The National Corridors Initiative Logo

August 22, 2016
Vol. 16 No. 33

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...

  Amtrak Lines…;
Former NS CEO Moorman To Lead Amtrak
Downeaster To Boost Brunswick Service By
   Building New Track
  Travel Lines…
An Indiana Train Looks To The Past And,
   Many Hope, To The Future
  Funding Lines…
State Allocates $82M For Improvement Of Coastal
   Rail Corridor In San Diego
Pennsylvania To Allocate $61.9 Billion To Statewide
   Transportation Improvements
  Transit Lines…
First Hill Streetcar Launch Moves Seattle Closer
   To Connected System
  Safety Lines…
Rail Shippers Petition USDOT Over Tank-Car
   Safety Regs
Metra, Other Railroads Warned: Don't Delay
   On High-Tech Safety System
Railroads Get Funding Boost For Accident
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Business Lines…
Providence And Worcester Railroad Sold
   For $126 Million
All Aboard Florida: A New Approach For
   US Passenger Rail
  Vacation Lines…
CapeFLYER Announces $15 Round-Trip
   Sunday Savings Fares
  Across The Pond…
InnoTrans: Let's support Our USA Pavilion
  To The North…
“Save VIA” To Host Parade Through St. Marys
We’re All Aboard St. Marys now!
  Publication Notes …

AMTRAK LINES... Amtrak Lines...  

Former NS CEO Moorman To Lead Amtrak

From Progressive Railroading

Amtrak announced on August 19 that Charles “Wick” Moorman will be the national intercity passenger railroad’s next president and chief executive officer, starting Sept. 1. Moorman retired last year as chairman, president and CEO of Norfolk Southern Corp., then served a short time as the Class I’s executive chairman.

He will succeed Joseph Boardman, who announced earlier this year that he would retire in September.

“We are very pleased that someone with Wick’s experience and vision will lead Amtrak during this critical period as the company charts a course for future growth and improvement,” said Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia in a press release.

Board members believe that Moorman will build on the success that Amtrak achieved during Boardman’s eight-year tenure by launching initiatives to further enhance safety and customer service, modernize operations and guide the implementation of FAST Act requirements.

Moorman considers it an “honor and privilege” to assume Amtrak’s leadership role, he said in a statement.

“I look forward to working with its dedicated employees to find ways to provide even better service to our passengers and the nation,” he said. “At Norfolk Southern, our team fostered change by placing a solid emphasis on performance across all aspects of our business which helped develop a stronger safety and service culture throughout the company. I look forward to advancing those same goals at Amtrak and helping to build a plan for future growth.”

A native of Hattiesburg, Miss., Moorman served NS for more than 40 years, rising from management trainee to CEO and chairman. In 2013, Moorman received Progressive Railroading’s “Railroad Innovator Award” in recognition of his achievements in the rail industry. A profile of him can be read at:

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) commended Moorman’s appointment.

“Wick Moorman is a proven railroader whose track record of success demonstrates his commitment and adherence to rail safety, efficiency and service to customers. His contributions and leadership in the freight rail industry, I believe, will advance the working partnership the freight railroads have with Amtrak,” said AAR President and CEO Ed Hamberger.

The Southern Rail Commission also praised Moorman’s selection as the next Amtrak CEO.

“His appointment extends a long tradition of presidents with a track record of supporting a national, holistic passenger rail network that includes the booming northeast corridor, state-supported routes and critical long distance service,” said commission Chairman Greg White. “As the group responsible for the development and expansion of passenger rail in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, the Southern Rail Commission is also proud to see a native Mississippian take the helm of our nation’s passenger rail system.”

James P. RePass, Chairman of the National Corridors Initiative and publisher of Destination: Freedom stated, “Wick Moorman is a superb choice to  head up Amtrak. He is enormously gifted, and deeply qualified to take the helm. This is a positive development.”

Original article appears at:

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Downeaster To Boost Brunswick Service
By Building New Track

Adding A Second Set Of Tracks In The Four-Mile Stretch Through Falmouth And Cumberland
Will Make It Possible To Run Five Daily Round Trips Between Brunswick And Boston.
By Peter McGuire
Portland Press Herald

Construction of a four-mile stretch of railroad track north of Portland will allow the Downeaster to run five daily round trips between Brunswick and Boston, greatly expanding a service that has seen an increase in ridership despite being constrained by infrastructure and track capacity.

The $9.3 million Royal Junction Siding project is expected to begin next year and will add a second stretch of tracks along the railway through Falmouth and Cumberland. The siding will be installed parallel to existing track and will allow trains to pass one another at speeds up to 60 mph.

The Downeaster runs a full schedule of five daily round trips between Portland and Boston. But, because there is a single track between Brunswick and Portland that is used for both passenger and freight rail, the Downeaster service can only schedule two of those trips from Boston to Freeport and Brunswick.

“When you have what is essentially a one-lane road that is 30 miles long, that really limits the number of Downeaster trains we can run and it limits the schedule,” said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, the agency that operates the passenger train.

Downeaster ridership has rebounded this year after harsh winter weather and a tie replacement project in 2015 produced delays, disruptions and cancellations.


In 2016, passenger numbers are back to the levels of two years ago. A total of 51,402 passengers rode the train in July, breaking a record of 50,271 passengers set in 2013.

While completion of the siding is more than a year away, the Downeaster is expected to expand to three-round trips to Brunswick this fall after the completion of a train layover station that will allow the operator to park trains at the northern end of the route.

The longer-term addition of the new rail track, called a passing siding, will allow all five of the Downeaster’s daily round trips to travel between Boston and Brunswick. The hope is that a new track and expanded service will improve flexibility and increase ridership, Quinn said.

“People like options,” she said last week. “The more transportation options we can provide, the more frequency between Brunswick and Boston, the more successful we can be.”


The rail authority has been trying to get funding for the Royal Junction project since 2012, when the Downeaster extended service to Freeport and Brunswick, Quinn said. A $1.15 million contribution from the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System this month was the final piece of funding needed for the rail construction. Federal funding will pay for 80 percent of the project. The remainder will be covered with matching funds from the state.

Pan-Am Railways owns the track and the company will construct the siding within its right of way. The stretch will run parallel to a length of track from Field Road in Falmouth to just beyond Greely Road in Cumberland. The project is not anticipated to create additional environmental impacts, the rail authority said. Construction is slated to begin next year and last into 2018.

The Royal Junction project is moving forward just as the rail authority is putting the finishing touches on a 60,000-square-foot train holding and service facility in Brunswick. Currently, Downeaster trains need to return to Portland for overnight service and storage and then return to Brunswick to start the first trip of the morning.

The layover facility broke ground last year, after a drawn-out battle over the project between the rail authority and a group of Brunswick residents concerned the station would bring noise and pollution to their neighborhood.

