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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
 
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November 12, 2012
Vol. 13 No. 45

Copyright © 2012
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 13th Newsletter Year

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

  Editorial…
Build. America. Now.
  Commentary…
An Election Day Snapshot: New Jersey And
   New York, One Week After Sandy
  News Items…
Pro-Transit Initiatives Passed In A Majority
   Of Local Ballots On Tuesday
APTA Congratulates President Barack Obama
NEC FUTURE Workshops And Webinars
   In December 2012
NEC Future Prompts Regional Responses
New York Subway Repairs Border
   ‘On The Edge Of Magic’
  Selected Rail Stocks…
 
  Rolling Stock Lines…
Commuter Rail Gets First Shipment Of
   Bi-Level Vehicles
  News From Amtrak…
Amtrak Delivers Aid To The Northeast
Amtrak Names New Long Distance Manager
  NCI Conference…
Value Capture - Dec 3, 2012 - Boston, MA.
  Across The Pond…
By Train From Bremen To Mallorca
  Publication Notes …



EDITORIAL... Editorial...

Build.
America.
Now.

 

It is the week after the re-election of Barack Obama, and of a new House and new Senate, with the Congress split between Republican (House) and Democratic (Senate) control. One surprise: the Republicans were certain that they would seize control of the Senate, and instead lost ground. What they did not foresee of course was their Lysistrata Moment, which most of the defeated GOP candidates probably still do not recognize happened, but which they most certainly had November 6.

One of the characteristics of Washington life over the past four years has been gridlock. While not a new phenomenon and in recent years much worse than before, that gridlock was very deliberate, brought on primarily by truly reactionary behavior on the part of a bitter and confused minority of Americans who at their very core could not stomach the reality that a black man had been elected President of the United States --- the “birther” movement, and other, even wilder, blogospheric slanders --- fanned by bigots like Rush Limbaugh whose January 16, 2009 on-air pronouncement --- before the President had even been inaugurated – was: “I want this President to fail.”

Lest anyone be unsure of how personally hateful was the opposition this President faced, there was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Wall Street) who in Obama’s second year pronounced that his party’s chief objective was to make sure that “Obama is a one-term President” --- this in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with soaring unemployment, millions of Americans losing their homes after the burst of Wall Street’s fraud-fueled housing bubble, which brought down most of the rest of the economy, when perhaps other priorities (?) might have been in order.

Now, what?

In 2009 the “Stimulus Bill” was funded at $787 Billion dollars, about half what was needed to kick start the economy, but all that the President could get out of a Congress whose Democrats, as well as Republicans, were frightened of Roosevelt-era responses when that is exactly what was needed then.

It is four years later, and Mr. President, you amazingly have an opportunity that virtually no one, even your most ardent supporters, would have predicted would have come your way again: you have the opportunity to become the Roosevelt you needed to be in 2009.

This time, don’t be diffident. This time, don’t be shy. This time, Mr. President, take no prisoners.

This nation needs new infrastructure more than it did four years ago, and the situation was desperate then. The $8 billion for high speed rail you got under Stimulus I is a fraction of what China has spent every year for the past five years: it is time to get serious.

Every time a poll is taken, we find massive support for a high speed rail system that rivals Europe’s and Asia’s. Why shouldn’t we set that as our goal, instead of half-measures?

Yes, there is a structural deficit that must be met. But the only way to meet that threat, in the long run, is to spend the money now that will allow us to build the underlying infrastructure, decimated by 30 years of Reaganomics, to allow America to compete again in world markets, and a truly functional high speed rail system (freight and passenger) is one key way to do that.

Let’s get started.


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

An Election Day Snapshot: New Jersey And
New York, One Week After Sandy

By David Peter Alan

Last week, we reported on the Worst of times for New Jersey Transit retirees and employees who do not belong to a union.  Their riding privileges had been revoked by NJT’s Board of Directors at its last meeting.  At that time, we intended to bring you news from the same Board meeting that could bring the Best of Times in the future, if some changes are made, at least in terms of the governance process at NJT.  Last week’s story was filed before Hurricane (dubbed “Superstorm”) Sandy struck, and much has changed in the past week.  The NJT Board story can wait, while Sandy has brought the worst of times for millions in the region, including transit riders in New Jersey and New York.

Today’s story is one of darkness, destruction and a lack of basic mobility.  It is also a story of hope and eventual recovery.  More than anything else, it is a story of fate, which seems to have dealt the New York and New Jersey area a severe blow.  It is being written in Austin, Texas, on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6th.  At this writing, the polls are about to close.  It also happens that a quirk of fate (a travel itinerary planned and started before Sandy struck the Northeast) has placed this writer in Austin, Texas, away from the misery at home.  Austin’s Capital Metro offered free transit today, so voters who needed to take transit to the polls would not be deterred by having to pay a fare.  A temperature of 79° Fahrenheit (26° Celsius) gave Austinites good reason to go out and vote.

It is very different in New York City and New Jersey.  Everybody is worried about another storm that is expected to hit on Wednesday or Thursday, and the weather is getting colder every day.  Many people could not vote at their regular polling place, because some residents still lack electrical power, and some homes are completely gone, or remain under water.  There have been some improvements since Sandy struck eight days ago, but it will take a significantly long time to clean up the devastation that the storm left behind.  On the transit front, New York’s transit is doing well, but the same cannot be said for much of New Jersey Transit, especially its rail lines.

