The National Corridors Initiative Logo

June 13, 2016
Vol. 16 No. 23

Copyright © 2016
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 16th 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.
Molly N. McKay
Foreign Editor
David Beale
Contributing Editor
David Peter Alan
Managing Editor / Webmaster
Dennis Kirkpatrick

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

  Construction Lines…
Where’s The Gateway?
  Corridor lines…
Oklahoma DOT Issues RFQ For Heartland Flyer
  Ridership Lines…
MBTA Opening Youth Pass Discount Program
   To Young Adults
  Expansion Lines…
Work To Start On Second Track Between Albany
   And Schenectady, NY
Big Developments In A Small Town
Purple Line Extension Station Construction Set
   To Begin On LACMTA
  Funding Lines…
Across The US Communities Seek $9.3 Billion In
   Tiger Funding
  Select Rail Stocks…
  Transit Lines…
Nearly 2.6 Billion Trips Taken On U.S. Public
   Transit In 2016 First Quarter
  Builders Lines…
Amtrak And Siemens Mark Completion Of
   Final Amtrak Cities Sprinter Locomotive
  Across The Pond…
InnoTrans 2016: North American Attendee
   Discount, Strong Canadian Presence
  To The North…
Montreal’s Inaccessible Public Transit A
   Charter Violation, Lawyers Claim
Ontario Makes Another Big Funding
   Commitment To Rail Transit
  To The South…
Rio De Janeiro Inaugurates Porto Maravilha LRT
  Publication Notes …

CONSTRUCTION LINES... Construction Lines...  

Where’s The Gateway?

Can a “Better Gateway” Be Built?

Last (Fourth) In A Series
By David Peter Alan

The relationship between landlord and tenant is inherently adversarial. For that reason, there are special Landlord-Tenant Courts in urban areas to handle the numerous disputes which arise from that difficult relationship. These courts only have jurisdiction over conventional landlord-tenant relationships, residential or commercial. They do not have jurisdiction when the landlord and tenant are railroads.

Amtrak is the landlord on most of the Northeast Corridor (NEC), the busiest stretch of passenger railroad in the nation. There are exceptions: Metro-North owns the line from New Rochelle (Shell Junction) to New Haven, and Massachusetts owns the segment from the Rhode Island state line to Boston. There is a “landlord-tenant dispute” taking place in Federal Court in Massachusetts today over “rent” for trackage fees that Amtrak claims Massachusetts owes, even though Amtrak is the tenant on that part of the line. The crux of the dispute between Massachusetts and Amtrak is allocation of costs.

The situation in New Jersey also concerns two railroads, but it is more conventional. Amtrak owns the tracks and collects “rent” under Section 212 of the Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008. New Jersey Transit (NJT) is a tenant, who pays Amtrak for use of the tracks and stations, including Penn Station in New York. NJT accounts for most of the trains and riders going across the Hudson River, and the riders who are the most expensive to serve are NJT commuters who ride during peak-hours. The capacity of Penn Station is constrained during peak-commuting hours, but not at other times. So Amtrak is the landlord on the NEC, including the part that NJT uses, but most of the riders on trains operated by NJT, the tenant.

There have been plans to alleviate this congestion, which comprise several proposals over more than two decades. The Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) Project was first proposed in 1995. It was NJT’s project and, essentially, it added tenant-funded improvements to the leasehold, which would benefit Amtrak (the landlord) as well. It included two new tracks, with associated tunnel construction, from New Jersey into Penn Station. Its “Alternative G” also included extending the existing line to Grand Central Terminal (GCT) on the East Side of Midtown Manhattan. Advocates for the riders all preferred that alternative, but Metro-North did not want “foreign” trains (including from its sister railroad, the Long Island Rail Road) using “its” terminal and persuaded politicians to kill Alternative G in 2003.

After that, ARC went onto a downgrade that got worse as time went by. There were several changes that reduced the effectiveness, and especially the cost-effectiveness, of the project during the ensuing years. Rider advocates at the local and national levels fought against the project until Gov. Chris Christie terminated it in October, 2010. Christie cited escalating costs as the primary reason why he killed the ARC project, but he also noted its deficiencies: Amtrak could not use the proposed new railroad or terminal, it did not go to Penn Station, and it did not extend to GCT.

When Republican Christie terminated the ARC project, Democrats wasted little time in presenting an alternative proposal: the Gateway Project. The late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg and top Amtrak officials unveiled Gateway only four months after Christie terminated ARC. This allowed Christie to walk away from responsibility for improving capacity between New Jersey and New York City, once the Democrats had shifted this responsibility to Amtrak.

