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

April 25, 2011
Vol. 12 No. 16

Copyright © 2011
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 12th Newsletter Year

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

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

  News Items…
Amtrak Reservation System Upgrade Ongoing;
   Users May Experience Some On-Line Delays
The Failure Of Regionalism
  HSR…
Governor’s Lawyer Misled State Supreme Court To Derail HSR
   - Ploy Worked, Rail $ Gone Anyway
HSR Funding Cut Disappointing, But Doesn’t Mean
   Program Is Dead
  Funding Lines…
2011 High-Speed Rail Funding Eliminated
Gov. McDonnell Signs Bill To Invest $4 Billion In
   Virginia’s Transportation Infrastructure
  Political Lines…
Amtrak Cites Top Five Priorities For Next
   Surface Transportation Bill
  Commuter Lines…
Rep. McNerney Introduces Bill To Expand Altamont
   Corridor Rail
 
  Transit Lines…
Transit Expands in Dallas as Green Line Attracts Riders to
   Light Rail
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Across The Pond…
Referendum On Stuttgart 21 Coming
Deutsche Bahn Signs For New Diesel Locomotives
   From Bombardier
Deutsche Bahn Signs For New ICx Passenger Trains
   From Siemens
China’s High-Speed Rail Threatens Domestic Airlines
  Events…
We CAN Connect New England By Rail! - Apr 29 CT
MWHSR Assoc. 2011 Annual Meeting & Spring Conference
  Publication Notes …


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

Amtrak Reservation System Upgrade Ongoing;
Users May Experience Some On-Line Delays

From Multiple Press Sources

WASHINGTON --- The Amtrak on-line reservation system is undergoing a major upgrade, and a migration to new servers, the railroad said this week, and although service should remain available during most of the transition some delays may be experienced by users.

The new system will enable more modern and efficient ticketing services than previously available, once fully in place.

“Major information technology changes at large organizations such as Amtrak are a big deal, and seldom without hiccups,” said National Corridors Initiative President Jim RePass, “but the results at Amtrak should be a much more user-friendly system. In the meantime, patience will definitely be a virtue.”

Amtrak operates the nation’s passenger rail system, and is one of the most cost-effective passenger rail systems in the world in terms of fare box recovery from ticket revenues, primarily because of much lower public subsidies than other national rail systems routinely enjoy in the industrialized world.


Return to index
 

From: The Transport Politic

 

The Failure Of Regionalism

“Suburban-oriented commuter rail projects may be cheap to construct, but they usually have limited effects on metropolitan travel.”

[Editor’s note --- What do our readers think of TP’s take on commuter rail lines?]

The construction of new commuter rail lines in the United States has been a peculiar trend in an age of job sprawl and changing work habits. Though the largest American transit capital investments in terms of money spent have been in light and metro rail projects, commuter rail corridors — defined loosely as diesel trains running largely at peak hours between cities and their suburbs — continue to attract local interest.

Over the past few years, Austin, Minneapolis, Nashville, and Salt Lake City, among other regions, have contributed millions of dollars to their construction.

The results have in general not been impressive. As Jeff Wood catalogued last week on The Overhead Wire, these investments have yielded very limited ridership — especially on a per-mile basis.

Nevertheless, cities continue to make plans to focus their spending on them: Kansas City announced in 2009 that it was considering a 150-mile commuter network; late last year, Indianapolis suggested its primary rail investment would be in a commuter line to its northeast suburbs.

In a country in which planners have increasingly come to emphasize long-range decision-making at the regional scale, the recourse to commuter rail over other projects seems reasonable. With most local transportation taxes being collected via metropolitan units, rather than municipal ones, it is important to show that spending is being distributed not only in the central city but also at the edge.

Because everyone wants rail and there is often inadequate money to pay for a full-scale light or metro rail project, cheaper commuter rail is seen as a reasonable first investment that, it is argued, will eventually lead to more support for more transit when “people” “see” how good the new line is.

If I may paraphrase and condense Jeff Wood’s argument*, however, the political difficulty with spending limited funds on commuter rail rather than other transit projects can be summarized as follows:

  1. The limited investments made in commuter rail produce a system with low frequencies because of single tracks in many places and competition with freight railroads.

  2. Low ridership results from generally bad service, which means few voters take advantage (and see the advantage) of rail service.

  3. Little voter understanding of the importance of rail systems increases opposition to future projects and even adequate funding of the regular transit system, since too few people, even in proximity of the commuter rail lines, come to understand why that spending might be beneficial.

But the problem with commuter rail is more significant than that. These investments do not meet much of a demand in many of the cities in which they are implemented — primarily because of their reliance on a peak-hour suburb-to-downtown professional clientele.

Except in the older cities (which have legacy commuter rail systems for the most part), the downtown job base has been falling off as a percentage of the metropolitan area’s total employment for decades. The rise of non-traditional working patterns that rely on Third Places and home offices mean fewer people need to get into central business districts for the same amount of work to be done.

In most places, the center city simply isn’t a big enough attraction to require shuttling people to it from distant locales via big, heavy diesel trains running a few times a day. Indeed, in many cities, that work could probably be better done with a few express buses. Moreover, the suburbs lack the density (or, because of restrictive zoning, even the possibility of future density) to make those areas true destinations in themselves.