Essentially every rail tunnel in the area flooded: the New York subways, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC), PATH, light rail tunnels under Penn Station, Newark and others.  Amtrak got its NEC operation running quickly.  The storm struck on Monday, and Amtrak was operating south of Newark by Thursday.  The tunnel to New York was open for service by Friday.  So was the West Side line for Empire Service trains. 

A few areas bore the brunt of the storm.  The iconic Jersey Shore bears little resemblance to the Shore of ten days ago.  Much of it no longer exists.  The pier at Seaside Heights was destroyed, with the amusements that used to line it now on the ocean floor, including the roller-coaster which no longer stands vertically.  The boardwalks are gone, including the most famous one in Atlantic City.  Even Gov. Chris Christie lamented the loss of hangouts at the Shore that he remembered from his youth.  NJT’s North Jersey Coast Line was devastated; the bridge between Perth Amboy and South Amboy had a tractor-trailer-sized container from a ship perched precariously on top of the tracks.  In addition, a boat had hit the bridge and knocked it out of line, essentially separating 16 stations south of Raritan Bay from the rest of the railroad world.  Nobody seems to know when service will come back.  The people did not fare much better.  Many of them remain in shelters, as reported earlier today on National Public Radio (NPR).  Their homes are severely damaged at best, and completely destroyed at worst.

The storm did not bring the torrential rains that Hurricane Irene brought in August, 2010.  The damage came from the winds, which whipped up devastating waves not only at the Jersey Shore, but in coastal areas of New York, as well.  The community of Breezy Point, on a barrier island south of Long Island, went up in flames.  Staten Island, south of Manhattan and east of New Jersey, was hit hard, with many homes destroyed and the highest death toll in any borough of New York City.  Ironically, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) reports that the Staten Island Railway (SIR) line from the ferry terminal at St. George to the southern part of the island is already up and running. 

The southern part of Manhattan, below Midtown, was also hit hard.  The waves whipped up by the storm flooded much of that part of town, and electrical power was down for four days or longer, for most residents.  Subway service was down for five to six days, due to flooding in the tunnels.  Amazingly, subway service has been restored to most of the city at this writing, including all major lines. 

That does not mean that the City is returning to normal yet.  Businesses are re-opening, and the restoration of electric power means that elevators can again transport people to their apartments or offices located on the upper floors of high-rise buildings.  That does not mean that the City escaped a wild and tumultuous week.  Every day, the headline stories were about the slow, and steady, recovery from the damages which Sandy had wrought.  There was one exception: the New York Marathon.  The world-renowned race had been scheduled for last Sunday, November 4th.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the race on Friday evening, after many runners had spent a considerable amount of money and gone to much trouble to get to New York, so they could participate.  Bloomberg caught flack from some critics for not canceling the race immediately after the storm had begun to cause damage to the city.  Others criticized him for saying that the race would be run as scheduled, until only about 42 hours before starting time.  They said that, if Bloomberg had kept saying that the race would go on, it should have been run.  Perhaps they remembered the fact that New Orleans had the traditional Mardi Gras celebration in 2006, only a few months after Hurricane Katrina had devastated the city.  Four months is longer than six days, but the destruction in New Orleans was far worse than that in New York.

Transit is doing relatively well in New York.  Not only is most subway service running again (as are buses in the City), but the MTA’s commuter rail lines are running, too.  Metro-North is running on all lines, and the Long Island Rail Road is running everywhere, except Riverhead to Greenport and Speonk to Montauk, both at the east end of the island.  Service on those lines is always limited, and Montauk service is geared toward City residents who go to the Hamptons and Montauk for summer week-ends. 

The same cannot be said for New Jersey.  Hoboken Terminal was flooded, as was NJT’s Rail Operations Center.  There was serious damage to the rail system, and some lines are still out of service.  There is no service on the Morris & Essex, Gladstone, Montclair-Boonton, Bergen County and North Jersey Coast Lines.  NJT has not indicated when service will be restored; a lack of disclosure that has bothered riders and advocates in the state, according to the blogs.  There have been some privately-owned buses pressed into service between Summit and Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, but that does not help riders from west of Summit, one of whom complained to this writer that he cannot get to work. 

NJT buses are running, for the most part.  Trains on the Northeast Corridor between Trenton and Penn Station, New York are running on a schedule similar to the regular week-end schedule, and the Raritan Valley Line between Raritan and Newark is running hourly, similar to the week-end and off-peak weekday schedule.  On Monday November 5, a few trains ran during peak commuting hours from Secaucus to Suffern and Port Jervis; the first time trains had been turned at the Secaucus Station since it opened for service in 2003.  The next day, Election Day, those trains ran to and from Hoboken Terminal, marking the first use of that station since it was flooded by raging river water in the wake of the storm.  There is also limited light rail service through Hoboken on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. 

Elsewhere, Newark Light Rail is still not running, due to flooding at Penn Station, Newark.  PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) trains are only running to midtown Manhattan, skipping the stops in the Village.  Further south, transit is doing better.  Light rail service between Trenton and Camden is running a full schedule and, despite the devastation in the Atlantic City area, the Atlantic City Rail Line is the only one for which NJT is not issuing an advisory.  We will provide continuing coverage of the return of transit to the region, as it happens.

In light of all this, did voters in New York and New Jersey make it to the polls on Tuesday?  That answer must await the analysis of the poll-watchers, politicians and commentators.  At this writing, the polls are about to close, and much of the nation will soon know who will lead it for the next four years and how the Congress will shape up for the next two.  It appears that half the country will be relieved, while the other half will wonder how the nation will be able to survive.  By the time you read this, you will know which half you are in.


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NEWSITEMS... News Items...  

