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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November 24, 2008
Vol. 9 No. 49

Copyright © 2008
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

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

  News Items…
Court Setback For CN Rail In Deal For US Steel’s EJ&E
Obama Transportation Transition Team Named
  Safety Lines…
Four Hurt In Metrolink/Freight Train Collision
  Commuter Lines…
MoDOT Announces ‘Name The Train’ Contest For
    Cross-State Amtrak Service
St. Louis Opens New Station
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Business Lines…
Staten Island Railroad To Have Dedicated Intermodal Service
  Commentary…
New Jersey Transit’s “ARC” Tunnel Project:
    The Myth Of The “One-Seat Ride”
  Webmaster Notes…
  Publication Notes …


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

Court Setback For CN Rail
In Deal For US Steel’s EJ&E

From Reuters, The Internet And By DF Staff

VANCOUVER, BC --- A U.S. court has rejected a plea by Canadian National, the large Class I Canadian railroad, that it order the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to rule on its proposed $300 million acquisition of Chicago-land’s Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad, before the end of the year, when CN’s tentative agreement to buy the railway from United States Steel Corp expires, Reuters reported this past week

CN said it still hopes regulators will approve the plan. “While CN is disappointed with the court’s decision, we remain committed to the EJ&E acquisition and we see no reason why the STB cannot rule on the transaction quickly to permit it to close by yearend,” Reuters quoted CN Chief Executive Hunter Harrison said.

Canadian National, once an also-ran among North American railroads, has been aggressively re-tooled since its sale by the Canadian government to private sector investors in the mid 1990’s, and is now regarded among the best-run of the Class I’s (large freight railroads). It operates over more than 20,000 miles of track in the U.S. and Canada, including the former Illinois Central in the United States, home to the famed “City of New Orleans” which contrary to the hit song has seen increasing, not declining, ridership, under Amtrak, which operates the train from Chicago to New Orleans primarily over IC track.

CN’s interest in the US Steel subsidiary railroad is to work around severe freight congestion in Chicago that causes costly, lengthy shipping delays for any freight that has to move through the city. Despite attempts at improvements, scores of at-grade crossings make shipment through Chicago problematic

Reuters reports that the purchase, announced in September 2007, “…has run into opposition in some wealthy communities west of Chicago that the EJ&E runs through. Critics say the increased train traffic will cause safety problems at highway grade crossings and reduce property values.”

A lengthy environmental review of the project ordered by the STB is not expected to be completed until early next year, and US Steel has refused to extend the deadline for closing the transaction.

CN accuses critics of having not-in-my-backyard syndrome, and says the deal will benefit the overall Chicago area by decreasing freight train traffic in twice the number of communities as those that will see increases, but has been working with communities to develop mitigation strategies for the increased traffic that will result in some towns if the sale goes through.

“The fight is being closely watched by the railway industry, which is under pressure to increase capacity to meet rising freight demand nationally but which is worried that projects designed to increase capacity will be stopped because of local political concerns,” Reuters reporter Allan Dowd, and editor Peter Galloway noted.

CN Chief E. Hunter Harrison has won high praise for his “Precision Railroading” vision, which has helped turn around a once-sluggish state-owned railroad, but not without controversy. Rail unions have criticized the CN’s more clock-like operations as compromising safety and have even walked off the job in protest over work rules changes; CN counters that its safety record has actually improved under the new management system.


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Obama Transportation Transition Team Named

By DF Staff

WASHINGTON, DC --- President-elect Barack Obama has named the leadership of his Transportation Transition Team, according to Barack Obama’s transition office as reported in the American Public Transportation Association’s Magazine Passenger Transport.

Named to lead the US DOT changeover are:

  1. Mortimer L.Downey, who served as deputy secretary of DOT for eight years under President Clinton and was an assistant secretary of DOT during the Carter administration.
  2. Jane Garvey, former administrator of the FAA under Clinton and prior to that deputy and, later, acting administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.
  3. Michael Huerta, who held various senior DOT positions under Clinton, including associate deputy secretary of transportation and chief of staff to former DOT Secretary Rodney E. Slater.