In regions with metropolitan governance schemes, though, the appeal of commuter rail is hard to dismiss: It provides the suburbs appealing rail service, and politicians need suburban support if, say, they want to enact tax increases to pay for better transportation. The construction of those suburban lines, however, has too little of an effect to truly convince suburban voters of the appeal of transit, so, as Jeff Wood wrote, those people have little motivation to spend more on transit in the future. This is not a virtuous cycle.

If decision-making about how to spend a set amount of transportation funds is being made at the regional scale, leaders need to have a good idea of the kind of urbanism they’re looking for. If they want a jobs-heavy downtown core to which people from all around the area commute in, commuter rail might be a good idea. But that kind of job concentration is only possible when suburban employment is dis-incentivized or banned. Are any of the regions thinking about building commuter rail doing anything of the sort?

From the perspective of a central city mayor or city councilperson, focusing on their city’s transportation needs alone may be more productive, since urban-scale transit lines like metro rail, light rail, or bus rapid transit offer connections between a variety of destinations within the densest areas of the region — and they attract many more users in the process than do commuter rail lines. It is true that transit use even within central cities is also heavily dependent on the strength of downtown employment, but even a weak core, like strong ones, is more likely to attract riders from the surrounding neighborhoods than from far-out suburbs. We should be planning our public transportation systems accordingly. Can regions perform that type of planning?

* Note that I’m less convinced by Jeff Wood’s third argument that commuter rail lines are “too easy” to build.

Most transit projects, of whatever scale, require a fight to be constructed. Just because a city or region is able to move forward with an expensive light rail project now does not mean they will be able to do it easily again five years from now.


Return to index
HSR... High-Speed Rail...  

Florida’s High-Speed Rail Fiasco Continues:

 

Governor’s Lawyer Misled State Supreme Court To Derail HSR
Ploy Worked, Rail $ Gone Anyway

From The INFRASTRUCTURIST
Posted on Monday April 18th by Eric Jaffe

TALLAHASSSEE --- After Florida Governor Rick Scott refused $2.4 billion in federal funding for the Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail line, state lawmakers challenged his authority to make such a decision.

[Although] the state Supreme Court ruled in Scott’s favor, it now appears that ruling was based on inaccurate information supplied to the court by Scott’s lawyer. The error had a big impact on the court’s decision, writes the Palm Beach Post politics blog:

“In a two-page letter to Chief Justice Charles Canady, Scott’s general counsel, Charles Trippe, acknowledged that last month he misrepresented a central fact in arguments supporting the governor’s rejection of $2.4 billion in federal funds for the project linking Tampa with Orlando.

“In the letter, Trippe admitted he was wrong when he told justices that $110 million of the $130 million authorized by the Florida Legislature for the project approved in 2009 had already been spent.

“Instead, Trippe said only $31 million had actually been spent — a major gap that appears to have shaped the court’s decision that sided with Scott.

“Indeed, Justice Barbara Pariente responded to Trippe’s claim during the hearing that Scott’s move against high-speed rail seemed to involve little remaining money. If so, Pariente suggested, the governor was likely empowered to stop the project. …Trippe agreed, suggesting lawmakers were arguing over a trifling amount of cash.”

Trippe claims he received the flawed information from the Florida Department of Transportation. Thad Altman, the state senator who took Scott to court over the decision to cancel the line, may try to re-open the case, according to Transportation Nation, although “he thinks there’s little chance to get the federal money back.”


Return to index
 

HSR Updates From Progressive Railroading
From Angela Cotey, Progressive Railroading

ELPC’s Howard Learner: HSR Funding Cut Disappointing,
But Doesn’t Mean Program Is Dead

 

CHICAGO --- President Barack Obama is expected to sign off on a FY2011 federal budget that, among other things, zeroes out high-speed rail funding for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30. It also rescinds $400 million in un-obligated FY2010 high-speed rail money.

Although the funding slash is “disappointing” and “a step in the wrong direction,” it doesn’t signify the end of the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program, says Environmental Law and Policy Center President and Executive Director Howard Learner, who says rumors about the program’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

Since Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected the $2.4 billion in federal high-speed dollars for the Tampa-Orlando project, the U.S. Department of Transportation now has $2 billion (after subtracting the $400 million in rescinded FY2010 funds) to reallocate to other states. On April 4, 24 states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak submitted applications totaling more than $10 billion seeking a share of those funds. The Obama administration and House Democrats likely saw those funds as a way to keep the program moving at a reasonable clip and, therefore, were more willing to give up funding for FY11, says Learner.

“You have to look at this in a broader context,” he says. “I can understand, in the emergency scramble to reach a budget recommendation in which a shutdown of the government was sensibly avoided, that someone in the room said, ‘Well, we have $2 billion we didn’t think we’d have as a result of the reallocated Florida funds. So for this short time period between now and the FY12 budget, we can grit our teeth and cut $1 billion from high-speed rail funding for this fiscal year.’”

And even though Republican congressmen are pressuring the Administration to cut high-speed rail funding, there are nearly a dozen Republican governors who have requested a portion of Florida’s HSIPR funds for their states — including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who previously rejected $810 million for the Milwaukee-Madison project.

“The fact of the matter is that the public strongly supports modern, fast, comfortable and convenient rail service that will improve mobility and reduce pollution, create jobs and spur economic growth,” says Learner, whose organization advocates for projects that improve environmental quality.

However, in order for the HSIPR program to succeed long term, politicians need to get past the “yo-yo” process where governors advocate for high-speed rail development in their state and obtain federal funds, only for those funds to be returned by the next governor, says Learner.

