The National Corridors Initiative Logo

Apr. 14, 2017
Vol. 17 No. 14

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...

  Guest Editorial…
Instead Of Crippling Amtrak, Improve It
  Funding Lines…
A Replacement For The B&P Tunnel Is Ready,
   But $4.52B Of Funding Still Needed
  Political Lines…
In Letter To Amtrak, Christie Says N.J. Transit
   Will Halt Payments
  Transit Lines…
Half-Price MetroCards For Low-Income New Yorkers
   Get $50M Council Boost
MARTA Adds Services After I-85 Collapse
  Advocacy Lines…
General Contractors Association Of New York JoinsbsssCoalition For The Northeast Corridor;
   Adds To Growing List Of Members
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Expansion Lines…
BART Extension To San Jose On Track,
   But New Cars Delayed
  Across The Pond…
Construction Starts On Second Commuter
   Train Tunnel In Munich
  To The North…
VIA Rail Corridor Business Case Ready For Rail-Friendly Infrastructure Bank
Canada Commits To Funding GO Regional Rail
  Events…
RUN To Seattle
  Publication Notes …


GUEST EDITORIAL... Guest Editorial...  

Instead Of Crippling Amtrak, Improve It

“Our View”
From KPC News, Indiana

The passenger trains that stop in Waterloo four times each day could disappear under the president’s new proposal for the 2018 federal budget.

The president’s plan calls for eliminating all of Amtrak’s 15 long-distance routes, allowing Amtrak to focus on its more profitable short- distance trains, mostly on the East Coast.

That would end Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited train between Chicago and New York and its Capitol Limited line from Chicago to Washington, D.C.

Both trains stop in Waterloo each morning on their way west, and every night while heading back east.

Roughly 20,000 people per year board Amtrak trains in Waterloo. Since last summer, they’ve had the pleasure of waiting for the trains in the historic Waterloo Depot.

A federal grant of $1.8 million paid for sprucing up the 1883 depot building, moving it closer to the tracks and outfitting it as a train station. Waterloo Town Manager Tena Woenker points out that the town got the job done at a $100,000 savings.

The president’s budget also proposes to end the type of grants that paid for Waterloo’s depot, known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants, or TIGER.

Spending $1.7 million on a depot that gets used for less than two years seems like a waste for taxpayers — but not for Waterloo. If Amtrak service ceased, the town still would be left with a handsome, functional building that could be used as a community center. They can’t take that away.

It may be too soon to panic, however. Last week, Amtrak’s Executive Vice President Stephen Gardner pointed out that previous presidents also have called for big cuts in Amtrak funding. The 46-year rail passenger service has survived all past attempts to diminish or eliminate it.

We hope our representatives in Congress will work to make the trains that run through Indiana more successful and appealing to travelers, instead of voting to shut them down.

OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Dave Kurtz, Grace Housholder, Michael Marturello and Barry Rochford. Publisher Terry Housholder is also a member of the editorial board. We welcome readers’ comments.

From an item found at:
http://kpcnews.com/opinions/our_view/kpcnews/article_eca3d73c-f703-5104-b338-32d90f15b8b8.html


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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

A Replacement For The B&P Tunnel Is Ready,
But $4.52B Of Funding Still Needed

By Holden Wilen
Baltimore Business Journal

The Federal Railroad Administration has selected its preferred option for replacing the 144-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel, but the project still needs money before it can break ground.

The 1.4-mile B&P Tunnel is structurally deficient and creates a bottleneck between the West Baltimore MARC station and Penn Station by limiting the traveling speed of trains to 30 miles per hour. A new tunnel would replace that with 3.67 miles of new rail between Gwynns Falls Bridge and Penn Station that cuts through Reservoir Hill and other residential areas south of Druid Hill Park.

The new track begins along the alignment as the existing Amtrak tracks on the Gwynns Falls Bridge and then crossed over Mulberry and Franklin Streets on a new bridge. It then descends into an open-cut section goes into a south tunnel portal west of Payson Street between Riggs Avenue and Mosher Street. From there, the track goes into a brand new two-mile tunnel east of Interstate 83.

The agencies considered four options for the project and released an environmental impact statement last fall. The preferred option was chosen because it provides the “best overall balance” when considering the impact on the environment, local businesses and neighborhoods.

The alternative would still demolish an estimated 22 residential buildings, including 15 that are occupied, according to the FRA. It would also have “long-term impacts” to the roadway network in the Bridgeview/Greenlawn and Midtown-Edmondson neighborhoods and displace 13 businesses. Four churches will also be displaced.

