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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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February 11, 2013
Vol. 14 No. 6

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

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

Blizzard of 2013
  News Items…
Oil Boom Boosts U.S. Railroads As Petroleum
   Carloads Soar 46%
  Transit Lines…
Atlanta’s Mayor Visits Charlotte: Advocates
   For Streetcar Investment
  Freight Lines…
Freight Railroads In Hiring, Investment Cycle:
   11,000 New Jobs, $24.5 Billion To Be Invested
  History Lines…
Two New York Area Railroads Celebrate
   Thirtieth Anniversaries
  Selected Rail Stocks…
Legislative Conference March 10-12, 2013
  Economic Lines…
APTA Working With Commission To Set Goals
   In Energy Efficiency
  Across The Pond…
Stuttgart 21 Terminated ?
  Publication Notes …

COMMENTARY... Commentary...

Blizzard of 2013

By Dennis Kirkpatrick
NCI Webmaster

As we approached this past weekend it became obvious that we were in for a big snow event in the northeast USA where several of the NCI staff resides. As we endeavored to move this edition into its copy deadline the power failed for the editor and publisher.

Operating on battery and cell phones, they managed to get the copy to the intrepid webmaster who, by Divine Providence, maintained power throughout one of the worse snow events to hit the New England area in recorded history.

As of publication time, the snow event is being considered the 5th worse snow storm in recorded history with the 5th highest snow tally coming in officially (as measured at Logan International Airport on the water’s edge) at 24.9 inches. In many communities “snow banding”, which is a concentrated area of the storm, resulted in accumulations in excess of 30 inches throughout the region.

At least two deaths, one a child, have been attributed to the storm in Massachusetts. Both were unfortunate accidents associated with people getting warm in running motor vehicles while clearing snow. Sadly, they failed to clear the exhaust pipes of their cars and the invisible fumes collected in the passenger compartment and took their toll.

MBTA Green Line Snow Train

All images: MBTA Twitter Feed

A Green Line unit designated a “snow train” runs along Boston’s Commonwealth Ave. streetcar reservation in an effort to keep the rails clear of snow build up. This was a losing battle in a number of places.

At the peak of the storm and in its immediate aftermath, some 450-thousand people throughout Massachusetts (just that state alone) were without power, with much of that concentrated in the geography south of Boston and toward Cape Cod. Other New England states suffered similar outages as well. Many power companies could not even attempt power restoration until the winds, which were sustained at tropical force for much of the storm, subsided. Indeed gusts into the hurricane force range were recorded throughout the region. Many cities and neighborhoods are expected to be without power till Tuesday and maybe beyond.

At 3:30 PM on Friday February 8, as the storm was just beginning, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) closed down for the day and suspended all service; bus, streetcar, subway, and commuter rail. Amtrak and interstate bus lines also shuttered service as well.

Lechmere Station under snow

Lechmere Station terminus on the MBTA Green Line. Snowed-in and nothing running at this point.

Late that same afternoon Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) issued an emergency order eliminating all automobile traffic from the roadways as of 4:00 pm. Offenders would face serious fines and possible arrest. Exceptions were made for essential personnel traveling to and from emergency jobs (snow plows, law enforcement, hospital workers, etc). (Ed. note: The ban was lifted Saturday afternoon.)

Boston’s Logan International Airport also closed and stated it hoped to have one runway open for incoming flights by Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, with transit and auto traffic suspended, arriving people would be faced with staying on portable cots in the terminals. There was no place to go.

Front End Loader clearing rails

In those areas where storm “banding” played a role, snow drift required front end loaders to clear the streetcar reservation. Higher up in elevation, this section of Commonwealth Ave needed extra help. As this article was written, that process continued.

As we composed this newsletter, the MBTA had announced that it would not resume service on Saturday or Sunday what so ever. However, limited "in the tube" service was running late Sunday afternoon with as-close-to-normal service as can be expected slated to start up on Monday morning.

