The National Corridors Initiative Logo

March 21, 2016
Vol. 16 No. 11

Copyright © 2016
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 16th 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.
Editor
Molly N. McKay
Foreign Editor
David Beale
Contributing Editor
David Peter Alan
Managing Editor / Webmaster
Dennis Kirkpatrick
 
 

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

  Guest Editorial…
Let’s Keep Spinning Our Wheels
  Guest Opinion…
Why VIA Passenger Rail Is Worth Saving
  Expansion Lines…
A Transit Fantasy Has Come True in L.A.!
Sound Transit Opens University Of
   Washington Station
FTA OKs Next Step In Santa Clara VTA’s BART
   Silicon Valley Project
  Commuter Lines…
Washington DC Region Tackles Unprecedented
   Workday Shutdown Of Metrorail
FTA Requires MBTA To Consider Late-Night
   Service Alternatives
  Safety Lines…
Amtrak Train Derails Near Dodge City, Kansas;
   Bend In Rail Is Reported
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Restoration Lines…
New Heritage Corridor Service Begins In
   Will County, IL
  Station Lines…
Amtrak Proposes Underground Concourse Linking
   30th St. Station To Subways, Trolleys
  Vacation Lines…
Train Service To Cape Cod Begins Memorial
   Day Weekend
  Across The Pond…
Bad Year And Big Losses At Deutsche Bahn
Britain Allocates Funds To HS3 And Crossrail 2
  Events…
Rail Users Network (RUN) Annual Conference
   Boston, MA, April 29, 2016
  Publication Notes …


GUEST EDITORIAL... Guest Editorial...  

Let’s Keep Spinning Our Wheels

By William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Railway Age Magazine

The other day I found a buried snippet of information on the Federal Railroad Administration website pertaining to high speed rail. Dated March 11, 2016, it’s a “Notice of Request for Proposals for Implementing a High-Speed Rail Corridor.” Hmmm . . . This looks interesting. I wonder why it was kept so quiet?

Keep reading and you’ll find out.

The RFP abstract reads as follows: “FRA is soliciting and encouraging the submission of proposals to finance, design, construct, operate, and maintain a high-speed rail (HSR) system. Section 11308 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, Public Law 114-94 (Dec. 4, 2015), requires the Department of Transportation to ‘issue a request for proposals for projects for the financing, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of a high-speed passenger rail system operating within a high-speed rail corridor.’ The FRA is encouraging interested parties to submit proposals that meet the requirements outlined in this request for proposals (RFP). Based on the proposals received, the Department of Transportation may establish commissions to further review and develop proposals.”

“Say, this is encouraging,” I thought. But then I kept reading:

“However, no federal funding is associated with this provision, and Congress prohibited in the FAST Act any federal agency from taking subsequent actions to further ‘implement, establish, facilitate, or otherwise act upon any proposals’ submitted under this RFP—other than the actions described in this notice—without ‘explicit statutory authority’ to be subsequently provided by Congress.”

OK, let me get this straight: The government wants proposals for a project for which there is no funding, and that may never be funded. This is a requirement in the FAST Act? How can something be done “fast”, or at all, if there’s no money for it and no reasonable expectation that it will go beyond an RFP? Why is it in there in the first place? Am I missing something here?

Who in their right mind would even bother to submit a proposal, given the U.S. government’s dismal track record with high-speed rail? The government is reluctant to fund even the Northeast Corridor at a level sufficient to maintain a state of good repair. As we say in Jersey, sounds like a big freakin’ waste of time!

If you are so inclined to take the time to read the notice, you can download it from the link below. If interested, maybe you can ask to become a member of one of the commissions the Secretary of Transportation might establish to “further review proposals that the Secretary determines warrant further consideration.”

We’ve been spinning our wheels on this stuff for about 30 years, and, aside from a few good initiatives on higher-speed rail (HrSR) corridors—Chicago-St. Louis, privately funded All Aboard Florida, incremental improvements to the Northeast Corridor, among others—what do we have to show for it?

California High Speed Rail has been struggling along, dodging brickbats from hostile politicians like Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), who for reasons known only to him has been hell-bent on stopping what could be the most significant improvement to transportation in his home state. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me! Remember Texas TGV? Herb Kelleher and Southwest Airlines shot that one down. Florida Overland Express? Gov. Jeb Bush said as soon as he took office in 1999, “The uncertainty and risk to Florida’s taxpayers are too great to continue funding this project with our tax dollars.”

Then, after eight years of Bush-league transportation came a breath of fresh air: President Obama’s High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program, $8 billion worth of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 economic stimulus dollars. The HSR community danced for joy. Consultants were doing headstands. Finally! Finally!

The celebration lasted about two years. The FRA’s “shotgun” approach—instead of picking one good project and fully funding it, stuff the money into a Remington® Model 870™ Express® Super Magnum Laminate Pump-Action and scatter the dollars all over the country—didn’t work. A good chunk of the money was sent back to the USDOT and (thankfully) reallocated to the NEC and a few HrSR projects. Florida’s third HSR project, the first leg of which would have linked Tampa and Orlando using the median of Interstate 4, was part of that, but Republican Gov. Rick Scott shut it down and sent the money back to Washington, as did Republicans Scott Walker (Wisconsin) and John Kasich (Ohio) with their states’ grants. Forward-thinking individuals, these guys!

