The National Corridors Initiative Logo

Apr 17, 2017
Vol. 17 No. 15

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…
BART’s Missing Link
  Maintenance Lines…
MBTA: A Year And More Of Repairs; Substantial
   Service Disruptions Will Occur
MBTA Says It Will Refurbish A Dozen Of Its
   Older Locomotives
Metra Launches $216m Infrastructure Project
   In Chicago
  Political Lines…
Congress Needs Unity On $1 Trillion Transit
   Spending, Schumer Says
Kan Nominated For DOT Post
  Restoration Lines…
Gulf Coast Amtrak Plans Moving Forward
   Despite Trump Budget Cuts
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Business Lines…
A Siemens / Bombardier Transportation Combo?
FRA Opts For Four Single Train Tunnels To
   Replace B&P Tunnel In ROD
  Across The Pond…
Full-Speed Testing Underway On Amsterdam
   North-South Line
  To The North…
Staying On Track: Metrolinx Committed To
   Kitchener Go Train Improvements
Toronto Pearson Could Become Transit Center
  Publication Notes …


GUEST EDITORIAL... Guest Editorial...  

Op-Ed

BART’s Missing Link

By Tom Huening
The Daily Journal (San Mateo)

The Bay Area Rapid Transit’s (BART) original common-sense goal was to serve San Mateo County and the whole Bay region. But then Santa Clara County opted out of transit in favor of highways followed by San Mateo County favoring (now) Caltrain. Marin joined the exit. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors acted to not let us vote on BART. San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa voters approved, construction began in 1964 and service began September 1972 adding the Transbay Tube in 1974.

Playing catch-up, in 1990 San Mateo County contributed a $200 million “buy-in” in lieu of joining the BART district and end-of-the-line BART Colma opened in 1996.

County voters here approved Measure K in November 1987 and construction began November 1997 on 8.7 new railway miles to the South San Francisco, San Bruno, SFO and Millbrae stations. Caltrain and BART connected in Millbrae with tracks pointed to continue BART south. The San Mateo County BART extension cost $1.5 billion and opened to the public on June 22, 2003. Seems simple now but every step was a fight.

Back in 1987 and again in 1997 the chief opponents of the BART extension were Caltrain aficionados who feared the demise of the commuter train. Those fears were unfounded. Caltrain now runs at capacity, about 60,000 system-wide riders a day. Today, 19,000 board Caltrain and 36,000 board BART each day in San Mateo County clearly demonstrating a need for both systems.

Missing though is a plan to fill the gap of BART around the Bay. San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are the missing links. Key issues for Caltrain today are evaporating funding from the federal government and high-speed rail for long-planned electrification. These are important issues needing to be solved. Left in the lurch, however, is a plan to complete the last BART system link between the stub end at SFO in Millbrae and the Santa Clara approved end near the San Jose airport.

This BART down the Peninsula link has long suffered from a mistaken premise — that it should share the Caltrain right of way (ROW) as it completes the Bay loop. The fundamental flaw is that the Caltrain ROW runs right through city centers and BART would interfere and conflict with both Caltrain and possible HSR. How then to complete the missing link?

I worked with BART in 1997 on an alternate alignment for an elevated extension down the center of Highway 101. BART completed a “Sketch Analysis” showing this alignment to be cheaper, better and faster than the Caltrain ROW. This alignment would much better serve high-tech and other businesses east of Highway 101 and directly reduce traffic. Estimated new ridership of 40,000 San Mateo County boardings per day added to the estimated 24,000 for three-county Caltrain electrification (8,000 in San Mateo County) would substantially relieve not just freeway, but spillover local road congestion as well. Both Caltrain modernization and a BART extension are needed to fill the burgeoning demand and ease the congestion of 230,000 vehicles per day on Highway 101.

With federal officials closing the spigot for transit funding, how can Caltrain modernize and BART extend? Surely we need to continue to pursue federal funds through our local representatives. But being a blue state with a red Congress, we need a plan B. That alternate plan is to do it ourselves. Wherever could we locals get that kind of money?

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors has authority to levy a half-cent sales tax for transportation. That’s about $80 million per year. And how about we ask the big business contributing to the congestion for an equal match? Combined with a contribution from the county, this $160 million to $200 million per year would be enough to transform transit and comprehensively relieve congestion. We are way beyond the incremental fixes currently being proposed.

So what’s better? Wait for a new majority in Congress or a president more amenable to transit or solve our problems with money raised and spent locally? Nobody likes new taxes but voters in San Mateo County are disgusted with traffic congestion. They want action on upgrading transit to relieve our clogged highways and local roads.