Quinn said the layover station is due to be completed next month and Downeaster trains would start making a third round trip between Brunswick and Boston in November.

Constructing the Royal Junction track and completing the layover station will add ridership from Brunswick, which has consistently exceeded forecasts, said Wayne Davis, chairman of TrainRiders/Northeast, a passenger rail advocacy group.

“We are glad that something we recommended over 20 years ago is finally coming to fruition,” Davis said Tuesday. “The ridership figures are way above forecast. July was the biggest July ever. It just gets better, which is wonderful.”

From an item at:

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TRAVEL LINES... Travel Lines...  

An Indiana Train Looks To The Past And,
Many Hope, To The Future

By David Peter Alan

Until the early 1970s, American trains had their own personalities.  Each railroad ran its own trains.  The railroads took pride in their best trains, ran them with special equipment, and gave each train its own style.  These trains featured comfortable cars and freshly-prepared meals in the dining car.  

By 1973, Amtrak was becoming a homogenized system.  While the scenery on different routes remained different, Amtrak standardized the appearance of its trains and the food served in its dining cars.  Today, only the scenery distinguishes one Amtrak train from another, although different equipment is used in different parts of the country.  Except for the small steaks Amtrak serves for dinner and a few breakfast items, there is no freshly-prepared food available on Amtrak.  It disappeared in 2005.  In the East, more long-distance Amtrak trains run without dining cars than carry them.

Despite the decline in the amenities offered on Amtrak, there is one train that stands out.  It is the Hoosier State, which wends its way between Chicago and Indianapolis on the days when the Cardinal to or from Washington, D.C. and New York does not run.  That means it runs four times each week.

The entire journey only takes four hours, but this train is different from every other train in the Amtrak timetable.  Any rider can see the difference after going through the gate at Chicago’s Union Station.  Instead of the standard Amtrak equipment, the train runs vintage equipment in the old orange and brown livery of the Illinois Central Railroad.  Today, the color scheme represents Iowa Pacific Holdings (IPH), owned by former Amtrak manager Ed Ellis.  IPH also operates a number of tourist railroads and runs vacation tours, using separate cars placed behind the regular consist on scheduled Amtrak trains.  IPH also has a number of freight operations in the USA and elsewhere.  

The Hoosier State is, in effect, a joint operation between Amtrak and IPH.  Amtrak supplies the train and engine (T&E) crews, and sells tickets in the same manner as for all other Amtrak trains.  IPH supplies the equipment and the on-board services.  The train runs behind F-40 locomotives built during the 1960s, and the coaches are slightly older.  They have been refitted on the inside with reclining seats, foot rests and more leg room than Amtrak offers on trains that go from New York to places like Chicago, Miami and New Orleans.  The dining car is especially impressive.  On the night this writer rode the train, it was a dome car that originally ran on the Santa Fe, featuring a full-length dome for business-class passengers.  Their dinner was included in their fare, and they sat at tables on the upper level, where they also ate.  Coach passengers had dinner at tables on the lower level of the car, in a space that looked like the luxury cars from the final days of the prior Golden Age of Railroading.


Image: Hoosier State Promo Video Via YouTube ™

The Hoosier State at a local Grade Crossing

Except for trips on two of IPH’s tourist lines, the trip on the Hoosier State marked the first time this writer had enjoyed a freshly-prepared dinner in an American dining car since 2005.  The “dinner special” that evening was chicken piccata (chicken in a lemon sauce), served with rice and mushrooms, and fresh asparagus.  There was only one dessert: a lemon pudding cake with blueberry sauce on top.  With coffee, the price was $19.00, plus a tip.  Everything was served on genuine china, not the plastic plates that Amtrak uses.  There is also a selection of drinks, including some interesting wines and beers.  At the beginning of the trip, a waiter took drink orders from coach passengers and delivered the drinks (served in glasses, not in plastic cups) to those customers at their seats.  That does not happen on Amtrak, either.

Today’s Hoosier State is essentially a Public-Private Partnership (P3) between IPH, Amtrak and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), which supervises its operation.  Relations have not always been friendly between the parties, but the train is running and delighting riders and crew members alike.

The communities of Lafayette, Crawfordsville and Indianapolis support the train, as well. In a promotional video about the train, IPH head Ed Ellis said: “We think this is the kind of partnership that ought to be repeated all over the country.” The video can be found on the train’s web site,

The route is a complicated one, running over the tracks of several railroads between Chicago and Dyer, the first stop, located 28 miles away.  The train needs several clearances on the way, and some dispatchers have been known to keep the train waiting for a long time before giving permission to proceed.  On the evening this writer rode the train, it was stopped for more than 90 minutes at Shelby Siding, between Dyer and the next stop of Rensellaer.  Beyond Dyer, the train runs on the historic Monon route, which did not host a passenger train to Indianapolis after 1954.  Today the route is back, and most of the riders go to Lafayette, Crawfordsville or Indianapolis.  The former is the home of Purdue University, while the latter is the state capital.  The middle stop, Crawfordsville, is not as busy as the others, but it is the home of Wabash College and features enough historical attractions to justify a visit for a day.

Heather Hice, IPH’s Marketing and Sales Manager for the train, says that support for the train is strong, both from the business community in the towns where it stops, and from the students who attend the colleges in those towns.  “We are getting the message out to the right people” she said, and continued: “We have had great success pounding the pavement and talking to people.” She noted the concern in the communities last year when there was a threat to discontinue the train, and told this writer that local journalists are now writing positive stories about it.  

Hice described the four-day-a-week schedule as “a challenge” but added that she and her colleagues can still promote the Hoosier State.  It runs into Chicago and back to Indianapolis on Fridays and Sundays, so part of the marketing strategy for the train is promoting it for week-end getaways.

Unfortunately, the current schedule does not allow a day visit to any point in Indiana, since the train leaves Indianapolis at 6:00 in the morning and returns from Chicago at 5:45 pm.  This allows about six hours in the Windy City and provides connections with Amtrak long-distance trains.  Advocates at the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance (IPRA) are calling for an additional train that would leave Chicago in the morning and return from Indianapolis in the evening, which would allow a day visit to the towns in Indiana.  They are also pushing for the Hoosier State to run every day, on a separate schedule from the tri-weekly Cardinal.  

Steve Coxhead, IPRA President, says that recent ridership increases on the Hoosier State show that there is pent-up demand for a premium service, not a “bare-bones” travel experience.  “You really can’t fly in the state, and driving your own car is hardly luxurious” he said.  Coxhead and his colleagues are concentrating much of their effort on convincing the business community that the train offers a pleasant and productive setting for business travelers.  He sees them as the key to establishing a good reputation for the train, along with the support needed to keep it going.  He believes that, if the business community supports the train, there will be room in the coaches for budget-minded passengers to ride, as well.

