The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.

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


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November 14, 2011
Vol. 12 No. 45

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

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

Chairman John Mica And Amtrak: Movement
Amtrak At 40, A Rider’s Perspective: NARP Steps Up,
   But Goes Down Swinging
  News Items…
T&I Chair Mica In Amtrak-Supportive Shift Of Emphasis
The Economist Examines Amtrak’s ‘Subsidy’
   --- And Discovers That Other Modes Get Even More
  High-Speed Lines…
See Mica Story, Editorial Above
  Commuter Lines…
North Carolina’s Triangle Passage Of Sales Tax Increase
   In Durham Is Just The First Step
Congestion Tax To Help Fund Transit: Chicago $2 Fee
   Angers Parking Lot Lobby
Chicago’s New DOT Commissioner Could Rival
   Janette Sadik-Khan
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Across The Pond…
Rail Transit Key In Reducing Transportation Energy
   Consumption And Pollution In Europe
‘Train-Addicted’ Swiss On Track
   For Rail Revamp
  Technology Lines…
NCI Joins The Social Networks
  Publication Notes …

EDITORIAL... Editorial...

Chairman John Mica And Amtrak: Movement

Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-FL) has sometimes been portrayed as a thorn-in-the-side-of-Amtrak by rail advocates, especially after the tongue-lashings he has administered to the nation’s passenger rail company over his long career, but it is beginning to look like Mica may in fact be a tough-love help, not a hindrance, for Amtrak.

This past week in New York (see news item below) Chairman Mica came out not only for increased focus on the Northeast Corridor for high-speed-rail dollars --- that was already his position --- but that Amtrak could be the party to operate it.

This is a shift from the Chairman’s previous position, which had emphasized a high-speed rail system using a privatized Amtrak, especially targeting its profitable-above-the-rails Northeast Corridor for private sector ownership/operation. Amtrak makes money on the operating revenues earned by the busy Corridor, largely due to ticket prices that were seriously jacked up in the late 1990’s in response to Congressional pressure for Amtrak to “turn a profit.” No large transportation system in the world, rail or otherwise, shows a “profit” in the conventional sense.

Chairman Mica’s statement to the High-Speed Rail Association conference in New York City last week doesn’t change the Chairman’s fundamental view that Amtrak needs A Lot of Work; he is certainly right about that. In fairness, Amtrak has struggled with management and operations issues since the very beginning of its existence 40 years ago, because it has never had a consistent, predictable source of long-term capital investment dollars.

Chairman Mica’s comments last week are welcome, and helpful. Perhaps the Congress can now take a bi-partisan approach to one way to fund transportation (not just rail) investment: the Infrastructure Bank proposed by former Senator Chris Dodd (C-CT) four years ago is now before Congress. It would be unusual for this bitterly divided Congress to do anything bi-partisan, especially in an election year, but it could be that tough pragmatists like John Mica might provide the leadership to do so. Let’s hope so. The nation is on its economic knees, and one way to bring it back to life and health is a transportation system that is reliable, safe, and cost-effective. There are ways to make that happen --- not Republican ways, or Democratic ways --- but American ways.

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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

Amtrak At 40, A Rider’s Perspective:
NARP Steps Up, But Goes Down Swinging

Third In A Series

By David Peter Alan

The National Rail Passenger Act of 1970 created Amtrak, although it was originally called Railpax before the name was changed.  Maybe that name was not adopted officially because it sounded too much like a disease, but Amtrak’s mission was to make it easier to kill passenger trains than it had been before.  

Two thirds of the nation’s passenger trains left their points of origin for the last time on April 30, 1971.  Service continued on the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C., including branches from Philadelphia to Harrisburg and New Haven to Springfield, Massachusetts.  Few trains survived outside the Northeast Corridor; “Empire Service” still ran between New York and Buffalo with three daily frequencies and two more from New York to Albany.  The service was isolated, originating at Grand Central Terminal in New York (now used exclusively by Metro-North commuter trains) and not going anywhere north of Albany or west of Buffalo.  There was a non-Amtrak connecting train to Toronto, but no through service.  North of New York City. Empire Service did not connect with anything else. 