The government agencies on the project said they have offered mitigation plans to those being displaced, including establishing a fund to support community development within affected communities and working with local job training organizations.

With a construction cost of $4.52 billion, the project consists of four new tracks and is estimated to improve travel time by two minutes and 31 seconds for Amtrak trains and one minute and 49 seconds for MARC trains.

Amtrak, which owns the B&P Tunnel, said in a statement replacing it is an “economic imperative to attain the speed, frequency and reliability befitting a world-class rail system.”

“It is time to invest in this nation’s infrastructure and important to start in Maryland to address one of the worst rail bottlenecks in the region — one that not only severely constrains intercity and commuter mobility, but is a major impediment to high-speed passenger rail service along the Northeast Corridor,” the statement reads.

An Amtrak spokeswoman said funding for final design and construction of the project has yet to be identified. Amtrak will spend “limited resources available” through its general capital budget to evaluate what design elements can be advanced while stakeholders, including the Maryland Department of Transportation, the city of Baltimore and the Federal Railroad Administration figure out a way to secure long-term project funding.

Found at:
http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2017/04/03/preferred-option-for-b-p-tunnel-4-52-billion-of.html


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

In Letter To Amtrak, Christie Says
N.J. Transit Will Halt Payments

By Nick Corasaniti
New York Times

Gov. Chris Christie directed New Jersey Transit late Wednesday to halt all payments to Amtrak because of a train derailment on Monday and subsequent delays that have ensnarled Garden State commuters this week, according to two letters obtained by The New York Times.

In a letter to Anthony R. Coscia, the chairman of the Amtrak board, the governor said that he had directed New Jersey Transit “to cease making any payments to Amtrak” until there had been a “thorough and independent examination of the tracks, signals, switches and other equipment maintained by Amtrak” on the Northeast Corridor and verification that the equipment was “in a state-of-good-repair.”

As part of a longstanding agreement, New Jersey Transit pays Amtrak for its use of both the Hudson River tunnels and the Northeast Corridor rail lines, which Amtrak owns. According to the letter, New Jersey Transit pays Amtrak $2.5 million to $5 million a month for operating expenses and recently paid an additional $62 million for capital investments in the Northeast Corridor as part of the agreement. Mr. Christie is directing that these funds be withheld in future payments.

In a second letter, sent to his attorney general, Christopher S. Porrino, Mr. Christie also sought to “consider initiating appropriate legal action as necessary” to recover the $62 million and other money New Jersey Transit paid Amtrak under the agreement.

The letters, sent out about 11 p.m. Wednesday, represent a sharp rebuke of Amtrak by the governor’s office. Early evidence suggests that the Amtrak rails were to blame for the derailment of a New Jersey Transit train at Pennsylvania Station in New York on Monday that has caused delays and cancellations across the region.

A spokesman for Amtrak could not be reached for comment late Wednesday night. But earlier in the day, Charles W. Moorman, Amtrak’s president, said the agency was undertaking a “thorough review of infrastructure at Penn Station to evaluate current conditions.”

Steven Santoro, the executive director of New Jersey Transit, said at a news conference on Wednesday that the fault lay with Amtrak because his agency’s safety inspections on the train cars that derailed were up to date. “The bottom-line message is Amtrak needs to step up to the plate,” he said.

Mr. Christie also cited a derailment from two weeks ago, when an Amtrak Acela train derailed in the same area as Monday’s accident, causing delays for New Jersey riders who were directed in and out of neighboring stations in Hoboken and Newark.

Mr. Christie had faced criticism for remaining largely silent on the commuting nightmare since it spilled into his state on Monday as he was delivering a speech in Florida. Until late Wednesday, his only public comments were to instruct New Jersey Transit executives to travel personally to stations on Thursday to address commuters’ concerns.

But in his letter to Amtrak late Wednesday, he was sure to indicate, multiple times, his frustration.

He wrote that the recurring derailments at Penn Station “indicate Amtrak does not take its obligations seriously and has not effectively applied N.J. Transit’s considerable payments to the proper maintenance of these assets, which are absolutely essential to its customers. Amtrak’s apparent disregard for N.J. Transit’s customers is entirely unacceptable to me.”

From a news item appearing at:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/nyregion/christie-nj-transit-amtrak.html


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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

Half-Price Metrocards For Low-Income
New Yorkers Get $50M Council Boost

By Danielle Tcholakian
dna info

The City Council’s latest budget proposal calls for $50 million in funding for a pilot program to provide half-price MetroCards to low-income New Yorkers.

