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 Destination:Freedom 

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

Publisher:  James P. RePass
Managing Editor:  Molly N. McKay
Foreign Editor:  David Beale
Contributing Editor:  David Peter Alan
Webmaster:  Dennis Kirkpatrick
 
For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

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December 3, 2012
Vol. 13 No. 48

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

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

  NCI Conference…
Value Capture - Dec. 5 in Boston
  Commentary…
Did New Jersey Transit Leave Its Equipment
   In Harm’s Way After Hurricane Sandy?
Thanksgiving Travel Reflections
  News Items…
U.S. Representative Shuster To Head
    House ‘T And I’ Committee
An Ill Wind May Blow Some Good As NYC
   MTA Rebuilds, Improves
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Transit Lines…
Chicago Is Rolling Out New Bus
   Rapid Transit Programs
 
  News From Amtrak…
Amtrak Fills Key Senior Operations Positions
  Equipment Lines…
Greenbrier To Webcast Presentation
  Environmental Lines…
Traffic Pollution Still Harmful To Health
   In Many Parts Of Europe
  Across The Pond…
Deutsche Bahn On Thin ICE
   With Delayed Train Deliveries
Keep It Simple (And Don’t Be Stupid)
  Publication Notes …



EVENTS... EVENTS...  

NCI Conference on Value Capture!

A One Day Conference In Boston, MA Sponsored by
The National Corridors Initiative

NCI Logo

Conference on Value Capture

A New [American] Tool for Funding Transit and Rail Transportation Corridors

Chairman: Former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis

Wednesday, December 5, 2012     8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Raytheon Amphitheatre, Egan Research Center
Michael and Kitty Dukakis Center for Public Affairs Northeastern University, Boston, MA

PLEASE REGISTER NOW --- SPACE IS LIMITED!
Email your registration info to: mollynmckay@gmail.com

 

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

The fate of 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 “Conference on Value Capture” introduces an innovative new way to fund the building of infrastructure that DOES NOT rely on annual trips to the legislature/Congress for 100% of a system’s or corridor’s operating subsidies. The conference will deal with funding, organizational, and related issues regarding infrastructure finance, including examples both home-grown (rare) and foreign (widespread and successful) and how New England can once again, as we did in the 19th century, build the way forward.

 

Continental Breakfast and Box Lunch will be provided. Registration is $60.00
Register via email with NCI Director Molly McKay at: mollynmckay@gmail.com
Please have your bank cut an e-check payable to NCI, 8 Riverbend Drive, Mystic, CT. 06355

The Raytheon Amphitheatre in the Egan Research Center at Northeastern is within a short walking distance of the MBTA’s Green “E” Line Northeastern University stop, as well as the Orange Line and Commuter Rail Line Ruggles Station.

If connecting via Commuter Rail or Transit From Logan Airport, take the Silver Line to South Station, the Red Line inbound to Park Street station, and then the Green “E” Line to the Northeastern University stop; if arriving by the Orange Line detrain at Ruggles Station; also detrain at Ruggles if coming from Providence/TF Green Airport via Commuter Rail; from North Station take the Orange Line to Ruggles.

No automobile is needed to get to this conference; however, there is a parking garage near Ruggles Station. The Egan Research Center is located approximately 100 yards from Ruggles Station.

For full details and agenda please visit: http://www.nationalcorridors.org/conf/


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

Did New Jersey Transit Leave Its Equipment
In Harm’s Way After Hurricane Sandy?

Our Coverage Of The Aftermath Of Hurricane Sandy Continues

By David Peter Alan

It has now been more than one month since Hurricane Sandy brought death and destruction to parts of New York and New Jersey. Low-lying portions of New York City and New Jersey were devastated by floods and extended power outages. Many places that formerly graced the famous “Jersey Shore” no longer exist, or were damaged severely. That includes part, or all, of the iconic boardwalks in communities like Long Branch, Asbury Park, Wildwood and Atlantic City.

Transit took a beating, too. All of the transit in the region shut down in advance of the storm. Amtrak’s tunnels between New Jersey and New York were flooded, as were the PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson) and some New York subway tunnels, particularly south of Midtown Manhattan. Still, most of the subway system, Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road (all owned and operated by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority) were back in service one week after the storm. New Jersey Transit (NJT) did not fare nearly as well. As we reported last week, the route back to service has traversed a steep uphill grade. At this writing, most NJT rail lines are not back to the level of service that ran before the storm. The Gladstone Branch, which diverges from the Morris & Essex Line at Summit and goes west to Gladstone, is still not running at all at this writing, although NJT ran test trains last Friday and plans to restore limited service by press time. Until last Friday, substitute bus service connected with trains at Summit, but only during peak commuting hours on weekdays. There was no off-peak or week-end service. Even at this late date, not only has NJT not fully recovered. PATH trains are still not running to Hoboken, and there is no definite date set for restoring that service.

As if that were not enough to vex New Jersey’s transit riders, approximately one quarter of NJT’s locomotives and rail cars were damaged in the flooding that accompanied the storm. NJT owns 203 locomotives, 63 of which (31%) were damaged and 1162 rail cars, 261 (22%) of which were damaged. That equipment was left in the Hoboken Yard (located just west of the station, which is on the waterfront) and in the yard surrounding NJT’s Meadowlands Maintenance Complex (MMC). The MMC is located in a swampy area between the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers, and sustained flood water five feet (1.5 meters) deep.

