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A Weekly North American Transportation Update

Publisher:  James P. RePass
Managing Editor:  Molly N. McKay
Foreign Editor:  David Beale
Contributing Editor:  David Peter Alan
Webmaster:  Dennis Kirkpatrick
 
For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

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January 21, 2013
Vol. 14 No. 3

Copyright © 2013
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 13th Newsletter Year

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

  Editorial…
Facing The Fiscal Future Innovatively In
   Massachusetts – And Elsewhere?
  Commentary…
New Transit Starts Are Coming, But
   Watch Out For The Bus!
Lessons Learned From The Great Recession
  News Items…
Amtrak, California To Work Jointly To
   Design High-Speed Trains For USA
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Transit Lines…
Valley Metro In Phoenix Breaks Ground For
   Latest Light Rail Extension
  Station Lines…
New NJ Transit Station Planned For Northeast
   Corridor Rail Line
Grand Central Terminal Centennial Celebration
   Kicks Off February 1
 
  News From Amtrak…
Amtrak 2013:  New Year Brings Major Projects
  Across The Pond…
Major 10-Year Deal For Britain’s Largest
   Rail Electrification Program
France's Speeds Up Rolling Stock
   Renewal Investments
Joy Ride On Train Ends With A Bang
  Publication Notes …



EDITORIAL... Editorial...

Facing The Fiscal Future Innovatively
In Massachusetts --- And Elsewhere?

 

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, faced with the same kind of fiscal challenges other governors face --- albeit in a state that has done better than most in this current Depression --- has chosen a series of bold initiatives to try to right the fiscal ship of state in the Commonwealth....and in so doing start thinking long-term again.

It is a bold move, and not without pitfalls. Certainly, those who see themselves in the tax-hike cross hairs are going to be less than quiet about it, but that is nothing new.

What is interesting about this governor’s proposals is that they accept, a priori, the need for public investment, especially in transportation and education, and propose tax policies to deal with that.

And he has done so in a way that is progressive, rather than regressive: bumping up the income tax, which in Massachusetts is based on whatever you pay to the Feds in the graduated income tax that, although less so than in past decades, taxes the wealthy at a higher percentage rate than it does the poor. The new state income tax rate goes from 5.25 per cent to 6.25 per cent, but the sales tax, which affects lower income people far more than the wealthy, is reduced, from 6.25 per cent to 4.5 per cent.

In so doing, Patrick plans to help fund $13 billion in new transportation system investments over the next decade, a welcome decision in a state whose infrastructure is old, and running on fumes.

One of the tax revenue proposals will be a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax that, while fair on its surface, will badly impact working people who drive service vans (plumbers, electricians, and the like); that proposal will be problematic, even if one can make the argument that the more miles of wear and tear you impose on the highway system, the more you should pay for it.

All in all, Gov. Deval Patrick is showing the creativity and innovation in office that he promised when campaigning. It remains to be seen whether these proposals will be a precursor of reforms to come, or will run into the usual anti-tax buzz saw that has crippled infrastructure investment in America for 30 years. Time will tell.


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

New Transit Starts Are Coming, But Watch Out For The Bus!

By David Peter Alan

At this time of year, many of us in the management and rail advocacy communities like to talk about new starts. After all, a new start for a streetcar line or an extension of a light rail line is a milestone in the history of a city’s local transit. Rail lines require years of planning and construction, as well as the money to build the new infrastructure and pay for the equipment.

As this writer noted here two weeks ago, there were ten new rail starts in 2012, including two extensions of Amtrak mileage. There are more starts coming later this year, too. Last week, we published the list compiled by commentator Yonah Freemark at www.thetransportpolitic.com. Freemark is a thorough and well-respected observer of the transit scene so, for the purpose of this column, we will consider his list of potential new starts over the next several years to be complete.

New Transit Starts 2013 - From TransportPolitic.Com

New Efforts Nationwide

The map shown above was originally published as part of Freemark’s article at www.thetransportpolitic.com

While Freemark mentions some new intermodal terminals and a few new infill stations on his list, many of the new projects he mentions involve a new line of some sort. He expects new rail lines to open in Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Tucson and Washington, D.C.; a total of eight projects (Salt Lake City and Washington each have two rail projects). At the same time, seven projects on his list are “BRT” projects; busways that accommodate buses exclusively.