Transit advocates, and even a top MTA board member appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, have been pushing for the subsidized MetroCards for months, with efforts intensifying since the recent MTA-approved fare hike.

“It’s so important for New Yorkers struggling to get around our city that this make it into the Mayor’s executive budget,” City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the Council’s transit committee, said in a statement after the budget proposal was released Tuesday night.

“My colleagues and I are ready [to] find a way to get it done creatively after hearing concerns about cost. We’re hoping to find a willing partner in our mayor, who has shown he cares deeply about getting city residents out of poverty and the criminal justice system.”

The funding was first reported by the New York Daily News.

The budget also calls for $12 million to bring Citi Bike to The Bronx, Upper Manhattan and Staten Island, the first public funds requested for the privately operated bike share program.

The full cost of subsidizing half-priced MetroCards for all low-income New Yorkers is estimated to be $200 million, and de Blasio has consistently said that the city cannot afford to do it.

The mayor believes subsidizing fares should be the responsibility of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is in charge of the MTA.

But transit advocates at a press conference Wednesday likened the pilot program approach to gradually raising the minimum wage to $15, an initiative the mayor supports.

According to advocates, the $50 million pilot program would take effect next year and cover the very poorest New Yorkers, such as families of three who make about $10,000 a year.

It would also only apply to “working age” New Yorkers, since the city already subsidizes MetroCards for students and seniors, said Nancy Rankin, Vice President for Policy, Research and Advocacy at the Community Service Society.

The total number of people who would qualify for the program is 380,000, according to Rankin, and includes undocumented immigrant New Yorkers.

The cost of the program would increase to $100 million for fiscal year 2019, still only covering the very poor, and then to $200 million in 2020, when it would be expanded to cover all New Yorkers living below the poverty line.

“Just like the $15 minimum wage didn’t reach $15 all at once, that’s what we’re proposing,” Rankin said. “What could be more consistent with the mayor’s policies than this proposal for fair fares?”

“There’s no reason for the mayor to say no at this point,” agreed Rebecca Ballin, campaign manager at the Riders Alliance.

Lauding de Blasio’s “progressive” policies and noting that the mayor is currently in Seattle, a city that has a “fair fares” program, Rodriguez said, “This can be his next initiative.”

But the mayor seems to disagree.

“The pilot program, like the original proposal, is a noble one, but the mayor has been very clear: the MTA is the responsibility of the state and they should consider funding the program,” said de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein in a statement.

Goldstein noted that the city provides nearly $1 billion annually in direct subsidies and an additional $4.3 billion in indirect annual subsidies to support MTA operations, and last year committed $2.5 billion toward the agency’s capital plan, apparently more than the city ever has before.

Currently, the city pays $45 million annually to help subsidize subway fares for schoolchildren, more than the state’s contribution, Goldstein said, plus $13.8 million for elderly and disabled subway riders and $1.7 million for elderly and disabled bus riders.

From an article appearing at:
https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20170405/civic-center/subsidized-subway-metrocards-mta-half-price-city-council


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MARTA Adds Services After I-85 Collapse

By Stuart Chirls
Railway Age

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is adding trains to accommodate an expected surge in riders after a fire destroyed a heavily-traveled segment of Interstate 85.

No cause has been determined for the inferno that caused an elevated section of the highway’s southbound lanes to collapse northeast of downtown Atlanta Thursday. Officials said the northbound lanes along the stretch of damaged highway will also be closed to check for damage. No timeframe was given for re-opening the interstate.

Image

WSB-TV via Twitter

A fire under Interstate 85 near Atlanta burns March 30. MARTA’s Armour Yard is seen adjacent to the highway.

Many of the 250,000 people who travel I-85 each day will turn to mass transit for their commutes.

“Due to the recent I-85 collapse, MARTA is providing additional services to accommodate the expected influx of passengers needing to navigate traffic congestion and delays,” the agency said. “MARTA is increasing rail services to assist travelers during this time. Additional representatives are on hand to assist passengers as needed.  MARTA continues to work closely with our state and local partners to ensure that residents and visitors can safely reach their destinations.”

The agency did not release schedule details ahead of Friday’s morning commute.

MARTA operates 338 railcars servicing 38 stations across its system.

From an item at:
http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/passenger/rapid-transit/marta-adds-services-after-i-85-collapse.html

[ Postscript: Since this article was written, local authorities have made arrests associated with this fire, which is now said to have been arson. The fire was the result of a supply of plastic pipe and associated materials that had been stored under the bridge for an extended period of time. While the plastic is not readily flammable, once started it becomes very volatile. Those arrested are facing charges of tresspass and arson. ]


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ADVOCACY LINES... Advocacy Lines...  

