The National Corridors Initiative Logo

June 5, 2017
Vol. 17 No. 22

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...

  Guest Opinion…
Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Pollack
   Not Comparing Apples To Apples
  Amtrak Lines…
Amtrak Announces Summer Service Plan For
   Penn Station Infrastructure Overhaul
  Funding Lines…
Amtrak In Jeopardy Under President Trump’s Budget
  High-Speed Lines…
85th Texas Legislature Wrap Up
  Safety Lines…
Metra Nets $20 Million In Federal Funds For
   PTC Implementation
  Maintenance Lines…
North Shore MBTA Maintenance Shutdown
   Meetings Rescheduled
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Across The Pond…
Eurostar Train Services Coming To Amsterdam?
New Train Station in Cambridge (UK) Built to be Green
SNCF Rebrands TGV As “inOui”
  To The North…
Ontario Commits To Toronto - Windsor High-Speed Rail
  Publication Notes …

GUEST OPINION... Guest Opinion...  

Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Pollack
Not Comparing Apples To Apples

N-S Rail Link Study Is Too Watered Down

By Joseph Anton Aiello and Thomas J. Girsch
Commonwealth magazine

We disagree with Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack’s “apples-to-apples” comparison of the South Station expansion and North-South Rail Link projects, especially with the corresponding studies currently being prepared. What the secretary fails to note is that the projects are not being given a level playing field. MassDOT has spent nearly $40 million studying South Station expansion, yet is offering a mere $1.5 to $2 million for the North-South Rail Link study. That is only “apples to apples” if one is fresh and the other is plastic.

The other major difference between the two studies is how MassDOT watered down the scope for the North-South Rail Link. For example, as currently specified, the North-South Rail Link study does not include updated ridership models (instead using highly dated estimates from 2009-2011) or a health and environmental analysis. Nor does it include an updated cost analysis using modern technology for both construction and operation, which is critical in arriving at a realistic estimate, as well as alleviating concerns over another “Big Dig.”

We strongly urge Pollack, MassDOT, and the Legislature to require a more comprehensive scope for the North-South Rail Link study. The only way the two projects can be given equal footing is if the state starts to take the rail link seriously.

Boston is on track to be the only city in the world without an integrated rail network. We cannot allow the state to remain so historically shortsighted.

About the Authors

Joseph Anton Aiello is a council representative with the National Association of Railroad Passengers and Thomas J. Girsch is northeast division leader of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. Aiello is not related to Joseph Aiello, who chairs the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board.

At Right... A suggested MBTA System Map under a North-South Link connection  →

From an item appearing at:

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AMTRAK LINES... Amtrak Lines...  

Amtrak Announces Summer Service Plan
For Penn Station Infrastructure Overhaul

Penn Station Is Undergoing Major Repairs This Summer
And Amtrak, LIRR And NJ Transit Riders Will Be
Affected By Weeks-Long Service Changes

From NBC New York

Amtrak last Tuesday released its long-awaited summer service plan for an eight-week work project that will hamper travel in and out of New York, but make critical infrastructure upgrades at Penn Station, the nation’s busiest rail terminal.

Commuters are already dreading what Gov. Andrew Cuomo has predicted will be a “summer of hell,” after a chaotic spring for NJ Transit and Long Island Rail Road riders.

An announcement is expected soon on how NJ Transit and LIRR will be affected. The two commuter lines carry hundreds of thousands people each weekday.

The modified schedule will last between July 10 and Sept. 1, with additional work lasting through June 2018, Amtrak said.

The renewal plan accelerates years of planned improvements to track, switch and other infrastructure at Penn Station, which has seen a number of derailments, power issues and other infrastructure problems in recent months.

Amtrak said no changes will be made this summer to the speedy Acela Express, its premium service on the heavily trafficked Northeast Corridor.

But service will be reduced between New York and Washington, D.C., and between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Northeast Regional service will see three round trips, or six total trains, canceled each day between New York and Washington, D.C. Service between New York and Boston will operate normally.

Some trains will be truncated on the Keystone and Crescent services. Changes to the Empire service, which operates between Niagara Falls, Albany and New York, has not been announced, but reports have said those trains could be diverted from Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal.

Keystone service, which operates between Harrisburg, Philadelphia and New York, will see three of its round-trip trains, or six total trains, start and end in Philadelphia. One more round-trip train will start and end in Newark, New Jersey. Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg will operate as normal.

Crescent service, which operates between New York and New Orleans, will originate and terminate in Washington, D.C. daily during the work period. Connections will be provided on other Northeast Corridor trains, Amtrak said.