Our trains, buses and shuttles all need to interconnect conveniently to be useful. Completing BART around the Bay along with Caltrain upgrades would reduce time-sucking highway and local street congestion. Just waiting for federal and high-speed rail funds is a fool’s errand. These are ambitious, long-term projects and we need to begin them now.

Tom Huening served on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors from 1987 to 1998 and served as the county controller from 1999 to 2012. Huening wrote the 1987 ballot measure “K” to bring BART to SFO and the initial measure “A” Caltrain and highway sales tax in 1988. He served on the board of directors of SamTrans and the Transportation Authority.

See more at:  
http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/opinions/2017-04-12/op-ed-barts-missing-link/1776425178655.html#sthash.MwhyX93N.dpuf


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MAINTENANCE LINES... Maintenance Lines...  

MBTA:  A Year And More Of Repairs;
Substantial Service Disruptions Will Occur

By Dennis Kirkpatrick
Managing Editor; Destination: Freedom

The summer of 2017 has been set aside by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) as the time when several much-needed repairs will take place.  It will also be a starting point for one or more long-term repair projects.

On the commuter rail side of things, major service interruptions will be announced this summer on the Newburyport/Rockport line running north from Boston’s North Station.  

The first project will see the refurbishment of the Beverly railroad draw bridge that spans the Danvers River between Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts.  The bridge has been a long-time nuisance due to its age and has been subject to numerous failures and repairs.  During the construction to repair and replace parts of the bridge, commuter rail service on the Newburyport/Rockport line will terminate at the Salem rail station with shuttle bus service offered from there.  The project will see this service disruption for several weeks in the coming summer months.  Specific start dates are pending.

During the same time frame, and coinciding with the bridge work, the MBTA also plans full Saturday and Sunday weekend closures of the Newburyport/Rockport line for the installation of Positive Train Control (PTC).  The project is currently scheduled for weekends-only between the beginning of July through mid-September 2017.  Controversial to this project, is that the MBTA has no plans for substitute service on the affected weekends.  While there is alternative bus service connecting the MBTA subway system (and Boston) at the Wonderland Station on the MBTA’s Blue Line, those buses which run infrequently on weekends only go as far as Salem station.  This would mean there would be no alternative service for dozens of miles north of there on the two branch lines.  As we went to press, public meetings on this plan had yet to be held.  Rail riders, businesses, and elected officials are already not embracing the no-substitute plan.

On the MBTA’s Red Line subway, a plan has been announced to completely rebuild the Wollaston station in Quincy, Massachusetts.  Wollaston is deemed to be the last MBTA subway station that has not been upgraded to be fully compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  The station will close late summer for a complete rebuilt with a project time span estimated at about 20 months.  During the closure, passengers will be shuttled by bus to the North Quincy station where they will transfer to the Red Line.  During the construction, Red Line trains will continue to pass through the station on weekdays, but some weekend and evening closures will happen when construction crews will need access to areas at or near the rails.  

The plan has received little support from the impacted ridership since it is known that the North Quincy station tends to be crowded during peak service hours and users often have to let packed trains pass by till there is a less-crowded train to board.  Adding the ridership from Wollaston would exacerbate that situation.  Again, public meetings have yet to be held which might convince the MBTA to adjust their shuttles in some way.

Finally, the Commonwealth Avenue bridge in the Kenmore/Brighton section of the city, and which sits within the extensive campus of Boston University, is also slated for replacement.  The bridge is at a critical juncture of Commonwealth Ave, the College Farm Bridge (also known as the Boston University or “BU” bridge) and several connecting side streets, as well as an on-ramp to Storrow Drive inbound to downtown Boston.  The bridge spans the Massachusetts Turnpike (RT 90), the Boston-Worcester rail line, and carries the MBTA’s “B” Line streetcars to Boston College.  The intersection also carries several bus routes that will also be impacted.

The bridge has been in a decline for many years and a minor collapse of the concrete superstructure within the last 12 months finally pushed repairs, or in this case a replacement, into the forefront.  During the bridge replacement, the B line streetcar will truncate and turn nearby and passengers will be shuttled to the other side of the construction zone where their trip will continue.  Buses passing through this area will be accommodated as will emergency vehicles until a re-route is necessary.  Rail traffic on the Boston-Worcester rail line, which also includes Amtrak’s Lakeshore Limited will see service disruptions during the multi-week process specifically on weekends, but possibly at other times as well. Auto traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike will be narrowed to one lane in each direction at times while construction teams work on the inbound and outbound sides of the highway.

