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
 

Contribute To NCI

December 6, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 50

Copyright © 2010
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 11th Newsletter Year

This E-Zine is best viewed at
1024 X 768 screen resolution

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

  News Items…
High-Speed Rail Deals Advance In China As
   Chimes Train Breaks Speed Record
Rail Passengers Continue Push For Right-Sized
   Hudson River Tunnels
  Intermodal Lines…
Rhode Island Connects Rail To Air Starting December 6
  Investment Lines…
Uncertainty About High-Speed Rail Project Puts Developers,
   Attorneys In Limbo
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Business Lines…
ABB To Buy Baldor Electric Company
  Transit Lines…
New Orleans: Five Years After Katrina
  Commentary…
Giving Thanks For Amtrak
  Publication Notes …


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

High-Speed Rail Deals Advance In China
As Chimes Train Breaks Speed Record

From The Xinhua News Agency

BEIJING, Dec. 4 (Xinhuanet) -- China is expected to sign a batch of cooperation documents with other countries that are interested in China’s railway progress during the upcoming Seventh World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Beijing next week, a senior railway official said.

Meanwhile, A Chinese passenger train hit a record speed of 302 miles per hour (486 kilometers per hour) Friday during a test run of a yet-to-be opened link between Beijing and Shanghai, state media also said this past week.

Chen Juemin, director-general of the international cooperation department at the Ministry of Railways, said in a written reply to China Daily that CSR Corporation Limited, one of China’s largest rail vehicle producers, and General Electric Co had initiated a framework agreement to establish a joint venture in the United States to manufacture high-speed trains using China’s high-speed train technology.

Sources close to the deal said it is likely to be inked during the conference that runs between Dec 7 and 9.


Photo: Michael Christopher Brown via Time

In July 2010, the fastest train to date - it can travel as fast as 220 m.p.h. (355 km/h) - went into service, linking Shanghai to Suzhou and Nanjing. By comparison, Japan’s fastest train reaches speeds of just 160 m.p.h. (260 km/h), while the Acela, America’s fastest rail link, averages an anemic 72 m.p.h. (116 km/h).

Bloomberg reported on Friday that CSR and GE may bid to build high-speed train lines in California and Florida after US President Barack Obama spurred investment in railways.

And Beijing-based CSR’s chairman, Zhao Xiaogang, told reporters in Hong Kong on Friday that the two companies may also bid for a project on the US’ east coast.

The companies have not yet decided what form their cooperation will take and which lines they will bid on during the coming three years, he said.

Other agreements or memorandums are also expected during the Seventh World Congress on High-Speed Rail. Deals are likely to be inked between China and railway authorities and enterprises in Turkey, Sweden, Germany, Bulgaria, Canada, Slovenia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea during the conference, Chen said.

It is not known how many of those deals will be related to high-speed railway technology.

The upcoming conference will be an opportunity for China to showcase its latest progress in the high-speed railway sector, Chen added.

China now leads the world with 7,531 km of high-speed rail line in operation. It plans to more than double its high-speed passenger network to about 16,000 kilometers by 2020.

The service speed of China’s high-speed network is up to 350 km/h.

“China’s progress, development mode, technical innovations and cooperation opportunities in the high-speed railway sector will interest the delegates to the conference,” he said.

“While displaying our progress, we are also willing to share with our counterparts our technical progress and practical experiences.”

The Seventh World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Beijing will be the first time that a country from outside Europe has hosted the event.

Initiated and organized by the International Union of Railways since 1992, the conference is said to be the leading global event for showcasing and exchanging views on the developments and achievements of the world’s high-speed rail ventures.

The conference will feature high-level officials from international railway organizations and railway authorities from many countries as well as senior managers from global railway companies and high-speed railway experts.

The theme this year is “High-Speed Rail Spearheading Greener Transport.”


Return to index
 

Rail Passengers Continue Push
For Right-Sized Hudson River Tunnels

November 5, 2010

Contacts: Ross Capon and Sean Jeans-Gail

[This press release from NARP –National Association of Railroad Passengers -- was just recently forwarded to Destination: Freedom]

The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) remains committed to construction of new Hudson River rail tunnels notwithstanding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s cancellation of the “Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) Mass Transit Tunnel” project.  A “right-sized” tunnel project should go to Penn Station and should serve both commuter and intercity trains.

