The National Corridors Initiative Logo

July 27, 2015
Vol. 15 No. 30

Copyright © 2015
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 15th 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.
Editor
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...

  Guest Editorial…
Richmond Needs To Be In Amtrak Loop
Via On The Election Trail
  Guest Commentary…
Opposition To Reductions Of Night Trains Across Europe
  Guest Opinion…
Transit Hub Needs Capacity For Light Rail
  Transit Lines…
New York Celebrates A Subway Centennial
   In Brooklyn
  High-Speed Lines…
Amtrak Wants Acela Trains To Go Faster
Texas HSR Rail Project Names New CEO;
   Gets $75 Million Boost
  Selected Rail Stocks…
 
  Advocacy Lines…
Empty UP Express Trains Should Be
   Carrying Commuters Transit Group Says
  Expansion Lines…
FDOT Begins Prep Work For SunRail’s
   Southern Expansion
  Historical Lines…
Surviving 9/11 Subway Car Will Be Displayed
   At The Shore Line Trolley Museum In CT
  Political Lines…
Gov. Baker Appoints 5-Member MBTA
   Fiscal Management And Control Board
  Labor Lines…
MBTA To Use Penalty Fines To Help Improve
   Commuter Rail Service
  Publication Notes …


GUEST EDITORIAL... Guest Editorial...  

Richmond Needs To Be In Amtrak Loop

From The Richmond Times-Dispatch
Richmond, VA

Amtrak takes a lot of grief, and has since its inception. As Rush Loving — who covered business for The Times-Dispatch before moving to Fortune and who is the nation’s top railroad journalist — explains in “The Men Who Loved Trains,” Amtrak was created to fail. Politicians who do not love trains, particularly government subsidies for passenger rail, have despised it from the start. Amtrak offends free market absolutists. Critics complain that political pressure compels Amtrak to serve unprofitable long-haul routes that stop at a succession of remote small towns.

Amtrak thrives in the urbanized northeast corridor, whose prime segment runs from Boston to Washington but also extends to Richmond and Hampton Roads. A member of the Editorial Board recently rode Amtrak to New York. He sampled several varieties of service. He left Richmond on the Silver Meteor and had a roomette whose seats were transformed into a bed. He fell asleep just outside Ashland and sawed logs until Elizabeth, N.J. The rest proved surprisingly comfortable. He enjoyed breakfast in the dining car; the eggs were not up to the standards of roadside diners but were superior to airline chow. Crew members in the dining car and in the sleepers were pleasant and helpful. The train was late, which apparently is typical of runs that begin in Florida. Our colleague would not take the Silver Meteor if he had a tight schedule. He had time to spare on the day in question.

The return opened with the 6 a.m. departure of the Acela Express from Penn Station. After refreshing himself with coffee in the Acela lounge, he boarded the train and took a comfortable seat in first class. A cabin attendant took his order for breakfast, served at the seat and included in the fare. The train left precisely on time. Although not a bullet train, Acela bills itself as offering excellent service at accelerated speeds (get the name?). The service proved excellent indeed, but the accelerated speeds did not occur throughout the trip. The train often went no faster than its regular counterparts. The overall experience won stars, however. The editor would take it again.

At Washington, he switched to the Palmetto, a train seemingly identical to the Northeast Regional but with service beyond Virginia to the Carolinas. The train left only minutes late, but when it reached an office building for the House of Representatives, it slowed to a stop. Although the Palmetto lingered for many minutes, no announcements were made. Call it the Decela. The train pulled into the Staples Mill Station about 30 minutes behind schedule — which is not insignificant in a trip that should take only two hours.

The crews on the train and at the station earned high marks. The station is itself a joke. We cannot conceive of a worse introduction to Richmond. It reeks of the “hicksville.” RIC beats it in every category — efficiency, amenities and attractiveness. The Main Street and Broad Street (now the Science Museum of Virginia) stations come from the golden age of railroad architecture. Grandeur was deemed as vital as utility. Stations resembled temples. Richmond’s traditional stations project aesthetic sensibilities and civic confidence associated with New York. By the way, Penn Station is not what it was. The original edifice was torn down, an architectural legacy destroyed in the name of progress. The new station functions well but does not elevate. It shares space with Madison Square Garden, a coupling that flatters neither institution. The destruction of Penn Station fueled support for historic preservation.

Transportation infrastructure stakes a legitimate claim to public — i.e., taxpayer — support. The imperative applies not only to the passenger-heavy corridors but also to less-frequented routes. For many communities, Amtrak may be the only window to the outside world. Virginia must strive to ensure that Richmond remains tied to the northeast grid. Extending Acela to Richmond may not be feasible soon, but Richmond and other points belong in a higher speed network. Build a new station!

And speaking of stations, Washington’s many-splendored Union Station boasts a small but sublime memorial to A. Philip Randolph. The leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Randolph devoted himself not only to unions but also to the civil rights movement. The 1963 March on Washington relied on him. His dreams of a massive Washington demonstration on behalf of liberty, equality and justice dated to the 1950s. He was ahead of his times because his nation was behind the times. In his new book about the development of character, David Brooks writes extensively of him. Randolph stands in the American pantheon. Visitors detraining at Union Station ought to pay their respects at his shrine.

Found at:
http://www.richmond.com/opinion/our-opinion/article_8acd079e-fca4-5de9-945c-0d7baccf42bc.html


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On the Canadian Rail Front:

 

VIA On The Election Trail

Special Guest Editorial
By Greg Gormick

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that VIA is engaged in a public relations campaign that has earned it considerable ink across eastern Canada. The bad news is that the plans being unfurled are only causing even more concern than usual about VIA’s fate.

