The National Corridors Initiative Logo

Jan 30, 2017
Vol. 17 No. 4

Copyright © 2017
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Founded 1989
Our 17th Newsletter Year

 Destination:Freedom 

A Weekly North American Transportation Update For Transportation
Advocates, Professionals, Journalists, And Elected Or Appointed Officials,
At All Levels Of Government.

Publisher
James P. RePass, Sr.
Managing Editor / Webmaster
Dennis Kirkpatrick
Foreign Editor
David Beale
Contributing Editor
Molly N. McKay
 
 

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

  High-Speed Lines…
FRA To Propose Changes That Could Impact
   High-Speed Rail
  Expansion Lines…
Are You Ready For A Subway? Digging For
   BART Begins In Two Years
Met Council’s Blue Line Extension Gets Green Light
  Political Lines…
Begeman Named STB Acting Chairman
  Station Lines…
MBTA Fiscal Management Board Approves
   Go-Ahead to Build Blue Hill Station
  Funding Lines…
Funds Fuel Passenger Rail Link For Tri-Rail
   Into Downtown Miami
USDOT Tool May Allow $2B For Seattle Projects
Trump Team Aims To Prioritize MBTA Green
   Line Extension
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Legal Lines…
MBTA and Amtrak Settle Dispute Over Attleboro Line
  Across The Pond…
German Train Company Trolls Trump on Twitter
French Senate Adopts Lyon - Turin Bill;
   HSR Construction Will Start
  To The North…
Electric Train Line Would Do Little To Increase Public Ridership, BAPE Says
TTC’s Newest Subway Extension Taking Shape
  We Get Letters…
  Publication Notes …


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

FRA To Propose Changes That Could
Impact High-Speed Rail

From The Federal Register

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is proposing to amend its regulations for passenger equipment safety standards, which currently provide for passenger rail service in a shared right-of-way under two separate tiers of safety standards: Tier I (speeds up to 125 miles per hour (mph)) and Tier II (speeds up to 150 mph). Consistent with the regulations’ approach supporting interoperable passenger rail service by sharing the right-of-way, this proposed rulemaking would add a new tier of safety standards (Tier III) to facilitate the safe implementation of interoperable high-speed passenger rail service at speeds up to 220 mph. However, Tier III standards would require operations at speeds above 125 mph to be in an exclusive right-of-way without grade crossings. The proposal also would establish crashworthiness and occupant protection performance requirements in the alternative to those currently specified for Tier I passenger trainsets. Adopting the proposed alternative crashworthiness and occupant protection requirements would remove regulatory barriers, allowing a more open U.S. rail market, incorporating recent technological designs. In addition, the proposal would increase from 150 mph to 160 mph the maximum speed FRA’s existing regulations allow for passenger equipment that complies with FRA’s Tier II standards.

Written comments must be received by February 6, 2017. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent possible without incurring additional expense or delay.

FRA anticipates it can resolve this rulemaking without a public, oral hearing. However, if FRA receives a specific request for a public, oral hearing prior to January 5, 2017, FRA will schedule one and will publish a supplemental notice in the Federal Register to inform interested parties of the date, time, and location of any such hearing.

Comments related to Docket No. FRA-2013-0060, Notice No. 1, may be submitted by any of the following methods:

All submissions must include the agency name, docket name, and docket number or Regulatory Identification Number (RIN) for this rulemaking (2130-AC46). Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document for Privacy Act information related to any submitted comments or materials.

For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov at any time or visit the Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12-140 on the Ground level of the West Building, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

For Further Information Contact:

Devin Rouse, Mechanical Engineer, Passenger Rail Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, Office of Railroad Safety, Mail Stop 25, West Building 3rd Floor, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: 202-493-6185); or Michael Hunter, Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, Office of Chief Counsel, Mail Stop 10, West Building 3rd Floor, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: 202-493-0368).

Published at:
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/06/2016-28280/passenger-equipment-safety-standards-standards-for-alternative-compliance-and-high-speed-trainsets


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EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...  

Are You Ready For A Subway? Digging For
BART Begins In Two Years

By Jody Meacham
Silicon Valley Business Journal

Elections have consequences.

One of the big consequences of last November’s election is that downtown San Jose needs to get ready for an enormous five-year construction project beginning in late in 2018.