This summer’s work should help Penn Station handle an almost 3 million increase in passengers over the past 10 years. More than 10.4 million inter-city passengers travel through the station each year, and more than 450,000 commuters each day. More than 1,300 trains traverse the station’s web of rails each day, Amtrak said.

The summer repairs are expected to close three of the station’s 21 tracks at a time for the duration of the eight-week period.

Amtrak is the owner and operator of Penn Station. The agency announced the summer repair project in April after two derailments and other major service disruptions highlighted the station’s aging infrastructure. The replacement of aging tracks and other equipment, much of which dates to the 1970s, initially was scheduled to be completed over a two- or three-year period, mainly on nights and weekends. But the recent problems prompted Amtrak to condense the process to include weekdays.

Both recent derailments, one on March 24 and another on April 3, occurred in the general area of Interlocking A, though they were unrelated and caused by different factors, Amtrak officials have said. The April derailment, caused by aging wooden cross-ties underneath the rails, knocked out eight of the station’s 21 tracks for several days, causing extensive service disruptions.

Riders on NJ Transit’s Morris & Essex Midtown Direct line are expected to be affected by the Penn Station summer work; they’ll be diverted to Hoboken during the project, and from there, they’ll be able to transfer for free to the PATH or the ferry, Gov. Christie said Tuesday. No other NJ Transit lines are expected to be affected.

Many LIRR riders are already expected to be diverted from Penn Station to either Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn or Hunters Point or Jamaica in Queens. Cuomo said Tuesday that the state will set up alternatives for LIRR commuters, including a high-speed ferry, park-and-ride sites along the Long Island Expressway where drivers can carpool and get free tolls, free buses from Nassau and Suffolk, and the addition of new HOV lanes.

The original item appeared at:

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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

Amtrak In Jeopardy Under
President Trump’s Budget

By Alicia Turner

The president’s latest budget proposal puts a lot of items on the chopping block. One of them is Amtrak services in Florida.

It’s a decision many are saying they can’t get on board with.

In April of 2016, dozens gathered in south Tallahassee, rallying for Amtrak to bring its passenger service back to the Capital City.

“Being a student at FSU, or former student, and being out of state, it would be nice to have a train service,” says Lauren Romanzak.

Fast forward to May 29, not only is the service still not in Tallahassee, but it could be completely eliminated from Florida.

If President Trump’s budget passes, it would severely cut funds across the country.

Jim Mathews, President and CEO of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, says, “144 million Americans could lose their access to Amtrak. If this budget were to go through, 220 communities around the country would be impacted. It’s a huge blow to a lot of places, including Florida.”

In Florida alone, Amtrak employs more than 700 people and carried over 230,000 customers in 2016.

“You don’t look at just the number of people that come in and out on a train, you look at the trips that would not take place if that didn’t exists. Tourism is a life boat for Florida and everyone knows that,” says Mathews.

Many supporters now say the next step is to speak up.

“We do not want to lose Amtrak in the state of Florida, and we’d like to see it expanded to serve the Gulf Coast,” says City of Tallahassee Commissioner Scott Maddox.

“It’s important to keep funding to all of the service industries, whether it’s transport, all of that stuff is important. A lot of people use Amtrak, it’s a great way to travel,” says Lauren.

An experience that could soon be a thing of the past. Commissioners are saying one way you can speak up is to write a letter to Congress.

To do so, go to:

[ Editor note:  The budget will impact numerous lines across the nation.  Florida is but one example of what might happen.  Stories of this nature are being published nationwide as many train lines are at risk.]

From an item appearing at:

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HIGH-SPEED LINES... High-Speed Lines...  

85th Texas Legislature Wrap Up

Doing High-Speed Rail The “Texas Way”

By Holly Reed
Legislative Update; TexasCentral.Com

As the Texas Legislature completes its regular session, work on the bullet train remains at high-speed. We have not and will not slow down the progress being made every day. That work now only intensifies, and we are ever more passionate about it.

I again wanted to salute everyone who contributed to all the hard work done in Austin on so many important topics, including transportation. The intense 140-day session requires much dedication and sacrifice. Our congratulations to Speaker Joe Straus, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott for their accomplishments this session, including passage of two bills concerning the bullet train.

You have heard me say it before, the Texas Bullet Train is the right project being done the right way at the right time. We took time in the Capitol to share details of the project with lawmakers, their staff and leaders from across the state, focusing on doing it the right way – the “Texas Way.”

The “Texas Way” means this project will be the SAFEST way to travel in the world, built and operated based on data-driven decisions from free market principles and no state appropriations. The two bills that were approved are rooted in that – safety and fiscal responsibility.

