The National Corridors Initiative Logo

May 22, 2017
Vol. 17 No. 20

Copyright © 2017
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Founded 1989
Our 17th 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.
Managing Editor / Webmaster
Dennis Kirkpatrick
Foreign Editor
David Beale
Contributing Editor
Molly N. McKay

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

  Advocacy Lines…
National Association Of Rail Passengers On The
   Scene For Infrastructure Week In Washington, D.C.
  Amtrak Lines…
Penn Station Track Work Leads To A Grand Switch
  Funding Lines…
FL: Orlando Mayor Optimistic About Deland SunRail
  Transit Lines…
Sound Transit Slates Meeting On Redmond
   Light-Rail Extension
MBTA Inks $57 Million Deal With Colorado
   Consultant For Green Line Extension
  Political Lines…
Senate Approves Rosen As USDOT Deputy Secretary
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Public, Private Partnerships…
See Inside The Worcester-Framingham Commuter
   Rail Line’s New $20 Million Station,
   “Boston Landing,” Paid For By New Balance
  Off The Main Line…
Train Delayed? Order Out!
  To The North…
Neighbors Battle For A Tiny Railway That Has
   Become A Lifeline In Northern Manitoba
Calgary Makes Recommendation For Stage 1
   Of Green Line LRT
Ontario High-Speed Rail Proposal Just A
   Pre-Election Come-On, Not A Doable Plan
  Publication Notes …

ADVOCACY LINES... Advocacy Lines...  

National Association Of Rail Passengers
On The Scene For Infrastructure Week
In Washington, D.C.

National Association of Rail Passengers Press Release

It’s Infrastructure Week in D.C., and transportation groups from all over the nation are turning a spotlight on infrastructure to educate and advocate for a simple message: it’s time to get to work on rebuilding America. Infrastructure Week is an opportunity to bring businesses, workers, elected leaders, and everyday citizens together to think about the best way to improve the rails, roads, bridges, ports, and airports that will ensure that America will be globally competitive, prosperous, and safe in the 21st Century.

The National Association of Rail Passengers (NARP) staff is working hard to make sure the voice of passengers is represented at each event. On Monday, we attended the kickoff event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gave an address, promising that the Trump Administration will provide details for a “vision” for an infrastructure bill “in the next several weeks,” with a legislative package heading to Congress sometime in the third quarter.

Other groups responded by arguing the time for action is now, and pushed for something more substantive than a vision.

“My question to the White House and Congress is this: Where is the bill?” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, at the same event.“It’s ‘go’ time. Bring legislation to the floor, and the labor movement will help you pass it.”

The Senate, for its part, is looking to utilize its experience in successfully drafting the FAST Act—a multiyear surface transportation bill that ramped up investment in roads, rail, and transit—to take the lead on an infrastructure bill.

“Because of our experience in the FAST Act, I would rather get something really specific in the Senate because it turned out that that’s what we did anyway,” said Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Senator Inhofe expected Secretary Chao to present concrete details to his committee in a hearing held today: “[E]nough time has gone by that she can speak to some specifics as to what projects are going to be pursued, what type of projects,”

However, Secretary Chao largely avoided laying out specifics, saying details would be released in a fleshed out White House budget for Fiscal year 2018, tentatively scheduled to be released next week.

“I don’t know what’s in the budget,” Chao said at the hearing, adding that any cuts to transportation in the budget would hopefully be reinserted in an infrastructure bill. “But I will not know that until May 23rd, when it’s released.”

On the positive side, the secretary acknowledged the importance of investing in the aging rail infrastructure on the Northeast Corridor, specifically highlighting the new Hudson River tunnels.

“Please be assured that Gateway is an absolute priority in terms of our focus,” Chao told Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. “I’ve been delayed as well.”

Unfortunately, she also cast doubt on the future of TIGER grants, an intermodal transportation program that benefits rail and transit and is popular on both sides of the aisle.