Until last month, Amtrak presented the Gateway Project as an “all-or-nothing” proposition with an estimated cost of $23.9 billion, despite the opposition of some rider-advocates to features like Penn South, a proposed station south of the existing Penn Station, where most NJT trains would be assigned. On the surface, circumstances changed on May 1st, when NJT and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced the Hudson Tunnel Project (HTP). The HTP would build two new tracks in a single new tunnel (comprising two single-track “tubes”) between New Jersey and Penn Station, New York and repair the two existing tunnel tracks, at a cost of $7.7 billion.

NJT planners, who are leading the environmental review of HTP, presented the project at two “scoping meetings” in May and acknowledged that they are promoting the Amtrak Gateway design. They stated that the $7.7 billion HTP will not increase peak-hour capacity, even when the existing tunnels are repaired and placed back into service. The flooding from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 caused some damage to the existing tunnels, and Amtrak has stated that they must be taken out of service and repaired by 2034, according to Amtrak. Some observers have questioned that deadline and said that the shutdown could occur sooner; a concern that some rider advocates have also expressed.

NJT is now promoting a plan that would not deliver any additional capacity for its riders, even when there will be four tracks under the Hudson River and into Penn Station: two new ones and the two existing ones, after repairs are completed. As we reported last week, Amtrak does not need additional capacity. It can force NJT riders to wait for it until all of Gateway, including the proposed Penn South station, is completed.

Some advocates, including the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP) have endorsed Gateway in its entirety. Others, including the Lackawanna Coalition, have not. The advocates agree that new tunnel capacity is needed, and have expressed their support for the apparent new priority for tunnel construction. While the names “Amtrak” and “Gateway” are conspicuously absent from the notice about the Hudson Tunnel Project in the Federal Register, it is clear that Amtrak’s Gateway design is the one under consideration.

There have been other proposals since the ARC Project was first presented in 1995, including “near-term improvements” for Penn Station New York. The southernmost two platforms, serving Tracks 1 through 4, are shorter than other platforms. Only NJT uses those tracks, and extending the platforms would improve operational flexibility for NJT. There were also improvements proposed for vertical access between the concourse level and the track level. They would speed the process of clearing the platform after a train arrives at the station, and also facilitate boarding before a train leaves.

After Lautenberg and Amtrak officials presented the Gateway plan in 2011, former Long Island Rail Road Planning Director Joseph M. Clift and the late James T. Raleigh proposed their “Better Gateway” plan, which called for construction of some elements of Amtrak’s Gateway, to be built in a way that would improve capacity and train throughput, at an affordable cost, and as each phase of construction is completed. They called for a single new track into an improved Penn Station and associated trackage in New Jersey first. There would be an eventual upgrade to a four-track NEC in New Jersey, and later an extension to Grand Central Terminal over time in four stages. They were involved with the Lackawanna Coalition at that time, and the Coalition endorsed their plan.

Clift and other advocates have called for reconsideration of some of these prior proposals in statements filed as part of the Hudson Tunnel Project scoping process. One such proposal was the 2007 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) from the ARC Project, which was the last proposal to take ARC into Penn Station. Shortly after it was proposed, NJT Executive Director George Warrington changed ARC to create a totally-separate railroad on a different alignment for the last eight miles into a deep-cavern terminal in Manhattan. The new station would be located under 34th Street and was nicknamed “the train to Macy’s Basement.”

As this column noted two weeks ago, it is highly questionable whether funding can be obtained for all of Gateway. So the first segment of the project funded (i.e. HTP at nearly $8 billion) could be the last that will be built for the foreseeable future. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has been selected as the local agency to coordinate funding, but that fact has not generated any comfort for rider advocates. The Port Authority (or “PA”) had committed $3 billion for ARC, but that money was spent on New Jersey bridge projects instead. In addition, the agency recently completed its new “World Trade Center” station for Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) trains. The appearance of the building is controversial, to say the least. So is the cost: the overrun of $2.4 billion exceeded the original cost estimate of $2.0 billion by 120%. The overrun alone would have been sufficient to pay for a new single-track tunnel into Penn Station. On top of that, the Port Authority is preparing to spend $10 billion or more to replace the aging Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, which serves more commuters on NJT buses than use NJT trains to get into Manhattan. In short, not everybody is actually counting on the Port Authority for funding. Even raising nearly $8 billion for HTP, the first segment of Gateway, will be extremely challenging.