Throughout the aftermath of the storm, NJT has said little; usually only announcing when a part of its service would be restored, or about temporary bus services that were running. The agency especially said little about the actual level of damage and about the nature of the efforts that were being made to restore transit to New Jersey. Without much official word from NJT, reporters started doing their own investigations, piecing together what information they could glean. The most detailed report came form Reuters, published on Sunday, November 18th, twenty days after the storm struck. There were other stories in the New York Post, Asbury Park Press (and Gannett’s other New Jersey papers) and Bergen Record. The Reuters article reached the conclusion that NJT stored their equipment in places where flooding was not only possible, but likely. Nearly one quarter of the equipment was damaged, including nine dual-powered (diesel and catenary) locomotives and 84 multilevel cars, purchased over the past several years at a cost of $385 million, according to Reuters.

There has been no official effort to allocate fault, at least not yet, and not as far as anyone outside NJT knows. The New York Post reported on November 17th that an anonymous source within NJT said that the agency was launching an internal probe into the matter, but Reuters reported the next day that Transportation Commissioner James S. Simpson had denied knowing about any such investigation. Whether or not such an internal probe has been initiated by now, it is customary to conduct one in a situation like this, both to find out who is at fault and to determine how to prevent a similar disaster in the future. Would experts outside NJT participate in such an investigation if it occurs? Nobody knows.

In determining whether the people who had control of the situation acted appropriately or not, the legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, a Latin phrase meaning “the thing speaks for itself” is useful. When there is no direct proof of negligence, the doctrine seeks to prove negligence by inference, or at least to place the burden on the people in charge to demonstrate that they had acted reasonably. Concerning the situation at NJT, It makes sense to expect that the agency and its management would take reasonable steps to safeguard valuable equipment. Did the conduct of NJT managers fall below the appropriate standard of care for that equipment, under the circumstances? In other words, would prudent transit managers have stored the locomotives and rail cars on higher ground?

The Reuters report appears to support the conclusion that NJT management did not act reasonably because it kept the equipment in low-lying areas, instead. Reuters reported that the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) emptied their low-lying yards and the subway system did the same with their huge Coney Island Yard, moving everything to higher ground. Very little equipment was damaged in New York; only one train set belonging to Metro-North. Reuters also reported that maps produced by the National Hurricane Center and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) indicated a high likelihood of flooding at the location of the Hoboken Yard and the MMC.

Is this enough to prove that NJT management did a poor job of protecting the company’s assets? Not in itself, but it does raise questions that NJT management needs to answer in its own defense. Reuters quoted NJT Executive Director James W. Weinstein as saying that the equipment was “in the safest possible place” and rail chief Kevin O’Connor as saying that the Meadowlands complex had never flooded before, even during Hurricane Floyd in 1999 or during Hurricane Irene last year.

Riders and the advocates who represent them are skeptical of management’s claims. Places on the railroad, especially on the Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton Lines, lie on higher ground than the MMC and Hoboken, and trains could have been stored there because service had been suspended at the end of the service day on Sunday, while Sandy’s fury was not felt until late in the day on Monday. They also note that there is a first time for everything, which would render past scenarios irrelevant.

Maps available to the public and furnished to this writer by advocates Joseph M. Clift and James T. Raleigh support NJT’s critics. A topographical map issued by the U.S. Geological Service in 1981, which showed tides at Kearny Point, near the MMC, demonstrates that there was a strong possibility of flooding at the locations where the equipment was kept. Ten-foot surge contour lines cross the tracks at the MMC, while the actual storm surge was 6 to 11 feet, with abnormally high tides exacerbating the flooding. An interactive feature on the Reuters web site, www.reuters.com, shows the flood forecasts.

Based on similar repair costs at Metro-North and SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia), the Reuters report estimated a cost of $32 million to repair the flood-damaged locomotives and cars at NJT. The actual costs of repair and who will pay those costs are not yet known. Weinstein claimed that NJT has insurance against such damage, but no details about any such insurance have been disclosed. In 2010, NJT was faced with a budget shortfall of similar amount. At that time, most fares were increased by 25% to close the gap. Local bus fares went up only 10%, but rail fares outside peak commuting hours were raised by an average of 47%, some as high as 64%. If New Jersey’s transit riders are forced to pay estimated repair costs, it will be expensive for them.

Reuters reported that Weinstein had said that the loss of equipment would not have a significant effect on service in the coming weeks and months. If NJT plans to restore full service, the reasonable interpretation of Weinstein’s statement is that the damaged equipment is actually not needed. Management acted in accordance with that belief.

In Pennsylvania, SEPTA is in the process of scrapping Silverliner electric multiple-unit (EMU) cars, which ran through-local service between Philadelphia and New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. That means the equipment that SEPTA recently retired had run between Trenton and New York in the past, and could run there again if needed. NJT management was, or should have been, aware of the availability of this equipment, and could have borrowed it to use for emergency service. Could that mean that NJT had, and still has, more equipment than it needs? At the present time, that is unclear, especially since NJT is running reduced schedules on many lines, which could result from a shortage of usable equipment.