Chicago advocate F.K. Plous cautions about expecting too much from a train that runs so infrequently.  Plous is Director of Corporate Communications for Corridor Capital, L.L.C., a firm that competed for the contract to equip the train, but did not get it.  He says that a corridor is needed to draw riders away from other modes of transportation, and that one daily frequency or less is not enough. He said: “You need speed, frequency, access, convenience and safety to get enough riders.  The Streamliners of 60 or 70 years ago had good food, but they also had the other features.”  Plous cautioned that it would require a large investment on the part of the State to establish the sort of corridor that would attract riders; an investment like Illinois is making and California has made.

It may be a long time before Indiana is prepared to implement Plous’ suggestion.  IPRA and IPH management both want more trains, but INDOT is the primary player at this time.  Coxhead told this writer that Indiana officials are more enthusiastic about the Hoosier State because it is a public-private partnership (P3) than they would have been, if it had been a government-only project.  It is too early to tell how well the Indiana experiment will do in the long run.  Local advocates and managers are encouraged by current ridership and revenue numbers, but the frequency is still very limited.  If the experiment succeeds well enough that Indiana authorizes more trains and creates a true “Hoosier Corridor” and possibly other routes, it could be a model for adding more trains to the nation’s passenger rail network, or for re-branding existing Amtrak trains to bring more riders on board.

For now, the train is running on its unusual schedule, and providing a taste of the sort of rail travel that millions of passengers enjoyed half a century ago.  Could it serve as a model for more private operators to run other Amtrak trains, especially new trains that do not run today?  At this time, it is difficult to say.  People have a train between Chicago and several places in Indiana every day, but there are two very different trains sharing a common schedule.  On days when the Cardinal runs, the Hoosier State equipment deadheads empty, behind the revenue consist.  Short-haul passengers are crammed into the Cardinal consist, while the dome diner, with its tables on both levels, is closed.  Only the crew can sit there.

Will Amtrak eventually warm to the idea of private operators like Ed Ellis and his IPH railroad participating in running Amtrak trains in the future?   We will know more when Wick Moorman succeeds Joseph Boardman as president of Amtrak next month.  One thing is certain: the tiny Hoosier State with its comfortable coaches and delicious food is putting the rest of Amtrak to shame.  

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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

State Allocates $82M For Improvement
Of Coastal Rail Corridor In San Diego

By City News Service
Via KPBS News

Area transit officials last Wednesday welcomed news of $82 million in state funding to improve the coastal rail corridor in San Diego County in California.

The money is part of $390 million in cap-and-trade funds distributed by the California State Transportation Agency to 14 projects around the state. The grant for North County rail improvements will be managed by the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency, known as LOSSAN.

“The LOSSAN rail corridor is critical to the movement of people and goods from San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara to Los Angeles and San Diego,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly. “We are pleased to support investments that will make passenger rail a more attractive travel alternative and help reduce congestion and (greenhouse gas) emissions on parallel highways.”

Projects include installing 2.6 miles of double tracking, new bridges and signal improvements in San Diego County; a new bridge and double tracking over the San Diego River; and upgrades to a train station at Poinsettia Lane in Carlsbad that’s used by the North County Transit District’s Coaster train.

The money will also be used to lease 31 new train cars and conduct a comprehensive study on integrating rail services along the 351-mile corridor, according to LOSSAN.

“We appreciate (the California State Transportation Agency’s) support of this program, which will allow much needed improvements to the second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor in the nation,” LOSSAN Chairman David Golonski said. “This program of projects will result in more frequent and integrated passenger rail service, improved on-time performance and safety, and a better overall passenger experience.”

Other projects funded by the California State Transportation Agency included a planned extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system to San Jose and an expansion of capacity at Union Station in Los Angeles.

Found at:

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Pennsylvania To Allocate $61.9 Billion To
Statewide Transportation Improvements

By Kyra Senese
Railway Age

Pennsylvania’s State Transportation Commission (STC) has announced updates to the state’s 12-Year Transportation program, effective Oct. 1.

The revised plan anticipates $61.9 billion toward improvements to railroads, bridges, roads, transit systems and airports. The last update in 2014 anticipated $63.3 billion being made available.

The revised program designates an expected $8.6 billion toward public transit; $229 million to rail freight improvements; $30 million in funding recommended for rail projects; and $305 million allocated toward multimodal projects in the next four years. Updates also specify that $11.3 billion should be allotted to state highway and bridge projects.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards attributes the possibility of these updates to “ongoing efficiencies at PennDOT.”

“This update reflects the progress we are making, chipping away at our large backlog of pavement and bridge needs while adding some capacity expansion to address long-standing desires for better mobility,” Richards said. “The new update also includes investments across the modes and underwrites our goal of making sure the people of Pennsylvania have options for their day-to-day travels.”

Pennsylvania laws require the STC to revise the 12-Year Program every two years, and no capital projects can progress unless they are outlined in the program.

The plan has been submitted and is now pending approval by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) and the Federal Transit Administration. The FHA is expected to evaluate the plan’s adherence to air quality requirements in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection. Officials say that 19 metropolitan planning organizations, four rural planning organizations and one independent county collaborated with PennDOT in developing the updates to the 12-year plan.

From an item at: TARGET="BLANK"

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TRANSITLINES... Transit Lines...  

First Hill Streetcar Launch Moves Seattle
Closer To Connected System

By Mark L. Dorn
Metro Magazine

Seattle’s First Hill Streetcar, which opened January 2016, is currently an independent, stand-alone system, but is part of a broader vision by the City of Seattle. This vision entails building a modern streetcar network system that will provide new urban mobility options, support economic growth, and strengthen connections among the places where people live, work and socialize.  

Regular service started without any major issues and just in time for the March opening of Sound Transit’s U-Link light rail extension, which serves a new Capitol Hill Station at the northern terminus of the streetcar line. The First Hill Streetcar will be an important link in the regional transit system, with an additional connection to Sound Transit’s regional rail system at the International District Station, as well as Sounder commuter rail and Amtrak intercity rail at King Street Station.

“Our streetcar neighborhoods are embracing the ways that they can attract neighbors and visitors to events and activities. The streetcar is uniting diverse neighborhoods in many unique ways,” says Michael James, Seattle Department of Transportation’s rail transit director.

Destination Connector

There are 10 stops on the First Hill Streetcar line, connecting diverse and vibrant residential neighborhoods and business districts. Capitol Hill is a densely populated residential district in Seattle, one of the city’s most prominent nightlife and entertainment districts and the location of Seattle Central College. First Hill is considered a regional destination due to its concentration of major medical facilities (Harborview Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center and Virginia Mason Medical Center) and Seattle University. The Chinatown-International District, characterized by the three individual neighborhood names of Chinatown, Japantown and Little Saigon, is the center of Seattle’s Asian-American community.  