Press Release:

General Contractors Association Of New York
Joins Coalition For The Northeast Corridor;
Adds To Growing List Of Members

The General Contractors Association of New York (GCA) has joined the Coalition for the Northeast Corridor (CNEC), a diverse group of businesses and community stakeholders brought together to realize the Northeast Corridor’s potential by advocating for federal infrastructure investment.

“For over a century, GCA members have helped build the infrastructure that keeps New York and the Northeast Corridor moving,” said Denise Richardson, Executive Director of the General Contractors Association of New York. “The Northeast Corridor is critical for the national economy, and it must be brought to a state of good repair. We are pleased to join CNEC’s efforts and believe that it’s essential for business and community stakeholders to band together and to advocate for sustained federal investment across the Corridor.”

“No one better understands the enormous state-of-good-repair challenges on the Northeast Corridor than the General Contractors of New York,” added Steve Morrison of Siemens, President of CNEC. “The Coalition for the Northeast Corridor welcomes their voice to the discussion about critical investments in Northeast passenger rail infrastructure and the region’s economic future.”

GCA’s membership is one of several recent additions to CNEC, reflecting a growing interest across the Corridor’s business and stakeholder communities in supporting its mission. Since CNEC’s launch last November, the following members have joined: the General Contractors Association of New York, the Regional Plan Association, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, and the Johns Hopkins University.

About CNEC

The Coalition for the Northeast Corridor (CNEC) is a multi-stakeholder coalition formed to advocate for increased infrastructure spending specifically on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. The coalition intends to protect the job-creators, investors, and communities that rely on a vibrant interstate and commuter rail system between Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. by informing and mobilizing stakeholders across the corridor, and by developing and advocating for solutions for the region’s growth. Members include Alstom, Drexel University, CH2M, the CEO Council for Growth, the Financial Services Roundtable, HDR, HNTB, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, the General Contractors Association of New York, Parsons, Siemens, the Regional Plan Association, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, and the Johns Hopkins University.

About the General Contractors Association

The General Contractors Association represents the unionized heavy construction industry in New York City that constructs New York’s building foundations and public works infrastructure. Our 300 members employ 20,000 hardworking professional and trades workers across New York State. In addition to New York City, our employees come from 702 New York State zip codes, as far east as North Haven, as far north as Champlain and as far west as Chautauqua.

For more info contact:
Paolo Mastrangelo
Paolo.Mastrangelo@hklaw.com
202-469-5153


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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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EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...  

BART Extension To San Jose On Track,
But New Cars Delayed

By Michael Cabanatuan
San Francisco Chronicle

Construction of BART’s next extension into Silicon Valley is on track to be completed by the end of the year, but the transit system may not have enough rail cars to fully serve the two new stations it will serve.

BART has ordered new cars to expand and replace its existing fleet, but it needs at least 30 to 40 more cars to serve the extension. Its contract with Canadian rail manufacturer Bombardier calls for 35 cars to be delivered by the end of the year. So far, BART has received just 10, and problems discovered during testing have already led to delays in delivering the rest of the cars.

Meanwhile, work on the 10-mile, two-station extension from the newly opened Warm Springs/South Fremont station to the Berryessa neighborhood of San Jose is at least three months ahead of schedule. Work is 94 percent complete on the extension that was originally expected to open in spring 2018, said Stacey Hendler Ross, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

VTA, as it is known in the South Bay, is building and paying for the extension then turning it over to BART to operate. But the combination of speedy construction and a delay in rail car deliveries could spell trouble.

“It is going to be close,” said Paul Oversier, BART’s assistant general manager for operations. “But we think we can count on it.”

Whether BART riders can count on it as well remains to be seen. BART already struggles to keep to its schedules with a current fleet of 669 rail cars, some more than 40 years old. And delivery of even the first 10 new cars was problematic.

The transit system already suffers from a car shortage, as anyone who’s crowded onto a packed BART train knows. During a typical commute, BART doesn’t have the ability to run trains with as many cars as it needs. And it can’t even come close to the dream of running 10-car trains, the maximum length, on all lines during the busiest times of day. Without enough cars, passengers are left to stand aboard overcrowded trains — or wait on platforms for the next train that has room to crowd aboard.

The lack of rail cars has prompted BART’s decision to limit service to the Warm Springs station. The result is that some riders have to transfer on trains to or from Warm Springs.