Having a consistent funding stream for high-speed and intercity passenger-rail projects would help. In February, the Obama administration proposed spending $53 billion on high-speed rail during the next six years to help reach their goal of providing 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail in the next 25 years. Whether the administration continues to push that proposal remains to be seen.  

“The key test will be what the president’s FY12 budget proposal is for high-speed rail, and the degree to which he actively advocates that funding in what’s likely to be a contentious budget process with Congress,” says Learner.

Just because high-speed rail funding was zeroed out in FY11 doesn’t mean the program won’t receive funds in FY12 and beyond, Learner says.

“The entire transportation reauthorization process right now is up in the air and the question of how to fund high-speed rail is not unique,” he says. “There’s the question of how to fund highways, bridges, airports — it’s all wrapped up in the transportation reauthorization and there right now doesn’t appear to be a funding formula that has widespread agreement among the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans.”

But as long as high-speed rail remains one of the president’s top priorities, the administration will find a way to fund it, Learner believes.

“I haven’t seen a transportation reauthorization bill in years in which the president, and the Senate and House leaders weren’t able to get support for their top priorities — that’s how that process works,” he says.


Return to index
FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

2011 High-Speed Rail Funding Eliminated

From The Infrastructurist
Posted By Eric Jaffe

Found at: http://www.infrastructurist.com/2011/04/18/2011-high-speed-rail-funding-eliminated/

WASHINGTON --- Early last week we told you that the new Congressional budget deal cut high-speed rail funding in 2011 down to just $1 billion from its initial level of $2.5 billion. Correction: the budget deal did not cut high-speed rail funding for 2011. It eliminated it. And then some. A document providing the latest details on the budget agreement, released by the House Appropriations Committee, makes that perfectly clear. See: http://appropriations.house.gov/_files/41211SummaryFinalFY2011CR.pdf  [ Adobe PDF File].

“For the Department of Transportation, the bill eliminates new funding for High-Speed Rail and rescinds $400 million in previous year funds, for a total reduction of $2.9 billion from fiscal year 2010 levels.”

The extra $400 million comes from the $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funding refused by Florida.   Tanya Snyder at Streetsblog Capitol Hill breaks down the rest of the transportation cuts:  

Yonah Freemark recently pondered conservative objections to high-speed rail and settled on two explanations.

The first is that conservatives believe intercity rail investment “constitutes inappropriate involvement of the public sector in something that should be determined by the market.”

The second is that they believe high-speed rail can only work in certain regions. Freemark denies both positions and concludes:

The fact of the matter is that we must have a nationwide investment in intercity rail; it would be very difficult to produce support for federal government spending for just one region. The alternative is no investment at all.

In crafting the 2011 budget, conservatives took this alternative to heart. But rail is not the only loser in the current budget discussions. Roads may also suffer a devastating setback in funding. The House Republican budget plan for 2012 cuts transportation expenditures by more than 50 percent over the next decade. As President Obama said last week, this vision does not just fail to include high-speed rail. It is also “a vision that says we can’t afford to rebuild our roads and our bridges.”

The GOP plan claims that with some simple reorganization the Highway Trust Fund alone will be sufficient to fund road work at current levels. (As we have pointed out before, the trust fund has been subsidized with general Congressional funding in recent times, because the gasoline tax is insufficient, and lawmakers refuse to raise it.) But Donna Cooper at the Center for American Progress looks closely at the numbers and concludes “the only way to balance the Highway Trust Fund is through drastic cuts in funds to repair our crumbling roads and bridges.” There may be no alternative to cutting rail and road funding in the minds of many lawmakers, but there is a consequence: many unhappy American travelers.

Here is the complete statement regarding transportation cuts from House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky) [Editor’s note: Kentucky is served both by Amtrak’s City of New Orleans [New Orleans-Chicago) and The Cardinal [Washington-Chicago], although no major

“For the Department of Transportation, the bill eliminates new funding for High-Speed Rail and rescinds $400 million in previous year funds, for a total reduction of $2.9 billion from fiscal year 2010 levels. The bill reduces funding for transit by a total of $991 million and includes a total of $528 million in new funding for the “TIGER” grant program. While the majority of programs funded by the Highway Trust Fund remain at fiscal year 2010 levels, the bill contains total contract authority rescissions of $3.2 billion, of which $630 million is comprised of old earmarks.”


Return to index
 

From Progressive Railroading

 

Gov. McDonnell Signs Bill To Invest $4 Billion
In Virginia’s Transportation Infrastructure

 

Earlier this week, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed legislation that will provide $4 billion for the state’s road, rail and transit networks, and fund more than 900 projects over the next three years.

The legislation uses several financing mechanisms that will enable Virginia to take advantage of historically low interest rates on bonds and construction bids that are coming in well below estimates, Virginia officials said in a prepared statement.

The measure also will create a new Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, funded with $283 million from a fiscal-year 2010 surplus and savings from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s performance audit, to provide low-interest loans and grants to localities, transportation authorities and private-sector partners for transportation projects. The McDonnell administration plans to put $1 billion in the bank though a number of mechanisms over the next three years.

Projects to be funded under the new law include work at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Hampton Roads Transit light rail, and a Virginia Railway Express extension into Spotsylvania County.

The legislation represents the “most significant” investment in Virginia’s transportation infrastructure in a generation, McDonnell said.

“This common sense legislation takes advantage of previously authorized and innovative new financing mechanisms at a time when interest rates and construction costs are at near historic lows and Virginians are in dire need of jobs,” he said.