It appears to this writer that the most affordable approach to solving the commuting crunch would be to move away from massive capital investment and take a closer look at improving operations, with only a minimal level of capital investment needed to support operational improvements. During the busiest 60 minutes of the morning commuting peak 7:31 to 8:30), 26 trains enter the Amtrak/NJT side of Penn Station (Tracks 1-12); 22 on NJT, three on Amtrak from the NEC, and one train from Albany. Under the current operating plan, a track must be cleared for an Amtrak or NJT train every 28 minutes. By comparison, the Long Island Rail Road must clear a track every 15 minutes on its side of Penn Station (nine tracks: Tracks 13-21). Even if reducing track-clearing time on the Amtrak/NJT side of Penn Station were to improve by half of that difference, it would increase the number of peak-hour trains by 7, to 33. That would make room for one more train on each existing line during the “peak sixty” and also create slots to bring the Raritan Valley Line into Penn Station, as well. That has been the primary goal of the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition since it was founded.

There were near-term improvements for Penn Station proposed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, during the early days of the ARC Project. They were officially scrapped in 2008, apparently because the cost of ARC was rising and comparatively-inexpensive improvements might have alleviated the crunch sufficiently to dampen enthusiasm for the massive capital project that planners were promoting. If that supposition is correct, the near-term improvements fell victim to political posturing, rather than to a decision made on the merits of those proposed improvements.

Clift and other advocates have asked the NJT planners developing the Hudson Tunnel Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Scope of Work to include a review of the ARC DEIS alignment that could take advantage of these near-term improvements to increase train capacity, once a new tunnel is built; as opposed the current position that there will be no additional capacity. Whether or not they will include this alignment in their alternatives analysis remains to be seen. Still, the fact remains that NJT’s riders need additional capacity into Penn Station as soon as possible, and the promoters of the current plan have declared that it will not provide such capacity for them; at least not in the foreseeable future.

Last week we reported the opening for service of the 35-mile Gotthard Tunnel through the Alps in Switzerland. It cost $12 billion and took 17 years to complete, and user fees will eventually pay back the cost of construction. Trans-Hudson tunnels would be about 5% as long, although the cost of the entire ARC Project is estimated at twice the cost of the gigantic Swiss tunnel. The time line for a tunnel project under the Hudson River is now 21 years and counting.

If NJT’s commuters cannot wait for Gateway to be completed, and the required $24 billion in funding for Gateway remains problematic, something else must be done. The near-term improvements at Penn Station, combined with the ARC DEIS alignment may be the answer, but it is too early to tell if it will even be considered. Gateway may not be more feasible or acceptable to elected leaders than ARC had become by 2010. Whatever these elected leaders and project planners decide to do, the commuters still need to get to their offices, and they need trains to take them there. The economic viability of the region depends on that.

David Peter Alan is Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition, in addition to being Contributing Editor of D:F. He participated in the fight against the ARC Project after its useful features had been eliminated.

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CORRIDOR LINES... Corridor lines...  

Oklahoma DOT Issues RFQ For Heartland Flyer

Heartland Flyer Up For Operator Renewal

From Progressive Railroading

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) last week issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for passenger-rail service providers interested in running the Heartland Flyer route between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas.

The ODOT and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) currently contract with Amtrak to provide intercity passenger-rail service on the route. The daily service departs Oklahoma City at 8:25 a.m. and arrives at Fort Worth mid-day.

In Fort Worth, the Heartland Flyer provides a connection to the Amtrak Texas Eagle route. The Flyer has been running the route since June 1999. TxDOT became a co-sponsor of the service in 2006.

The two departments are seeking responses from entities that provide services such as train crews, rolling stock, train maintenance, on-board food and beverage, ticketing, and support personnel for passenger trains that could provide service for the Heartland Flyer, according to the RFQ.

Issuance of the RFQ doesn’t necessarily mean the departments will proceed with a request for proposals, however.

The RFQ responses are due at noon June 22.

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RIDERSHIP LINES... Ridership Lines...  

MBTA Opening Youth Pass Discount Program
To Young Adults

By Andy Metzger
State House News Service

The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board voted unanimously Monday to expand and indefinitely extend a youth pass pilot program, making it open to all low-income individuals in the T service area between the ages of 19 and 25.

The move increases the maximum age range from a roughly year-long pilot with a cutoff at 21. Youth aged 18 and under do not need to be determined low-income to qualify.

The new youth pass would be administered through any of the 17 municipalities in the core service area that chose to participate.

Costing $30 after the fare hikes take effect, the youth pass will offer a significant discount of more than 50 percent off regular cost of a monthly subway pass, which will be $84.50 starting July 1.


Photo: Jesse Costa/WBUR

Passengers boarding at Kenmore Station on the Green Line

Passengers on the platform of Kenmore Station wait for a MBTA Green Line trolley to pull into the station. The station is a junction point for 3 branches of the Green line, branches “B”, “C”, and “D” and is also the closest station to Boston’s Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

After MBTA control board member Brian Lang proposed extending the pilot program, set to expire at the end of the month, to a full service, control board member Monica Tibbits-Nutt suggested expanding the age range upward.