“We just need more cars,” said Robert Raburn, a BART director from Oakland.

Image

Photo: Michael Macor, The San Francisco Chronicle

BART has discovered a number of problems during testing that has delayed delivery of additional new cars.

Bombardier is under contract with BART to deliver 775 new rail cars within five years. As the cars are delivered, they’ll be added to BART’s existing fleet, which will be slowly retired. The new rail cars will be used throughout the system, not just on the new extension.

The first 10 of the new cars arrived five months late. They’ve been undergoing rigorous testing in BART’s Hayward yard and throughout the system in the early mornings to find and fix problems before BART officially accepts them and Bombardier fires up the production line at its Plattsburgh, N.Y., plant for the remainder of the cars.

BART officials said they hope to give the go-ahead in June and put the new cars to work.

Under its agreement, Bombardier is scheduled to deliver 25 more cars by the end of 2017. Original plans called for 60 cars but troubles discovered during testing of the cars that had been delivered caused BART and Bombardier to extend the tests before the go-ahead to the manufacturer for more new cars.

Since the tests began last spring, BART has discovered a number of problems, including the failure of an on-board electrical system that powers lights, air conditioning, heating and part of a braking system. That problem was fixed but more glitches, mainly with software, have emerged repeatedly.

Among those problems are issues related to train control and propulsion, including getting the new cars to stop within 1 foot of the black boarding marks on station platforms. Existing cars have a 3-foot margin.

BART spokesman Jim Allison said software fixes are time-consuming because programming changes need to be made, tested in a lab, tested on the train, then tested on a train in operation. Once one software glitch is fixed, another is often found, he said.

The new BART cars are also overweight. It doesn’t affect how they operate, Oversier said, but does exceed standards in the contract and could accelerate wear and tear on the system. Solving the weight problem could mean the loss of some features that make the trains heavier: extra arm rests, stronger window frames, thicker seat cushions. Or BART could increase the weight limit.

According to Oversier, specifications allow the cars to weigh 64,500 pounds empty and 100,000 pounds carrying a crush load of passengers. The cars meet the fully loaded threshold, he said, but are 1,000 to 1,500 pounds too heavy when empty.

BART officials have been testing the 10 rail cars early in the morning after regular service is shut down. Testing has been going well, Oversier said, and should soon move to daylight hours. Test trains will run between scheduled trains, and aren’t yet allowed to carry passengers. But that could happen by June, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.

At that point, Bombardier will start producing cars at a faster pace. While fewer new cars will arrive this year than first planned, more will come in 2018. By the end of that year, BART should have 166 new rail cars. Delivery of the new BART cars is scheduled to continue through 2022 with at least 341 cars in service in 2019, 529 at the end of 2020 and 721 at the end of 2021. All of the remaining cars are scheduled to arrive in 2022.

As BART has been meticulously testing its new rail cars, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority has been ahead of schedule building the first phase of what it has labeled “Silicon Valley BART.” The extension will head south from Warm Springs/South Fremont to stations in Milpitas and Berryessa in East San Jose.

Ross, the VTA spokeswoman, said she was not aware that a shortage of rail cars could affect the start of BART to and from San Jose.

“It’s their show once we finish the lines and stations,” she said.

Allison said that BART and VTA hold regular meetings to discuss the progress of the extension and how to coordinate plans for starting service. But he said he doesn’t know if the matter of having enough rail cars has been discussed.

In any event, Allison said, it’s too early to start making contingency plans.

Bombardier spokeswoman Maryanne Roberts said BART can count on having all 35 cars by the end of the year.

Oversier said he, too, is optimistic that BART will have enough cars.

“We’ll be ready,” he said.

From an article at:
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/BART-extension-to-San-Jose-on-track-but-new-cars-11047689.php


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

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

Construction Starts On Second Commuter
Train Tunnel In Munich

Downtown Munich Prepares For A Decade-Long Construction Zone

Via “The Local” News Bulletin From Jörg Luyken, Plus News
From BR Public Radio And Süddeutsche Zeitung

Munich’s mayor this past Wednesday (5th of April 2017) dug the ceremonial first shovel of dirt on the construction site of a second train tunnel through the inner city, thus turning the city center into a building site for a decade - but is it worth it?  The new project begins in the middle of a decade of several other massive German infrastructure projects, which have run into major cost overrun problems and delays.