Return to index
POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

Amtrak Cites Top Five Priorities For
Next Surface Transportation Bill

From The AASHTO Journal

From: http://www.aashtojournal.org/Pages/041511amtrak.aspx

WASHINGTON --- The development of intercity passenger rail and Amtrak’s national system should be afforded a significant role in the nation’s federal surface transportation programs, Joe McHugh, Amtrak’s vice president for government affairs and corporate communications, said in testimony provided to the House Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee last week.

As America’s intercity passenger railroad and its only current operator of high-speed service, Amtrak stated the rail section of the new federal surface transportation reauthorization bill being developed by Congress should include top five priorities:

  1. Provide dedicated, multiyear funding for intercity and high-speed rail;
  2. Establish a national investment strategy;
  3. Create a clear and leading role for Amtrak;
  4. Ensure coordinated corridor planning and project execution; and
  5. Address liability and insurance issues.

“If our nation’s intercity passenger rail system -- and the transportation system of the United States as a whole -- is to be developed and sustained, it is imperative that Amtrak and other federal rail programs be integrated into a comprehensive and truly multi-modal surface transportation authorization bill,” McHugh said.

The subcommittee met April 7 to hear testimony regarding “Railroad and Hazardous Materials Transportation Programs: Reforms and Improvements to Reduce Regulatory Burdens.”

McHugh’s complete written testimony is available at bit.ly/Amtrak040711. Testimony of the other 18 witnesses at last week’s subcommittee hearing, a video of the hearing, and a briefing memo are available at http://1.usa.gov/HRPHMS040711.

Questions regarding this article may be directed to:  editor@aashtojournal.org.


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

Rep. McNerney Introduces Bill
To Expand Altamont Corridor Rail

From Progressive Railroading

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA --- On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) introduced a bill that would help fund the Altamont Corridor Rail Project, which would expand rail services between California’s Central Valley and Bay Area.

The Altamont Corridor Rail Improvement Act (H.R. 1504) would authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide up to $450 million in grants over the next 10 years to fund the project’s preliminary engineering, final design and construction.

The project is vital to expanding the area’s economy and quality of life, McNerney said in a prepared statement.

“This project will create jobs, provide a significantly faster way to travel between the Central Valley and the Bay Area, and reduce traffic on busy highways,” he said.

The Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) currently operates weekday trains from the Central Valley to the Bay area, and shares tracks with freight trains and Amtrak. However, sharing track limits passenger-train speed, and affects arrival and departure times. The project would establish a dedicated track for passenger rail. The 85-mile corridor has the potential to serve 35,000 people each way, according to McNerney.

Meanwhile, ACE’s ridership rose 20 percent in March compared with March 2010, ACE officials said in a prepared statement. ACE spokesman Thomas Reeves attributed the increase to higher employment rates and gas prices in the region. Even with the increase in daily ridership, ACE trains were only 60 percent full, he said.


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

Transit Expands in Dallas as Green Line
Attracts Riders to Light Rail

By David Peter Alan

Transit has been retrenching all over the nation, and there was only one major new rail start in 2010. That one was in Dallas, as Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) opened its Green Line light rail for service in two segments. The first, which began operations on September 14, 2009, runs from Victory Station (a stadium station west of Union Station), along the existing downtown rail corridor, and four more stops to MLK Station past Fair Park. The two new portions of the line, which began service on December 6, 2010, are located at each end of the line. One of these runs southeast from MLK Station to Bucker Station (7.4 miles and four stations), while the other runs north from Victory Station to North Carrollton/Frankford (16.4 miles and 11 stations).

DART’s Green Line

Photo: DART

Although yellow in color, the Green Line light rail is now open.

The 16.4-mile line joins DART’s existing Red and Blue Lines, which have operated for several years, and Trinity Rail Express (TRE), a commuter rail line between downtown Dallas and downtown Fort Worth. In addition, the McKinney Transit Authority (MATA) operates vintage streetcars on McKinney Avenue in uptown Dallas.

More new starts are expected during the next few years. Much of DART’s last light rail line, the Orange Line, will go into service during the latter part of 2012, and the Blue Line will be extended from Garland to Rowlett, as well. The Orange Line will reach its ultimate terminal at DFW Airport in December, 2014. A southerly extension of the Blue Line from Ledbetter to South Oak Cliff is planned for 2019. DART currently operates a limited “Orange Line” service on a temporary route, during peak commuting hours.

In addition to DART expansion, the McKinney Avenue “M Line” will be extended to Pearl Street, where vintage streetcars will connect with light rail. There is also a proposal to run a streetcar from Union Station (served by DART, TRE and Amtrak) to the South Side of the city.

There is another “new start” that will come to the region soon. Denton County Transit Authority (DCTA) plans to open its “A-Train” line this June. It will connect with DART at Trinity Mills on the Green Line and proceed north to Denton. That line is currently in the testing stage.

DART also plans to build a new alignment through the downtown area. The agency hopes to have the line operating by 2016, although funding has not been secured yet. Currently, all trains run on a single car-free corridor on Bryan and Pacific Streets. The use of a single corridor for four lines would limit the amount of service each line could have, especially during peak commuting hours.

Stephen L. Salin, formerly an architect and now a planner with DART, designed and planned the Green Line. “We can deliver on time and under budget, and we make it look so easy,” Salin said. He also said that one of the major objectives of the new line is to bring transit-dependent people on the South Side of town to jobs on the Northwest Side.