Outside the Northeast region, only 29 trains survived in the entire Continental U.S.  Not all of these trains traversed long distances, either.  Future corridors: Chicago to Detroit, St. Louis and Milwaukee, Los Angeles to San Diego and Seattle to Portland; accounted for 13 of those trains.  The other 16 trains, some of which ran only three times a week, covered distances in excess of 307 miles.  Compared to the April, 1971 rail network, Amtrak was truly a skeletal system by any reckoning.

The private railroads still operated a few trains, since not all of them had joined Amtrak to get rid of their passenger trains.  The Rock Island operated two medium-distance trains between Chicago and Peoria and Rock Island, Illinois.  They ran until 1977.  The Georgia Railroad placed a coach from the old Crescent Limited onto the front of a scheduled freight train and hauled a few passengers between Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia.  Before that service ended later in the decade, passengers would be accommodated in the caboose with the freight crew.  

At the other end of the scale was the Rio Grande Zephyr, actually the middle segment of the old California Zephyr, operated independently by the Denver & Rio Grande.  The eight-car consist for the all-day scenic run between Denver and Salt Lake City included four dome cars and a dining car that featured Rocky Mountain trout for dinner.  The D&RG train misconnected with the Amtrak train from Chicago to Denver, but riders were willing to spend 22 hours in the Mile-High City to experience the best part of the fabled Zephyr.  The D&RG joined Amtrak in 1983 and ceased its independent operation.  The route remains part of today’s California Zephyr, a far cry from its famous namesake of half a century ago.  Even the scenery has been downgraded by the addition of an interstate highway.

The other railroad that kept running its own passenger trains was the Southern Railway.  It continued to run the Southern Crescent, a new name for the historic Southerner train between New York and New Orleans.  The train ran daily to Atlanta (it ran daily as far as Birmingham for a short period) and three times a week to New Orleans.  The Southern also kept running the Piedmont Limited, an all-day train between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, equipped only with coaches and snack service.  The railroad also ran a train between Salisbury and Asheville, North Carolina, (a route which the North Carolina Department of Transportation may revive some day) on three-day-a-week schedule, and the remnant of the former Birmingham Special between Washington and Lynchburg, Virginia.

The Southern did not continue to run all of its trains, however.  Through its subsidiary, the Central of Georgia, it had also operated the Nancy Hanks (not named for Abraham Lincoln’s mother, but for a race horse who was named after her) between Atlanta and Savannah as well as a portion of the City of Miami.  The latter was an Illinois Central train that ran between Chicago and Miami every other day.  The Central of Georgia operated the segment between Birmingham, Alabama and Albany, Georgia.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) was especially concerned about the discontinuance of the Nancy Hanks.  The train ran every day, and it connected Georgia’s two major cities.  Its principal intermediate stop was Macon.  It connected the Florida trains with Atlanta and New Orleans, and it had enjoyed decent ridership, even in its last days.  NARP alleged that the Southern was not allowed to push its wholly-owned subsidiary into Amtrak to kill only the Central of Georgia trains, while the Southern itself, as the parent company, stayed out of Amtrak and kept running passenger trains.  NARP argued that the Southern was violating the statute that created Amtrak by selectively discontinuing some of its trains while operating others, and argued that the Southern chose to continue operating its own trains, so it could not legally refuse to also operate trains on its subsidiary railroad.

The case eventually reached the Supreme Court, although no lower court required the Southern to restore the Central of Georgia trains, so they did not run while the case was pending.  The Court made its decision in 1974 (National Association of Railroad Passengers v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation, 414 U.S. 453).  The Court never reached the merits of the case, and made its decision in a manner that effectively precluded NARP or any other advocacy organization from having access to the Federal courts to challenge any decision by Amtrak to discontinue a train.

The Court held that NARP did not have standing to sue over the elimination of a train.  In effect, the Court said that a non-governmental organization was not authorized to sue over that sort of issue.  Only the Attorney General had that authority, because the statute specifically conferred it.  There was a provision that allowed a labor organization to sue over the rights of employees, and the Court held that the provision pertaining to labor unions was a specific exception that excluded any other exceptions, because there were no others mentioned in the statute.  The Court also noted that the proceedings which were formerly held by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) could require much time and effort on the part of a railroad to discontinue a train, noting also that a purpose of the statute was to streamline the discontinuance process.  Unlike the former ICC process, Amtrak could discontinue a train simply by giving notice of discontinuance to the public.  There was no hearing required.  