Texas is proving again to be a leader in transportation, and the Railroad is proud to be a part of that. The Texas Bullet Train remains a key tool in the state’s infrastructure tool box as a safe, reliable and environmentally friendly option that efficiently will move our growing population.

As Senate bills 977 and 975 become law, we credit the speaker, lieutenant governor and governor for their leadership and support of fiscal conservatism and safety, as well as the bill authors – Senators Birdwell and Schwertner and Representatives Ashby and Schubert.

We look forward to our continued work with the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Texas Department of Public Safety and other government and law enforcement agencies as the system’s safety and security plan moves ahead.

Texans on the bullet train will be riding on the safest, most technologically advanced system in the world.  Partnerships with these agencies ensure that.

With the regular legislative session behind us, we look forward to announcing new milestones as we achieve them. Thank you again for your support.

From an article appearing at:

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SAFETY LINES... Safety Lines...  

Metra Nets $20 Million In Federal Funds
For PTC Implementation

From Progressive Railroading

Metra has received a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to implement positive train control (PTC) on the Milwaukee North and West lines.

“This much needed funding will help guarantee that one of the busiest commuter rail systems in the nation continues to provide for residents,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill) in a press release.

The federal dollars also will help drive additional economic activity and “further solidify Chicago’s role as a leader in innovative transportation,” Quigley added.

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act includes $199 million to help railroads install PTC systems. That legislation was passed in late 2015.

Last week, elected officials from New York and New Jersey announced federal grants to help Amtrak and New Jersey Transit pay for PTC implementation.

Found at:

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MAINTENANCE LINES... Maintenance Lines...  

North Shore MBTA Maintenance Shutdown
Meetings Rescheduled

By Jennie Oemig
WickedLocal.Com - Beverly, MA.

Three public information sessions regarding a suspension of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) service to the North Shore this summer have finally been rescheduled.

Beginning on July 8 and running through Sept. 30, the MBTA will commence weekend shutdowns of commuter rail service for the entire Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail line in order to install Positive Train Control (PTC) systems.

In addition to that, the replacement of the swing span bridge that connects the commuter rail line between Beverly and Salem would require a complete 28-day shutdown north of Salem Station from July 17 to Aug. 13.

In late April and early May, three North Shore public information sessions scheduled by the MBTA were postponed. One of those sessions was in Beverly, where city officials decided to hold the meeting anyway, using the opportunity to gather concerns and suggestions from the public, which were then passed on to the MBTA.

The meetings will be held as follows:

During the meetings, MBTA representatives are expected to provide information regarding project details, timelines and recommended alternative transportation options.

The most recent plan only included busing between Beverly Depot and Salem Commuter Rail Station during weekday shutdowns. A point of contention during the Beverly meeting, North Shore officials are hopeful other alternative transportation options will be made available.

All public meeting locations are accessible to people with disabilities. MassDOT provides reasonable accommodations and/or language assistance free of charge upon request (including but not limited to interpreters in American Sign Language and languages other than English, open or closed captioning for videos, assistive listening devices and alternate material formats, such as audio tapes, Braille and large print), as available.

For accommodation or language assistance, contact Jason Johnson by phone at 857-368-8914, or by email at

[ Editor note:  The planned service suspensions on the combined Newburyport/Rockport line for bridge work and the installation of Positive Train Control has been met with outrage from elected officials and impacted ridership to the point where earlier meetings were cancelled so the MBTA could regroup.  How riders will be managed is yet to be revealed.  Several tourist cities that thrive on commuter rail day-trippers in the summer months would be impacted raising major concerns of the economic impact to the entire region.  While alternate bus service exists between the MBTA’s core subway system and Salem, without added service those routes could not handle the increased demand, and riders north of there are still without a solid plan.  Along with tourist dollars, thousands of workers jobs could also be at risk.]

[Editor Note: LATE BREAKING NEWS: Massachusetts State Representative Paul Tucker (D-Salem) has advised the press that the MBTA will in fact provide alternate bus service during the Beverly bridge replacement project in July and August between Salem Station and those stations north of there along both branch lines. The buses will provide free service to the stations on those routes, and during the construction period parking at those stations north of Salem will be free. Weekend service during the installation of PTC systems continues to appear to be a no-service condition north of Salem, MA, Alternate bus service is available between the MBTA’s Blue Line at Wonderland Station (Revere, MA) and Salem Station along existing surface routes already in use on weekends.]

From an item 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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ACROSS THE POND... Across The Pond...  