“I know that we have no data on it. And I know that we have absolutely no idea how much this is going to cost. And this might be the only time that I ever push for something like that,” Tibbits-Nutt told board members. After the vote, Tibbits-Nutt reiterated to the News Service, “We have absolutely no idea what it’s going to cost us,” and said, “As far as trying to service a population, there is no better policy.”

When the T board voted to hike fares an average of 9.3 percent in March, the board also made student passes valid year-round, one aspect of the pilot program. Starting in September the T plans to allow students to purchase their monthly passes through fare vending machines, and once the youth pass is implemented after Sept. 1, youth will be able to do the same, according to T spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

All youth in participating municipalities would be eligible from ages 12 to 18 as will young adults “up to 25” if they meet criteria like enrollment in food assistance or MassHealth or are enrolled in a high-school equivalency program or job training.

The particulars of the eligibility criteria still need to be worked out, according to MBTA Director of Strategic Initiatives Laurel Paget-Seekins. Pesaturo said the T is also determining whether the cutoff would be individuals’ 25th or 26th birthdays.

According to the T’s analysis of the pilot, if the program’s age limit was still capped at 21, all the T’s core municipalities participated and it gained a 20 percent participation rate, it would cost roughly $800,000.

Approved in late 2014, the youth pass pilot was originally envisioned to be offset by new revenues from universities purchasing MBTA passes in bulk, but T officials failed to secure support from local schools for the U-pass initiative.

For the pilot the T partnered with Boston, Malden, Somerville and the Chelsea Collaborative, which administered the program. The T found no evidence of fraudulent usage in the pilot, according to a presentation Monday.

Since it was established at the behest of Gov. Charlie Baker last summer, the control board has mostly focused on finding efficiencies, new revenue sources and making repairs to the current system.

Tyree Ware, a 24-year-old community organizer with Alternatives for Community and Environment who has pushed for the youth pass and against fare hikes, said he was surprised to see the age-limit increased.

“It’s amazing, you know. It’s great,” Ware told the News Service. Ware said he is unsure whether he would meet the income criteria himself and said he can’t afford the current cost of a monthly pass.

The 17 core municipalities are Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Newton, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, and Watertown, according to the T.

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EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...  

Work To Start On Second Track Between
Albany And Schenectady, NY

Project Includes New Tracks, Rensselaer Platform Lengthening

By Eric Anderson
Albany Times Union

Work on a second track to ease a major Amtrak bottleneck in the Capital Region began in earnest last Monday with the arrival of Amtrak crews and special track-laying equipment.

Crews are working west, from Albany to Schenectady, on what is perhaps the most significant of several projects to improve passenger rail service locally.

“It’s all good news,” said Bruce Becker, president of the Empire State Passengers Association, a rail advocacy group that for decades has sought the construction of a second track.

Amtrak spokesman Craig S. Schulz said laying the track would take about four weeks, with ballast and other work to follow.

“The project is on target for completion in 2017, pursuant to the statutory deadline associated with the federal funding provided,” Schulz added.

The $200 million in improvements, much of it paid for with federal economic stimulus funds, also includes lengthening the platforms at the Rensselaer train station and adding a fourth track there, as well as making signal and crossing improvements on the line between the Capital Region and Poughkeepsie.

The tracks south of Poughkeepsie are operated and maintained by Metro-North Railroad.

“The federally financed construction of the second track between Albany and Schenectady will break the hated bottleneck that has for decades bogged down upstate rail travelers with maddening delays,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. “We worked overtime to deliver the resources and, later, to cut through bureaucratic red tape and the threat of congressional claw-back to move forward with a project that will benefit the whole Empire State Corridor and all the tourists, upstate residents and businesses along its route.

“This is going to mean real time savings for passengers,” Schumer added.

With just a single track, Amtrak trains have had to wait in Rensselaer or Schenectady for trains traveling the opposite direction to clear the track, resulting in delays of 20 minutes or more.

The second track also is expected to open the way for more passenger rail service to Schenectady and Saratoga Springs.

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Big Developments In A Small Town

By Juliana Valencia And Michael Bradford

Several project plans are ready to go in Fulton, Kentucky that will hopefully make the city more inviting for you to visit.

Canadian National Railway recently approved site plans for a new Amtrak Station. It’s the busiest one in Kentucky, and more than 40-years-old.

“We will finally have a vintage looking, modern, new transportation facility,” Campbell said.

Jeff Campbell, who is spearheading this project, says they hope to hear from Amtrak about building plan approvals sometime next week. After that, Campbell says an actual legal document agreement between the City of Fulton and CN, to have access to that land, about an acre, for the next 99 years, needs to be created. Then the final hurdle is creating an operating agreement with the City of Fulton and Amtrak.