Freemark also mentions twelve projects that will begin construction this year, with openings scheduled for as early as 2014 and as late as 2021. These are all rail projects, although Freemark may have restricted that part of his list to rail projects only. Except for a few busways, most of the projects Freemark mentions for future openings will be rail of various types: modern streetcars, light rail, “metropolitan” heavy rail like the New York subways, and commuter rail lines.

“BRT” stands for “Bus Rapid Transit” and its proponents believe that it will produce the same positive effects on transit riders and their communities as genuine light rail or streetcars, and at a significantly lower capital cost. Even Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff has endorsed more “BRT” projects on cost grounds, to the shock and dismay of rail advocates, including D:F Publisher Jim RePass, who was on hand to hear Rogoff’s announcement (see D:F, May 24, 2010).

This writer has referred to “BRT” as “Bogus Repackaged Transit,” and it is difficult to find a rail advocate who equates “BRT” with a streetcar on rails, as the FTA appears to do. To the contrary, some of the most vocal rail advocates denounce “BRT” as an excuse to build more road miles, rather than the rail miles that the nation’s cities should have. D:F editor Molly McKay, who is also chair of the Connecticut Sierra Club’s Transportation Committee, is fighting to prevent the construction of a busway between New Britain and Hartford that would be built on the Amtrak right of way and would subvert the rail improvements planned for the same corridor. The stalwarts at Austin’s www.lightrailnow.org have been among the strongest to express this view, and the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP) took a similar position in a report in 2006, still found on the organization’s web site, www.njarp.org

There seems to be little doubt that rail transit improves the streets on which it runs, and the communities through which it passes. Transit-oriented development (TOD) follows a new rail line, and sometimes precedes it. It represents a commitment to the community. While General Motors and its allies illegally confiscated and destroyed existing streetcar systems in at least 100 cities during the 1930’s (for which they were fined the paltry sum of $5,000 since no one really knew what to call their “crime” in those days), it does not appear that history will be repeated. San Francisco was the first city to establish municipally-owned transit a century ago, and the city is one of the few that has kept streetcars in active service. With essentially all local transit under public ownership today, other cities and transit authorities can follow San Francisco’s lead.

People like rail transit, whether it is a streetcar, light rail, subway/elevated or “commuter” rail line. New Orleans transit chief Justin T. Augustine III told this writer, “If you want to involve the community, you have to involve the streetcar.” Augustine takes his own advice; his city has three operating streetcar lines and is building two more.

One of them, a new line on Loyola Avenue, will be opening for service soon. A grand opening celebration is scheduled for next Monday, January 28th.

It does not make sense to take an automobile into “the City” and attempt to navigate city traffic if there is good transit available. That means rail; somehow a bus does not seem to entice people to leave the automobile at home. Sure, transit-dependent persons will use buses, because they do not have a choice, but transit-dependent riders alone will not generate enough revenue or community enthusiasm to ensure long-term viability and growth for transit.

As visitors and “locals” take the streetcar or train, they spend more time and money in the city or the neighborhood, and help contribute to more transit-oriented development. The positive feedback effect keeps going, and communities with rail transit tend to do better than communities that do not have it. That happens whether those riders are transit-dependent or have an automobile that they leave at home.

That does not happen with a bus, no matter what the professional planners or bureaucrats (who may or may not actually ride transit) say. It is true that buses on a busway make better time than buses on heavily-trafficked streets, because they do not get stuck in local traffic. That does not mean that they attract the levels of ridership found on rail. It also does not mean that a busway spurs the sort of community enthusiasm that a streetcar, light rail line or train does. When realtors tell prospective home buyers that a house is “convenient to transit,” they are not talking about a bus, even if it has a paved road to itself.

The proliferation of busways appears to be just beginning. Some, like the Orange Line busway in Los Angeles and the East Busway in Pittsburgh were originally rail lines that were paved over. Others, such as Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, look like a hastily-built road that should have been a light rail line instead. These roads will give some people faster bus service than they would have gotten on local streets, but at a high capital cost; a capital cost that will not generate the other benefits that rail transit brings. It is also unclear that a busway saves money in the long run. The marginal cost of building a rail line instead of another vehicular road, even including the cost of overhead power wires, may eventually be less than the cost of replacing buses frequently and maintaining the busway itself.