BART is coming to town, tunneling a “J”-shaped route from the Berryessa station, which is scheduled to open this fall, beneath Santa Clara Street to Diridon Station, then turning north beneath Stockton Avenue and finally surfacing beyond Interstate 880 at the former Union Pacific Railroad Newhall Yard and a terminal station adjacent to Santa Clara’s Caltrain station.

Depending on the exact location of the Downtown San Jose station along Santa Clara Street and whether the VTA decides to go with a single- or twin-bore tunnel, there are going to be street closures, detours, night work and a host of other inconveniences — “impacts,” in construction talk — that are the price San Jose will pay to join the short list of American cities with subways.

Image

Image:  Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority

Artist concept drawing of a single-bore tunnel with station option.

“Ultimately, we’re bringing a regional rail system down to San Jose that’s going to connect up and provide a lot of options for folks who live here,” said Leyla Hedayat, a senior vice president at the Kimley-Horn engineering consulting firm, which is in charge of planning and programming for this project for VTA.

Riding trains is scheduled to happen by 2026. But before the first hole is dug and a tunnel-boring machine burrows underground, VTA has scheduled three public hearings beginning Wednesday that will share details with the public and gather input for some of the decisions that must be made to get final environmental clearance by the end of this year.

Each hearing begins at 6 p.m. with an open house and then a formal presentation and comments at 7 p.m. They are Wednesday at the Mexican Heritage Plaza gallery at 1700 Alum Rock Ave., Thursday in room 222 of the Santa Clara Senior Center at 1303 Fremont St., in Santa Clara, and Monday in rooms 118-120 of San Jose City Hall.

Here are the key issues that will affect downtown businesses and residents:

Twin bore or single bore?

The public will feel the impact of this decision during construction, but BART, which will operate the trains will have important input on the decision, too, because the choice could affect operations. Both options will be dug by underground tunneling machines that will involve minimal impact along the surface of the route. But a twin-bore system requires separate box-like station structures stretching for three to four city blocks that will require digging down through the street. Construction would affect no more than two blocks at once. The 45-foot diameter single-bore option stacks the two tracks atop one another with room for stations within the confines of the tube, so less surface impact.

“The other thing is that with twin bore, because of the cut and cover, we have to relocate utilities,” said Tom Fitzwater, in charge of environmental planning for VTA. “Some of these utilities have been there for decades. Relocation of utilities is going to be a huge challenge and some of them we don’t even know where they are. But you don’t have that with single bore because you’re deeper.”

In addition, the single- or twin-bore choice would affect which parts of the project are built first and thus shift the time period of public impacts up and down the line.

The twin-bore tunnels would range from 30 to 80 feet below ground and the single-bore tunnel would be 40 to 180 feet beneath the surface. The variation is to get beneath U.S. 101, rivers, creeks and underground retaining walls.

Downtown San Jose station — east or west option?

The east option is at City Hall roughly between Third and Fifth Streets. It would be nearer to San Jose State University, an important origination/destination point for many riders, than the west option stretching between Market Street and Third. The west option would provide easier connectivity to light rail on First and Second Streets and also be closer to the “Mitchell Block,” VTA-owned property between Market and First Streets along East St. John Street that will be a construction staging area and then developed once BART is operating.

The combination of a west downtown station and twin-bore construction would mean temporarily breaking the light-rail line and using a buses to bridge the gap while the station was built.

Hedayat said ridership would be the same at either downtown station. “Walking a couple of blocks does not impact ridership for regional rail,” she said.

Diridon north or south station?

This choice probably would have less impact on riders than to the Trammell Crow Diridon project to be built just east of the station. The south option would give direct BART station access from the proposed development with up to 640,000 square feet of office space and ground floor retail. Both options are within the footprint of the new Diridon Station that will be a connecting point among BART, high-speed rail, Caltrain, Amtrak, ACE trains and light rail.

“With this project, people have to think long-term,” Hedayat said. “I think that could be challenging for people as we move this project forward because there’s going to be construction impacts that we’re going to have to work through. But when you build big infrastructure, you have to do that.”

From an article appearing at:
http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2017/01/23/are-you-ready-for-a-subway-digging-for-bart-begins.html


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Met Council’s Blue Line Extension
Gets Green Light

By Mischa Wanek-Libman
Rail, Track, And Structures

The Metropolitan Council (Met Council), which serves the Twin Cities, received approval from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to begin engineering on the Blue Line extension.

The Blue Line Extension (Bottineau) light-rail extension is scheduled for construction in 2018 and will operate about 13 miles northwest from downtown Minneapolis, Minn., through north Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park, drawing riders northwest of Brooklyn Park.