Just south of First Hill is an ambitious development initiative being led by the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA). Yesler Terrace is a 30-acre site originally developed by the SHA in the early 1940s as the city’s first publicly subsidized housing. Due to its aging infrastructure and housing units, SHA plans to transform the neighborhood into a model community with the new streetcar line as a significant catalyzing feature. What is emerging is a dynamic, mixed-income community with 5,000 housing units and subsidized homes for low- and moderate-income residents.

It was the desire to connect the First Hill neighborhood to the regional rail-transit system that led to the creation of the First Hill Streetcar Line. Originally planned to be served by Sound Transit’s North Link (LRT), the station was removed from the project due to engineering challenges associated with the geological conditions in the location of the proposed deep-bore station. Sound Transit removed the station from the North Link, and in January 2006, authorized staff to begin planning for a possible new streetcar line to connect First Hill to the regional rail transit system.  


The $134 million project was funded as part of the Sound Transit 2 mass transit expansion ballot measure approved by voters in November 2008. Sound Transit then developed an inter-governmental agreement with the City of Seattle for the city to design and construct the transit line. The agreement included targeted service parameters for the new streetcar service, including planned headways and travel time. In essence, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle had the broader vision of providing an efficient connection between the Union Station and new Capital Hill LRT station, but what they had as a starting point was essentially a $134 million budget without a project alignment.  

In 2009, the city engaged AECOM to help plan and design the new streetcar line. Through a 12-month planning and environmental review process, the preferred alignment was selected and advanced into the engineering phase. LTK Engineering was hired to work alongside AECOM developing the design of systems, vehicle procurement, and the operations and maintenance facility. Stacy Witbeck Inc. was next hired as the general contractor/construction manager (GC/CM) for the construction of the line.

Through an approach targeted to minimize the overall project costs, a streamlined design was developed that in turn allowed for an additional five-block extension of  the proposed line from the original terminus proposed at 5th/Jackson, serving the International District station, to the heart of Seattle’s historic downtown location at Pioneer Square, with connections to CenturyLink and Safeco Field. Other key features added to the new line include a modest level of transit signal priority systems installed at critical intersections in order to enhance streetcar operations and help achieve the targeted vehicle headways.  

Vehicle Technology

Six streetcars vehicles were manufactured by Inekon Trams of the Czech Republic — the same company that built the vehicles for Seattle Streetcar’s South Lake Union line. The vehicles are based on Inekon’s bi-directional 12-Trio model, three of the vehicles were assembled at Inekon’s facilities in the Czech Republic and the remaining three were assembled locally in Seattle by Pacifica Marine. The new line will be the second project in the U.S. to utilize a new on-board energy storage system (lithium-ion batteries) to allow for one direction of the service to run without overhead wires. Vehicles will use overhead wires for the 2.5-mile outbound/uphill run and under battery power for the inbound/downhill leg of the route.

Already, performance of the batteries has shown that the new streetcars will run farther than expected off-wire, including some uphill, northbound travel. This is due to a brief downhill segment through the First Hill neighborhood that lets the vehicle’s regenerative brakes gather enough power to continue northbound, much like a hybrid car. The benefit of the wireless operation allowed the Seattle Department of Transportation to reduce some of the infrastructure costs associated with the overhead contact wires for the streetcar, including the elimination of expensive crossings of existing trolley bus wires at several intersections.

Integrating Biking, Walking

In response to community input and the high concentration of pedestrian and bicyclists who live, work or go to school along the corridor, special attention was given during the project development phase to integrate high-quality bicycle and pedestrian facilities into the streetcar project design. The route selection process included an assessment of the candidate alignments, with respect to connections to existing bike facilities, transit and other destinations. As the design developed, AECOM supported the city by developing and assessing the various scenarios to re-program each street to incorporate the new rail-transit multi-modal transportation network. What emerged was a fully-integrated design that found the operational balance for each segment of the project to create vibrant transportation corridors, each uniquely tailored to the demands of each street.   

As the streetcar departs from downtown, it travels through the International District along South Jackson Street — a major trunk-line for several regional high-capacity bus lines. It also provides the critical access for the multiple small businesses of Chinatown and Little Saigon that rely on freight deliveries and sidewalk activities. Jackson Street had also been recently adopted as a priority bike-route as part of Seattle’s Bike Master Plan. The streetcar tracks are located in the left lanes of this major arterial with stops located in the median (left-turn) lane. The right lanes were widened where possible to accommodate the heavy bus traffic and, where possible, bike lanes to allow for cyclists to climb the 5% to 6% grade in the outbound/eastbound direction. A proposed plan for an alternate bike-priority route was developed to direct less experienced cyclists to travel along an adjacent street.

The alignment traverses along the quieter streets of 14th Avenue and Yesler Terrace serving the Bailey Gatzert residential neighborhood and Yesler Housing Development. A road diet was implemented, removing travel lanes to provide dedicated bike lanes and some on-street parking.

For the mile-long segment along the East Broadway corridor, the project introduced a two-way European-style cycle-track on the east side of the street. Known as the Broadway Bikeway, it is one of the first significant stretches of protected bike lanes in the city’s busy central neighborhoods. The protected bike lanes, a design feature of the First Hill Streetcar project, help cyclists avoid streetcar tracks and create a facility where people of all ages and abilities can ride a bike. Transit islands give streetcars and buses a place to pick-up and drop-off passengers without pulling into the bike lanes. They also give people waiting for transit a place to stand that is not in the middle of the sidewalk, freeing up valuable sidewalk space. With the opening of the First Hill Streetcar, East Broadway has already become a model for the future of complete streets in Seattle.

Already, the City of Seattle is planning two extensions of the First Hill Streetcar line. Final design is underway for the Broadway Extension that will extend the service a half mile further into the Capital Hill commercial and residential core. Designs are nearly complete as well for the Center City Connector, which will connect through downtown to the existing South Lake Union streetcar line (launched in 2007). The launch of the First Hill Streetcar was a big step towards completing a connected system in Seattle, which is scheduled to be completed by 2020.

Mark L. Dorn is VP, Streetcar Project Development and Delivery, with AECOM’s office in Portland, Ore.

Originally appearing at:

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SAFETY LINES... Safety Lines...  

Rail Shippers Petition USDOT
Over Tank-Car Safety Regs

From Progressive Railroading

A coalition of shippers late last week petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to adopt rules that would reinforce its authority to set uniform national tank car standards.