Following Yves Desjardins-Siciliano’s appointment to VIA’s helm in May 2014, he hit the rubber chicken circuit to talk about the railway’s future. His opening salvo was that his political masters had supplied enough money to VIA and it would be “unfair” to expect more. For good measure, the freshly-minted railway baron added, “VIA Rail is an increasing burden on Canada’s taxpayers due to deteriorating on-time performance and the lack of frequencies to be relevant.”

Given the depths of VIA’s accumulated woes and the fact that a solution is going to require steady capital funding to get it out of its deep pit, this rings alarm bells. This is even more the case when it’s put in the context of the capital funding supplied by this government since 2007.

Now totaling well over $1 billion (the government and VIA won’t tell you exactly), VIA’s capital infusion was, at best, poorly applied and, at worst, more money down a rat hole. Any realistic appraisal would have demonstrated that catching up with VIA’s deferred capital investment was going to cost much more than $1 billion. What’s more, the projects selected were largely questionable expenditures that couldn’t possibly supply the ridership, revenue and cost recovery up-ticks promised by VIA and expected by government.

The litany of botched elements in the VIA capital plan has been dealt with previously, so there’s no need to review that lengthy and depressing list. Suffice it to say this wasn’t the silver bullet to cure VIA’s multiple ills.

Now, VIA’s honchos are talking about major works that would make the previous ones pale by comparison. But does anyone connected with these plans have even the faintest idea of the realities of passenger railroading? Given the absence of relevant experience on the politically-appointed VIA board and management team, it’s not difficult to supply an answer.

The focal point of the current plan is a new, dedicated line that VIA says the private sector will build for it in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal triangle. The scant details VIA has released were questioned in a previous column, so there’s no need to re-plough that field. But the additional information ‘spritzing’ out of VIA’s leaky boat might lead you to ask if anyone at VIA head office has even seen the territory the line would traverse.

This latest plan would continue to use the VIA-owned lines from just north of Coteau to Ottawa and then on to Smiths Falls. From there, it would snuggle up to the CP freight main line to Glen Tay and then veer off on the abandoned portion of the CP Havelock Subdivision. The 92 missing miles would be rebuilt and the dedicated tracks would continue on the CP right-of-way through Peterborough to Leaside, then down GO’s mothballed, ex-CP Don Branch to Union Station.

What about all those high-ridership towns currently served by VIA on the CN Kingston Sub, on which a previous VIA scheme invested more than $400 million? Would there be enough business generated on the dedicated route through Peterborough to cover the losses on the existing routes? Has CP been consulted? Silence rings out from VIA.

As for new equipment, that would come after the private sector ponies up the $3 billion for the line because, at 110 mph, these would have to be very specialized trains that would need to fit with the infrastructure. Do these people think we just fell off the turnip wagon yesterday?

If this isn’t enough to convince you that VIA is a torpedoed ship taking on water fast as it ploughs through rough seas, then recent announcements in Southwestern Ontario will. With all the public angst from there, it is little surprise that VIA has aimed its public relations apparatus that-a-way. The result was more speaking engagements for the VIA brass.

At a June 16 Stratford Chamber of Commerce luncheon, a smorgasbord of promises was served. A new Stratford-Toronto morning train, an additional Toronto-Sarnia roundtrip, shifting the Sarnia trains to the Brantford line and a series of RDC shuttles from London to Windsor and Sarnia; all were on the menu VIA dished up and then re-warmed in Sarnia the next day.

Have negotiations for the new trains occurred with CN, GO and the Goderich-Exeter Railway, over which these trains will run? No. Have these proposed frequencies been put through a business case analysis? No. Is there enough equipment to do this? Maybe.

What was supposed to soothe listeners was the repetition of the VIA CEO’s view that he had in mind an admittedly unscientific threshold of 120 passengers per train to cover operating costs and make these trains permanent entries in the VIA timetable. He also told listeners he expects the communities to drum up the required business or the “use it or lose it” rule will be applied. As one of the mayors commented, he wasn’t aware that one of his unpaid jobs was acting as the VIA marketing department.

Many politicians and citizens aren’t buying this load of old cods. For every feel-good statement from VIA, there were angry comments about these being just ‘loosey-goosey’ promises made in an election year by a gang appointed by the current government. That all the improvements would occur after the election – “maybe by the end of the year, probably early next year, definitely by the end of 2016” – raised more than a few eye brows at the VIA promotional sessions. It struck some as just electioneering on VIA’s publicly-funded tab.

Still, the potential to end the politically-driven madness we’ve seen at VIA for 38 years may be just down the track: Election Day. VIA’s woes are penetrating the public consciousness and becoming a fertile campaign issue in some parts of Canada. No matter who the winners are on October 19, we can only hope they will finally treat VIA intelligently and compassionately. But then, hope springs eternal, doesn’t it?

Greg Gormick is a transportation consultant and advocate for the railways of Canada. Reprinted with permission of the author.


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GUEST COMMENTARY... Guest Commentary...  

Opposition To Reductions Of Night Trains
Across Europe

Special Op-Ed To Destination: Freedom By Poul Kattler, Member,
“Back On Track” And “Council For Sustainable Traffic”

Last year it became evident, that European railway operators were about to downsize their network of night trains across Europe. This tendency is not new, but it provoked parts of the general public. Therefore several petitions were initiated and demonstrations took place when the last trains made their journey. What is the background of these events?