What happens if “Tronald Dump” wins the White House? Do you think he’ll try to take all of Amtrak’s funding and spend it building a wall to keep all those Mexican criminals out, to Make America Great Again? Oh, wait, I forgot: Mexico is going to pay for the wall.

The list of U.S. corridors where HSR could be developed hasn’t changed much, and they’re listed in the FRA’s latest RFP.

I think we need to take the approach VIA Rail Canada is taking with the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor: For about one-third the cost of a “true” (200-mph) HSR system, construct an electrified, dedicated HrSR (110-mph) system using mostly existing right-of-way. VIA, under the leadership of its visionary president and CEO, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, will be able to do this because the Canadian people were smart enough to throw Neanderthal Prime Minister Steven Harper and most of the equally clueless Conservatives out of office and elect visionary Liberal Justin Trudeau, whose agenda includes federal investment in projects that improve public transportation and the environment. And that means intercity passenger rail.

Stay tuned for our April issue, where we’ll describe VIA’s project in detail. Here’s a teaser:

“The potential for a good return on investment is determined by the cost at entry, not the price at exit,” said Desjardins-Siciliano. “The price of entry here is much lower than that for a high-speed project. Therefore, your potential for a better return is greatly enhanced. The C$4 billion price tag drives 7 million passengers a year—up from 2 million, now. That compares to a C$10-$12 billion investment in high-speed that would only drive 10 million passengers. High-frequency trains at top speeds of 110 mph can be done quickly and cheaply, vs. a high-speed project, which would cost more, take more time to build, and which would ultimately have a consumer price tag that excludes the middle class. . . . We don’t believe high-speed is worth it: Better times would still be made by planes at no financial advantage to the consumer, and without being disruptive to the economic mix and redundancy required from a national transportation system. We are convinced that the greatest contribution we can make is taking those 5 million car trips a year off the highways, making Canadians more productive by not wasting time in highway bottlenecks and enhancing their safety, and making an economic contribution to Canada by allowing freight and passenger trains to run independently and efficiently.”

Pretty good, eh?

Ed Note: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author.

William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief of Railway Age Magazine, has been with that publication since 1992, He has broadened and deepened the magazine’s coverage of the technological revolution that is so swiftly changing the industry. He has also strengthened Railway Age’s leadership position in industry affairs with the conferences he conducts on operating passenger trains on freight railroads and communications-based train control. He is the author of “All About Railroading - Second Edition” and is a frequent lecturer on rail interests.

The FRA document in question can be downloaded at: http://www.railwayage.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&task=download&id=22_ed5343745753b2cfdd8d332f8f15b474

From an article found at:
http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/blogs/william-vantuono/lets-keep-spinning-our-wheels.html?channel=00


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GUEST OPINION... Guest Opinion...  

Why VIA Passenger Rail Is Worth Saving

By Bruce Hyer
Deputy Leader, Green Party of Canada

National Post columnist Chris Selley recently questioned Green Party Leader and MP Elizabeth May’s support for VIA Rail’s Toronto-Vancouver flagship train. Selley echoed the views of the Conservative-appointed Canada Transportation Act Review Committee, that the Canadian should not be subsidized.

Across its 4,440-km route, the Canadian provides an essential service to many communities without other public transportation options. It attracts large numbers of international tourists to the Canadian Rockies and communities like Jasper, Alberta. It is a globally-recognized symbol of Canada, and graces our $10 bank notes. Trains are also the most energy efficient form of land transport, with the lowest CO2 emissions.

Rail critics apply different criteria for different kinds of transportation spending. Expecting rail to be 100-percent privately funded is an unfair double standard intended to shut down passenger rail. The United States went down this road and found it was a dead end.

Former Senator Hillary Clinton had this to say on the subject: “Passenger rail is an essential element of our transportation network that provides irreplaceable capacity and mobility. For nearly seven years, we have had to fight the (Bush) Administration’s constant attempts to privatize and dismantle our nation’s premier passenger rail service, Amtrak. Eliminating Amtrak service would be an economic disaster and an irresponsible policy... No country in the world has ever developed and maintained a successful passenger railroad system without assistance from their national government.”

Canada is the only developed country in the world without a national rail strategy.

In Canada, passenger rail funding of about $300 million per year is less than one percent of the government subsidies to roads, air transport and marine terminals. Many call the latter “investments,” while the inadequate supports provided to our passenger trains are often labeled “subsidies.” Imagine what a trans-Canada flight would cost if you had to pay for air traffic control, airport security and oil subsidies.

Two reports by rail consultant Greg Gormick, one prepared for me as Thunder Bay-Superior North MP, compared VIA with the publicly owned Amtrak (Wedding Band of Confederation, and a 2015 report for Transport Action Ontario).

Gormick shows clearly how increased public modernization investments boosted Amtrak’s service nationwide, increased ridership, cut operating costs and increased revenues.

Gormick also compared VIA’s Canadian with Amtrak’s Empire Builder, which links Chicago, Seattle and Portland, Ore. (similarly, a vast distance with scattered populations). Modernized and operating daily, for roughly the same costs as the Canadian, the Empire Builder delivers triple the frequency and attracts five times as many passengers. VIA’s Canadian uses antiquated 1950s equipment, runs only three times weekly in the summer and twice weekly the rest of the year. The Mulroney government foolishly ended the spectacular and popular Lake Superior North Shore route in 1990.