Both Mort Downey and Michael Huerta have been featured speakers at National Corridors Initiative conferences over the past two decades; Mort Downey received the first Claiborne Pell Award for Public Service from the National Corridors Initiative, after the one presented to Senator Pell himself. Mike Huerta has been a strong advocate for modernization, especially via improved intermodalism of the American transportation system.

Jane Garvey is a veteran transportation administrator with wide experience in government, and was a key transportation advisor to and administrator for to Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis.


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SAFETY LINES... Safety Lines...

Yet Another Metrolink Accident

 

Four Hurt In Metrolink/Freight Train Collision

From The Riverside CA Press-Enterprise And Internet Sources

RIALTO, CA --- Federal investigators will check for signal failures and look for human error in the sideswipe collision between a Metrolink train and a freight train that injured four people Thursday morning in Rialto, the Riverside (CA) Press-Enterpriser reported in an article by-lined by Richard Brooks, Zeke Minaya, and Paul Larocco.

In an extensive article and with a thoroughness rarely found in general assignment news stories in today’s budget-cut journalism, the paper reported, in part:

Artwork: the Riverside Press-Enterprise  

“The crash occurred roughly two months after the collision of a freight and Metrolink train in Chatsworth that killed 25 and injured 135 people. On the train Thursday was Lamarr Sonny, 23, of Los Angeles, a security guard at LA County USC Medical Center. Sitting by the window, he saw the freight train going by.”

“I thought it was going a little too fast. Then I felt a jerk. It wasn’t that intense. Sort of like a car accident when you get whiplash,” he said.

Sonny said he was on duty at the Los Angeles hospital during the Metrolink crash in Chatsworth and that he was aware how awful such accidents can be.

“I thank God I still have my life,” he said.

The left front side of Metrolink Train 306, pulling four passenger cars with 15 passengers on their way to San Bernardino, scraped the left side of the 96th car of a 102-car freight train on a siding west of Lilac Avenue, west of the Rialto station.

There were no reports of hazardous materials being spilled, a city spokeswoman said from the scene. Both trains remained upright.

Four patients, all with minor injuries, were taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, Community Hospital of San Bernardino and Loma Linda University Medical Center, officials said.

Two men taken to the San Bernardino hospital, aged 37 of Los Angeles and 42 of Fontana, were treated and released hospital spokeswoman Diane Martin said. Their names and hometowns were not disclosed.

A woman who suffered minor neck and upper-back injuries was treated and released from the Colton hospital. The condition of the fourth patient was not available.

Investigators will be interviewing the two Metrolink engineers, the engineer of the freight train and Metrolink dispatchers, among others, to determine the cause. They will also look for signal errors, said Ted Turpin, NTSB investigator in charge.

The Sept. 12 Chatsworth crash was blamed on the Metrolink train’s engineer, who had been text-messaging rail fans moments before the crash. The collision led to sweeping railroad safety law changes requiring more rest for workers and technology that can stop a train headed for a collision.

Metrolink crewmembers in Thursday’s crash will be relieved of duty until the investigation is complete, Metrolink spokesman Francisco Oaxaca said. The engineers will be tested for drugs and alcohol, although there is no indication of such use, he said.

The two engineers are contractors from Connex Railway, a subsidiary of the French company Veolia Transportation, and not Metrolink employees, Oaxaca said.

The engineer in the Chatsworth crash also was a contract employee from Veolia.

Officials with BNSF, which was operating the freight train, said its crewmembers were unhurt.

Streets Closed

North/south streets in Rialto were closed for about a mile beyond the crash site, blocked by the freight, which was unable to stop until it was nearly at Locust Avenue.

The Metrolink train sat in the dusty, industrial area near Lilac Avenue crossing. The engineer’s side window of the Metrolink train was shattered and there were horizontal green ribbons of paint, apparently from the freight train, along the left side of the Metrolink engine.

Judy Stemen, 47, of Rialto, said she was worried that an accident like Thursday’s could happen.

She has been commuting to Los Angeles for 18 months and has been concerned about how close passenger and freight trains come to one another, she said, including when the Metrolink is making its eastbound approach to the Rialto station.