Despite the pressure to build busways, some cities are still expanding their rail transit systems. To the leaders of those communities, rail transit has a future, and is a worthwhile investment. Young people are attracted to urban living, with its excitement and the access that rail transit provides. They are the people who will determine whether or not the cities’ investments in rail transit eventually prove cost-effective.

Cities like New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta and Denver are demonstrating that they believe in rail transit, and are spending their money to build more of it. This writer plans to visit these and other cities, where rail transit is one of the attractions in itself. There are other cities, including Austin, Tampa and even New York, that are interesting places to visit, but new transit will not be an attraction in those places. Even in Brooklyn and despite the New York subways, those cities are building busways, rather than rail transit.


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

Lessons Learned From The Great Recession

Virginia Rail Observations & Commentary
By Richard L. Beadles
Volume V, No. 1,      January 14, 2013.

Our U.S economic recovery still has a long way to go, yet it does appear that some important indicators are pointing toward less stressful economic days ahead -- assuming that our elected representatives in DC don’t throw more sand in the gear boxes.

Having lived through many recessions in the industrial economy, we have noticed that, notwithstanding the very real personal hardship experienced by many, some good often comes out of these things. The freight railroad industry has, perhaps, been hit harder, and more often, and endured longer, than just about any other sector of the economy, time after time; not just because of business cycles, but also due to structural changes in the U. S. economy; also as result of public policy decisions that adversely impacted rail freight. Examples that come readily to mind include such things as the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Interstate Highway System, Inland waterway lock and dam projects, truck size and weight liberalization rules, etc. Each time, railroad people responded, often coming up with better, more efficient ways of doing things. Not enough, in total perhaps to avoid loss of valuable revenue, but praiseworthy mitigation of otherwise-negative impacts.

Now and then we read, in the business news, of other such examples. It has been interesting to observe the response of FedEx and UPS to customer resistance to costly overnight air shipments in favor of greater reliance upon surface transportation, mostly via highway, but also by intermodal rail. Some international shippers have reportedly opted for ocean-shipping. Just-in-time doesn’t always have to mean fastest trip possible.

And speaking of ocean-shipping, the “slow-steaming” mode of operation has apparently found favor with some of the major carriers of cargo. It saves fuel, causes less environmental degradation, and may still get the transport job done just as well.

We even wonder why some freight trains are operated at higher speeds, intermodal excepted. Almost every day, we observe freight trains, which have run a hundred miles at 50 mph, sitting for an hour and one-half in one spot due to freight (not necessarily passenger) network conflicts. There is much work remaining to be done.

However, the best (worst) examples of wasted energy and transportation resources are sometimes found in aviation. Not every military move needs to be via air-lift, and certainly not every business executive making a company helicopter trip into New York from a distant outlying point could really justify such extravagance..

Most notorious of all will be the annual display of hubris and status when hundreds of “1% types” arrive at the airport nearest the Super Bowl in their private jets. When we finally get a comprehensive description of “entitlements,” such folks must be included. Their opulence is subsidized by ordinary commercial aviation travelers. A little belt-tightening would be good for all of us, rich and not-so-rich alike.


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NEWS ITEMS... News Items...  

Amtrak Also Seeks FRA Crash Rule Changes

 

Amtrak, California To Work Jointly
To Design High-Speed Trains For USA

From The Philadelphia Inquirer
And From The American Public Transportation Association

USA --- Amtrak and California will work together to design new high-speed trains to operate on the East and West Coasts, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Paul Nussbaum is reporting.

Amtrak would get its trains first, but California’s would be faster, reported Nussbaum, a veteran transportation writer.

“California is planning a 220-m.p.h. high-speed line that will operate between San Francisco and Los Angeles, with the first 130-mile segment currently scheduled to be in operation in 2022,” wrote Nussbaum, “Amtrak wants to buttress its existing Acela Express fleet with trains that can match the Acela’s current top speed of 150 m.p.h. and are capable of being modified to run up to 220 m.p.h. on the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston.”