Also impacted will be the nearby access to the Grand Junction rail bridge which passes under the Cottage Farm/BU Bridge.  Grand Junction is a connector used to shuttle MBTA and Amtrak rolling stock to and from the South Bay yards and Boston Engine Terminal/North Station yards.

MassDOT has created an animated detail with estimated dates at the following link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8rFw-ELck4

So if you plan to visit the area this summer, also plan to look at alternatives for using the public transit system.  If you are a resident as the author of this article is, you are already mapping out your back-up plans.  To paraphrase actress Bette Davis with one of her famous movie quotes, “Fasten your seatbelts.  We’re in for a bumpy ride.”


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MBTA Says It Will Refurbish A Dozen
Of Its Older Locomotives

By Nicole Dungca
Boston Globe

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is seeking to overhaul a dozen of its older locomotives amid frustration over persistent equipment shortages on the commuter rail over the past month that have led to frequent delays and cancellations.

Jeffrey Gonneville, the MBTA’s chief operating officer, said Monday that the agency should refurbish some of its decades-old locomotives to address the shortage, caused by mechanical problems on new and old locomotives alike.

The commuter rail operator, Keolis Commuter Services, is contractually obligated to have 67 locomotives available at all times but has failed to meet that mandate for several weeks, leaving the system shorthanded.

On Monday, Keolis had 66 available, a marked improvement from recent days. The morning commute was the first without cancellations since early last week, though some evening trains were canceled.

“We made a great deal of progress over the last seven days, and we’re going to keep pushing forward,” Gonneville told the agency’s oversight board at its weekly meeting.

Image

Photo: User MBTafan2011, Wikipedia

Seen at Boston’s North Station, two F40 class locomotives on trainets awaiting passenger boardings. Prime movers similar to these are likely candidates for rebuild. Over two dozen locomotives are on sidings or in yards in various locations awaiting disposition.

The overhaul, which would cost more than $30 million, comes as the MBTA considers cutting service on some weekend commuter rail lines. Governor Charlie Baker recently ruled out a proposal to eliminate all weekend service but left the door open to partial reductions.

Keolis, which has a $2.7 billion contract with the MBTA to run the commuter rail, last year received at least $66 million more to operate new schedules, better maintain the T’s newest locomotives, and overhaul some old ones. Some oversight board members have recently expressed dismay over the company’s struggles, particularly in light of last year’s decision.

Keolis has largely blamed the shortage on defects in the MBTA’s 40 newest locomotives, as well as equipment failures in the older ones. Last week, MBTA officials said that they had chosen not to overhaul many of the older locomotives but didn’t provide reasons why.

On Monday, Gonneville said that all 50 of the MBTA’s old locomotives were “past due for a major overhaul,” and that the agency would look to refurbishing a dozen of them. Upgrading 10 locomotives would cost around $30 million, Gonneville said. The cost of restoring two others, which are part of a different fleet, has not been determined.

Some board members sought more details about the plan.

“I want this rescue plan to work, as do all of us in this room,” member Steven Poftak said. “But how do we ensure that we’re getting accurate information and what we’re doing is actually going to fix the problem?”

Gonneville said the MBTA took several other steps in the past week to make sure Keolis’s performance improved, including overseeing workers at the Boston Engine Terminal in Somerville, where many of the repairs are done. Keolis workers put in more than 400 additional hours on maintenance in the past week to improve the reliability issues, he said.

Meanwhile, the MBTA’s chief financial officer, Michael Abramo, presented the board with a number of cost-cutting options to help balance the agency’s budget. They included cutting some weekend commuter rail hours or lines, a plan that was widely criticized in recent months.

In March, Abramo floated the idea of cutting all weekend commuter rail service to save about $14 million during the next fiscal year. Officials said such cuts were necessary because the agency faced a $42 million budget gap, although some of the shortfall was created by setting aside money for longer-term infrastructure projects.

The idea drew an outcry, and on Monday officials discussed more modest cuts aimed at saving $6 million. Stephanie Pollack, the state’s transportation secretary, told the board that amount isn’t achievable without schedule reductions, either by dropping routes with the lowest ridership or eliminating service on one weekend day altogether.

But MBTA officials don’t expect proposing cutting certain lines or hours in the coming months, as they have said they need to do a better job counting its ridership. The agency has installed new passenger-counting technology in recent months.