“I know how popular TIGER grants are with members of Congress. This is a first budget done by a new administration,” Chao said. “[It’s] something we are discussing. The thought was that there’d be, going forward, that there’d be a more holistic approach to infrastructure. And perhaps these TIGER grants would be recast. in some way in the future. That’s what we’re still talking about.”

NARP was also on hand on Tuesday to hear how mayors are finding solutions for the critical challenges facing cities and states around the country, with participation from Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. You can listen to an audio recording of the conversation online at Bloomberg, which hosted the event at:

From a press release at:

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AMTRAK LINES... Amtrak Lines...  

Penn Station Track Work Leads To
A Grand Switch

By Eric Anderson
Albany Times Union

Grand Central Station, the destination of passenger trains from the Capital Region until 1991, will likely resume that role, at least temporarily, this summer.

That’s when Amtrak plans to undertake a massive track and switch replacement project at Penn Station that will cut its train capacity by as much as 25 percent. The work follows two derailments this spring. To relieve pressure at Penn, Amtrak has been studying switching at least some of its trains from the Empire Corridor back to Grand Central.

While Amtrak officials didn’t confirm that some trains will use Grand Central, a source said train crews are being offered the opportunity to bid for those runs.

Amtrak hasn’t specified how the service reductions will affect passengers. Work is expected to begin July 7.

Upstate passengers who end up at Grand Central may not mind. The century-old building has been restored, with a grand hall, restaurants and other services.

The trains using the Empire Corridor across New York state were moved to Penn Station in 1991 so that passengers could connect directly to Amtrak’s other trains that used the Northeast Corridor tracks through Penn.

The move was made possible after an out-of-service freight connector track was restored.

Metro North Commuter Railroad continues to use Grand Central. Penn Station “accommodates 1,300-plus weekday train movements on an infrastructure designed in 1910 for less than half the current volume,” Amtrak President and CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman told a state Assembly panel Thursday. “For perspective on this, Grand Central Terminal handles only roughly two-thirds the number of daily trains on double the number of train tracks, compared to Penn Station.”

And while trains that come into Penn Station need to travel to a rail yard in Queens to be serviced and turned around, Grand Central has a track that loops around the station so trains can reverse direction.

Area residents of a certain age may remember Troy Union Station, which was designed by Reed & Stem, architects who later worked on the Grand Central design. The Troy station was demolished in 1958. What remains of Penn Station — the spacious “head house,” as Moorman called it Thursday, was demolished in 1964 — has been likened to a basement that makes passengers feel like rats scurrying through subterranean corridors.

The track work that will cause travel hassles for the Long Island Rail Road, NJ Transit and Amtrak passengers who continue to use Penn won’t fix that feeling.

But a project to turn the neighboring Farley Post Office building into a new train hall is intended to restore some of Penn Station’s grandeur.

This summer some lucky Empire Corridor Amtrak passengers may once again feel like they’re arriving somewhere grand.

From an item at:

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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

FL: Orlando Mayor Optimistic
About Deland SunRail

By Dustin Wyatt
From Mass Transit Magazine
Source: McClatchy

Don’t give up on a DeLand SunRail station just yet.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who’s on the commuter train’s commission, said in a recent interview that he hopes a solution for the not-yet-funded extension from DeBary to DeLand will be found during a workshop for stakeholders planned for sometime this summer.

The Volusia County Council in February sought to rework its deal with the other four funding partners and state after years of waiting for a 11-mile extension north -- from DeBary into DeLand -- that hasn’t materialized. The contract change, if approved by the Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission board, would free Volusia from paying for that section of track. Volusia proposed a deadline for a promised 50-percent share of federal funding to arrive -- Jan. 1, 2019 -- and included language detailing what should happen if it doesn’t.

Dyer said in a recent phone interview that Volusia’s proposed changes are “premature.” He coined it a “disservice” during a commission meeting last month, offering assurance that the original commitment would be fulfilled before the Florida Department of Transportation hands funding responsibility to four counties -- including Volusia -- and Orlando in 2021.

