The National Corridors Initiative Logo

April 4, 2016
Vol. 16 No. 13

Copyright © 2016
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 16th Newsletter Year


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

James P. RePass, Sr.
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…
The Record: Transit boom
  Expansion Lines…
Is Amtrak Coming Back To The Gulf Coast?
Amtrak Montreal Train Service Could Take
   Three Years
Florida’s SunRail To Start Construction
   On Next Phase
  Funding Lines…
Metra Adds More Than $64M To Its 2016
   Capital Program
  Safety Lines…
Lengthy Shutdowns In Washington, D.C.,
   Metro System Are Possible
  Builders Lines…
Thanks To Bertha, Sound Transit Nixes Nicknames
   For Its Own Tunnel Machines
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Equipment Lines…
First Honolulu Metro Cars Delivered
Oklahoma City, Brookville Agree
   To Streetcar Deal
  Service Lines…
SEPTA Adds Delaware Express Trains
  Across The Pond…
Hannover – Kassel - Fulda HSL To Shut Down
   For Two Weeks
RUN To Boston - April 29
  Publication Notes …

GUEST EDITORIAL... Guest Editorial...  

The Record: Transit Boom

An Editorial From

This may go down as the most significant week for regional transportation since the Pennsylvania Railroad decided to simultaneously build tunnels under the Hudson and East rivers more than 100 years ago.

First Amtrak and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agreed to spend $70 million to begin preliminary engineering work on the Gateway Tunnel project, which will add a rail tunnel under the Hudson. Then the Port Authority approved plans Thursday night for a new bus terminal in Manhattan and redeveloping terminals at the LaGuardia and Newark airports.

Additionally, the so-called Bergen loop, a stretch of track that will connect the Bergen, Main and Pascack Valley lines to the Northeast Corridor tracks and give these commuters a one-seat ride into Manhattan was green-lighted.

The Port Authority’s meeting this week was called “messy” with all the arguing between New York and New Jersey-appointed officials. The public disagreement is a sign of progress. Finally, the deal-making is on public display. N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made LaGuardia a legacy project. New Jersey legislators and Port Authority Chairman John Degnan have made the bus terminal their highest priority.

In the end, the Port Authority committed to both.

It will take decades before these infrastructure projects come to fruition. The real challenge will be finding the billions of dollars of needed funding and doing these projects effectively as administrations and priorities change in Trenton, Albany, N.Y., and Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, Amtrak and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will share the costs of the Gateway Tunnel project, which involves infrastructure improvements in addition to doubling rail capacity under the Hudson. Amtrak, which estimates the total cost at $20 billion, and the Port Authority are putting up $70 million now to get started.

There is a sense of urgency because a new federal administration next year may not give a Northeast transportation project of this scale the same funding priority. Spending $70 million out of $20 billion is a drop in the bucket, but it is a step — albeit a small one of many in a process that could last 20 years.

Another concern amid this excitement is that the Port Authority’s role in the region just increased in a major way. The governors of New Jersey and New York did not back legislation that would have given the state Legislatures more control over the agency, which spends billions of dollars with limited oversight.

And before more trains head under the Hudson, there will be a lot of potential political patronage rolling down the tracks. State leaders on both sides must push for continued transparency and efficiency.

Finally, while we are heartened by the progress on a new Hudson tunnel and midtown bus terminal, we cannot ignore that none of these projects are fully funded. The Port Authority is taking on an enormous role and given what they did at the World Trade Center PATH station — spend nearly $4 billion for a bird-shaped, marble covered shopping mall — we are concerned whether the agency is up to the task.

There is a lot to manage. There are billions of dollars at stake.

Where the funding comes from, who gets the contracts and whether the final architectural designs put the interests of commuters ahead of politicians — well, these are questions that will need answers. But we must at least acknowledge that in a region that has ignored its crumbling, out-dated infrastructure for decades, what happened this week was monumental.

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EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...  

