The National Corridors Initiative Logo

June 12, 2017
Vol. 17 No. 23

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...

  Amtrak Lines…
Amtrak Training Trains For New Service Between
   Roanoke And Lynchburg
Amtrak And BNSF Consider Restoring Passenger
   Rail Service From KC To Fort Worth
  Transit Lines…
Sound Transit Adding Longer Link Trains
MBTA Plans $82M Extension Of Silver Line
   Into Chelsea, MA For April 2018
  High-Speed Lines…
CHSRA Pledges $115 Million For L.A. Regional
   Connector Rail Project
  Builders Lines…
In California, Siemens Production Facility
   Rolls Out 100th Locomotive
 
  Selected rail Stocks…
  Maintenance Lines…
MBTA Releases Service Plan During North Side
   Commuter Rail Maintenance
  To The North…
All-day GO Train Service Coming To Stouffville
   GO Line
Young Travelers Plan Canada 150 Meet-Ups
   On Via Rail
  We Get Letters…
  Publication Notes …


AMTRAK LINES... Amtrak Lines...  

Amtrak Training Trains For New Service
Between Roanoke And Lynchburg

By Elizabeth Tyree
WSET News

Amtrak, in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and Norfolk Southern, began operating non-scheduled trains last Monday.

They said the trains serve as training [runs] for locomotive engineers and train conductors to learn the tracks and territory between Lynchburg and Roanoke.

The trains will not carry passengers and are expected to operate two times per day, five days a week.

Amtrak wrote in a release that operating qualifying trains is an essential step toward completing the project to bring intercity passenger rail service to Roanoke in the fall.

Amtrak Northeast Regional Service will extend from Lynchburg to Roanoke and will operate one round-trip seven days per week.

Amtrak, DRPT, and the city of Roanoke are working to bring intercity passenger rail service back to the city for the first time in four decades.
The Northeast Regional service will provide a same-seat trip to and from Roanoke and to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and other cities along the Northeast Corridor.

They said the effort to expand rail options in Virginia has been made possible by the state’s more than $100 million strategic investment in Norfolk Southern’s rail infrastructure, which makes this intercity passenger service extension possible.

Instead of driving on congested highway corridors, like I-81, Route 29, I-95, and Route 460, travelers can use rail as a way to expand mobility and increase connectivity for travel throughout the regions served along the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak wrote.

[ Ed note:  Along with knowledge of how a train operates, locomotive engineers, the train drivers, also must visually qualify on the tracks on which they will operate a train. ]

From an item appearing at:
http://wset.com/news/local/amtrak-training-trains-for-new-service-between-roanoke-and-lynchburg


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Amtrak And BNSF Consider Restoring
Passenger Rail Service From
KC To Fort Worth

By Jim Cunningham
KMBZ News

Amtrak and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad are taking a major step toward bringing back passenger train service from Kansas City to Texas.

The Lone Star train from KC to Fort Worth was discontinued almost 40 years ago because of budget cuts.

Amtrak and BNSF have announced the two organizations are forming a feasibility study to restore the service.

An inspection train is making its way Friday from Kansas City to Oklahoma City, said Mark Corriston, with the National Association of Rail Passengers.  
Passenger rail to Texas is inconvenient today, Corriston said.

“You can go to Newton, presently,” Corriston said. Newton is just north of Wichita. “Then you can board a throughway bus that will connect you to Oklahoma City, and then continue on to Fort Worth.”

The cost of restoring service has not yet been formalized, Corriston said.

The train’s Friday schedule has it in Wichita at 12:05 p.m., in Topeka at 3:45 and arriving at Union Station in Kansas City at 5:30.

Corriston said he hoped to see a lot of citizens at Union Station to show their support for rail travel.

From an item appearing at:
http://www.kmbz.com/articles/amtrak-and-bnsf-consider-restoring-passenger-rail-service-kc-fort-worth


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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

Sound Transit Adding Longer Link Trains

From KIRO News

Sound transit has recently seen an uptick in ridership, so they are adding longer trains for the summer.

And with summer tourist season soon to be in full swing, they need to get more trains back into service.

In April, Link Light Rail saw up an up to  17-percent increase in weekday ridership from last year.

Previously, Sound Transit would start with 12, two-car trains and then add seven, three-car trains.