Board members will vote on a budget for the next fiscal year on Thursday.

[ Editor note:  The MBTA has already sidetracked a number of its aging F40 class and GP40 class locomotives as the newer HSP46 units have come online.  Most of these have been stored on sidings outside of Boston but can be recalled for the refurbishment when the time comes. ]

From an article appearing at:
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/04/10/mbta-overhaul-new-locomotives-consider-some-cuts-weekend-commuter-rail/xxTEjLGBaHNURQqnv8pSSO/story.html


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Metra Launches $216m Infrastructure
Project In Chicago

From Global Rail News

Metra has announced a $216 million plan to improve Chicago’s commuter rail network.

The service provider intends to replace ageing bridges on the UP North and Milwaukee West lines and construct new sections of track on the UP West Line, as well as carrying out smaller infrastructure upgrades across its other 10 lines.

The plan includes improvement works at 29 of Metra’s 241 stations, on 21 bridges, 29 road crossings, and the replacement of 57,000 rail ties.

Metra crews will also be upgrading signaling and communications systems on each of the lines ready for the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) ahead of the December 2018 deadline set by Congress.

In an announcement made on April 10, Metra said the work will be undertaken in part by in-house crews as well as contracted construction firms.

Metra executive director Don Orseno said: “We plan to take full advantage of the construction season by making improvements where we can with our limited funding.

“Our goal is to be as efficient as possible with the resources we have and limit the impact of construction activity on our customers.”

Work is expected to begin this week and continue through the autumn.

Found at:
http://www.globalrailnews.com/2017/04/13/metra-launches-216m-infrastructure-project-in-chicago/


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

Congress Needs Unity On $1 Trillion
Transit Spending, Schumer Says

By Laura Figueroa
Newsday

Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday urged Congress to “come together and compromise” on a $1 trillion infrastructure spending package that would include funding to repair the region’s aging rail system.

Schumer’s push for lawmakers to act in a bipartisan fashion comes after two train derailments in the past two weeks that caused massive delays for commuters, including Long Island Rail Road passengers.

Speaking at a news conference in front of Penn Station, Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate minority leader, noted that last week’s derailment of an NJ Transit train at the station was caused by damaged wooden track ties that were long in need of repair.

Amtrak, which owns and maintains tracks used by the LIRR and NJ Transit at the station, said last week that inspectors had recently documented that the track ties were in need of repair, but did not act sooner on repair work because there did not appear to be an imminent safety threat. Amtrak officials have said they are grappling with a $28 billion repair backlog due to funding shortages.

“Maddening delays for rail commuters across the region from Long Island to New Jersey have exposed the repair backlog like never before,” Schumer said. “Even the smallest of maintenance issues, left unchecked, can become the reason for the next big delay, or worse, disaster.”

On March 24, an Amtrak Acela train derailed at Penn Station and hit an NJ Transit train. The incident led to massive service delays for New Jersey commuters heading into and out of the midtown Manhattan station.

President Donald Trump has proposed spending $1 trillion in infrastructure projects, and last week told The New York Times he was considering “accelerating” the introduction of an infrastructure spending bill because it was a “popular” idea among both major parties.

Senate Democrats in January introduced their own $180 billion infrastructure spending package that proposed sweeping upgrades to the nation’s roadways, bridges and other transportation systems over the next decade.

Schumer said he was “hopeful” Republicans and Democrats could work together on a compromise spending bill that would fast-track much-needed rail repairs.

“It’s like your house,” Schumer said of the rail repairs. “If you stop investing in it, leaks occur, cracks occur, everything else occurs. You need to invest in it. If you defer ... it leads to problems and eventually to disaster.”

From an item found at:
https://www.newsday.com/long-island/transportation/congress-needs-unity-on-1-trillion-transit-spending-schumer-says-1.13405255


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Kan Nominated For DOT Post

By William C. Vantuono
Railway Age

President Trump on April 7 nominated Derek Kan as Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy at the U.S. DOT.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kan would be responsible for providing policy guidance as it relates to motor vehicle, air, rail, marine and other forms of transportation. A White House spokesperson said Kan is “a highly qualified nominee, and if appointed, would work with Secretary Chao on Trump’s agenda to modernize and rebuild the country’s transportation system.”

Kan is the General Manager for Lyft (a service similar to Uber) in Southern California. He has served on the Board of Amtrak since 2015, for which he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Previously, he was Director of Strategy at a startup in Silicon Valley, and also worked as a management consultant at Bain & Company.