It is also unclear where any investigation beyond that launched by Reuters will lead. There should be new policies at NJT about where to store equipment safely, especially since devastating storms are occurring more frequently now than in the past. NJT should also implement new and more effective preparedness policies. In the past, this writer and other rider advocates have asked NJT management to overhaul its preparedness policies in light of less-damaging events, but to no avail at the time. Was the damage wrought by Sandy enough to force NJT to focus on emergency preparedness? Time will tell.

In the meantime, there is another ongoing story about equipment that was interrupted by Sandy and the long road to recovery after she struck. In October, NJT management had presented the Board of Directors with an agenda item to fund design engineering on proposed power cars that would work with the agency’s multilevel rail cars on electrified lines. There is no similar technology in use anywhere else. In an extremely rare move, the Board refused to approve management’s initiative, and sent it back to committee for further study. Such an action by the Board is almost unprecedented in NJT’s history. We will look more closely at that issue and that decision next week.

David Peter Alan is Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition, which represents riders and communities along the Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton Lines, which lost rail service for over two weeks, and the Gladstone Branch, which still does not have rail service at the time of this writing.

Here are the links to the Reuters article and the other articles cited about the flooded equipment:

Reuters:
http//www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/18-us-storm-sandy-new jersey-railway-idUSBRAE8AG0K220121118. The site contains an interactive portion that shows maps of flood forecasts, the actual flood surge from Hurricane Sandy and the surge from Hurricane Irene last year.

New York Post:
http//www.nypost.com/p/news/local/track_ruin_probe_BNXIFWiGukBGb3MPii6jP

Asbury Park Press:

http//www.app.com/article20121117/NJNEWS/311170086/Preparing-transportation-next-superstorm

The Record:
http//www.northjersey.com/news/state/NJ_Transit_tallies_rolling_stock_losses_due_to_Sandy.html


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Thanksgiving Travel Reflections

Virginia Rail Observations and Commentary
By Richard L. Beadles     Volume IV, No. 22

The obligatory local news coverage of holiday travel understandably deals with the price of gasoline and how many people AAA expects to drive automobiles, but not everybody chooses to drive, as the following photos from Richmond’s Main Street and Staples Mill stations confirm. Are we seeing a trend away from the automobile?

Main Street Station, Richmond, VA.

All Images via Virginia Rail Observations & Commentary

Internet savvy bargain hunters willing to wait outside for the bus; a lot of them! Nothing wrong with this bus, nor the people who ride it: “backpackers,” mid-lifers, and seniors. Main Street Station, Richmond.

Although Richmond’s downtown intermodal transportation center still has a very long way to go to achieve the dreams of its planners, it has surprised some skeptics. Amtrak passenger arrivals and departures increase year after year, despite limited service options and numerous cancellations of trains for a variety of reasons. Recent observations of those traveling by way of Main Street Station suggest that most of them are likely to be reasonably affluent folks who are increasingly living downtown, or nearby. They probably own an automobile, but are “choice” train riders. Many are, or appear to be, university students or young professionals. It is not clear to this observer that there is much difference between Megabus© (pictured in this article) riders and the train passengers. Quite a different picture emerged from a visit to the local Greyhound terminal. Our observations have been limited. However, it seems clear that a significant demand exists for alternatives to driving when service is available by rail or luxury bus. This seems especially so in urban corridors within mega-regions such as our I-95, I-64, 29 Piedmont, and I-81 corridors. Making Main Street Station a “real” multimodal transportation center is just as important a priority as a new Richmond ball park, and arguably higher yet than the City’s recently-approved Redskins Training Facility.

Amtrak passengers boarding Northeast Regional train at Main Street Station

Amtrak passengers boarding Northeast Regional train at Main Street Station two days prior to Thanksgiving. Students and other younger people with backpacks. Seniors with traditional bags. No Amtrak staff to assist. Reservations by phone or internet. Quick-Trak ticketing. No Clerks, no porters!

The challenge at Main Street Station is greater than just funding. While the location may be nearly ideal from a city-center standpoint, it is a very challenging one for rail construction, operations and maintenance. Everything is elevated, more complex and constrained. Major expansion of rail capacity will be costly to put in place, and costly to maintain. It is unlikely that Main Street Station will ever be made adequate to accommodate all the trains that should be Richmond’s future. However, high-yield incremental improvements can be, and should be, made to enable the routing of some additional trains to, from, and through Main Street Station. Given what the State of Virginia has spent on restoration of Amtrak Virginia service to Norfolk -- which we heartily applaud -- a similar amount of money, judiciously allocated to rail infrastructure capacity enhancements, could bring additional trains to center-city-Richmond. This is not an unreasonable, nor unrealistic, undertaking. A meaningful allocation should be included in the next round of State rail infrastructure funding.

However, Richmond business, community and political leaders must speak out with a unified appeal to Governor McDonnell and to the General Assembly, in exactly the same way that Norfolk did. The capital city of the Commonwealth cannot afford to be left on the sidetrack! If Richmond fails to speak up, as emphatically as the leadership of Hampton Roads did, it will be Richmond’s own fault and the Region’s loss.

