The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

Publisher: James P. RePass      E-Zine Editor: Molly McKay
Foreign Editor: David Beale      Webmaster: Dennis Kirkpatrick

 

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November 28, 2011
Vol. 12 No. 47

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

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

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

  Editorial…
The MF Scandal, Pepper Spray, And Chaos:
   The Fallout From Anti-Regulation Ideology
  Commentary…
Amtrak At 40, A Rider’s Perspective ---
   The Long-Distance Network:
   A Series Of Contractions And Threats
  News Items…
Bureau Of Land Management OK’s
   DesertXpress Right-Of-Way
  Commuter Lines…
Report Reveals Public Transit Riders Save Nearly
   $10K --Annually -- Over Auto Use
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Across The Pond…
BREAKING NEWS - Stuttgart 21 Project Survives Voter Referendum
Deutsche Bahn Hopes DNA Will Curb Metal Theft
Financing For Lyon – Turin High-Speed
   Rail Corridor Finalized
Swiss Tunnel Reaches Final Stage
  We get letters…
  Publication Notes …



EDITORIAL... Editorial...

The MF Scandal, Pepper Spray, And Chaos:
The Fallout From Anti-Regulation Ideology

Is this Bernie Madoff, Redux?

Just when you thought it might be safe to get back into the stock market, another multi-billion-dollar scandal has hit the securities industry.

This time the focus is MF Global Holdings, whose chairman and chief executive has resigned as investigators look into the disappearance of hundreds of millions, and perhaps billions, in customer money that was allegedly used by the brokerage firm in its last days to cover its own [bad] bets.

Now comes the news that the industry’s self-regulating arm --- that’s right, self-regulating, since the Reagan-Bush years onslaught against government in all its forms --- had issued a waiver to Jon Corzine from taking and passing certain required security industry exams that anyone who handles your money as a broker/dealer is supposed to pass every two years, when he or she changes jobs: Corzine had been out of the securities business for about a decade during his [relatively brief] political career, and was required to take the tests, but An Exception Was Made In His Case.

It now appears that FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) ---- “…the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States oversee[ing] nearly 4,495 brokerage firms, 163,450 branch offices and 635,515 registered securities representatives” [according to the FINRA website: http://www.finra.org/index.htm] which also states “Our chief role is to protect investors by maintaining the fairness of the U.S. capital markets” ---- granted Jon Corzine a special waiver, allowing him to conduct business as a broker/dealer without passing any exams at all, as reported by columnist and financial expert Bill Singer in Forbes Magazine on-line.

Now it is highly unlikely that Jon Corzine, as smart a cookie as has sauntered down Wall Street in a long time, actually needed to take those exams; indeed, he could probably write them. But that’s not the point, of course: the point is the message FINRA sent to Jon Corzine when he went back un-tested into the securities business as CEO of MF in 2010, which was this: “No one is watching”.

Indeed, as MF’s troubles mounted, Corzine repeatedly fought attempts to by outsiders to scrutinize its books, until early this month, when the whole house of cards --- built on Spanish and Portuguese bonds and other great investments -- collapsed

Let’s contrast Jon Corzine’s treatment, and that accorded to kids protesting Wall Street at UC-Davis last week: Jon gets a free pass, even as investor millions are melting away, and the kids get pepper-sprayed in the face --- while seated, arms linked, doing nothing.

If ever a video deserved to go viral, it was that one.

And what on earth does any of this have to do with infrastructure, the object of our devotion?

Everything.

As long as we permit giants who commit giant fraud to go unpunished, or operate until disaster hits in an unregulated environment, while beating and gassing kids who are trying to point out injustice, we will have a country incapable of making the decisions necessary to right itself, one of which is building infrastructure, and another of which is implementing a basic system of regulatory fairness that doesn’t kid glove Billionaires while kicking our kids.

The anti-government sentiment that allowed Bernie Madoff to steal billions, and Jon Corzine to run a multi-billion-dollar company into the ground taking hundreds of millions of dollars in investor money with it, are part and parcel of the fairy-land world inhabited by the free market freaks, who time after time have demonstrated that human greed and self-interest will trump the common good, every chance it gets.