Campbell hopes to have construction more than halfway through in August when renovations on the Meadows Hotel should start. Architectural plans for the hotel are currently finished.

“I’m hoping they’ll come from our trains to my hotel. This hotel was built because of the railroad,” Campbell said.

Campbell is investing $1.5 million to re-open a hotel from 1901. The hotel existed at a time when Fulton had 30 passenger trains a day.

“Our city population would surge by as many as 9,000 people a day,” Campbell said.

It will be a boutique hotel with 14 rooms, a restaurant, a bar, and create 16 jobs.

“Fulton is missing so many tourism dollars because there is nowhere to stay. This will be the place to stay between Jackson, Tennessee, and Paducah, Kentucky,” Campbell said.

Campbell says the hotel also means an increase in payroll taxes and property taxes. The Meadows Hotel should be ready by fall of next year.

For the full story see:

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Purple Line Extension Station Construction
Set To Begin On LACMTA

From Rail, Track, And Structures

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) will begin building the Wilshire/La Brea underground station for the Purple Line Extension Project June 10.

LACMTA’s contractor Skanska, Traylor and Shea, a Joint Venture (STS) will excavate a portion of Wilshire Boulevard and replace it with concrete deck panels that will act as a temporary street surface while underground station excavation continues below. No decking work will be conducted during the regular work week or during the Fourth of July or Labor Day weekends. The work is part of LACMTA’s first major station construction for the $6.3-billion subway project that will extend the Purple Line further west.



Officials and workers speak at the ceremony marking the kick off of the new station

“Metro continues to transform transportation in L.A. County and we’re now ready to begin building the first of three subway stations that will provide more Angelenos with fast, frequent, high-capacity transit service along Wilshire Boulevard – one of our region’s most congested corridors,” said Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. County supervisor and LACMTA Board chair.

The 22-weekend closure schedule will consist of three separate decking phases at Wilshire/La Brea. The first phase will comprise three weekend closures from Detroit Street to La Brea Avenue. The second phase will include three weekends at the La Brea intersection. The third and biggest phase will comprise 16 consecutive weekend closures from La Brea Avenue to Highland Avenue.

The contractor will also conduct other work activities for the subway during the weekend closures to work as efficiently as possible.

The first section of the Purple Line Extension Project now under construction will add nearly four miles of subway from the Wilshire/Western Purple Line Station west to Wilshire/La Cienega and include three new stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. Construction of the first subway section began in early 2015. The first section is scheduled to be operational in 2023. Two subsequent sections are also planned that will add four more stations ultimately extending the subway to Westwood/VA Hospital by 2035 under current funding scenarios. LACMTA is pursuing alternate funding sources to accelerate this construction.

For more information see: /and/

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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

Across The US Communities Seek $9.3 Billion
In Tiger Funding

From Rail, Track, And Structures

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program has received 585 applications from across the country totaling $9.3 billion in requested funding – over 18 times more than the $500 million that will be awarded.

Now in its eighth year, the TIGER program has continued to attract overwhelming demand from communities of all sizes, with 337 applications coming from urban areas and 248 from rural communities. The high level of interest underscores the continued need for transportation investment nationwide.

“Communities across the country know that if we want a strong, multimodal transportation system that will meet our needs in the future, we need to make meaningful investments today,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “As we have seen year after year, there are far more worthy projects than we can fund through TIGER, demonstrating the need for a serious, long-term investment in transportation funding.”

Like the first seven rounds, 2016 TIGER discretionary grants will fund capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and will be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area or a region. The 2016 TIGER grant program focuses on capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation for communities, both urban and rural. As in previous rounds, the TIGER program supports projects that promote safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental sustainability and state of good repair. The program also prioritizes innovation, partnership and ladders of opportunity.

Since 2009, TIGER has provided nearly $4.6 billion to 381 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, including 134 projects to support rural and tribal communities. Overall, the U.S. Department of Transportation has received more than 6,700 applications requesting more than $134 billion for transportation projects across the country.

TIGER funding was provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, signed by President Obama on December 18, 2015.

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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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

Nearly 2.6 Billion Trips Taken On U.S.
Public Transit In 2016 First Quarter

From An APTA Press Release
June 08, 2016

Nearly 2.6 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the first quarter of 2016, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), representing a slight increase of 0.4 percent. Rail ridership saw significant increases, with light rail showing the largest increase of 3.0 percent.