Earlier in his career, Kan was a policy advisor to Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (who is married to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao) and as an economist for the Senate Republican Policy Committee. Before becoming a Hill staffer, Kan served as a Presidential Management Fellow at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Kan received a B.S. from the University of Southern California, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar. He and his wife and three children live in San Gabriel, Calif.

[ Railway Age Editor’s note: Railway Age Capitol Hill Contributing Editor Frank N. Wilner points out that “a post-PRIIA Amtrak Board statute eliminated the former prohibition on federal employees (other than the DOT Secretary) serving on the Board , and allows an existing Board member to remain on the Board for as long as five years beyond expiration of their term until a successor is confirmed by the Senate. This means Kan may remain on the Amtrak Board indefinitely—so long as Trump does not nominate a successor to him—effectively giving the Transportation Secretary (as Kan would report to Chao) two votes on the 10-member Amtrak Board.” ]

Found at:
http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/regulatory/kan-nominated-for-dot-post.html


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RESTORATION LINES... Restoration Lines...  

Gulf Coast Amtrak Plans Moving Forward
Despite Trump Budget Cuts

By Christopher Harress
AL.Com

Despite federal budget cuts seemingly derailing the chances of a rail service return to the Gulf Coast, Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) will host a meeting in Mobile Wednesday to lay out the next steps of restoring passenger rail to the region.

The meeting is open to the public and will take place at Government Plaza at 4 P.M. Further meetings will take place in Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida this week.

While Amtrak and the SRC clearly see a path forward in restoring a rail line to the Gulf Coast for the first time since Hurricane Katrina wiped out the service in late August 2005, it will have to be done without the full backing of the federal government. As part of President Donald Trump’s $54 billion worth of cuts to federal programs, the Department of Transport, which funds parts of Amtrak, will see a 12.9 percent cut to its $94.7 billion annual budget.

In 2016, Amtrak received $1.385 billion from the federal government, according to Federal Railroad Administration records.

Under Trump’s proposed budget, which will still have to be approved by Congress, there is doubt about how Amtrak would pay for the return of the service, which used to pass through Mobile before going on to Jacksonville and Orlando. Atmore would be the only other stop in Alabama under the new plan.

Previous meetings between planners have called for four daily stops in Mobile on a train coming from New Orleans, a significant increase from the three weekly stops under the old Sunset Limited Line.

The route of Amtrak’s Crescent train line currently originates in New Orleans and heads north up through Mississippi and into central Alabama before hitting Atlanta and on to New York, according to Amtrak.

Reestablishing the old Sunset route is likely to require cooperation and funding from legislatures in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

In addition, Trump’s budget lays out plans to cut 23 of Amtrak’s 46 long distance routes, which includes destinations in Alabama.

“It’s very strange that an administration that is supposed to be the infrastructure administration, with great commitments to infrastructure and transportation in particular, starts out by decreasing transportation funding by 13 percent,” said John Robert Smith, a former mayor of Meridian, Miss., and the current chairman of the board for Transportation for American - a non-profit alliance that pushes for grassroots support of innovative transportation policy in the U.S.

“But this is not a surprise and it’s not territory we haven’t been in before,” he added.

However, key to any restoration of the line would be dependent on Mobile and Atmore finding funds to upgrade their respective train stations, which are not currently up to Amtrak standards. But there does seem to city-wide support in Mobile for such upgrades.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson told AL.com in July that he supported restoring the old service.

“A Gulf Coast passenger rail service will facilitate job creation, enhance tourism and reduce environmental and roadway impacts,” he said in a statement. “This service will not only connect cities across the Gulf Coast, but will also link Mobile to the Midwest, West Coast and across the nation. It will benefit all of our citizens, but especially those with limited transportation options or physical challenges.”

It’s also hoped that Mobile could be the final destination for North-South Amtrak journeys from Birmingham.

Found at:
http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/04/watch_moab_blast_video_release.html


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

CNI – Canadian National

CP –  Canadian Pacific

CSX – CSX Corp

GWR – Genessee & Wyoming

KSU – Kansas City-Southern

NSC – Norfolk Southern

PWX – Providence & Worcester

UNP – Union Pacific


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BUSINESS LINES... Business Lines...  

A Siemens / Bombardier
Transportation Combo?

By William C. Vantuono
Railway Age

Supplier consolidations are nothing new in the global railway industry. The latest purported combination has German technology and engineering colossus Siemens AG acquiring Canadian firm Bombardier’s Transportation division, according to a report published Tuesday, April 11, in Toronto’s Globe and Mail. Bombardier shares jumped nearly 7% on the Toronto Stock Exchange after Bloomberg News, citing anonymous sources, originally broke the story.