If adopted, the petition would prevent the Association of American Railroads (AAR) or other parties from imposing industry-wide requirements that are different from federal regulations, officials said in a press release from the shippers.

Signing the petition were the American Chemistry Council, American Petroleum Institute, The Fertilizer Institute, The Chlorine Institute, The Sulphur Institute, U.S. Clay Producers Traffic Association, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, National Association of Chemical Distributors and National Industrial Transportation League.

The petition is in response to efforts by the AAR — through its majority control of the Tank Car Committee (TCC) — to try to impost tank car requirements that are different from federal regulations. In some cases, the AAR-recommended requirements have been considered and rejected by USDOT, the press release stated.

“Our petition simply requests that DOT adopt clear rules that ensure that the responsibility for establishing tank car specifications remains in the hands of federal regulators,” shipper coalition officials said in the release.

The shipper group added the following statement:

“The TCC was created to develop consensus on tank car standards and advise regulators for tank car specifications that meet DOT regulations. Allowing the TCC to set requirements outside of the federal rulemaking process would set a chilling and damaging precedent that would greatly diminish the [USDOT’s] authority to regulate safety. Tank car standards must be developed with the due process protection, public interest considerations and support of science-based standards required for DOT safety rules.”

The AAR is reviewing the shipper group’s petition, said AAR spokesman Ed Greenberg in an email. But for decades, the Tank Car Committee has “worked closely with shippers and other representatives to make tank car transportation in this country even safer,” he said.

The USDOT’s standards represent the minimum safety level as required by law, Greenberg added.

“The overarching mission of the Tank Car Committee has always been to make tank cars even safer by working together with key stakeholders,” he said. “The fact is, through this shared responsibility, there have been dramatic improvements in rail safety in our country over the past several decades.”

A copy of the petition can be viewed at:

Found at:

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Metra, Other Railroads Warned: Don’t Delay
On High-Tech Safety System

By Mary Wisniewski
Chicago Tribune

The federal government last Wednesday warned the nation’s railroads, including Chicago’s Metra, not to wait until the last minute to install a new high-tech safety system that can prevent crashes and save lives.

The Federal Railroad Administration also urged Congress to provide more funding to help commuter railroads implement the program, known as Positive Train Control. The technology uses GPS, radios, computers and antennas to slow or stop speeding trains, prevent collisions and override human errors.

“Positive Train Control should be installed as quickly as possible,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in a statement provided by the FRA. “This is lifesaving technology available now, and railroads should continue to aggressively work to beat the deadlines Congress has put in place.”

Congress last year extended the deadline for all railroads to meet the requirements for Positive Train Control from December 2015 until December 2018, after railroads complained they would shut down if not given more time. A railroad can get up to a two-year extension under certain conditions.

Wednesday’s status update — the first since the deadline was extended — outlined the progress made by railroads on PTC. Of the 38 safety plans the FRA expects to receive, it has so far gotten 7. Another 13 railroads plan to submit a PTC safety plan this year, but most submissions are not expected until 2018.

Metra has said that given its capital budget constraints, it has made PTC and improving its rolling stock its top priorities. Metra has said it will have PTC completed by 2019; the railroad expects to be able to meet milestones required for a deadline extension. It will cost the agency about $400 million.

So far, Metra has spent $95 million and has $282 million under contract, according to officials. The agency plans to have PTC on the BNSF line installed next year. PTC on the Union Pacific North, West and Northwest lines and the Rock Island lines should be installed in 2018, while PTC should be ready on remaining lines in 2019.

“As the FRA indicated, funding these massive systems is a major challenge, especially with very limited resources, so we are pleased to be on track with our plan and moving forward,” Metra CEO Don Orseno is quoted as saying in an emailed statement.

The technology is intended to prevent crashes like the Amtrak derailment in May 2015 that killed eight people in Philadelphia. A preliminary BNSF investigation of a freight crash in Texas in June that killed three crew members found that it might have been prevented by PTC.

Federal safety officials said PTC would have prevented a 2005 Metra derailment on the South Side that killed two people.

PTC legislation is an unfunded mandate. American Public Transportation Association CEO Richard White said in a statement that as of April 2015, commuter rail systems had spent $950 million, but it is “conservatively estimated” that they’ll need about $3.5 billion to finish PTC installation.

Freight railroads say they have already spent more than $6.5 billion on PTC, and expect final costs to be more than $10.5 billion by the time the PTC is fully operational, said Ed Greenberg, spokesman for the Association of American Railroads.

“The PTC technology being installed is revolutionary and is a full-time focus of the nation’s freight railroads, which continue to work all out on PTC testing and installation and to move this complex safety system from concept to nationwide reality across the country as quickly as possible, without sacrificing safety,” Greenberg said.

Metra, New Jersey Transit Rail and Metro-North Railroad in New York, all big urban commuter railroads, are at about the same place in PTC implementation — they have no fully equipped locomotives and no track segments ready.

Metra said in a statement that it has made progress not included in the report — noting that 26 percent of rail cars and locomotives that need to be PTC equipped have been partly equipped with onboard computers and PTC radios, and Metra now has 38 percent of the PTC radio towers it needs, up from 16 percent in June.

Amtrak has about 67 percent of its route covered by PTC, according to the FRA, including the route from New York City to Washington, D.C., and part of the route from Chicago to Detroit.

FRA said it has approved more than $650 million in grants to passenger railroads for PTC since 2008.

From an item at:

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More On PTC

Railroads Get Funding Boost
For Accident Prevention

By Melanie Zanona
The Hill

Amtrak and other rail systems around the country have been selected to receive federal grants to install a technology that can help prevent deadly train accidents, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced Tuesday.

The FRA awarded $25 million to 11 projects in six states and the District of Columbia to implement positive train control (PTC), a system that automatically slows a train that is going over the speed limit.

The technology, which will eventually be mandatory for railroads, can prevent derailments, collisions and improper track switching.

Congress has already provided over $650 million in grants since 2008 to assist passenger railroads with installing the technology, and the FRA is currently accepting applications for an additional $199 million in competitive grant funding.

The latest round of grants was made available through fiscal 2016 spending legislation as railroads continue to push toward compliance.

President Obama sought $1.25 billion in his fiscal 2017 budget request to help railroads install PTC systems.

“These grants get us a bit closer to implementing Positive Train Control — a long overdue technology that prevents accidents and saves lives,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

“We will continue to do everything in our power to help railroads install this technology. We encourage Congress to fully fund the President’s request for significant funds to help more railroads activate PTC.”

Some of the new grants include $2.6 million for Amtrak in D.C. to secure PTC wireless communication between a train’s point of origin and targeted receivers on the Northeast Corridor and $3 million for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District in California to install PTC and new grade crossing warning systems.