Private Rail Freight Sector And The Division Of Infrastructure And Operations

From approximately year 2000 – and in varied speed – former European state owned railways were reorganized to cater for a private freight train market. However, it has not resulted in a better market share, and some places like in Denmark it has almost abolished the freight train sector – leaving transit trains as the only kind of freight trains along main lines. As a consequence of the reorganization the infrastructure could not be owned by one operator (the national railway company). Therefore, a painful split of commodities took place. Infrastructure came into new public ownership, and operations were split into several freight operators (developed from the old national entities) and national railways continued the passenger services. It was obvious that profit should stand above obligations of a national service delivery of essential transportation – also of passengers. Next step was to split passenger railways into one body, which determined the national and regional needs, and other bodies who as operators could set up a number of contracts.

Different Structures Across Europe

At the moment the previously so powerful national railway companies are still important players on the market. Some are real private actors, others are semi-state owned. But they have, in general, lost the long view of what is in the passengers interest, and instead they are focusing on profitability and are fighting for a high share of whatever market there is going to be next year. It is a short-term focus, where legal fights over bonuses and penalties within the state and regional contracts have higher importance than obligations to passengers. Environmental matters – where train traffic with green electricity is so much better than the climate hostile airline traffic – are a temporary marketing issue, rather than a leading parameter. First and foremost European passenger operators are competing with each other. What was before an international cooperation is now international competition.

A Train Network Is An Entity

Politicians are looking for new ideas for train policies within the road sector and the air industry. High ranking managers in the rail sector are headhunted from car manufacturers and airlines. The basic ideas in the new price policies are that passengers must buy tickets to trains as they buy airline tickets. Buy early and cheap, but with no or little refund. If you miss a train, you will have to buy a new ticket at full price. Passengers should travel with only hand luggage. Change trains many times. And trains should have high-speed on medium distances (200 – 600 km).

This is altogether a very dangerous policy. Passengers like timetables with fixed departures, e.g. every hour all day long, and with full interchangeability. And if there is a delay, the lost connection is not worse than the next train the following hour. A train network must be like a Swiss watch: Every cogwheel shall be sharp and fit to make the whole clock function accurately.

Demonstration

Photo: UmVerkehr

In Switzerland demonstrators gathered several places, here it is in the capital Bern.

Financing railway infrastructure is still mainly a public affair. Investments and repair has lacked behind other transport sectors, but some improvements are seen across Europe. But a track alone does not make any passenger traffic. Financing passenger trains are typically split in sectors which run side by side: Regions within the bigger nations determine the basic traffic needs and how contracts are awarded. National rail companies run these services alongside other companies (it could be competitors from other national rail companies). On the long distance national network and on high-speed lines you will most places find “free operations” with no national subsidies and dominated by the old national rail companies as DB and the French SNCF. This traffic does make a profit. Investments in new rolling stock are typically supported or guaranteed by governments.

Night Trains – An Important Part Of The European Long Distance Rail Network

A part of the Swiss Watch is the night time. High-speed trains on the national networks run infrequently, if at all, late in the night. Night trains take over with a departure from major cities during the evening; sleeping hours from midnight to 6 AM and arrival to destination from 6 to 10 AM. Night trains drive on conventional speed (to 180 km/hour) typically on the old (not high-speed) lines. They run distances from 600 – 1200 km, perfect to connect the European capitals and other major cities. They have been popular among passengers, both business with demands for high comfort (sleeping car accommodation), and families and young people with less money (couchette or coach class).

Rail operators have neglected this sector for many years. The rolling stock is getting old, and the “free operations” has not saved enough funds for renewals. International night trains as well as “conventional” international day trains in Europe are squeezed between lack of public subsidies, priorities in investments in day time high-speed operations, competition with other rail companies and the competition with cheap airlines and long distance bus operators (some also run by rail companies).

Reductions Of Night Trains Met With Protests

A year ago Deutsche Bahn announced considerable reductions of their City Night Line services outside Germany. Lines to Denmark, Holland and the Czech Republic were cut away, and auto-trains were announced to end later in the year. DB is not the first nor only to cut night trains. Only the Austrian Railways are keeping up the spirit and do even expand slightly.

But the unrest among passengers was new. Despite the official “political talk” about no passengers and considerable losses facts were brought to light showing that the numbers of passengers were good and that DB were deliberately cheating with figures to make it look as if night trains were more historic and nostalgic than anything passengers wanted in 2015. It lead to several well received petitions, the “Danish one” got 10,000 signatures, and it lead to demonstrations on train station platforms. Copenhagen saw the first demonstration of its kind with more than 200 participants – and speakers and protests along the line and inside the last departing night train.

Coordination After The First Spontaneous Actions

People with a varied background has come together and establish a network called “Back on Track” to coordinate further political and activist actions across Europe to support international trains in general and specifically the night trains. There are people with a background in trade unions, railway enthusiasts and environmentalists. It is a difficult struggle. On the one side the case is clear: Politicians want environmental friendly transportation and in 2030 a CO2-emmission free transport sector. This is what trains can provide, also on European “long distances” between capitols. But on the other side the tax-free and polluting airline sector thrives with a lot of goodwill “on the floor” from ordinary people, who loves to travel cheap. And railway operators, which focuses on next year’s profits and the profiled high-speed trains.

Protesters

Photo: Niels Wellendorf

In Copenhagen there are no longer any night trains. Protests speak on the platform.

On the line towards the COP21 conference in Paris December this year Back on Track was able to coordinate actions on 18 train stations during the weekend of 18. - 21. June. Such rail-political actions have never been seen before. The network will now reach out for all alliances to bring international passenger trains and night trains high onto the international climate agenda towards COP21.