“If DeLand doesn’t get funded, it’s a financial hardship on all of us,” the mayor told the commission. “I think we should have a work session to discuss that original commitment and how to move forward to fulfill that original commitment.”

That original commitment, inked in 2009, said the federal and state government were to allocate 75 percent of the $70 million cost to extend SunRail 11 1/2 miles north from DeBary into DeLand. The state transportation department has been unable to win grants in the competitive federal funding process for transit projects, and is scheduled to turn over the rail line’s operations to the locally controlled commission in 2021.

Yet even though Dyer and other SunRail leaders remain optimistic that state and federal funding options are available for the DeLand station, County Councilman Pat Patterson, who serves on the SunRail commission, said a change to the contract would offer a backup plan just in case.

“This is not premature,” Patterson said. “If we get the funding, it’s moot. I just don’t want to sit here and wait and wait.”

For the full article see:

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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

Sound Transit Slates Meeting On
Redmond Light-Rail Extension

From Progressive Railroading

Sound Transit will hold an open house Wednesday in Redmond, Wash., to share details on the Downtown Redmond Link light-rail extension.

Conceptual design plans will be discussed for the extension’s two stations, the preliminary engineering process and the project’s overall timeline.


Photo – Sound Transit

The project calls for extending Sound Transit’s light-rail system 3.7 miles.

The Downtown Redmond extension initially was planned to be built as part of the $3.7 billion East Link extension. However, Sound Transit suspended the Redmond project due to declining tax revenue during the 2007-2009 recession, agency officials said in a press release.

Sound Transit’s board in February 2016 restored funding for the project’s preliminary engineering.

Also in 2016, voters approved the remaining funding needed to design and build the Redmond project, which extends the light-rail line 3.7 miles from the future Redmond Technology Center Station. The Downtown Redmond extension is slated to open in 2024.

From an item at:

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MBTA Inks $57 Million Deal With Colorado
Consultant For Green Line Extension

At Last, Things Seem To Be Moving Forward.

By Kyle Scott Clauss
Boston Magazine

The MBTA has inked its largest deal related to the Green Line Extension since ballooning cost estimates placed the long-stalled project on hold two years ago.

The T board approved a $57 million contract Monday with the Colorado-based consultancy firm CH2M Hill, State House News Service reports, to oversee the firms tasked with the construction of the Green Line’s expansion into Somerville and Medford. The contract runs June 2017 through December 2022, a year after the $2.2 billion project’s estimated completion date.


Photo by Eric Kilby on Flickr/Creative Commons

A Type 7 (lead) and Type 8 (trailer) Green Line trainset approaches Lechmere station.  This track will be diverted to meet the new extension once completed.

As part of the deal, CH2M Hill will receive roughly $7 million for leasing office space near the project. The firm previously worked on Crossrail, Britain’s ambitious rail project linking London to the capital’s southeast suburbs, dubbed “Europe’s largest construction project.”

The T has been cobbling together its GLX team over the past several months, plucking John Dalton from the Chicago Transit Authority last November to serve as project manager, and signing an $8.37 million contract with commuter rail operator Keolis for work on signals and other rail infrastructure. Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack says the agency will issue a final request for proposals from design firms later this month, with bids due in September. Work on the seven new stations comprising the extension is expected to begin in February.

From an item at:

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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

Senate Approves Rosen As
USDOT Deputy Secretary

By Stuart Chirls
Railway Age

ImageFile Image: USDOT

Jeffrey Rosen

The U.S. Senate confirmed Jeffrey Rosen as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) on May 16. Rosen is the 18th deputy secretary in USDOT’s 50-year history.

“I am delighted to welcome Deputy Secretary Jeff Rosen to the department. His extensive background in transportation, budget, regulatory reform and management will be invaluable as we implement the president’s agenda,” said UDOT Secretary Elaine Chao.