“Speculation that Bombardier Transportation, as the train division is known, might merge with a European or Chinese competitor is not exactly new,” wrote the Globe’s Eric Reguly and Nicolas Van Praet. “In recent years, rumors of merger or purchase attempts have surfaced every few months. Bombardier itself has said it is open to a deal for the train division, whose headquarters are in Berlin. . . . Bloomberg said [Siemens and Bombardier] were in talks to merge their [locomotives and rolling stock] and signaling activities and that a deal could come by midyear.”

The Globe also noted that when Alain Bellemare replaced Pierre Beaudoin as Bombardier CEO in 2015, “he said the company would consider consolidation options for Bombardier Transportation (BT). At the time, Bombardier had contemplated putting BT on the stock market through an initial public offering but chose instead to sell 30% of BT to the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (a Canadian institutional investor that manages funds primarily for public and para-public pension and insurance plans) for C$1.5 billion. The investment valued BT at about C$5 billion.

As well, the Globe said, “It is widely known that BT has been courted by Chinese train companies, who are eager for a ‘turnkey’ operation in Europe that would instantly give them a full operating and managerial presence, from factories and R&D centers to lobbyists and lawyers. The merger of China’s two largest train makers [into CRRC, which recently has established a foothold in the U.S. with transit rolling stock contracts in Boston and Chicago] has heightened competition, and Bombardier is said to have held exploratory talks in recent years with a number of strategic players. A combination [of Siemens and BT] would be ‘a European answer’ to the Chinese merger, rail consultancy SCI Verkehr has said.”

For the Globe and Mail Report see:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/bombardier-shares-climb-on-report-of-siemens-rail-merger-talks/article34664180/

Mergers And More Mergers

If the Siemens AG acquisition of Bombardier Transportation comes to fruition, it will be a combination of mostly European companies that trace their roots to the mid-19th century.

Siemens AG in recent years has grown its signaling and train control business through its acquisition of Britain’s Invensys Rail, which had previously acquired the U.S. company Safetran Systems. Siemens AG traces its roots to Siemens & Halske, founded by Werner von Siemens and Johann Georg Halske in 1847. In 1966, Siemens & Halske, Siemens-Schuckertwerke (founded 1903) and Siemens-Reiniger-Werke (founded 1932) merged to form Siemens AG. The Siemens rail rolling stock business today is known as Siemens Mobility; the signaling and train control business is Siemens Rail Automation. Both came about in 2008 from a corporate restructuring that involved Siemens Transportation Systems and other Siemens AG divisions.

Today’s Bombardier Transportation came about as a result of several consolidations and acquisitions over a period of nearly 30 years. BT was established in 1974; its first order came from Société de transport de Montréal (STM) that year for rubber-tired metro cars. In 1975, Bombardier (founded in 1942 by Joseph-Armand Bombardier, inventor of the snowmobile, as L’Auto-Neige Bombardier Limitée, or “Bombardier Snow Car Limited”), acquired the assets of MLW (Montreal Locomotive Works, founded 1883) and Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC, established 1975) from the Government of Ontario, which had acquired Hawker Siddeley Canada. (MLW was sold to General Electric in 1988). In 1987, Bombardier bought the assets of two U.S. firms, The Budd Company and Pullman-Standard. In 2001, BT acquired Adtranz (ABB Daimler-Benz Transportation; after 1999 DaimlerChrysler Rail Systems) from DaimlerChrysler, which traced its roots to the 1988 merger of Switzerland’s Brown-Boveri (founded 1881) and Sweden’s ASEA (Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget; English translation “General Swedish Electric Company,” founded 1883) to form ABB Group.

Found at:
http://m.railwayage.com/index.php/news/a-siemens-bombardier-transportation-combo.html?channel=00


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FRA Opts For Four Single Train Tunnels
To Replace B&P Tunnel In ROD

By Mischa Wanek-Libman
Rail, Track, And Structures

Four new one-track tunnels should be bored to replace the existing Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) Tunnel according to a Record of Decision (ROD) issued by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on March 31.

Issuance of the ROD by FRA concludes the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Impact Statement process on the initiative.

The federally-funded engineering and environmental study identifies the selection of the Preferred Alternative (Alternative 3B), the four one-track tunnels, to improve rail service and reliability on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and addressing a longstanding bottleneck. The projected cost, which has not changed since the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), is an estimated $4.52 billion. Funding has not currently been identified for final design and construction of the project.

