Vol. 8 No. 47
November 26, 2007

Copyright © 2007
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

This page is best viewed at
1024 X 768 screen resolution


A weekly North American transportation update

The E-Zine of the National Corridors Initiative Inc.

Publisher - James P. RePass
Editor - Molly McKay
European Correspondent - David Beale
Webmaster - Dennis Kirkpatrick

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

IN THIS EDITION...  In this edition...

  January Conference…
  News Items…
World’s Most Powerful Single-engine Diesel Set for Rails
  Commuter lines…
2nd Avenue Subway Gets Infusion of Money from Feds
  Environmental lines…
New Jersey Transit Invests in Solar
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Labor lines…
Amtrak Unions, Management Square Off After Mediation
   Fails to Bring Agreement
  End notes…


January 28-29, 2008

Carmichael Conference On The Future of American Transportation

For All North American Transportation Advocates and Leaders

St. Louis Hyatt Regency Hotel, St. Louis, Mo.

Click Here For Details And To Register


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

Our top story this week comes from “Across the pond


World’s Most Powerful Single-engine
Diesel Set for Rails

By David Beale, NCI foreign correspondent


Order Book Still Slim for Voith Maxima

VELIM, CZECH REPUBLIC (dpa) - The world’s most powerful single-engine diesel locomotive is undergoing final testing before being licensed for cross-border traffic across Europe.

The modern and angular looking Voith Maxima 40 CC has a power rating of 3,600 kilowatts, or almost 5,000 horsepower. It uses an automatic hydraulic transmission for coupling the engine to the drive wheels, unlike competing diesel locomotives offered by EMD; Bombardier, Siemens and Alstom, which employ a traction generator coupled to AC asynchronous drive motors via an electronic propulsion control unit.

Voith Maxima at InnoTrans 2006 in Berlin, Germany

Photo: David Beale

Voith Maxima at InnoTrans 2006 in Berlin, Germany

Designed and built in the northern German port city of Kiel by the Voith Turbo company, a subsidiary of the traditional family-owned Voith corporation in the south-western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the new engine has gone from drawing board to prototype in record time. A prototype of the locomotive was displayed at the InnoTrans rail transportation convention in Berlin during Sept. 2006.

The Kiel-based subsidiary was founded in early 2005, just weeks after the decision was taken to build the engine. By March next year, just three years later, the Maxima is expected to be licensed for operation.

The silver-and-blue engine is undergoing final testing at the Velim Test Centre near Podebrady in the Czech Republic, a facility devoted entirely to testing trains.

By locomotive standards, the Maxima is not particularly large. Bombardier’s Kiruna, which pulls iron ore trains from Kiruna in Sweden to the Norwegian port of Narvik, puts out 13,000 horsepower.

But the Kiruna is an electric locomotive, while the Maxima’s selling point is its diesel engine, which facilitates cross-border operation, particularly in Eastern Europe, where electricity standards are not uniform.

After licensing in Germany early next year, Voith plans to have its new engine approved in the Netherlands in the summer. Applications are also pending in Belgium, Scandinavia and Poland.

The company has taken orders for 15 engines and expects that figure to rise to 100 by 2011, despite a price tag of EUR 3.3 million (US $4.8 million).

At Velim, the locomotive has undergone strenuous testing. A form totaling some 11,000 pages has to be filled out.

“Building the engine is the easy part. Getting an engine licensed in Europe is much harder,” says Voith Turbo technical manager Hinrich Krey.

Marketing manager Manfred Lerch is optimistic on the Maxima’s commercial future. “The market is big,” Lerch believes, with rail goods traffic on the rise across Europe.

Return to index
COMMUTER LINES...  Commuter Lines...

2nd Avenue Subway Gets Infusion of Money from Feds

DF Staff from Internet Sources, New York Times, New York Magazine

A new subway line on the east side, a plan that has been on the drawing board since 1920, the year Babe Ruth hit his first home run for the Yankees, took a giant step forward last week when the federal government announced its support for the first phase of the project.

“The long-dreamed-of Second Avenue subway [took] another important step toward becoming a real thing of concrete and steel today,” wrotes NYT reporter William Neuman, “as the federal government plans to announce that it has formally approved $1.3 billion in financing for the project’s first phase.”

“Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said in an interview that the money would be paid out over the next seven years as construction progresses on the subway’s first leg, which will have stops on Second Avenue at 92nd, 86th and 72nd Streets and at 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue.”

“She said the financing for the Second Avenue subway would be the second-largest federal expenditure ever on a single mass transit project. The largest is for construction of a Long Island RailRoad link to Grand Central Terminal, which is also under way.”

The Second Avenue Subway has been called “the greatest New York project never built. Beloved, believed in, glimpsed fleetingly only to disappear again for decades, the Second Avenue subway has long seemed to be New York City’s version of the Loch Ness monster.” (New York Magazine, April 5, 2004.)

Second Ave Subway Construction

Construction starts

Second Ave Subway Construction

Three Photos: MTA

Second Ave Subway Construction

Artist Drawing of sample station.