Rosen is a Harvard law graduate and served as general counsel and senior policy advisor for the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2006 to 2009 and as general counsel at USDOT from 2003 to 2006.

“I am grateful to President Trump and Secretary Chao for the opportunity to serve our country in this position and greatly look forward to applying my experience to DOT’s primary regulatory mission of safety, as well as the urgent need to revitalize our nation’s infrastructure,” said Deputy Secretary Rosen. “Having served in senior government positions in the past, I’ve learned that forging good working relationships and utilizing effective communication will be keys to our success.”

Rosen’s confirmation comes shortly before the Trump administration plans to release its much-anticipated infrastructure proposal, which Sec. Chao said would happen in a matter of weeks.

Rosen’s Senate vote was not completely drama-free, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced her intension to withhold support from any and all USDOT nominees until funding is released for Caltrain’s electrification project.

Found at:

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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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Public, Private, Partnerships... Public, Private Partnerships...  

See Inside The Worcester-Framingham
Commuter Rail Line’s New $20 Million Station,
“Boston Landing,” Paid For By New Balance

By Gintautas Dumcius

A new $20 million commuter rail train station on the Worcester-Framingham MBTA line, built next to I-90, was hailed Wednesday as a “change agent” by the man who pitched in to pay for it: Jim Davis, founder and chairman of New Balance.

Called Boston Landing, the station is next to New Balance’s world headquarters in the city’s Allston-Brighton neighborhood, which is seeing the Bruins and Celtics move practice facilities to the area, along with 295 residences, a 175-room hotel and retail space. The development next to the station bears the same name, Boston Landing.

New Balance will also cover all maintenance costs of the station for 10 years.


Photo: Gintautas Dumcius/

Boston Landing, a new $20 million MBTA commuter rail station, opens Monday, May 22. New Balance, which has a world headquarters behind the station, paid for its construction.

Davis called the 15-acre area the “western gateway to the city of Boston” and said it will be attractive to Millennials.

Allston-Brighton is going to be “the next Brooklyn,” Davis said before he joined Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and state transportation officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new commuter rail station.

The station opens on Monday, May 22, the same day new train schedules go into effect. Construction first started in 2015.

Baker’s transportation secretary, Stephanie Pollack, said the new station puts Allston-Brighton within walking distance of rail transit for the first time in 50 years. The cost of train ride is $2.25 to and from South Station, same as a subway ticket.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who attended the ribbon-cutting, pointed to the Bruins and Celtics moving their practice facilities to the area.

“It shows this community is a place where people want to be,” he said.

The new station also led to the replacement of more than 50,000 rail ties and the reduction of heat-related speed restrictions on the Worcester-Framingham Line, transportation officials said.

Skanska USA managed the construction of the station, which is the “greenest” MBTA station above ground, the company said, pointing to local sourcing of materials and subcontractors, as well as their on-site recycling of materials.

The company saw work safety challenges in constructing a station sitting on a fully operational commuter rail line, according to Paul Pedini, vice president of operations.

“What we tried to do to surmount those issues is to relocate the existing train track over towards Mass. Pike,” he said after the ribbon-cutting.

“It did two things: It took the live rail away from the work zone, so we could work more or less unimpeded from the affects of the trains that were passing,” he added. “But it also segregated the live trains from the workers who were involved with construction, and it created a much safer work zone for our people. And it allowed us to work faster.”

The end result, Pedini said, is now both tracks are live in both directions, a boon for the commuter rail line as well as the neighborhood, which has a double track for the first time in 50 years.

[ Editor note:  Boston Landing is an “in-fill” station on an existing MBTA track and operating commuter rail line.  Another station tentatively to be called “West” is also under consideration a short distance down the track (inbound) as part of a rebuild of the Massachusetts Turnpike (RT I-90) exit ramps in the Brighton-Alston neighborhood.  The new stations are prompting substantial transit-oriented development in the immediate areas.  Another in-fill station was built a short time back on the MBTA Orange Line rapid transit at Assembly Row between the Sullivan Sq, and Wellington Stations in the City of Somerville, MA. For more on Assembly Station see our feature story at: ]

From an item found at:

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OFF THE MAINLINE... Off The Main Line...  

