The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.

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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December 1, 2008
Vol. 9 No. 50

Copyright © 2008
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

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

  News Items…
FRA’s Boardman Named Amtrak Chief
GAO Report to Congress: Freight Mobility is Critical
  Across The Pond…
China Announces Massive Railroad Network Expansion
Deutsche Bahn Chooses ICE-3 Again
  Selected Rail Stocks…
A Green Deal For Transportation
It’s Time To Change Inauguration Day
  Special Editorial…
Terrorists Declare War On Mumbai – And On All Of Us
  Publication Notes …

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

FRA’s Boardman Named Amtrak Chief

From Internet Sources

WASHINGTON --- Federal railroad Administration Administrator Joseph Boardman has been named President & CEO of Amtrak, succeeding Alex Kummant who resigned this past week, the Amtrak Board has announced. Kummant, a former railroad executive, was named to the job in September 2006

Boardman, former head of the New York State Department of Transportation, has headed the FRA since 2004.

In a letter released just before Thanksgiving Day to employees, he introduced himself as someone more comfortable in the field than in an office:

“First off, I’d like to thank Bill Crosbie for stepping in as acting president and chief executive officer during the brief interim period - he is a selfless leader and I look forward to working with him very closely in his role as chief operating officer.

“Many of you may not know me, but I know you. What I mean is that over the course of more than a decade, I have had the opportunity to work with Amtrak in a number of capacities, the most recent of which was as administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s designee on Amtrak’s board of directors. What you will come to know about me is that I am more comfortable in the field than I am behind the desk. I will be traveling the system and getting to know you personally on your trains, at your stations, and at your facilities.”

In a strong statement of support to employees, Boardman also said that “…a national - interconnected - intercity passenger rail service is critically important for the mobility and energy independence of the United States. I am personally committed to excellence in safety, being more energy-efficient, and establishing an environment where the contributions and innovations of the men and women of Amtrak will combine to build a first-class intercity passenger railroad that all Americans can be both proud of and connected to. That’s why I believe in Amtrak.”

Boardman’s appointment is for one year, but he has stated he will be an applicant for the job when Amtrak’s new board of directors, created by the passage of Amtrak enabling legislation this year, comes to power in 2009, and begins its own search.

Amtrak’s current Board chair is Donna McLean.

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Joseph Boardman, Amtrak

Joseph Boardman


GAO Report to Congress:
Freight Mobility is Critical

By DF Staff, and from the Government Accountability Office

WASHINGTON ---- Substantial growth in trade volume, combined with the failure to significantly improve America’s basic transportation infrastructure, are combining to threaten the nation’s ability to compete and its prospects for future growth, a Government Accountability Office report has warned.

The report, which includes assessments of ongoing investigations by the Transportation Research Board’s National Cooperative Freight Research Program  1  and its own resources, was written by the GAO in response to requests by House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Cong. Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Cong. Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, who had requested the report.

“The substantial growth in trade volumes, increased congestion, and scarce and expensive real estate for freight has radically altered transport and logistics over the last 5 years,” wrote GAO Director for Physical Infrastructure Issues Phillip R. Herr. “According to DOT, congestion is a serious problem by contributing to longer and more unpredictable transit times and results in the increased cost of transporting freight. Additionally, DOT states that the transportation network’s efficiency has not kept pace at a rate commensurate with growth in travel and commerce; and solutions to congestion will likely involve a mix of investments to add new capacity, preserve existing infrastructure, and improve operational efficiency.”

The results of the research project requested by Chairmen Oberstar and DeFazio were summarized as follows by GAO:

“The NCFRP study is focused on identifying low-cost and quickly implementable approaches to address freight mobility constraints. The research group conducting the study intends to capture information on low-cost improvements that have been or are in the process of being implemented, the impact of these improvements, and any lessons learned. The information collected will be used to develop a searchable database that will allow users to find low-cost and quickly implementable solutions to their particular freight mobility issue, based on defined criteria.