At the same time, an equally critical decision must soon be made regarding improvements to Staples Mill Station, located in Henrico County. That pathetic facility, dating back to the early 1970’s (older than the ballpark!) strains to handle ten times the passenger volume of Main Street. It is RVA’s and Central Virginia’s (actually “RVR” in Amtrak code; Main Street Station is “RVM”) principal rail gateway, and will be for some years to come. Unfamiliar arriving passengers must think they got off at the wrong stop. “Is this the capital city of Virginia?”

First train of the day from DC disembarks passengers at Staples Mill

First train of the day from DC disembarks passengers at Staples Mill the day before Thanksgiving.

The Henrico station is an orphan. Amtrak owns it but has no money to spend. Henrico hosts it, but has never seized the opportunity to claim it as a “signature gateway” asset. The Richmond Region was persuaded by the City to support Main Street Station -- before anybody bothered to understand the rail access challenges there. The State says “we don’t do stations”. Meanwhile, the 300-car RVR parking lot regularly overflows with 325 or more. Passengers take taxis (which don’t want to accommodate them) to and from a near-by park-and ride-lot (no courtesy van service). VDOT has only recently, and apparently reluctantly, agreed to put up a stop light. This is the highest volume Amtrak station in Virginia. What a sad story! What a neglected opportunity! What an opportunity to spend a fraction of the dollars needed at Main Street Station and make a huge improvement, very soon. Leadership……. to whom do we look for leadership?


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NEWS ITEMS... News Items...  

U.S. Representative Shuster To Head
House ‘T And I’ Committee

American Public Transportation Association Congratulates Rep. William “Bill” Shuster
On Election As Transportation And Infrastructure Chairman Of The Next Congress

APTA Press Release

WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 28 --On behalf of its more than 1,500 members, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) congratulates United States Representative William “Bill” Shuster (R-PA) on his election as Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.     

“APTA members look forward to working with Congressman Shuster and the Committee as they focus on revitalizing our economy and creating jobs through investment in America’s transportation infrastructure,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.  “As the 113th Congress deals with the many challenges ahead, we believe a strong focus on our transportation system is the key to economic competitiveness.”

“We are excited about 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,” Melaniphy added.  “It will take a strong bi partisan effort of working together as we put people back to work by investing in 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.

About APTA

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, para-transit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.


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An Ill Wind May Blow Some Good
As NYC MTA Rebuilds, Improves

From The New York Times By Reporter Matt Flegenheimer

The feat of quickly restoring New York’s transportation network after Hurricane Sandy has a substantial corollary cost: about $5 billion to rebuild what was damaged.

But a closer look at the cost estimates from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, released by the governor’s office last week provides a window into the agency’s dual considerations as it counters unprecedented damage across the system: as short-term repairs are being made, they may also enact previously unplanned infrastructure improvements in the long term — ideally with considerable assistance from the federal government.

“Even FEMA will tell you, don’t replace in kind if you can replace and harden and improve,” Thomas F. Prendergast, the president of New York City Transit, said on Tuesday, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “And they’re willing to pay for that cost.”

Much of the damaged or destroyed equipment were relics of the 20th century, and some of that equipment is no longer available. Other damaged pieces, like electromechanical relays, might be similar to their modern equivalents in basic design but less durable than an ideal replacement, Mr. Prendergast said.

The authority said that signal restorations alone would cost $770 million. Restoring tracks, it said, would cost $300 million. And repairing the Rockaway line in Queens was estimated to cost $650 million.

“We’re going to pay for some of it,” Mr. Prendergast said, referring to long-term investments in infrastructure. Nonetheless, he added, the agency was “asking for 100 percent.”

Replacing the tunnel interior, ceilings, walls, roadway, lighting, and conduit of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, formerly known as the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, will cost $400 million, the authority said. For similar work on the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, the estimated cost was $350 million.

Mr. Prendergast noted that the figures were “order of magnitude” estimates that were subject to change significantly. But he also hinted at the delicate art of securing disaster reimbursement.

“When you’re dealing with third parties who may reimburse you, you never want to start low and then work high,” he said, adding that “you don’t want to pad,” either. If some costs are lower than estimates, “we’re not going to bill anybody for more.”

Some of the agency’s mega-projects, which avoided significant physical damage, were affected by the storm because of delays when contractors could not get their workers to the site. The authority estimated storm-related costs of more than $20 million for the East Side Access project, which will connect the Long Island Rail Road in Queens to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that it would cost the state $9 billion to prepare for future storms; a portion of that money is expected to go to the authority.

Another problem could be associated with “political pressure that comes with supposedly free money,” said Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research who studies transportation economics. If the authority puts out a huge number and Congress is pressured to give it all to New York, some of the money might go to the wrong projects.