Justice William O. Douglas disagreed and said that, if anybody should have the right to challenge the elimination of a train, it was an organization that represented the people who rode that train.  He was the lone dissenter; the vote was 8 to 1.  

Since that time, neither NARP nor anybody else has been able to challenge a service termination in court.  With no available means for representatives of the riding public to challenge the loss of their trains, the rider advocacy movement has been relegated to a position of weakness, and the Amtrak network has shrunk over the years, when it should have grown.  The next article in this series will focus on the seemingly-incongruous lack of growth of America’s skeletal network of long-distance trains.

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NEWS ITEMS... News Items...  

T&I Chair Mica In Amtrak-Supportive
Shift Of Emphasis:

Northeast Corridor Must Be The High-Speed Rail Priority --- And Amtrak Can Keep It

From The Blog “Transportation Nation” --- Found At:
By Kate Hinds

NEW YORK CITY---The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said Tuesday that the nation’s best shot at a viable high-speed rail line is in the Boston-to-Washington corridor — and Amtrak can be a “full participant.”

“Any further money for high-speed rail needs to solely come to the Northeast Corridor,” said Congressman John Mica (R-FL), who promised to direct any rejected high-speed rail money to it.

Speaking at the U.S. High-Speed Rail Association conference in Manhattan — and joined by two Democratic members of New York’s Congressional delegation — Mica said that while it was fine to develop high-speed rail elsewhere, the focus needs to be here.

“While I want to give California every chance and opportunity to be successful,” said Mica, “I think we have to redirect our efforts to having at least one success in high-speed rail in the nation. And that high-speed rail success needs to be here in the Northeast Corridor.”

He added: “If even one more penny gets sent back to Washington from any high-speed rail project…it needs to come back here.”

Several states have already rejected funding for high-speed rail — including Mica’s own, which sent back $2.4 billion to the federal government earlier this year. And last week California released projections saying its bullet train program would cost almost $100 billion – far above earlier estimates — raising doubts about that project’s viability.

Mica also said Tuesday that he will also hold a hearing in December on the status of high-speed rail and review the programs already in place.

But the big news was the change in Mica’s attitude towards Amtrak — and his reversal of his earlier position on privatizing the Northeast Corridor. “I’m willing to have Amtrak be a full participant in this process,” he said Tuesday. “If there wasn’t an Amtrak…we’d create an Amtrak.”  Later in his talk he reiterated: “we can continue again having Amtrak be a partner in this, no one wants to push them overboard.”

That’s what Mica wanted to do several months ago, when he introduced legislation that aimed to take the Northeast Corridor away from Amtrak, deed it to the U.S. Department of Transportation, and privatize the development of high-speed rail. He said Tuesday he knew that proposal had been “controversial.”

In a press conference afterward, he was asked why he had a change of heart. “We did put a proposal out there that we knew would be tough for them to accept,” he said, referring to his June legislation, “but that’s what you do sometimes in the legislative process to get them to the point where they’re willing to work with you to make something happen.”

Mica has criticized Amtrak’s 30-year timetable for building high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor as too slow. He thinks it can be done in ten to fifteen years.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said “there is widespread agreement that some sort of private capital can be brought into this, but I think — I hope — we have agreement that Amtrak has to be the main vehicle for it.”

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The Economist Examines Amtrak’s ‘Subsidy’ ---
And Discovers That Other Modes Get Even More

Found At:

Road vs. Rail: Amtrak’s True Costs

FROM LONDON --- Amtrak, America’s government-run passenger rail service, received $1.4 billion in taxpayer subsidies in 2011. Critics reckon that’s too much, and say that the company should either be self-sufficient or privatized.  Some surveys suggest that the majority of Americans agree. But Amtrak’s defenders are striking back, arguing that the railroad actually receives fewer dollars per passenger mile (ppm) than highways.