No, government shouldn’t stick its nose in everybody’s business. But we do need a backbone of infrastructure in this country to get America going again. Please, let’s stop allowing the foxes to guard the hen-house, and pull together all we can to turn around this wobbly ship of state.


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

Amtrak At 40, A Rider’s Perspective ---
The Long-Distance Network:
A Series Of Contractions And Threats

Fifth In A Series
By David Peter Alan

Americans want more passenger trains. So say the polls cited by the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP). Those claims seem to be justified. Amtrak now boasts 30 million riders for the year, the most in its history. Local politicians and community leaders throughout the nation call regularly for more rail service. Congress and various administrations, both Republican and Democrat, do not appear to support an increase in rail service, however.

In fact, since 1979 Amtrak has faced continual threats to its long-distance network, along with periodic cuts in service. Some of those cuts bordered on the catastrophic. The elimination of six trains in 1979 and the infamous “Mercer Management” cuts of the mid-1990s were the worst. Some trains were eliminated at other times, and it appears that the long-distance network never seemed safe for an extended period of time.

During the Carter Administration in the late 1970s, one of the most important political and economic issues was energy. With the rise in gasoline prices caused by the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) reductions in the amount of oil exported, the price of energy was a hot-button issue of the day. Buses sported posters with pictures of President Jimmy Carter saying “Thanks for riding the bus and saving energy.”

The same gratitude did not extend to people who rode the train. In 1979, under the Democratic Carter Administration, Amtrak suffered the most severe service elimination in its history. The National Limited between New York and St. Louis was terminated, although service between St. Louis and Kansas City survives today. Also killed was the Floridian between Chicago and Miami, through Nashville. So was the North Coast Limited, which ran three times per week between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest on a route south of the current Empire Builder route. So was the train between Chicago and Texas on the Santa Fe route, then called the Lone Star Limited. That train ran through Kansas City, Oklahoma and Fort Worth on its way to Houston. Two lesser-known trains were also eliminated: one on the former Baltimore & Ohio route between Washington, D.C. and Cincinnati, and the other on a portion of the former Norfolk & Western route through Roanoke, Virginia.

Only one portion of any of these routes has had service restored since that time. The Heartland Flyer now runs along a 206-mile segment of the old Texas Chief route between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth. The Flyer connects with the Texas Eagle southbound to Austin and San Antonio, and to Los Angeles three times weekly. Northbound, there are no connections from Oklahoma City. Oklahoma rail advocates say that the train was supposed to run between Fort Worth and Newton, Kansas when it began running in 1999, but only half of that route was restored. Rider advocacy organizations in the region are still fighting for service north of Oklahoma City that would go to Kansas City and Chicago.

The Reagan Administration of the 1980s placed a great deal of pressure on Amtrak and threatened the system with elimination, but these threats were not carried out. Changes in work rules that reduced labor costs may have helped keep the railroad running. There was some growth, but that was mainly at the corridor level, especially in California.

The next round of cuts came in the mid-1990s. Thomas Downs, who had been Transportation Commissioner in New Jersey, was President of Amtrak. He and Betsy Reveal, Amtrak’s CFO, believed the recommendations of the highly-paid, highly touted Mercer Management consulting company that cutting frequency of service would reduce costs, and that riders would conform their plans to take the train on the days when it ran. Some trains were eliminated totally. The Broadway Limited between New York and Chicago through Pennsylvania was one of the casualties. So were a number of medium-distance runs, mostly connecting sections of longer trains. Examples were the Houston section of the Texas Eagle and a train between Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama, that connected with the Southern Crescent at Birmingham. Other segments, such as the one between Toledo and Detroit, were replaced by a bus. The section of the Lake Shore Limited between Boston and Albany nearly met the same fate.

Mercer Consulting, a Boston firm with expertise in human relations management, recommended that Amtrak cut service, expecting larger ridership on the trains that survived. Amtrak implemented Mercer’s suggestions. During 1994 and 1995, few trains continued to run every day. The Lake Shore Limited did, as the last surviving train between New York and Chicago. So did the Florida trains and the Capitol Limited between Chicago and Washington, D.C. The Crescent only ran daily as far as Atlanta, with service to New Orleans offered only three times a week on a schedule remarkably similar to the one operated by the Southern Railway in the 1970s.