The new line is not scenic, but it is interesting from a technical standpoint. It features the longest segment of elevated light rail track in the country. According to Salin, the line is already meeting one of its objectives. “People go to lunch where they never went before” he said. He also said that the strong ridership on the Green Line and the success of rail in Dallas are proof of livability and sustainability. So is the transit-oriented development along the line. “Suburban cities seem to have gotten it faster than Dallas about economic development” he commented. Towns like Carrollton, Addison and Farmers’ Branch are building or planning such development near light rail stations.

Paul Menglesdorf of the Texas Rail Advocates is pushing hard for high-speed rail in the Lone Star State, although he believes that there is also a place for lines like DART’s light rail system. He looks forward to a time when light rail will serve the city’s airports. “We must bring trains and planes together,” he said. Rail consultant Garl Latham also called for DART to serve both of the region’s airports directly. “That sort of service would show that Dallas takes intermodalism seriously,” he said.

DARTS Linewood Station on th enew Green Line

Photo: DART

DART’s Inwood Station.

Still, Dallas scores relatively well on the intermodalism test. The city has the only transit system in Texas that has more than one operating rail line! It boasts three light rail lines and a fourth one under construction, a commuter rail line and a heritage streetcar line that local residents and tourists both like to ride.

The light rail vehicles on DART are also unique, due to a reconstruction that DART completed in its own shops. DART’s light rail vehicles were originally 220 feet (66 meters) long, with “A” and “B” sections and an articulation in the middle. DART mechanics essentially cut the cars in half and added a “C” section in the middle, with low-floor boarding. The new center section accommodates wheelchairs easily; which improves ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance. It also has increased capacity by nearly 50% on every train. Light rail advocate David Dobbs, publisher of Light Rail Now (at www.lightrailnow.org) endorsed the practice, noting that the addition of so much extra capacity only adds one minute to overall running time.

DART promoted the Green Line with the slogan “The Green Line CHANGES Everything.” That may be overstating the case, but change is happening in and near Dallas. Rail is growing, and that is not happening in many places these days. More rail transit is coming to Dallas within the next few years. From the size of the crowds on DART’s light rail lines, it appears that many Dallas residents are looking forward to it.


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

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Canadian National (CNI)73.2372.70
Canadian Pacific (CP) 62.6663.13
CSX (CSX)74.6576.66
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)59.4376.66
Kansas City Southern (KSU)53.0052.60
Norfolk Southern (NSC)66.2767.74
Providence & Worcester(PWX)15.7515.70
Union Pacific (UNP)96.0698.27


Return to index

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

Installments From David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

Referendum On Stuttgart 21 Coming

Green And SPD Parties Agree To Maximum Price Cap And To Let The Voters Decide

Via NDR Info Radio and DPA press agency

STUTTGART – Voters in the German state of Baden-Württemberg will decide on whether to go ahead with the controversial Stuttgart 21 train station construction project, but the cost of the project will be capped at EUR 4.5 billion (US$ 6.2 billion), if the referendum passes. The maximum price cap and referendum on the project came out of a long negotiation last Wednesday (20th April 2011) between the two winning political parties of the recent state government election in Baden-Württemberg. The incumbent conservative CDU party and its ally, the pro-business FDP party, lost in those elections, setting off shock waves across the political landscape in Germany.

Green and Social Democratic (SPD) politicians reached the decision after three rounds of talks which had started off with the two sides at diametrically opposed positions – the SPD wanted to go ahead with the project but the Greens opposed it altogether. The two parties had to reach agreement on the project as opposition to it was a significant reason behind their massive election victory last month in the southwestern German state. The previous conservative government had been determined to push the project through in the face of substantial and heated local opposition and repeated mass demonstrations.

 Stuttgart 21 design drawing

Image: Deutsche Bahn

But can it get the votes ? Stuttgart 21’s crown feature is the below-surface through-station, which still get sunlight from above via innovative shy-lights in the roof of the station, above which is planned to be large park and public garden.

The new center-left coalition, which will be led by the Green Party, has decided that the price cap must be absolute – should costs rise above it, any extra must be met by others involved in the project, including Deutsche Bahn. However, a referendum will be held first – probably in October – as long as the price cap is not exceeded before then. The vote will determine the state’s participation in the massive alteration of the Stuttgart main station – but not the new high-speed rail link between Wendlingen and Ulm. The project, which aims to completely reconfigure the existing surface level passenger rail terminal in the center of Stuttgart into an underground through-station and redevelop the existing rail yard north of the terminal into park land, residential areas and office parks, has suffered several huge cost increases before construction even started.

Because the Greens had initially opposed the referendum, saying the current state rules prevented a fair vote, the state constitution would have to be changed to reduce the size of the minimum quorum needed for a vote to be valid. This change in the constitution will itself need a vote of at least two-thirds of the state parliament. If this does not work out, the group ‘More Democracy’ has called on the state government to implement the wishes of a simple majority of the citizens. “This is legally possible and politically required,” said spokesman Ralf-Uwe Beck.

Winfried Kretschmann, who led negotiations for the Greens and is set to become state governor when the new government formally takes office in early May, said he would accept the result of a referendum even if the vote was not enough to fulfill the quorum requirements.

Nils Schmid, head of the SPD in Baden-Württemberg, said the agreement was a breakthrough.