Poul Kattler
Copenhagen, Denmark
Active in the Danish NGO “Council for Sustainable Traffic”.

http://back-on-track.eu/

 

Comment from David Beale, NCI Foreign Affairs Editor –

Mr. Kattler speaks here about an unfortunate two-decade long trend in the European passenger market, which seems to have accelerated in the years after the 2008-09 world-wide financial crisis and “Great Recession.” We at NCI have also noticed and reported on this trend a number of times in “Destination: Freedom” over the past decade. The causes of this trend, some of which Mr. Kattler mentions above, are numerous and complex.

Perhaps the two most significant causes are deregulation, privatization and expansion of European airlines including the dramatic rise in several large budget airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet, Air Berlin, and Wizz Air, as well as a focus of most new EU member states in Eastern Europe to expand and upgrade their roads and highways at the direct expense of and detriment to their railway networks shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the old Warsaw Pact.

Only in the past few years have these countries, with the encouragement and financial backing of the EU central government, returned to rebuilding their rail networks, albeit mostly to support long distance freight trains and certain select heavily traveled passenger train routes such as Berlin – Warsaw, Vienna – Budapest, Vienna – Prague – Berlin and a small handful of other passenger train corridors in Eastern Europe.

As Mr. Kattler states in his op-ed, airlines in Europe continue to enjoy a perverse tax advantage compared to energy efficient railroads and intercity buses on their fuel purchases. Expanding high-speed rail in Europe is generally a positive development for both passengers and the environment and has increased ridership in a large number of city-pair markets. But high-speed rail in Europe has also moved both passengers and investments away from the classic international long distance trains, especially overnight trains, in many cases. Will the advocacy group “Back On Track” be able to reverse this lamentable trend? It is difficult to say, but we at NCI support their efforts and wish them much success and a lot of much-needed luck in their mission.

– DB


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GUEST OPINION... Guest Opinion...  

Transit Hub Needs Capacity For Light Rail

From The Post And Courier News
Charleston, South Carolina

Scaling down plans for a new transit hub in North Charleston, SC, is reasonable, given financial constraints and neighborhood concerns.

And nearby restaurants or food trucks could make up for the transit center restaurant that won’t be included.

But it’s a huge concern that light rail, if it is constructed in the future, would be unable to use the center. The site of the Amtrak station is not near where light rail is planned to move along Rivers Avenue.

That shortcoming seems particularly glaring in light of an ongoing Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments study of potential mass transit alternatives along Interstate 26 between Summerville and downtown Charleston.

The COG is currently analyzing light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit, among other possible options. A final plan should be ready by the end of the year.

Moving forward too quickly with the transportation hub, without considering a future mass transit system, would be a serious oversight.

In 2002, a site on Montague Avenue was purchased, and plans were made for a transit center capable of accommodating light rail along with Amtrak, interstate buses, CARTA buses and cabs.

Money was raised and being spent on the hub when it was discovered that the center would be unable to serve Amtrak, without an expensive revision. So the plan was ditched, and $3.7 million in federal funds were forfeited.

That costly mistake sent CARTA and North Charleston officials scrambling for a substitute site.

Certainly, North Charleston’s plans would be a vast improvement over the dated, unattractive station that Amtrak now uses. A new, attractive facility would provide a much more suitable welcome for residents and visitors arriving by train or bus.

But the area has too long planned for the short term. It is time to look toward the future of transportation, which simply must include more mass transit within the state and the region.

Roads and highways are already crowded, and the area is growing fast.

North Charleston has been assured by CARTA, Amtrak and the Southeastern Stages bus company that the facility will meet their needs for the next 50 years.

And Liberty Hill neighbors appear satisfied with the much smaller center (from 32,000 square feet to 14,217) plus the promise of city help with revitalization.

But building a $14.5 million transit center that might be obsolete in the near term is questionable at best. Or does the decision signal an abandonment of the light rail concept?

Found at:
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150721/PC1002/150729902/1022/transit-hub-needs-capacity-for-light-rail


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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

New York Celebrates A Subway Centennial
In Brooklyn

By David Peter Alan

June 22, 1915 was probably the greatest day in the history of Brooklyn since the New York & Brooklyn Bridge (now known only as the “Brooklyn Bridge”) opened in 1883. On that day in 1915, for the first time, trains ran on the Brooklyn Rapid Transit (BRT) between Lower Manhattan and Coney Island. It was not the first subway line in the City; that was the IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit) Subway, which opened between City Hall and West 145th Street in Manhattan on October 27, 1904. There were elevated lines before that time, and some segments of pre-1900 “els” in the “outer boroughs” are still in use. The BRT became the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT) in 1923 and was merged into the combined transit system with the IRT and the City-built Independent Subway (IND) in 1940.

Type B

Photos: Four Images, Ron Yee

Example of a Type B Unit

The original line that began 100 years ago started at the BRT terminal in lower Manhattan, went over the Manhattan Bridge, onto the Fourth Avenue Line, and to Coney Island on the Sea Beach Line (the “N” train today). The original run took 48 minutes. Today, a comparable trip between Canal Street and Broadway in Manhattan and Coney Island takes 46 minutes. Most trips on the “N” train are shorter, because of some express-running in Brooklyn.

Type B Interior

Type B Interior

The MTA web site, www.mta.info/nyct/100BMT, summarized the early history of transit in Brooklyn and the new Fourth Avenue subway this way:

In 1915 Brooklyn was no stranger to mass transportation. Trolleys, excursion railroads, and steam-powered elevated trains had crisscrossed the borough for decades. In the 1890s the BRT was incorporated and by 1900 had taken over control of nearly all of the transit lines in Brooklyn.