Staring Monday morning at 5 a.m. they had 12, three-car trains. They will then add seven more two-car trains during the peak commute hours.

But Sound Transit hasn’t really determined what peak hours are, as link ridership has been up throughout the last year or so and heavy train traffic has been going on well beyond rush hour.

There are 16 rail stations you can use.

Found at:
http://www.kiro7.com/news/local/sound-transit-adding-longer-link-trains/529938357


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BRT Lines

MBTA Plans $82M Extension Of Silver Line
Into Chelsea, MA For April 2018

From WCVB News
And DF Staff

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is planning to open an $82 million Silver Line extension in less than a year.  The Silver Line is the MBTA’s bus-rapid transit (BRT) service.

Plans call for an extension to grow the Silver Line from Logan Airport to several new stations in Chelsea, and have the project open in April 2018. The bus rapid transit line would also be connected to the Blue Line in East Boston and Commuter Rail stations in the Chelsea area.

The target opening date for the plan was discussed during a board meeting Monday, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo confirmed.   It is expected to be ready for revenue service sometime in 2018.

An MBTA map proposal indicates the buses would travel the route in a mixture of dedicated and mixed traffic roadways, creating a route that runs between Chelsea and South Station.

Image

Map Image: MBTA

Map of the Silver Line Extension

The Silver Line, operates extra-long, dual-power mode bus vehicles.  The service in question operates in a restored subway tunnel that begins at Boston’s South Station on a level just under the street, and above the MBTA Red Line subway trains.  The original tunnel was at one time used for streetcars but was both modified and extended to the South Boston waterfront.  While in the subway the buses operate on an overhead wire catenary service supplying 600 volts DC much like a streetcar.  Outside of the subway they retract the trolley poles and operate on diesel, and proceed from the South Boston waterfront area through the Ted Williams Tunnel under Boston Harbor to Logan Airport.

The extended service will travel from the airport area in East Boston, intersect with the MBTA Blue Line at the Airport station, then proceed on surface streets into Chelsea, MA. Once in Chelsea it will operate on a dedicated busway converted from a former freight right-of-way that crossed through the city at one point.  The extended service will have several stops in Chelsea and end at the Chelsea Commuter Rail station on the Newburyport/Rockport line.  The commuter rail station itself is being moved several thousand feet to meet up with the new BRT service in a more-accessible location.

The busway in Chelsea has been under construction fro about two years and has included the need to replace and expand several bridges, rebuild several grade crossings, and relocate high-tension power lines and other utilities.

Unlike surface bus routes the Silver line travels between dedicated station stops much like a subway train.

An older section of the Sliver Line operates exclusively on surface streets between South Station in downtown Boston and Dudley Station in the Roxbury neighborhood.  This section of the BRT service also utilizes extra-long, articulated buses but operates on diesel power only. Much of this section has dedicated marked bus lanes to give them priority access.  This part of the Silver Line is the oldest and first established dating back to the 1980s.  Plans to unify the two sections of this BRT route into a seamless service has been met with a combination of logistical and financial problems.  Because of this, while named the Silver Line, it remains a two-part, disjointed option for cross-town travelers.


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

CHSRA Pledges $115 Million For
L.A. Regional Connector Rail Project

From Progressive Railroading

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) is providing nearly $115 million for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) Regional Connector rail project.

The funds come from Proposition 1A bonds, which California voters approved in 2008. California Senate Bill 1029, which was signed into law in 2012, allocated the funds for the Metro project, CHSRA spokeswoman Adeline Yee said in an email.

The Regional Connector project is a 1.9-mile underground rail route that will allow passengers to transfer between Blue, Expo, Red and Purple lines. Estimated to cost $1.75 billion, the project includes construction of three rail stations.

Last week, Metro marked a project milestone when a tunnel boring machine broke through the underground wall of the future Grand Avenue Arts Station.

“The California high-speed rail program isn’t just about constructing the nation’s first high-speed rail line. It’s also about improving connectivity around the state, including in Southern California,” CHSRA officials said in a video about the Regional Connector project.

Metro broke ground on the project in September 2014.

Found at:
http://www.progressiverailroading.com/high_speed_rail/news/CHSRA-pledges-115-million-for-LA-Regional-Connector-rail-project--51801


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BUILDERS LINES... Builders Lines...  