The research group issued its first interim report in May 2008, which outlined the study’s scope and methodology, and plans to complete its next interim report by January 2009.

“We provided US DOT with a draft of this report for its review and comment. In response, DOT suggested technical corrections, which we incorporated into the report, as appropriate,” notes the GAO “Further, DOT noted that while the draft report addresses several practical approaches for mitigating freight congestion, it does not discuss expanding the use of waterborne transportation, or “America’s Marine Highway,” which some DOT officials believe has the potential to mitigate surface freight transportation congestion.   2  

Report Background:

“Freight movement is vital to the functioning of the national economy. DOT statistics show that the volume of freight moved on the U.S. transportation system has grown dramatically over the past few decades and is projected to increase by nearly 70 percent by 2020. According to DOT, improvements in the efficiency and reliability of freight transportation have been an engine of prosperity and competitive advantage; but, the U.S. transportation system now faces challenges that, unless addressed, may jeopardize its reliability.”

“NCFRP has initiated a research project focused on identifying low-cost and quickly implementable approaches to address freight mobility constraints. The objectives of the research are to (1) develop a standardized description of the dimensions of the nation’s freight system; (2) analyze business practices and institutional factors that influence freight system decision makers and stakeholders; (3) develop a methodology for identifying, categorizing, and evaluating quickly implementable, low-cost capital, operational, and public policy actions to enhance freight mobility; and (4) apply this methodology in a generic way to create a catalog of improvement Actions,” GAO reported.

“According to the lead researcher of the project, the research group is working to define the terms ‘low-cost’ and ‘quickly implementable’ as they relate to specific modes of transportation. The research group has preliminarily defined a ‘low-cost’ and ‘quickly implementable’ improvement as an action can be implemented within a short period without extended disruption of traffic flow.

The research group has defined the scope of its work and the entities to be interviewed. It has developed an interview list and guide, defined research parameters by mode (e.g., rail or ports), and determined freight mobility constraints for each mode. The research group intends to interview representatives from trucking, class I and short line railroads, deepwater and river ports, logistics industry associations, freight forwarder and package express shippers, federal and state transportation agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, and labor unions. To supplement information gathered through the interviews, the research group plans to conduct a comprehensive review of project reports and published technical literature to derive information on implemented, low-cost improvement actions directed at addressing freight mobility constraints,” said GAO.

“Through the interviews and literature searches, the group expects to capture information on low-cost improvement actions that have been implemented or are currently being implemented, what costs were associated with these actions, what impact the improvement action had, and any lessons learned. All the information collected will be used to develop a database that will allow users to find low-cost and quickly implementable solutions to their particular freight mobility issue based on defined criteria.

The goal is to document each type of improvement action by mode, size, and applicability of the improvement action. The research group issued its first interim report in May 2008, which outlines the study’s scope and methodology, and plans to complete its next interim report by January 2009.”


Increase the efficient use of existing infrastructure.

Add new capacity to the transportation network, such as building new facilities, roads, and bridges.


Details of the above-mentioned activities:




  1. The National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) was authorized in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), is sponsored by the US Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) and managed by the National Academies’ Transportation Research Board (TRB), with program governance provided by an Oversight Committee including a representative cross section of freight stakeholders. A contract to begin work on the NCFRP has been executed between RITA and the National Academies and became effective on September 6, 2006.

  2. At a recent freight mobility symposium held in New Orleans, put together by LA DOT Secretary William Ankner and supported by Gov. Bobby Jindal, a number of participants noted that the U.S. has “vast, underutilized” water borne transportation options.

  3. Truck container chassis are the flat trailer beds that cargo containers are loaded onto when being transported by truck.

  4. The Virginia Port Authority owns Norfolk International Terminals, Newport News Marine Terminal, Portsmouth Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port, in Front Royal; combined, these four facilities make up the Port of Virginia.