David C. of the blog GreaterGreaterWashington published a classic in this genre late last month. “When indirect subsidies are considered, Amtrak’s total subsidy comes out to a little less than 44¢ ppm,” he argues.

“Motoring’s subsidy rises up to almost 45¢ ppm.” You can click through [at the Economist site] to Mr. C’s analysis for the details, but here’s the nickel version in a chart:

Subsidy   Amtrak      Roads   
Direct subsidy$0.240$0.020
Air pollution$0.081$0.118
Global warming$0.072$0.109
Resource consumption$0.008$0.040
Crash damage$0.007$0.037
Lost tax revenue$0.006$0.028
Land use$0.018$0.020
Transportation diversity      $0.000$0.004

Not everyone is going to agree that all of these external factors should be considered when comparing Amtrak’s costs with those of roads. Some Amtrak supporters, however, go even further than Mr. C. — they say that cost per passenger mile is the wrong metric to be discussing in the first place. Alon Levy, who blogs at Pedestrian Observations, is one of the metric’s most articulate critics. Here’s his argument:

Passenger-miles don’t vote. They’re not a unit of deservedness of subsidy. They’re one unit of transportation consumption. They’re like tons of staple as a unit of food production, or calories as a unit of consumption. We don’t subsidize food based on cents per calorie.

Matt Yglesias, another blogger, elaborates:

The use of passenger-miles as a unit of measures embeds the assumption that the goal of a regional intra-urban transportation system is to have people traveling as far as possible.... That’s great if you’re in the business of manufacturing and selling automobiles.

It’s not so great, however, if your policy goals are more nuanced. Amtrak’s critics are right to demand that any money spent on it be spent well. But it’s worth noting that $1.4 billion is about four-hundredths of 1% of the federal budget. Cutting that spending is not going to solve the United States’ long-term deficit problem, which is almost entirely due to exploding medical costs.   Amtrak’s critics should focus on whether or not taxpayers are getting their money’s worth and avoid conflating Amtrak’s troubles with America’s broader fiscal difficulties. Considering indirect subsidies and metrics other than cost per passenger mile should be part of that calculation.

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HIGH-SPEED LINES... High-Speed Lines...  

[  See Mica Story, Editorial Above  ]

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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

North Carolina’s Triangle Passage Of Sales Tax Increase
In Durham Is Just The First Step

By Yonah Freemark In The Blog “The Transport Politic”
Found At:

DURHAM, NC---A 30-year plan to bring increased bus service and three new rail lines to the Research Triangle gets off to a promising start with an election in Durham.

In 2000, North Carolina’s two largest metropolitan regions each planned big transit improvements, and each had received preliminary approval to do so from the Federal Transit Administration. The Triangle’s leaders wanted to build a diesel multiple unit-powered regional rail line connecting Durham and Raleigh while Charlotte’s elected officials planned an electric light rail line linking downtown with its southern suburbs.

Ten years later, Charlotte’s Blue Line has been up and running for almost four years, attracting higher than expected ridership. The Triangle’s efforts were flummoxed in November 2005 by an FTA ruling that the regional rail project was not cost effective, and the project was cancelled.

Yet the passage yesterday of a half-cent sales tax increase dedicated to transit in Durham County offers strong evidence that the region’s electorate is ready to invest in new public transportation options — the referendum passed with a large 60% majority in approval. Durham’s endorsement of the transit improvement program, like similar efforts in cities from Los Angeles to Denver, provides clear evidence that voters are willing and even excited to pay higher taxes in exchange for tangible improvements in transportation.* 

If, in the U.S. Congress, future funding for mobility remains tenuous at best, local level support for such policies is clear.

For the Triangle, this is the first step towards the completion of what will not only be a vast upgrade over current transit offerings in the region but also a significant improvement on the 2000 regional rail plan.

Triangle leaders have learned from Charlotte’s success. Realizing that the FTA would be unwilling to commit to a project without a stronger demonstration of local funding efforts, politicians pushed the North Carolina State Assembly to allow counties to submit sales tax increases to their voters, an option that had been reserved for Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County until 2009. Charlotte’s half-cent sales tax provided a quarter of the light rail line’s cost, while the Triangle’s 2000 plan could cover less than 10% of costs with local revenues, which came from a tax on rental cars and vehicle registrations.