The proposed alignment will have 11 new stations in addition to Target Field Station where it will continue as the Metro Blue Line, providing one-seat rides to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America. It will connect Minneapolis and the region’s northwest communities with existing light rail on the Green Line, future light rail on the Green Line Extension (Southwest LRT), bus rapid transit on the Red Line, the Northstar commuter rail line and local and express bus routes.

Image

Photo:  Met Council

Some of the Met Council’s rolling stock

The FTA approval of the Bottineau project comes only a month after the Southwest LRT, Green Line Extension Project received the same approval.

“Our region has a strong reputation nationally for successfully delivering on transit projects,” said Met Council Chair Adam Duininck. “We will apply in fall 2017 for the Full Funding Grant Agreement and anticipate receiving that federal commitment in early 2018. The Blue Line Extension has achieved this milestone because the project has support at the federal and local levels and from the business community, as well.”

The FTA cleared the Blue Line Extension’s environmental review in September 2016, paving the way for the project to advance designs to a 60-percent level of detail by the end of the first three months of this year.

The project has received local funding commitments from the Counties Transit Improvement Board, Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority, city of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota Department of Transportation and Hennepin County. Next steps include securing the remaining 10 percent of local funding before applying this fall for the federal funding commitment and advancing designs to a 90-percent level of detail in the third quarter and to 100 percent by the end of the year for the civil or heavy construction. The Full Funding Grant Agreement would commit the FTA to pay 49 percent of the capital costs of the project, or $753 million.

Found at:
http://www.rtands.com/index.php/passenger/rapid-transit-light-rail/met-councils-blue-line-extension-gets-green-light.html


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

Begeman Named STB Acting Chairman

By William C. Vantuono
Railway Age

ImageFile Image Via Railway Age.

Ann Begeman  

U.S. Surface Transportation Board Member Ann Begeman on Jan. 25 was named Acting Chairman by President Donald J. Trump. Begeman, a Republican, is currently serving a second, five-year term as an STB Member following her recent nomination by President Barack Obama on Dec. 7, 2016, and her unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate on Dec. 9, 2016.

Begeman first joined the Board on May 2, 2011. Her current term expires Dec. 31, 2020. Prior to her 2011 appointment, she held Senate staff positions on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years, “playing a key role in the crafting of major transportation legislation, including the ICC Termination Act, which created the STB,” the Board said in announcing her appointment. Begeman served as the Republican Staff Director for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation under former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) and as the Committee’s Deputy Staff Director and Transportation Policy Advisor under Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). She has also served as Legislative Director and Acting Chief of Staff for McCain and as a Legislative Assistant for former Senator Larry Pressler. Begeman has also worked in the private sector, serving as a benefits specialist for First American Bankshares, Inc. A native of Humboldt, S.D., she earned a B.S. in business administration from the University of South Dakota.

Railway Age Capitol Hill Contributing Editor Frank N. Wilner, who writes on Washington issues, says, “Ms. Begeman does not wish to be permanent chairman and will hold the ‘acting’ title until President Trump names as permanent chairman one of two Republicans still to be nominated and Senate-confirmed to two vacancies created by the 2015 Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act.”

“Those seats are not expected to be filled until after Congress agrees on a long-overdue Fiscal Year 2017 budget, which may not occur before April. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) is said to support about a $5 million STB budget increase from the current $32 million annually, to cover the costs of the two new Board members, their administrative assistants and confidential advisers, and to augment professional staff to handle an increased workload.

“Under Democratic Chairman Dan Elliott, the STB in February 2016 submitted a FY 2017 budget request seeking a $10 million annual increase, which drew a sharp dissent from Begeman at the time. She termed the request for a 31% budget boost ‘a wish-list budgeting approach’ and ‘mind-blowing’ in some respects. ‘The majority [referring to Elliott and his fellow Democrat Deb Miller] needs to come to grips with fiscal reality instead of further risking the Board’s credibility,’ she said in her dissent. The STB’s currently authorized head count is 150, while the Elliott FY 2017 budget request seeks 33 new positions. Given that Begeman is now in charge, it is highly unlikely that anything near the Elliott-authored budget request will be granted by a Republican-controlled Congress sharing her budget-hawk views. Begeman will draft the FY 2018 STB budget request.”