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

Eurostar Train Services Coming
To Amsterdam?

Cross English-Channel Train Company Hints At Extending
Scheduled Train Services To Rotterdam And Amsterdam
From Its Existing London – Brussels High-Speed Train Corridor
Beginning Easter 2018

Via Railnews UK

Eurostar will launch regular services to Amsterdam next Easter, it has been revealed to Railnews UK.  The operator ran the first e320 Siemens Velaro to carry passengers between London and Brussels in late May 2017, and the event was accompanied by reports that at least two trains a day would be running to Amsterdam before Christmas.  However Eurostar has denied this, saying that although its test trains have been running successfully on the Dutch rail network, and that these tests will continue, a public launch of regular services is not expected until Easter 2018.


Photo: Wired magazine

An Eurostar e320 (Siemens Velaro) high-speed train shown during a PR visit to London St. Pancras station in November 2014.

A company source told Railnews: “Driver training has been going well, and the start of e320 services on the Brussels route is certainly a beginning, but we do not expect to run regular services to the Netherlands until Easter 2018, to coincide with the beginning of the City Break season.  An inaugural train to Amsterdam is likely later this year, but we think that will not be until 2018.”

The new Eurostar route north of Brussels will serve two major Dutch cities. Rotterdam is the country’s business capital, while the real capital Amsterdam is a favorite tourist destination. The journey time from London St Pancras International to Amsterdam Centraal will be under four hours.

Eurostar has indicated that the stopping pattern between Brussels and Amsterdam is not yet firm, and there is also the possibility that trains from London could run beyond Amsterdam, perhaps to Utrecht, if there proves to be a business case for an extension.  Meanwhile long anticipate plans by Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) to serve London St. Pancras International station from Frankfurt and Cologne (Köln) using its own Siemens Velaro high-speed trains operating under the ICE 3 brand seem to still be on-hold, no firm date given so far for these services between Germany and the UK via the Channel Tunnel.  

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New Train Station in Cambridge (UK)
Built to be Green

Regular Passenger Train Operations Started At The All-New
Cambridge North Station At The End Of May 2017

Via Railnews UK

A new “green” train station serving science and business parks in Cambridge (England) has opened in the least week of May 2107.  Cambridge North Station is operated by Greater Anglia, but Great Northern trains also call there, with both operators offering a total of six departures in a typical off-peak hour.  Destinations include London Liverpool Street, London King’s Cross and Norwich, and there are also regular services to and from the main station serving central Cambridge.  From 2019 trains on Greater Anglia’s new route between Norwich and Stansted Airport will also stop at the new station.


Photo: “Cambridge News” newspaper.

Ready for action – the new Cambridge North “green” passenger train station just before the inaugural passenger trains arrived back in late May 2017.

The three-platform station includes a 1,000-space cycle park and a car park for 450 vehicles. It is also served by buses, including those on the Cambridge guided bus route.  Green technology has been used on the site, including solar panels providing up to ten per cent of the station’s power.

Greater Anglia managing director Jamie Burles said: “This is great news for Greater Anglia and for Cambridge. The existing station at Cambridge is one of our busiest stations.  This station should relieve some of the pressure on it. It takes about 30 minutes to drive from Cambridge station to Cambridge North but just six minutes by train, so it should be a great boost to people commuting to work in the science park, or for people commuting from northern suburbs or villages.”


Photo: “Cambridge News” newspaper.

Cambridge North station a few days later after the start of operation.

“It’s a fantastic design, incorporating Cambridge’s innovative heritage, and one of the most environmentally-friendly stations on the network. Cambridge is a thriving city and this station will help to make rail travel even more attractive, as well as supporting the continued growth of the local economy.”  Bob Menzies, service director strategy and development for Cambridgeshire County Council, added: “We developed a design in partnership with Network Rail. We very much see it as an integrated transport hub.  It had to function well as a railway station, be reasonably economical to build but also resonate with Cambridge. I think that it will come to be a bit of a landmark.”

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SNCF Rebrands TGV As “inOui”

By Kevin Smith
International Railway Journal

In an effort to attract 15 million customers to its flagship high-speed services by 2020, French National Railways (SNCF) announced a new strategy on May 29, which includes the rebranding of TGV to inOui.

SNCF will gradually introduce inOui across the high-speed network beginning with the new high-speed line between Tours and Bordeaux, which is scheduled to open on July 2. It is aiming to complete the rollout across all services by 2020.

The move comes following a growing feeling in France that the TGV had become stale, and with increasing numbers of passengers switching from the train to slower but cheaper long-distance bus services, observers felt that SNCF had to act.