She cited as an example the $1.4 billion Fulton Street Transit Center after 9/11 which incurred $800,000 in storm costs associated with construction delays.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

 
Title
 
Ticker
This
Week
Previous
Week
Berkshire Hathaway B (BNSF)(BRK.B)88.0888.50
Canadian National (CNI)89.8387.98
Canadian Pacific (CP) 93.3493.37
CSX (CSX)19.7619.71
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)72.9572.34
Kansas City Southern (KSU)78.1577.61
Norfolk Southern (NSC)60.3857.76
Providence & Worcester(PWX)13.6014.07
Union Pacific (UNP)122.78121.98


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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

Magic Bus:

 

Chicago Is Rolling Out New
Bus Rapid Transit Programs

The Architect’s Newspaper On The Internet
Writer: Steven Vance

Chicago is working to make buses an efficient 21st century commuting mode by providing them with dedicated lanes during peak hours. While Chicago area buses make over 2 million trips on weekdays, they get stuck in traffic, which makes for a “disagreeable reputation,” say the city fathers. To solve that problem, Chicago’s city government and private agencies have announced four bus rapid transit programs; for the present, buses will have exclusive use of highway shoulder lanes where they can travel at a steady speed of 35 mph rather than inching along at a stop-and-go pace in the automobile traffic.

One of the programs is in place now; the others will be rolled out over the course of the next year.

Pace, the suburban bus and para-transit operator, has been operating coach buses on highway shoulder lanes during rush hour for a year. The benefits are undeniable: shorter, more reliable trips. Each morning, from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., buses coming into downtown Chicago from several southwest suburbs may use the shoulder when traffic has decreased below 35 mph. The same is true out-bound for the evening commute.


Image: Courtesy of Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

Artist rendition of the Ashland / Western center lane scenario.

In creating this two-year experiment, Pace is following bus strategies in Minneapolis and Cincinnati. Six months after its own service began, Pace added a new daily trip to one of the routes and noted that ridership had gone up 67 percent since February 2011. This project differs from the three bus rapid transit (BRT) projects being planned by city agencies. Running buses on shoulders exploits existing infrastructure while BRT builds new infrastructure.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) are working together on three BRT projects: Jeffery Jump, Central Loop, and Ashland/Western avenues. Jeffery Jump is adding several enhancements to an experimental section of existing express and local bus routes. They include a larger showcase bus stop shelter and “Bus Tracker” displays inside vehicles to anticipate arrival times. Buses also get signal priority, meaning that several traffic signals will give an early or longer green light, and one traffic signal will give the bus a green light before other traffic.

Buses will have dedicated lanes that can be enforced by police for two hours northbound in the morning and two hours southbound in the afternoon. Stations are one-half mile apart instead of the local route’s one-quarter-mile stop spacing.


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

Amtrak Fills Key Senior Operations Positions

Amtrak Press Release – November 26

Bruce Pohlot Is New Chief Engineer;
Tom Quigley Named General Manager, State-Supported Services

WASHINGTON – Last week, Amtrak announced the appointment of Bruce Pohlot as the new Chief Engineer and Tom Quigley as General Manager, State-Supported Services.  Both will report directly to DJ Stadtler, vice president of operations effective Dec. 10, 2012.

As Chief Engineer, Mr. Pohlot is responsible for all construction and maintenance activities for Amtrak-owned right-of-way including track, bridges, buildings, communications, signals and electric traction, plus he directs the Engineering department’s capital program.  He will be based in Philadelphia.

He spent the last 13 years at the global infrastructure-consulting firm of Parsons Brinkerhoff (PB), most recently as a Senior Vice President and President of PB Transit & Rail, Inc.  His work included the development of the railroad division and providing executive direction, leadership and management to its technical excellence center that has project responsibilities for the planning and design of railroad and transit projects.  He also served as the railroad market leader for the company.

Before joining PB, he spent 21 years in the Amtrak Engineering department in senior positions in the New York, Baltimore, Boston and Western divisions.  He also was program director of high-speed rail and assistant vice president, Engineering / program management.

As General Manager, State-Supported Services, Mr. Quigley is in a newly created position that is part of the company’s ongoing effort to align day-to-day operations with the Amtrak Strategic Plan.  He is responsible for providing Amtrak state partners and their customers with excellent service, while meeting financial goals and other performance targets.  He will be based in Oakland, Calif.

He most recently served as Vice President General Manager at Owens Corning and previously held executive-level marketing and sales positions at United Technologies, Ingersoll Rand Company, Fortune Brands, The Scotts Company and Cargill.  He brings decades of executive experience leading organizations to financial and operational success, including a solid track record of profitably growing businesses in challenging market environments.  He will use this experience to bring a total business focus to all the state-supported trains and will work closely with other general managers to lead business planning and implement service improvements and productivity enhancements for state-supported routes.

Biography of Bruce Pohlot

Mr. Pohlot is an accomplished senior executive experienced in directing large, complex engineering departments and major projects in operations and maintenance, program management and railroad construction.  Since 1999, he has worked at Parsons Brinkerhoff, most recently as a senior vice president and president of PB Transit & Rail, Inc., responsible nationally for rail and transit and providing executive direction, leadership and management to its technical excellence center that has project responsibilities for the planning and design of railroad and transit projects.

From 1977 to 1998 he was at Amtrak serving in a variety of roles including engineer of programs in New York, assistant division engineer in both New York and Baltimore, division engineer for both the Western and Boston divisions, program director of high-speed rail and assistant vice president, Engineering / program management.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations, a B.S. in civil engineering, and an M.B.A. as well as additional coursework in the Executive Program at the University of Virginia’s Darden School and George Washington University.