The 144-year-old, two-track B&P Tunnel is located between the West Baltimore MARC Station and Penn Station in Baltimore, Md. Amtrak owns the structure, though it also accommodates both Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) and Norfolk Southern Railway freight trains in addition to intercity passenger trains.

Alternative 3B also includes three ventilation facilities, one each at the North and South portals and an intermediate ventilation facility sited at 900-940 West North Avenue. The FEIS and ROD both established numerous mitigation strategies to minimize the project’s impacts on surrounding communities, both during construction and after the new tunnels are operational.

In accordance with NEPA (42 USC § 4332 et seq.), the FRA coordinated with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Amtrak and the Baltimore City Department of Transportation to issue a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in December 2015. The DEIS evaluated the environmental impacts of three build alternatives and a No-Build Alternative.

The FRA and MDOT issued the FEIS in November 2016 and held two public information meetings in December 2016. Over the course of the three-year study leading to the release of these documents, the project team engaged the public by hosting more than 20 open houses and community outreach meetings and hearings, publishing newsletters and maintaining the project website, www.bptunnel.com. Project partners said they are committed to ongoing public outreach as funding is provided to advance the project.

From an item at:
http://www.rtands.com/index.php/passenger/intercity/fra-opts-for-four-single-train-tunnels-to-replace-bp-tunnel-in-rod.html


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Across The Pond...


Full-Speed Testing Underway On
Amsterdam North-South Line

By Quintus Vosman
International Railway Journal

Amsterdam’s North-South Line moved a step closer to opening on April 6 with the first full-speed test run on the 9.8km (6 mi) metro line, which will connect Amsterdam North, Central Station and the city’s historic centre and with the business district in the south of the capital

The main objective of the test runs was to validate the operation of the signaling and train protection system, which was supplied by Alstom. The train ran along the full length of the line, reaching speeds of up to 70km/h (43 mph).

Image

Image via Railway Age

Testing is ongoing on the North-South line

The current test phase will continue until early summer, and this will be followed by a period of integral system testing before the line opens on July 22 2018.

Construction began in 2002 and the line was originally due to open in March 2011. However, the construction of the tunnels in the difficult ground conditions beneath Amsterdam’s historic city centre was plagued with problems, including subsidence, which damaged several buildings.

Found at:
http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/metros/full-speed-testing-underway-on-amsterdam-north-south-line.html


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TO THE NORTH... To The North...  

Staying On Track: Metrolinx Committed
To Kitchener Go Train Improvements

Metrolinx Committed To Kitchener Go Train Improvements,
But Heavy Sledding Anticipated

By Bill Jackson
Kitchener Post

Massive coordination efforts will be required in coming years to make enhanced, two-way, all-day GO train service a reality, say Metrolinx officials.

Last Friday, residents had a chance to learn about the complex process at an information session with the province’s manager of rail transportation.

Hosted by Kitchener Centre MPP Daiene Vernile, the event was a response to one of her constituents’ most frequently asked questions — Why is it taking so long?

“The first step is a new 30-kilometre corridor (between Bramalea and Milton) to bypass CNs existing track, so that we can build capacity,” said Gord Troughton, Metrolinx director of corridor infrastructure.

That work alone will require up to 35 new bridges for road and water crossings, including significant crossings of Highways 401 and 410, the modification and/or relocation of up to 17 hydro towers and up to 3.4 kilometers of major gas lines, as well as the construction of 60 km (37.3 mi) of new track.

“So it’s pretty simple,” Troughton deadpanned to some amusement.

Though preliminary planning is underway, an agreement with CN still isn’t final, and it’s just one of numerous hurdles ahead.

Enhanced two-way rail service will also require a second 52-km (32.3 mi) track between Kitchener and Georgetown, a fourth track between Mount Pleasant and Union Station, a new tunnel under Hwy. 401 to accommodate more track on the Kitchener line, as well as other system-wide upgrades for signaling and communications systems and renovations to existing GO stations.

But planning is underway according to Metrolinx chief communications and public affairs officer Judy Pfeifer, who said the necessary resources are being secured with dedicated staff teams and ongoing talks with CN.

“The last time we built a new rail corridor was in the 1960s which is what allowed GO Transit to start,” she said, adding that community engagement will obviously be a significant part of the process.

According to a rough timeline presented by Metrolinx, securing the necessary permits and approvals, including an environmental assessment, should take approximately three years. Procurement, construction and commissioning are expected to take about four years more.