NARP Vice-Chair Albert L. Papp Jr. said, “We are appalled at public statements by some, including Dr. James Hughes of Rutgers, suggesting new tunnels are not needed.  They are desperately needed both for redundancy which assures reliable service and to handle future growth.  Today, there is no room for growth, and there are major delays whenever a problem closes one of the tunnels.  Indeed, for the foreseeable future, weekend train operations are confined to one tunnel while the other undergoes routine maintenance.”

Papp continued, “Of equal importance is completion of the planned north bridge over the Hackensack River on the Northeast Corridor between New York and Newark.  This would replace a century-old, unreliable swing bridge with a 60 mph speed limit that could be reduced further.  This part of the ‘Portal Bridge Capacity Enhancement Project’ is well advanced and ready for construction within the next two years. 

“We are concerned that New Jersey Transit has not executed the agreement needed to begin final design on Portal north, even though $38.5 million in federal Recovery Act funds for this work was awarded January 28.”

NARP will continue to press for adoption of “Moynihan/Penn Station First,” which would send the new tunnels into New York’s Penn Station, eliminate the planned 34th Street Terminal, and provide necessary Penn Station track capacity enhancements.

Governor Christie has acknowledged the importance of a link between new tunnels and Penn Station, and the ability of such a link to make the project eligible for high-speed rail funds.  His October 27 statement noted that lack of a connection to Penn Station “has been one of the problems with the project from the beginning.”

Accordingly, the Association encourages Amtrak and New Jersey Transit to continue to work together to identify ways to efficiently address capacity and reliability issues, benefiting riders on both railroads.  NARP in the past has endorsed a track link between Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal, part of Alternative G in the project’s 2003 Major Investment Study.


Return to index
INTERMODAL LINES... Intermodal Lines...  

Rhode Island Connects Rail To Air
Starting December 6

By DF Staff And From Rhode Island Department Of Transportation

WARWICK --- Ceremonies at Providence 10 a.m. December 6 to inaugurate rail service to Green Airport in Providence will feature incoming Rhode Island Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Transportation Secretary Mike Lewis, and other dignitaries as Rhode Island becomes the first locale in North America for direct air-to-rail passenger transfers.

The T.F. Green Airport Interlink Railport opened officially in October, but train service was delayed until all the operating parties involved --- Amtrak, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Rhode Island Department of Transportation, the Providence & Worcester Railroad, and other entities --- signed off on the agreements enabling service to begin December 6.

For the time being the airport will be served only by diesel-powered MBTA commuter trains to Providence, Boston, and intermediate stops; Amtrak has not yet electrified the new station’s track, which at Warwick/T.F. Green runs alongside the fully-electrified heavy-duty Northeast Corridor through tracks that run between Boston and Washington DC, and which is needed to permit intercity trains to stop at the station. Calls to Amtrak regarding their plans for T.F. Green were unanswered at press time.

The station has been nearly two decades in the making, and was first championed by Lincoln Chafee as Mayor or Warwick and then as Senator from Rhode Island, and by his father, the late Senator and former Governor John Chafee (R-RI).

The Railport includes a large parking garage and other travel facilities, and is near several airport hotels and business parks, to boost the convenience of Green Airport, a once second-tier facility that in recent years, particularly as the result of service via discounter Southwest Airlines, has become a major New England transportation player. Business and tourism interests in Rhode Island, as well as in Eastern Connecticut and Southeastern Massachusetts, are already seeing the new facility as a boost to the region’s economic attractiveness.

The only other regional airport that might someday offer direct-air to-rail passenger transfers, and thus compete with Warwick/TF Green, is Manchester Airport in Manchester, NH, which is directly on the proposed Boston-Lowell-Nashua-Manchester-Concord commuter rail line, for which New Hampshire has been granted some Federal funding. However, with the recent elections, local New Hampshire political leaders may seek to stop that project, and build wider roads instead into the heavily suburbanizing New Hampshire.

T.F. Green-Providence-Boston Service

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has announced that Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuter rail service to T.F. Green station in Warwick will begin on Monday, December 6, 2010. Trains will make six stops Monday through Friday on the Providence/Stoughton line.

Trains will depart from T.F. Green, inbound to Providence/South Station, at the following times:

Trains will arrive at T.F. Green, outbound from Providence/South Station, at the following times:

“Expanded commuter rail in Rhode Island begins on Monday and is going to be an excellent alternative mode of transportation for many people,” said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. “And as winter weather approaches, commuter rail will be a great option for those who don’t want to drive in the ice and snow.”