West of Chicago and New Orleans, the Southwest Chief between Chicago and Los Angeles was the only train that was never reduced to less-than daily operation. The City of New Orleans between Chicago and the Crescent City was reduced to five days per week. So was the Coast Starlight between Los Angeles and Seattle, for a brief time. The Empire Builder to Seattle and Portland and the California Zephyr were reduced to running four days per week. The Pioneer, Desert Wind and Texas Eagle were reduced to running on tri-weekly schedules, along with the Sunset Limited, which had not run daily since 1970.

The Mercer cuts were a disaster. Costs fell, but revenue fell even more. Amtrak learned that many customers were not willing to plan their entire trips around the days when the train would be running, even if it were feasible to do so. Connections between routes sometimes required a layover of more than 24 hours; occasionally more than 48. There were fewer trains over which to amortize fixed costs, so the savings were not as great as Amtrak management had hoped. Andrew Selden, then President of the Minnesota Association of Railroad Passengers, wrote a scathing critique of the Mercer cuts and posted it on Trainweb. He was not alone.

By 1997, trains began to come back, under the leadership of George Warrington who, like Downs, had come from New Jersey Transit. Warrington restored most of the trains to daily operation, and the Amtrak map of 1997 looked much like it does today, especially west of Chicago. There was a plan to eliminate the tri-weekly trains, although that did not happen to all of them. The Sunset Limited and Cardinal continued to run as tri-weekly trains and operate on similar schedules today between New Orleans and Los Angeles [although CSX rail has used Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to fight the return of that service East of New Orleans to Florida]. The Texas Eagle was discontinued but came back from the grave, largely due to the effort of Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and rail advocates from St. Louis to San Antonio, in particular the former Mayor of Marshall, TX, Audrey Kariel, who lead that fight. The Pioneer, from Seattle to Denver over the Union Pacific route, was discontinued in 1997 and never came back. The Desert Wind between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, through Las Vegas, Nevada met the same fate. There were initiatives to restore service between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but they have not been successful.

Amtrak survived the cuts of the Clinton Administration, but a new challenge came with the second Bush Administration. September 11, 2001 was a day that will never be forgotten. There is no need to repeat the story here, but there was no commercial air traffic for several days. Because of an attack on a Greyhound bus driver the next day, bus service was also suspended. No other public intercity transportation operated; only the Amtrak trains. Rail advocates were elated. They believed that Amtrak had proven that it could operate when nothing else did. It seemed that a new day was coming, and that passenger rail would finally receive the respect it deserved.

It was not to be. Instead, the Bush Administration attempted to “zero out” Amtrak’s budget, to destroy it completely. Amtrak Board Chair John Robert Smith and President David Gunn fought back. Gunn said that, if there was insufficient funding to operate the Amtrak network for the entire budget year, he would run the trains until there was only enough money left to shut the system down, and then he would do just that. Rail advocates flocked to Amtrak’s defense, whether or not they had approved of the performance of any particular Amtrak management team. In the end, Congress did not go along with the Bush proposal, and Amtrak survived.

During the past decade, Amtrak has cut trains and downgraded on-board services. The Silver Palm, a third train between New York and Florida, was discontinued in 2002. Through service between New York and Chicago through Pennsylvania had been restored, but it was eliminated again in 2005. Dining service was downgraded, and most food served in Amtrak dining cars is pre-cooked, rather than prepared on board. On-board service staff has been reduced on essentially every train. Amtrak is also short of equipment, so some train consists are shorter than they had been in the past. Still, the cuts during the Bush era could have been more severe than they were, especially in light of the Bush Administration’s antipathy toward passenger rail generally, and Amtrak in particular.

Today, Amtrak faces a new threat. President Obama has spoken favorably of Amtrak and has touted high-speed rail as part of his Administration’s transportation policy. Nonetheless, the same administration has not increased Amtrak funding. Neither has Amtrak expanded its network, and the only improvements have been to state-supported trains and corridors.