In California, Siemens Production Facility
Rolls Out 100th Locomotive

By Stuart Chirls
Railway Age

Siemens this week said it completed the 100th locomotive at its Sacramento, Calif. rail manufacturing hub.

The Charger SCB-40 unit, for Florida’s privately funded passenger rail operator Brightline, is 100% Buy America-compliant utilizing components from more than 40 U.S. suppliers in 20 states.

The loco is part of BrightRed, the fifth and last passenger trainset to be delivered by Siemens.

The third and fourth trainsets to join the roster—BrightGreen and BrightOrange—arrived at Brightline’s Workshop b in West Palm Beach, Fla., in May.

Trainsets BrightBlue and BrightPink were previously delivered to Brightline’s Florida operations facility.

Siemens at Sacramento also has built the SC-44 to be deployed on Amtrak’s Cascades service, among others. Illinois is the lead agency in a multi-state procurement for the Chargers with Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, California and Washington. The Midwest states will receive and own 33 of the 4,400-horsepower locomotives, which were purchased through $216.5 million in federal funding and are being assembled by Siemens in Sacramento.

Delivery of all 33 locomotives is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

From an item at:
http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/mechanical/locomotives/in-california-siemens-production-facility-rolls-out-100th-locomotive.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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MAINTENANCE LINES... Maintenance Lines...  

MBTA Releases Service Plan During
North Side Commuter Rail Maintenance

Alternate Bus Service Planned During Construction Closures
July Through September 2017

By D. Kirkpatrick
NCI Managing Editor
Summarized From An MBTA Press Release

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has released its alternate weekday and weekend commuter rail service plans for the Newburyport/Rockport branch line as a result of the planned Beverly Drawbridge construction taking place on weekdays from July 17 through August 13 and Positive Train Control (PTC) installation work taking place on weekends from July 8 through September 30.

The Beverly Drawbridge replacement project will shut down all train service north of Salem [Massachusetts] Station from July 17 through August 13. Commuter Rail customers are encouragedto consider alternate transportation options for weekday commuting, including driving to an alternate station, using existing bus services in the Newburyport area, carpooling, taking the Salem Ferry, connecting to MBTA service via regional transit authorities, or working from home during this time.

During this period the MBTA will provide alternate weekday express bus shuttle service. Three shuttle bus options will be available to connect to Commuter Rail Service at Salem Station but will not serve stations immediately north of Boston proper since those stations are serviced by alternate surface bus routes.  The stations that will be skipped are, Chelsea, Riverworks (serving only GE plant workers), Lynn-Central Sq, and Swamscott.

The Newburyport Shuttle Bus will stop at Salem, Beverly Depot, Ipswich, and Newburyport only. The Rockport Shuttle Bus will stop at Salem. Beverly Depot, Manchester-By-The-Sea, Gloucester, and Rockport.  Those stations not listed north of Salem will have no service, with patrons needing to connect with those stations that are being served.

A separate Beverly-only Shuttle Bus will be added to accommodate patrons going only to Salem and Beverly Depot at select peak service times.  These stations are the busiest on this branch line at peak run times.

Parking will be free at all stations north of Beverly Depot. Customers should note that Zone 3 monthly passes are accepted on the entire Newburyport/Rockport Line in July and August (customer who normally buy a Zone 4-8 pass should purchase a Zone 3 pass for these months). Corporate pass customers should instruct their company pass administrator that they should be billed for a Zone 3 pass for July and August. Passengers who choose to purchase single-ride tickets during this construction will be charged no more than a Zone 3 fare when paying onboard or via “mTicket” on your ‘smart phone’ app.

Patrons are warned that during these alternate service options there can and will be periods of congestion at Boston’s North Station as well as at Salem Station and Beverly depot.

The MBTA will also install federally mandated PTC systems along the Newburyport/Rockport Line to improve safety and reducing the potential for train collisions. PTC installation will require shutting down the entire Newburyport/Rockport Line on weekends from July 8 through September 30. During this time, weekend Newburyport/Rockport Line passengers are encouraged to consider alternate transportation options, including existing bus service to and from Newburyport, riding the Salem Ferry, traveling to Crane Beach and Essex via connecting service from Ipswich Station, or parking and riding at an alternate station.