“On a national level, public transit ridership was slightly up for the first quarter of 2016, with solid increases in light rail, heavy rail (subways), and commuter rail,” said Valarie J. McCall, APTA Chair and board member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Public transportation systems in the following cities reported record ridership for the first quarter: Albany, NY; Flagstaff, AZ; Oklahoma City, OK; and Seattle, WA. Additionally, public transit systems in cities of all sizes saw ridership increases due to economic expansion, as new jobs were added and unemployment decreased. These cities were: Albany, NY, Boston, MA; Detroit, MI; Hartford, CT; Lewisville, TX; Little Rock, AR; New York City, NY; San Antonio, TX; and San Francisco, CA.

Noting that nearly 60 percent of trips taken on public transportation are taken for work commutes, McCall said, “It’s common to see public transit ridership increase when communities are experiencing economic growth.”

Gas prices were significantly lower than the 2015 first quarter. Nationally, the average price of gas during the first quarter of 2016 was $1.80. This quarterly gas average was 40 cents lower than the 2015 first quarter national average, a drop of 18 percent.

“Despite the fact that gas prices were extremely low, nearly 2.6 billion trips were taken on public transportation in the first quarter,” said APTA Acting President and CEO Richard A. White. “It shows public transit services are essential to individuals and the communities they live in.”

To see the complete APTA 2016 Q1 ridership report, go to:

2016 First Quarter Ridership Breakdown

Nationally, light rail (modern streetcars, streetcars, and heritage trolleys) ridership increased by 3.0 percent in the first quarter of 2016. Thirteen of 29 light rail systems reported ridership increases. Four light rail systems in the following cities saw double-digit increases in the first quarter: Houston, TX (32.3%); Baltimore, MD (25.1%); Seattle, WA (21.2%); and Newark, NJ (13.5%). Light rail ridership in the following cities also saw increases for the first quarter of 2016: Portland, OR (9.1%); Minneapolis, MN (7.2%); Sacramento, CA (6.5%); Pittsburgh, PA (4.2%); Philadelphia, PA (3.3%); San Francisco, CA (3.1%); Dallas, TX (3.0%); Phoenix, AZ (2.8%); and Charlotte, NC (0.9%).

With the second highest percentage of increase in ridership, commuter rail ridership rose by 2.7 percent in the first three months of 2016. Sixteen of 29 commuter rail systems reported ridership increases. Three commuter rail systems in the following cities saw double-digit increases in the first quarter: Anchorage, AK (29.0%); Boston, MA (19.6%); and Seattle, WA (15.7%). Commuter rail ridership in the following cities also saw increases for the first quarter of 2016: Oakland, CA (9.4%); Nashville, TN (6.8%); Harrisburg-Philadelphia, PA (6.5%); San Carlos, CA (5.8%); Minneapolis, MN (5.7%); Portland, ME (5.2%); Stockton, CA (5.2%); New York, NY-MTA Metro-North Railroad (5.1%); New Haven, CT (3.6%); Newark, NJ (3.6%); Salt Lake City, UT (2.9%); Lewisville, TX (2.1%); and Portland, OR (0.1%).

In the 2016 first quarter, eight out of 15 heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) systems reported ridership increases as heavy rail ridership increased by 2.5 percent nationwide. The heavy rail systems with first quarter increases in ridership were in the following cities: Jersey City, NJ-Port Authority of NY & NJ (8.4%); Lindenwold, NJ-Port Authority Transit Corp. (7.8%); Boston, MA (7.4%); New York, NY-MTA Staten Island Railway (7.2%); San Francisco, CA (5.0%); Chicago, IL (3.3%); New York, NY-MTA New York City Transit (2.8%); and Atlanta, GA (2.5%).

Bus systems that saw ridership increases of more than 5 percent were located in the following cities: Albany, NY (6.1%); Alturas, CA (94.4%); Amherst, MA (11.7%); Anaheim, CA (12.5%); Arlington, VA (19.7%) Aspen, CO (6.7%); Bismarck, ND (13.2%); Boston, MA (7.1%); Clemson, SC (5.7%); Culver City, CA (7.5%); Davis, CA (8.0%); Dayton, OH (7.2%); Detroit, MI (19.6%); Espanola, NM (58.3%); Everett, WA (5.6%); Hartford, CT (8.7%); Ketchum, ID (9.6%); Lewisville, TX (8.7%); Little Rock, AR (9.5%); Missoula, MT 16.8%); Oklahoma City, OK (6.9%); Owensboro, KY (5.1%); Park City, UT (8.8%); San Francisco, CA (8.1%); Toledo, OH (6.2%); Williamsburg, VA (12.0%), and Williamsport, PA (5.2%).

Bus systems in population areas of below 100,000 saw an increase of 0.2 percent. Demand response (para-transit) ridership increased by 3.5 percent, while trolleybus ridership decreased by 1.9 percent.