Durham (population 270,000) is the first of the three Triangle core counties to put a transit sales tax referendum up to voters; Wake County (whose 900,000 population includes the cities of Raleigh and Cary) and Orange County (130,000 inhabitants, many of whom are in Chapel Hill) are likely to follow up next year now that the transit plan has received its first public backing. Each county will receive improvements roughly in proportion to the taxes locals pay; if one county’s voters reject the referendum, the other counties will keep their revenues and continue work on their own projects. (Update: Durham County Board members may have said they will not levy the tax unless Wake and Orange Counties do as well.)

The implementation plan, developed by the Triangle Regional Transit Program, will be implemented over the next thirty years as long as tax revenues come in as expected. It will offer big improvements in bus service soon and new rail links beginning a decade or so from now.**

Upgrading the region’s bus network is a top priority and is the ideal first step towards a big investment in fixed-guideway transit. Charlotte, which substantially increased bus services once its half-cent sales tax was approved in 1998, more than doubled its daily transit ridership over ten years, mostly thanks to bus riders (though the light rail project helped as well). Some of the $17.2 million in sales tax receipts that Durham expects to collect annually beginning in April 2012 will immediately go to 25,000 additional annual bus service hours and another 25,000 new hours planned by 2013. This represents a 28% increase over current service levels and it will allow 15-minute peak frequencies on several routes. Similar improvements are planned for Orange and Wake Counties if and when their voters approve their respective referenda. (The Town of Chapel Hill wants to use some of its future funds to pay for a bus rapid transit project along Martin Luther King Boulevard, its primary north-south thoroughfare, by 2017.)

In the meantime, Durham and the rest of the region will continue their work on the long-term fixed-guideway rail projects that are the headliners here. In the 2000 plan, the whole point was the intercity link between Raleigh and Durham; in the past few years, Triangle planners decided to realign — and broaden — their focus. Not only would a commuter rail line running at limited frequencies be developed to connect the two big downtowns by 2018, but two light rail lines sharing parts of the same corridor will run from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to Durham and from suburban Cary to northeast Raleigh via that city’s downtown.

Unlike the regional rail plan, which would have had twelve stations spread across 28 miles of service — more like commuter rail than urban service — the two light rail lines will have a total of 38 stations along 35 miles of service, meaning most people along the route will be within walking distance of a stop. In addition, the light rail lines will run partially in the existing railroad right-of-way (as would have the regional rail plan) but also within street medians in some urban sections, such as the newly developed Erwin Road near Duke University Hospital and N.C. 54 in and around Chapel Hill’s new urbanist Meadowmont development. Street alignments are generally cheaper and more pedestrian accessible than their peers in independent rights-of-way.

Together, these projects would attract roughly 32,000 daily riders by 2035 at a cost of $3.5 billion, thus making it far easier and more reliable to get around these cities by transit.

Instead of rushing to complete the rail connections as soon as possible, the plan is designed to build up a reserve fund for capital costs and slowly pass through the FTA’s grant process. This is an appropriate response to unexpected changes in the economy and the delays that are likely to be encountered when dealing with Washington. Thus the 2025 completion dates for the light rail projects may seem far off but they are realistic.

In order to sponsor these projects, regional officials are counting on the passage of the sales tax referenda in each of the three Triangle counties. They will also use a $10 vehicle registration fee and rental car tax (both already in place), as well as 50% capital program support from Washington and 25% support from the State of North Carolina (roughly what Charlotte received for its light rail project). Collectively, the three counties would locally raise more than $2 billion in year-of-expenditure dollars by 2035 (Durham County, for instance, will collect about $730 million), enough to pay for the local share of all of these projects and the operations costs not only of the rail lines but also of the improved bus network.

Compared with the 2000 program, this is a far more comprehensive set of improvements that will do more to change the transit access of the typical resident of the area — especially since much of the funding is designed for bus service, which was ignored in the previous plan. Despite the fact that they will attract new riders into the transit system, the rail services as currently proposed are not perfect. One hopes that the long planning process will allow further refinements that ensure that the program is as cost-effective and traveler-oriented as possible.