The effort to clear the tracks and platforms continues as the images in this article illustrate.

The Northeast Corridor (NEC), which runs just 250 feet from my front door, remained silent all weekend, as well as the area roads, and the skies above.

Limited Amtrak service from New York to Boston was expected to resume sometime Sunday. Check your schedules.


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NEWS ITEMS... News Items...  

Oil Boom Boosts U.S. Railroads
As Petroleum Carloads Soar 46%

From The Association Of American Railroads,
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, And DF By Staff

WASHINGTON, DC --- The shale oil boom that has turned parts of America from bust to boom has spread to the U.S. railway industry, as carloads of petroleum and petroleum products hauled by American railroads soared 46% in 2012 to 170,000, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Here’s how the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Erich Schwartzel covered the story…

A record-setting increase in domestic crude oil production was reflected on the nation’s railways last year, with the amount of petroleum products on the railroads increasing by 46 percent in 2012.  More than 170,000 carloads of petroleum and petroleum products rode the rails, according to the Association of American Railroads. That’s an increase of 46 percent from 2011’s figures.

A report released Tuesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration highlighted the shifting dynamics of commodities transported by rail, a leading barometer of where the nation is getting its energy.  Crude oil and petroleum product shipments increased on account of booming production in shale formations across Appalachia and the U.S. Last year set a record for U.S. crude oil production, with 780,000 barrels produced per day.  Crude oil and all petroleum products account for about 4 percent of all commodity carloads in 2012.

EIA analysts said oil production has been ramping up in areas like North Dakota, which doesn’t yet have an established pipeline system that could transport the oil to major markets. Pipelines already transport about 90 percent of crude oil and petroleum in the United States.  While the year was good for oil production, shifting energy dynamics that have tempered coal demand left fewer coal carloads on the railroads.

About 726,000 carloads carried coal in 2012. That’s down nearly 11 percent from 2011, a reflection of growing competition from cheap natural gas for use in electrical generation.  Despite the drop, coal remained the dominant commodity transported by rail, accounting for about 41 percent of all commodity carloads.  Coal was used for about 37 percent of the country’s electricity generation in the first 11 months of 2012, according to the EIA, a drop of about five percentage points from the same period in 2011.

Erich Schwartzel can be reached at: or 412-263-1455.

Read more:

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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

Atlanta’s Mayor Visits Charlotte:
Advocates For Streetcar Investment

From The Charlotte Observer

CHARLOTTE, NC ---“With the Charlotte City Council deadlocked over whether to build 2.5 miles of a streetcar line, Mayor Anthony Foxx invited Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to speak to council members Thursday about his decision to support a new east-west streetcar in Atlanta,” writes reporter Steve Harrison of the Charlotte Observer.

“Reed told council members that they should support spending $119 million to extend the city’s streetcar, saying it would pay off with new economic investment.

‘People who want to use the economy as a reason not to invest will be proven wrong,’ Reed said. He added that ‘everywhere people have done streetcars, capital has followed.’

“But it’s unclear whether Reed’s pep talk can break the deadlock on the streetcar,” wrote Harrison.

“Atlanta is planning an east-west streetcar to connect downtown with the Martin Luther King Jr. historic site to the east. He said it will revitalize Auburn Avenue, which was the historic business district for the city’s African-American community. Foxx has said the streetcar could rejuvenate Beatties Ford Road and Central Avenue in Charlotte. Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon, who is wary of using property taxes for the streetcar, asked Reed whether property taxes are being used to build Atlanta’s streetcar.”

“Reed said Atlanta used a number of ways to fund the city’s $47 million share, including sale of property and cash reserves. He said no property taxes were used. Council member John Autry -- a streetcar supporter -- asked Reed to restate the anticipated economic impact from the streetcar line. Reed said that the city of Charlotte is in a unique position because of Foxx’s relationship with the Obama administration.”