During the past year, the balance has shifted considerably toward the negative side. The victories of Congressional and gubernatorial candidates allied with the TEA Party wing of the Republican Party have brought passenger rail under a new threat. While some Republicans join most Democrats in their willingness to tolerate some major rail corridors and a small long-distance network, Republican leaders have criticized Amtrak severely. The new emphasis on “infrastructure” as only as consisting only of highways and bridges also places rail in a poor relative position. Recent rejections of Federal high-speed rail funds by Republican governors in Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida have not helped, either.

Conditions have often seemed right for a resurgence of interest in rail travel, with the consequent expansion of the nation’s passenger rail network. Amtrak’s ridership for the year is over 30 million, so people are riding the few trains they have. Still, some of the politicians who control funding do not seem to like passenger trains these days. Maybe things would have been different if the nation’s political leadership, both Democrats and Republicans, had believed in passenger rail and had used its power to improve the trains and expand the network. Unfortunately, this has not happened yet, and it is certainly not happening now. Maybe there will come a day when the nation’s decision-makers will come to appreciate the civility, safety and efficiency of passenger trains. Maybe they will also come to appreciate the role of passenger trains in stimulating the economies of the communities which those trains serve. The way things have been going lately, this will not happen in the foreseeable future. Will it happen someday? Time will tell.

The rest of this series will examine Amtrak today, and how it fulfills or does not fulfill its mission to provide intercity rail transportation. If there is an issue concerning Amtrak that you would propose for discussion in this series, please let us know. One such issue is Amtrak’s identity as a railroad. Some commentators have said that Amtrak acts too much like an airline and not enough like a railroad. The next article in this series will examine Amtrak’s “airline” practices and how appropriate they are today.

David Peter Alan has ridden approximately 500,000 miles on Amtrak during the past 15 years, including every train currently operating on Amtrak and some that no longer exist. He is a Board Member of the Rail Users’ Network (RUN) and has previously been a Director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP). The opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of any other individual or organization.


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NEWSITEMS... News Items...  

Bureau Of Land Management
OK’s DesertXpress Right-Of-Way

From High Speed Rail Updates

LAS VEGAS --- DesertXpress Enterprises L.L.C. has cleared another hurdle in its plan to build a high-speed rail line linking Las Vegas and southern California.

Last week, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a record of decision for the project, approving the right of way for the corridor, according to an article posted on the Las Vegas Sun’s website.

BLM estimates about 821 acres of public land would be needed for the project’s permanent right of way, as well as 95 acres during construction of the 190-mile corridor, the article said. The project also includes about 2,800 acres of private land.

The Surface Transportation Board approved the project in October and the Federal Railroad Administration, in July.

DesertXpress Enterprises, which comprises private California and Nevada companies, plans to build dedicated track along Interstate 15 to accommodate trains reaching top speeds of 150 mph.

From www.DesertXpress.com

The Desert Xpress is an interstate high-speed rail (HSR) project that will link Las Vegas, Nevada and Southern California with standard gauge fully electric high speed trains. The project will run primarily adjacent to Interstate 15. A designated Corridor of the Future, I-15 is the only freeway between Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles, California.

DesertXpress will provide non-stop service for the approximate 190 miles between Victorville, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Trains will travel between the two cities in approximately 80-minutes at speeds initially reaching 150 mph. A future link between Victorville, California and Palmdale, California will connect Las Vegas and the voter-approved California High Speed Rail network with planned Southern California stations in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and San Bernardino Counties.

DesertXpress is one of a few key projects across the country that will provide a foundation for high speed rail infrastructure. High speed rail represents the future of sustainable, green, high capacity and efficient transportation in the United States. Through private sector investment, DesertXpress meets America’s need for passenger rail infrastructure with a system that promises interoperability and regional connectivity.


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

Report Reveals Public Transit Riders Save
Nearly $10K --Annually -- Over Auto Use

From The American Public Transportation Association

WASHINGTON --- American highways always feel the strain of holiday travel in both hours and dollars.