In 1920 a massive subway expansion was envisioned starting with the IND, the trains that now run under Sixth and Eighth avenues. But the Second Avenue subway was derailed by the Great Depression and, despite a number of vigorous efforts to revive it, little progress was made until a few years ago. In 2004, then MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow committed to the project and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose district is on the Lower East Side, said he was ready to support the plan even if the first phase starts Uptown. “I am flexible on doing stages as long as there’s the understanding that we’ll ultimately do a full build,” he said.

Silver’s support removed a huge political obstacle. Also, with consensus emerging from other political leaders and civic groups (the Straphangers Campaign, the Regional Plan Association) on how and where to start it, this embattled 84-year-long plan was about to move forward.

“We can really build it in our lifetime,” says Mysore Nagaraja, the MTA’s chief engineer charged with overseeing construction. Nagaraja, a slight, bespectacled man with the calming presence of a pediatrician, often hears colleagues joke that he should take a long look at the sun now, because he may spend the next decade or so underground. “You may have a dream, but is it realistic?” Nagaraja wonders aloud. “This is realistic. It’s really buildable.”

Why build it:

One need only to ride the Lexington Avenue subway on a weekday, the one and only East Side train ever since the Third Avenue El came down in the mid-fifties. On any given weekday, the Lex carries 1.5 million passengers, more daily riders than the metro systems in Washington, D.C., Boston, and Chicago—combined. The new service will have close proximity to Metro North at 125th Street, will travel down Second Avenue and then fork at 65th Street where branches will connect with other lines while the main stem will continue down Second Avenue to the financial district.

The cost of the entire four-phase project, which back in 2004 was slated to be completed by 2020 (although there is no schedule for the other three phases at this time) will be more than $17 billion. The plan calls for 16 new stations and 28 sophisticated new trains that can travel closer together, thus easing congestion even further.

Construction details: (New York Magazine, April 5, 2004)

“The first leg will likely require the drilling of a shaft some seven stories deep into Manhattan at 96th Street and Second Avenue. Then a monstrous tunnel-boring machine—nicknamed “the Mole” by tunnel pros—would be lowered to the bottom. The Mole will inch forward, its spinning blades dislodging chunks of prehistoric bedrock—1.5 million cubic yards of it in phase one—after which the tunnel will be shored up with concrete lining.”

“The Mole is a technological breakthrough. It enables tunneling to go on far beneath the surface with little impact aboveground, unlike the old “cut and cover” technique, which tore up streets. “We can tunnel without disturbing buildings,” says Nagaraja. “People in the buildings won’t even feel it.”

Description: (New York Magazine, April 5, 2004)

The Second Avenue Subway project will include a two-track line along Second Avenue from 125th Street to the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. It will also include a connection from Second Avenue through the 63rd Street tunnel to existing tracks for service to West Midtown and Brooklyn. Sixteen new ADA accessible stations will be constructed.

This service will reduce overcrowding and delays on the Lexington Avenue line, improving travel for both city and suburban commuters, and provide better access to mass transit for residents of the far East Side of Manhattan. Stations will have a combination of escalators, stairs, and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, elevator connections from street-level to station mezzanine and from mezzanine to platforms.

Under the current plan, the project will be built in four phases. Phase One will include tunnels from 105th Street and Second Avenue to 63rd Street and Third Avenue, with new stations along Second Avenue at 96th, 86th and 72nd Streets and new entrances to the existing Lexington Av/63 Street Station at 63rd Street and Third Avenue.

The first construction contract involves the construction of new tunnels between 92nd and 63rd Streets, the excavation of the launch box for the tunnel boring (TBM) machine at just south of 92nd to 95th Streets, and access shafts at 69th and 72nd Streets. These shafts will be excavated toward the end of contract One and be used for the subsequent construction of the 72nd Street station. Contract One is expected take 40 months to complete.

Second Ave Subway Phasing Plan Map

Photo: MTA

SAS Phasing Plan

Phase One subway service, which is projected to carry over 200,000 weekday riders, will be an extension of the existing service in Manhattan. Service will operate along Second Avenue from 96th Street to 63rd Street, where it will divert west along the existing 63rd Street line, stopping at the Lexington Avenue/63rd Street Station, where riders will be able to transfer to the line. It will then continue west under Central Park on tracks that are currently not being used for passenger service and then head south to the existing 57th Street/7th Avenue Station, which is where the northbound service now terminates.

The first phase is estimated to cost $4 billion and is scheduled to open in 2014. Most of the additional money over and above the federal share will be raised by the sale of bonds.

This project has been a dream for decades for political leaders and commuters. In the 1970’s, a few isolated sections of tunnel were built but were covered over and abandoned when the city ran out of money.

Return to index
ENVIRONMENTAL LINES...  Environmental Lines...

New Jersey Transit Invests in Solar

Solar Panels will provide power at major NJ Transit Facility

From Railway Age News Briefs

NEWARK, NOVEMBER 19 — New Jersey Transit goes solar. At its locomotive and railroad car maintenance facility in Kearny, a vast 78-acre facility, the transit authority will create one of the largest solar-powered installations in the state, providing renewable-source electricity for a portion of their total needs.