The Canadian urgently requires modernization, and investment in it would generate three to four times the capital cost through economic spin-offs and job creation. The operating cost reductions would allow a more frequent Canadian, yielding economic, social and environmental dividends for decades to come. The other desperate national problem is that the privatized CN Rail now gouges VIA customers with exorbitant trackage charges and allows oil trains too long to fit onto sidings to delay VIA’s Canadian.

Hopefully, our new Liberal government will recognize the value of investing in the modernization of the Canadian and VIA’s other services. The alternative would be to allow the Harper Conservatives to govern from the grave.

The Green Party of Canada is committed to the renewal of VIA. The Canadian is an integral part of our vision, and we call for its retention and modernization to restore this national treasure to its former glory.

As appearing at:
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/bruce-hyer/via-passenger-rail_b_9480566.html


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EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...  

A Transit Fantasy Has Come True in L.A.!

By David Peter Alan

The scene was repeated several times during the 1940s and 50s. Radio and television star Jack Benny and his gang were at Union Station in Los Angeles, preparing to catch the legendary Super Chief on the Santa Fe Railroad (actually the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe) to Chicago, where they would catch another train to New York. The train caller (played by voice character actor Mel Blanc) interrupted the banter between Jack and his cast to announce: “Train leaving on Track 5 for Anaheim, Azusa and Cuc-a-monga!” He announced that train with short pauses between syllables in Cucamonga.

A few minutes later, the train caller interrupted Jack and his gang with the same call. After another few minutes, he was heard again on the station P.A. system, announcing in an exasperated manner: “Doesn’t anybody want to go to Anaheim, Azusa or Cuc-a-monga? The conductor’s lonely!”

There were other jokes about the train and its destinations whenever Jack was at Union Station, and Mel Blanc’s train call itself has become a legendary bit of the history of radio and TV broadcasting. What few listeners outside the Los Angeles area knew is that the train itself was fictitious. It had to be, because the three destinations announced were on different lines. No train could have gone to all of them.

For the first time in decades, all three of these destinations are accessible by rail, thanks to the newly-opened Foothills Extension of Metro Gold Line, a light rail line that used to terminate beyond Pasadena, at a station on a highway. Metro (more formally the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority) extended the Gold Line eastward from Pasadena to Azusa on Saturday, March 5th. Ironically, the line leaves from the platform at Track 5. The trains to Anaheim and Cucamonga (called “Rancho Cucamonga” on the timetables) are Metrolink trains. Anaheim, the home of Disneyland, is on the Orange County Line. Rancho Cucamonga is on the San Bernardino Line through Montclair and Upland (and not the line through Fullerton, which Amtrak’s Southwest Chief uses), and is three stops away from San Bernardino and about a 70-minute ride from Union Station.

Station

Image Courtest of Metrolink

The Rancho Cucamonga rail station

Anaheim is a sprawling city of nearly 350,000 people, located about forty minutes from Union Station on Metrolink’s Orange County Line. Its historic core, the Colony District, seems to keep its historic character, which remained intact as late as 1950, when less than 15,000 people lived there. Then Walt Disney came to town and built Disneyland.

Azusa is located in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Pasadena and further east of downtown Los Angeles. Historic Route 66 went through the town, as did the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Railroad, which reached the town in 1887. It later became part of the Santa Fe, and the newly-opened Gold Line extension runs on its right-of-way. The Gold Line now connects with Metro and Foothill Transit buses at the new multi-modal transportation center, which opened shortly before the rail line did, and also features hundreds of parking spaces. The Chamber of Commerce calls it “Azusa’s Intermodal Parking Structure.”

Today’s Rancho Cucamonga is a sprawling, suburban “city” in San Bernardino County; a far cry from the Mexican ranch of the same name that was established in 1839. The town featured orchards and wineries in the middle of the last century, and it honors Jack Benny with a statue of him, holding his violin.

It is possible to visit Anaheim, Azusa and Cuc-a-monga on the same day, but it is not easy.

On weekdays, the Metrolink train that leaves Union Station for Oceanside at 8:00 stops at Anaheim at 8:41. Another train leaves Anaheim to come back at 9:11 and is due back at Union Station at 10:10. Then there is time to take the Gold Line to Azusa and back; about a two-hour trip. The last round-trip to Rancho Cucamonga leaves at 6:30 pm, with a quick turnaround and a return to Union Station at 9:15 pm.

It is also possible to make the trip on week-ends, leaving on the Orange County Line train at 10:45 for Anaheim, and returning on the 12:33 from there. The San Bernardino train leaves at 1:45, allows about an hour in Rancho Cucamonga, and returns downtown at 5:15. That allows time to ride the Gold Line to Azusa, either at the beginning or end of the day.

On week-ends, the fare for both lines is $10.00, which is the price of a Metrolink day pass. On weekdays, the fares are higher, and both round-trips are priced separately. Metrolink ticket holders are also allowed to ride Metro’s bus and rail services at no extra charge on the same day.