PTC is now equipped along a large portion of the Northeast Corridor, and a number of rail systems around the country are also rolling out the technology. But some critics say it is not being installed fast enough.

Congress extended the original PTC implementation deadline from the end of 2015 to at least Dec. 31, 2018.

Federal investigators attributed the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia last year to a distracted train operator who sped around a sharp curve.

Railroads will be required to install the automated system in areas where certain hazardous materials are transported and areas that support regularly scheduled intercity passenger or commuter services.

PTC is expected to be equipped along more than 70,000 miles of track, the FRA said.

“Every dollar we invest in implementing Positive Train Control as quickly as possible is money well spent because ultimately it means fewer accidents and fewer fatalities,” FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg said.  “Today’s grants inch us closer to a safer rail network with PTC.”

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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BUSINESS LINES... Business Lines...  

Providence And Worcester Railroad Sold
For $126 Million

By Lindsay Corcoran, Masslive.Com
And DF Staff

The Providence and Worcester Railroad (P&W) has been acquired by Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) for approximately $126 million.

The acquisition was finalized last Friday and is expected to close at the end of the fourth quarter of 2016, according to a press release on the Providence and Worcester Railroad website.  

G&W is an international railroad company operating in the United States, Canada, Australia and several European countries.  They maintain an international headquarters in the state of Connecticut.


Photo:  P&W RR

A stretch of P&W locomotives are moved into service along one of its tracks.

“Becoming part of the Genesee & Wyoming family with its record of emphasis on safety and investment in its rail infrastructure ensures that our Company will continue to provide the quality of service which our customers and the communities we serve have enjoyed over the 40+ years since we re-commenced independent operations while at the same time continuing and improving on our programs to promote employee and community safety,” said Robert H. Eder, longtime chairman and CEO of the company.

The Providence & Worcester has approximately 140 employees with 32 locomotives across 163 miles of their own track and over approximately 350 miles under track access agreements.

They serves auto, chemicals, metals and lumber customers in southeastern New England, handling approximately 43,000 carloads per year, according to the company.

The P&W has been under consideration for a private commuter rail service to be operated by the Boston Surface Railroad Co. now based in Woonsocket, RI.  The planned passenger line would run along existing P&W tracks between Providence, RI. and Worcester, MA.  Boston Surface Railroad’s plan included the use of existing P&W locomotives and some fo its passenger coach rolling stock that is presently used for excursion train runs.

At press time it was uncertain how the acquisition by G&W might impact these plans.

Original article found at:

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All Aboard Florida:
A New Approach For Us Passenger Rail

By David Briginshaw
International Railway Journal

The United States is about to witness the rebirth of profitable passenger rail. All Aboard Florida has nearly completed raising $US 5bn of private capital in a combined passenger rail and property venture to introduce an inter-city rail service along Florida’s east coast between Miami and Orlando.

This project turns on its head decades of perceived thinking in the United States that inter-city passenger rail cannot make money and should be left to the public sector. The last private investment in long-distance passenger rail was made in the 1950s and 1960s when the Class 1 railways had a last throw of the dice in a bid to fend off competition from the rapidly expanding airlines and interstate highway network by investing in streamliner trains. This largely failed and led to the formation by the federal government of Amtrak in 1971, which has had a monopoly on the operation of inter-city and long-distance passenger trains ever since. This allowed the Class 1 railways to concentrate on freight while hosting Amtrak trains on their tracks.

Five Brightline TrainsThere is a fundamental difference between the traditional way of funding passenger rail investment and All Aboard Florida’s approach, as the company’s president, Mr Mike Reininger, explains: “Our approach is pretty different from that of other transport-only services where traditionally they target ridership at the lowest cost possible. We view this more as a hospitality product than as public transport. We are targeting revenue rather than riders, looking for the optimal revenue profile.” There are around 500 million car trips annually between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando, which will be served by the new train service. “We only need to capture a small percentage of the travel market – single-digit penetration gets us to profitability,” Reininger says.

The first phase of the project between Miami and West Palm Beach is expected to attract 3 million riders after 18 months of operation, while the entire route to Orlando is expected to push annual ridership up to 5 million passengers a year over the following 18 months, after which the rate of growth will slow to more normal levels. “This will get us to profitability,” Reininger says.

According to Reininger, the project has attracted “overwhelming” interest both in Florida and further afield, and tremendous support from the state which appreciates the private-sector input into transport, which has produced a huge amount of goodwill. Nevertheless, Reininger recognises that most Americans either drive or fly and rail is rarely an option for an inter-city trip, and certainly not in Florida. “Travelling by train in the US is not as instinctive as elsewhere so we need to make people more aware of rail travel,” he explains. “But it cuts both ways. While rail travel is not at the top of most people’s minds, the novelty and newness will attract them to try out our service. We then need to convert them into regular users.”

All Aboard America is a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries which is owned by private equity funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group, a global investment manager set up in 1998, which currently manages assets worth $US 70.6bn. It was Fortress’ co-founder and co-chairman Mr Wesley Edens who first had the idea for the rail and property project.

A big advantage of the scheme is that it is able to use the existing Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) right-of-way and land, and only a relatively short section of new railway construction is required. FECR is aligned with sister company, Flagler Global Logistics, which is also a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries.

The railway element of the project requires an investment of around $US 2.5bn to:

Upgrading the existing railway includes doubling the remaining single-track sections and increasing line speeds. The FECR line runs at grade through a densely populated area between Miami and West Palm Beach and this 107.8km (67 mi) section has 180 level crossings. Even the 214km (133 mi) segment from West Palm Beach to Cocoa has 170 level crossings.

The new signaling system includes upgrades to level crossings, effective communications with approaching trains, a system for triggering level crossing gate opening and closure, and regulation of train-crossing times. As a result, All Aboard Florida’s trains will clear level crossings in under 60 seconds, which is less time than road vehicles wait for a traffic light.

Even so, the Miami - West Palm Beach section will be restricted to 127km/h (79 mph) . Trains will be able to accelerate to 177km/h (110 mph) between West Palm Beach and Cocoa, while the new 64km (40 mi) line from there to Orlando is being designed for 200km/h (125 mph) operation. These speeds will make the new rail service highly competitive with the road.

Miami Central and Orlando will be the two largest stations. Miami Central will have five platform tracks, three for use by All Aboard Florida, and two reserved for a future extension of the TriRail commuter rail service which connects Miami with West Palm Beach on a separate alignment. Orlando station, which was originally intended for use by the Orlando - Tampa high-speed rail project (aborted in 2011), will have three platform tracks with space for a fourth.