For the full story see: http://www.pe.com/localnews/sbcounty/stories/PE_News_Local_S_metrolink21.426f43d.html


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...

MoDOT Announces ‘Name The Train’ Contest
For Cross-State Amtrak Service

From Internet Sources

NOVEMBER 17 - Missourians have a chance to help rename the Amtrak trains that run through Jefferson City as they travel the state between St. Louis and Kansas City.

“The ‘Name the Train’ contest will rely on train fans everywhere to first suggest, and then select, the best ‘brand-name’ for the service,” according to a state Transportation Department news release.

The contest is part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the state government’s financial support for the passenger train service.

The MoDOT release also cited the “major service improvements in the works,” including the state’s budget item paying for longer sidings on the Union Pacific tracks between Jefferson City and Kansas City.

The Name the Train contest has three phases.

The contest is open to anyone, but only Missouri residents can win a prize.

Five finalists will receive two round-trip coach tickets to any Amtrak destination in Missouri and a gift basket from one of five participating cities located on passenger rail line.

The grand-prize winner will receive two round-trip sleeping car tickets to any Amtrak destination in the U.S.

The news release noted Missouri’s cross-state passenger trains already have names, but they’re little used and unknown to most people.

One round-trip is called Missouri Service, and once was named the Ann Rutledge, a leftover from that train’s Illinois origins. The other round-trip is called the Mules.

Renaming the trains will create a single brand for the service, a practice that is common on other Amtrak corridors.

Contest rules are posted online at www.morail.org.


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St. Louis Opens New Station


Thomas R. Shrout, Jr.  

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and City Comptroller Darlene Green break ground for a long-sought multi-modal transportation center for the city; it will replace the “Amshack” station that has been used for many years since St. Louis’ magnificent Union Station was abandoned as the city’s train station. It is now a luxury hotel, plus shopping mall. Thanks to NCI Destination:Freedom reader and St. Louis transportation advocate Thomas R. Shrout, Jr., Executive Director of Citizens for Modern Transit, St. Louis, www.cmt-stl.org , for the photo.

Photo: Robert Cohen/P-D  

Passengers at the new downtown St. Louis Amtrak station cross a pedestrian bridge to a Chicago-bound train Wednesday morning. The station opened for rail passengers early Wednesday.

Photo: City of St. Louis  

For fifteen years, a multimodal station to connect Amtrak, Greyhound, Metrobus and Metrolink service has been an important concept in the overall design of our city’s transportation systems — but until recently, it has been only a concept. this vision has now become reality. The station will was in full operation for the grand opening event on November 21.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)73.2979.63
Canadian National (CNI)32.9536.93
Canadian Pacific (CP)28.6434.20
CSX (CSX)33.7038.82
Florida East Coast (FLA)62.5162.51
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)25.0029.13
Kansas City Southern (KSU)18.3122.74
Norfolk Southern (NSC)45.6851.98
Providence & Worcester (PWX)9.2512.15
Union Pacific (UNP)47.5057.27


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BUSINESS LINES... Business Lines...

Staten Island Railroad To Have Dedicated Intermodal Service

A Collaborative Effort By NYC Economic Development Corporation, The Port Authority Of NY, NJ, and CSX Railroad

From A Press Release On The Internet By
The New York City Economic Development Corporation

NEW YORK CITY - Earlier this month, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), along with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and CSX announced the introduction of dedicated intermodal train service on the Staten Island Railroad to and from the New York Container Terminal.

In 2007, Staten Island Railroad reopened after $75 million was invested for its rehabilitation, jointly funded by NYC Economic Development Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. SIRR provides service to New York Container Terminal and the Department of Sanitation’s Staten Island Transfer Facility. Since reopening, SIRR has removed more than 125,000 trucks from New York’s roadways. One intermodal train can eliminate up to 300 truck trips. Since the beginning of October, the dedicated intermodal service from CSX has taken over 5,000 trucks off the road. New York Container Terminal currently handles approximately 16 percent of the container traffic in the Greater New York harbor.