Ticket fares will vary by distance traveled. Travel between T.F. Green and Providence constitutes travel in two zones and costs $2.25 each way. Travel between T.F. Green and Boston costs $8.25 each way. Seniors and persons with disabilities get 50 percent off. Children age 11 and younger are free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Monthly passes for unlimited travel between Providence and T.F. Green cost $77. Monthly passes for unlimited travel between T.F. Green and Boston cost $265, which also includes travel on all MBTA buses and subways, and the Inner Harbor Ferry.

Schedule information can be found on the MBTA website: at www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/rail/lines/?route=PROVSTOU. Fare information can be found at www.mbta.com/fares_and_passes/rail.

“The extension of commuter rail to Warwick is a significant improvement of our transportation system, opening up new and convenient choices for Rhode Island commuters and visitors alike,” said Governor Donald L. Carcieri. 

“The arrival of commuter rail service is something we have been looking forward to for years. This allows travelers the opportunity for more connectivity between Boston, Providence and T.F. Green Airport,” stated Kevin Dillon, President & CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC). “The benefits to our passengers and ability to attract more air service due to the convenience and ease of access cannot be underscored.”

The T.F. Green Station is part of the $267 million InterLink project for RIDOT and RIAC. The InterLink features a consolidated rental car facility, a bus hub for Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) buses, and a parking garage with spaces to accommodate 1,800 rental cars and 650 commuter vehicles.

Commuters wishing to park at the InterLink garage will have a daily parking rate of $6.75, RIDOT said. A monthly commuter parking rate will be offered at $110 per month. Overnight parking will incur an additional charge of $30 per night. Cash and credit cards will be accepted.

RIDOT and MBTA signed an agreement in 1988 called the Pilgrim Partnership, which initiated Providence to Boston commuter rail service with five round trips per day and approximately 200 riders. Today it has 15 round trips per day, as well as weekend service and approximately 2,000 riders per day from Providence.

The partnership has proven beneficial to both agencies, RIDOT noted. Rhode Island gets access to regional transportation to and from Boston. Massachusetts has gotten much-needed capital improvements, including the Pawtucket layover facility, bi-level coaches and other maintenance upgrades along the Providence/Stoughton line.

Rhode Island signed an operations agreement with the MBTA on September 30, 2010 to create the South County Commuter Rail service, which expands commuter rail service in Rhode Island south of Providence. The InterLink Railport officially opened on October 27, 2010.

A further extension of commuter rail service to Wickford Junction is expected in late 2011. When this station opens, trains will continue down to North Kingstown and are expected to make 10 stops per day, RIDOT said.

Expanded commuter rail will provide a convenient rail link between Wickford, Warwick, Providence and the New England region, and serve as an alternative to the automobile for commuters working in Providence and Boston, RIDOT noted.

“This step is an important one in creating much-improved commuter rail service Stamford (CT)-New Haven-New London-Providence-Route 128,” stated National Corridors Initiative Chairman & CEO James P. RePass. “Now, the work truly begins.”


Return to index
INVESTMENT LINES... Investment Lines...  

Uncertainty About High-Speed Rail Project
Puts Developers, Attorneys In Limbo

If The Federally Financed High-Speed Rail Project In Wisconsin Dies,
So Too Will The Expected Increase In Work For Many Attorneys.

From The Wisconsin Law Journal
Associated Press Also Contributed To This Article
Writer: Jack Zemlicka

When a high-speed rail project from Milwaukee to Madison was on line to come to fruition, attorneys and developers were making plans to invest in a number of rail related projects that would enhance the area once train service was available. Transit-oriented development, a cab feeder service, enhanced commercial and residential areas within walking distance of a train station -- it all looked promising until Scott Walker was elected governor on November 2. On the campaign trail he had vowed to kill the $810 million stimulus project, and he may do just that.

With the rail project in flux, developers are wary of getting involved in a potential dead-end deal. Most of the legal details that were agreed to or considered before Walker’s election, such as land sales or potential development, are contingent on the rail project moving forward.

In Madison, attorney Michael R. Christopher has several developer clients. “I tell [them], land is cheap, construction costs are down, interest rates are down, this is the perfect time to develop,” he said, “The answer I get is, ‘this sounds very rational, Michael, but the problem is I have five projects not moving right now and you want me to add a sixth?’”