Opposition parties were less than impressed, with the Free Democrats’ leader Hans-Ulrich Rülke describing the agreement as just a cease-fire: “The Greens cannot tell their supporters that Stuttgart 21 has been stopped.” Instead they have been forced by the SPD to embark on something, which he described as a legally questionable process, to hold a referendum.

Negotiations for a coalition agreement between the Greens and SPD will now be able to continue, with a contract expected to be finalized on by the end of April. Several prominent rail transit advocacy organizations in Germany remain adamantly opposed to the Stuttgart 21 project in its present form.


Return to index
 

Deutsche Bahn Signs For New
Diesel Locomotives From Bombardier

Bombardier And German Railways Agree Frame Contract For 200 Traxx Multi-Engine Locomotives

Via Bombardier Transportation press release

BERLIN– Bombardier Transportation and DB Regio AG, the commuter and regional passenger rail subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railways), have signed a nine-year frame contract – valued at approximately EUR 600 million (US $870 million) – for 200 TRAXX diesel locomotives. At the same time, DB Regio placed a firm order for 20 diesel TRAXX locomotives for passenger transportation. First delivery is planned for mid 2013. The firm order amounts to approximately EUR 62 million at catalog list prices, although exact agreed pricing was not disclosed. The choice of engine supplier was also not released, it is understood that Caterpillar, Cummins, MTU, Mercedes Benz and MAN are potential competitors for the engine selection in these locomotives. Likewise Bombardier did not disclose the total power output of the new locomotives ordered by DBAG:

The new multi-engine TRAXX for Deutsche Bahn

Image: Bombardier Transportation

The new multi-engine TRAXX for Deutsche Bahn will keep the same Bo-Bo wheel arrangement and dual-cab configuration of the existing TRAXX series including car body, frame and wheel trucks. With four engines and traction generators in the new TRAXX taking up more floor space compared to the single V-16 diesel engine in the current diesel version of the TRAXX locomotive, engine cooling had to be relocated from a section just behind one of the driver’s cabs of the current model up to a new bulge on the roof of the locomotive.

It had been anticipated for several years that DBAG would place a significant order for new diesel locomotives based on a five year-old tender / RFP to replace the current fleet of DB Class 218 locomotives, some of which are approaching 45 years in service, but the announcement was delayed at least twice.

The version of the TRAXX locomotive model, which DBAG will buy, is a new variation on the highly successful series of electric and diesel locomotives in production with Bombardier for nearly a decade. The most unique and new feature of the diesel TRAXX for DBAG will be a multi-engine configuration. It will use four heavy-duty industrial diesel engines, in place of the single large MTU 4000 series V-16 diesel motor common to existing diesel versions of the TRAXX series, to provide traction power and hotel power (HEP in the USA) for the passenger cars. Compared to single-engine diesel locomotives, Bombardier expects that the four-engine configuration will significantly reduce fuel consumption, exhaust emissions and life-cycle costs.

Bomardier stated that the new diesel TRAXX locomotive series for DBAG will use standard diesel engines produced in very large production volumes for other applications such as for heavy trucks, marine power, and stationary power generation, thus new TRAXX DE locomotive will build a bridge to a multitude of other industrial applications with the same engines. This assures spare parts availability and diesel engine support thanks to the large quantity of engines installed and the established service capabilities in the market. The diesel engines are configured in modular assemblies allowing modification and upgrades over the lifetime of the locomotive. They can be upgraded to meet potential new emission standards and requirements in the future.

The exchangeable diesel modules contribute markedly to lower maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) costs, according to Bombardier. In addition, mission reliability is substantially increased thanks to the redundant configuration with four diesel engines. With the multi-engine concept, the locomotive maintains full tractive effort even if a reduced number of diesel engines are in operation. By shutting down engines during idling and at low power demand, this key feature reduces fuel and lube oil consumption.

“The locomotives can be operated with one to four engines as needed, providing optimum power for each specific situation. The use of these 200 TRAXX multi-engine diesel locomotives will result in a massive reduction of CO2 over their life span,” emphasized Åke Wennberg, President of the division Locomotives and Equipment, Bombardier Transportation. “By meeting the demanding Stage IIIB emissions standards, using sustainable fuels and operating fuel-efficiently, the TRAXX DE Multi-Engine is one of the most environmentally friendly locomotives in the marketplace.”

DBAG and its subsidiaries already own and operate a fleet of more than 680 TRAXX locomotives, all of which are electric-only versions of the locomotive model. The new diesel TRAXX locomotives for DBAG will share a significant amount of parts commonality and have similar maintenance and repair procedures as the existing electric versions of the TRAXX series.

Bombardier TRAXX F140 AC2

Photo: David Beale

Family Resemblance – DBAG already owns a large fleet of various electric-only TRAXX locomotives – including the DB Class 185, used primarily for freight operations. The new multi-engine diesel TRAXX locomotives for DBAG will appear nearly identical to the existing units already in service, albeit without pantographs and with a large roof-mounted structure which houses the engine cooling and engine exhaust systems including sound mufflers and diesel particulate filters. DB Schencker Logistics’ locomotive 185 245 (Bombardier TRAXX F140 AC2) heads a short freight with covered automobile vans on track 4 in Haste, Germany on the 10th of April 2011.

Final assembly of the new locomotives will take place in Kassel, Germany. The car bodies will be produced at Bombardier’s site in Wroclaw, Poland, and the bogies are to be supplied by Bombardier’s site in Siegen, Germany. Bombardier’s sites in Mannheim and Kassel, Germany and Zürich, Switzerland are responsible for product development. The propulsion & control equipment will be supplied by Bombardier’s sites in Mannheim and Hennigsdorf, Germany.