“‘The president knows your mayor, and he trusts him,’ Reed said. ‘You are uniquely positioned because of how the president feels about Charlotte and how he feels about your mayor.’”

After Reed’s speech, council members discussed at great length the pros and cons of the streetcar. Supporters such as Patsy Kinsey, David Howard and James Mitchell said the communities that it will serve can’t wait and need economic development immediately.

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FREIGHT LINES... Freight Lines...  

Freight Railroads In Hiring, Investment Cycle:
11,000 New Jobs, $24.5 Billion To Be Invested

From The Association of American Railroads

WASHINGTON, DC---The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today announced the nation’s major freight railroads plan to invest an estimated $24.5 billion in 2013 to build, maintain and upgrade America’s rail network to ensure freight railroads can continue to deliver for the nation’s economy. This investment includes $13 billion in projected capital expenditures, or CapEx, which go toward upgrading or enhancing rail network capacity in the year ahead.

“While most other transportation modes rely on government funds, America’s freight railroads operate on infrastructure they own, maintain and upgrade to serve their customers and power our economy,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “This year, freight railroads plan to continue to focus on investments that maintain and enhance our physical infrastructure and safety systems, including cutting edge technology that ensures we are ready to deliver for the future.”

With hundreds of transportation infrastructure projects underway nationwide, railroads are investing in projects such as intermodal terminals that facilitate truck to train freight transport; new track; bridges and tunnels; modernized safety equipment; new locomotives and rail cars, and other components that ensure the U.S. freight rail network remains the most reliable and efficient in the world.

In recent years, railroads have been spending roughly 17 percent of their annual revenue on capital expenditures, compared with the average U.S. manufacturer that spends roughly 3 percent of revenue on capital expenditures.

The freight railroads also estimate they will hire more than 11,000 employees this year, primarily in response to retirements and attrition for positions that can be found across the U.S.  With approximately 22 percent of the industry’s workforce eligible to retire in the next five years, railroads are dedicated to recruiting highly skilled people interested in making railroading a career. In the first five months of the year, railroads are participating in more than 70 career fairs across the country.

“We are looking for employees who want a true potential life-long career and will want to help make the railroads safer and more reliable than they have ever been,” said Hamberger. “The success of our industry—from our importance to the economy to our continually improving safety record—can be attributed to the hard working men and women who make their careers with the railroads.”

Rail employee compensation, including benefits, averages roughly $107,000 per year, with jobs ranging from engineers and dispatchers, to law enforcement, to information technology and industrial development.

For more information on where, please go here:

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is the world’s leading railroad policy, research and technology organization focusing on the safety and productivity of rail carriers. AAR members include the major freight railroads of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as Amtrak. Learn more at Follow AAR on Twitter: @AAR_FreightRail or Facebook:

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HISTORY LINES... History Lines...  

Two New York Area Railroads
Celebrate Thirtieth Anniversaries

By David Peter Alan

New York’s Grand Central Terminal (GCT), the London Underground and San Francisco’s MUNI all celebrated important anniversaries recently. So did two railroads that take thousands of commuters and other riders into New York City. Metro-North, which takes riders to GCT, and New Jersey Transit (NJT) Rail Operations, Inc. both ran their first trains 30 years ago this week.

Because of geography, New York City has three commuter-sheds: Long Island, New Jersey, and the area north of the City, mostly in Westchester County and nearby Connecticut. The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) still operates under its own flag, although it is a part of New York State’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The LIRR was founded in 1834. The rail side of NJT and Metro-North started in 1983, as a result of events that occurred during the previous fifteen years.

Map Courtesy of NJT. Click map for a larger image at the MJT web site.
(PDF Document)

The railroads in the Northeast region were not doing well in the 1960s. The Pennsylvania and New York Central Railroads, which had been fierce rivals for freight and passenger traffic between the Northeast and the Midwest, merged to form the Penn Central Transportation Company in 1968. The New Haven Railroad was swept into the merger, despite the hopes of its managers that it could remain independent. The merger meant that Penn Central inherited most of the commuter rail service in the region: Boston South Side, trains to GCT and Penn Station in the New York area, former Pennsylvania Railroad lines in and around Philadelphia, and a few trains to Washington, D.C. from Maryland.