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

From David Beale, NCI Foreign Correspondent


China Announces Massive Railroad Network Expansion

Beijing Says Rail Projects Could Create 6 Million New Jobs

Story by Martin Zhou – South China Morning Post

BEIJING - – A planned RMB 700 billion (US $102 billion) railway construction boom next year could create 6 million new jobs, according to statements from senior management in the Chinese Ministry of Railways (MOR). The latest planned investments mark a significant upward tick in the already impressive expansion and renewal of the Chinese rail network over the past eight years.

Beijing is considering raising RMB 100 billion through special railway construction bonds to fund the ambitious scheme, which is a part of the Chinese government’s recently unveiled economic stimulus package.

Deputy Minister of Railways Lu Dong Fu did not rule out a secondary offering of shares of China Railway Group and China Railway Construction Corp., the two stock market listed companies controlled by the MOR. Mr. Lu stated: “this situation translates into a rare opportunity for China’s railway development. The ballooning global economic crisis requires decisive measures from the central government to shore-up domestic demand. Upgrading railway infrastructure would not only boost the industry but also benefit the entire economy.”

Graphical view of growth of Chinese rail system 2008.

Graphic courtesy of Chinese Ministry of Railways  

Graphical view of growth of Chinese rail system.
A first-class car of a train running on the new S2 express railway from downtown Beijing to the Badaling section of the Great Wall


A first-class car of a train running on the new S2 express railway from downtown Beijing to the Badaling section of the Great Wall on 6th August 6, 2008.
A conventional locomotive hauled passenger train passes through the city of Chenzhou in Hunan province

Photo: China MOR  

A conventional locomotive hauled passenger train passes through the city of Chenzhou in Hunan province on 13th Feb. 2008.
China Railway High-speed (CRH) train in trial operation over the Hangzhou-Shanghai route

Photo by Newsphoto China.  

China Railway High-speed (CRH) train in trial operation over the Hangzhou-Shanghai route on 17th April 2007.

The plan is a U-turn from Beijing’s years of efforts to restrain fixed asset investment because of fears of overheating the economy. But recently government officials have been promoting a proposed RMB 4 trillion (US $580 billion) economic stimulus package to combat the slowdown domestically. MOR officials said their plan would help offset some of the expected job losses in other parts of the Chinese economy.

“According to our calculations, the planned 60-plus projects to start next year would bring about 5 to 6 million new positions,” stated Yang Zhongmin, a planning official with the MOR.

Mr. Yang revealed that the overall investment in new railway infrastructure this year totaled about RMB 330 billion and projects next year would add another 6000 km (3730 miles) to the country’s existing 79,000 km rail network. The majority of the new rail lines would be passenger-only high-speed corridors connecting key cities, Mr. Yang said.

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Deutsche Bahn Chooses ICE-3 Again

Germany’s Main Passenger Rail Carrier To Add 15 More Of The High-Speed EMU Train Set To Its Fleet

Source – Lok Report

BERLIN – Deutsche Bahn AG (DBAG) chairman Helmut Mehdorn stated that DBAG has decided to award Siemens Mobility with a contract to build fifteen ICE-3 EMU train sets, which have the marketing brand name Velaro-D from Siemens. The approximate value of the order is placed at about EUR 500 million (US $650 million), but the decision is not yet final until approved by DBAG’s corporate board of directors. Due to the unconfirmed nature of the order pending board approval, full details of the contract were not provided.

An ICE-3 train set stops in Heidelberg in November 2004

Photo: DBAG

An ICE-3 train set stops in Heidelberg in November 2004.

The announcement is the apparent conclusion to a Request For Proposal issued last year by the rail company. Industry observers had anticipated that DBAG would award the contract possibly to another manufacturer, with Alstom’s AGV high speed train set from France as the most likely alternate choice. Mehdorn himself added to this speculation early in 2008 while discussing the success of the new Stuttgart / Munich / Frankfurt – Paris high speed train services operated in a joint venture with French state railroad SNCF using a dedicated fleet of TGV from Alstom and multi-system ICE-3 train sets.