Is Amtrak Coming Back To The Gulf Coast?

A Historic Route May Return

First Of A Series
By David Peter Alan

In February, Amtrak ran a special train in one direction, from New Orleans to Jacksonville, Florida. D:F Publisher James P. RePass was among the select assemblage of invited riders, and he reported on the trip in the February 22d edition of D:F.

Amtrak billed the train as an “inspection train” although there did not seem to be any need to inspect the track between New Orleans and Jacksonville. Even though the last passenger train plied that route before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as far east as Mobile on August 29, 2005, the freight schedules on CSX should have demonstrated sufficiently to Amtrak officials that the line could again support a passenger train running on a reasonable schedule.

Maybe the purpose of the “special” was to make a political statement, and maybe its purpose was to demonstrate that the people living in the area want to have a passenger train again. Since most people like passenger trains, even if they do not ride very often, it should come as no surprise that Gulf Coast residents would like to have a train again. Whether or not they would want it if it ran on its former schedule is less clear.

For the month of April, this column will examine the potential for a Gulf Coast train, and the sort of public transportation that exists in its potential service area today. We will look at the schedule it kept when it was a part of the extended Sunset Limited run, which historically ran between Los Angeles and New Orleans, and still runs on that route today. We will look at the destinations that the train served, as well as the alternative transportation still available on buses today. We will conclude this series with a discussion of scheduling for the train, and how it can best serve its potential constituency.

The train’s first incarnation lasted until 1949. It was called the New Orleans – Florida Limited; a name that was accurately descriptive, if not terribly imaginative. The Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railroad ran the train from New Orleans to Flomaton Junction, a point about halfway between Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida, where the L&N mainline to its namesake cities split off from the line further east in Florida. The train continued on the Seaboard Airline Railroad through Tallahassee to Jacksonville, where it connected with northbound trains or trains going elsewhere in Florida. In 1949, it acquired streamlined equipment, and its name was changed to the Gulf Wind. Its second incarnation, then, lasted for another 22 years. It made its final run on April 30, 1971, when Amtrak took over the nation’s intercity train network and took most of the nation’s trains off the rails.

That second incarnation ended with a whimper. At the end, it only ran three times a week, splitting off from the L&N’s Pan American at Mobile, and did not connect with the tri-weekly Sunset Limited at New Orleans every day it ran. The Pan American went from New Orleans to Birmingham, Nashville, Louisville and Cincinnati. The Gulf Wind ran on an overnight schedule between New Orleans and Jacksonville, and had convenient connections to and from Miami and other South Florida points.

The train’s third incarnation lasted form 1993 until 2005. It was the last long-distance train added to the Amtrak network, and it was operated as an extension of the Sunset Limited east of New Orleans; the traditional and present terminal of that train. The extension to Florida never ran more often than a tri-weekly schedule during its twelve-year term, because the parent train from Los Angeles did not, either. The tri-weekly nature of the Sunset schedule has not changed since 1970.

For a brief time, the train ran all the way to Miami, garnering the heavily-populated South Florida area. This writer rode once during that period and enjoyed the convenience of being able to get on a train in South Florida (Deerfield Beach, to be precise) and enjoy a one-seat ride directly to New Orleans. The route was later cut back to Sanford, at the Auto-Train terminal, to save a train set on the turnaround. It was then extended to Orlando, but there was no connection from there to the Miami area southbound.

For the twelve years of its most recent incarnation, Amtrak was able to promote the Sunset Limited as a transcontinental train, even though its eastern terminus was in Orlando, rather than a major city like New York or Washington, D.C. It had difficulty keeping its schedule, too. It ran on CSX east of New Orleans and the Southern Pacific (SP) west of New Orleans, on its historic route. The Union Pacific (UP) took over the SP during that incarnation. Neither railroad did particularly well at keeping the Sunset on schedule. When it ran late on the SP or UP, CSX would complain. When it ran late on CSX, it would have more problems west of New Orleans. Neither railroad was enthusiastic about running it.