Plans for the Fourth Avenue Subway had been in the works for many years and construction was begun on the tunnels in 1909. With the signing of the Dual Contracts in 1913, the definitive plan was put into motion to drastically expand the decade old subway system. Working simultaneously, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) and the BRT tripled the track mileage and connected far reaching neighborhoods with an easy subway ride.

Type 2 and Type B

Type R11 (Left) and Type B (Right)

The 1915 event marked the first time that riders could enjoy a one-seat ride from Manhattan to the other end of Brooklyn. One hundred years later, on June 22, 2015, a ceremony was held at the New York Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn to commemorate the event. On the following week-end, June 27th and 28th, the transit system celebrated again by parading four “nostalgia trains” of antique equipment in Brooklyn and allowing riders to jump on and take a short ride, all included in the regular fare of $2.75.

Type D

Type D

An MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) press release quoted New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco as saying:

The BMT was the standard setter in several areas including propulsion, braking, car coupling and door control. The IND system owes much to the BMT as does the rest of our current New York City subway operation. The BMT was an innovator in the design of its rolling stock with the introduction of several experimental subway trains that featured open gangways, articulation and stainless steel construction. Today, we celebrate the originality, innovation and creativity of the BMT. The company’s illustrious past remains a vital part of New York City Transit.

In the same release, MTA Chair and CEO Thomas Prendergast was quoted expressing his concern about transit funding. He said:

the BMT network has never been more important to the growth and life of New York. That’s why we need to advocate for the funds to support our capital program with state and federal legislators, so that 100 years from now, New Yorkers will be here celebrating the BMT’s 200th anniversary.

4 Type Line-up

Photo NY Transit Museum

The Perfect Lineup: Left to right, they are a D-type, R11, R9, and B-type.

The week-end festivities centered on Brighton Beach Station, the fourth stop from the terminal at Coney Island. During the week, “B” trains that run on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan terminate there. At all times, “Q” trains run on Broadway in Manhattan and through Brighton Beach on their way to Coney Island. The special trains ran on the express tracks, which are not used for regular service on week-ends.

Two of the trains featured antique equipment from the BRT and the early days of the BMT. A three-car train of BRT/BMT “Standards” (also known as “B” types) made a short run between Brighton Beach and Ocean Parkway, the next stop going toward Coney Island. The cars ran in revenue service from 1914 until 1969, and this writer rode them on the Canarsie Line (now the “L” train from 14th Street in Manhattan) during their last days of revenue service. They were the longest cars running in New York at the time (67 feet), and were modeled after cars that had been placed into service on the Boston Elevated Railroad (now the “T” or the MBTA, although there is very little elevated trackage left on the Boston system).

The three-car train of “Standards” had recently been restored, as had two “D-Type” or “Triplex” units. Each articulated “Triplex” unit consisted of three cars on four trucks, and saw service from 1925 until 1965. There are two such units in operating condition, and both ran for the occasion. They made a longer run than the “Standards”; from Brighton Beach to Kings Highway, three local stops or one express stop toward Manhattan.

Two other trains ran to Kings Highway for the celebration. One was a four-car train of R 1/9 cars, built for the IND between 1930 and 1939, and which ran in revenue service until 1977. The other train was called the “Train of Many Steels” or “Train of Many Metals” and consisted of six cars from several orders of rolling stock. At one end was a dark gray painted R-16 car from 1953, and at the other end was an R-11, from a prototype train built in 1948. Because of its high cost ($100,000 per car), the train was called the “Million-Dollar Train.” The R-11 cars were intended for the Second Avenue Subway, part of which is now under construction. They spent much of their service life on the Franklin Shuttle, a short line in Brooklyn. In between were four newer cars, that had run more recently.

The week-end festivities marked the first time in several years that the “Standards” and “Triplex” units had run in excursion service. Both train sets had recently been restored, and the smell of fresh paint was noticeable on the “Standards” during the ride to Ocean Parkway and back.

Both types of equipment had served the public well for over four decades and, according to the MTA web site, both introduced a number of innovations:

The innovative design of the subway cars, both structurally and visually, set the Fourth Avenue subway apart from the IRT rolling stock, which only 10 years in, were looking old and out of date. The new AB Standards which were ordered for the new subway lines were 67 feet long and 10 feet wide. They were all steel (in comparison to the IRT trains which were still partially wood). The Standards were technologically advanced, with a coupler that incorporated all electrical connections between cars, an automated tail marker and headlights, and spacious interiors, specifically designed for the comfort of the riders. Improving on the innovations of the BRT Standard, in 1925 the BMT introduced a three-car articulated unit called the D-Type Triplex. The articulated design meant that passengers could walk from one car to another in the unit through an enclosed passageway. The new cars carried more passengers and had fewer moving parts, making them efficient and easier to maintain. Both the Standard and the D-Type proved so practical and durable that they remained in service until the 1960s.

Today, only long-time New Yorkers and transit fans remember the BMT, along with the IRT and IND as discrete parts of the city’s transit system. Still, millions of ordinary New Yorkers, commuters and visitors ride modern subway cars on the historic BMT lines. Today’s B, J, M, Z, L, N, R and Q Lines, and Franklin Shuttle, were parts of the historic BMT system.

In addition to New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago also have “legacy” system of elevated and subway lines. Among those cities, New York is unique in having a transit museum where vintage cars are on display regularly, and also in having a number of vintage train sets that actually operate. Only the New York system offers rides to the public on these antique trains, adding something different to the system’s normal function of taking millions of people around the City every day.


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

Amtrak Wants Acela Trains To Go Faster

By Nathan Rubbelke
Washington Examiner

Amtrak is asking the feds to let its trains go faster.