However, the November Transit Savings Report released by APTA shows that SIGNIFICANT money and time can be saved daily if people take public transit. A two-person household can save $9,797 a year on average and $816 dollars a month by giving up one car.

The city where the savings are most stark is New York where commuters can save $14,458 a year and $1,205 a month by switching to public transit; Boston came in second at $13,364 (annually) and $1,114 (monthly); San Francisco placed third.

Here is the complete report:

Riding Public Transit Saves Individuals $9,797 Annually

According to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) November Transit Savings Report, individuals who switch from driving to riding public transportation can save, on average, $816 dollars this month, and $9,797 annually. These savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the November 18, 2011 average national gas price ($3.38 per gallon- reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate.

Currently gas prices are nearly fifty cents a gallon higher than this time last year, APTA notes riding public transit is a smart way to lower transportation costs.

APTA releases this monthly Transit Savings Report to examine how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car.

The national average for a monthly unreserved parking space in a downtown business district is $155.22, according to the 2011 Colliers International Parking Rate Study. Over the course of a year, parking costs for a vehicle can amount to an average of $1,863.

The top 20 cities with the highest transit ridership are ranked in order of their transit savings based on the purchase of a monthly public transit pass and factoring in local gas prices for November 18, 2011 and the local monthly unreserved parking rate.*

 CityMonthlyAnnual
1New York$1,205$14,458
2Boston$1,114$13,364
3San Francisco$1,088$13,059
4Seattle$992$11,901
5Philadelphia$962$11,542
6Chicago$958$11,494
7Honolulu$943$11,311
8Los Angeles$893$10,714
9Minneapolis$860$10,324
10San Diego$864$10,373
11Portland$856$10,269
12Denver$853$10,230
13Washington, D.C.$844$10,130
14Baltimore$825$9,899
15Cleveland$809$9,705
17Atlanta$772$9,265
18Dallas$768$9,211
19Pittsburgh$767$9,201
20Las Vegas$ 766$9,191

*Based on gasoline prices as reported by AAA on 11/18/11.

Methodology

APTA calculates the average cost of taking public transit by determining the average monthly transit pass of local public transit agencies across the country. This information is based on the annual APTA fare collection survey and is weighted based on ridership (unlinked passenger trips). The assumption is that a person making a switch to public transportation would likely purchase an unlimited pass on the local transit agency, typically available on a monthly basis.

APTA then compares the average monthly transit fare to the average cost of driving. The cost of driving is calculated using the 2011 AAA average cost of driving formula. AAA cost of driving formula is based on variable costs and fixed costs. The variable costs include the cost of gas, maintenance and tires. The fixed costs include insurance, license registration, depreciation and finance charges. The comparison also uses the average mileage of a mid-size auto at 23.4 miles per gallon and the price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline as recorded by AAA on November 18, 2011 at $3.38 per gallon. The analysis also assumes that a person will drive an average of 15,000 miles per year. The savings assume a person in two-person household lives with one less car.

In determining the cost of parking, APTA uses the data from the 2011 Colliers International Parking Rate Study for monthly unreserved parking rates for the United States.

To calculate individual savings with or without car ownership, go to www.publictransportation.org. Contact: Lesa Rair (202) 496-4804 - lrair@apta.com

[The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of more than 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, para-transit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne passenger services, and high-speed rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada are served by APTA member systems.]


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Berkshire Hathaway B (BNSF)(BRK.B)72.8975.37
Canadian National (CNI)73.3777.38
Canadian Pacific (CP) 55.4859.24
CSX (CSX)20.0921.60
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)53.9858.99
Kansas City Southern (KSU)62.8168.02
Norfolk Southern (NSC)70.7273.11
Providence & Worcester(PWX)11.9712.48
RailAmerica (RA)12.9414.01
Union Pacific (UNP)95.82102.82
 


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

Installments by David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

Breaking News

 

Stuttgart 21 Project Survives
Voter Referendum

Massive Underground Train Station Transformation Can Continue

Via Internet Sources

Stuttgart – NCI staff have just learned that voters in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg, of which Stuttgart is capitol, approved by a near 3:2 margin the continuation of the multi-billion dollar Stuttgart 21 project, which aims to convert the present surface-level passenger rail terminal in downtown Stuttgart into an underground through train station. Voter turn out was relatively low, reported as 41 percent, but high enough to exceed the 33% participation level in order for the referendum to be considered legally valid.