Pro-Transit Initiatives Passed In A Majority
Of Local Ballots On Tuesday

From Progressive Railroading And The
American Public Transportation Association

Voters Value Public Transportation – Nearly 70 Percent Of Transit Measures Pass

NOVEMBER 8--- By a passage rate of nearly 70 percent (68.4%), voters across the country passed a number of local transit and rail-related projects and proposals. In Virginia, voters passed a referendum to pursue financing and development options for extending Norfolk’s The Tide light-rail service into Virginia Beach. About 62 percent of voters supported the measure.

In Arlington, Va., about 80 percent of voters approved a $31.9 million bond measure that would support capital projects for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and other transit, pedestrian, road or transportation projects.

Not all successful transit-related initiatives involved raising new funds.  There were three ballot initiatives to eliminate service and all three were turned down.  By a rate of 70 percent, voters in Falmouth, ME voted against ending METRO services after December 31, 2013.  Fifty-nine percent of voters in Spencer Township, OH voted against withdrawing from the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority.  Additionally, 73 percent of voters in Walker, MI voted against a measure to end service by the Interurban Transit Partnership.

However, in Los Angeles County, voters rejected a sales tax extension to Measure R, first approved in 2008, which would have extended the measure’s expiration date from 2039 to 2069 in order to provide more guaranteed revenue to complete projects more quickly. The measure failed to garner more than two-thirds of the vote needed to pass. Despite the rejection, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) “remains focused on delivering a dozen new transit projects and 15 new highway projects” that voters approved in 2008, said LACMTA Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy in a prepared statement. “In fact, within two years, [LACMTA] should be overseeing simultaneous construction of five major rail projects,” he said. Also, the Measure R transit sales tax for transit continues until 2039, so LACMTA directors have the option of asking voters in the future if they want to extend the program, Leahy added. The five LACMTA projects are the Expo Line Phase 2 and Gold Line Foothill Extension, both of which are under construction, and the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Regional Connector and Westside Subway Extension that are preparing for construction, agency officials said.

Results of two public transit ballot initiatives in the states of Washington and South Carolina have not been released.  Two additional public transit measures will be decided in Los Angeles, CA and Kansas City, MO next month.

Overall, on Election Day, voters approved pro-transit ballot measures in 13 of 19 local public-transit-related ballot initiatives, according the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Adding Tuesday’s results to transit ballot initiatives passed earlier this year, 46 out of 58 pro-transit measures have passed in 2012 at a rate of 79 percent, APTA officials said in a prepared statement. The numbers reflect a long-term trend: Since 2000, more than 70 percent of public transit ballot measures have passed, they said. “This successful trend of passing transit measures demonstrates that public transportation is a vital and essential service that people want and need,” said APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Melaniphy. “Even with economic concerns still on everyone’s minds, voters decided to pass taxes, create bonding or take other actions to improve public transportation.”

Meanwhile, the results of a mayor’s race in Honolulu held major consequences for the city’s plan to build a $5 billion elevated rail line. Former acting mayor and state representative Kirk Caldwell defeated former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano in a race that focused much attention on the rail project. Cayetano had said in media reports that he had come out of retirement to run for mayor in order to try to halt the line from being built. Caldwell has pledged to build the line, but also evaluate planned station locations and the line’s visual appearance, which had been concerns cited by the project’s opponents, according to a report in TheGardenIsland.com website.

For a complete list of 2012 transportation state and local ballot initiatives, go to the CFTE web site at www.cfte.org.


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APTA Congratulates
President Barack Obama

From APTA

On behalf of its more than 1,500 members of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the association congratulates President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the new Congress on their election victories.

“APTA members stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress as the focus becomes even stronger in revitalizing our economy and creating jobs,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.  “We share the vision with our elected officials that investment in our transportation system is the key to economic competitiveness.  We look forward to working toward stronger investment in public transportation to create a more efficient, multi-modal system which is crucial for sustained economic vitality and global competitiveness.”   

“We agree with the President who said in his acceptance speech that it is time for action and not politics as usual, and we believe this applies to our investment in public transportation infrastructure,” said Flora Castillo, APTA Chair and a board member of New Jersey Transit.  The public transportation industry looks forward to working with the Administration and Congress to implement transportation solutions to strengthen our communities across this nation.”

APTA notes that every $1 billion invested in public transportation capital and operations creates and supports 36,000 jobs.  The association also highlighted that for every $1 invested in public transportation, $4 is generated in economic returns.


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NEC FUTURE Workshops And
Webinars In December 2012

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced last week that there are still spaces available for the December Dialogues, a series of workshops designed to help inform the FRA’s analysis and development of rail alternatives. Also, an online WEBINAR option has been added to accommodate interested persons who are unable to travel to one of the meeting sites. The webinar will be held at two different times on Thursday, December 6 (see below).

One workshop will be held in each of the three project regions as follows:

Webinars will be held as follows:

The purpose of the December Dialogues is to:

A presentation will be followed by small group discussions. The webinar will consist of the same presentation given at the meetings with time for discussion.

Due to space limitations, reservations are required for both the workshops and webinars. Interested parties should RSVP to rsvp@NECFUTURE.com to reserve a spot in the workshop of choice. More information will then be sent to directly to those who register.

Locations for future workshops will rotate to other cities, so that all NEC stakeholders will have convenient opportunities to participate.

Overview:

NEC FUTURE is a comprehensive planning effort to define, evaluate and prioritize future investments in the Northeast Corridor, launched by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in February 2012. FRA’s work will include new ideas and approaches to grow the region’s intercity, commuter and freight rail services and an environmental evaluation of proposed transportation alternatives.