As a member of the TRAXX locomotive platform, the TRAXX Diesel Multi-Engine locomotive can accommodate the same country packages as the electric TRAXX locomotives, including conventional automatic train protection systems and ETCS. The platform is designed for the transportation of freight and passengers on national and international routes and is suitable for all networks.

Since its introduction, more than 1,500 TRAXX locomotives have been sold and TRAXX locomotives are approved in 18 countries in Europe. The platform consists of three electric variants (multi-system, alternating and direct current locomotives) and a new diesel-electric design. All TRAXX locomotives are characterized by their modular design, as well as their BOMBARDIER MITRAC propulsion and controls system, which is already in use in over 3,200 locomotives worldwide.


Return to index
 

Deutsche Bahn Signs For New ICx
Passenger Trains From Siemens

Siemens Mobility And Deutsche Bahn Sign Frame Contract Worth Potentially US $ 10 Billion

Source: NDR Info Radio and HAZ newspaper

BERLIN – just three days after announcing its big contract with Bombardier for new diesel locomotives from Bombardier, Deutsche Bahn AG – German Railways – continued its shopping spree with the announcement of board approval for a frame contract to purchase new ICx trains from Siemens Mobility, the rail and transport division of the Germany-based international conglomerate company which has products ranging from locomotives to wind turbines, medical diagnostic devices and hospital equipment, gas and steam turbines for electric generation, telephones, computers, automotive parts and components, and home appliances.

DBAG had already indicated several months ago that it planned to purchase an unspecified number of new electric multiple unit (EMU) train sets from Siemens under the project name ICx. With formal approval given by DBAG’s executive board, the rail and logistics company with firm up the previous letter of intent into a frame-contract for up to 300 ICx train sets. The total value of the agreement could reach EUR 7 billion (US$ 9.8 billion).

The agreement includes a firm order for the first 130 EMU train sets, which will enter revenue service in late 2016. The new ICx train sets will gradually replace existing locomotive-hauled IC and EC trains, which typically are operated with DB class 101 and 120 electric locomotives along with passenger rolling stock produced by a plethora of rail car manufacturers from East Germany, West Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, Poland, Hungary and the former Yugoslavia from the late 1970s through early 1990s. The current IC / EC rolling stock fleet numbers well over 2000 individual cars, not including hundreds of former IC, IR and EC cars sold off to other rail companies in Turkey, Iran, Romania, Hungary and other countries in the past decade.

Follow-on orders under the frame-agreement will include more ICx trains to replace all remaining IC locomotive-hauled trains as well as ICx trains to replace ICE-1 and ICE-2 train sets starting after the year 2021.

The exact design of the ICx is not yet public information, but industry observers expect that the trains will closely resemble the Siemens Velaro series of high-speed EMU trains. However the trains will be designed for more rigorous services in standard intercity operation over a variety of rail lines and will have a top speed of 230 km/h, which is 100 km/h slower than the top speed of the Velaro series. The initial group of ICx train sets will be equipped to operate in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Holland. The trains will seat 500 per train set in two-class configuration and will feature a restaurant / cafe car, section for bicycle transport and compartments for families with small or infant children.

Deutsche Bahn and Siemens insist that the various lessons-learned from the variety of technical problems suffered by ICE-3 train sets over the past decade will be applied to the ICx and that problems with the air conditioning, propulsion control electronics, wheel axles and brakes and other weak points will not resurface on ICx. In a break from previous convention, Deutsche Bahn will not pay for the design and development costs of ICx, Siemens will finance this up-front cost on its own.


Return to index
 

China’s High-Speed Rail
Threatens Domestic Airlines

China’s Aviation Industry To Maintain Steady Growth This Year But Will Not Enjoy
Record Profit Growth As It Did In 2010 Because Of More High-Speed Railway Coming
Into Operation And Higher Fuel Prices.

Source: Airlineberg

SHANGHAI- China’s new trains are not only fast but also elegant in comparison with the older, dirtier locomotives. They give passengers a whole new public transport experience which is as comfortable as taking a commercial flight.

Taking high-speed trains can be more convenient than flying as China’s railway stations, unlike its airports, are usually located close to the city center, said Sun Zhang, expert at Shanghai-based Tongji University. It will take almost the same time to travel by high-speed rail between Shanghai and Beijing as by air when time spent on the road to and from the airport is factored in, he added.

Probably most concerning for airlines is that train tickets are generally cheaper than airline tickets for the same route, especially given the costs of taxis and toll road fees when getting to the airport.

Guotai Junan Securities predicted in a recent report that air passenger growth would slow to around 12.5 percent in 2011, while high-speed railways would capture 1.3 percent to 5.3 percent of travelers from domestic air lines annually by 2014. Li Jiaxiang, director of Civil Aviation Administration of China, said more than 50 percent of flights less than 500 km in length will become unprofitable due to competition from high-speed trains and about 20 percent of flights traveling between 800 and 1000 km will also run at a loss for the same reason. Flights traveling more than 1500 km will be not be threatened, he added.

China will put its longest newly-built high-speed railway lines into use this year, which will win 6.9 to 9.2 percent of domestic travelers from air companies, said Zhang Qing, analyst at First Capital (FCAP 16.50), a security and investment company. The airlines’ business revenue will decline by 3 to 7.9 percent due to shrinking demand, he added. He expects the Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines (CEA 22.34) to suffer the most with the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed railway scheduled to open in June this year. It will slash travel time between the cities to around four hours from the current 10 hours. Flights take about two hours.