The highly controversial project has been opposed by various groups including several pro-rail transit organizations, who disapprove of the high cost of the project and see a danger that the planned 8-track underground through station will have serious capacity constraints compared to the current 19-track terminal, which will be replaced by the underground station. Official reaction to the election results from pro-rail transit groups such as Pro Bahn and Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD) are not yet available.

Artist concept of the planned underground Stuttgart 21 train station

Image: Deutsche Bahn AG

Back on track ? Artist concept of the planned underground Stuttgart 21 train station – which should be completed at the end of this decade.

NCI will provide a more detailed report on this breaking news development in the next edition of D:F.


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Deutsche Bahn Hopes DNA Will Curb Metal Theft

European-Wide Steel And Copper Crime Wave Is Hitting Railroads Hard
Via Deutsche Presse Agentur (dpa)

Berlin – Deutsche Bahn – German Railways – has started spraying so-called “artificial DNA” on its tracks, as well as overhead wires and other metallic surfaces thieves might try to steal and sell later on the black market. The solution sprayed on rails, cables and overhead wires consists of various protein molecules tagged with a unique DNA marker, which traces back to Deutsche Bahn (DB Netz) as the owner and the origin of the metal.

According to Susanne Kufeld, a corporate security administrator for the company, several hundred kilometers of track in North Rhine-Westphalia in northwestern Germany as well as in eastern Germany have already been marked with the substance.

The substance leaves markings on thieves’ hands and clothing that can be seen under ultraviolet light, making it easier for police to identify them when caught. It also makes metal more difficult to sell because it’s easy for buyers to determine if it’s stolen.

“It makes it easier for us to recognize tools, offenders and stolen heavy metals,” said Jörg Schulz, head of the Federal Police’s Leipzig division.

As commodity prices have surged in recent years, metal thieves have become more brazen, causing Deutsche Bahn a loss of EUR 10 million (US $14 million) in 2010 alone. Other European countries have also experienced a dramatic increase in theft of rails and copper cable and wires from railroad property. The problem was as recently five years ago limited mostly to several countries in Eastern Europe, but has now expanded to Germany, Italy, France and Great Britain.

The double-track Hannover – Minden main line in the village of Hohnhorst

Photo: David Beale

Easy Pickens? View of the double-track Hannover – Minden main line in the village of Hohnhorst (Nenndorf Township), Germany back in the summer of 2009. Both the east and westbound tracks have passing sidings, seen here in this photo, which could be threatened by metal thieves wanting to make a fast buck by ripping out the steel rails. The copper overhead wires as well as more copper cables lying in concrete conduit to the right side of the rail line are also a tempting target for criminals.

In first nine months of this year, thefts in eastern states in Germany such as Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia more than doubled compared to the same time period last year. Nationwide, thefts have doubled, according to the company.

Although Deutsche Bahn only started the DNA marking this year, the substance has already become a relatively common way for government and property owners to protect their things from thieves. Frankfurt (Oder) near Germany’s border with Poland is running a pilot program, providing the DNA to auto owners to mark their property.

In some countries there have already been convictions. In Britain, a 24-year-old man was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison earlier this month for stealing lead from a market after the metal was identified as having artificial DNA markings under ultraviolet light. Theft of copper cables used for signal and rail switch control has reached crisis proportions in Great Britain in the past year. Theft of steel rail from rail sidings and less heavily-utilized secondary and branch lines has been an ongoing problem for a decade or more in many European countries.

However even high voltage in overhead lines and cables does not always stop criminals. In the summer of 2010 thieves managed to rip-off several hundred meters of copper cable from the overhead high-voltage catenary along the busy Wolfsburg – Berlin high speed rail line while the line was in normal operation. The resulting delays to trains along the line were measured in hours and it took nearly 10 hours to replace the stolen overhead wires. The stolen catenary cable was energized at 15,000 volts AC, which will kill humans instantly upon direct skin contact and has the ability to arc across a distance of approximately 10 cm (4 inches).