The passenger rail system has petitioned the Federal Railroad Administration to allow it to increase the speed of its Acela trains from 150 mph to 160 mph in three zones along its Northeast corridor — Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

The Acela trains, which run between Washington and Boston, serve as Amtrak’s express service in the Northeast corridor. In fiscal 2014, Acela had a ridership of more than 3.5 million.

Train control testing for the higher speed would be performed early next year and the agency feels otherwise confident that Acela is ready to operate at the higher speed, Theresa Impastato, Amtrak’s deputy chief safety officer, said at a railroad administration hearing Wednesday.

“With that exception, Amtrak believes the technical foundation has been laid for Acela operations for speeds up to 160 miles per hour in the three speed zones,” Impastato said. Acela trains are designed to reach a maximum speed of 165 mph, according to Amtrak officials.

Amtrak believes it could be ready to operate the faster trains in Massachusetts and Rhode Island by next year, Impastato said.

Federal Railroad Administration officials and a panel of experts raised questions about Amtrak’s petition, citing safety concerns over the designated higher speed zones. Those included whether the higher-speed trains would miss passenger platforms and making sure trespassers don’t get into the higher speed zones.

The higher speed zones do not include any passenger platforms, Impastato said. She also highlighted the formation of Amtrak’s Intrusion Prevention Workforce and said the agency is working with local transportation agencies in addition to adding more fences to discourage people from trying to cross or walk the tracks.

Amtrak officials also highlighted recent overhauls to its Acela fleet, namely fine-tuned suspension systems, in anticipation of the higher speeds.

Found at:
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/amtrak-wants-acela-trains-to-go-faster/article/2568785


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Texas High-Speed Rail Project Names New CEO;
Gets $75 Million Boost

The Texas Central Partners (Texas Central) Board Of Directors Has Appointed Tim Keith
As The New Chief Executive Officer For The Organization Effective Immediately.

From Rail, Track, And Structures

Texas Central also closed a round of development funding that brings $75 million dollars in new capital, all from Texas-based investors. The offering was oversubscribed and the funds will be used to support ongoing development activities. Texas Central is the private, Texas-based and Texas-led development company that will construct and operate Texas’ first high-speed passenger railway between North Texas and Houston, as well as the terminal stations and surrounding development.

Keith will be responsible for leading all aspects of the system’s finance, development, construction and eventual operations. He will also develop and implement Texas Central’s vision for high-speed rail in Texas and serve as the primary interface between internal operations and external stakeholders.

He was selected from a number of potential candidates because of his nearly 25 years of financial and operational experience in large real estate and infrastructure projects. He was formerly the global chief executive officer of RREEF/Deutsche Bank Infrastructure Investments, where he managed the worldwide operations of the firm’s infrastructure funds management businesses. He had a 10-year career with RREEF/Deutsche Bank, a New York-based global alternative asset management firm, where he held various senior executive positions and served on the firm’s Global Executive Committee.

“Texans are ready for high-speed rail and I’m excited to help lead and deliver this transformational project that will create new Texas jobs and provide an additional transportation solution between the two largest regions in Texas,” said Keith. “This project is another step in the long history of Texas leading the way nationally. I am excited to work with this group of visionary Texan investors who are putting their money and support behind the project.”

From an item at:
http://www.rtands.com/index.php/passenger/intercity/texas-high-speed-rail-project-names-new-ceo-gets-75-million-boost.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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ADVOCACY LINES... Advocacy Lines...  

Empty UP Express Trains Should Be Carrying Commuters
Transit Group Says

TTCriders Says The New Pearson To Union Station Train
Is Running At Just 12 Percent Capacity.

By Tess Kalinowski
The Star.Com

Metrolinx in Toronto, Canada, says ridership for the new $456 million Union Pearson Express (UPX) train is right on target, averaging 3,250 passengers a day. But a transit advocacy group has its doubts.

TTCriders a regional rail advocacy group which interacts with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), says the trains are running virtually empty — and says that’s all the more reason to turn the airport train into public transit rather than continue marketing it to travelers and business people.

“For us, the real issue is we don’t need a line that is for jetsetters and people who can afford to spend $27.50 to get on. We need this line to be useful for everyone in this city, and that means doing the right thing, leaving a real Pan Am legacy and turning it into a proper transit line,” said TTCriders spokeswoman Jessica Bell.

TTCriders says it counted the riders going in and out of the Pearson UPX station on Thursday between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m., in the midst of the Pan Am Games. It found just 14 people on average rode on each train, which can seat 173.

The Metrolinx average number amounts to an average 21 riders per train on the 156 runs the UPX makes in both directions about 19 hours a day.

“That means approximately five out of six seats on the UPX train are empty when only two cars are used and seven out of eight seats are empty on the three-car trains,” according to TTCriders.

“What was really shocking was, even using Metrolinx’s own numbers of 3,250 people a day, that translates to the train running at just 12 per cent of full capacity,” she said.

The trains run 156 times a day in both directions — about every 15 minutes. It’s a 25-minute trip, with two stops between Union Station and Pearson airport.

Metrolinx says the UPX is busiest on Sundays and between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“Like other direct air-rail links, UP volume is directly tied to flight volumes,” said the provincial agency’s spokeswoman, Anne Marie Aikins.

“For a service that operates 19 and a half hours every day of the week — a two-hour window on one day, at only one of our stations, is not an accurate sample of the average ridership for UP,” she said.

Bell said the morning count was done deliberately because that’s the time when people are trying to move about the city.

“We wanted to choose a time where we know the TTC is really busy and people want to get to work and get around. So we thought rush hour was a reasonable time to choose,” she said.