“Clients are definitely looking at location, but I haven’t had any who have acted at this point,” Christopher said. “I can’t say I have anyone now who is counting on these high-speed rail stations to be built.”

Last year, Madison-based Axley Brynelson, a prominent law firm founded in 1885, formed a Rail & Transportation Team in anticipation of the work that would be generated on the front end for lawyers. One of the team members, Peter J. Conrad said that given the political landscape now, they are not counting on work from the high-speed rail project.

“With regards to where this project is, it may no longer be viable given the current state of things,” he said.

Even if the Milwaukee to Madison line is derailed, Conrad said, the rail team will remain intact and explore other opportunities, such as a proposed $20 million improvement to the freight rail line connecting Madison and Watertown.

Governor-elect Walker has also said that reallocating rail money to upgrade existing passenger rails such as the Amtrak Hiawatha line which runs from Milwaukee to Chicago is an option, although it would take approval from Congress.

“We still have train issues out there and lines that need improvement,” Conrad said.

In the Milwaukee area a dozen construction companies and developers who own property within a mile radius of several of the proposed rail stops, are anxiously waiting to find out what will happen.

Developers have started buying up property or obtaining contracts where they believe a rail stop would be, but land purchase agreements are contingent on the rail project staying on track. “If it falls through, those (purchase) offers are null and void and everyone goes home,” said real estate attorney Luke J. Chiarelli. “From the standpoint of work, there probably isn’t a firm in the state that wouldn’t have some hand in construction or development of where each railway stop would be.”

Last July, the U.S. Department of Transportation released $46.7 million of the $810 million for engineering and design costs of the Milwaukee-to-Madison route. A $5.7 million allocation had already been provided for environmental studies.

Also, Governor Doyle had signed some contracts, which will have to be canceled or renegotiated should the project fail. It’s possible that some of the stimulus money will be reallocated to other rail projects. Either way, plenty of work is in store for lawyers when agreements between the state and federal government are changed.


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

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Canadian National (CNI)66.8664.36
Canadian Pacific (CP) 65.9764.79
CSX (CSX)64.4161.67
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)49.3047.31
Kansas City Southern (KSU)49.2947.84
Norfolk Southern (NSC)62.8860.84
Providence & Worcester(PWX)13.0012.91
Union Pacific (UNP)94.5590.10


Return to index

BUSINESS LINES... Business Lines...  

ABB To Buy Baldor Electric Company

From Internet Sources

Fort Smith, AK --- The iconic American electric motor manufacturer Baldor Electric Company is to be acquired by Switzerland’s multi-national ABB.

Swiss engineering group ABB and Baldor Electric Company, a North American leader in industrial motors, have agreed that ABB will acquire Baldor in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $4.2 billion, including $1.1 billion of net debt, the companies reported this week.

Under the terms of the definitive agreement, which has been unanimously approved by both companies’ Boards of Directors, ABB will commence a tender offer to purchase all of Baldor’s outstanding shares for $63.50 per share in cash. The transaction represents a 41 percent premium to Baldor’s closing stock price on Nov. 29, 2010. The Board of Directors of Baldor will recommend that Baldor shareholders tender their shares in the offer. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2011.

Baldor is not a well-known name in consumer circles, but its industrial motors have powered American industry for decades.


Return to index
TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

New Orleans: Five Years After Katrina

“Transit Lost”

First In A Series

By David Peter Alan

“Let the Good Times Roll!” (Laissez les bon temps rouler! in French) is the Crescent City’s motto, even if unofficially. And roll they do. Historic neighborhoods like the French Quarter are packed with tourists catching the sounds of hard rock on Bourbon Street or genuine New Orleans jazz in one of the few jazz clubs that present the authentic sounds. Locals and tourists alike flock to the city’s restaurants to enjoy delicacies like gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, or a muffaletta (the New Orleans version of an Italian sandwich).

Streetcars roll, too. Historic Perley Thomas cars, built in 1923, still provide all of the service on St. Charles Avenue. A few modified Perley Thomas cars run on the Riverfront Line, a former freight rail line along the Mississippi River in the French Quarter. New cars with a “heritage” look, built in the city’s Carrollton Car Barn, provide service on Canal Street, the city’s main street. The line came back in 2004, after a 40-year absence. The St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street lines run 24 hours a day, with no more than a 90-minute gap. Local residents and tourists alike ride the streetcars, and self-respecting transit managers and advocates make sure that they take a ride when they visit the city.