Penn Central went bankrupt in 1970, under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. Other railroads in the region met the same fate: the Erie-Lackawanna (which ran trains to Hoboken Terminal, connecting with New York), the Central Railroad of New Jersey (which ran to Penn Station, Newark and connected with New York trains) and the Reading Railroad (which ran the rest of the commuter trains to Philadelphia). All of these railroads and some freight-only carriers were merged in the Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail) in 1976, under the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973 (3R Act).

By that time, all lines not classified as “commuter” were turned over to Amtrak, including Northeast Corridor (NEC) trains. This meant that Conrail operated all commuter trains from the South Side service into Boston, and as far south as Washington, D.C. There was a catch, however: the Northeast Rail Act of 1981 required that Conrail cease its commuter operations by the end of 1982. The Act gave the local operating agencies, which had operated only buses and streetcars, only eighteen months to decide how their local trains would be operated after Conrail’s impending exit from passenger service.

On the last day of Conrail operation, the trains ran a normal weekday schedule, with a few New Years Eve “extras” to get people home after midnight. When the service day ended, so did Conrail passenger trains. On the last day of Conrail in New Jersey, everybody rode for $1.00, except for local trips, where the fare was 75¢. Today, the minimum “regular” fare on NJT Rail is $2.25.

As 1982 came to a close, there was even more activity around the political and railroad board rooms, according to Walter E. Zullig, Jr., the attorney who supervised the creation of Metro-North and became its first General Counsel. According to Zullig, managers scrambled to make the necessary corporate and labor deals to prepare for the post-Conrail era of local rail service. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston folded the South Side operations on former Conrail lines into the North Side operations of the Boston & Maine Railroad (B&M), which was not part of Conrail. In the New York and Philadelphia areas, managers did not have that option. So they formed their new rail components and hoped for a smooth transition.

They did not get the smooth transition they wanted. New Years’ Day came and went, and no local trains ran, because of strikes against the new operators in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. There were new corporations formed. The Metro-North Commuter Railroad (the word “Commuter” was later dropped from the name) and New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, Inc. were formed to operate the lines in their jurisdictions. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), which had been operating local transit in Philadelphia, took over the trains there. At the beginning, there was no service because of the strikes. The one at SEPTA lasted 115 days. The ones in the New York area were shorter. The strike against Metro-North lasted for 42 days, and the one against NJT Rail lasted 34 days. So, even though the new operations were scheduled to start running trains on New Years’ Day, Metro-North ran its first trains on February 13th and NJT ran theirs on February 5th.

Click for larger image at the Metro-North web site.

Zullig told this writer that negotiations over the formation of Metro-North went down to the wire. MTA Chair Richard Ravitch (who was recently Lieutenant Governor of New York State) and Peter Stangl, who would become President of Metro-North, had misgivings about starting the new railroad. When U.S. Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis sweetened the deal with more federal dollars, Ravitch gave Zullig and his colleagues in the Legal Department the go-ahead to close the deal.

The strike continued, but Amtrak Empire Service trains to upstate New York and Canada, as well as the Lake Shore Limited through upstate New York to Chicago, still ran. Managers, including Zullig, kept the railroad open for Amtrak’s Empire trains and Conrail’s freight trains. Zullig himself worked briefly as a tower and bridge operator, and commuted from Westchester on special substitute-service buses to Pelham Bay in the East Bronx, where he could catch the #6 subway train to Grand Central. Like many other managers, he was glad to see the strike end and Metro-North begin running trains.