Railway Minister Sheng Guangzu said in March that ticket prices for the bullet trains will be cheaper than flights traveling the same distance. However, China Minzu Securities downplayed the impact of high-speed railways on airlines, saying in a report that only 2.01 percent of passengers will shift to rail from air transport this year. That proportion will be at most 9.18 percent by 2016 after the high-speed railway network is completed.

It said rising household incomes will support demand for domestic flights at a growth rate of 12 to 15 percent looking ahead.

No mater how great or small the threat is though, China’s airlines are looking to expand further into an area where high-speed rail can’t compete, namely international travel. Tan Wangeng, president of China Southern Airlines, said the company will open flights routes between the Chinese mainland and Vancouver and Oakland this year. “The future focus will be on development of flight routes to Europe and the U.S. and international businesses will take up 30 percent of the company’s revenue in the future,” he said.

Aviation expert Wang Jiangmin with the China Southern Airlines said China’s airlines can also expand businesses in the country’s western areas along with the government’s push to develop the less-developed regions. A tremendous demand for fast transport will be unleashed in the western region in the near future, where high-speed railways can not be built easily, he said.


Return to index
EVENTS... Events...  

Last Chance for the April 29 Regional Conference in CT

 

We CAN Connect New England By Rail!

Friday, April 29, 2011 - Rail Conference At The New Haven (CT) Public Library

NEW HAVEN--- New England and New York transportation activists and citizens who want to get involved in the transportation advocacy movement will be journeying to New Haven April 29 to hear Keynote Speaker Art Guzzetti of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and many more, talk about fighting for better rail connectivity and intermodalism in the New England States/New York/New Jersey region.

Sponsored by the National Corridors Initiative, Rail Users Network, New England Rail Coalition, and the Sierra Club of Connecticut, the conference Friday, April 29, 2011 - 8:30 a.m. - 4:45 p.m., at the New Haven Public Library (133 Elm Street, New Haven, CT) will focus not only on what is happening now in the region, but also on future opportunities to connect the New England states and Eastern Canada to the north and the mid-Atlantic - New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania - and points south.

Registration is $55, and be paid at the door or by registering on line: http://railusers.net/downloads/Registration%202%20sheets.pdf  [Adobe PDF File].

Additional information at: http://www.nationalcorridors.org/conf

Conference Agenda:

Free shuttle from Union Station • (Optional tours Saturday, April 30)

8:30 a.m.Registration
9:20 a.m.Welcome: Richard Rudolph, Chair, Rail Users’ Network (RUN)
Kathie Hurley, Director of Public Information New Haven Public Library
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano (invited)
9:40 a.m.Keynote Address: Art Guzzetti, Vice President-Policy, American Public Transportation Association
10:15 a.m.Molly McKay, Transportation Chair, Connecticut Sierra; Editor, Destination: Freedom
10:45 a.m.James P. RePass, Chairman, The National Corridors Initiative and John Businger, North/South Rail Link Committee
11:15 a.m.Break
11:30 a.m.Panel: Getting New England Connected By Rail/Opportunities Abound
Moderator: Richard Rudolph, Chair, Rail Users’ Network
Tim Brennan, Pioneer Valley Planning Association
Christopher Parker, President, Vermont Rail Action Network
Mike Izbicki, N.H. Rail Transit Authority
Tony Donovan, Maine Rail Transit Coalition
Wig Zamore, Somerville Transit Equity Partnership
Charlie Beckers, RI Association of Rail Passengers
12:45-1:45 p.m.  Lunch
1:45 p.m.Panel: Connecting New England with Points South of New York
Moderator: David Peter Alan, RUN Board Member; Chair, Lackawanna Coalition
Rick Arena, President, Association for Public Transportation
Jim Raleigh, Political Director, Lackawanna Coalition
Joe Clift, Technical Director, Lackawanna Coalition
Discussion (all): Sense of the Conference Resolution: “Supporting An Affordable ARCÓ
3:00 p.m.Coffee Break
3:10 p.m.Panel: Connecting With Your Constituents: Best Practices for Effective Advocacy
Moderator: Andrew Albert, Chair, NYC Transit Riders Council, Non-voting member, MTA Board
Jim Cameron, Chair, Connecticut Commuters’ Council
David Peter Alan, Attorney at Law, Chair Lackawanna Coalition
Pamela Bush, MBTA Oversight Committee
4:25 p.m.Instructions for Saturday tour: David Peter Alan
4:30 p.m.Wrap-up and Closing Remarks: Richard Rudolph
4:45 p.m.Adjourn


Return to index
 

MWHSR Association 2011
Annual Meeting & Spring Conference

April 30, 2011
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Join the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association for our2011 Annual Meetingon Saturday, April 30, 2011 at theDank Haus in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood!

Learn the latest exciting passenger rail news and what you can do to help make high-speed rail happen. Included in the Agenda:

Visit: http://www.midwesthsr.org/2011-annual-meeting to register.

$40 cost includes morning coffee service and a German lunch prepared by the famousChicago Brauhaus.

Time:9:00 AM to 3:00 PM (doors open at 8:00 AM)
Dank Haus, 5th Floor
4740 N. Western Ave
Chicago IL 60625

Questions? Contact Mark at: mark@midwesthsr.org


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

Copyright © 2011 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.