Eventually, that would allow 37-minute trips between Philadelphia and New York, 94-minute trips between New York and Washington, and 2 1/2-hour trips between Philadelphia and Boston.

Amtrak has estimated that it will cost $151 billion and take until 2040 to complete a rebuilt 438-mile Northeast Corridor.

In Washington on Thursday, Amtrak president Joseph Boardman and California High-Speed Rail Authority chief executive Jeff Morales said they would join forces to develop high-speed trains that could operate on both coasts.

California and Amtrak hope to buy trains with many of the same features, as a way to save money and help jump-start an American industry to build such trains.

“We want to develop a high-speed rail industry here in the United States,” Morales said Thursday. “We want this to be the next aerospace industry.”

The “request for information” issued Thursday seeks manufacturers’ proposals on how to replace all the Acelas gradually with entirely new, faster trains. By September, Amtrak will seek bids for such trains, with plans to place an order in 2014.

The first of the new trains isn’t likely to arrive until at least 2017.

Amtrak envisions buying 12 new train sets to add to its current fleet and to replace the 20 existing Acela train sets in the early 2020s.

California is seeking initially to buy 27 train sets capable of carrying 450 to 500 passengers per train.

The trains likely would cost $35 million to $55 million each, Boardman said.

Because of the different requirements for operating on the brand-new California line and the existing Northeast Corridor, there would have to be some differences in the trains.

In a related story, APTA reports that Amtrak will formally request revisions to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) safety standards to allow the railroad to start using standard (European/Asian) lightweight high-speed trains.

President and CEO Joseph Boardman explained that Amtrak is seeking the amendment because it plans to replace the fleet of 20 Acela Express trains within five to seven years in order to meet the growing demand for its services on the Northeast Corridor.

US crash worthiness standards mean passenger vehicles are considerably heavier than their European or Asian counterparts, which means standard train designs cannot be used and energy consumption is increased.

“This is a serious step in the right direction,” noted National Corridors Chairman and CEO James P. RePass: “The American early 20th century buffering (creditworthiness) standards, which are grossly excessive for modern trainsets, are the reason why the initial Acela trainsets suffered so many wheel, shock absorber, and panel problems: the trainsets are American in weight on a Euro-style chassis, and the results were predictable. That Acela has fared so well is a testament to their essentially good design.”

The FRA and some safety experts, noted APTA, have favored the emphasis on ‘survivability’ over collision avoidance in part because many Amtrak services use freight lines for much or all of their journeys.

Critics note the emphasis came about in part due to an incident in January 1987, when Amtrak’s Colonial slammed into a freight train that had mistakenly passed a signal on the Northeast Corridor, which is owned by Amtrak. The collision killed 16. Subsequent incidents, including an Amtrak derailment at Big Bayou Canot near Mobile, Alabama, in September 1993, reinforced the FRA’s position, but the Chatsworth (CA) commuter rail/freight collision crash showed that even FRA heavy standards could not overcome the result of poorly designed signaling and control systems, which were the actual cause of that crash.

The FRA is coordinating development of safety standards for trains designed for operation at speeds exceeding 240km/h in consultation with Amtrak and numerous other parties, including the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

 
Title
 
Ticker
This
Week
Previous
Week
Berkshire Hathaway B (BNSF)(BRK.B)95.1694.39
Canadian National (CNI)95.3694.25
Canadian Pacific (CP) 110.19111.30
CSX (CSX)20.9120.54
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)83.4581.60
Kansas City Southern (KSU)87.6385.54
Norfolk Southern (NSC)66.7064.04
Providence & Worcester(PWX)16.2316.00
Union Pacific (UNP)132.49130.97


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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

Valley Metro In Phoenix Breaks Ground
For Latest Light Rail Extension

Railway Age, The Republic (Writer Sean Holstege)
And DF Staff

On Saturday, January 12, the city of Phoenix and Valley Metro hosted an official groundbreaking for the 3.2-mile Northwest extension. The ceremony highlighted the progress of Phoenix’s expansion of their light rail system at both ends, especially since the Central Mesa Extension was undertaken barely six months ago in July of 2012.

Valley Metro’s initial LRT line is roughly 20 miles in length, linking Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa, Ariz.