Due to the high volume of traffic on their intermodal trains, CSX decided it could offer dedicated intermodal service on the Staten Island Railroad. The service is offered daily to Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, and Detroit. On alternate days it goes to Cleveland, Ohio, East St. Louis, IL, Kansas City, MO, and Worcester, MA. Thus, it runs five days a week westbound and four days eastbound.

“CSX’s intermodal rail service to the New York Container Terminal has been great news for the entire region,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler.  “By connecting Staten Island’s container port to the national rail network, Staten Island residents and workers – as well as residents throughout New York City – are now enjoying the benefit of 45,000 fewer truck trips on their streets each year.  That means 45,000 fewer truck trips clogging local streets and bridges, and 45,000 fewer truck trips emitting carbon dioxide into the air.   As a longtime proponent of rail freight service in our region, I am proud to have been part of this project’s development.  I congratulate Mayor Bloomberg, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, CSX and the New York Container Terminal for their great efforts in revitalizing this once forgotten rail network.”

Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro said, “I am pleased that the New York Container Terminal continues to grow, and that we have been able to reduce truck traffic and pollution on Staten Island thanks to the use of the freight rail lines.”

Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said, “The success of the rail business at this port terminal is good news for the port, the motoring public and the environment.  By transporting more cargo containers from the port by rail, we’re getting trucks off the bridges and highways in this densely populated urban area, and we’re also being good environmental stewards. The rapid growth of this rail service is clear evidence that our $600 million investment in on-dock rail is paying dividends now.”

“The introduction of the dedicated Intermodal Train will help to continue to remove trucks from the streets and bridges of Staten Island allowing Islanders to travel more easily and reduce air pollution as well,” said Council Member Michael McMahon. “It will also make the New York Container Terminal more attractive to shippers and allow us to continue to expand and increase the number of good paying jobs in our area.

“CSX is proud to be a major supporter of growth at NYCT and the region’s port,” said CSX Assistant Vice President, Terminal Operations and Design, Wilby Whitt, “We are working to align with the port’s vision by investing in rail infrastructure and expanded capacity for the safe, efficient and environmentally friendly movement of goods. Together, our cooperative efforts will help realize the enormous potential of the port and the economic benefits it brings to the region and nation.”

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Stewart International and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge and Bus Station; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit system; the Port Authority-Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.

The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.

CSX Corporation, based in Jacksonville, Fla., is a leading transportation company providing rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services. The company’s transportation network spans approximately 21,000 miles with service to 23 eastern states and the District of Columbia, and connects to more than 70 ocean, river and lake ports. More information about CSX Corporation and its subsidiaries is available at the Company’s web site, www.csx.com.


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...

New Jersey Transit’s “ARC” Tunnel Project:
The Myth Of The “One-Seat Ride”

Eighth In A Series

By David Peter Alan

Every time New Jersey Transit touts the alleged benefits of its proposed new tunnel under the Hudson River to Manhattan and the proposed deep-cavern terminal in which it would end, one feature stands out in all of NJT’s pronouncements. That is the expansion of availability of a “one-seat ride” to Midtown Manhattan for riders who must now change trains to get there. This appears to be NJT’s Holy Grail, the Core Benefit Proposal which purportedly justifies the capacity expansion that NJT also promotes as necessary. Indeed, the promised capacity expansion is merely the means to an end. The “one-seat ride” is held to be the end itself.

On the surface, it is not easy to dispute the desirability of a one-seat ride. Every motorist in an automobile can go from origin to destination without changing vehicles. On the rail side, the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition was formed in 1998 to advocate for a one-seat ride to Penn Station (New York, not Newark) for riders on the Raritan Valley Line. Our colleague Joseph M. Clift has told us that his commuters expressed a preference for a one-seat ride over a cross-platform transfer at Jamaica when he was Director of Strategic Planning for the Long Island Rail Road in the 1980s.

This simplistic view of the one-seat ride does not tell the whole story, however. Nor does it account for the cost per rider for providing such convenience.