Los Angeles has become a “transit city” again in recent years, and there is also more transit in the surrounding area. When this writer first visited in 1979, there was no rail transit at all, and there were only a few Surf Line “corridor” trains each day to San Diego. They served Anaheim, but there was no rail transportation to Azusa, Cucamonga, or many other places in the region. Metrolink did not exist, and neither did Metro Rail. There were buses in the area, but far fewer of them than operate today.

Last year, the Rail Users’ Network (RUN) held its Annual Conference there, to learn about transit in the L.A. area and to demonstrate appreciation for all the transit that the city and its surrounding area now have to offer. Angelinos are again enjoying the urban lifestyle, as they did many years ago. They have reinvigorated the downtown area, and they use transit to get around. Much of the credit for the transit revival goes to former Mayor Antonio Villaregosa, and many advocates and “locals” hope that current mayor, Eric Garcetti, will continue these trends.

If this year is any indication, he will. There are a number of transit projects under construction, and one more will open for service soon. The Expo Line extension to Santa Monica is scheduled to begin revenue service on May 20th. There is also an extension of Metrolink’s Riverside Line to Perris under construction. The schedule has not been announced; not even if the trains will run outside of peak-commuting hours, or whether they will take visitors to the Orange Empire Railroad Museum in Perris.

Still, the Los Angeles area now has rail transit, and it will soon have more. There are many places in the region that are accessible by rail today, but had no rail service in the past. Azusa and Cucamonga are among them. Now you can visit both those towns and Anaheim, too, all on the same day. In Southern California, that’s genuine progress!

[ Editor Note: To hear Mel Blanc’s infamous presentation visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrTWjS9bT68 ]


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Sound Transit Opens University Of
Washington Station

From Internet Sources

On Saturday, the new University of Washington light rail station was scheduled to open with many opening day festivities.

Sound Transit says the newly opening Link service to two new stations — near the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium and in the Capitol Hill neighborhood — begins 10 a.m.

The stations connect to existing rail service, which currently runs between the Westlake station in downtown Seattle and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

It is estimated that the service extension will add 71,000 riders to the system by 2030.

Link light rail will eventually run to Lynnwood in the north, Overlake in Redmond to the east, and south of Sea-Tac airport.

Another new station is expected to open this fall in SeaTac, which would extend light rail 1.6 miles south of the airport.

For more on the opening and new service visit:
http://www.ulink2016.org/


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FTA OKs Next Step In Santa Clara VTA’s
BART Silicon Valley Project

From Progressive Railroading

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has granted approval to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to enter the project development phase of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Silicon Valley Phase II extension in California.

The FTA’s approval marks a milestone in the project because it signifies VTA has “pre-award authority” under the federal New Starts funding program to incur the cost of engineering and design activities that will be part of the environmental review process, VTA officials said in a press release.

Phase II of VTA’s BART Silicon Valley project entails construction of a 5-mile tunnel through downtown San Jose, Calif., to complete the 16-mile extension.

“This wonderful news from FTA means that we are continuing to make steady progress towards extending BART Silicon Valley through San Jose and Santa Clara,” said VTA Board Chairwoman Cindy Chavez. “This opens the door to BART’s moving up the line for federal funding, as we continue through this pivotal year for advancements in transportation in the valley.”

Project development activities are necessary to refine the project’s cost estimate and financial plan, VTA officials said. During the development phase, the transit agency must define the project’s scope after performing an alternatives analysis, identifying a funding plan and completing the environmental review process.

Next month will mark four years of work on VTA’s BART Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension (Phase I). More than 80 percent of the construction contract to build the line, track, stations and systems is completed, VTA officials said.

BART is expected to begin train testing on the 10-mile segment in spring 2017.

Found at:
http://www.progressiverailroading.com/passenger_rail/news/FTA-OKs-next-step-in-Santa-Clara-VTAs-BART-Silicon-Valley-project--47619


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

Washington DC Region Tackles Unprecedented
Workday Shutdown Of Metrorail

By Ashley Halsey III, T. Rees Shapiro, Susan Svrluga, and Faiz Siddiqui
The Washington Post

The hundreds of thousands of people who normally take Metro to school and work turned to cars, bicycles and buses Wednesday as the rail system shut down for an emergency safety inspection, two days after an electrical fire in a tunnel crippled three lines of the system.

The transit agency sent 22 crews out to inspect 600 electrical cables identical to the one that caught fire Monday. By noon, Metro said they had examined about 50 percent of them and replaced a half dozen.

When Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld announced plans to shut down the entire subway system late last Tuesday, he anticipated service could resume on Thursday.

As the Wednesday morning commute reached its peak between 8 and 9 a.m. there were backups in all the usual places — among them I-395, inbound I-66 and the Capital Beltway approaching I-270 — but gridlock had not materialized and traffic flowed normally on many streets and highways.

The District’s taxis were out in force, but many drivers said that fares were not as plentiful as they had hoped. Some Metrobuses were crowded during the height of rush hour, but there were seats to be found on many others. Putting regular Metro riders behind the wheel added to confusion on the roadways as some of them realized they didn’t know where they were going.

The turmoil caused by shutting down the country’s second-busiest rail system was unlike any other. In the past, when heavy snow or hurricane remnants have slowed or halted subway service, everything else in Washington was at a standstill. On Wednesday, however, federal and other offices were open for business and most schools planned a normal day.