From an item at:
http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/regulatory/begeman-named-stb-acting-chairman.html?channel=40


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STATION LINES... Station Lines...  

MBTA Fiscal Management Board Approves
Go-Ahead to Build Blue Hill Station

Approval Will Begin Construction Of Brand New Blue Hill Avenue
Commuter Rail Station On The MBTA Fairmount Line In Mattapan

From a MassDOT Press Release

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) has approved a recommendation of MBTA managers to execute a contract for construction of the brand new Blue Hill Avenue Commuter Rail Station between Blue Hill Avenue (Route 28) and Cummins Highway on the Fairmount [branch] Line. The contract will be executed with McCourt Construction Company for $16.97 million.

Placed in a primarily residential community, Blue Hill Avenue Station will be constructed as the ninth station for the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line and provide a direct ride to downtown Boston in 20 minutes with no transfers needed. The station will be located approximately six-and-a-half miles from South Station and a quarter mile from Mattapan Square, connecting the community to other neighborhoods along the corridor. The station design includes one center-island platform between Blue Hill Avenue and Cummins Highway located below the street level measuring approximately 768 feet as well as two covered, fully accessible pedestrian ramps from both Cummins Highway and Blue Hill Avenue. The station will also include canopies, warning strips, benches/windscreens, closed circuit television (CCTV) security cameras, new lighting, new messaging signs, train approach warning systems, and historical graphic panels.

The MassDOT Board of Directors and FMCB previously authorized funding for the project on September 2, 2015, in the amount of $26.55 million. The project was advertised in December 2016 with seven bids received. After completion of a bid analysis, the lowest bid of $16.97 million from McCourt Construction Company was chosen.

Blue Hill Avenue Station is expected to be open along the Fairmount Line for boarding and disembarking in 2019 after a two-year construction period. On a daily basis, approximately 1,300 customers use the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line. Wachusett Station on the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line was the last station to open in September 2016 with Boston Landing Station on the Framingham/Worcester Line scheduled to be open to passengers in April 2017.

Media Contact:
MassDOT Press Office: 857-368-8500

[ Editor Comment:  The Blue Hill Ave Station will be an “in fill” station on the Fairmount branch line that runs from Boston’s South Station through the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park.  At Readville Station in Hyde Park the line connects with the Franklin branch.  Select trains from the Franklin branch use the Fairmount branch for express access to and from Boston rather than travel the NEC main line.  Construction has been delayed for several years due to issues with the abutting neighborhood which initially resisted its construction.  The location of the station has an unusually wide right-of-way due to the fact that it once served as a freight storage and marshalling yard up through the 1960s.  The wide right-of-way will allow the station to be built without the need to take any adjacent lands.  Residents along the branch have long-advocated for the branch to be converted into a subway-like service but an endless list of logistics may prove impossible for that to be attained in the short term.  Instead, the MBTA is looking at ways to increase train headways and possibly reduce fares to match those of their subway lines to accommodate public demand. ]

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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

Funds Fuel Passenger Rail Link For Tri-Rail
Into Downtown Miami

By John Charles Robbins
Miami Daily News

City leaders have followed through on part a financial commitment to help establish a passenger rail link for Tri-Rail into downtown Miami.

Plans call for Tri-Rail to have a place inside the new MiamiCentral station from All Aboard Florida, now under construction paralleling Northwest First Avenue.

The station will serve as a major transportation hub and be home to Brightline, a privately-run passenger rail service from here to Orlando, to debut later this year.

City commissioners on Jan. 12 declared the city’s intent to issue tax-exempt or taxable special purpose improvement bonds, or both, in the expected total of $18 million to reimburse itself for funds it advanced for expenses of public governmental capital improvements at MiamiCentral.

This is part of an agreement among the city, the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which manages Tri-Rail.

Miami city commissioners sit as a board of directors for the community redevelopment agencies in the city, with each CRA having its own annual budget.

The Nov. 28, 2016, agreement says the anticipated total costs to bring the Tri-Rail link into the new station is $50.4 million. Earlier estimates had pegged the total at about $70 million.

The agreement notes that to assist in the Tri-Rail Downtown Miami Link Project, the CRA, the city and the transportation authority wish to facilitate reimbursement to the authority of design and construction costs for additional platform improvements to the MiamiCentral station.

The related governmental capital improvements will consist of: a 62,000-square-foot passenger platform and associated trackage for Tri-Rail commuter trains; a mezzanine level consisting of columns and related structures that support the Tri-Rail platform and associated trackage; and “only the shared MiamiCentral Station capital project elements including. portions of elevators, escalators, support spaces, and storage areas .”