“This is an exciting time for all transit riders as we expand further into Phoenix, providing our customers with greater transit choice,” said Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta. “It is another important step towards building a multimodal Total Transit Network that supports regional growth.”

“As mayor of the City of Phoenix and Chairman of the METRO board, I welcome the community to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony which marks the start of the Northwest Extension construction project, adding three miles of light rail in our city,” said city of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

“It’s critical to Phoenix and the area of 19th Avenue. We can’t be a great city unless we have a great light-rail system,” said Stanton. “It opens up a world of possibilities.”

Stanton was referring to development potential along the busy street and the ability to lure car commuters from a wider area. The stations at the ends of the line are Metro’s busiest because people use the park-and-ride lots there to shorten their drives. Private developers have invested billions of dollars in new projects near light-rail stations.

But the growth of light rail in Phoenix has not always been smooth sailing. The Republic article reports the city’s on-again off-again problems in the process. In 2009, Metro canceled the extension project one week before construction was to begin. All the money for the work came from a city sales tax dedicated for transit projects, but when the state economy collapsed, the money vanished.

The line that was to have opened in 2012 was halted indefinitely, pending a rebound in revenue. It was the latest twist in a project that has been scaled back and delayed.

Phoenix and Metro used the time to buy as much right of way and move as many utility lines as possible. It was a lesson from completion of the original track in 2008, when slow land acquisition and unforeseen problems with water, sewer, power and communications lines held up work.

Business owner stands where rail project is expected

Photo: Michael Schennum/The Republic

Tony Medlock, owner of PJ’s Flowers and Gifts, stands outside his store on 19th Avenue where the light-rail extension will go in Phoenix.

And now, with this latest ceremony of groundbreaking, the so-called Northwest Extension is restored.

The erratic growth of light rail has put stress on some of the businesses that were negatively affected by the construction. But one business-owner who had previously been fearful of losing too much business, is now expressing a more positive view. “At the beginning, it was a shock and a bit of disappointment,” said Luis Fernando, vice president of the Arizona Car Wash Co., which owns a car wash on 19th Avenue near one of the earlier construction sites. But when Fernando learned of Metro’s free advertising and promotion plan for affected businesses, he was encouraged. He found out that construction was “a lot more organized” than when the 20-mile starter line was built, and that the contractor was going door to door to ask business owners their preferred hours of construction.

Fernando and other 19th Avenue business owners organized and met with neighbors to make the most of a disruptive situation.

“No matter what we do, this (rail construction) is going to happen, so you might as well turn a bad thing into a good thing,” Fernando said. In the end, “it will be a benefit; it will increase property values,” and the rail will add visibility to our businesses, he added.


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STATION LINES... Station Lines...  

New NJ Transit Station Planned
For Northeast Corridor Rail Line

Star Ledger By Mike Frassinelli

NJ Transit has plans for a “flyover” track and a new train station in North Brunswick to improve on-time performance and commuting choices on the Northeast Corridor — North America’s busiest rail line.

This would be the first NJ Transit station on the corridor since Secaucus Junction in 2003 and Hamilton in 1999.

The station is needed, officials say, because there exists now the longest gap between stations on the Northeast Corridor between Princeton Junction and New Brunswick’s Jersey Avenue Station, causing an inconvenient and time-consuming commute for many riders. Some commuters who take the train have to go south before they go north. “North Brunswick people generally go to the Jersey Avenue train station or they go to East Brunswick to grab a bus,” said North Brunswick Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack III. “This would be a big help.”

The plan involves transit oriented development since North Brunswick plans to turn the old Johnson & Johnson complex into a mixed-use residential and retail development centered around transit. For years, billboards placed near the Johnson & Johnson complex have told passers-by to imagine a train station and transit village on the site.

The station would have a 1,000-foot long platform to accommodate the 12-car train sets on the NEC and could be built in 2018.

Just south of the proposed station would be a looping flyover track. Similar to a flyover ramp on a highway, the extra stretch of track would eliminate the need to cross in front of train traffic. Riders on trains that make the loop would have the unusual sight of watching the other four tracks of the Northeast Corridor Line underneath them.

A pre-proposal conference to discuss the plans and ideas will be held on at NJ Transit headquarters in Newark on Thursday of this coming week, and proposals are due by the end of the business day on Feb. 15.