The biggest trouble with the plan, like the previous one, is that it attempts to impose what is effectively radial transit on a multipolar region whose most prominent employment center is actually a series of isolated office blocks in the zone between Durham and Raleigh, the Research Triangle Park (RTP). Though RTP has been the region’s growth generator for decades, its radically suburban form makes it difficult to envision efficient transit there.

Meanwhile, there is relatively little commuting between Raleigh and Durham. The cities are too far apart to be true suburbs of one another; most people who work in Downton Durham live in Durham County, and most people who work in Downtown Raleigh live in Wake County. This means that the $650 million commuter rail line expected to pass through RTP and between Durham and Raleigh will have limited value — this was, after all, the problem with the 2000 regional rail proposal.

For the same reasons, the new focus on light rail connecting Chapel Hill to Durham and Wake County’s suburbs to Downtown Raleigh is much more reasonable. There has been significant growth in both residential and worker populations in downtown Durham and Raleigh since 2000, so there is both demand and interest in getting into these cities more easily. Connections to Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University, which have a collective student body and staff of more than 100,000 (not including their medical centers), are likely to make the rail services quite popular, especially for people who live nearby but cannot afford parking in expensive university lots.

Nonetheless, the access provided to the respective downtowns is weak according to current plans. While Durham’s downtown will be within half a mile of two stops, no station will be directly next to the city center; in Raleigh, a summer over the appropriate alignment for rail through downtown resulted in a compromise that puts much of the business district a full mile away from the nearest station. Meanwhile, while the UNC Hospital is at the terminus of the proposed Durham-Chapel Hill light rail line, the main sections of the University and Chapel Hill’s downtown are both about a mile away. These could be fatal flaws in terms of attracting ridership.

Just as problematic is the choice of light rail for the Durham-to-Chapel Hill corridor. The  alternatives analysis completed for the line suggests that a true bus rapid transit alternative with an independent guideway would actually attract more total riders at a far lower cost, with only slightly slower travel times. How is this possible, when studies have shown that more commuters will ride rail than bus when similar services are offered? Because the analysis included the possibility of interlining local bus routes onto the fixed-guideway for parts of their route (see map below from the study). This would effectively make travel faster and more reliable even for people whose origins and destinations are not directly along the fixed guideway line.

But local officials have recommended light rail, primarily because of its perceived transit-oriented development potential. This may be a short-sighted decision, since it denies the conclusion that overall transit ridership would be higher with an interlined system. But it also reflects the fact that the route includes several stations in greenfields (at Leigh Village and Gateway) that are poised for significant growth if developers heed the call. Would they do so with a BRT system?

One additional point: If the commuter rail project and light rail projects are completed, they should be developed jointly, not independently. The current proposal recommends four rail tracks in some sections of the Durham-to-Raleigh corridor to allow for two light rail tracks and two shared between the commuter rail line, Amtrak, and freight trains. The section of line between the Ninth Street and Alston Avenue Stations in Durham, for instance, would require the installation of two new light rail tracks and a new commuter rail track (there is currently only one track there). This is overkill considering the proposed train frequencies (maximum 10-minute headways) and will cost more than is necessary.

With the advent of positive train control, the physical separation into different corridors between light rail and freight trains will no longer be necessary. Were the Triangle granted a waiver from the current Federal Railroad Administration rules, it could use tram-train vehicles for its light rail routes and use the same tracks as the commuter rail, thus reducing the necessary expenditures in the shared portions of the line.

Despite these objections, the overall transit plan for the Triangle appears mostly well thought-through. The light rail routes would run through the densest sections of the area and would stop at most major destinations. For a quickly growing region with few public transportation options today, that’s great news.

Thanks to the efforts of Durham’s citizens yesterday, the plan is also actually fundable. Simply proposing a tax cannot be enough to have it approved, of course. Like other cities that have passed transit taxes, Durham benefited from the near-universal support from public officials and the creation of an active support group promoting a clear, exciting plan. Wake and Orange Counties will need similar efforts to make the full regional plan possible.***


* This is apparently not true in suburban Cleveland, where two separate efforts to maintain bus service were roundly defeated in votes yesterday. But it was true in Vancouver, Washington, where voters endorsed a sales tax for transit, and in Cincinnati, where an effort to block work on the streetcar was ignored.