According to the transportation authority, others agreeing to help pay for bringing the Tri-Rail link into downtown Miami include Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, the Omni/Midtown Community Redevelopment Agency, Miami’s Downtown Development Authority, Bayfront Park Management Trust, All Aboard Florida and the state.

The massive steel and concrete transportation facility, MiamiCentral, continues to rise on the footprint of the city’s former train station, just north of the county’s government center tower.

The new rail station is being integrated with the Miami-Dade County Metrorail and Metromover systems and is being considered a major transit hub for the city, with connections to buses, trolleys, taxis and more.

MiamiCentral is also bringing together a mix of retail and offices.

Jack Stephens, transportation authority executive director, in his recent report focusing on the year ahead, spoke of the cooperation and partnership that is bringing more transit options to Miami.

“The most exciting development on the horizon is a partnership with All Aboard Florida (AAF) that will provide a one-seat ride into downtown Miami. Construction of the new MiamiCentral station is well under way and is anticipated to be completed in mid to late 2017,” said Mr. Stephens.

“Once completed and Brightline begins operation, as AAF has named its service, we will be able to transport our passengers directly into downtown Miami. The new station will eventually serve as the southern-most terminus of Tri-Rail Coastal Link, a new service that is proposed to operate on the FEC corridor through the downtowns of South Florida’s coastal cities,” he said.

All Aboard Florida, owned by Florida East Coast Railway, offered the regional transportation authority the opportunity to run tracks and Tri-Rail trains into the vast station it’s building downtown.

From an item found at:
http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2017/01/24/funds-fuel-passenger-rail-link-tri-rail-downtown-miami/


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USDOT Tool May Allow $2B For
Seattle Projects

From The Construction Equipment Guide Online

Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that four transit projects in the Seattle area could receive up to nearly $2 billion in financing through an innovative infrastructure financing tool created by the Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau.

The Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) and the Build America Bureau (Bureau) signed a Master Credit Agreement (MCA) — a first-of-its-kind arrangement in which the local transit authority will be able to expedite multiple loan requests under a single agreement with the federal government. The first of those loans is $615.3 million for the Northgate Link Extension.

“This announcement demonstrates that the Build America Bureau is already playing a major role in how projects are planned and paid for by streamlining the financing process and bringing together valuable tools for accessing federal dollars. This means projects like the Northgate Link Extension Project can move forward more quickly and effectively,” said Foxx. “We are proud of the work done through the Bureau to speed investments needed in growing regions like the Pacific Northwest. This development is a big win for the entire region.”

Foxx launched the Bureau earlier this year to provide a one-stop-shop for state and municipal governments to find innovative solutions to funding critical infrastructure projects. An MCA is one tool that the Bureau offers to help project sponsors streamline the process of applying for federal transportation infrastructure loans through the federal government’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) programs.

The MCA signed by Sound Transit covers four separate projects approved by voters as part of the transit authority’s ST-2 program. The $615.3 million TIFIA loan for the first project, the Northgate Link Extension, was approved and will move forward. The MCA will dramatically streamline the application process for the next three projects, enabling Sound Transit to more easily apply for the loans for the Operations & Maintenance Satellite Facility: East; Lynnwood Extension; and Federal Way Link Extension projects.

“With the use of a Master Credit Agreement, the Build America Bureau can now negotiate one deal with entities that have multiple projects in their pipeline to gain access to federal loans,” said Andrew Right, acting executive director of the Build America Bureau. “This has tremendous potential to save time and resources for infrastructure developers and increases transparency for the many partners involved in making transportation safer, faster, and easier in the area.”

Since its inception, the Bureau has closed $4 billion in financings and supports more than $7.8 billion in rail, highway and transit projects across the country. The Bureau has 16 projects in creditworthiness review for a total potential loan amount of over $5.5 billion. The Bureau also manages the private activity bond program, the Outreach and Project Development functions of the Build America Transportation Investment Center, and the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program.

Found at:
http://www.constructionequipmentguide.com/usdot-tool-may-allow-2b-for-seattle-projects/32348


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Trump Team Aims To Prioritize
MBTA Green Line Extension

By David L. Harris
Boston Business Journal

The much-delayed MBTA Green Line extension is one of 50 infrastructure projects that President Trump’s transition team has identified as a priority, according to a document obtained by the Kansas City Star.