Then Mother Nature unleashed her fury on New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the form of Hurricane Katrina. All railroads radiating out from New Orleans were devastated, and Amtrak suspended service on all trains that had served the Crescent City. The New York train turned at Atlanta, the Chicago train turned at Jackson, and the Los Angeles train turned at Houston. Eventually, service was restored to New Orleans on all of these routes, as the owners of the tracks repaired them and placed them back into service. CSX restored the line along the Gulf Coast, too, but that portion of the Sunset Limited has never come back, despite the fact that the track was in sufficiently good condition to support a passenger train since 2006.

To make matters worse, the Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) defined Amtrak’s National Network as including only trains that actually operated at the time. Amtrak has kept the Gulf Coast route in its national map; it is indicated by a dotted line and the notation “service suspended” even it the most recent national timetable. Despite this description, the Gulf Coast route is definitely NOT in the “national network” by act of Congress.

There has been much speculation about why the other trains serving New Orleans came back, while the Gulf Coast route did not. Some of that speculation has to do with Mississippi politics, while other people say it had to do with opposition by CSX, and still others say that the local communities did not fight bring the train back, so it was not. We do know that local rail advocacy is weak in the region that the train served. The sort of strong citizen-advocacy for Amtrak service and local rail transit that exists in the large cities of the Northeast and elsewhere in the country does not exist there. It is true that NCI has called for the return of the train, and so have national advocacy organizations like the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) and the Rail Users’ Network (RUN). Whatever these organization brought to the table, it has not been enough; at least not yet.

It appears that the people of the Gulf Coast region now want a train they can use to go places. In its last incarnation, the train did not perform that task very well. We will look at where the former Gulf Coast train took people, and did not take them, in the next article in this series.

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Amtrak Montreal Train Service
Could Take Three Years

By April Burbank
Burlington Free Press

Amtrak’s Vermonter train could resume passenger service to Montreal within three years, lawmakers were told Tuesday morning.

“The stars are aligned, and I think we are going to go as fast as we possibly can,” said Brian Searles, Vermont’s former transportation secretary who now works as a consultant on the cross-border train project.

The Vermonter brought passengers to Montreal from 1972 to 1995, when the service was suspended due to long labor- and security-related delays at the border. The train currently runs from Washington, D.C. to St. Albans.

Officials on both sides of the border are hoping to create a security clearance facility at Central Station in Montreal to make the route viable again. The security facility would also expedite border crossings for the Adirondack train that runs between New York City and Montreal.

The project depends on the success of pending legislation in Congress and the Canadian Parliament, Searles said.

“We think everybody is poised and ready for passage of this legislation,” Searles said, noting that Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has led the bill in Congress.

With legislative approval in hand, a “highly speculative” timeline would require 12 months of planning and permitting and 24 months of construction, for a total of three years, Searles said.

Members of the House Transportation Committee chuckled at the optimistic estimate, but Searles listed reasons for hope.

He said Amtrak would schedule four trains through Montreal daily, or one round trip each for the Vermonter and the Adirondack.

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Florida’s SunRail To Start Construction
On Next Phase

By Anjali Fluker
Orlando Business Journal

It looks like shovels will hit the dirt next month on the 18-mile extension of Central Florida’s commuter train system into Osceola County.

The Florida Department of Transportation on March 28 issued a “notice to proceed,” signaling that construction can begin on SunRail Phase 2 South, to design/build contractor Middlesex/Herzog II A Joint Venture. Work is set to start on April 1, FDOT spokesman Steve Olson told Orlando Business Journal.

Additionally, FDOT is expected to host a groundbreaking ceremony for phase 2 — a portion that’s been called the most important leg of the train system — at 10 a.m. on April 25 at the site the Osceola Parkway station near Tupperware Brands Corp.’s (NYSE: TUP) headquarters in Osceola County, OBJ learned.