Biography of Tom Quigley

Mr. Quigley is a global business leader who develops and drives strategy, establishes financially and operationally sound organizations, and manages complete P&L and balance sheet for Fortune 500 and private equity companies.  Since 2008, he has served as vice president general manager at Owens Corning.  His prior work experience includes executive-level marketing and sales positions at United Technologies, Ingersoll Rand Company, Fortune Brands, The Scotts Company and Cargill.

He holds a Master’s Certificate in International Studies from the University of Stockholm and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota.  Also, he pursued additional studies in executive management at Columbia University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina.

About Amtrak ®:

Amtrak is America’s Railroad ®, 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 at: http://facebook.com/Amtrak and follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Amtrak.


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EQUIPMENT LINES... Equipment Lines...  

Greenbrier To Webcast Presentation At The Raymond James
2012 Transportation Conference December 4, 2012

From PRNewswire

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore., -- The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. (NYSE:GBX) will be presenting on Tuesday, December 4, 2012, at the Raymond James 2012 Transportation Conference to be held in Chicago, IL.

The presentation will be webcast live, beginning at 9:45 a.m. CDT, on Tuesday, December 4, 2012, and can be accessed from the Greenbrier website at www.gbrx.com.  To access the webcast, and supplemental slides, register at the “Webcasts” section on the home page of the Greenbrier website.  The presentation will be archived for 90 days.

Greenbrier, (www.gbrx.com), headquartered in Lake Oswego, Oregon, is a leading supplier of transportation equipment and services to the railroad industry. Greenbrier builds new railroad freight cars in its three manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and Mexico and marine barges at its U.S. facility. It also repairs and refurbishes freight cars and provides wheels and railcar parts at 39 locations across North America. Greenbrier builds new railroad freight cars and refurbishes freight cars for the European market through both its operations in Poland and various subcontractor facilities throughout Europe. Greenbrier owns approximately 11,000 railcars, and performs management services for approximately 219,000 railcars.


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ENVIRONMENTAL LINES... Environmental Lines...  

Traffic Pollution Still Harmful To Health
In Many Parts Of Europe

From The EEA Press Team
www.Eea.Europa.Eu › Press Room › News

Transport in Europe is responsible for damaging levels of air pollutants and a quarter of EU greenhouse gas emissions.
Many of the resulting environmental problems can be addressed by stepping up efforts to meet new EU targets, according
to the latest report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).

 

Editor’s note: In the United States, where scores of environmental organizations work to confront and reduce human-caused pollution, we sometimes look to Europe for their advances in solving environmental problems. But pollution from the transportation sector plagues the earth in every developed nation, and Europeans have made only limited progress.

 

The EEA puts out a report annually. The most recent one states that, under the Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM), the environmental impact of transport across Europe has improved somewhat over recent years, but this can be partly attributed to reduced economic activity during the recession. Air pollution is still a major problem in many areas, and as the economic climate improves, more effort is needed to further reduce environmental impacts.

‘Euro standards’ for vehicles have not succeeded in reducing real NO2 emissions to the levels set out in the legislation although they have made substantial improvements to air.

In some cases, prices may be influencing people to make choices which are damaging for the environment. Buying a car has become steadily cheaper in real terms since the mid-1990s, the report notes, while train travel and passenger transport by water has become more expensive. Nonetheless, new cars are becoming more fuel-efficient. The average car sold in 2011 was 3.3% more efficient than the average sold the year before.

Legal limits of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10) are still not being met. These pollutants can affect the cardiovascular system, lungs, liver, spleen and blood.

The transport sector needs to reduce carbon.

Europe needs to further reduce the energy consumed by transport, since it was only 4.3 % lower in 2011 than its peak in 2007.

Noise is another impact from transport which can cause serious health problems. The report finds that in Europe’s biggest cities, three of every five residents are exposed to harmful levels of traffic noise. Even in the countryside, 24 million Europeans are exposed to damaging traffic noise at night. This can cause both physical and psychological problems.

Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director, said: “One of the big challenges of the 21st Century will be to mitigate the negative effects of transport – greenhouse gases, air pollution and noise – while ensuring positive aspects of mobility. Europe can take the lead by intensifying its work in the area of technological innovation in electric mobility. Such change could transform inner city living.”


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ACROSSTHEPOND... Across The Pond...  

Installments by David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

Deutsche Bahn On Thin ICE
With Delayed Train Deliveries

Siemens Misses Latest Velaro D Targets

Via Tagesspiegel And Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Berlin – German long-distance rail passengers should expect cancellations and delays in icy conditions this winter, warned Deutsche Bahn last Friday (24th November), as Siemens again postponed a delivery of new high-speed ICE 3 (Velaro D / DB Class 407) trains worth EUR 500 million (US $ 650 million). Deutsche Bahn was “very annoyed and disappointed” with Siemens, a spokesman said, as he admitted 16 new ICE 3 trains – which have been on order since 2009 - would not be ready for this winter as promised, according to a report in the Tagesspiegel newspaper. The first eight train sets had been planned to start revenue service as of the annual Europe-wide train and bus schedule revision, which takes effect next weekend on the 9th of December. Now they will remain parked (or on sporadic test drives) as Siemens and DB continue to work out an allegedly mile-long list of various software faults and electronic glitches in the various control systems in the trains, including issues with the emergency brake controls.