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Financing For Lyon – Turin High-Speed
Rail Corridor Finalized

New Rail Connection Features A New Base Tunnel In The Southwestern Alps Region

Via Lokreport

Milano – Italy, France and the European Union reached an agreement for financing the construction of a mixed-use (passenger and freight) high-speed rail line between Lyon, France and Turin, Italy. The new rail route is made possible by a future base tunnel to be built under the Alps Mountains from St. Jean de Maurienne, France to Susa, Italy. At 57 km length the new tunnel will be nearly as long as the Gotthard base tunnel in Switzerland, currently in the last phases of construction, which is ranked as the longest rail tunnel in the world. (See related article below).

Proposed route of new Lyon – Turin high-speed rail corridor

Image: LTF

Proposed route of new Lyon – Turin high-speed rail corridor.

The 200 km long route will speed up and increase rail capacity for east-west traffic flows to and from central and southern France and Spain to northern Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Romania. Once the new rail line is completed, it is estimated that freight traffic volume equivalent of 700,000 trucks per year will taken off the highways and moved over to rail in the region. In addition passenger rail traffic is estimated to exceed 5 million passengers per year along the new route.

France agreed to assume 42.1% of the portion of the project cost not funded by the European Union (EU), while Italy will assume the remaining 57.9 % of the capital cost not covered by the EU. France and Italy together will carry 70% of the project’s capital costs, the EU will pay for the remaining 30% of the total project costs. The estimated construction cost of the 200 km (125 mile) rail corridor is currently EUR 8.2 billion (US $11.3 billion).


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Swiss Tunnel Reaches Final Stage

From CNN News

Zurich, Switzerland (CNN) -- The Alps are a vast natural barrier to movement between countries including Germany and Italy -- forcing cargo freights and travelers alike on winding detours through their rocky expanse. But negotiating the mountain range will soon become quicker and easier because of an incredible feat of engineering.

The world’s longest railway tunnel -- the “Gotthard Base Tunnel,” (GBT) in Switzerland -- is in its last phase of construction.

The GBT spans a route length of 57 kilometers (about 35.4 mi) between the Swiss towns of Erstfeld in the north and Bodio in the south, running directly through the mountains that lie in its path.

For the full article see:
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/11/23/gotthard.base.tunnel/index.html?iref=allsearch

And for a video presentation see:
http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/business/2011/11/22/gateway-anderson-gotthard-tunnel-zurich.cnn?iref=allsearch


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WE GET LETTERS... We Get Letters...  

To the Editor:

I just read the November 21 issue, and I will have to say that the lead in editorial was one of the most lopsided politicized articles I have seen in a while. It is totally inappropriate for a newsletter of this nature. In fact I would regard is as inappropriate for any publication that is not blatantly and highly partisan leftist in its viewpoint.

From my perspective you started off spouting propaganda with “The Tea Party is a bought-and-paid for subsidiary of the Koch Brothers multi-billion oil fortune,” and went downhill from there.

Newsflash: There are a lot of politically conservative people that do want much more done in the rail improvement area. They are beat on one side by those that, as wolves in sheep clothing, using the pretense of political conservatism for their own ends and on the other by those that seem to think that it is all or nothing, you must either buy into the full leftist program, including those parts that are regarded as repulsive to most political conservative, to get anything done with those parts that can be regarded as worthwhile.

[ Name Withheld by Request; the writer is an engineer for a large multi-national construction company ]

[ NCI replies: we are not opposed to leftists or rightists. We are only opposed to stupidity, and we regard the Tea Party movement as dupes of the wealthy ---- because they are bought and paid for, whether they know it or not, by the very people who helped create the mess America is in by, among other things, under-funding anything but highway infrastructure. ]


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2011 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

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We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the editor at editor@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

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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.

Destination Freedom is partially funded by the Surdna Foundation, and other contributors.

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