FDOT is still finalizing details for the event, Olson told OBJ.

Middlesex-Herzog II A Joint Venture signed a contract with FDOT in February to design of the route and build Phase 2 South trains, track and signal improvements, plus build four new stations, and install a new signal system and a second track along most of the corridor.

The contractor is a partnership between Littleton, Mass.-based The Middlesex Corp. and St. Joseph, Mo.-based Herzog Contracting Corp., firms that previously worked on transportation projects in the region.

Meanwhile, SunRail’s $186.9 million expansion will include a new stretch of commuter rail service between the current Sand Lake Road station heading south to the Poinciana station on the existing Central Florida Rail Corridor right-of-way.

The southern portion of the $1.3 billion SunRail — which operates along 31 miles from DeBary in Volusia County to Sand Lake Road in Orange County — is expected to provide a huge boost to the system’s ridership, as it will connect a large workforce in Osceola County to job centers heading northward through Central Florida.

The four new train stations will be in Orange County’s Meadow Woods neighborhood, the Tupperware station, downtown Kissimmee and Poinciana. In addition, a new vehicle storage and light maintenance facility will be built in Poinciana.

From a piece at:

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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

Metra Adds More Than $64M
To Its 2016 Capital Program

From Rail, Track, And Structures

The Metra Board of Directors has approved a $64.5 million addition to the agency’s 2016 capital program which now totals $251 million in projected spending.

Increases in federal dollars made available to the agency, as well as the award of a new federal grant, other new capital contributions and the transfer of funds from the 2015 operating budget are responsible for the positive changes to Metra’s capital budget.

Metra will receive a $11.3-million increase in federal funds due to the recently passed Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. Metra also recently won a $14-million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant to replace the Fox River Bridge on the Milwaukee West Line. The remainder of funds for the $34-million bridge project will be supplied through a reallocation of $14 million in existing Regional Transportation Authority bond funds and a $6-million contribution from Canadian Pacific. The amended 2016 capital program approved by the Metra Board includes these changes.

“The Fox River Bridge Project will improve Metra’s reliability and operational flexibility, reduce maintenance costs and help ensure the continued efficient operation of the Chicago region’s rail network,” said Metra Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Don Orseno. “We anticipate completing final design of the bridge this year, with construction starting in 2017 and continuing through late 2018.”

The revision to the 2016 capital program also included an additional $12 million leftover from the 2015 operating budget to continue the purchase of new or rehabilitate existing railcars and locomotives as part of Metra’s $2.4 billion modernization program. The 10-year modernization program includes the purchase of 367 new railcars, 455 rehabilitated railcars, 52 new locomotives and 85 rebuilt locomotives, investments in Positive Train Control and improvements to the 49th Street Yard to increase the number of cars that can be rehabilitated there annually.

In 2015, Metra completed the rehabilitation of 32 railcars. In 2016, the agency plans to rehabilitate 40 railcars and begin upgrading eight locomotives in-house, with 10 more to be rehabilitated by a contracted vendor. Metra anticipates the first new railcars will start arriving in 2018 and new locomotives after 2020.

The capital program amendment also provides $5.5 million to rehabilitate the Calumet Station on the Metra Electric Line, parts of which have deteriorated beyond their useful life. That work was scheduled to be funded with state bond funds that have been put on hold, but the work can no longer be postponed and the capital amendment reallocates federal dollars to the project. The Calumet Station project will include construction of a new elevator and equipment room and the replacement of stairs at both ends of the station. In addition, platforms will be replaced to meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disability Act.

Metra will also receive an additional $100,000 as payment from the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District for an extra round-trip train on Metra’s railroad tracks, which will be used to fund a new traction power substation project in 2016.

The capital amendment approved also sets aside $8 million from the 2015 operating budget to fund future Metra financing costs.

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SAFETY LINES... Safety Lines...  