The MBTA will provide shuttle bus service between Boston’s North Station and select stations on the Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail lines in order to keep weekend customers moving. The stations served will be the same as for the Beverly draw bridge work but without the extra peak service bus to Beverly Depot.

Specific schedules for all shuttle bus alternate services have yet to be released.

As with the weekday closures north of Salem for the bridge work, parking will be free at all stations north of Beverly Depot.

Weekend shuttle service is provided for a special $10 roundtrip. Up to two children 11 years old and under ride free with each paying adult. Zone 3 or higher passes will be accepted at all stops with weekend fares sold at North Station in Boston.

Surface bus service to Salem Station is available from the MBTA but due to its nature and traffic, may take somewhat longer to reach their destinations.

Bus #459 (weekdays only) operates during peak service times between Boston’s Downtown Crossing (Otis Street) in Boston and Salem via Logan Airport.  Bus #450 operates between Haymarket Station (Orange and Green Line) in Boston to Salem.  Bus #455 operates between Wonderland Station in Revere on the MBTA Blue Line to Salem Station.  On weekends, bus #450 and #455 operate from Wonderland Station to Salem.

For more information on Beverly Drawbridge construction, PTC installation work, and alternate service information, including all special shuttle bus schedules, please visit http://www.mbta.com.


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TO THE NORTH... To The North...  

All-day GO Train Service Coming
To Stouffville GO Line

Ontario Adding More GO Train Trips To
Help Commuters And Manage Congestion

A Press Release From The Canadian
Ministry of Transportation

Ontario is bringing new all-day GO train service to the Stouffville line to help manage congestion, provide more transit options and improve commutes for families in Scarborough and York Region.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, Markham-Unionville MPP Michael Chan and Oak Ridges-Markham MPP Dr. Helena Jaczek visited Unionville GO Station today to announce the new trains.

Starting Monday, June 26, new train trips will run approximately every hour in both directions during the midday and evening periods, from Monday to Friday between Unionville GO Station and Union Station. In addition, there will be one new morning and late evening weekday train trip between Lincolnville GO Station and Union Station, and two existing train trips will be extended from Unionville GO Station to Lincolnville GO Station. In total, there will be 17 new train trips per weekday, doubling the total number of weekly train trips from 85 to170 along the Stouffville GO corridor.

Expanding service along the Stouffville GO corridor will support GO Regional Express Rail (RER). GO RER will provide faster and more frequent service across the GO network and is the largest commuter rail project in Canada.

Ontario is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, public transit, roads and bridges in the province’s history. To learn more about what’s happening in your community, go to https://www.ontario.ca/page/building-ontario

Increasing public transit to improve people's commute is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick Facts:

From a press release available at:
https://news.ontario.ca/mto/en/2017/06/all-day-go-train-service-coming-to-stouffville-go-line.html


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Young Travelers Plan Canada 150
Meet-Ups On Via Rail

By Fabian Mayer
Special To The Globe And Mail News

Young Canadian travelers are meeting online before taking to the rails together in July for Canada’s 150th birthday. A handful of Facebook groups have popped up for those with special Via Rail passes to discuss travel plans and organize meet-ups.

The $150 Via Rail pass marking Canada’s 150th birthday allows people 12 to 25 (and students 26 and over with an International Student Identity card) unlimited travel in the month of July. The promotion made headlines in March, when people had difficulty buying the passes due to problems with Via Rail’s booking system, but, in total, 4,000 passes were sold.

The largest Facebook group related to the pass is the public Via Rail Youth Travel. It has attracted 541 members since it was created on March 30.

Twenty-four-year-old Kay Zheng, who studies commerce at the University of Toronto, wanted a way for people she knew to plan their trips together when she launched the group.

Soon after starting the group, Zheng learned another individual, Jonah Haber, had started one of his own. She asked if he wanted to merge the two groups. “So we did and the next day it pretty much blew up,” she says.

Zheng will be travelling from Toronto to western Canada with her pass. She plans to meet up with people from the group in Winnipeg and then continue west for some camping in Jasper and the Calgary Stampede.

“I planned my trip based on a lot of these people’s itineraries,” Zheng says. “I also posted threads about which way I was going so more people could join the route.”