The NEC is the rail transportation spine of the Northeast region and is vital to its sustained economic growth. Today, the 457-mile NEC–anchored by Boston’s South Station in the north, New York’s Pennsylvania Station in the center, and Washington’s Union Station in the south–is one of the most heavily traveled rail corridors in the world. It is shared by intercity, commuter and freight operations and moves more than 259 million passengers and 14 million car-miles of freight per year.

While improvements continue to be made, the NEC faces serious challenges, with century-old infrastructure, outdated technology, and inadequate capacity to meet current or projected travel demand. With similar capacity issues on the region’s highways, and some of the most congested airports in the nation, the Northeast’s economic future could be hampered by transportation constraints.

The NEC FUTURE program is a comprehensive planning process for future investment in the corridor through 2040. The program includes both a Service Development Plan (SDP) and a broad environmental analysis known as a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS. These studies will help provide a road map to a better transportation solution for the Northeast.

Public participation is an important part of this process. By bringing together numerous stakeholders from the corridor’s eight states and the District of Columbia, the planning process is structured to help foster a broad agreement on future directions for corridor investment.

More details about NEC FUTURE can be found at http://www.necfuture.com/about/


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“NEC Future” Prompts Regional Responses

By DF Staff

While Amtrak is focusing on its own future, regional meetings are now taking place in other markets facilitated by state and regional transportation departments.

In Massachusetts, the MassDOT is organizing “Your Vision, Our Future: A Transportation Conversation.”

MassDOT will hold a series of statewide discussions this fall to engage the public in a conversation about the transportation system they want, and what is needed to do to achieve that vision.

The purpose of these meetings is to hear from customers and residents in order to generate ideas and help prioritize agency initiatives now and in the future.

State Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey and other Commonwealth of Massachusetts leaders will participate in this important discussion that will shape the transportation system for future generations.

Those who are unable to attend the meetings but wish to submit comments can do so by e-mailing: yourvisionourfuture@dot.state.ma.us.

The released schedule as of November 1, has its next series of meetings schedule in Framingham, Mattapan (Boston), Brockton, Medford, Boston (MassDOT HQ), North Dartmouth, Lynn, and Attleboro. Meetings began in September of this year.

For additional details see: http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/InformationCenter/EventMaterials/YourVisionOurFutureAConversation.aspx


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New York Subway Repairs Border
‘On The Edge Of Magic’

NY Times, Writer Matt Flegenheimer
And DF Staff

NOVEMBER 8 – Damage from Superstorm Sandy on New York City, particularly the subway system, was the worst that had ever been seen. All train and subway service had been shut down the evening before the storm hit, and no one could imagine just how bad it was going to be or how long New Yorkers would be without transit service.

In a story for the New York Times, writer Matt Flegenheimer describes the early hair-raising scenes and the circumstances and quick decisions that led to an unbelievably fast return of service on some lines.

As Hurricane Sandy approached, there was an erie silence inside a sprawling Manhattan command center. No trains were running. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority had shut the system down and the board that has sensors tracking the trains was quiet.

“Suddenly, the screens inexplicably crackled to life. Something was moving down there. And it was not the trains.”

At the South Ferry Station in lower Manhattan, the subway's chief maintenance officer fled for his life “as the waters charged over the platform abd up the terminal stairs, chasing him like an attack dog.”

Seven tunnels beneath the East River flooded. Entire platforms were submerged. Underground equipment, some of it decades old, was destroyed.

The damage was the worst that the system had ever seen. And yet, the subways – some of them – came back quicker than almost anyone could have imagined.

“Less than three days after the storm hit, partial subway service was restored. Most major lines were back within a week. Repairs came so quickly in some cases that the authority was ready before Consolidated Edison had restored power.”

“Some of what they’re doing borders on the edge of magic,” said Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group that is frequently critical of the authority.

New Jersey Transit still had no service, and commuters at the Port Authority Bus Terminal endured chaos and winding lines that lasted for hours.

“But nearly everything under the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s auspices, from its commuter railroads to its bridges and tunnels, [was] running close to normal [by November 8]. Each restoration presented its own challenge, but none more daunting than the task of resurrecting the subways.

“Interviews with those who oversaw the recovery suggest a rescue mission both thrilling and frightful, with officials at times alternating between a compulsion to cling to protocol and to toss it aside. Workers traversed darkened, slippery tunnels, inspecting sludgy tracks, equipment and third rails. Even the subway map itself was re-imagined, as bright lines were faded to represent downed service.”

None of this was truly expected in the days leading up to the storm.

In a morning radio interview on Oct. 25, Joseph J. Lhota, chairman of the transportation authority, thought it would not be as bad as last year’s Hurricane Irene. Later that day, the tone had changed. On a call with the governor’s office, plans went into place to shut down services before the heavy winds were projected to arrive. On Sunday morning, Governor Cuomo had decided that all service would go offline by 7 pm that day.

Thomas F. Prendergast, the president of New York City Transit, ordered sandbags and barriers placed at stations. Vents were closed. They began coordinating with the Police Department to be prepared for a shutdown.

“With a forecast for a storm surge of over 11 feet, Mr. Prendergast knew that flooding was possible. He predicted that three tunnels might have some flooding, which would equal the most in his career.”

“ ‘I never anticipated seven,’ he said. As the storm neared, pump trains were placed strategically at the center of the system, where crews could easily access them and approach the likely flood zones.