Train Delayed?  Order Out!

Crust In Time! Committed Pizza Boy Leaps Over Streams
And Climbs Embankments To Get Food To A ‘Hungry’
Passenger Stuck On An Amtrak Train

By Gareth Davies For Mailonline
The Daily Mail

A hungry passenger got a pizza delivered to a stalled Amtrak train after it ground to halt between New York and Washington DC.

Mitch Katz was on the train on Sunday which was scheduled to arrive in Washington DC just after 5pm when it stopped due to a technical fault.

Having spent an hour stationary on the tracks, and with nothing from the train’s cafe taking his fancy, Mr. Katz dialed up a local pizza company and a committed delivery man negotiated the embankment and water to deliver the hot meal.

The co-founder of a wealth management company managed to capture the delivery on video.

In it, a pizza boy dressed in a red shirt and carrying a matching red bag can be seen walking alongside the train having hopped over a stream to get to his customer.

It is thought the tasty treat was ordered from Dom’s Pizza.

Mr. Katz tweeted: ‘Stuck on Amtrak 161. Got hungry and problem solved.

‘Shout out to Dom’s Pizza for feeding since Amtrak won’t.’

Amtrak didn’t respond immediately to a request for a comment, but on social media said: ‘Service disruption due to a mechanical issue, assistance on the way.’

Eventually, the train arrived at Union Station at 8.35pm, which was more than three hours after the scheduled time.   

Read more:

[ Editor Note:  Amtrak has apologized for the delay and has stated that such an act was extremely dangerous for such a delivery to have taken place. ]

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TO THE NORTH... To The North...  

Neighbors Battle For A Tiny Railway That Has
Become A Lifeline In Northern Manitoba

Selena Ross
Special To Financial Post

Around 4 p.m., three days a week, people in Thicket Portage, Man., line up in a clearing at the edge of town. Parents nudge their kids forward as a train slows on the tracks in front of them. Even before it fully stops, the children are waiting beneath it with arms raised, muscles tensed.

The conductor hauls down bottled water, bikes and boxes of food. The children, at a sprint, drop their armfuls into trucks and wheelbarrows and return for more. Sometimes the train doesn’t return for two days.

For nearly a century, the Hudson Bay Railway, which leads to the port in Churchill, has been the only dependable link to the rest of the country for Thicket Portage and several Cree hamlets like it.

Thicket Portage is 700 kilometers north of Winnipeg, and its river freezes into a road in winter, but the only transportation options in summer are $2,450 round-trip charter flight or the train.

It’s no coincidence that Manitoba Cree are now poised to take over the iconic railroad from Denver-based OmniTrax Inc. Cree leaders say it should be no surprise, either, that they’re jockeying to buy it — they’ve been preparing for this very moment for years.

“We’re connected to this railway,” said Chief Betsy Kennedy of War Lake First Nation, about 100 kilometers north of Thicket Portage.

The train represents more than convenience. People across northern Canada struggle with untenably high grocery bills, a lack of local health care and unreliable cargo deliveries, but the train has made it possible for many northern Manitobans to stay on their land affordably.

For the full story go to:

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Calgary Makes Recommendation For
Stage 1 Of Green Line LRT

By Mischa Wanek-Libman
Rail, Track, And Structures

The city of Calgary Administration released its recommendation for construction of Stage 1 of the Green Line Light Rail Project on May 11.

The first stage, estimated to cost CA$4.65 billion (US$3.39 billion), will be the longest LRT line the city has constructed in a single go. The recommendation includes building the 20-km (12.4-mile), 14-station core of the line from 16 Avenue N to 126 Avenue S.E. The line is slated to open in 2026 with planned extensions to be added once funding is secured.