Everybody who gets onto a train (or a bus, streetcar or light rail vehicle, for that matter) gets a one-seat ride. That ride goes as far as the vehicle is going. If the rider wants to go somewhere else, a transfer is required. NJT’s Raritan Valley Line (the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey) offers a one-seat ride to Penn Station, Newark; riders bound for New York City must change trains at Newark. Midtown-bound riders on the RVL are still disgruntled about having to wait for a connecting train at Newark, but it is doubtful that NJT’s new plan to provide a “one-seat ride” to that part of the city will save them any time. This is also true for all of NJT’s other rail lines.

The proposed NJT plan concerns only a “one-seat ride” to the Southwestern corner of Midtown. Riders bound for points south of there must change at Newark or Hoboken for PATH trains to the downtown Financial District or to points in or near the Village. These riders will still need to use PATH to get to their destinations (a two-seat ride), in any event.

NJT has promised that the proposed project will deliver one-seat access to Midtown Manhattan at a new terminal, to be located 175 feet (nearly 20 stories) below 34th Street, on the West Side of Midtown. This promise applies to the Raritan Valley Line, as well as the Main-Bergen and Pascack Valley Lines, which currently terminate at Hoboken. Currently, Main-Bergen and Pascack Valley Line riders who are going to Midtown must transfer to a New York-bound train at Secaucus Station, unless they wish to use the traditional option of going to Hoboken and taking a PATH train to 33d Street. According to NJT timetables, the Secaucus transfer is scheduled to take seven minutes. This time could be reduced with minor station improvements at Secaucus, which are NOT part of the NJT plan.

At the present time, all riders on the Northeast Corridor Line (NEC) traveling from as far south as Trenton enjoy one-seat access to the existing Penn Station. So do riders on the North Jersey Coast Line (NJCL) from points as far away as Long Branch who board electric trains that go to Penn Station. Riders going to or from points south of Long Branch must change trains at Long Branch or Newark to get to New York, since the southern part of the NJCL is not electrically powered. Under the current NJT “ARC” proposal, this situation will not change for NEC Line riders or for those on the NJCL who take trains that originate at Long Branch or points north of there. Riders boarding trains that originate at Bay Head (the end of the line, south of Long Branch) will be given a one-seat ride to Manhattan for the first time, but they will be taken to the proposed deep cavern terminal instead of the existing Penn Station.

Riders on the Morris & Essex (M&E) Line now have a choice of a one-seat ride to the traditional terminal at Hoboken or to Penn Station on Midtown Direct trains, although a one-seat ride is no longer available to Hoboken on weekends or from Morris County stations at off-peak hours on weekdays (with a few exceptions). Since Midtown Direct service began in 1996, M&E trains have taken thousands of daily riders to the existing Penn Station. Some Montclair trains (on the Montclair-Boonton Line) go directly to and from Penn Station, as do a few Gladstone trains during weekday peak commuting hours. Under the proposed plan, this one-seat access to the existing Penn Station will end. Instead, all M&E and Montclair-Boonton Line trains will go to the proposed deep-cavern terminal, far below 34th Street. There will still be one-seat access to a location in Midtown Manhattan, but not to the place where connections to subways, Amtrak, the LIRR and other NJT trains are conveniently available.

All of this raises the question of what one-seat access really means. To a motorist who commutes by automobile, it means a one-seat ride from home to the office (or other destination). Common sense dictates that it should mean the same thing to the rail commuter. A one-seat ride means boarding a train near home and getting off that train at a location within walking distance of the office. At a meeting of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority earlier this month, our colleague Gary Johnson speculated on the worst-case scenario: “Alaska has its Bridge to Nowhere; New Jersey Transit will have its tunnel to the Land Down Under.” Clearly, he was not talking about Australia. Realistically, the travel time to the street from a station platform located 175 feet below street level must be considered as part of the travel time required to reach a rider’s office or other destination.