“The dual tasks – shutting down the system and moving trains to safe ground – were often carried out simultaneously, Mr. Lhota said. Some trains continued taking passengers after 7 p.m. on Sunday, he said, but only if their route took them near their protected storage plot.

“By early Monday, an eerie quiet had fallen over the agency. [All service was shut down], but “the storm had not yet arrived.”

By 8 pm, anyone who tried to head downtown was blocked. West Side Highway and Greenwich Street were already submerged.

Moments later, Mr. Lhota happened upon Mr. Prendergast, who had covered himself in a yellow jacket and a hard hat. Then the men in charge of trains and buses realized that another mode of travel might be required. “We’re talking about, ‘We’re going to need a bigger boat,’ ” Mr. Lhota recalled.

Joseph Leader, the subway’s chief maintenance officer, headed for South Ferry, but the station had collapsed, breached by 15-foot hunks of wood strewed across the mezzanine, beside the turnstiles. He then had to flee as “the water started rising, coming up the tracks,” he said.

By late Monday night, teams had already been dispatched to inspect sections of the system, particularly those out of the surge’s path. Some work trains even ran during the storm, in areas removed from the surge, to check for water buildups, Mr. Leader said.

But restoration options were few, at least in the short term. It was time for triage, said Mr. Lhota, who was back on the job in the morning after finding a hotel room in Midtown at 3 am.

“Strategy turned on a simple question, Mr. Leader said, posed often in meetings with agency officials: ‘Well, what works?’ ”

It seemed likely that buses could return quickly, as they soon would on a limited schedule.

“We had 7 under-river tunnels flooded out of 14,” Mr. Prendergast said. “And we have three pump trains. The first thing we have to do is, which tunnels do you go after first?”

They targeted tunnels that had little damage and heavy ridership, such as No. 4 and 5. By contrast, the L tunnel, which stretched 3,400 feet, was 15 feet deep in water, the R line, with 4,000 feet of water, was flooded10 feet deep and still not entirely pumped out by last Thursday.

A big frustration was the inability to give the public a timeline for the return of service. Mayor Bloomberg offered a guess at a news conference the day after the storm, estimating that service would not return for “a good four or five days.”

But transit officials did not agree and had “no idea who was briefing him!” Mr. Lhota recalled.

“Nonetheless, the estimate may have succeeded in tempering public expectations for the system’s recovery. Mr. Lhota said the authority also made a point of publishing images from the tunnels, both to communicate progress and to relay the scope of the tasks, allowing riders to set expectations accordingly.”

Another problem was detritus on the tracks which could affect draining.

And even if tunnels were pumped, obstacles remained. Workers had to inspect tracks, third rails and signals. There could be no dangerous debris in the tunnels. Some cables needed to be reattached.

“Test trains began running partial routes on Wednesday. But with power still out in Lower Manhattan, no trains could run between Manhattan and Brooklyn.”

A so-called bus bridge – service to plug the gaps in the limited subway routes – emerged as a temporary option although it was not a very effective method since they created winding lines and widespread gridlock, resulting from a simple math problem: Between 1,500 and 2,000 people can pile into a train. A bus can fit no more than 75 or so.

Connecting the boroughs by subway was the next priority. Late Friday, as the power returned, service was restored on the Lexington Avenue line and the No. 7.

“After a news conference Saturday with Mr. Cuomo, Mr. Lhota held up a sheet of paper with a bar graph, depicting how much subway service had returned. By day’s end, it was expected to be 80 percent.”

There were still plenty of challenges: unexpected third-rail and switch problems. Later, a transformer blew. All these so-called “hiccups” limited the number of trains that could run.

A major route, where the L train runs, was the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. They had hoped to open it by the weekend, but on Friday morning, there was no good news. Finally, hours later, Mr. Lhota got the word the tunnel was open. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” he wrote on Twitter. “The L train is back. Enjoy your trip home tonight.”

For the complete article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/09/nyregion/new-york-subways-find-magic-in-speedy-hurricane-recovery.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

Writer’s update: This article was written on Election Day. As of Saturday, November 10, New Jersey Transit had not added any service on any of its commuter rail lines and had not disclosed when these lines would be running again. The snow storm that fell on New Jersey and New York City on Wednesday night, November 7, and Thursday morning, have impeded the recovery efforts.

 

A Follow-up Note As of Sunday, November 11th:

New Jersey Transit has not restored any service on its commuter rail lines yet, although a portion of the Newark Light Rail is now running. NJT plans to restore service on the Pascack Valley and Main-Bergen Lines to Hoboken tomorrow. Service on the full length of the Raritan Valley Line, to High Bridge, will also begin tomorrow. There is still no word onwhen service will resume on the Morris & Essex, Montclair-Boonton, Gladstone and North Jersey Coast Lines.

A storm that dumped several inches of snow on thearea on Wednesday night and Thursday impeded the recovery and made life especially difficult for people who were still without electric power. The snow has melted by now. Shortly after filing the original story, this writer joined millions of other people in learning that President Obama had been re-elected.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

 
Title
 
Ticker
This
Week
Previous
Week
Berkshire Hathaway B (BNSF)(BRK.B)85.1886.92
Canadian National (CNI)86.2887.38
Canadian Pacific (CP) 89.8694.15
CSX (CSX)19.8820.66
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)70.0571.49
Kansas City Southern (KSU)76.9181.10
Norfolk Southern (NSC)58.0061.13
Providence & Worcester(PWX)13.5114.00
Union Pacific (UNP)120.25123.98


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ROLLING STOCK LINES... Rolling Stock Lines...  