The first phase has a budget of $US 1bn and is fully funded. Regarding phase two, Reininger says: “We are currently working in the capital markets and expect to complete the process in the next several months. We have been working on the entire project for quite some time and have completed all the design and engineering work and acquired the right-of-way for the extension to Orlando. We will open the first phase in less than a year from now, which is just about on time, although phase two will take a little longer than we hoped. Nevertheless we will complete the project in five years from start to finish.”

The property element of the project is also worth around $US 2.5bn and centres on commercial development at the new stations at Miami Central, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. All Aboard Florida will only be a tenant at Orlando station, and does not own the land there.

The railway and property ventures are independent businesses, each with its own profit profile, but as Reininger explains, there are a couple of points worth noting. “Each business makes the other more valuable,” he says. “The property business will enhance rail traffic, while access to the rail service at each location makes the property developments more attractive.”

The new rail service will be marketed as Brightline and Reininger believes the fleet of trains on order from Siemens will set a new standard in passenger rail travel. Passengers will have step-free access from platform to train as a plate will slide out from beneath each doorway before the door opens to bridge the gap. Operation of the plate is integrated into the door opening and closing mechanism. Aisles will be 813mm wide, sufficient for wheelchairs to be able to pass throughout the full length of the train, which Reininger says is unique in the United States. Toilets will be touch-free, as passengers will use sensors to open and close the toilet door and wash and dry their hands using dual-function taps. As a result the trains will exceed the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The toilets include baby-changing tables which are recessed into the wall when not in use.

Brightline will be a full-reservation service with a variety of seating configurations. Reininger says they are not using the word class to define the two levels of service which Brightline will offer. Select will be the top level with two-plus-one seating across the width of the coach, with ample leg room for passengers. Food and beverage options will be part of the Select package. Smart will have two-plus-two seating, but Reininger says these seats will still be still be larger than the first-class seats provided in aircraft used on US domestic flights. Passengers will be able to book seats through the Brightline App or website, or at stations, and they will be able to add parking or connecting services at the same time.

Free Wi-Fi, and at-seat power sockets and USB connectors will be available in the stations and on board the trains.

Rolling Stock

All Aboard Florida has ordered 10 trains from Siemens each comprising seven stainless-steel coaches with seats for 356 passengers and a Charger diesel-electric locomotive at each end. However, only five four-car trains seating 240 passengers are being supplied initially, with delivery of the first train scheduled for later this year. The trains are designed so that the number of coaches, which are each 25.9m long and 3.2m wide, can be increased to 10 per set in the future.

The locomotives are EPA Tier 4 compliant and are based on Siemens’ Charger design, but only have a cab at one end with a streamlined nose. Each 2983kW locomotive has a 16-cylinder Cummins QSK95 engine and an axleload of 29.8 tonnes. A four-car train will have a maximum acceleration rate of 1.28m/s2. The first carbon-steel body shell was completed in June.

Looking to potential future expansion, Reininger has his sights set on Tampa which is the second largest conurbation in Florida with a population of 2.8 million in the Tampa Bay area, followed by Jacksonville. An extension to Jacksonville would be relatively easy as All Aboard America would be able to use FECR’s existing line.

“We have put ourselves in a position to know more about profitable inter-city rail in the Unites States than anyone else, and there are certainly other city pairs that could have potential for rail links,” Reininger says. “We may not use exactly the same business for other projects as we probably wouldn’t own the tracks.” But as Reininger concludes: “passenger rail must be part of the mobility equation.”

Provided All Aboard America is a success, inter-city passenger rail in North America will never be the same again.

Found at:

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VACATION LINES... Vacation Lines...  

CapeFLYER Announces $15 Round-Trip
Sunday Savings Fares

From An MBTA/MassDOT Press Release

The CapeFLYER is announcing Super Summer Sunday Savings Fares of $15 for the last three weeks of the 2016 season. The tickets, which are good for Round-trip same day travel on Sunday, August 21, August 28 and September 4 only, will be available for purchase exclusively at the MBTA Commuter Rail ticket office at South Station. (These special tickets are not available on board the train or through the mTicket app.)

“Late summer is one of the best times to visit the Cape and Islands and we want to provide a way to encourage as many people as possible to come down from the Greater Boston area to enjoy our beaches, museums, bike trails, shops, restaurants, tours, golf and everything else that makes the region so special,” said Thomas S. Cahir, Administrator of the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. “Our Super Summer Sunday Savings fare is designed to make a day-trip to the Cape as easy, convenient and affordable as possible, while at the same time providing a beautiful ride over one of the most scenic railroads in the country. With fall fast approaching, we want to make sure everyone can squeeze as much fun out of summer as possible.”

About the CapeFLYER: For the season, the CapeFLYER operates as its own dedicated train on Friday nights leaving South Station at 5:50 PM and making stops in Braintree, Brockton, Middleboro, Wareham, Buzzards Bay and Hyannis. Trains also operate on Saturdays and Sundays and holiday Mondays through Labor Day weekend. The complete schedule is available at

In addition to a convenient trip to Cape Cod, the CapeFLYER works closely with the ferry operators to provide convenient connections to and from Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Cape Cod RTA buses are available at Buzzards Bay and Hyannis to bring passengers to the Cape communities. Finally, the CapeFLYER operates a café car that sells excellent food and drinks, including beer and wine, provided by Blonde on the Run Catering.

The CapeFLYER is a unique partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. For additional information, including a complete schedule, fares and information about connections, please visit:

About the CCTRA: The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) is one of 15 Regional Transit Authorities within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and has been providing public transportation services since 1976 to residents and visitors as well as consumers of state agencies and human service organizations for all 15 Cape Cod communities. The CCRTA owns and operates the Hyannis Transportation Center in downtown Hyannis and the state of the art Operations and Maintenance Facility in South Dennis. For more information, visit Cape Cod RTA at our website or follow us on Facebook & Twitter and Instagram

In 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) was created to unify the state’s various transportation agencies. MassDOT now includes the Highway Division, the MBTA and Rail Transit Division, the Aeronautics Division, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. MassDOT is committed to providing a safe and reliable transportation system to all those who travel in the Commonwealth and works to deliver excellent customer service. MassDOT has been nationally recognized for its innovative approach to transportation, including the Accelerated Bridge Program, the “Where’s My Bus and Train?” apps and “Fast 14” work. For more information, visit MassDOT at our website: blog: follow MassDOT on twitter at and Facebook at

Media Contact:
Kathy Jensen

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

InnoTrans: Let’s support Our USA Pavilion

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

InnoTrans, the semi-annual global railway industry trade exhibition and the largest event of its type, is offering discounted tickets to North American attendees.

InnoTrans take place every two years in Berlin. 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, The Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA), Railway Supply Institute (RSI), Railway Systems Suppliers, Inc. (RSSI) and the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA are coming to InnoTrans to “present a concentrated display of their country’s economic strengths in the rail transport sector.”