ICE Velaro D at InnoTrans in 2010

NCI file photo by David Beale

Not Yet Arriving On Track 9 – ICE Velaro D. Siemens displayed the first Velaro D train-set at InnoTrans in 2010.

The state-owned rail company warned travelers they would face cancellations and delays without the trains, needed to beef up the reserve fleet vital for when ice or snow threatens the smooth running of long-distance rail service.

“Our customers feel as if they’ve been left in the lurch by Siemens,” said Berthold Huber, head of Deutsche Bahn’s long distance travel department, adding in his press comments that the rail company desperately needs the trains. DB had planned to start running the trains in revenue service within Germany as of late 2011 and to London starting in mid 2013. Now it is unknown when the trains will start running regular services.

Deutsche Bahn has been waiting for the additional Velaro D ICE series 3 – required to form a winter reserve for the current fleet of 253 ICE trains - since December 2011, when the first Velaro D train set had been due to be delivered. This winter may now see a repeat of the frequent delays and cancellations to the ICE service which started two years ago as a result of extreme cold and heavy snowfall, according to the newspaper.

“We are really, really sorry,” a Siemens spokesman told the paper, after explaining that software problems were responsible for the latest in a string of delays. Siemens did not give a new delivery date, but said that the software problems would take time to iron out. “It won’t be days or weeks,” Siemens Chief Technology Officer Volker Kefer told the paper.

The latest delivery delays of the Velaro D ICE high-speed trains comes as deliveries of new replacement wheel axles for the existing ICE 3 train fleet (DB Class 403) came much later than planned. The reason for the late delivery of replacement axles has been due to certification issues of the redesigned axle by Germany’s EBA, roughly the equivalent to the US FRA. Over the past summer the EBA refused to approve the new axle design, thus sending engineers back to the drawing board to address the alleged design deficiencies raised by EBA regulators. The lack of replacement axles means that the existing fleet of 64 ICE 3 train sets must continue to have their axles inspected at rather short intervals in a very complex inspection process, thus keeping a sizable percentage of the fleet parked in one of several Deutsche Bahn maintenance facilities for the time consuming procedure.

Siemens is not alone in causing pain to German rail passengers with late deliveries of trains. Bombardier also struggles to recover from a series of delays in EBA certification of the Talent 2 (DB Class 442) series of electric multiple unit (EMU) train sets, of which DB has ordered approximately 350 train sets. These will mostly replace aging locomotive-hauled commuter trains in a number of regions as well as increase capacity to match higher levels of commuter and regional train ridership all across Germany.

Not unlike the difficulties with Velaro D train sets, the EBA refused to approve the Talent 2 for service due to shortcomings it found with the braking systems, entry doors, and control systems. Deliveries, which had been planned to start in mid-to-late 2009, did not begin until the EBA granted operating certification to Bombardier for the Talent 2 starting in late 2011 and continuing through 2012 for the four-car and five car long versions of the train.


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View From Europe

 

Keep It Simple (And Don’t Be Stupid)

Commentary By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

Humans sometimes have a desire to re-invent the wheel, especially when the existing, perfectly acceptable wheel was invented by someone else or built in somebody else in a cave far away from his cave. Trains have been around for perhaps 190 years, give or take a decade, depending on which history book you are looking at – i.e. far more new than the concept of the wheel, but hardly a new invention. But like many other forms of transportation, railroad technology has aggressively incorporated advances in electronics, materials and various mechanical systems. Usually these advancements have improved the product, but in many cases they have also damaged it with unnecessary complexity. And lessons learned in one part of the industry or field are often ignored in another part.

The ongoing fiasco with deliveries of the new Velaro D high-speed trains from Siemens and Talent 2 regional trains from Bombardier seem to suggest that designers have been far too aggressive in packing these products with extra bells and whistles – which did not even exist a couple of decades ago – without using the lessons of the past to understand what might go wrong. To be fair, the rail transportation industry is not alone with this problem – in this past decade Airbus took years longer to get the A380 jumbo-jet from the drawing board into revenue service than Boeing did forty years ago with the original B747. Boeing likewise stumbled very badly in the past few years when it exceeded by three years or more the promised in-service date of its B787 Dreamliner.

The original ICE 3 series (DB class 403) started service slightly over a decade ago after several years in development during the mid to late 1990s in a joint venture between Siemens and Bombardier (then ADTranz). Its introduction to service was anything but problem-free, there was a long and painful teething period with the trains. The teething problems are not entirely over, the series is still under tight restrictions for wheel axle inspections, after one train derailed at low speed due to a separated axle and others were later inspected and found to have growing cracks in their axles. The latest ICE 3, the Velaro D, is a Siemens product alone, Bombardier decided to go their own way in the high-speed train market with their new Zefiro series in competition against Siemens Velaro and others. As a result, the Velaro D has not much in common with the earlier ICE 3, aside from overall general appearance and general layout. And as all the reported technical problems seem to confirm, the step from the original ICE 3 to the Velaro D has spawned a whole new catalog of short-comings that either did not exist in the original ICE 3, or had been already solved.