Photo: John Paquette, Via Google Earth and Panoramio
at http://www.panoramio.com/photo/34416311

A streetcar rolls down Canal Street in downtown New Orleans.

The good times and the streetcars are rolling today, much as they did until the end of the summer of 2005, but August 29th of that year was a day that nobody in New Orleans will ever forget. Hurricane Katrina raged through the area, packing enough wind and rain to overcome the levees and dikes that protected the city, much of which lies below sea level. The levee failed, and grimy, oily water from Lake Pontchartrain inundated the city. Over the course of the day, about 80% of the city was flooded. Most residents were evacuated, but nearly 1000 people in the city were killed in the disaster.

Those who would not or could not leave suffered intolerable conditions, crammed into places like the New Orleans Convention Center. Some were city residents, both black and white, who had no access to an automobile, so they were stuck in the otherwise-empty city. Others were tourists, who had chosen the wrong time to visit the Crescent City. Not only was New Orleans hit hard by the storm, but so was the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Large towns like Biloxi and Gulfport sustained severe damage. Some smaller communities were almost obliterated.

Another casualty in New Orleans was transit. Fortunately, the historic St. Charles Avenue streetcars were all saved. They had been stored in the Carrollton Barn, which did not flood. The new Canal Street cars did not fare nearly as well. The Mid-City facility on Canal Street flooded badly, and all 31 cars ended up standing in five feet of water. After only twenty months of service, nothing could be saved except the shells. The cars had to be totally rebuilt before they could be placed back into service.

The bus fleet was almost totally destroyed, as well. Only 53 buses were available for service after the storm, according to Justin T. Augustine III, current General Manager for the RTA (Regional Transit Authority), and the city’s transit agency. He said that RTA had lost 410 vehicles, including buses and para-transit vehicles. In total, 80% of the agency’s assets were washed away, and three of its five facilities were out of service. Among those assets were the streetcar lines. The overhead wires had blown down in many places. The tracks on the St. Charles Avenue Line were so badly damaged that they were unfit for service, although the tracks on Canal Street fared better.

There was a great deal of criticism of City and State officials after the storm, because there was no plan to use RTA buses to help evacuate city residents. Looking back, it seems clear that using transit buses and the Amtrak train sets sitting in the Union Passenger Terminal to help take people to safety would have been a good idea. Unfortunately, events did not happen that way. As a result, hundreds of buses were destroyed and thousands of residents could not get away.

In addition, according to Augustine, the funding base for transit was also destroyed. The primary funding source was a one-cent sales tax (part of the regular sales tax) collected in the City. The storm caused a suspension of commerce, so there was virtually no funding available to keep transit going.

D:F Publisher James P. RePass was in New Orleans during that time, and he remembers the destruction. “It was indescribable” he said. “It was an experience that I had never had before and never want to have again. It reminded me of the pictures I saw on the History Channel of German cities that had been bombed out during World War II.”

After the water receded, it was time to start the long climb back. The Federal government implemented a recovery plan that included loans to the RTA as a state entity. The State of Louisiana also provided loans to pay off the RTA bond debt. Other transit agencies assisted, too. Some sent buses to tide the RTA over, after the loss of most of its fleet. Others sent drivers and managers to help the RTA to get going again. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) established a relief fund for transit workers who had been thrown out of work by the storm and solicited donations for that fund.

Eventually, some level of mobility returned to New Orleans. Buses began rolling again, although the number of routes and the level of service were severely limited. There were no fares charged. The State Department of Transportation established the “LA Swift” commuter bus route between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the state capital and the place where many New Orleans offices had moved temporarily, during the rebuilding effort. The offices have returned, but the bus line still runs today.

The freight railroads rebuilt their infrastructure and Amtrak trains were heading toward New Orleans within a few months, except the eastern portion of the Sunset Limited to Florida, which has still not been restored and which is listed as “suspended” in the Amtrak timetable.

To a tourist visiting New Orleans today, it does not appear that things have changed much, compared to the time before the storm. The historic French Quarter, the downtown area (called the Central Business District or “CBD”) and the Garden District (a historic, upscale residential area along part of the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line) all survived, essentially intact. So have other neighborhoods, mostly along the river, and Algiers Point, across the river.