All 15 train sets to be ordered will be multi-system international versions of the ICE-3, with the ability to operate from four different electrification voltages and standards and with provisions for installation of multiple types of train control and cab signaling systems, thus giving the train sets the ability to operate in Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Austria as soon as they are delivered and possibly to Poland, Czech Republic and Denmark in the longer-term future. Some industry experts speculate that DBAG may try some day to obtain approval to operate ICE-3 trains all the way to London (via Cologne, Brussels and the Channel Tunnel). Each ICE-3 train set is eight cars long, and is capable of in-service speeds of up to 320 km/h (200 mph).

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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...


Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)76.6173.29
Canadian National (CNI)35.2232.95
Canadian Pacific (CP)32.2028.64
CSX (CSX)37.2433.70
Florida East Coast (FLA)62.5162.51
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)30.3825.00
Kansas City Southern (KSU)21.9218.31
Norfolk Southern (NSC)49.4745.68
Providence & Worcester (PWX)11.209.25
Union Pacific (UNP)50.0447.50

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GUEST OPINION... Guest Opinion...

A Green Deal For Transportation

By Michael Renner

The Worldwatch Institute

[ The following was published November 24, 2008 by the Worldwatch Institute; reprinted by permission ]

The more stringent fuel economy standards currently in place in Japan, Europe, and China suggest that Washington should adopt far more ambitious targets—at least 50 mpg by 2020, with continued improvements in later years.

In early 1942, the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt directed the entire U.S. auto industry to make a sudden and wholesale switch from producing cars to churning out tanks, armored cars, tank engines, and aircraft propellers. Close to 4 million vehicles had rolled off assembly lines the previous year, but emergency wartime priorities brought the nation’s auto production to zero for three years as the sale of private cars was banned. After World War II ended, the reconversion from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy was carried out with equal speed, accompanied by careful planning.

Today, facing an emergency of a different nature, it is imperative to consider a similar break with business-as-usual. Over the past half-century, automobile manufacturers in the United States and the rest of the world expanded production from 8 million vehicles in 1950 to some 74 million in 2007. The industry has grown to become a major driver of climate change. The U.S. “Big Three” manufacturers - GM, Ford, and Chrysler - have for two decades peddled oversized, gas-gulping SUVs that were good for short-term profits but lethal for the planet. This strategy has left Detroit with few options now that the financial crisis, rollercoaster oil prices, and unease about peak oil are weighing heavily on consumers’ minds.

Facing bankruptcy, the Big Three are now asking for a government bailout. Public and Congressional opinion has been skeptical, but Barack Obama may respond more favorably after he becomes president. The decision is not an easy one: an open-ended rescue rewards corporate failure, yet rejecting any sort of intervention risks massive job loss. Even so, there is a silver lining. Taking the 1940s experience to heart, this is a generational opportunity to revolutionize the industry - and more broadly, to reinvent transportation policy for sustainability. It is time for a strategic overhaul aimed at boosting vehicle fuel economy and reviving the long-neglected public transportation sector.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards remained largely unchanged from the mid-1980s until December 2007, when Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The law raised the combined standard for new cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Given that only 1.5 percent of vehicles sold in the United States in 2008 rated 35 mpg or more, this seems an appropriate challenge. Yet the more-efficient models produced in Japan and Europe today, and the fact that even a newcomer such as China has adopted more stringent fuel economy standards than the United States, suggest that Washington should adopt far more ambitious targets - at least 50 mpg by 2020, with continued improvements in later years.