Metrolinx expects that UPX ridership will grow to about 5,000 passengers a day in about a year.

“We will be electrifying the UPX as part of the province’s $13.5-billion regional express rail plan, which includes phasing out diesel trains and phasing in electric trains across the GO network, including the Kitchener Line from Bramalea to Union Station,” said Aikins.

For more on TTCriders see: http://www.ttcriders.ca/

From an item at:
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/transportation/2015/07/17/empty-up-express-trains-should-be-carrying-commuters-transit-group-says.html


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EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...  

FDOT Begins Prep Work For
SunRail’s Southern Expansion

From MyFoxOrlando.Com

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has announced that contractors have begun work on relocating utilities along the Central Florida Rail corridor to prepare for SunRail’s southern expansion, part of Phase 2 for the commuter rail service.

Phase 2 will extend SunRail service about 17 miles into Osceola County and will add for four additional stations. One of the stations will be located at Meadow Woods in Orange County. The three other stations will be constructed in Osceola Parkway to Tupperware Station, Downtown Kissimmee, and Poinciana.

Construction on the approximately $187 million Phase 2 project is expected to begin later this year. Federal funding is anticipated this fall, but until then, contract work will include clearing and grubbing along the railroad corridor south of SunRail’s current Sand Lake Road station and is expected to continue for approximately 5 months.

Found at:
http://www.myfoxorlando.com/story/29599262/fdot-begins-prep-work-for-sunrails-southern-expansion


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HISTORICAL LINES... Historical Lines...  

Surviving 9/11 Subway Car Will Be Displayed
At The Shore Line Trolley Museum In CT

From The Shoreline Trolley Museum Web Site

The Shore Line Trolley Museum is pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to receive Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) Car 745, which was parked in the PATH station under the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, and survived the tragedy intact. The museum and East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. will be receiving the car on Thursday August 6th at 11:15 a.m., as it arrives at its location on River Street in East Haven. The vehicle will be given traditional bagpipe parade with a Police and Fire escort from the corner of River and Hemingway Avenue down to the location of the Trolley Museum at 17 River Street. The short route is expected to be lined with emergency service personnel from East Haven and Branford along with other area departments. Following the procession, a brief speaking program will be held at the entrance of the museum, which in addition to Mayor Maturo and the officials of the Trolley Museum is expected to be attended by Branford First Selectman James Cosgrove, local State Legislators, and representatives of PATH. Other first responders and the public are also invited to attend.

PATH car

Image via the Shoreline Trolley Museum

PATH cars 745 and 143 are carefully extracted from the sub-basements beneath the World Trade Center site.

The car which is being donated is one of two that were found in a cast iron tunnel, the strength of which protected the cars intact from the pressures from the collapsing buildings above. On the morning of 9/11 they were sent to the World Trade Center to pick up passengers, but with evacuation underway, the cars were simply left standing in the tunnel. No passengers were found inside when the car was discovered during excavation. Car 745, which since that time has been housed in an airplane hangar at JFK Airport, is still in the same condition as when it was excavated from the tunnel in the World Trade Center clean up. The car was to be included in the 9/11 Memorial Museum but was determined to be too big for their site.

The public will have an opportunity to view car 745 at the Shore Line Trolley Museum this fall once it has been inspected by museum maintenance staff. In 2016, a permanent display will be created and dedicated, which will include car 745, original World Trade Center PATH station signage, and pieces of the cast iron tunnel itself for all to see as a remembrance of the day that changed the nation like no other.

For further information contact Event Coordinator: Wayne Sandford: Info@shorelinetrolley.org

About The Museum

The Shore Line Trolley Museum, operated by the Branford Electric Railway Association, Inc., strives to educate the public about the story of the trolley and related forms of mass transit in their historic context. The Museum operates the Branford Electric Railway, opened in 1900, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior as the oldest continuously-operated suburban trolley line in the United States. The Museum’s extensive collection includes nearly 100 trolleys and similar vehicles, an extensive archive, and artifacts of the trolley era.

Additional material and images at:
http://shorelinetrolley.org/2015/07/911-surviving-path-subway-car-will-arrive-at-sltm/


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

Former Vermont Transportation Chief To Push For Resumption
Of Train Service To Montreal

From TheStar.Com

Brian Searles, who retired as transportation secretary in December, is returning to deal with the U.S. and Canadian governments on plans to restore Amtrak service.

A former Vermont transportation secretary is coming out of retirement to help plan resumption of passenger train service between the northeastern United States and Montreal, according to a story by the Associated Press appearing at TheStar.Com news.

Brian Searles, who retired as transportation secretary in Vermont in December, is returning to state service part-time to deal with the U.S. and Canadian governments on plans to restore Amtrak service on the northern end of a route that last operated in 1994.

U.S. federal budget cuts last year halted service north of St. Albans, Vermont, and a train that had been called the Montrealer was renamed the Vermonter.

Transportation officials say tentative plans are for a joint U.S.-Canadian facility to be built at the Central Station in Montreal, where both north- and southbound passengers will clear customs.

For the full story see:
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/07/19/former-vermont-transportation-chief-to-push-for-resumption-of-train-service-to-montreal.html


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Gov. Baker Appoints 5-Member MBTA
Fiscal Management And Control Board

From A MassDOT Press Release
And DF Staff

Governor Charlie Baker (R-MA) has appointed a five-member Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Fiscal Management and Control Board (FMCB) and designated Joe Aiello as Chair immediately after signing into law the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. A key reform recommended by the Governor’s MBTA Special Panel following unprecedented winter weather that crippled service at the MBTA, the FMCB is set to begin working immediately, holding its first meeting on Tuesday, July 21st.