MBTA Commuter Rail Gets First
Shipment Of Bi-Level Vehicles

From Internet Sources And DF Staff

Four new bi-level passenger coaches now grace the MBTA rail yard adjacent to the Boston Engine Terminal in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Getting them however, required the acting General Manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to fly to South Korea and pique the executives at the factory to finally get the company to make good on its promise of delivering.

This past week, “T” General Manager Jonathan Davis said he was pleased to announce that his recent trip overseas wasn’t without merit.

“Four Hyundai-Rotem bi-level coaches were delivered to the Boston Engine Terminal this morning without incident,” he said.

New Hyundai-Rotem Coaches

New Hyundai-Rotem Coaches

Two Photos: Steve Annear via http://bostinno.com

First shipment of new bi-level coaches from Hyundai-Rotem sit on a siding outside the repair shops in Somerville, MA.

The coaches will be inspected Wednesday and over the next few months will undergo “static and dynamic testing,” according to Davis.

Getting the first round of trains to Boston proved to be quite an ordeal for the transportation company. The four test coaches were supposed to be delivered in 2010, two years after MBTA officials finalized a deal with Hyundai-Rotem, the company manufacturing them.

A similar order promised to the Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) also slipped due to a host of factors ranging from material shortages to conflicts between South Korean managers and USA union workers.

The MBTA is still expecting an additional 71 coaches, which were originally slated to arrive between May and December of this year.

In September of this year, Davis traveled to South Korea and had a “very frank” discussion with the company’s leaders and discussed the delay of some 75 brand new commuter rail vehicles.

Davis has stated that he anticipated having some vehicles in service by January or February of 2013, with additional units expected by April. He added that the delivery date of the final coach is scheduled for July 2014.

“By then all 75 will be in service,” he said at the time.

“Training of maintenance and operations personnel will officially kick off in early December. It is also important to note that members of the Vehicle Engineering department will be traveling to [South] Korea on Saturday to meet with Hyundai Rotem’s engineering and production staff to finalize design and confirm production compliance,” Davis said this past Wednesday, before the MBTA Board of Directors.

In June of 2012, Hyundai-Rotem CEO Min-Ho Lee visited Boston to speak with members of the MBTA’s Board of Directors, who lambasted the chief executive and told him that they were “embarrassed” and “disappointed” by the overseas company for failing to deliver the 75 new Commuter Rail train cars.

The new coaches will resemble the current rolling bi-level stock that are currently in service and manufactured by Bombardier, but mechanically will be similar to those being delivered to SEPTA.


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

Amtrak Delivers Aid To The Northeast

Supplies Donated In Louisiana Traveling On “Train Of Hope”
To New Jersey; Free Travel For First Responders Extended To Nov. 16

WASHINGTON - Amtrak is bringing a railcar loaded with relief supplies donated in Slidell, La., to New Jersey communities hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.  What Slidell leaders call the “Train of Hope,” has filled a baggage car provided by Amtrak and is being carried on the northbound Crescent that left New Orleans today to arrive in Newark, N.J., tomorrow.

“Amtrak is looking for more ways to help the recovery, and when presented with this idea, we said ‘yes’ and found a way to make it work,” said President and CEO Joe Boardman, who is also supporting efforts within Amtrak to help employees in the region who were affected by the storm.  Many of these Amtrak employees have put aside personal matters to restore service.

The “Train of Hope” was conceived by Donna O’Daniels, President and CEO of the St. Tammany Parish Tourist and Convention Commission, and Kim Bergeron, director of cultural affairs for the City of Slidell, a community located east of New Orleans that was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and other storms.  They are traveling on the train today with more than 30 pallets of donated clothing, diapers, baby food, blankets, batteries, and many other critical items.

“In our recent past, volunteers and donations came from every corner of our country to help us when we needed it the most,” O’Daniels said.  “That spirit of giving made things a lot better for a lot of people.  Many of our citizens are regular donors to national charities, and we support those efforts.  But sometimes it feels like it’s not enough - and sometimes it really isn’t.  Sometimes the basic needs are best provided through direct donations.”

“Train of Hope isn’t ‘paying it back,’ ” said Bergeron.  “It’s paying it forward.  While election years often lead to feelings of division between us, the bottom line is that we’re all family in this country.  When we needed it, they gave us help - and hope.  We need to give them both, too.  That’s what Train of Hope is meant to do.”

For more information, visit TrainOfHope.net or its Facebook page.

In addition, as a public service Amtrak is extending for another week free travel to first responders, including police and fire personnel, members of the National Guard and Federal Emergency Management Administration, Red Cross and other agency personnel directly involved in the recovery effort.  First responders do not need to be in uniform, but must display valid credentials to qualify for free travel. The offer is valid from for travel on Northeast Corridor services between Washington and Boston excluding Acela Express, through Nov. 16.

About Amtrak ®:

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


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Amtrak Names New Long Distance Manager

From Amtrak

WASHINGTON, DC, NOVEMBER 8 – Amtrak has named Doug Varn to the new position of General Manager, Long Distance Services. He will be based in Chicago and have accountability for safety, customer satisfaction, ridership, on-time performance, and financial results for the Long Distance business line. Mr. Varn is currently chief of product planning and financial analysis for the Amtrak Marketing Department.

The business line structure is part of the Amtrak Strategic Plan that will help America’s Railroad® focus on performance improvements that customers, partners and employees can take pride in. It includes the functions of the 15 long distance services on a national network of overnight routes ranging in length from 764 to 2,438 miles.

These trains provide service at nearly half of the stations in the Amtrak system and are the only Amtrak service in 23 of the 46 states in the network.