“Building the core of the Green Line LRT is essential to supporting Calgary’s growth,” said Mac Logan, general manager of Transportation for the city of Calgary. “We have a unique opportunity now to apply for a significant amount of funding. In building the most technically complex piece of the project first, we will be well positioned to expand the line in affordable, incremental pieces as more funding becomes available.”

Construction is anticipated to begin in 2020. A formal construction schedule will be developed once funding commitments from all three levels of government are in place, but stakeholders note that the provincial and federal governments have demonstrated their support.

“This staging recommendation is the right approach for Calgary, today and in the long-term,” said Logan. “Stage 1 is ready for construction, demand for the line will only continue to grow and with the economic down-turn, this is the right time to invest in jobs and make this project a reality.”

From an article found at:

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Ontario High-Speed Rail Proposal Just A
Pre-Election Come-On, Not A Doable Plan

From All Aboard St Marys

The Wynne government’s just-released proposal for high-speed rail passenger service in the distant future in Southwestern Ontario is impractical, unaffordable and unacceptable, says the All Aboard St. Marys citizens’ committee.

“We’ve previously heard all of this pie-in-the-sky stuff from this government and others before it,” says Chris West of All Aboard St. Marys. “Any multi-billion-dollar plan that won’t deliver improved rail service for nearly a decade, is dependent on funding that may or may not materialize, and leaves St. Marys, Stratford, Brantford, Woodstock and Ingersoll out of the mix is a non-starter. This is just a regurgitation of the empty pre-election promise this government made in 2014.”

All Aboard St. Marys has long advocated incremental improvement of the two existing rail routes between Toronto and London, and then westward to both Windsor and Sarnia. The group’s view is that several workable plans now being successfully and quickly implemented on comparable U.S. corridors offer realistic and cost-effective blueprints for Southwestern Ontario, especially because they have all delivered cost-effective improvements on a rapid and continuous basis.

Says West, “The government could have saved itself and the public time and money by simply adapting and adopting the program now in place for the San Jose-Oakland-Sacramento service known as the Capitol Corridor (, to use just one example out of many. They’ve gone from two trains daily in the early 1990s to 15 roundtrips today through a combination of ongoing equipment, infrastructure and speed improvements, as well as extensive coordination with all the connecting transit systems and feeder bus routes along the line.”

The Capitol Corridor is now the fourth busiest rail passenger route in the U.S. and its locally-based management team’s practical vision plan will boost that in stages with more departures, increased speeds and eventual conversion to an electrified, high-frequency service that will deliver all the benefits being promised in the Ontario proposal. The key difference is that the Capitol Corridor plan has and will continue to yield benefits almost immediately to passengers every step of the way.

“What the provincial government is doing with this pre-election promise is mortgaging our future,” says West. “The U.S. regions with which we compete for jobs and investment, such as Northern California, are barreling ahead with realistic rail improvement plans that have already proved their worth. Southwestern Ontario is going to be left with nothing but glitzy promises, inadequate rail service and expensive reports that will gather dust on the shelf. That the government is also proposing to create a whole new bureaucracy similar to Metrolinx to deal with this high-speed dream scheme is truly frightening.”

All Aboard St. Marys will be advancing the case for high-performance rail service in the weeks ahead by meeting with politicians and community leaders all along the Toronto-Kitchener-London line. The Capitol Corridor vision plan and the group’s own high-performance rail report ( will be the focus of these discussions. The need for such a service is urgent and the time for action is now.

Says West, “At the very least, today’s announcement from Queen’s Park focuses attention on a mobility issue where politics has trumped rational decision-making for too long. Since the government has put this out for public debate, we intend to be a strong and well-informed voice of reason in the days ahead.”

For more information, please contact:
Chris West
All Aboard St. Marys
Tel: 519 284-3310
Fax: 519 284-3160
Toll free: 1-866-862-5632 Ext. 238

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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2017 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. (NCI) as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI and Destination: Freedom (DF) are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Logo courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI & DF remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

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