** Though the rail system will be developed by Triangle Transit, a regional authority that operates intercity buses, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh each have their own bus services that at least for now will remain separate. These agencies will receive proportional tax funds to improve operations and will be expected to coordinate with the rail services once they are running.

***” Feel free to blame the length of this article on the fact that I am a native of Durham,” writes Freemark.

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Congestion Tax To Help Fund Transit:
Chicago $2 Fee Angers Parking Lot Lobby

Found At The Blog, The Architect’s Newspaper:

CHICAGO --- Mayor Emanuel’s proposed $2 congestion tax on downtown parking is facing stiff opposition from, you guessed it, the parking lobby. According to the Tribune, the Parking Industry Labor Management Committee is posting placards in member facilities and handing out flyers opposing the tax. The committee argues the tax will not improve traffic flow and could encourage businesses to relocate to the suburbs. Emanuel believes the tax will foster greater transit ridership and raise an estimated $28 million annually for CTA improvements. The $2 tax on parking at garages and lots in the Loop and River North will be added to the existing $3 tax that goes to the city’s general fund.

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Chicago’s New DOT Commissioner
Could Rival Janette Sadik-Khan

From Internet Sources

Progressive transportation commissioners have become heroes in planning circles. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding Chicago Mayor Emanuel’s appointment of Gabe Klein as DOT commissioner. Poached from Washington D.C., where Emanuel saw his work first-hand, Klein has extensive experience instituting new transportation ideas, including the nation’s largest bike sharing program and a new streetcar system.

The Chicago Tribune has a good roundup of Klein’s thoughts so far, which include focusing on improving the CTA rather than building a new High-Speed Rail Line to O’Hare, increasing  traffic calming measures and pedestrian upgrades, expanding bike lanes and bus rapid transit. Overall he wants to dramatically increase biking, walking, and transit use and diminish the presence of cars, especially in the central city.

Before transitioning into government, Klein worked in the transportation field as an executive at a bicycle company and at Zipcar.

More broadly, the appointment signals openness on the part of the Emanuel Administration to bringing in new people and new ideas into Chicago’s government agencies, a welcome shift from the patronage system of the Daley regime. Janette Sadik-Khan in New York and Jan Gehl of Denmark may have a new rival for the title of progressive transportation star.

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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...


Berkshire Hathaway B (BNSF)(BRK.B)76.97 77.24
Canadian National (CNI)79.9978.64
Canadian Pacific (CP) 61.9161.21
CSX (CSX)22.3121.57
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)60.6260.07
Kansas City Southern (KSU)67.2365.93
Norfolk Southern (NSC)73.7973.54
Providence & Worcester(PWX)12.4012.87
RailAmerica (RA)13.9713.85
Union Pacific (UNP)103.40101.24

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

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor


Rail Transit Key In Reducing Transportation
Energy Consumption And Pollution In Europe

EU Commission White Paper Places Rail Transit In Center Of Year 2050 Transportation Planning

From Internet Sources and Press Release

Berlin – A recently released White Paper from the EU Commission, the executive branch of European Union government, was publicized by the Bundis 90 / Green Party in Germany. The pro-environment political party has racked up a series of electoral victories in Germany in the past 10 months, including winning control of the state government in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, mostly at the expense of the fiscally conservative / pro- Big Business FDP political party, which has seen its political power drop by more than half in the past year across Germany and is now fighting for survival.

An electrically powered ICE-2 train set passes through Ottensen in Lindhorst Township

Photo: David Beale

Tailwind – the EU has concluded that in order to reduce energy consumption and cut-down emissions of green-house gas CO2 from the transportation sector, the focus will be on rail transit for both passengers and freight for future transportation spending and investment. An electrically powered ICE-2 train set passes through Ottensen in Lindhorst Township towards Hannover in April 2011.