The situation was similar in New Jersey, as Martin E. Robins recalled. Robins, also an attorney, was the original Executive Director of New Jersey Transit and negotiated labor contracts for NJT before and during the strike. He recalled that he negotiated with the United Transportation Union (UTU) and fifteen other unions to set up work rules for the newly-formed New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, Inc. (NJTROI), the rail arm of NJT. NJT was originally formed in 1979 to take over Transport of New Jersey, the bus company that had previously been owned and operated by Public Service Electric & Gas Co., as Public Service Coordinated Transit. Originally, the only rail line that NJT operated was the Newark City Subway, a short light rail line that was the sole survivor of the once-vast Public Service streetcar network. Like the managers who formed Metro-North, their counterparts in New Jersey had to work fast to start a railroad company that would pick up where Conrail was required to leave off.

“We had a very young, energetic staff. It is remarkable how they organized, pitched in, and managed the crowds and the service,” said Robins. He continued: “It was amazing how well they responded to the challenge of replacing all the rail service” that Conrail would no longer be allowed to operate. Robins recalled that some of the work rules governing the railroad had been in effect since World War I, before the Railway Labor Act standardized other rules in 1926. He said that NJT went to federal court for an order requiring labor to negotiate as a unified organization, rather than separately for each of the former railroads (Penn Central or Pennsylvania RR, Erie Lackawanna and Jersey Central) independently. Once the union representation was consolidated, negotiations went more smoothly,” Robins told this writer. He also said: “We wanted service rolling again, but it was a tough strike.”

Service started rolling again on both railroads 30 years ago this week. It would be almost another five months before local trains would roll into Philadelphia on SEPTA (strike lasted March 15th to July 3d).

In an irony of geography, Metro-North and NJT have two lines of contact in New York State, west of the Hudson River. The main one is the line to Port Jervis, New York. “Port” (as the locals refer to it) was once the dividing line between the Erie Railroad’s New York Division (to Jersey City until 1957 and later to Hoboken) and Delaware Division (to Binghamton). NJT operates a full-service line between Hoboken and Suffern, immediately over the state line. The rest of the line belongs to Metro-North, although NJT operates it under a contract between the two companies. When Hurricane Irene washed out portions of the track beyond Suffern in 2011, the MTA, Metro-North’s parent agency, repaired it. There is a similar arrangement between Metro-North and NJT on the Pascack Valley Line, which runs between Hoboken and Spring Valley. The three outermost stations on the line are located in New York State. Thirty years ago, both lines operated during peak commuting hours only. Today, both have more commuter-hour service, with week-end and off-peak-hour weekday trains, too.

Before 1983, the local rail situation was deteriorating at a rate so alarming that riders decided that, if they did not do anything about it, nobody else would. New Jersey riders formed the Lackawanna Coalition and the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP) to push for better service. At the Shore, riders on the New Jersey Coast Line staged demonstrations to publicize their plight as commuters. In 2004, Lackawanna Coalition founder Sidney L. Palius told the Railgram, the Coalition’s newsletter, about the situation in the early 1980s: “It’s a miracle that New Jersey’s entire commuter rail operation did not completely shut down both from a lack of funding and the departure of experienced rail operations management.” The Hudson, Harlem and New Haven commuter lines on the New York and Connecticut side had similar problems.

Over the years, both railroads modernized their fleets, made other capital improvements and added service on a number of lines. NJT also had the task of rationalizing service patterns and fares that the agency inherited from the old railroads and from the Commuter Operating Agency (COA) in the state’s Department of Transportation. The COA could subsidize Conrail and its predecessor railroads to keep the trains going, but could not do much more. When Conrail left the scene, NJT and Metro-North assumed genuine authority to run the trains, but it took a relatively long strike to settle that authority.

Advocates on both sides of the Hudson River have complained about the prevalence of politics in the decision-making processes of both railroads, as well as the Long Island Rail Road. That does not seem to change, whether the Democrats or the Republicans control the administrations or the legislatures in Washington, Trenton or Albany. Nonetheless, service has improved over the past thirty years. People keep going into New York City on both railroads, as well as riding within New Jersey on NJT.