To boost TGV and deliver high levels of customer service under the new inOui brand, SNCF says it is investing ?1.5bn in its Oceane train fleet as well as retraining 5000 agents to improve customer relations skills. It will also invest ?300m on deploying Wi-Fi across its train fleet. It is also overhauling its online ticketing platform to make it easier for passengers to distinguish between its different offerings and to improve the customer experience.

SNCF says that since this new approach to customer service was adopted on its Paris - Lyon services at the start of the year, ridership has increased by 7%.

“InOui is reflective of the transformation that is taking place at SNCF, and will also help to accelerate the many projects that are set to come,” says Ms Rachel Picard, general director SNCF Voyages. “It is also a major undertaking for the 20,000 members of staff who will work each day to evolve this service for our customers.”

Complementing inOui is SNCF’s low-cost Ouigo service, which the company hopes will account for 25% of all high-speed passengers by 2020. Launched in 2013, Ouigo currently carries 5% of all high-speed passengers in France. However, SNCF is set to expand its service offering to reach 30 destinations using a fleet of 34 trains.

From an item at:

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TO THE NORTH... To The North...  

Ontario Commits To Toronto - Windsor
High-Speed Rail

By Keith Borrow
International Railway Journal

The premier of Ontario Ms. Kathleen Wynne announced on May 19 that the province will move forward with plans to build Canada’s first high-speed line.

This was decided after a report by Mr. David Collenette, Ontario’s special advisor on high-speed rail, concluded the project has a positive business case.

Wynne confirmed that the province will now begin preliminary design work on the line from Toronto to Windsor, which will serve intermediate stations at Pearson, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London and Chatham. Ontario has also allocated $US 11 million to carry out a comprehensive environmental assessment.

Collenette’s report outlines two possible options for the project. Scenario A is a 186 miles-per-hour electrified line operating primarily on dedicated rights of way. Scenario B in an electrified line using a combination of existing infrastructure and dedicated new alignments to achieve speeds of up to 155 miles-per-hour.

The assessment found that Scenario A offered a Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) of 0.36 for Phase 1 (Toronto - London) and 0.17 for Phase 2 (London-Windsor), which rendered this option unviable. The low BCR resulted from the need for extensive tunneling, which resulted in a base cost of $US 14.07 billion excluding contingencies for the full corridor.

Scenario B has a BCR of 1.02 for Phase 1 and 0.24 for Phase 2, reflecting higher forecast demand on the Toronto - London section. The base cost for this option is $US 521.98 billion excluding contingencies.

From Toronto’s Union Station, high-speed trains would travel along Go Transit’s Kitchener corridor, calling at Malton for Pearson Airport, and at Guelph station. HSR trains would share the line with the Union Pearson (UP) Express and Go RER services on the corridor to Kitchener. This mixed operating model is likely to require a number of infrastructure improvements on this section and costs could be shared with the RER project.

A peak high-speed service of three trains per hour is proposed on this section, with two trains per hour off-peak.

From Kitchener-Waterloo’s planned multimodal station high-speed services would continue their journey west to London on a new dedicated double-track line, with sustained speeds of 155.343 miles-per-hour anticipated on much of this segment.

The second phase from London to Windsor would run on a new electrified single-track line, which would run parallel to the existing Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) lines.

The report says design and construction “should ideally start by 2022,” with commercial operations beginning in 2025. Implementation of the project will be overseen by a new governing entity, High-Speed Rail Corporation (HSRCO).

Ridership is forecast to reach 10 million passengers per year by 2041, with rail capturing an 11 percent modal share on the corridor, eliminating five million car journeys a year.

Toronto-Kitchener-Waterloo journey times would be cut to a minimum of 48 minutes by rail, compared with an average of 1 hour 14 minutes for the current car journey. High-speed rail would offer a 25-minute journey time between Kitchener-Waterloo and London, compared with 46 minutes by car.

The corridor is home to around 7 million people and 60 percent of Ontario’s economic activity. “We’re growing and we’re outgrowing our current transport network,” says Wynne. “We have to provide faster, better, more sustainable transport options. The best time to build high-speed rail was 40 years ago. The second-best time is today. So that’s what we’re going to do.”

“There have been a lot of excuses in the high-speed rail debate in Canada - the country is too large, the population is too small, it won’t be worth it. Those were commonly-held views in the 70s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s. It may be that they made sense then. But it’s 2017 and that has changed. We know there’s enough demand that we need to get moving on this. The next generation don’t believe those excuses. They have been to other parts of the world, they know there are better ways to get around.”

Found at:

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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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