“Doug’s Amtrak professional experience crosses a full range of functional areas, including serving as vice president of planning and finance for the former Intercity business unit,” said Vice President of Operations DJ Stadtler. “He will leverage his deep experience to bring operational, financial and organizational excellence to Amtrak long-distance services.”

As general manager of the Auto Train, Mr. Varn achieved a break-even financial performance and garnered leading customer satisfaction scores. He began working at Amtrak in 1973.


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The National Corridors Initiative
Conference on Value Capture

 

A New [American] Tool for Funding Rail Transportation Corridors
Chairman: Former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Raytheon Amphitheatre
Michael and Kitty Dukakis Center for Public Affairs
Northeastern University, Boston, MA.

Keynote Speaker: Richard Norment, President and CEO,
The National Council on Public Private Partnerships

America’s transportation infrastructure and thus our prosperity, will not be decided on any given Election Day, or in Washington. It will be decided by financial, business, and political leaders, who meet a payroll, make an investment, govern a city or state, or serve in an agency or on a council, commission, or legislature.

Throughout New England, rail corridors are coming back to life, but will need to be financed in a new, sustainable way. This Value Capture conference will deal with both funding and organizational issues, how they have been addressed in Europe and Asia, and how New England can once again lead the way

Note: the Raytheon Amphitheatre is within a short walking distance of the MBTA’s Green “E” Line Northeastern University stop, or the MBTA Orange Line’s Ruggles Station.

No automobile is needed to get to this conference; however, there is a parking garage near Ruggles Station.

Featured Speakers:

  • Former Governor and Presidential Nominee Michael Dukakis

  • Basic Introduction to Value Capture:
    National Corridors Initiative Chairman and CEO James P. RePass

  • The Private Investor Has a Stake in Rail:
    Beal Companies CEO Robert Beal

  • Coalition Building to Create Rail Corridors:
    Alan Bergren, City Manager, Norwich CT;
    Charles Hunter, Rail America - Central Connecticut Rail Corridor;
    Christopher Parker, Vermont Association of Rail Passengers

  • The Boston-Concord Capitol Corridor:
    Will Stewart, Manchester NH C of C’s VP for Economic Development and Advocacy

  • Maine’s Billion-Dollar Rail Success Story:
    The Downeaster - Wayne Davis, Chairman and CEO, TrainRiders NE

  • Promising and Delivering:
    Association for Public Transportation President Richard Arena

  • Green Investing:
    Theodore Roosevelt IV, Chairman, Barclay’s Bank Green Team (Invited)

  • What Your State Rep/Senator Needs to Hear:
    CT House/Senate Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Andy Maynard (Invited)

Continental Breakfast and Box Lunch will be provided. Registration is $60.00

Register via email with NCI Director Molly McKay at: mollynmckay@gmail.com or mollymckay@nationalcorridors.org

Please note “Conference Registration” in the subject line.

Mail your check, payable to “NCI” to:
NCI Northeast U.S. Office, c/o McKay, 8 Riverbend Drive, Mystic, CT, 06355.


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

Installments By Davd Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

By Train From Bremen To Mallorca

Protect The Environment While Traveling By Night,
Seeing Paris And Barcelona By Day
Part 2

Journalist and author Burkhard Strassmann writes about his trip with his family from his home town of Bremen, Germany
to the Spanish island and tourist mecca of Mallorca in spring 2012 via long distance trains.

Story by Burkhard Strassmann in original German text in the newspaper “Die Zeit”,
English text and commentary by David Beale

 

Bremen – On Saturday morning in Paris it is still cool, but now dry. Today our feet have a day off. We are going to take a bicycle tour. Bicycle tour guide Edith has been doing this job for 12 years and leads us plus two closed-mouthed folks out of Hannover wonderfully safe and easy through the quarter “rive gauche”. On the left bank of the Seine is the thinking side, on the right bank of the river is where the work gets done – not thinking, doing. She lives on the right bank. We go along the Boulevard Saint-Germain past the Sorbonne and Panthéon, and I see that Paris is a bicycle town! The bus lanes are for us as well, and everywhere you can find painted bike lanes and paths. We are at least amazed by how many bicyclists are underway. The most are one of the gray “Vélibs”, 20,000 of which are available for rent all over Paris. Even the police ride on bikes. After three hours all three of us agree – for this large city this is the optimal mode of getting around. And spontaneous and ecological, as it is, it fits perfectly to our travel concept. He who travels to Mallorca via trains, uses a bicycle in Paris.

Paris is by far not the only location in Europe which has fantastic infrastructure and planning for bicycle riders. All of Holland, parts of Belgium and Denmark and many areas in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and elsewhere have well marked and maintained bicycle paths in cities and towns. However some areas, including a number of large German cities, make bicycling difficult at best, by giving most, if not all of the public streets and right-of-ways to motor vehicles. A look at Rheine Germany, then immediately a look at Hengelo, Holland (about a 30 minute distance from Rheine via train) will give one a view of the dramatic difference between Holland and Germany regarding the accommodation of bicycle riders in large towns and cities . . . hint: the country which produces millions of cars annually under brand names such as BMW, Mercedes, VW and Audi does not do as good a job in supporting bicyclists.

Saturday evening, the high point of our trip at Gare d'Austerlitz (large train terminal in the southeastern part of central Paris) we wait for the “Juan Mini”, the luxurious “trenhotel”, which will bring us to Barcelona, of the Spanish rail company Elipsos, whose tourist class already looks like our (Deutsche Bahn and other German rail lines) first class. Sleep undisturbed and eat fine cuisine – that is the expectation.