Lengthy Shutdowns In Washington, D.C.,
Metro System Are Possible

By Nicholas Fandos
New York Times

Repairs to Washington’s aging subway could require the closure of entire rail lines for months at a time, the system’s chairman, Jack Evans, said Wednesday. At the very least, Mr. Evans said, riders should expect the closure of segments of individual lines for extended periods.

His remarks were the latest indication that the system, known as Metro, will be facing significant service disruptions as its management confronts financial and safety problems.

“If we are going to fix the infrastructure, we can’t do it three hours at night,” Mr. Evans, who is also a member of the D.C. Council, said at a symposium marking Metro’s 40th anniversary.

“There may be decisions where we have to close down whole lines and repair them, which are going to be very unpopular,” Mr. Evans added. “But the only way that we are going to get this system fixed is to make unpopular decisions.”

Metro officials already closed the system for a day earlier this month for an emergency safety inspection.

Mr. Evans called the system “maybe safe, somewhat unreliable, and being complained about by everybody,” and said that its health long-term requires increased — and a permanent — source of financing, like a regional sales tax and annual federal contributions.

Paul J. Wiedefeld, Metro’s general manager, will announce a system-wide maintenance plan in four to six weeks, a Metro spokesman, Dan Stessel, said Wednesday.

Mr. Wiedefeld, in his own remarks at the Wednesday meeting, said the scale of the transit agency’s woes required drastic measures.

“What we have been doing has not been working,” he said. “We cannot Band-Aid, we cannot paper over some of these issues.”

Both men’s remarks were first reported by The Washington Post.

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BUILDERS LINES... Builders Lines...  

Thanks To Bertha, Sound Transit Nixes
Nicknames For Its Own Tunnel Machines

By Evan Bush
Seattle Times Enterprise Producer

Boring machine breaks through

Photo: Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times

An excavator helps pull away debris from tunnel-boring machine Brenda after it broke through the last few feet of the light-rail tunnel segment from Northgate to the University District Station on Nov. 6, 2015.

Sound Transit’s boring machines are getting more … boring.

The agency is now calling Brenda and Pamela, which have been burrowing a route that stretches from Northgate to Husky Stadium, tunnel-boring machine 1 and tunnel-boring machine 2, respectively.

You can thank (or blame) Seattle’s other tunnel-boring machine, Bertha, for the name change. Bertha is working on the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Highway 99 replacement project, and Sound Transit doesn’t want anyone to get the tunnelers mixed up, said Kimberly Reason, a spokeswoman for the agency.

“There’s just been a lot of confusion between all the TBMs (tunnel-boring machines) operating in Seattle’s central downtown area — specifically, confusion with what was nicknamed Brenda and Bertha,” Reason said.

“People confuse our projects, which agency is overseeing which project, and which machines are doing which work. The human names, the gender-specific names, are easily confused.”

It’s perhaps not all that surprising that Sound Transit wants its machines to keep their identities distinct from Bertha’s. The Highway 99 project is more than two years behind schedule, and problems have sprung up in whack-a-mole fashion.

Bertha struck a steel pipe in 2013, and later overheated and stalled. Contractors had to dig a giant pit to rescue the troubled machine and repair it. Meanwhile, the ground began sinking.

Once drilling resumed, a barge filled with excavated dirt for the project tilted and damaged a dock. Then, Gov. Jay Inslee stopped the project again after a sinkhole opened near Bertha.

Work has restarted since, but parodies and jokes have abounded at Bertha’s expense.

Sound Transit’s tunnel-boring machines have fared better. TBM 2 ( formerly known as Pamela) was damaged earlier this year, but project leaders last month said the Northgate extension should open in 2021, as scheduled.

Sound Transit’s new CEO, Peter Rogoff, was personally involved in the name change.

“It was a team decision, and he was part of the conversation,” Reason said.

The boring machines were originally named after the wives of two managers working for the contractor, Reason said.