The decision to shut down Metro’s six rail lines came from transit officials who said they acted because they feared for the safety of passengers.

Wiedefeld and the Metro board decided to suspend operations, raising new alarms about the beleaguered 40-year-old rail system’s ability to deliver safe, reliable service.

Metrorail’s 40th anniversary is a week from Sunday. On March 27, 1976, a 4.6-mile, fishhook-shaped stretch of the embryonic Red Line opened, between the Farragut North and Rhode Island Avenue stations. Since that day, when tens of thousands of inaugural riders crowded aboard Washington’s newest public transportation marvel, the system has spread across the city and into the suburbs, with six rail lines, 91 stations and 100-plus route miles of tracks.

Metro said passengers take about 712,800 rail trips on an average weekday.

For the full story see:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/washington-braces-for-full-day-of-metro-shutdown-to-deal-with-safety-concerns/2016/03/16/42324598-eb3f-11e5-b0fd-073d5930a7b7_story.html


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FTA Requires MBTA To Consider
Late-Night Service Alternatives

By Nicole Dungca
Boston Globe

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) officials hope to eventually offer services that would mitigate the cancellation of late-night trains and buses on weekends, now that federal officials have rebuked the transit system for making the cuts without completing a civil rights analysis begun last year.

The MBTA had asked the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for a waiver for the federally required analysis, which would have shown how cutting late-night service would hurt minority and low-income riders. But federal officials rejected that waiver earlier this month with a strongly worded letter that said the T needed to revisit the decision.

The MBTA was poised to end its late-night pilot program on Saturday March 19, when the last subway and bus rides depart from downtown stations at about 2 a.m.

The service cut would see the last trains depart their stations about 12:00-12:30 a.m.

On Wednesday, the MBTA presented the civil rights report it was forced to complete, which officials said showed “mixed results” about how cutting the service would hurt some of the most vulnerable riders.

At least one version said that eliminating the extended hours would hurt both minority and low-income riders more than other riders.

“Because we have mixed results from our equity analysis, staff is moving to consider and provide for mitigation,” John Englander, general counsel for the state Department of Transportation and the MBTA, told the board on Wednesday.

Joseph Aiello, the board’s chairman, defended the decision to cut back service, saying the extended-hours program “struck out” on at least two grounds: It was too expensive per rider, and it hurt the T’s maintenance schedule, he said.

When the MBTA last year studied whether cutting late-night service would disproportionately affect minority and low-income riders, at least one interpretation was that both groups would suffer “disparate” and “disproportionate” effects, compared to the ridership as a whole, according to Wednesday’s presentation.

According to 2015 data collected by the T, 54 percent of late-night bus riders are minorities, and 64 percent are low-income. On the subway, about 47 percent are minorities and 59 percent are low-income.

The MBTA did not initially release that analysis to the public because officials said they were worried that their overall ridership data, gathered in 2008 and 2009, were out of date. After federal officials forced the T to complete its analysis, more current data items were included.

Under the newer analysis, officials concluded that low-income and minority riders did not suffer “disparate” or “disproportionate” effects as a result of late-night service cuts.

On Wednesday, the control board voted to accept the analysis but continue looking for ways to mitigate the effects.

Its members also said that any additional service should be at limited cost, involve only buses, and focus on mitigating the loss of work trips for low-income riders.

Officials said the T could also partner with private companies to help such riders.

The MBTA suggested several goals, such as reducing early morning crowding, improving service quality, and increasing weekend frequency on certain bus routes.

In the presentation to the board, officials mentioned adding weekday trips between 5 and 7 a.m. on the Route 116 and Route 117 bus routes through East Boston, Chelsea, and Revere. They also mentioned adding rides to the Route 66 bus line from Dudley Station to Harvard and the 111 bus line from Haymarket to Revere.

MBTA officials said they would accept public comments on the best way to make up for the loss of late-night service.

Also on Wednesday, the control board voted to approve a preliminary figure of about $2.02 million for its operating budget for the 2017 fiscal year.

Earlier this week, officials released information that showed the MBTA would have a smaller budget deficit than expected, about $80.3 million for fiscal year 2017.

Officials said that’s 67 percent lower than the T’s original projection of a $242 million gap and is a result of increased revenue from upcoming fare hikes, more advertising in vehicles and stations, and cost cuts, including for employee overtime and late-night service.

The state Department of Transportation’s board also unveiled Wednesday its preliminary proposal for a five-year, $14.3 billion plan for big-ticket construction projects and vehicle upgrades.

The T’s control board will take a closer look at the plan in coming months, but state officials said the plan currently includes the Green Line extension into Medford and Somerville.

Control board members are scheduled to vote on whether to go forward with that project this spring.

Found at:
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/03/16/mbta-forced-consider-late-night-service-alternatives/GlYrZePa9EavC5QqbSYihM/story.html


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SAFETY LINES... Safety Lines...  

Amtrak Train Derails Near Dodge City, Kansas;
Bend In Rail Is Reported

By Bill Chappell
National Public Radio Online

After Amtrak’s Southwest Chief train derailed just west of Dodge City, Kan., shortly after midnight last Monday, in an incident that sent some 32 people to hospitals, investigators are focusing on a possible problem with the track. The train was carrying 131 passengers and a crew of 14, Amtrak says.