Does the NJT plan actually provide a one-seat ride for most commuters to their offices? Simply stated, the answer is NO. Before 2003, when NJT was promoting the “ARC” Project as actually providing “Access to the Region’s Core,” its spokesman claimed that 70% of Midtown offices were located within walking distance of Grand Central Terminal, while only 36% of offices were located a similar distance from Penn Station. With the new changes in the project, access to the East Side is now effectively precluded. That means no rail rider in New Jersey will have a one-seat ride to the office if that office is located on the East Side. Indeed, even getting from Penn Station to the East Side is seldom a one-seat ride. The #4 bus goes from Penn Station up Madison Avenue and back down Fifth Avenue. The “E” train goes from Penn Station to 53d Street and Lexington Avenue. Commuters whose offices are not at those locations must endure a two-seat ride once they reach Penn Station, in addition to their commute on NJT. This often means taking the West Side IRT Line (#1,2 or 3 subways) to Times Square and then the Shuttle or Flushing Line (#7 subway) to Grand Central.

For commuters going to offices on the West Side, the existing Penn Station is near street level (the tracks are 38 feet below). Going to the new deep-cavern terminal will add 137 feet of vertical climb (about 16 stories) to a New Jersey rider’s commute. According to NJT, it should take seven minutes to traverse this distance. This means that everybody’s commute will be lengthened, even to locations on the West Side, within walking distance of Penn Station. It should be noted for comparison that the “A” and “D” subway trains travel non-stop between 59th Street and 125th Street in less time than that. For NJT’s riders, the added commute time amounts to 14 minutes per day, 70 minutes per week and 3500 minutes (that’s 58 hours and 40 minutes) in a 250-day work year. That’s nearly 1.5 work weeks, just to go between the train platform and the street. This is NJT’s idea of the convenience of a “one-seat” ride.

We do not see how any commuters will get to their offices any faster under the proposed NJT plan than they do now. The only riders who will not be inconvenienced will be those on the NEC (Trenton) Line and the northern portion of the NJCL. Everyone who now enjoys direct access to Penn Station on the M&E, Gladstone or Montclair Lines will lose that access under the NJT plan. They will be forced to spend the additional seven minutes each way to travel between platform and street levels. Once they reach 34th Street, they will have the same two-seat ride on the subway to the East Side that they have now. If they can now take the “E” train on Eighth Avenue to 53d Street and Lexington Avenue, they can use the “F” train on Sixth Avenue, instead. If they work on the West Side, they will just have a longer walk to their offices. Even with a “one-seat ride” to somewhere on the West Side, their overall commuting time will increase.

Riders on the Main-Bergen and Pascack Valley Lines will have direct service to the proposed deep-cavern terminal under the proposed plan. Today, they transfer at Secaucus Junction for a train to Penn Station, since trains on these lines terminate at Hoboken. NJT now schedules seven minutes for a transfer between trains at Secaucus, which requires going up two levels, through a fare gate and down one level to get a New York-bound train. With the seven minutes required to get from the platform of the deep-cavern terminal to the street, riders lose the seven minutes they saved by not changing trains at Secaucus. On top of that, the plan calls for these trains to make a time-consuming loop around Secaucus Station and then stop there, anyway. So, in the long run, a rider’s travel time to 34th Street will actually increase compared to current commuting time. To add insult to injury, NJT could modify Secaucus Station to speed transfers between trains bound for Hoboken and those bound for Penn Station. This is the sort of near-term improvement that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) wants proposed, to facilitate judging the cost-effectiveness of a project as a “baseline” alternative. Of course, there has never been such a proposal for Secaucus. If there were, it would demonstrate the questionable value of the current NJT plan.

On the Raritan Valley Line, the plan also calls for bringing trains directly into the deep cavern terminal, thereby eliminating the need to change trains at Penn Station, Newark. If the RVL were electrified, trains could run directly into the existing Penn Station. Unfortunately, because of the use of double-stack trailers for freight movement on part of the line, it seems impracticable to expect that such electrification will ever be installed. The transfer time at Newark is also scheduled for seven minutes on the RVL. So, again, the seven minutes commuters save by not changing trains at Newark is used up in getting from platform level of the deep cavern terminal to street level.