Posts to the group range from discussions of routes and tourist attractions, to an advertisement from a hand-poke tattoo artist who plans to ink travelers between stops for $30 to $60 a tattoo.

A definitive hashtag has yet to be coined, with group members contemplating more old-school systems for identifying each other. Vancouver student Tim Solntsev suggested travelers tie a yellow handkerchief to their backpack straps.

“There’s going to be a lot of tourists mixed together with us and I just wanted to think of something that’s visible and easily accessible to everyone,” Solntsev says.

Montreal accountant and aspiring clothing designer Carlos-Alberto Rios-Flores has designed a baseball cap he hopes will become the way young travelers find each other on the rails.

“My plan is not to make money from this. It’s to make people happy and share an experience,” Flores says.

The black cap from Flores’s street-wear company, Tats Apparel, features a compass rose on the front. Flores plans to head west to Vancouver and then visit Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise.

Other groups include Via Rail 150 East Heading West and #Club1867 VIA Rail Canada150 Youth Pass Travelers.

From an item appearing at:
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/travel/young-travellers-plan-canada-150-meetups-on-via-rail/article35199239/


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WE GET LETTERS... We Get Letters...  

Opinion

[ Ed Note - Rail commentator M. E Singer has sent us another recent response to a rail story in the press.  This week the Sacramento Bee has run an editorial entitled “Want jobs for the ‘forgotten man’? Finish high-speed rail” which can be seen at:  http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article153955174.html.  Singer replies thusly...]

Perhaps referring to this economic transportation link as “high-speed rail” is a misnomer given its non-direct route and longer travel time between SF-LA? However, given the ‘feathers flying’ from the lobbyists representing every possible interest potentially threatened, while skillfully serving as the puppet masters for some politicians, there is genuine concern this concept could work. Indeed, those who have vision are quite cognizant of how this rail economic catalyst will serve to enhance the mobility and economic growth of the Central Valley, finally linking it to the more developed north and south regions, to the economic benefit throughout the state.

Unfortunately, the public today lacks the relevant facts to confirm the validity of this project, given the power of the lobbyists to obscure such pertinent information that would be in the public interest, but not in the interest of who they represent. Politicians representing non-urban and wealthy landowners willingly play into the powerful hands of these lobbyists, ever so dependent upon their campaign largesse. Indeed, this is like a larger “National City Lines” case, but further encompassing air and bus lines, air, bus, and auto manufacturers, as well as oil, tire, and construction companies seeking to protect their own provincial interests at the expense of the public.

History is already dead set against those who protest and fire-up the NIMBYs in the false cause of protecting taxpayers. During the height of the Depression, the federal government worked with the Pennsylvania Railroad in a true P3 to fund the electrification of its mainline between New York-Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia-Harrisburg. Faster and more frequent freight and passenger trains jump-started economic development served by an enhanced, reliable mobility. As well, the Republican mayor of New York City, Fiorello LaGuardia, eagerly worked with the Democrat president, FDR, to secure federal funding to build bridges, tunnels, subways, etc. that directly impacted economic growth and mobility in the region.

History also explains how the Interstate Highway System did not initiate construction in New York and LA, but rather, in the middle of the nation. As well, the public should understand how much lower the cost of this rail-economic generator would have been if allowed to be properly funded from the beginning by the federal government, as well as to access the federal construction insurance program as available for all other modes of transport. But these advantages were stripped away by a core group of California politicians and their ilk who look at opportunity wearing blinders, unless it is for pouring road asphalt, or maintaining monopolies for rice, cotton, sugar, drugs, etc.

Accessing downtown San Francisco and achieving Tehachapi Pass should not continue to be a strident blue/red issue, but what will be in the best public and economic interests of the State of California. Learn from how New Jersey and New York perpetually ignored to the detriment of their economic and mobility interests their own rail infrastructure issues. Now building new tunnels and bridges for the Northeast Corridor, and repairing its depots and infrastructure, is a race against time, to the tune of at least $52 Billion.

M.E. Singer
Rail Provocateur
singer.mark.e@gmail.com

[ The views and opinions of the writers in our letters section are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NCI or Destination: Freedom. We present these words in recognition of the many voices seeking to be heard in the rail and transit advocacy sector. - Ed]


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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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