“It’s generally a tradition for the owner of the machine to nickname the TBMs,” Reason said.

But in the end, Sound Transit decided the names were too cute.

“Naming the machine after an individual just doesn’t reflect what the machine is. People can start to personify the machine. It can be an affectionate thing to do, but it doesn’t reflect the work these machines do,” Reason said.

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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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EQUIPMENT LINES... Equipment Lines...  

First Honolulu Metro Cars Delivered

By Keith Barrow
International Railway Journal

The first two vehicles from a fleet of 20 four-car driverless trains being built by Hitachi Rail Italy (HRI) for the Honolulu Metro arrived in Hawaii on March 24, 2016.

Body shells are being fabricated at HRI’s plant in Reggio Calabria, Italy, with final assembly taking place at the company’s Pittsburg facility in California.

Image courtesy of HRI

One of the new cars

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) ordered the trains as part of the $1.33 billion design-build-operate-maintain core contract awarded to AnsaldoBreda (now Hitachi Rail Italy) and Ansaldo STS in 2011. Each train will accommodate up to 800 passengers including 192 seated.

The initial section of the line from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium is due to open in 2018 with the remainder of the line to Ala Moana Center scheduled for commissioning in 2021.

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Oklahoma City, Brookville Agree
To Streetcar Deal

By Carolina Worrell
Railway Age

Oklahoma City on March 22, 2016 finalized a $24.9 million contract with Brookville Equipment Corp. for the supply of five Liberty Streetcars to support the city’s MAPS 3 Modern Streetcar program. The American-made, electric streetcars will operate downtown along a 2-mile east-west loop and a 4.9-mile north-south loop.

The Liberty Streetcars, which are being designed and manufactured at Brookville’s Pennsylvania-based campus, will measure 66 feet long, 8 feet wide, and include 70% low-floor area with 100% curb-level boarding for passengers. In addition, the vehicles offer seating for 30 passengers, with the capacity to comfortably transport up to 100 passengers. Notably, the Liberty Streetcars feature more than 70% American content, meaning they would meet Buy America compliance if the project is awarded Federal funding in the future.

The Liberty Streetcars will be powered by overhead wires on part of Oklahoma City’s routes and will use a lithium-ion battery onboard energy storage system (OESS) for the balance of the routes.


Image Courtesy of Brookville

Concept image one of the new cars

Scheduled to begin service in 2018, the all-new streetcar system will connect riders to an array of attractions and destinations in the city’s core along its two loops. The 4.9-mile north-south loop will provide access to the Downtown Transit Center, Automobile Alley, Midtown, St. Anthony Hospital, Bricktown, Chesapeake Energy Arena, and future attractions, including Santa Fe Station, MAPS 3 Convention Center, and MAPS 3 Park. The 2-mile east-west loop will serve Bricktown, Cox Convention Center, Myriad Botanical Gardens, the future MAPS 3 Park, and future development sites.

According to the contract, the first Liberty Streetcar is scheduled to deliver to Oklahoma City in the fourth quarter of 2017, with four successive deliveries taking place in the first half of 2018.

Oklahoma City’s selection of Brookville will mark the fourth American city to which the Liberty Streetcar will deliver. The first two Liberty Streetcars shipped to the City of Dallas and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) in 2015 and currently operate along the 1.6-mile starter line connecting downtown Dallas with the Oak Cliff neighborhood. Since then, DART has exercised an option for two additional vehicles and M1-RAIL in Detroit and the City of Milwaukee have ordered six and four Liberty Streetcars, respectively

The Oklahoma City Streetcar is funded by Oklahoma City’s voter-approved MAPS 3 initiative, which is a $777-million capital improvements program, using a one-cent, limited-term sales tax.

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SERVICE LINES... Service Lines...  

SEPTA Adds Delaware Express Trains

By Karl Baker
The News Journal

Evening train commutes are expected to get a little easier for passengers traveling from Delaware to Philadelphia starting in April, but it comes at the expense of those going to stations in between.