Paul Wyckoff, chief of government and external affairs for NJ Transit, said there would be many benefits for commuters.

“You’ve got a new station that will help accommodate the growth and demand we see over the next decade-plus in that part of the state,” he said. “And the Mid-Line Loop will allow our trains to get onto the corridor without crossing the four tracks of the Northeast Corridor as they have to do now. It’s sort of analogous to taking an at-grade intersection on a busy highway and building a flyover, so that you get rid of that traffic light and that disruption to the flow of traffic”

While it is still too early to definitively quote costs, a new station could cost about $30 million and the loop could cost “several hundred million,” officials said.


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Grand Central Terminal Centennial
Celebration Kicks Off February 1

From PRNewswire

NEW YORK, Jan. 17, -- Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York (MTA) and Metro-North Railroad will open Grand Central Terminal to the public on February 1, 2013 for the celebration of its 100th Anniversary with a full day of activities, including a morning public rededication ceremony and musical performances that will keep visitors entertained well into the evening.  The morning ceremony will feature elected officials, high-profile celebrities and VIPs, and performances by award-winning musicians and New York students.  Throughout the day—which is hosted by Metro-North, the New York Transit Museum and other partners—members of the public can enjoy live performances, national award presentations, sponsor giveaways, special retail deals, and the opening of “Grand by Design,” a spectacular six-week exhibit that chronicles the history and impact of New York’s greatest building and one of the world’s most famous train terminals.  The February 1 events are presented with support from Target.

These events fall 100 years to the day that the first set of keys was handed to the Terminal’s station master on February 1, 1913. (The first train left the Terminal just after midnight on February 2.) 

OPENING CEREMONY

Well-known names and faces will wish the Terminal a happy birthday that morning.  The day kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with a concert by the West Point Brass & Percussion (including “Grand Central Centennial Fanfare,” a new piece written for the occasion). Speakers, performers and activities at the 10 a.m. public ceremony include New York City resident Cynthia Nixon ; former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins , who will read an original poem commissioned by MTA Arts for Transit; author and preservationist Caroline Kennedy whose mother Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is widely credited with saving the Terminal from destruction in the 1970s; Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and actress Melissa Manchester ; members of the Vanderbilt family whose ancestor “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt inspired the construction of Grand Central; baseball MVP Keith Hernandez ; the Celia Cruz Bronx High School Choir; and several special presentations, including a surprise “sweet” delivery that caps off the event. 

For more information on exhibits, activities (which will continue throughout 2013) and sponsors go to PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1yAt5)


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NEWS FROM AMTRAK... News From Amtrak...  

Amtrak 2013:  New Year Brings Major Projects

Infrastructure Upgrades, New Equipment Milestones
And High-Speed Rail Advancements Lead Full Agenda

By Frances Bourne

WASHINGTON - Amtrak enters 2013 with a full and robust agenda of infrastructure upgrade projects, significant milestones for new equipment orders and key actions to advance its Northeast Corridor (NEC) high-speed rail program.

Among the projects include completion of the NEC Niantic River Movable Bridge replacement project, delivery of the first units of new equipment orders for 70 electric locomotives and 130 single-level long-distance passenger cars, expansion of Acela Express high-speed service with an additional New York - Washington round-trip and initiation of the process to acquire next-generation high-speed train sets.

“Amtrak continues to advance and invest in projects that provide both near-term benefits and long-term improvements for the effective delivery and reliability of intercity passenger rail service,” said President and CEO Joe Boardman.

During the coming year, three Amtrak-owned or maintained corridors will be under various stages of construction to enhance and ultimately increase rail capacity including the Springfield Line in Conn., the Hudson Line in upstate N.Y. and a section of the NEC in N.J.

In addition, Amtrak anticipates reaching agreement in 2013 with the Michigan Department of Transportation to operate, dispatch and maintain a section of state-owned railroad from Kalamazoo to Dearborn that will lead to track improvements to support 110 mph service.

Other projects in 2013 include: advancing planning work for the Gateway Program to increase tunnel, track and station capacity into Manhattan for intercity, commuter and next-generation high-speed rail service; improving accessibility at stations under requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act; completing installation of Positive Train Control safety technology along the NEC and Keystone Corridor; and upgrading the AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi service to 4G/LTE.