Earl Weener of the National Transportation Safety Board says there is an indication there was some misalignment in the rails.

Weener says that the engineer saw something wrong with the tracks and that his quick action in implementing the emergency brakes may have prevented the derailment for being worse.

The Southwest Chief runs between Chicago and Los Angeles; according to local reports, five of the train’s cars were left on their sides by the derailment. Amtrak said the train had nine cars and two locomotives.

The more than 100 passengers who weren’t injured spent the night at the 4-H Recreation Center in Cimarron, Kan., and would reach their destinations by alternate means, Amtrak said.

Amtrak initially said “approximately 20” passengers had gone to the hospital, but that number rose after people sought medical attention after arriving at the community center. Amtrak now says that 32 people went to the hospital, and that all but three were discharged Monday morning.

Citing a government official, the AP reports that before the train derailed, the train is believed to have been traveling around 75 mph.

The derailment occurred on tracks that are owned and operated by BNSF Railway.

From what a passenger tells local CBS TV station KWCH, the derailment seems to have started with cars at the rear of the train.

“We realized something was definitely was wrong after the shaking and we stopped. We got out and saw that four or five cars in the back, the coach cars, were on their sides,” Daniel Szczerba says.

Szczerba also took photos and video from the crash site that he put on Twitter. Speaking to KWCH, he described the scene as emergency crews quickly arrived and people pushed out emergency window exits.

“A lot of people just looking for family members,” Szczerba says. “Of course all the lights went out, it was dark. People traveling in groups in four or five got thrown around the car as it turned over and lost people as they were trying to get out of the emergency exits.”

From an article at:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/03/14/470354891/amtrak-train-derails-near-dodge-city-kansas-injuring-some-20-passengers


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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


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RESTORATION LINES... Restoration Lines...  

New Heritage Corridor Service Begins
In Will County, IL

Metra Officials: Mid-afternoon Train Gives Passengers Another Option

By Lauren Leone–Cross
The Herald News and Shaw Media

Elected officials and self-described train buffs were among those who boarded Monday’s inaugural afternoon outbound train on the Heritage Corridor to celebrate the rail line’s first additional run since 1999.

The new, 2:45 p.m. departure is aimed at commuters who need to get home to suburban Will and Cook counties before the evening rush hour, Don Orseno, executive director and CEO for Metra, said during Monday’s press event at Chicago Union Station prior to boarding.

The new weekday train will leave Chicago Union Station, making stops in Summit, Willow Springs, Lemont and Lockport before reaching its final destination in Joliet at 3:50 p.m.

Orseno said he believes the outbound line is perfect for passengers who need to get home early for a doctor’s appointment or to pick up a sick child from school.

He thanked U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Western Springs, who has fought for years to secure additional service along the Heritage Corridor.

“When we need something out of Congress, we go to Congressman Lipinski, and we know that he understands transportation and works very hard to get it done,” Orseno said. “He knows transportation is an economic driver in the region.”

The added run required agreements between Metra, Amtrak and Canadian National, which owns the track and operates freight service on the line, Lipinski said.

“I have made it an important point to get expanded service along that line. And it’s not easy to do. Most of these lines are owned by freight railway. This one [is owned] by CN,” Lipinski said. “ … Now this is not all that we need. I will continue to be that spark plug and that pain to try to get more service along this line because the demand is there.”

For the full story see:
http://www.theherald-news.com/2016/03/14/new-heritage-corridor-service-begins-in-will-county/al4aum/


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STATION LINES... Station Lines...  

Amtrak Proposes Underground Concourse
Linking 30th St. Station To Subways, Trolleys

By Jacob Adelman
Philadelphia Inquirer

Amtrak and its development partners want to build a new underground concourse linking 30th Street Station with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) subways and trolleys as the first step in a 35-year plan for the area.

The concourse, to be topped by a skylight and lined with shops along its 250-foot span, would be completed during the first half of the 2020s, according to a draft of the 30th Street Station District Plan to be released during an open house at the station.

The draft is the latest stage in a $5.25 million study, nearing completion after two years, of plans for the station. It comes weeks after Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust released plans for their Schuylkill Yards development on an adjacent section of Philadelphia’s University City district.

Concept Drawing

Image: Amtrak / Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

An artist’s rendering of the planned underground connection between 30th Street Station and SEPTA’s subway platform.

“These two areas, their fates are intertwined and linked,” project director Natalie Shieh said. “It all centers around and starts with the value that 30th Street Station creates.”

The 30th Street Station District Plan is being led by Amtrak, SEPTA, Drexel, Brandywine, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which controls the Schuylkill Expressway on the project site’s east.

The backers anticipate a new neighborhood with 10 million square feet of commercial and residential real estate amid parks and promenades, mostly on a cap over what are now 80 acres of rail yards.

The concourse linking the station - served by Amtrak trains and SEPTA’s regional rail lines - to the subway and trolley platforms is part of the district plan’s first phase, set to last until the early 2030s.

A tunnel between the two stations was shut in the 1980s because of safety concerns. Restoring the link would make it easier for those arriving at the station - especially tourists - to reach other parts of the city more easily, said John Hepp, a professor at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre who researches transit history.