The system is expected to reduce the transit authority’s utility bills by $90,000 per year and will promote New Jersey’s clean air and energy policy goals. There won’t be a need for up-front capital funding – a $1.57 million New Jersey Board of Public Utilities rebate will support construction costs.

“Consistent with Governor Corzine’s mandate, we are actively looking for new ways to benefit the environment, from new buses with the latest emission-control technology to this solar-power system that reduces dependence on fossil fuel,” said NJ Transit chairman and Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri.

“This project is not only good for the environment, but it’s good for NJ Transit’s budget,” said Executive Director Richard Sarles. “We anticipate $2.3 million in savings over 25 years on our electric bills because the price we’ll pay for the solar power is significantly lower than what we pay for commercial power. This project gives our customers another reason to feel good about choosing NJ Transit.”

Alternity Power, a division of Conti Group of South Plainfield, will install a photovoltaic solar-power system on the roof of a Meadows Maintenance Complex (MMC) building. The company will also operate and maintain the system for 20 years.

The 700kW direct-current power plant will produce about 800,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, or about five percent of the power needs at the MMC. All the solar power will be used on-site, eliminating the need for battery storage systems or sale of excess energy to the local utility.

NJ Transit will purchase the power generated by the solar panels for $.01 per kWh with an annual 2 percent inflation adjustment, or about one-twelfth the current rate. The savings amounts to about $90,000 per year for the life of the contract and about $100,000 per year for another five years, which brings the rooftop system to the end of its anticipated 25-year useful lifespan.

The solar system is expected to be completed in the summer of 2008.

About NJ Transit

NJ Transit is the nation’s largest statewide public transportation system, providing nearly 865,000 weekday trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 162 rail stations, 60 light rail stations and more than 18,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.

Return to index
STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)82.4585.82
Canadian National (CNI)46.6848.48
Canadian Pacific (CP)61.1064.29
CSX (CSX)41.3143.24
Florida East Coast (FLA)62.5162.51
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)24.8125.61
Kansas City Southern (KSU)33.0833.71
Norfolk Southern (NSC)49.5550.44
Providence & Worcester (PWX)18.0018.01
Union Pacific (UNP)124.68126.48

Return to index

LABOR LINES...  Labor Lines...

Amtrak Unions, Management Square Off After
Mediation Fails to Bring Agreement

DF Staff and Internet Sources
[Mid-Atlantic States Labor among others ]

NOVEMBER 20 – Amtrak unions – there are 13 of them - have been in contract talks or mediation for seven years. The parties have been in and out of mediation talks throughout this period with little progress: Amtrak workers are still working without a contract, but their old agreements are still in place.

Sticking points of disagreement include proposed work rule changes and back pay.

Back in October, Amtrak unions representing about 7,000 workers rejected arbitration after contract talks with the National Mediation Board had become fruitless. The Board released Amtrak and eight unions from statutory mediation, and the parties began a 30-day cooling-off period on Nov. 1. At that time, the Transportation Communications Union (TCU) said a strike was unlikely after the 30-day period, but it was preparing to seek permission from its members to call one if necessary.

What is likely, the union said, is for the president to create a special panel – a Presidential Emergency Board – in late November to try to facilitate a contract. If no agreement is reached from that effort, a strike could be called early next year.

The other possibility in such a circumstance is for Congress to intervene to legislate contract terms.

Last week, TCU announced that its members would support a proposed strike against Amtrak if a Presidential Emergency Board is not appointed before the Dec. 1.

The unions are bound by the Railway Labor Act, the federal law that governs rail and airline contract negotiations and goes a long way to avert any possibility of a strike.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton invoked the Act to postpone for 60 days a possible nationwide strike against Amtrak. The President created a three-member presidential emergency board to investigate and try to help resolve the dispute between Amtrak and its workers. Talks had broken down and the unions had rejected the offer by the National Mediation Board of binding arbitration.

Today, the escalating labor problems come as Amtrak continues to turn around its business with stronger ridership and revenues.

In 1992, the White House intervened to facilitate a contract between Amtrak and several unions. In 1997, Congress imposed terms on one union.

During the Bush administration, the White House has intervened to stop or prevent strikes at several airlines, but has not faced a similar situation at Amtrak.

About TCU

The Transportation Communications International Union or TCU is the successor to the union formerly known as the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks and includes within it many other organizations, including the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen of America and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters that have merged with it since 1969.

Return to index
NEWS ITEMS...  End notes...

Web addresses 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 presentation. NCI has no control over the policies of other web sites and regrets any inconvenience experienced when clicking off our pages.

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. M. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

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

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

Journalists and others who wish to receive high quality NCI-originated images by Leo King and other photo journalists should contact our webmaster@nationalcorridors.org for additional information.

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, governor’s offices, and transportation professionals – as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. If you have a favorite link, please send the uniform resource locator address (URL) our webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

|| Home Page || Destination: Freedom Past Editions || Contact Us || Article Index || Top of Page

This edition has been read by || || people since date of release.

Copyright © 2007, National Corridors Initiative, Inc.