A ten-year building project cutting under the entire city center of Munich and projected to cost close to Euro 4.0 billion (US$ 4.5 billion) was officially launched last Wednesday - what could possibly go wrong?  While Boston, MA and several other North American cities study and debate whether or not to build their first downtown rail links in existing suburban / regional rail networks, Munich has begun construction on the second such rail link.  The existing rail link in Munich is the now 45 year old S-Bahn tunnel in central Munich, which runs east – west under downtown Munich between the central train station (Hauptbahnhof) and Munich east station (Ost Bahnhof).

In Europe a large number of cities have similar downtown regional / suburban rail links, usually underground in tunnels, but in some examples also elevated above street level or at surface level.  In the USA the SEPTA commuter rail tunnel in central Philadelphia is one of the very few such downtown rail links in North America, which connects a number of suburban / regional rail lines to each other in the city center, instead of a dead-end terminal station, as is the case currently with New York Grand Central Terminal, Boston South and North Stations, and Chicago Union Station.  A list of just some of the cities in Europe and elsewhere with suburban rail systems running through city centers includes: places like Paris, London (Thames Link and the new Crossrail Elizabeth Line), Manchester, Frankfurt, Berlin, Stuttgart, Zurich, Vienna, Warsaw, Prague, Milan, Moscow, Stockholm, Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, and many others.  


[CLICK IMAGE for larger version map. Opens in new window ]
Diagram provided by University of Munich (Universität München)

Map of the Munich heavy rail network including S-Bahn (suburban) and U-Bahn ( urban / metro / subway) rail lines with the new second S.Bahn rail tunnel seen just to the north of and parallel to the existing S-Bahn trunk line and tunnel in the center of this not-to-scale diagram.

The case for adding a new S-Bahn tunnel to the existing one in Munich is clear.  The current two-track S.Bahn tunnel which travels under a section of the inner city of Munich between Rosenheimer Platz and Hauptbahnhof, and on which most suburban trains are funneled, is already operating with headways between trains of about one train every two minutes in each direction.  Even by standards for mass transit subway trains as seen on systems such as the New York Subway, Tokyo Subway, Hong Kong MRT, Paris Metro and similar urban mass transit lines in other major cities, this amount of train traffic is extreme with almost no margin for any delays and zero alternatives in case of a train break down or track signaling fault.  Serious delays propagate quickly through the entire Munich suburban rail network like falling dominos, when just one train, one rail signal or one track switch fails to operate properly along the extremely heavily loaded S-Bahn tunnel.

The current Munich S-Bahn tunnel was completed in 1972 as part of the preparations for 1972 Summer Olympiad in Munich.  After the opening around 220,000 passengers used the Munich S-Bahn suburban trains every day. But there are now around 840,000 daily passengers on the strained suburban services, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper has reported.

For Munich mayor Dieter Reiter, it was clear that the time to act was now.  “The number of days when we hear ‘disruption on the main line’ has become unbearable for me,” Reiter told Bayerische Rundfunk (BR) public radio. “Therefore the only correct decision to make was to say, we are building this tunnel now.”

When it opens in 2026, the new S-Bahn tunnel will travel a very similar route to the existing one, except that it will be longer, passing under the city for 10 kilometers (6.3 miles) from Donnersbergerbrücke to Ostbahnhof.  It will also only stop in three stations: one 41 meters (130 feet)  below the Hauptbahnhof, a new station at Marienhof, and one 36 meters under Ostbahnhof.  The Hauptbahnhof station is particularly controversial, as the plans entail pulling down the Starnberger Bahnhof section, which is a building listed as a protected landmark.  

The project will pose considerable challenges to civil and mechanical engineers, according to the SZ, due to the depth at which much of the construction will take place.  The sheer amount of earth that will need to be transported out will also place a huge strain on the city’s road system. At the most intensive stage, a truck loaded with earth will drive through the inner city every ten minutes.  Business owners are already complaining about the effect the project will have on business, as building sites at the new stations will be directly in the middle of three of the city’s most busy shopping areas.  For a description of the new rail tunnel project, please visit the D:F newsletter of 31st October 2016 (volume 16, number 44 at: http://www.nationalcorridors.org/df4/df10312016.shtml#Germany).

Rising Costs And Delays

Germany once prided itself on its ability to build relatively complex and expensive infrastructure projects such as its world famous “Autoban” expressway network (built over a number of decades similar to the USA’s interstate highways), it’s still growing long distance high speed train network, and numerous local and regional rail networks in dozens of German cities (including the new S-Bahn urban – suburban rail networks in Munich as well as in Stuttgart and Frankfurt), while the USA simply added more and wider and more congested freeways in most of its cities as both Amtrak and various local transit authorities simply struggled to make ends meet on bare bones budgets.