“It would turn 30th Street Station into what it was always intended to be: a grand ceremonial gateway into Philadelphia,” he said. “It could help Philadelphia development in ways not even connected to 30th Street.”

Other elements of the district plan’s first phase include pedestrian-friendly upgrades to the station’s exterior and a new Amtrak passenger concourse in a northern section of the building now used as a valet parking lot to accommodate an expected doubling in passengers to 25 million a year by 2040, Shieh said.

The hope is that these early enhancements to and immediately around the station will make the more expensive rail yard cap more feasible by boosting area property values, she said.

For more visit:
http://www.philly.com/philly/business/real_estate/commercial/20160316_Amtrak_proposes_underground_concourse_linking_30th_St__Station_to_subways__trolleys.html#PVR8DcsJDlIcMuui.99


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VACATION LINES... Vacation Lines...  

Train Service To Cape Cod Begins
Memorial Day Weekend

MBTA Press Release

Building on its successful three years of operations, the CapeFLYER is excited to announce that seasonal trains will run again from Boston to Cape Cod in Massachusetts starting on Memorial Day weekend. Service will begin on Friday, May 27th and operate on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season until Labor Day in September.

During the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, the CapeFLYER will provide free service for Service Members and Veterans in partnership with the 12th Annual Troops in the Spotlight event led by Cape Cod Cares for the Troops. “We are very excited to kick-off our fourth year of the CapeFLYER conveniently bringing people to enjoy Cape Cod while reducing congestion on the bridges and local roads,” said Cape Cod Regional Transit Administrator Thomas S. Cahir. “We are even more excited to have the opportunity to work with Cape Cod Cares for the Troops to honor and recognize our active and Veteran Service Members who have done so much for our nation.” Troops in the Spotlight is a twenty-four hour event to celebrate our Service Members and Veterans; there are various activities and opportunities to support our troops. It begins on Sunday at 11:30AM and concludes on Monday at 11:30AM. For tickets, Service Members and Veterans are encouraged to visit www.capeflyer.com and click on the event link.

“We’re looking forward to the continued success of this service, which offers affordable and convenient transportation to and from the Cape,” said MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola. “As an alternative to the automobile, the CapeFLYER also helps to ease congestion on our roadways and improve air quality.”

For the season, the CapeFLYER will operate as its own dedicated train on Friday nights leaving South Station at 5:50 PM and making stops in Braintree, Brockton, Middleboro, Wareham, Buzzards Bay and Hyannis. Trains also operate on Saturdays and Sundays and holiday Mondays until Labor Day weekend. The complete schedule is available at www.capeflyer.com.

In addition to a convenient trip to Cape Cod, the CapeFLYER works closely with the ferry operators to provide convenient connections to and from Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Cape Cod RTA buses are available at Buzzards Bay and Hyannis to bring passengers to their Cape destination. Finally, the CapeFLYER will again operate a café car that sells excellent food and drinks, including beer and wine, provided by Blonde on the Run Catering.

The CapeFLYER is a unique partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. For additional information, including a complete schedule, fares and information about connections, please visit: www.CapeFLYER.com

The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) is one of 15 Regional Transit Authorities within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and has been providing public transportation services since 1976 to residents and visitors as well as consumers of state agencies and human service organizations for all 15 Cape Cod communities. The CCRTA owns and operates the Hyannis Transportation Center in downtown Hyannis and the state of the art Operations and Maintenance Facility in South Dennis. For more information, visit Cape Cod RTA at our website www.capecodrta.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

In 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) was created to unify the state’s various transportation agencies. MassDOT now includes the Highway Division, the MBTA and Rail Transit Division, the Aeronautics Division, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. MassDOT is committed to providing a safe and reliable transportation system to all those who travel in the Commonwealth and works to deliver excellent customer service. MassDOT has been nationally recognized for its innovative approach to transportation, including the Accelerated Bridge Program, the “Where’s My Bus and Train?” apps and “Fast 14” work. For more information, visit MassDOT at our website: www.mass.gov/massdot blog: http://blog.mass.gov/transportation/, or follow MassDOT on twitter at https://twitter.com/MassDOT and Facebook at www.facebook.com/massdotinfo.

Media Contact:
Kathy Jensen
kjensen@capecodrta.org
508-775-8504

Ed Note: The CapeFLYER has had enough success that in the last two summers of its operation, the schedule has been extended into the month of October adding an additional 4-6 weeks of service. The train has raised interest in commuter rail restoration to the point where dialogues are now taking place to explore weekday commuter service from the Buzzards Bay station into Boston.


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

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

Bad Year And Big Losses At Deutsche Bahn

2015 Financials Report From Europe’s Largest Transportation Firm Confirm Earlier Predictions Of Losses –
Labor Strikes And Price Pressure In Freight Sector Made Life Difficult

Via dpa, Frankfurt Allgemeine Newspaper And Internet Sources

Germany’s largest rail concern Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) announced Wednesday that it posted a heavy loss in 2015, its first in 12 years, largely as a result of write downs on its rail freight and logistics business. Deutsche Bahn said in a statement it booked a bottom-line loss of € 1.3 billion (US $1.5 billion) last year, its first year-end loss since 2003, due to exceptional write-offs of € 1.7 billion on its freight business.