Not all neighborhoods have been so fortunate, though. Some parts of the city have not recovered well. Few people live there today, although some others are coming back, but those people still need transit.

The transit system as a whole has been recovering, too, along with the rest of the City. That recovery, which has been taking place over the past five years, will be the subject of the next article in this series.


Return to index
COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

Guest Column…

 

Giving Thanks For Amtrak

Virginia Rail Observations And Commentary
Volume II, No. 22  •  November 29, 2010

By Richard Beadles, Former CEO, Richmond, Fredericksburg
And Potomac Railroad
And Founder, Virginia High-Speed Rail Association

VIRGINIA --- Thanksgiving is a busy time for almost all modes of transportation, especially for Amtrak in Virginia. The day before Thanksgiving Day, Amtrak boarded about 274 passengers on the northbound Lynchburg train at Charlottesville, and about 209 on a northbound Newport News train at Williamsburg the prior afternoon. It is obvious that UVA and W&M contributed significantly to these two counts. It should also be obvious that most of these passengers were relatively affluent and had other travel options. So what’s going on? According to at least two Republican governors-elect, the people have spoken, and based on their interpretation of what the people want, “the train is dead!”

The offspring of an unlikely liaison between partners with incompatible goals and objectives--namely, the Nixon White House and the Congress on one hand and the private railroads on the other, Amtrak has from its birth in 1971 been an unloved, unappreciated and unwanted child. The parents who conceived Amtrak hoped that it would grow up and go away, but it has not. Instead of withering away, Amtrak has been attracting more passengers every year, despite the best efforts of numerous government officials, the most notorious being Norman Mineta, a prominent Democrat, while serving as secretary of transportation, 2001-2006, in the administration of President Bush.

It is not as though Amtrak has always been easy to love. Things began boisterously with a group of former airline people in charge, who were at times arrogant and dismissive of anything the private railroads had previously done. There was bad blood from the beginning. It took the adolescent Amtrak, and its revolving door leadership, too long to figure out that the old railroads did, in fact, know a thing or two. In the meantime, Amtrak made some of the same mistakes that the railroads had made.

However, Amtrak has done, and is doing, a lot of things right. Space does not permit a list of such accomplishments, but the Northeast Corridor improvement project and the Acela train, are good examples. The corridor and the train are now aging, and in need of renewal, but the success of the Acela service stands as the fastest and most advanced intercity passenger rail in the U.S.A. And by the way, Conrail would never have emerged as the successful freight story that it did, but for the U.S. D.O.T.’s off-loading of the NEC onto the shoulders of Amtrak, a gift of vital infrastructure that keeps on taking -- capital investment! Corridor infrastructure is also critical to most of the urban commuter rail services operated by regional public entities between DC and Boston.

The new guys in town, referring to the next Congress, will predictably start beating up on Amtrak, but if they really are listening to the people, they will refrain from taking punitive and destructive action. Amtrak has kept intercity passenger rail service alive in the U.S. long enough to serve as the foundation upon which expanded high(er) speed rail will inevitably be developed. We should be happy that, in this case, the unintended consequences produced a positive result for the nation. Be thankful for Amtrak this holiday season.

And: A Supplement to VA Rail O&C II

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but more holidays are ahead of us, which will involve travel for many Virginians. The attached VA Rail O&C salutes Amtrak which, according to my rough and very unofficial estimate, safely transported more than 25,000 passengers to and from Virginia stations over the past seven days. This is a conservative guesstimate, and does not include all the other passengers moved “overhead,” that is with neither an “on” or “off” count in the Old Dominion.

With the exception of one Amtrak train (out of about 26 each day), which was delayed about three hours due to a locomotive failure at the expense of 185 unhappy travelers, all else appeared to work reasonably well over the holiday period.

It was good to see a number of very full Virginia trains, with loads of 500 or more; also to see Charlottesville and Williamsburg boardings and alightings in the range of 275-300 passengers on multiple trains over the Thanksgiving holiday. The college and university community has obviously rediscovered train travel. Only a few weeks travel days until Christmas!


Return to index
END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2010 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.

|| Top of Page || Past Newsletter Editions || NCI Home Page || Contact Us

  || page viewings since date of release.