The Star first reported on Tuesday the existence of the document, which originated from the Trump administration, entitled “Emergency and National Security Projects.” The projects on the list have a higher chance of receiving funding and would be paid for using a combination of public and private money, according to the report.

The total cost of the MBTA’s 4.3-mile Green Line extension from Cambridge’s Lechmere stop to Somerville and Medford could be as much as $3 billion and result in 3,000 jobs, according to the document.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said T officials are meeting this week with the Federal Transit Administration to “review the revised scope and costs of the project,” meetings that had been scheduled last month.

“The project team is well prepared for these meetings, and looks forward to a productive discussion with FTA officials,” said Pesaturo in an email to the Boston Business Journal.

Last month, the MBTA said that the Green Line extension would not open until 2021, four years behind schedule.

A total of $137.5 billion in spending on 50 projects around the country is listed in the document.

Found at:
http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2017/01/24/mbta-green-line-extension-may.html


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STOCKS...    Selected Rail Stocks...
BRKB – Burlington Northern Santa Fe

CNI – Canadian National

CP –  Canadian Pacific

CSX – CSX Corp

GWR – Genessee & Wyoming

KSU – Kansas City-Southern

NSC – Norfolk Southern

PWX – Providence & Worcester

UNP – Union Pacific

[ Editor Note: Proividence & Worcester Railroad was purchased by G&W in 2016.
As such this listing will be removed shortly.]
      Return To Index


LEGAL LINES... Legal Lines...  

MBTA and Amtrak Settle Dispute Over Attleboro Line

By Martha Schick
Boston Globe

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Amtrak have settled a dispute over track maintenance in Attleboro that threatened to cut rail service from Boston to New York and other points along the Northeast Corridor.

Under an agreement announced Friday, the MBTA will pay Amtrak about $20 million per year, starting in February and continuing until September, 2022, to provide daily maintenance on the Attleboro line, according to a press release issued by the T.

The MBTA will also assume control of capital program for the line, and provisions will be made to enhance services for customers. The MBTA and Amtrak will both contribute to capital projects, the release stated.

The agreement resolves a lawsuit filed by the MBTA last January, after the federally subsidized transit service demanded the T pay nearly $30 million per year to help maintain the railway between the Rhode Island border and South Station as part of a new multi-state policy.

The MBTA claimed that it should not have to pay Amtrak, because a 2003 operating agreement allowed Amtrak to use the Attleboro tracks for free in exchange for providing maintenance and dispatch services.

“The MBTA and Amtrak are pleased to have reached this mutually beneficial settlement and look forward to working together to provide customers with safe and reliable service,” the press release stated.

From a news article at:
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/01/27/mbta-and-amtrak-settle-yearlong-legal-battle/GT3lZ58tEcHPiXYpSyqyzN/story.html


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

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

German Train Company Trolls
Trump on Twitter


Deutsche Bahn – German Railways – Jumps Aboard The New ‘Alternate Facts’ Hashtag Trend On Twitter Inspired
By Team Trump’s Bending Of Inauguration Audience Size Estimates In Its Feud With News Media.

Via Deutsche Press Agentur (DPA)

It didn’t take long into Trump’s new presidency for him to become embroiled in yet another battle of truth with journalists, this time over how many people attended his inauguration in Washington, DC on Friday, the 20th of January.  

Trump claimed on Saturday the next day that he saw “a million, a million and a half people” in the crowd, but photos comparing Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 - in which an estimated 1.8 million people attended - showed Trump’s crowd to be vastly smaller.  British crowd scientists told The New York Times that there were about 160,000 people in the crowd leading up to Trump’s speech.  Other news media estimates ranged from 200,000 to 500,000.

When challenged by the host of NBC’s “Meet The Press” news talk show, Trump’s top aide Kellyanne Conway explained the president’s and his press secretary claims as "alternative facts”, thus unintentionally setting off a series of comical and outrageous statements on Twitter and elsewhere under the hashtag “alternative facts”.  In one example, the NBA basketball team Dallas Mavericks – during a game a day later – put up a message on its digital big-screen TV scoreboard during half time “Today’s game attendance: 1,500,000 fans – hashtag Alternative Facts”, although the indoor stadium in Dallas has room for at most 21,000 people in the audience during basketball games.