Boardman explained that these and other projects support a strong focus on strengthening the Amtrak bottom line and its strategic goals of safety and security, customer focus, mobility and connectivity, environment and energy, and financial and organizational excellence.

He said the 2013 agenda builds on the successes from 2012 which saw record ridership, the best-ever system-wide on-time performance, the national launch of eTicketing and the start of new Northeast Regional service to Norfolk, Va., the extension of Downeaster service to Freeport and Brunswick, Maine, and the beginning of 110 mph operations on the Lincoln Service in Illinois and on the Wolverine and Blue Water services in Michigan.

About Amtrak ®

Amtrak is America’s Railroad®, the nation’s intercity passenger rail service and its high-speed rail operator.  A record 31.2 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2012 on more than 300 daily trains - at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) - that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Amtrak operates intercity trains in partnership with 15 states and contracts with 13 commuter rail agencies to provide a variety of services.  Enjoy the journey® at Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information.  Join us on Facebook (http://facebook.com/Amtrak) and follow us at Twitter (http://twitter.com/Amtrak)


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

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

Major 10-Year Deal For Britain’s Largest
Rail Electrification Program

Network Rail To Replace Coal-Generated Electricity With Power From Nuclear Plants

Via Network Rail Press Release

London – Network Rail have awarded EDF Energy a ten-year deal to supply low carbon electricity to power Britain’s growing electrified railway. EDF Energy, based in London, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Électricité de France. Network Rail is Britain’s state-owned railway infrastructure holding company, which is responsible for maintenance, operation and future expansion of the country’s fixed railway infrastructure.

EDF Energy will supply around 3.2 TW-h of electricity a year, powering a railway which carries three million passengers and tens of thousands of tons of freight a day. The deal will ensure 100% of the electricity supplied to us will be matched by low carbon energy generated from EDF Energy’s eight nuclear power stations. The monetary value of the 10-year supply agreement was not announced.

David Higgins, chief executive, Network Rail stated; “Rail is already the greenest form of public transport and this partnership with EDF Energy will help us make it greener still. Our work to electrify hundreds of miles of railway represents the biggest program of rail electrification in a generation and will provide faster, quieter and more reliable journeys for millions of passengers every week while cutting the cost of the railway.”

Mr. Higgins added, “We are transforming the railway and providing Britain with a sustainable, world-class transport system that is fit for the future. This innovative contract for low-carbon energy will provide excellent value to the rail industry and means we are not only providing a greener railway, but also a better value railway for Britain.”

Part of the WCML rail network – near Stafford, England

Photo: Network Rail UK

Wiring for the future – Britain has embarked on a massive program to electricity a number of its rail lines over the next decade, some projects are already in the construction phase. A view of existing electrification on a double-track branch line – part of the WCML rail network – near Stafford, England. Britain’s WCML group of rail lines, including this route, were electrified in phases from the early 1960s thru the mid 1970s.

The majority of electricity supplied will be used to power electric trains which now account for 55% of rail traffic. This is set to grow considerably over the coming years as Network Rail carry out work to electrify more than 20,000 track miles across Britain. Once electrification schemes are complete, three-quarters of all rail traffic in Britain will be electric powered. In terms of percentage of track electrified, Britain has lagged far behind other western European countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Holland and Belgium, but this situation is changing.

New electrification projects include:

Network Rail Fact File

With a railway containing more than 20,000 miles of track, tens of thousands of signals and hundreds of signal boxes controlling 25,000 trains a day, Network Rail is the single biggest consumer of electricity in Britain.

Network Rail procures electricity centrally for the whole rail industry – traction electricity charges recover the costs of electricity supplied by us to train operators for their use of traction electricity through overhead lines and third rail power systems.

Currently only 40% of the railway in Great Britain is electrified, including most of the south east of England, and the main lines from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as the Merseyrail network around Liverpool and the Glasgow suburban network.

By 2020, 54% of the railway network in Great Britain will be electrified with electric trains accounting for 75% of all rail traffic.

Electrification plays a role in reducing carbon emissions as well as improving air quality and reducing noise – electric vehicles, on average, emit 20% – 30% fewer CO2 emissions than diesel
Electric trains provide more seats than diesel trains, while electric freight locomotives can haul longer trains.