However things seemed to change for some reason after the Millennium starting with the massive Berlin Hauptbahnhof and related north-south rail connector project in Berlin.  The project began in the mid 1990s and was just barely finished in-time for the 2006 FIFA Football (soccer) World Cup hosted in Germany, but significantly over budget.  

Image

Photo: City of Munich

Train to Plane – The Munich S-Bahn train network reaches into outer suburban areas of the Munich region, including the Munich Airport, which is located about 30 km (18 miles northeast of the city center of Munich and just to the east of the historic town of Freising.  The S-Bahn route to the airport was built concurrently with the construction of the airport itself, which first opened in mid 1992.  An S.Bahn train consisting of two DB class 423 electric multiple unit (EMU) train sets approaches Besucherpark (visitor park) station at the Munich Airport perimeter in this undated photo circa year 2010.  The rail line continues into the airport train station directly under the airport terminal complex via a short tunnel.  The trip from central Munich and the S-Bahn train tunnel under the city center to the airport train station takes approximately 35 minutes each way.

Berlin’s snazzy new international airport’s opening has been delayed by more than six years and still counting, while projected costs have doubled to slightly over Euro 5 billion (approx. US $ 6 billion).  The capital city has promised that the air hub will be open in spring 2018.  But the recent sacking of the airport’s construction boss has again made international news for all the wrong reasons.  Rumors persist, that the new and so-far never used terminal complex at the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport may even need to be partially demolished in order to remedy a number of serious design and construction flaws in the new buildings.

In a manner that certainly isn’t unheard of in large infrastructure projects in Germany nowadays, costs of the second S-Bahn train tunnel in Munich are already way above original projections.  In 2001, costs were calculated at Euro 1.4 billion, have now more than doubled to Euro 3.2 billion. With “potential risks” calculated in, that sum rises to Euro 3.84 billion - making it the most expensive infrastructure project ever undertaken in the German state of Bavaria.

Things are even worse over in Stuttgart.  Stuttgart 21 (S21), the massive project to convert the central train station in downtown Stuttgart from a surface level train terminal to an underground through-station, is another example of a German infrastructure project that has been years in the planning with costs piling up. The S21 project is now projected to cost Euro 10 billion (initial projections were put it at Euro 2.5 billion about six years ago) and the opening has been delayed to 2021 from an original 2019 planned opening.  The now Euro 10 billion budget includes a new high speed rail line to Ulm 60 km (40 miles) away and a new train station for intercity trains located at the Stuttgart Airport.  

Back in Munich it is now 16 years since the city first gave the green light to construction on the second commuter rail tunnel. Forty legal complaints, not all of which have been resolved, were launched against the project, holding it up. Then the conservative Christian Socialists (CSU) political party appealed in 2008 for an over ground option to be considered.  The proposed alternative was to direct the S-Bahn train traffic through an over ground ring rail route, much like Berlin’s Ringbahn, which encircles the city center.  About eight years ago Munich and the state of Bavaria threw in the towel after cost estimates for a maglev train line from the city center to the airport nearly doubled in less than a year to Euro  3.3 billion.  Construction never started on the Munich maglev line, but well over Euro 50 million of taxpayer money was spent on endlessly studying the project without even one shovel of dirt having been dug for the now-cancelled prestige project.  


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TO THE NORTH... To The North...  

VIA Rail Corridor Business Case Ready
For Rail-Friendly Infrastructure Bank

By David Thomas
Railway Age

Prospects for VIA Rail’s dedicated central Canada corridor appear to be on the move as the publicly owned passenger train operator submits its business case, and an accomplished rail executive is named to prepare the government’s promised infrastructure bank.

“The business case for fleet renewal and high-frequency rail were submitted to Transport Canada in December 2016,” VIA spokesperson Mariam Diaby told Railway Age April 6.

Details of VIA’s vision for a fast and frequent (but not high-speed) passenger schedule using a new fleet of trains powered by Quebec’s abundant and self-renewing hydro electricity was first revealed by Railway Age magazine in its April 2016 print and digital edition. The contents of the new business case remains confidential.

A year ago, VIA was provided government funding to develop an engineering and financial plan, but not the authorization nor capital commitment to proceed. Instead, the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau has focused on encouraging municipal transit projects, including an extensive, automated commuter network for Montreal, driven by Quebec’s public pension fund the Caisse de dépôt et placement (“Montréal REM project expanding”).

The official spin from Via’s Montreal executive suite is that the priority development of strong city transit systems creates feeder networks for VIA’s intercity services.