Two northbound local SEPTA trains that depart Delaware stations in the evening are being turned into express routes and will bypass all Pennsylvania stations between Marcus Hook and University City, starting April 11.

Trains will leave Wilmington at 5:15 and 6:15 p.m. and will run as much as 13 minutes faster than local counterparts, which now take about 48 minutes to go between Wilmington and Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.

The majority of SEPTA’s evening commuters from Delaware’s stations in Newark, Churchmans Crossing, Wilmington and Claymont travel to Philadelphia’s core at University City or Center City stations, said Julie Theyerl, spokeswoman for DART.

Currently, one evening express train runs between Delaware and Philadelphia, leaving Wilmington at 7:06 p.m.

The new express service is part of ongoing efforts to attract more businesses to Delaware, state officials said Monday.

“With new employment opportunities coming to Delaware, it’s our goal to provide transportation options to enhance the attraction and economic development of our state,” said John Sisson, chief executive officer of the Delaware Transit Corp., in a statement.

JPMorgan Chase announced plans in October to add 1,800 Delaware jobs by 2019 – the biggest hiring promise by a single company in the state in nearly 20 years, officials said. About 64 percent of JPMorgan’s Delaware workers are state residents and about 4 percent commute from the Philadelphia area, company officials said in October.

The faster trains will benefit Delaware’s JPMorgan Chase employees, said Mike Zbranak, head of the bank’s Delaware Technology Center.

“JPMorgan Chase appreciates the support of DelDOT and SEPTA in establishing these new transportation options,” Zbranak said in a statement.

Gov. Jack Markell in a statement announcing the express train service said with the “continued creation of good jobs, like the ones JP Morgan Chase is creating in technology fields, our economy has made significant progress.”

“Efficient, high-quality transportation options are vital to supporting a strong workforce and fostering more business growth,” Markell said.

In December, late-night SEPTA service also was added between Delaware stations and Philadelphia.

The last weekday southbound train now arrives in Wilmington from Philadelphia at 12:26 a.m. The final northbound weekday train departs Wilmington at 12:48 a.m. Both are two hours later than the previous arrival and departure times for the final Wilmington trains.

Sisson told The News Journal in June that his agency has also considered adding late-night Saturday service to and from Philadelphia.

The Wilmington-Newark Line provided almost 1.3 million passenger trips between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015.

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

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor


Hannover – Kassel - Fulda HSL To Shut Down For Two Weeks

Urgent Track Ballast Renewal Project Planned For End Of April
And Early May Between Hannover And Kassel

Via DABG Press Release And dpa (Deutsche Presse Agentur)

Germany’s main railroad operator, Deutsche Bahn AG (DBAG) announced last Thursday (31st of March) that recent geometry checks and inspections of the Hannover – Kassel – Fulda – Wurzburg high-speed rail line (HSL) shows that the condition of the rock ballast and track along the section between Hannover – Laatzen and Kassel need urgently to be renewed in a number of locations. Without renewal of the rock ballast, there is a significant risk that the rails could shift out of alignment at ambient temperatures higher than 26°C (79°F). The company has selected the last week of April and the first week of May to perform the work, which requires a complete closure of Germany’s first modern era high-speed rail corridor between Hannover and Kassel in the north central part of Germany.

Photo: Greater Hannover Tourist Office

Maintenance Matters – A view of part of the Hannover – Kassel high-speed rail line near Opperhausen (Einbeck township) as a southbound Deutsche Bahn ICE 1 high-speed train passes through in 2005.

The high-speed rail line, which was constructed new in the mid to late 1980s, is perhaps the most important section of the high-speed rail network in Germany. The nearly 30 year-old corridor, much of which is built on bridges, causeways and in tunnels, is part of the main passenger train corridor between the southern German cities of Frankfurt, Mannheim, Wurzburg, Stuttgart, and Ulm, as well as Zurich and Basel, Switzerland and the northern German cities of Berlin, Göttingen, Hamburg, Hannover, Bremen and Wolfsburg.

