing automobile traffic, stated the German automobile association. ADAC maintains that auto-trains are a sensible alternative for vacationers traveling by automobile.
Photo: Deutsche BahnA Deutsche Bahn auto-train runs through a station in Eichenberg in central Germany in the summer of 2002.
The DBAG spokesman stated that the firm could not sustain long-term unprofitable routes. Short (a few hundred kilometer) auto-train routes (such as Munich Vienna) were most often loss makers. DB Autozug wants in the coming year to make a decision about investment in rolling stock. The open car carrier racks currently in use for transporting automobiles in DB Autozug auto-trains are now over 40 years old.
The announced cuts point to a long time trend in European passenger rail operations whereby conventional long distance trains, especially overnight trains, are being slowly eliminated due to competition from new low cost airlines, increased automobile usage, and even introduction of new high speed rail corridors.
Deutsche Bahn Hones-in on London as Destination
BERLIN (afp) Deutsche Bahn Germany Railways obviously dreams about a direct connection to London. The route is very attractive and has a future stated a DBAG spokeswoman on the 1st of November in Berlin. EuroStar wants to increase its market share on the London route.
The British newspaper The Times reported that DBAG has already applied to have ICE-3 trains approved for use in Euro Tunnel underneath the English Channel, otherwise know popularly as the Chunnel. A DB spokesman discounted the report from the The Times.
A direct connection between Cologne (Köln) to London with ICE trains would take about four hours, from Frankfurt slighty over five hours, according to The Times. Currently a train traveler needs about six hours from Cologne to London with a change of trains in Brussels to a EuroStar train.
Photo: Deutsche BahnA pair of Deutsche Bahn ICE-3 multi-system (15 kVAC, 25 KVAC, 3000 VDC) EMU train sets running in multiple on the new Frankfurt Cologne high speed corridor parallel to the A3 Autobahn / freeway in autumn 2002.
EuroStar train sets are currently the only passenger train model that travels through the Chunnel. They are based on TGV technology and components and are built to external dimensions which will pas through tight vertical and lateral clearances on Britains classic rail lines as well as operate from four different power systems: 25 kVAC on Frances high speed rail lines and in the Chunnel, 1500 VDC on classic rail lines in the Paris city and inner suburbs, 3000 VDC in Belgium and 700 VDC third rail power on the classic rail lines in southern England. The EuroStar trains are also equipped with unique safety features, which were required by authorities when the Chunnel was in development.
When the final section of the high speed rail connector between Londons St. Pancras station and the Chunnel opens this month, there will be no requirement for trains between London and Paris / Brussels to run from third rail DC power. As the high speed connector is also built to continental European vertical and lateral clearance specifications, there are no physical barriers to German ICE-3 trains operating all the way to London.
The British-French tunnel operator, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, is eager to grow revenues from the Chunnel. With freight traffic down to a minimum due to already high access fees, a possible way to increase revenues from the multi-billion dollar tunnel is to open it up to additional passenger trains.
A French-British commission would need to relax certain safety regulations so that ICE-3 trains could legally operate in the Chunnel.
Train Drivers Union Switches Strikes
Over to Freight Trains
HANNOVER The German train drivers union, GDL, switched tactics this week by dropping (at least for the time being) strikes against local and regional passenger trains operated by Deutsche Bahn subsiderary companies and instead staged a 42 hour long strike of DB freight trains. The strike began Thursday and lasted until Saturday morning.
A DBAG spokesman indicated that approximately 700 freight trains nationwide were struck by the train drivers union. Freight trains in eastern Germany were especially hard hit, according to his statement. He stated that the strike was a major set back for German consumers, producers and exporters. Despite calls by government leaders, other unions and trade associations, the drivers union continues to press a hard line for obtaining a 31% wage increase along with more pay for overtime work.
Photo: David BealeIndependent freight train operators in Germany such as OHE (Osthannoversche Eisenbahnen AG) continued operations during the GDL strike against DBAGs freight subsidiary DB Logistics / Railion. This is a G2000 diesel locomotive with a freight train operated by OHE passing thru Haste, Germany on 14th October 2007
Amtrak Worth Federal Investment
Amtrak, the national passenger rail service launched nearly four decades ago, had been condemned to a slow death in recent years. Plagued in part by self-inflicted problems and poor management, Amtrak and its passengers were also the targets of short-sighted politicians intent on starving it of needed funding.
Given a growing public awareness of the nations dangerously neglected transportation network, that could soon change. Last week, the Senate passed a measure that would provide $10 billion for Amtrak over six years, while thankfully dispensing with the oft-stated, but unattainable, requirement that the railroad become profitable enough to cover its annual operating costs.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Trent Lott of Mississippi and Democrat Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, better positions Amtrak to keep rolling while catching up on its lengthening maintenance backlog and chronic equipment shortages. If approved by the House and signed by President Bush, the bill would set aside an additional $1.4 billion to be used as a matching fund for states and local communities wishing to sponsor commuter trains.
As the 2008 election approaches, candidates for national office have an opportunity to give voters their detailed explanations for addressing the well-documented deterioration of Americas roads, rails, bridges and highways. Since all modes of public transportation require some subsidy, fixing those problems wont be easy or cheap.
But a lack of money isnt the main obstacle. Leadership with a short attention span has led to an under-investment in public infrastructure that has hobbled Amtrak and left other valuable transportation assets in a state of disrepair. The collapse of a Minnesota bridge in August fostered a belated sense of urgency we cannot afford to squander.
Americas roads and airports have become increasingly overcrowded. Thats why Amtrak should be strengthened.
Do we want a national rail passenger system or not? Sen. Lott asked during discussion on the bill. I think we do.
- Lyle V. Harris, for the editorial board
Accuracy of Parade Article
Regarding the article from the November 4th Parade Magazine - I realize this article is already published and D:F is simply quoting from it. But the article in Parade Magazine has a few points which need clarifying, which I think we (D:F) should clarify:
a) The quote: Critics of federal funding for Amtrak argue that, since it was created by Congress in 1970, the railroad has never turned a profit.
Neither have highways. Can anyone point to a single interstate highway anywhere in the USA that makes / turned a profit? As Jim RePass has pointed out, the subsidies to highways in the USA total to many billions (maybe in the hundreds of billions) over the past four or five decades. There are highways (toll roads) in other countries that make a profit: expressways in France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Australia, as examples.
b) Trains use one-fifth less energy than cars or planes.
Actually trains use far less energy than that. Here in Europe the number typically used (and backed-up with engineering studies and statistics) is that trains consume between 35% and 45% energy of what passenger cars, SUVs and passenger planes consume. To re-phrase that in the exact format as used in the Parade article, it should then read: Trains use three-fifths less energy than cars or planes.
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