So Germany’s Deutsch Bahn train company decided to get in on the social media mockery of the Team Trump’s audience size statement with.  “Good news: The punctuality of our trains today is at 120 percent,” Deutsche Bahn posted on Twitter on last Monday.

Image

Image from Twitter ™

Deutsche Bahn AG press relations

The Twitter post has been liked more than 500 times and re-tweeted hundreds more.  And according to Trendinalia DE, the hashtag was the top trend by Monday afternoon (23rd of January) in Germany.  Deutsche Bahn isn’t typically known as the snarkiest German transit agency - that title is one which Berlin’s BVG public transit authority tries hard to uphold.

On the day of Trump’s inauguration, BVG tweeted a post that tried to encourage Trump to become a bus driver, though it noted he could not build a wall in Berlin as he wants to along the US-Mexico border.  “Donald, wouldn’t you rather be a bus driver... You set the direction, you always have a reason to swear, you can make anyone pay up, being a little bit overweight is OK, small hands are also not a problem, no one expects you to be considerate.”


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French Senate Adopts Lyon – Turin Bill;
HSR Construction Will Start

By Keith Barrow
International Railway Journal

THE French Senate adopted a bill on January 26 ratifying the agreement between the French and Italian governments to build the Euro 26.1bn Lyon - Turin high-speed line.

The adoption of the bill, which creates a legal basis for the provisions of an agreement signed by the two countries in February 2015, clears the way for tendering to begin this year and construction is due to start in 2018.

The bilateral agreement was formally adopted by both the French National Assembly and the Italian Chamber of Deputies in December.

The 140km (86.9 mi) line will have 87km (54 mi) of tunnels including a 57km (35,4 mi)  twin-bore base tunnel between St Jean de Maurienne, France, and Chiomonte in Italy. The cross-border section extends for 18.1km (11.25 mi) on the Italian side, 12.5km (7.7 mi)  of which will be in the base tunnel. Beyond the Italian portal, there will be a 3km (1.8 mi)  link to the existing line at Bussoleno, including a 2.1km (1.3 mi)  tunnel and a new station at Susa.

Implementation of the project is being managed by Euralpine Tunnel Lyon - Turin (TELT), a 50:50 joint venture between Italian State Railways (FS) and the French state.

The line is expected to open in 2028 or 2029, reducing Lyon - Turin journey times from 3h 30min to 1h 47min.

From an item found at:
http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/europe/french-senate-adopts-lyon-%E2%80%93-turin-bill.html?channel=537


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TO THE NORTH... To The North...  

Electric Train Line Would Do Little To
Increase Public Ridership, BAPE Says

Linda Gyulai
Montreal Gazette

Quebec’s environmental impact review commission, or BAPE, is withholding approval for a $5.5-billion project to build an electric train line linking downtown Montreal with Trudeau airport, the West Island and the South Shore, saying too much key information is still missing.

In a 323-page report released late Friday, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement criticizes several elements of the project and says several of the commission’s questions about the costs and revenue from the line, its effect on the environment, urban planning and governance, and the developer’s justification for its ridership forecast, remain unanswered.

In a statement released with the report, the commission said “it would be premature to authorize the REM project before all of the information should be available.”

What’s more, the BAPE’s three-member commission that examined the project at public hearings in 2016 concludes the electric train project “would contribute little” to achieving a metropolitan objective to increase the percentage of travelers using public transit to 30 per cent by 2021.

The project, called Réseau électrique métropolitain or REM for short, initially proposed 24 stations, 13 park-and-ride lots for drivers to leave their cars and board the train and nine bus terminals.

The developer is CDPQ Infra, a private subsidiary of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. CDPQ Infra had said it hoped to have the first trains running by the end of 2020.

The Caisse has committed $3 billion to build the rail network, and wants the rest of the funds to come from federal and provincial governments.

Image

Image:  Via Montreal Gazette

Artist’s rendition of part of the proposed REM network, a 67-kilometre electric, driverless train system linking Montreal’s Gare Central to the West Island, Trudeau Airport, the North Shore and South Shore.

The BAPE report questions a key element of the project that would give CDPQ Infra’s rail line exclusive use of an existing railway tunnel running through Mount Royal. The tracks are currently used by the Agence métropolitaine de transport for two of its commuter train lines.

The report also calls for CDPQ Infra to relocate a planned station on the South Shore because of concerns about the project’s impact on neighbouring farmland, as well as for attenuation measures to protect the Bertrand creek in the West Island.

The BAPE received 108 briefs on the project. Several environmental groups criticized the plan.

However, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, which supports the project and its proposed airport link, criticized the BAPE for its report on Friday. The commission “overstepped its mandate by focussing on issues relating to CDPQ Infra’s business model and its risk taking,” Board of Trade president Michel Leblanc said in a statement.

The BAPE report can be found at:
http://www.bape.gouv.qc.ca/sections/rapports/publications/bape331.pdf

From an item at:
http://montrealgazette.com/news/electric-train-line-would-do-little-to-increase-public-ridership-bape-says


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TTC’s Newest Subway Extension Taking Shape

After Delays And Cost Overruns, Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension Is Finally Months From Completion.

By Ben Spurr
The Star

Toronto’s first new subway project in more than a decade is almost complete.

At a media tour of the new Downsview Park station on Monday, TTC CEO Andy Byford emphasized that the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension, a six-stop addition to Line 1 that is scheduled to open in December, will be state of the art.

“People will look at it as just a subway extension. To me it’s way more than that,” he said, noting that in addition to the complexity involved in setting up train operations, the TYSSE will combine three major TTC projects: a Wi-Fi network, the Presto fare card system, and automatic train control. “It’s a huge accomplishment.”

Image

Graphic Via Toronto Star

Area of Expansion

Located at the north end of Downsview Park, just east of Sheppard Ave. and Keele St., there is little density in the area surrounding the station. But TTC officials said some of the land nearby is slated for future mixed use development.

Ridership is also expected to be boosted by a direct connection to trains on GO Transit’s Barrie line, which will stop at a platform between the station’s east and west pavilions.

The architecture of Downsview Park (not to be confused with Line 1’s existing Downsview station, which will be renamed Sheppard West) is open and airy, allowing sunlight to filter all the way down to the subway platform. Its two buildings made of glass, stone, and aluminum blend into the hilly topography and are topped by green roofs.

The tracks will be powered up in April, but before the TTC begins testing trains using electric power, it will tow subway cars up and down the track using a diesel engine in order to ensure they have enough clearance to safely move through the tunnels.

For the full story with images see:
https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/01/23/ttcs-newest-subway-extension-taking-shape.html


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WE GET LETTERS... We Get Letters...  

In Response to William Vantuono, Editor, Railway Age, re “Guest Editorial: High-Speed On The NEC, An Engineer’s Perspective” in the 17 January 2017 issue of Destination: Freedom.


This [editorial article in Railway Age] is perhaps the most succinct, competently expressed understanding of the NEC. What is clarified is the unfeasible cost to eliminate infrastructure limitations; the lack of any real improvement of equipment sinceMetroliners; the fierce reality how the relevant metrics continue to be ignored--travelers seek the convenience of schedule frequency and reliability, coupled with the amenities that distinguish a well run passenger train service vs. cutting perhaps 30 minutes off the timecard.

From my own experience, there was nothing wrong with the 1969Metroliners, particularly their classic parlors. Nice to ride theTurboTraindome (if you survived the torrent of boulders thrown from viaducts upon leaving South Station). Large windowedAcelaappreciated, but not enough permanent tables and service typically slow in F Class.

Ironically, in respect to the author’s comments re the minimal running time difference betweenAcelaandNE Regionals,the former NYNH&H operated the 1949Merchants Limitedin just 4 hours between NYC-BOS (including power change at New Haven). Even into the 1960s the schedule was still only 4.15 hours, with but 6 minutes allotted for power change at New Haven.

Not only are the swivel-chair parlors sorely missed these days, but how Amtrak has failed to learn how profitable the bar revenues were on the NYNH&H. Indeed, what is also missing is a clear business perspective on the willingness of Amtrak to leverage its NEC by franchising or providing open access for package parcel services off hours (e.g., FedX, UPS). As well, such concept would extend to competitive passenger services, offering the full gamut from F Class to a T Class (tourist to compete with the curbside buses that ATK believes are not its market). As ATK admits it does not have the resources beyond replacing the Acelas and AEM7s, what other options are out there to continue to grow the business, other than competitive bids for franchises, or, open access competition? Realizing the limitations of track slots and signaling, any service introduced on the NEC would have to contribute towards enhancing track and signal capacity, as it would towards equipment. ATK could either sit back and collect its fees, or, attempt to compete in a real marketplace. (Perhaps a thought for another article, eh..?)


M.E. Singer
Rail Provocateur
singer.mark.e@gmail.com


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