At 20:23 h it starts rolling. In the fancy Club Class we move into two double cabins, which are connected with a dividing door. Wide, soft beds, shower, and toiletry bag! And fantastic sound insulation, plus no air draft to get on the nerves. Although a table will be available relatively late to us, we enjoy an a-la-carte dinner in the on-board restaurant. Three courses: as main course dorade fish or pork cutlet – not exactly well presented nor courteously served, but nevertheless delicious. Thanks to a decent red wine it will be a fantastic, although once again too short evening.

In the morning Ms. Li decides that she has slept super-good and she could make a world trip in this train. It easy to forget that with train travel it’s about transport. However the “Juan Mini” seems like a life-style demonstration.

Sunday 8:00 h. We are standing awestruck in front of Estació de França under Barcelona's blue sky in the morning sunlight. Birds sing, and the scent of lemon blossoms is in the air. On Sunday morning the historic town center belongs to us. And the joggers. We walk toward the city center. Unfortunately the suitcases are in tow – Barcelona has namely a problem with storage of baggage. At the train station there are no luggage lockers and we do not have a hotel here. At the tourist information office on the Plaça de Catalunya they send us to the vicinity of Carrer d'Estruc, where a private luggage storage shop stores our suitcases for a hefty EUR 7.50 (US $ 10.00) each. Note: do not underestimate luggage management on such a trip as this one.

Because we are ready to learn and because – much to the displeasure of Ms. Li and Ms. La – most of the stores in Barcelona are closed this Sunday, we decided in advance to do our feet a favor and perhaps compensate for our lack of sleep. We will do what nearly all tourists here do: we take a ride around the city on an open double-decker bus. The wind blows, the sun smiles, via headphones we let ourselves learn about it all. For the most part it is about Antoni Gaudí, the architect and ambassador of Catalonian modernism, who memorialized himself everywhere in the city with his colorful, crazy buildings. At Gaudí's biggest opus, the massive unfinished church Sagrada Familia, we run into yet another phenomenal waiting line. Ms. Li buys at the souvenir stand as condolence a Chinese necklace, Ms. La buys Chinese ear rings.

And in the afternoon we sink into the sand of the artificial beach of La Barcelonta. Sea, sun and wind – slowly our skin turns red. With our travel method we don't need a tanning studio for pre-tanning. Completely out-of-control Ms. Li jumps into oncoming waves so deeply that later we have to buy dry pants for her at an open beach boutique shop. The suitcases are unfortunately far away in the storage shop in the city center.

In the evening we immediately find the impressive 172 meter (565 foot) long “Sorolla.” Inundated with the diesel exhaust surrounding it, the “Sorolla” fills its belly with an unbelievable number of trucks. With these Mallorca ferries the first priority is the supply to the island of everything, which the vacationers expects to have. As a result, I estimate, there are fewer than one hundred passengers on board, even though the ship could carry a thousand. The passenger is simply gravy here. His few hundred pounds of weight have no consequence compared to the amount of freight, which means our measurable CO2 footprint for this ferry is negligible.

At 23:30 h the “Sorolla” sets sail. Our cabin is so plushly furnished as a hospital room, but at least the beds are soft. The rolling motion of the ship's journey puts us to sleep – this time without red wine.

Monday 5:45 h. We will dock in Palma at 6:45 h. We are awakened as a precaution an hour early by loud speaker announcements. With sleepy eyes we recognize the mountains of the island, the tall buildings and a huge cruise ship. At 7:00 h we walk off the ferry onto land. A cafe is already open. Ms. La and I drink a cortado. Ms. Li takes an iced tea. Puffy clouds still wander in the sky. But the trend is clear: sun and warmth.

How long have we been traveling? The time has evaporated. We have seen, suffered and laughed a lot. Two weeks, I estimate. My gaze comes to the latest edition of “Mallorca Magazine”. On the cover blazes out a photo of the participants of the just completed ultra-marathon through the mountains of Mallorca. The title: A Beautiful Trial. That corresponds exactly to our trip.

On the return trip we have, by the way, flown with the airlines. Too short was our free time, too empty was our checking account for another episode of “slow travel”. Oh well, our luxury trip to Mallorca had cost EUR 963 (US $1250) – without hotel. Due to relative late booking our return flight (to Bremen) cost exactly EUR 581.90, which is also not exactly cheap.

For this ecological sin I have voluntarily paid a carbon off-set of EUR 24.00. For that someone in Asia has replaced is diesel-fueled stove with a solar reflector. Or out of garbage will electricity be produced, the second best solution.

Travelers based in North America, who come to Europe for vacation or even business, should look into “slow travel” by overnight train, ferry and city tours in between end destinations – there is a large variety of options, despite the thinning of the overnight train network in much of Europe in the past decade. The 'legacy' airlines in Europe tend to charge very high air fares for intra-Europe travel, and are therefore often far more expensive than rail connections – and in a few markets where direct high speed trains exist – slower from start point to end point than trains. The low-cost airlines in Europe (examples: Ryanair, EasyJet, WizzAir, Air Berlin, and Germanwings) tend to be competitive with rail travel on the surface, but also are keen on charging lots of money in a back-door fashion for routine tasks such as checked-in baggage, seat selection, carry on baggage and in-flight food and drinks. And the carbon foot print of airline travel remains without any doubt multiple times higher than of train travel. With recent unprecedented climate events around the world, including Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast USA, now more than ever it is time to consider what your carbon footprint is, when you travel.


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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2012 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 editor@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. Kirkpatrick, NCIs webmaster at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

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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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