“We are encouraged by the commitment of the government to build strong communities through public transit investment,” said Diaby. “An improved public transit system will allow VIA Rail to continue facilitating the move towards true sustainable mobility through our intermodal partnerships that represent levers to increase ridership on trains by providing passengers with a simplified and seamless travel experience.”

In the meantime, the government is committing C$867 million (US$646 million) for VIA’s existing operations over the coming three years.

VIA declined to comment directly on the role the anticipated infrastructure bank might play in funding the Corridor project. However, in March, Ontario’s Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig was named executive adviser for design of the promised infrastructure bank. Once legislation is adopted to create the new public-private financial institution, McCuaig would be the obvious candidate to lead it. His appointment clearly indicates transit and passenger rail will be the bank’s principal focus.

“We will continue to work with Government of Canada officials on the study of high-frequency rail and fleet renewal and remain confident of the relevance of these two projects for our passengers,” Diaby concluded.

From an item at:
http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/passenger/high-performance/via-rail-corridor-business-case-ready-for-rail-friendly-infrastructure-bank.html


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Canada Commits To Funding GO Regional Rail

By Mischa Wanek-Libman
Railway Age

The government of Canada will provide C$1.8 billion (US$1.35 billion) to the GO Transit Regional Express rail (GO RER) project in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area.

The funds are being provided through the New Building Canada Fund and the announcement was accompanied by news that more than 300 additional projects in Ontario have been approved under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.

The federal government noted that the investment is being provided as “the benefits of public transit...are well understood. So too is the cost of inaction.”

“More families are choosing to settle in communities like Etobicoke – communities that allow parents to work in the big city and allow kids to ride their bikes on the street. These communities are growing at a rapid rate, and investment in public transit needs to keep pace. That is why we’re investing in the GO rail network and over 300 additional projects in Ontario to reduce commute times, decrease air pollution, and improve the lives of millions of Ontarians,” said Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Along with the province of Ontario’s contribution to the GO RER, this commitment will be the single largest transit project in which the federal government has ever invested.

The project is building new track, stations and facilities in order to provide two-way, all-day regional transportation service to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

“GO RER will deliver fast, electric trains as frequently as 15 minutes in both directions, serving communities in the GTHA and beyond, including the Waterloo Region and Barrie. It will add new stops and cut down travel times. It will mean that people can spend less time commuting and more time doing what they love. Over the past few years the province has made significant progress towards modernizing the entire GO network, allocating C$13.5 billion (US$10.1 billion) toward GO RER and another C$7.8 billion (US$5.8 billion) to upgrade and extend the GO network to include regular service to Niagara and Bowmanville. At C$21.3 billion (US$15.9 billion), the GO capital program is the largest commuter rail program in Canada. It is great that the federal government is now investing in this transformation. We welcome the government of Canada’s partnership as we build modern and seamless transit options for the people of Ontario,” said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

For more information on Canadian railway projects subscribe to IRJ Pro.

Found at:
http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/passenger/commuter-regional/canada-commits-to-funding-go-rer-with-cadol18-billion.html


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Events... Events...  

Rail Users Network (RUN) Annual Conference

RUN to Seattle

The Pacific Northwest Passenger Rail Summit is being held Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. at the Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Ave South, Seattle, Washington. This regional conference, sponsored by the Rail Users’ Network, and All Aboard Washington (AAWA) will examine passenger rail and trail transit issues in the Pacific Northwest. The focus will be on recent success stories, projects which are moving forward, and those which are standing still and need support. We will also highlight the strategies of rail advocates in other parts of the country to promote and expand passenger rail.

An optional tour on Friday, May 5, will give Conference participants an opportunity to experience public transportation in the Greater Seattle area, which has one of North America’s most varied transit systems. Sounder commuter rail, Link light rail, modern streetcars, ferries, and even a 1962-vintage monorail. In fact, some of the city’s buses are electric “trolley buses”, which were once ubiquitous, but now only run in a few cities.

Who should attend:

The registration fee for the Pacific Northwest Rail Summit is $55 before March 31, $60 before May 1, and $65 at the door.

Registration includes morning refreshments, lunch, an afternoon refreshment break, and all conference materials/handouts. The optional tour on Friday is free, however participants are responsible for their own rail/transit fares. If you wish to stay in Seattle before or after the conference, we recommend you look at Seattle’s official tourism website www.visitseattle.org.

For the full write-up, speaker list, and discussion panel schedule see:  http://www.railusers.net/annual-conference/

To Register early go to:  http://www.railusers.net/conference-registration/


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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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