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France’s Speeds Up Rolling Stock
Renewal Investments

Via Lok Report And International Railway Journal

Paris – French National Railways (SNCF) says it will invest what it describes as an unprecedented amount this year to expand and modernize its passenger fleet and facilities. It will spend EUR 2.6 billion (US 3.4 billion) on the procurement of new trains, the refurbishment of existing trains, and improvements to stations in 2013.

SNCF will take delivery of 15 TGV Duplex trains from Alstom and install new interiors in 30 older TGV train-sets at a cost of EUR 540 million. It will spend a further EUR 100 million renovating 15 trains in its inter-city fleet.

Regional transit authorities, excluding Ile-de-France (where Paris is located), will purchase 350 new trains to meet growth in demand for regional services. This year will see the delivery of 10 tram-trains, 38 Alstom Régiolis sets and the first Regio2N double-deck trains from Bombardier.

I the greater Paris region the Ile-de-France Transport Syndicate (Stif), the Ile-de-France region and SNCF will invest EUR 574 million to improve the quality of Transilien commuter rail services in the greater Paris area. This includes EUR 270 million for the acquisition of 32 train-sets to be delivered this year and EUR 120 million for the modernization of 40 train-sets.

Longer term the French government plans to invest around EUR 5.5 billion over the next ten years in rail transit, including financial support to purchase up to 40 new TGV train-sets and operating support for local and regional trains under the TET and TER brand names in southern and western parts of France.


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And Finally…

 

Joy Ride On Train Ends With A Bang

Stockholm And The Rest Of Europe Rocked By Story Of Cleaning Lady, Who Stole
A Commuter Train For A Very Short Joy Ride – Or Did She Really Steal It?

Via BBC, Guardian, NDR News Radio, The Local And Other Sources

A four-car commuter train, parked at a suburban Stockholm commuter rail station was allegedly stolen by a cleaning person and crashed into a multi-family house after it rolled about 1.5 km (1 mile) onto a dead-end spur line and crashed through the buffers. The EMU passenger train was empty with the exception of the female Arriva Trains employee, who was in the train to clean the interior when the incident took place.

The 22 year-old woman, who was in the control cab of the train, was seriously injured when the train tore through the buffers at the end of the side line track and rammed into the apartment house. The occupants of the house were not injured.

Train in houise - Swedish Train Accident Jan 2013

Train in houise - Swedish Train Accident Jan 2013

Photos: Guardian UK.

Not the way door-to-door service is suppose to work – results of a joy ride or an accidental activation of the train’s throttle? Police continue to investigate.

As sightseers flocked to the train that remains lodged inside the house after the cleaning lady allegedly crashed it on Tuesday (15th of January), officials have backed down and admitted the incident may indeed have been an accident. Two days after the incident in the wealthy Stockholm suburb of Saltsjöbaden, the scene has become a popular destination for onlookers eager to catch an in-person glimpse of the unusual spectacle.

The news of the train heist in Sweden soon became a media frenzy across various European news outlets, and even starting showing up in the monologs of a number of comedians on several late-night TV talk shows and morning drive-time radio hosts.

Meanwhile, police and officials are still none the wiser as to why a 22-year-old cleaning lady was driving the train in the first place.

“It might have been an accident,” Tomas Hedenius, a spokesman for the train’s operator Arriva, told a reporter of The Local (an English language news agency in Sweden). Hedenius stated soon after the incident that the cleaner “for unknown reasons stole the train”, according to the Aftonbladet newspaper, but by Thursday had changed track. “We still don’t know for sure and we’re investigating, and waiting for the police to finish their investigation,” he told The Local.

A report in the Aftonbladet newspaper citing anonymous sources said police are working on the theory that the cleaner accidentally tripped a driver safety device when folding down the driver’s seat as she was leaving the cabin.

However, police spokesman Lars Byström refused to confirm the theory, saying only that the investigation is ongoing and that the cleaner still remains suspected of a crime, with police planning to speak with her on Thursday, the 17th of January.

An emergency team has so far managed to take away the rear two carriages of the train, but has struggled to remove the remaining two, one of which is firmly inside the kitchen of one of the unit’s apartment building as of the 17th of January.


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