There is also room for hope for the future. New Jersey advocate Albert L. Papp, Jr. often refers to the river that separates the two states as the “Hudson Ocean.” Despite that, he spoke at the Grand Central Centennial Celebration earlier this month in his capacity as the president of the New York Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society (NRHS) and called upon the audience to imagine high-speed trains coming to GCT and to imagine GCT and Penn Station connected someday. It would truly reflect a great future for railroading in the region if Metro-North and NJT could physically meet at GCT and interact with each other far more than they do today, when their only connection is an operating agreement for trains that happen to go through New Jersey on their way north to New York State.

David Peter Alan is Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition. He has been riding trains in New Jersey regularly and in Metro-North territory occasionally, since before Metro-North and NJT Rail started operations thirty years ago.

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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...


Berkshire Hathaway B (BNSF)(BRK.B)97.2598.00
Canadian National (CNI)97.4995.94
Canadian Pacific (CP) 113.42116.08
CSX (CSX)21.9721.92
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)83.9585.19
Kansas City Southern (KSU)95.0994.34
Norfolk Southern (NSC)69.0069.60
Providence & Worcester(PWX)15.8816.00
Union Pacific (UNP)133.15133.96

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EVENTS... Events...  

Legislative Conference
March 10-12, 2013


The American Public Transportation Association will hold its 38th Annual Legislative Conference, March 10-12 at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C. The conference program, updated daily as details are finalized, can be found under the Meetings and Conferences section of the APTA website.


Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), incoming chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, will speak about his plans for the committee during the March 12 Breakfast with Members of Congress. Shuster has already expressed interest in issues of importance to APTA members, including federal passenger and freight rail safety program reauthorizations, oversight of MAP-21 implementation, preparing for the next federal surface transportation authorization process, and addressing Highway Trust Fund financing issues

A March 11 panel session will bring together Bud Wright, the new executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; Steve Sandherr, chief executive officer, Associated General Contractors; Deron Lovaas, director, federal transportation policy, Energy and Transportation Program, Natural Resources Defense Council; and Colin Peppard, transportation legislative assistant to Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE). They will discuss financing for federal surface transportation programs. Additional speakers include DOT, FTA, and Federal Railroad Administration representatives, as well as members of the House and Senate.

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ECONOMIC LINES... Economic Lines...  

APTA Working With Commission
To Set Goals In Energy Efficiency

From Passenger Transport, The Weekly Newsletter Of
The American Public Transportation Association

The Alliance to Save Energy’s Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy has issued a report that sets the goal of doubling U.S. energy productivity by 2030 and puts forth specific recommendations toward achieving that goal, such as, investing $79 billion in more productive transportation systems, including public transportation, a measure that would allow the U.S. a net savings of $139 billion in energy costs.

“The commission’s report looks at the full range of measures to increase energy productivity, and expanding public transportation choices is considered a central element in a comprehensive, forward-looking, and transformative national strategy for energy productivity,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, who also serves as a commissioner on the bipartisan panel. “Investing in public transportation has the dual benefit of improving energy productivity while creating jobs.

The report shows that improved energy productivity in the U.S. can result in producing more goods and services and using less energy. This will result in cost savings, job creation, and reducing energy waste, said Melaniphy. He also noted that investing in public transportation will help the U.S. move toward the commission’s goal of creating 1.3 million jobs by 2030.

The commission — chaired by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), and Tom King, president of the National Grid — worked for a year to identify the most impactful bipartisan energy policy solutions. Public transportation was a key element in their strategy.

“To make these recommendations come to life, Congress can embrace a closer linkage between transportation policy and energy policy by investing in energy-efficient transportation infrastructure like public transportation,” said Melaniphy. “Greater federal investments in public transit can be the catalyst for state governments, local/regional governments, and the private sector to also provide resources. Incentives to promote productive energy development patterns will help underpin good public transportation and will facilitate regional and local plans to create jobs and improve energy productivity.”

Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy was created in 2012 to identify solutions for increasing U.S. energy productivity and aid in jumpstarting the economy. When we improve our energy productivity we are able to produce more goods and services using less energy – and that can save money, increase jobs, and cut down on wasted energy. In economic terms, it means getting more GDP out of every unit of energy consumed.

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

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor


Stuttgart 21 Terminated ?

Budgetary Deadlock Over Spiraling Costs May Derail Underground Station Project

Via Schwäbische Zeitung, N-24 TV News And Other Sources

Stuttgart – The ambitious project to convert Stuttgart’s main passenger rail station from a surface level terminal to an underground thru-station may be in danger of termination, after the German federal government indicated, in the form of a white paper from the transport ministry, that is was not going to pay for cost overruns, which now are on the order of EUR 2.3 billion (US $ 3.0 billion) above the original price tag of approximately EUR 4.3 billion. Numerous government observers in Berlin have noticed that ever more cost overruns of the project in Stuttgart are testing the patience of senior government officials including Chancellor Angela Merkel. The ongoing financial and political debacle of the new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport has clearly reduced law makers’ tolerance for a similar money pit hundreds of kilometers away in downtown Stuttgart.

The German federal government signaled this past week that it is unwilling to approve payment of the latest EUR 1.1 billion cost estimate overrun made public by Deutsche Bahn. Deutsche Bahn itself stated that the additional EUR 1.1 billion was beyond its financial means to pay for. The state of Baden Württemberg, in which Stuttgart is located, has already gone on the record as unwilling to pay for additional costs above what the original project agreement foresaw. The state governor ran against Stuttgart 21 (S21) during his 2011 election campaign. His political party, the Greens, remains generally opposed to the project.

View of west side of Stuttgarts central rail station

Photo: Focus Magazine

View of the west side of Stuttgart’s central rail station with S21 construction work in the foreground.

The new budget impasse will now force project managers to make some hard choices. Most likely in the near future will be a significant slow-down in the pace of construction, which will push the finish date from mid 2020 into 2024 or beyond. But outright termination of the project is not off the table, especially if further cost increases come up, which most observers believe is likely, especially when the construction period will extend over a much longer time span than first planned.

Germany’s minister of transport, Peter Ramsauer, stated this past week that talk of outright cancellation of the project is “nonsense” but offered no explanation how the current budget impasse would be resolved without cancellation.

It is still unclear what would happen to a key component of the overall S21 project, the Stuttgart – Ulm high-speed rail line. The proposed rail line would dramatically reduce travel times for intercity trains running between Stuttgart and Ulm, and in theory the new rail line could be connected to the existing terminal station, in the case that the underground station is not built.

With a new opening date of 2024, if completed at all, S21 will exceed the construction time of several other notable infrastructure projects by several years including NY Penn Station and Hudson River tunnels (9 years), the 1903 – 1913 re-build of NY Grand Central Terminal (10 years), Panama Canal (10 years), Berlin Hauptbahnhof and North-South Rail Connector (11 years) and the Channel Tunnel between England and France (7 years).

German political and industry leaders are scrambling to limit the publicity damage done to the country’s once proud heavy construction industry by the BER airport fiasco, the costly S21 project, wild cost overruns of the new building complex at Hamburgs Elbe Symphony Hall, and the four year-late and EUR 400 million over-budget City Tunnel in Leipzig.

A major project to convert Frankfurt’s huge passenger rail terminal to an underground station complex analogous to S21 and called “Frankfurt 21” was canceled nearly two decades ago due to costs concerns at the time. Frankfurt 21 had not yet entered the active construction phase when it was canceled. The reason these projects have come off the rails is subject to much debate within Germany and will be addressed in future editorials here in Destination: Freedom.

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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2013 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, wed like to hear from you. Please e-mail the editor at Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. Kirkpatrick, NCIs webmaster at

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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.

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