“Fixing the MBTA will be a complex task, but moving forward with a Fiscal Management and Control Board dedicated solely to the T’s operations and finances is an important step toward delivering accountability for taxpayers and riders,” said Governor Baker. “I want to thank the legislature for putting this board in place with other measures that will allow us to begin fixing the T. I especially want to thank the five talented individuals who have agreed to serve in this crucial capacity, and who bring decades of combined experience and different but complementary perspectives as they get to work fixing the status quo at the MBTA, and begin the process of delivering a world-class public transit system that the people of Massachusetts can be proud of, and deserve.”

“By signing this bill into law we now have two crucial tools to begin fixing the MBTA, a dedicated group focused solely on the T and new tools that will allow the MBTA to operate more reliable services, repair critical infrastructure and explore more efficient ways to serve our riders,” said MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack. “Board members will be meeting on Tuesday, along with the expanded MassDOT Board, for briefings that will help them quickly begin their work to get the MBTA back on track.”

Governor Baker appointed in February a Special Panel to carry out an extensive analysis of the underlying functions of the MBTA’s governance, finances and capital planning which became apparent throughout historic snowfall and persistent freezing temperatures earlier this year. Among the panel’s recommendations were the call for a FMCB to assume control of the MBTA, a reconstituted Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board of Directors, lifting of efficiency restrictions at the MBTA, and a separation of the MBTA’s capital and operating budgets among a number of recommendations.

By statute, the MBTA FMCB will consist of five members, one with experience in transportation finance, one with experience in mass transit operations and three members of the MassDOT Board. Lisa Calise, Steve Poftak and Monica Tibbits-Nutt will also be serving roles on the MassDOT Board. The Chair is appointed by the Secretary of Transportation.

About The MBTA Fiscal Management And Control Board Members:

Joseph “Joe” Aiello (Chair) is currently a partner and Director of Business Development North America at Meridiam Infrastructure where he has worked since 2007, overseeing strategic development and investments in transportation, water and social infrastructure. Before joining Meridiam, Aiello served in several capacities for 13 years with DMJM Harris prior to its acquisition by AECOM Enterprises, Inc. where he was most recently President for the firm’s global, public private partnership business. Aiello also worked at the MBTA as Assistant General Manager of Planning and Budget and Assistant Director of Construction for Special Projects and Finance. He holds his B.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a M.S. in City and Regional Planning from Harvard University.

Lisa Calise is the Chief Financial Officer at Watertown-based Perkins School for the Blind, focusing on global services and education for those living with blindness and deaf-blindness. Before joining Perkins in 2010, Calise served the City of Boston for over a decade, most recently as the Director of Administration and Finance, and previously as Chief Financial Officer and Collector-Treasurer and Budget Director, implementing government efficiency programming. Calise also served in the White House Office of Management and Budget as a budget examiner. A Massachusetts native, Calise obtained her B.A. from Boston College and a Master’s Degree in Public Management from the University of Maryland.

Brian Lang currently serves as President of UNITE HERE Local 26, Boston’s hotel and food service union. Lang has spent a total of seventeen years representing the union’s 7,000 members, starting as organizing director and eventually being elected as president in 2011. Before joining the UNITE HERE Local 26 team, Lang was already involved as a union organizer for SEIU Local 285. His previous work experience as a meatpacker and a bellman has given Lang a strong understanding for the needs of hotel and food service employees that he uses to advocate for workers’ rights.

Steve Poftak is Executive Director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard Kennedy School. Poftak was Director of Research and Director of the Center for Better Government at the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research. He has led research projects and authored a number of papers on transportation policy, government efficiency, municipal finance, and job creation. Previously, Poftak worked at the Commonwealth’s Executive Office for Administration and Finance, where he managed the $1.3 billion capital budget, prepared the state’s quarterly cash flow reporting, and monitored non-tax revenue receipts.

Monica Tibbits-Nutt is the Executive Director of the 128 Business Council where she has worked since 2010, advising communities in the 128 Corridor in transit planning and overseeing the operation of 12 shuttle routes with nearly half a million in annual ridership. Tibbits-Nutt also has experience with the MBTA, where she served as a Transportation Planning Consultant to the MBTA Advisory Board, and as Executive Director and Transportation Planner for TransitWorks, providing research evaluation for the MBTA and Secretary of Transportation. She holds a B.S. from the University of Southern Indiana and a Masters of City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University.

Found at:
http://www.mbta.com/about_the_mbta/news_events/?id=6442454722


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LABOR LINES... Labor Lines...  

MBTA To Use Penalty Fines To Help
Improve Commuter Rail Service

Washington Times And DF Staff

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is using $7.5 million in fines paid by Keolis Commuter Services, the private company that runs the T’s commuter rail, to improve services for riders.

The fines, which have added up to significant amounts in the first few months of their contract to operate the MBTA’s commuter rail services, resulted from late trains and other performance shortcomings. The problems were exacerbated by a record-setting winter snowfall that crippled the transit system forcing it to shut several times and reduce service to very low capacities for several winter-season weeks.

Under the terms of the contract, failure to meet certain benchmarks results in fines that has now reached into the millions of dollars.

Keolis Commuter Services which has been struggling to keep the commuter rail system operational has blamed lack of maintenance by its predecessor company, and equipment well-passed its expected life span. As a result, Keolis has been borrowing extensively from its parent corporation located in France.

The money will, in part, go to hiring more agents to collect fares and bolster other staffing needs.

From an original item at:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jul/21/mbta-to-use-fines-to-help-improve-commuter-rail-se/


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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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