To add insult to injury for RVL riders, NJT could have strengthened and extended existing third-rail electrification that currently extends to the portal of the tunnel that leads to the existing Penn Station. It would only need to be extended a short distance to allow NJT to use the type of dual-mode diesel/third rail locomotives now in standard use on the LIRR. This solution could have provided one-seat access from the RVL to the existing Penn Station at a relatively low cost for the past nine years, since these engines were first used on the LIRR. Indeed, the original Penn Station electrification project of 1901-1910 included third rail over the entire nine miles from Penn Station to the legendary Manhattan Transfer at Harrison, where the electric engines that hauled the trains from Manhattan to the Meadowlands were exchanged for steam locomotives. If the third rail were restored and dual-mode locomotives assigned to the trains, all RVL riders could have a one-seat ride to Midtown Manhattan without NJT incurring the cost of developing an entirely new type of dual-mode locomotive.

Of course, NJT does not mention this inexpensive solution to a long-term problem, and the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition does not want to know about it, either. A third-rail extension would have solved a problem that NJT touts to vex RVL commuters as part of its strategy, to demonstrate the alleged necessity for its project. Neither does the RVRC want to acknowledge that the goal which drives its very existence could have been achieved years ago.

Worst of all, the cost of the entire project has just gone up by $1.1 billion. This amount was approved by the NJTPA on November 10th. We are aware that $3 billion could be saved by avoiding the deep-cavern terminal and bringing the new tracks into the existing Penn Station. Even amortized over time, the cost per rider of building the deep cavern station is enormous. The new facility will never be needed at off-peak hours, its necessity at peak commuting hours is highly questionable, and it cannot connect with Amtrak’s NEC Line as it is currently proposed.

It is understandable that NJT never talks about the cost-effectiveness of their proposed project. From the point of view of the convenience of rail riders, it cannot possibly be justified. Projected costs for the project have skyrocketed over the past several years, and the scope of project has been cut back to keep the escalating price somewhat under control. Still, these efforts have failed, and the projected cost of a project that will deny NJT riders easy access to the East Side is now nearly three and one-half times the original projected cost of the original version of the project that would have gotten them there.

The next article in this series will focus on the spiraling cost of the proposed project.


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WEBMASTER NOTES... Webmaster Notes...

The Staff of Destination:Freedom would like to wish everyone wishes for a joyous Thanksgiving celebration. It is at times such as this in our history that we need to reflect on what we have to be thankful for.

Each year during the holiday season, the staff of Destination: Freedom takes a break from news production in order to be with family and friends. This year will be no exception.

The December 15, 2008 edition will be our last full edition for calendar 2008. This will allow us time off in the following two week period. Our full newsletter will resume on January 5, 2009.

However, as history has shown us, transportation news never takes a rest, and so we leave the door open for possible light editions or breaking news releases during our down time. We therefore invite the readership to stop back periodically to check in with us.

On behalf of Destination: Freedom, we bid you, Peace!

- Dennis K. NCI Webmaster


Best wishes to all of our American readers. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
From NCI Foreign Correspondent, David Beale.


Photo: David Beale

Winter of 2008-09 arrives in Germany - snow in the forecast for the next few days as mostly Protestant northern Germany commemorates the week of Repentance and Prayer Day, the final week of the year before Advent and the Christmas season start.  A set of Bombardier multi-level coaches and a 111 series electric locomotive operating as RE 14206 leave Haste and cross snow-covered farm fields on the way to Bielefeld, Germany on the 22nd of November 2008.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2008 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

Web page links as reproduced in our articles are active at the time we go to press. Occasionally, news and information outlets may opt to archive these articles and notices under alternative web addresses after initial publication. NCI has no control over the policies of other web sites and regrets any inconvenience experienced when clicking off our web site.

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the editor at editor@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

Photo submissions are welcome. NCI is always interested in images that demonstrate the positive aspects of rail, transit, intermodalism, transportation-oriented development, and current newsworthy events associated with our mission. Please contact the webmaster in advance of sending large images so we can recommend attachment by e-mail or grant direct file transfer protocols (FTP) access depending on size. Descriptive text which includes location and something about the content of the image is required. We will credit the photographer and offer a return link to your web site or e-mail address.

In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other transportation initiative sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives – state DOTs, legislators, government offices, and transportation organizations or professionals – as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. If you have a favorite link, please send the web address (URL) to our webmaster.

Destination Freedom is partially funded by the Surdna Foundation, and other contributors.

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