About the American Public Transportation Association

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, para-transit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products.

For more information contact:
Virginia Miller
Director-Media Relations
American Public Transportation Association
Washington, DC

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BUILDERS LINES... Builders Lines...  

Amtrak And Siemens Mark Completion Of
Final Amtrak Cities Sprinter Locomotiv

By Global Rail News

The last of 70 Amtrak Cities Sprinter locomotives has rolled off the production line of Siemens’ factory in Sacramento, California.

The final electric locomotive will soon enter service on the Northeast Corridor.


Photo: Seimens

Locomotive #670 stands behind the work crew at the Seimens assembly plant.

Cities Sprinter locomotives have been operating on the Northeast Corridor between Washington and New York since 2013. The locomotives are also in use on the Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Rolling Stock, said: “We’ve been extremely honored to be a part of Amtrak’s core mission to connect cities and communities with efficient rail passenger rail service.

“Marking this important manufacturing milestone today, and our ability to produce these 70 locomotives ahead of schedule and on-budget, is a testament to the strong partnership and collaboration between Siemens and Amtrak throughout the project.

“We will be proud to watch these workhorses continue to come to life on the Northeast Corridor.”

Story published at:

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

InnoTrans 2016:  North American Attendee Discount,
Strong Canadian Presence

By William C. Vantuono, Editor-In-Chief
Railway Age Magazine

InnoTrans, the semi-annual global railway industry trade exhibition and the largest event of its type, is offering discounted tickets to North American attendees. As well, this year’s event will have a strong Canadian presence. InnoTrans take place every 2 years in Berlin and show dates are Sept. 20-23, 2016.

The discounted tickets are 60% off the regular price. North Americans who plan a trip to InnoTrans 2016 can use the following registration link:

For questions on attending or exhibiting at InnoTrans, contact North American Representative Mary Jo Balve, (732) 933-1118,

Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and CEO of the state-owned Canadian transport company VIA Rail Canada Inc., will be the featured speaker at the Opening Ceremony at the Palais am Funkturm. He will use this event “to address a number of issues, including an appeal to the rail sector to demonstrate its shared responsibility toward the subject of climate change,” InnoTrans organizers said. “In his opinion, the most difficult task confronting industrialized countries such as Canada is to overcome mankind’s dependence on automobiles. The CEO has formulated some clear objectives for VIA Rail: ‘Private cars are the main emitters of greenhouse gases. VIA Rail aims to meet this challenge and triple its passenger numbers over the next 30 years.’”

Canadian Exhibitors Strongly Represented

The Canadian exhibitors at InnoTrans 2016, whose numbers have tripled over the past eight years, are also preparing for an expansion of rail transport. As a result, these companies are presenting a wide range of products and services on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds, ranging from integrated software solutions (Giro Inc.) to flooring applications for the rail sector (Baultar Concept Inc.) and specialist components (Rail and Traction Canada Inc.).

In Hall 11.2, trade visitors can learn about the capabilities of the economic sector in Québec. Twenty regional firms will be represented on the joint stand, which is being organized by the Québec Ministry of Economic Development in cooperation with the representatives of the Government of Québec and the Québec Ground Transportation Cluster.

“Attendance at InnoTrans 2016 is essential, which is why the Province of Québec and its companies are exhibiting here, in order to present the innovative capabilities and the expertise available in Québec to potential partners in Germany, Europe and the world”, explains Claude Trudelle, Director of the Québec Government Office in Munich.

InnoTrans is the world’s largest trade fair for transport technology and takes place every two years in Berlin. At the 2014 event 2,761 exhibitors from 55 countries presented their rail industry innovations to 133,595 trade visitors who came from 146 countries. The five segments at InnoTrans include Railway Technology, Railway Infrastructure, Public Transport, Interiors and Tunnel Construction. InnoTrans is organized by Messe Berlin GmbH. More details are available online at .

(Ed Note: Destination: Freedom’s publisher Jim RePass and foreign editor David Beale have attended past InnoTrans events.)

Found at:

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TO THE NORTH... To The North...  

Montreal’s Inaccessible Public Transit
A Charter Violation, Lawyers Claim

20,000 Plaintiffs With Reduced Mobility Seek
$1.5 Billion In Damages From STM And AMT

By Stephen Smith and Melissa Fundira
CBC News

Only eight of Montreal’s 68 Metro stations are wheelchair accessible, which lawyers argued Tuesday is evidence that the city’s transit agencies are violating the rights of people with reduced mobility.

The argument was presented as part of an effort by Le Regroupement des activistes pour l’inclusion au Québec (RAPLIQ) to get authorization to launch a request for a class-action lawsuit against the STM and the AMT, Montreal’s transit agencies.