“I want to reassure people that we’re fully committed to this as a funded project, with working teams in place, and it’s our goal to continue to deliver this as fast as we can, as best as we can, in a way that sets the region and Metrolinx up for success,” Pfeifer said.

Kitchener GO Train service was launched in 2011 and doubled last September to include four trains a day, Monday to Friday, in both directions. But many people are still frustrated with the long duration a one-way trip can take — up to two hours or more at peak travel times.

Image

Photo: Bill Jackson

Gord Troughton, Metrolinx director of corridor infrastructure, makes a point during an information session last Friday at the Kitchener Public Library alongside Chris Burke, director of service planning, Judy Pfeifer, chief communications and public affairs officer, and Kitchener Centre MPP Daiene Vernile.

During a question-and-answer session that followed the Metrolinx presentation, Stephen Lake, CEO of the Kitchener high-tech firm Thalmic Labs, said some aren’t as interested in getting to Toronto as they are getting people from Toronto to here.

“We currently have about 3,000 tech jobs that we could fill that are sitting empty right now,” Vernile stressed to Metrolinx officials. “We need to find people for these jobs and they’re in the GTA, and we need to bring them to our communities.”

Metrolinx director of service planning Chris Burke said he’s aware the frequency and length of the trip is not ideal.

While an environmental assessment is now underway to electrify the Kitchener line between Bramalea and Highway 427, the Kitchener line west of Bramalea can’t be electrified until the new train corridor is built. That will require an additional environmental assessment.

“Until things are sorted out with CN, any date that we would put to you, we couldn’t guarantee that we would make it,” Burke said.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic remains optimistic.

“In 2014 the province outlined a 10-year timeframe. I’m still assuming that 10-year timeframe is what it will take,” he said.

“I’m hopeful that they will continue and we will continue to press both Metrolinx and the province to work as hard as possible, to move this along as quickly as possible, because we know it’s so important to the local economy.”

GO Bus service from Waterloo Region saw several upgrades last year in order to facilitate faster trips and build ridership in the interim.

Route 25, which connects to the Square One hub, has doubled since 2011, from about 20 trips a day to 40 trips a day, Burke said.

In addition, there’s now a connection to York University to serve riders going into northern portions of the GTA, as well as an express service between downtown Kitchener and the Bramalea GO Station.

There’s service every hour, in both directions, all day long, Monday to Friday, Burke noted. During off-peak times, trips can get down to one hour and 15 minutes in some cases, he said.

Another service added last year was a peak connection between downtown Cambridge and the Cambridge Smart Centres site that travels into the Milton Go Station and meets trains headed to Union Station.

Despite years of discussions, GO train service between Cambridge and Milton isn’t in Metrolinx’s current plan, which includes more than $30 billion worth of investments to its rapid transit network.

“We currently have no plans for that service,” Burke told a city of Cambridge staff member. “It is the CP rail main freight line and before we could even consider it we have major things we have to sort out, even between Toronto and Milton.”

From an item at:
https://www.cambridgetimes.ca/news-story/7237204-staying-on-track-metrolinx-committed-to-kitchener-go-train-improvements/


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Toronto Pearson Could Become Transit Center

By Mischa Wanek-Libman
Rail, Track, And Structures

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) hosted provincial and local mayors to discuss its vision of a transit center to be developed at Toronto Pearson airport.

The discussion included Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca and local mayors, including Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey and Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic at the April 4 meeting.

The GTAA shared new research that further supports a proposal for a “Union Station West” regional transit center located at Toronto Pearson, serving as a second major mobility hub for the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA).

Image

Image: Greater Toronto Airports Authority

A rendering of the proposed transit center at Toronto Pearson.

GTAA said the studies findings demonstrated strong demand for better transit in the West GTHA and include:

The GTAA has indicated it will fund the development and construction of the transit center at Toronto Pearson. It continues to work with all levels of government to advance plans on priority lines connecting into the regional transit center. The GTAA’s proposed transit center located on airport lands will help to address the low transit mode split in the area today with only 10 percent of people taking transit. The center will potentially connect a number of transit lines that are already in development or have been proposed by various levels of government, including: Eglinton Crosstown West LRT; Mississauga Bus Rapid Transit; Finch West LRT; Regional Express Rail on the Kitchener line and the province of Ontario’s High-Speed Rail concept.

From an item at:
http://www.rtands.com/index.php/track-maintenance/off-track-maintenance/toronto-pearson-could-become-transit-center.html


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