A Deutsche Bahn Interregional Express “Regio Swinger” tilt body DMU train (DB class 611)

NCI file photo by David Beale

Back in Black . . . uhhh . . . Red. Deutsche Bahn AG records first loss in 12 years as price pressures in freight and intercity passenger rail operations increased, made worse by labor strikes in both passenger and rail freight operations early in 2015. A Deutsche Bahn Interregional Express “Regio Swinger” tilt body DMU train (DB class 611) in the company’s standard white on red paint scheme makes a stop in the town of Aulendorf (Ravensburg County) on the 12th of February 2016 during a trip from Basel, Switzerland to Ulm, Germany.

But the company, which is also facing fiercer competition from long-distance bus companies, as well as in its regional passenger train operation, was also hit by the costs of a train drivers’ strike earlier in the year. As a result, underlying or operating profit declined by 17 percent to € 1.76 billion.

On the other hand, revenues topped € 40 billion for the first time, rising by 1.9 percent to € 40.5 billion, and passenger numbers in the long-distance business increased by 2.2 percent to 132 million. At the same time, the number of passengers using the bus and regional rail services of its regional arm, DB Regio, declined by 1.2 percent to 2.5 billion.

“As pleased as we are about the positive numbers, we also have to be self-critical: we didn’t achieve what we had been targeting,” said DBAG CEO Dr. Rüdiger Grube. In the cargo business, the volume of freight transported declined by 4.3 percent to 98.4 billion ton - kilometers.

DB Logistics division chief Berthold Huber said that a reorganization of the business was “necessary” and some 430 cargo stations across the country would come under scrutiny, without providing any concrete details about the number of possible job cuts. German news agency dpa quoted sources close to the supervisory board as suggesting that 3,500 jobs could be affected.

Deutsche Bahn’s mixed performance in 2015 comes at a time when the state-owned company is making massive investments to improve the quality of its service and network. According to plans revealed at the end of last year, Deutsche Bahn hopes to invest e55 billion in modernizing its infrastructure by 2020, with € 35 billion to be put up by certain German state governments and the German federal government and approximately € 20 billion to come from Deutsche Bahn’s current cash flow.

Looking ahead to the current year, Deutsche Bahn said it is targeting sales revenue of € 41.5 billion and a return to profit of approximately € 500 million “following the exceptional situation in 2015,” said DB finance chief Richard Lutz. In addition to efficiency-boosting measures and cost-cutting of around € 700 million by 2020, Deutsche Bahn is planning a partial privatization of its DB Schenker Logistics rail and truck freight and DB Arriva local/regional bus and commuter rail units.


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Britain Allocates Funds To HS3 And Crossrail 2

By David Briginshaw
International Railway Journal

Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer Mr. George Osborne has allocated funds to advance two new rail projects: High-Speed 3 (HS3) to provide a better link between Manchester and Leeds, and Crossrail 2, a new north-south link through the centre of London.

Specifically, £60m will be used to develop plans for HS3 the objective of which is reduce the Manchester – Leeds journey time from 49 to 40 minutes and increase capacity by 2022, and to 30 minutes under a second phase. An integrated plan covering both phases should be drawn up before the end of 2017.

£80m will go towards planning for Crossrail 2 with the government set to ask Transport for London to match this funding. This underground line will run from New Southgate and Tottenham Hale via Euston, Tottenham Court Road, Victoria and Clapham Junction to Wimbledon and will connect with existing lines at Tottenham Hale and Wimbledon.

The decision to back these two projects is based on recommendations by the new National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) chaired by a former Labor transport minister Lord Andrew Adonis. The chancellor has now asked NIC for its recommendations to develop infrastructure along the Oxford – Milton Keynes – Cambridge corridor. This is likely to encompass the planned reopening of the line between Bicester and Bletchley to create a new rail link from Oxford and Aylesbury to Milton Keynes and Bedford.

The chancellor noted the publication of the Shaw report on the future structure of Network Rail (NR) which recommends greater devolution to NR’s routes and the creation of new northern route. The government says it will respond to the report later this year.

From an item at:
http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/financial/britain-allocates-funds-to-hs3-and-crossrail-2.html?channel=522


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EVENTS... Events...  

Rail Users Network (RUN) Annual Conference
Boston, MA – April 29, 2016

Registration will be FREE this year, but all attendees MUST register in advance.

Join the Rail Users’ Network (RUN) in Boston, Massachusetts on Friday, April 29th for the RUN Annual Conference. The conference theme will be “Who’s Looking Out for You? The State of Rail Advocacy in New England.”

Plan to stay in town for a tour of the wide variety of transit modes offered by the “T” to Bostonians and other area residents. The tour will take place on Saturday, April 30th, and there may be some other surprises, too.

So mark your calendars and plan to RUN to Boston after this winter ends and spring returns to New England.

The conference will take place at the facilities of the Boston Foundation, 75 Arlingston Street, in downtown Boston, MA. The location is accessible by the MBTA’s Green Line subway. (Arlingston Street Station). You must have an ID to display in order to gain entrance into this building, so please have a picture ID with you on the day of the conference.

Your fare for the optional MBTA tour event (a day pass will do) will be your own responsibility. If you want more information, or wish to register, please check the RUN web site, www.railusers.net or call RUN Chair Richard Rudolph at (207) 776-4961.


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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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