The original / classic main rail line between Hannover and Kassel has remained in operation, but this line is limited to speeds of 160 km/h (100 mph) or less compared to 260 km/h on the newer high-speed line. It also is the primary north-south rail freight line in the region as well as an important corridor for local and regional passenger trains making frequent stops. DBAG plans to use this rail corridor as a detour around the HSL construction zone to maintain nearly 90 percent of the IC and ICE train operations, which normally use the roughly parallel high-speed line, during the two week shut-down of the Hannover – Kassel section of the HSL. Obviously these intercity trains can not keep the same schedule and will take slightly over one hour longer to reach their destinations on the other side of the Hannover – Kassel HSL construction zone compared to normal operations.

Destination: Freedom Readers Travel Advisory:

Fewer Trains And Significant Travel Time Adjustments On The Busy Berlin / Bremen / Hamburg / Hannover – Frankfurt / Fulda / Mannheim / Stuttgart / Basel Intercity Train Route

The two week-long construction zone between the 23rd of April through the 8th of May on the Hannover – Kassel section of the ICE high-speed rail network will result in the suspension of approximately 10% of the intercity trains running on this part of the network. The remaining 90% of the intercity trains which normally use this section of the German high-speed train network will take approximately one hour longer than is normally the case due to a detour around the construction zone via the “classic” rail corridor between Hannover – Laatzen and Kassel. The train station at the massive Hannover Messe convention center complex in Laatzen, which sits basically at the northern end point of the Hannover – Kassel – Fulda - Wurzburg HSL, will remain in operation, trains serving the heavily attended Hannover Messe industry convention during the last week in April will make stops at this station as is the past for convention visitors, albeit on a different time schedule.

Destination: Freedom readers who may be planning to visit or travel on intercity express (ICE) or intercity (IC) trains through northern, central and southwestern Germany in late April and early May are advised to check the Deutsche Bahn website to review train schedules and to make sure that they can book the train they want. D:F readers planning to attend the large industrial equipment / automation convention / fair in Hannover at the end of April are particularly advised to review and check their train connections, if they are traveling by train to Hannover / Laatzen from cities south of Hannover including but not limited to Frankfurt, Fulda, Kassel, Stuttgart, Mannheim, Munich, Ulm, Augsburg, or Wurzburg. Intercity train travel between Hannover and the cities of Bremen or Hamburg may also potentially be affected by the two-week long construction zone south of Hannover, and thus running of different schedules than normal.

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EVENTS... Events...  

RUN To Boston - April 29

The Rail User’s Network (RUN) national conference will be in Boston, MA this year at the Boston Foundation, 75 Arlington Street - 10th Floor, (downtown), on Friday April 29, from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Thanks to local and national sponsorship, there is no fee to attend this year. Rail advocates from all over will attend. The conference will offer insight into the state of affairs in rail in the six-state New England region.

Hear directly from the heads of agencies.

This year’s speakers and presenters include;

The Rail Users Network (RUN) is a national non-profit with a new concept in the representation of rail passengers. It is based on the successful British Passenger Focus model, created by act of the British Parliament, which has been serving passengers throughout the United Kingdom since 1948. RUN is different, however, in that it represents many different types of rail passengers, including long distance, commuter, and transit riders. It is not sanctioned by an act of Congress - but some of our representative groups are legislatively mandated by their respective states and municipalities, giving riders a seat “at the table,” and bringing the needs of rail users to the attention of those in charge.

Connect to the conference agenda at:

There is no fee to attend this year, but advance registration is REQUIRED by April 19 at:

A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

An optional rail and transit tour of some of the MBTA’s services is being planned for the following day, Saturday, April 30 for those who elect to remain in Boston to participate. Details of that tour are under development.

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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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