The suit also names the City of Montreal and the Quebec Ministry of Transport.

“The Quebec Charter [of Human Rights and Freedoms] dates from ‘75, the Canadian Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] from ‘82, “ Aymar Missakila, a lawyer for RAPLIQ, told Radio-Canada.

“In 30, 40 years, the people responsible for the transport network have not thought it necessary to render public transit accessible, which is an important element for the autonomy of people with disabilities.”

The suit involves around 20,000 plaintiffs and is seeking up to $75,000 in damages per person, for a total of $1.5 billion.

Linda Gauthier, president of RAPLIQ, said the request for a class-action suit was initiated out of frustration with complaints that she said have gone nowhere.

“We were sick and fed up with filing complaints at Quebec’s human rights commission against STM and AMT because their stations are not accessible to people with disabilities, especially those using wheelchairs,” she said.

“It didn’t do anything.”

The group’s ultimate goal is to see all STM and AMT commuter train lines made accessible.

Gauthier said RAPLIQ would accept a 20-year time frame for seeing that happen. She is hoping the judge in the hearing will agree to tour Montreal’s Metro system with RAPLIQ, so they can point out its obstacles to people with disabilities.

Tuesday’s hearing marked one of the initial steps in seeking authorization for the lawsuit. Gauthier will be deposed later this month at a lawyer’s office.

A decision on whether the lawsuit can go ahead is not likely before October or November, she said.

From an item at:

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Ontario Makes Another Big Funding
Commitment To Rail Transit

By Mischa Wanek-Libman, Editor
Rail, Track, and Structures

The province of Ontario is committing more than CA$1 billion (US$779 million) toward the city of Ottawa’s light-rail transit (LRT) expansion project, which the province says will help grow the economy, reduce travel times and connect people to jobs.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said, “Our investment in the Ottawa LRT will make a big difference in people’s everyday lives. It’s one of a number of historic investments in infrastructure that our government is making. It will help to create jobs and grow our economy now and for years to come.”

Ontario has already committed up to CA$600 million (US$467.69 million) towards the Stage 1 LRT project, called the Confederation Line — a CA$2.1 billion (US$1.63 billion) project that is jointly funded with the government of Canada and the city of Ottawa.

Stage 2 will add 18.64 miles of rail and 19 new stations while extending the Ottawa LRT network to the east from Blair to Place-d’Orléans Station; to the west from Tunney’s Pasture to Bayshore Station and southwest to Baseline Station; and to the South from Greenboro Station to Bowesville in Riverside South.

The new funding commitment is the largest provincial transit investment in Ottawa’s history and will support two additional extensions, a two-stop spur from the Trillium Line to Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport and a one-stop extension of the Confederation Line further east from Place-d’Orléans Station to Trim Road in Orléans. These will add four miles of new rail and three stations. Construction on Stage 2 is expected to start in 2018, once the Confederation Line is completed. Stage 2 is expected to enter service in 2023.

“The province remains committed to working with the city of Ottawa as it moves forward with implementing its Stage 2 LRT project. We know how important public transit is to managing congestion, curbing emissions, creating jobs and building communities,” said Ontario Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca.

Found at:

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TO THE SOUTH... To The South...  

Rio De Janeiro Inaugurates
Porto Maravilha LRT

By Keith Barrow
International Railway Journal

The mayor of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Mr. Eduardo Paes inaugurated the first phase of the 28km Porto Maravilha light rail network on June 5.

Passenger services will operate on a trial basis between 12.00 and 15.00 on the initial eight-station section between Parada dos Museus in the city centre and Santos Dumont Airport. Full commercial operations are due to begin on the 17km first phase between Rodoviária Novo Rio and the airport on July 1, and the line will be operating 24 hours a day during the Olympic Games.

The Central do Brasil - Praça XV line is expected to open later this year, while the line along Avenida Marechal Floriano is due to be commissioned next year.

The Porto Maravilha LRT is being implemented as a public-privatre partnership (PPP) project by a consortium led by Brazilian companies CCR Group and Invepar, which was awarded a contract to design, build, operate, and maintain the network in April 2013. Consortium member RATP Dev will operate the system for 25 years.

When all phases are completed, the network will have capacity to carry up to 300,000 passengers per day with trams operating at headways of between three and 15 minutes.

The Reais 1.2bn ($US 340m) project is being funded with the aid of a Reais 532m grant from the federal government’s Growth Acceleration Programme (PAC).

Alstom is supplying a fleet of 32 44m-long Citadis LRVs, which are equipped with Alstom’s APS ground power supply system for catenary-free operation. The first five vehicles were built in France while the remaining 27 units are being assembled on Alstom’s LRV production line at Taubaté in São Paulo state, which began operating

Found at:

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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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