The white paper, which will become official EU policy if ratified by the EU commission, outlines targets for EU member countries in the next several decades up to 2050:

A train ticket from Italian passenger rail operator Tren Italia

Image Provided by David Beale

That’s Italian . . . . for efficient transportation – on the back side of train tickets from Italian passenger rail operator Tren Italia is a diagram showing the amount of CO2 produced per person for train, automobile, and airline travel.

Separately but in a related issue the Bundis 90 / Green Party issued a press release that harshly criticized the lack of progress in Germany in converting the nation's rail lines from the present PTC systems (PZB / Indusi and LZB) to the new international PTC standard known as ETCS / ERTMS (European Train Control System and European Rail Traffic Management System). Rail lines in Europe are equipped with various incompatible PTC and cab signaling systems, which greatly restricts how trains can cross national borders. Equipping locomotives and multiple unit trains with capability to work with two or more PTC systems is costly and complex, adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to the purchase price as well as taking up valuable floor space in locomotives for the additional equipment. The goal of ETCS and ERTMS is to convert all rail lines in Europe to a single, interoperable PTC and signal system. Germany has so far not implemented full ETCS on any major rail corridors, although it has plans on the drawing board for ETCS implementation on a number of heavily traveled routes.

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‘Train-Addicted’ Swiss On Track For Rail Revamp

Swiss To Connect City Of Zurich Train Stations With Rail Link

From CNN; Found At:
By Becky Anderson, CNN

ZURICH--- As rail travel grows ever more popular in Switzerland, the country’s most important rail station is undergoing a bold transformation to keep up with increasing demand.

The Swiss are among the world’s top train travelers, second only to the Japanese. Last year, the average Swiss person traveled about 2,000 miles by rail; most of those journeys happened during the morning or evening rush hour.

Passenger flows have increased by 30% over the last seven years and 350,000 people now use Zurich’s central train station every day.

“You can say the Swiss are train addicts,” says Daniele Pallecchi, of Swiss Railways.

He adds: “Within the last seven years we had a big increase of passengers using the trains in Switzerland and here in Zurich as well and we need more capacity on the rails and on our trains. So we are building now the cross-city link.

“The cross-city link ensures bigger capacity and shorter time of traveling.”

When finished, Zurich’s cross-city railway line will be over six miles long and will form an integral part of the Swiss network’s inter-city axis. It is Switzerland’s biggest urban project. 

“It’s the most challenging job you can imagine”--- Roland Kobel, project director.

At its heart is the new underground “through” station -- or “Löwenstrasse” -- built beneath the main station. Here, two new platforms will serve four tracks that will eventually be connected to the main train station.

Over the past four years men and machines have been digging under two rivers and a fully functioning rail hub, creating a hole the size of two football fields.

“It’s the most challenging job you can imagine,” says project director Roland Kobel.

“It’s not only railways ... almost every section of engineering is realized here: we have tunneling, we have open cuts, we have deep borings.”

Kobel says between 500 and 700 people are working on the project at any time, building below ground while the old station continues to function above.

Swiss Railway reps say that while work on the cross-city link continues full bore, 98.5% of passengers still reach their destination on time.

It’s estimated that as many as half a million people will use the station each day by 2020. That’s why the cross-city link is crucial: once completed, in 2014, it will match that increase by doubling the capacity of the station.

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TECHNOLOGY LINES... Technology Lines...  

NCI Joins The Social Networks

From the Webmaster

In the new age of digital interaction, a web page presence is not always enough for the purpose of outreach or sharing one’s message. Therefore, the National Corridors Initiative is venturing into the realm of social networking.

Starting this week you will be able to link up with us at Facebook ™ and on Twitter™. Links to those services will appear on our home page and in each newsletter starting this week.

Our plans include scrolling our “tweets” on the NCI home page as well as within our Facebook account. Users can then “follow” us on those systems as desired.

Keep in mind that in order to see these pages or receive these feeds you will need accounts there, so if you do not have a Facebook account you won’t be able to access our pages there. Twitter on the other had, has a “widget” that will allow us to display the last several “tweets” within our home page, but for the full experience, you will need a Twitter account.

We are new at this so bear with us as we develop these new outreach systems. Suggestions will also be welcome to us at:



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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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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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