An injection of public resources into the auto industry should take place under stringent conditions:

A green transportation policy also needs to look beyond autos and to rebalance the transportation system. Unlike other industrialized countries, the United States features a passenger rail system that occupies little more than a niche and is burdened by outdated tracks, ancient locomotives, and archaic signal systems. Aside from a handful of cities, urban mass transit remains limited, largely a consequence of land-use policies that have led to sprawling settlements. And decades of neglect have led to a situation where the country lacks even the capacity to manufacture modern locomotives and rolling stock domestically.

A green transportation overhaul would overcome these handicaps by:

Overall, such a course would stimulate innovation, reduce carbon emissions and air pollutants, inject urban and suburban areas with new vigor and vitality, and generate or retain large numbers of well-paying jobs.


Michael Renner is a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental research organization. He is a co-author of the recent Worldwatch report Green Jobs: Working for People and the Environment.

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EDITORIAL... Editorial...

It’s Time To Change Inauguration Day

From the founding of this country until the second inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt in 1937, Presidents were sworn in on March 4th following their election the previous November.

The logic was simple: in 1787 it took a journey of many months to travel the length of the new country; to reach the nation’s capital (Washington DC, starting in 1801) was considered a serious trek, and the delay was built in to allow for it.

In 1933, about a century after the invention of the railroad had shortened those travel times from months to days, the Congress decided that it was time to also shorten the “lame duck-ness” of the incumbent, and of the Congress as well, by moving the date up six weeks, from March 4 to January 20. Curiously, as at the present day, the impetus was in part economic: the country was deep in the grips of the Great Depression, a new President had been elected, yet months would go by before Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal could begin to come to grips with it.

75 years later, travel times are even shorter, and if anything, the need for a faster transition from the status of President-elect to President is even greater --- not because we are in a new Great Depression, for that is still avoidable, but because a swifter transition would benefit everyone, from the ins to the outs --- as well as the rest of the country. This time, it is a great fiscal crisis that we face; next time, who knows? But the delay is pointless, and needless. While President-elect Barack Obama has acted wisely in announcing members of his forthcoming Administration on a steady and regular basis, and while he has also been careful to note that in America we have “…one President at a time,” there can be little doubt that it is time to change, once again, the date of our President’s inauguration from the January 20 date set by Congress in 1932 and ratified by the states in 1932 and1933 as the 20th Amendment, to January 3, the same date upon which the new Congress is now sworn in. Or change both, to a date even sooner than that.

The outgoing Bush Administration has been totally cooperative in preparing for this transition, as President-elect Obama himself has noted. But the British manage to dissolve one government, hold an election, and swear in a new one in about six weeks. We ought to take at least a few steps in that direction.

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SPECIAL EDITORIAL... Special Editorial...

Terrorists Declare War On Mumbai – And On All Of Us

By NCI Staff

It is with shock and sadness that we watched the news stories of the horrific terror attacks unfold in Mumbai, India this past week. NCI reports periodically about rail developments in Mumbai and elsewhere in India, a fascinating land in rapid transition from a third world basket case to a major technological, financial and political powerhouse, as well as host to one of the biggest rail transportation networks in the world.

NCI’s David Beale makes frequent business trips to the country, including more than 50 visits to Mumbai in the past ten years, as well as numerous trips to Bangalore, Delhi and Chenai, and he has seen first hand the transformation the country has made in the past decade and has many friends and acquaintances in the Mumbai area, none of whom fortunately were involved in the events of the past week.

The terrorists attacked the Mumbai rail system for the second time in less than three years when they gunned down passengers and others indiscriminately in Mumbai’s historic central rail terminal, before they moved on to attack hotels and restaurants in the downtown area. It was only back on July 11th, 2006 when terrorists bombed Mumbai’s suburban train network, killing nearly 200 and injuring many hundreds more. This past week the terrorists killed not only Indians but also Americans, Canadians, British, Italians, Germans, French, Japanese and Australians among a number of other nationalities.

Our condolences go out to the families, loved ones and colleagues of the many victims of this past week’s shocking and senseless terror attack on the City of Mumbai.

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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.

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