The serious entry-into-service delay experienced by the Velaro D is not unique in the rail transportation industry. Denmark’s main train operator DSB decided in mid 2000 to order an all new high-speed train design from Ansaldo Breda, rather than order an existing model (such as ICE 3, or one of the TGV series from France) to be called IC4. Nearly 12 years later the IC4 train-sets continue to have in-service difficulties after a multiyear long delay in certification, testing, production and deliveries.

In the USA Amtrak had to endure a painful teething period with the Acela high-speed train sets, which are very roughly based on one of the French TGV train series, but far heavier and wider than any TGV train set in order to comply with outdated and senseless FRA crash energy absorption standards. Trying to make a train which can travel at 150 mph or faster “crash proof” is like trying to mandate that all ships shall be “unsinkable,” as the Titanic or Costa Concordia were suppose to be. A better way to ensure that people are not injured or killed in a collision is to invest in signaling and train protection systems which radically reduce the chances of a collision ever happening.

There has been a massive consolidation in the rolling stock manufacturing industry in both Europe and around the world. A generation ago, nearly every country in Europe had its own domestic rolling stock supplier or suppliers. The result was a plethora of diverse train designs and configurations which varied widely from one country to the next – very rarely did two European countries buy the same train or locomotive model from the same supplier. Thanks to a massive buying spree, which Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, CAF and Stadler embarked on in the past two decades, there are far fewer first-tier rolling stock builders today, and one can find a few designs of trains operation in multiple countries – examples include Stadler’s GT-W series of EMUs, Alstom’s LINT diesel MUs, Siemens’ Desiro series and Bombardier’s TRAXX locomotives. Despite this consolidation, there is still a strong tendency in the European rail sector, especially with high visibility projects such high-speed trains, to try something new, rather than accepting an “off-the-shelf” product.

In the case of the Velaro D, it seems the correct decision would have been to simply buy more units of the original ICE 3 series with some incremental, small improvements, or to buy TGV train sets from Alstom, which have had a relatively smooth operation in France and Spain. When Deutsche Bahn was trying to decide back in 2009 which new trains to buy, the other options were reported to be an existing model of the current TGV duplex series, the aforementioned radical make-over of the ICE 3, the AGV – a newly proposed EMU version of the single level Alstom TGV (now in service in Italy), and Bombardier’s Zefiro. DB, under the leadership of then CEO Hartmut Mehdorn, rolled the dice and went with the ICE 3 extreme make-over, now known as Velaro D, despite press reports that the TGV and AGV offerings from Alstom would have been for a lower purchase price.

Railroads which buy and operate high-speed trains rarely compete against one another. Rather they compete against roads and highways and the airline industry. In the aircraft size category of 120 seats or more, there are basically just two suppliers: Airbus and Boeing. On the routes where airlines compete against high-speed trains, there are essentially just two aircraft types to choose from: the A320 family or the B737 family – both are mature designs and noted for excellent reliability. And the new aircraft designs coming up in the next few years in this category are: the A320 family and the B737 series, this time known as A320neo and B737 Max, which are incremental re-designs of the existing models, the major new feature in both products are all new engines designed to burn less fuel and require less maintenance. The prevalence of these two aircraft types all over Europe an the rest of the world has ensured a very broad spare parts supply base, a huge number of mechanics and pilots, who are trained on the aircraft, and a flexibility to quickly acquire more aircraft of the same type or, when times are bad, to readily lease them out or sell them off to other airlines. Deutsche Bahn is finding out the hard way, that there are no railroads elsewhere in Europe that can lease or sell equivalent high-speed trains on quick notice to DB, now that DB desperately needs them.

Mr. Mehdorn, now chief of DB competitor Air Berlin, has both aircraft models in his fleet. Does Mr. Mehdorn think today about the fateful decision to order the essentially all-new Velaro D instead of the proven TGV from Alstom? Probably not, he has his hands full nowadays with trying to keep Air Berlin financially afloat and wondering what will happen to the new Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport, the future hub for his airline, but now rumored to have yet another major delay in the opening date (late 2013) and the risk that the whole airport goes bankrupt and insolvent before it even opens.

With competition from these stable and almost universal aircraft designs such as the B737 and A320 family, railroads do not have the time nor the resources to devote to trouble-shooting all new train models and designs with state-of-the-art electronic goodies which have questionable value added. Railroads in Europe need to benefit from lessons learned elsewhere in Europe, in Asia and vice versa. European rail operators need to have a selection of two or perhaps three high-speed train models, not six or seven, in order to benefit from some level of standardization and commonality.

North America, now a Third World region as far as high-speed rail transit is concerned, needs to utilize lessons learned and successful technology and business practices proven in Europe and Asia, including areas such as positive train control and signal technology, rolling stock design and daily operations. As recent political fights and elections in the USA have shown, there is on one hand a strong desire to have a high-speed (or at least higher speed than today’s Amtrak) passenger rail network, but on the other hand there is little or no tolerance among the voters and consumers in the USA for a high-speed rail network to turn into an expensive and drawn out science experiment, as the Velaro D in Germany or the IC4 in Denmark have become. That means less re-inventing of the wheel and more acquisition of products and technologies from “off the shelf”.


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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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