The venue will be the USA Pavilion, where REMSA will be organizing a combined stand in Hall 22 on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds.

Companies and organizations from the U.S. are showing an increasing appreciation of InnoTrans as a venue for international trade. Since the U.S. made its debut in 1998, exhibitor numbers have increased ten-fold and their display area is now 30 times greater.

For its exhibitors, the display of products ranks high on the ‘InnoTrans agenda,’ along with the opportunities that it provides for cultivating contacts with the leading decision-makers in Europe, Asia and South America. Within the industry, this trade show has a vital role for management and technical representatives, who can discuss and conduct business here.

The U.S. exhibitors at the upcoming InnoTrans will again include numerous global market leaders, among them Progress Rail Services, Wabtec, Amsted Rail and GE Transportation.

A press conference will be held for the first time, at which journalists can obtain details about current trends and developments in the U.S rail industry. On Sept. 22, representatives of the associations will be meeting with domestic and international media for a Q&A session, which will be held at the InnoTrans press center.

“The exclusive USA Pavilion allows U.S.-based railway supply companies and organizations a unique opportunity to highlight their goods and services at InnoTrans, a major international event that attracted more than 130,000 attendees from more than 100 countries in 2014,” said REMSA Executive Director David Tennant.

“The international market holds great promise for North American railroad suppliers, and the USA Pavilion will showcase companies who are interested in marketing their products globally,” said RSI President Thomas D. Simpson.

“The products and services provided by the signal and communications suppliers are the most rapidly changing in the industry. Technological advancements in software, hardware and data management that can be used by the rail and transit companies to increase safety and efficiency are continuously being developed. InnoTrans 2016 provides an excellent forum to obtain the latest information on these developments,” said RSSI Executive Director Michael A. Drudy.

“InnoTrans will provide our individuals members with networking opportunities and will also provide an opportunity to see exhibits from a wide variety of companies. The five segments of the exhibition, Railway Technology, Railway Infrastructure, Public Transport, Interiors and Tunnel Construction will be of interest to many of our members,” said AREMA Executive Director and CEO Beth Caruso.

Found at:

[ Editor’s Note:  NCI staff David Beale (Foreign Editor) and Jim RePass (Publisher) have attended past InnoTrans events.  North American rail companies, authorities, DOTs, and manufacturers should avail themselves to see what is available in rail and what the future of rail looks like in Europe. ]

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TO THE NORTH... To The North...  

“Save VIA” To Host Parade Through St. Marys

By Laura Cudworth
The Beacon Herald

It may seem odd that a car dealer is leading the charge for better train service.

But it makes perfect sense to Chris West, owner of Downtown Pontiac Buick GMC in St. Marys. That’s why he is organizing another event, a parade in September, to raise the profile of Via Rail service and highlight what many advocates say is chronic underfunding.

He stressed there must be balance between car travel and other modes of public transportation.

If there isn’t, legislated driving and vehicle restrictions, which have been implemented in other countries, are a real possibility, he said.

“As auto dealers we have to get behind the issue of congestion,” West said. “It’s for us to solve the problem not the government. I really believe dealers have an obligation to do what we can. If we don’t do it, the government will do it for us and we will be shocked and not like what’s put in place.”

Save Via Rail has hosted at least one event a year over the past several years to keep rail travel in the hearts and minds of residents.

On Sept. 16 Via Rail supporters from around the region and local students are invited to participate in a parade from the shuttered Grand Trunk Junction to the Via Station starting at 11 a.m. The starting point, which is the closed station, and end point, the Via station, are symbolic of what happens when you abandon rail, West said.

“We’re having the parade on that day because it’s the last business day before Parliament goes back,” he said.

The Save Via Rail movement has lobbied MPs across the country to improve funding. Ahead of the parade, MPs across Canada will get an information package from Save Via Rail.

West estimates about 50 people will participate in the parade but if schools participate the numbers will be higher. Participants are encouraged to walk, bike or run the one-mile route. It takes about 22 minutes to walk, West said. Water stations will be set up along the way.

The parade will finish at the Via Station with a Rotary Club of St. Marys barbecue from noon until 1:30 p.m. All proceeds from the barbecue will go toward Rotary projects.

As the barbecue ends everyone is encouraged to meet the train as it pulls into the station at about 1:30 p.m.

West remains optimistic the cause will gain momentum.

“We hope to get other communities on board to pick up the pace and get this spreading across Canada,” he said.

“I believe in the passion of Canadians. I think people will pick it up.”

Federal budget cuts in 2012 prompted Via to reduce service. Save Via has been active since then and has held a variety of events including rallies and a sit-in. A petition was sent to former prime minister Stephen Harper with more than 3,000 signatures in 2013 calling for the restoration of lost services.

Found at:

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We’re All Aboard St. Marys now!

Press Release From All Aboard St. Marys
(Save VIA)

ST. MARYS, ONTARIO – All Aboard St. Marys is the new name of the Save VIA citizens’ committee that has been working diligently for improved rail passenger service in Southwestern Ontario and across Canada since 2012.

“We’re rebranding because it’s the passenger trains – not VIA – that we need to save, improve and expand,” says Chris West of All Aboard St. Marys. “As was said in the Canada Transportation Act Review Committee’s report delivered earlier this year to Transport Minister Marc Garneau, the way rail passenger service is provided in Canada is badly flawed, unsustainable and out of step with the rest of the world. To be blunt, VIA has been a flop since it was created in 1977 by the Trudeau government. That’s largely due to a succession of federal governments and the Ottawa bureaucracy, not VIA itself.”

As All Aboard St. Marys, the citizens’ committee will be continuing to push for investment by both the federal and provincial governments in the modernization and expansion of our sagging rail passenger service. It will be calling for a fundamental and structural correction of the
federal rail passenger program and provincial transportation policies, especially in Ontario. Says West, “We’ve now got provincially-funded GO chewing into VIA’s traditional markets and a provincial proposal to get into intercity transportation with a multi-billion-dollar high-speed rail scheme. This makes absolutely no sense to us and it’s time someone started saying so.”

All Aboard St. Marys points to the U.S. for a successful and practical working model to deal with Canada’s habitual failure to provide modern and effective rail passenger service. There, Amtrak was created in 1971 as a federal agency with a clearly defined mandate that was set out in legislation, something VIA has never been given. The U.S. legislation also spelled out a means for the states to become involved in partnerships with the federal government to operate trains that were of regional importance, but outside the scope of Amtrak’s national mandate.

Says West, “The U.S. now has 28 corridor-style rail passenger services of up to 1,200 km that are being funded jointly by the feds and 19 states. Those highly successful corridor operations from Maine to California are frequently directed by various public boards or joint powers authorities composed of representatives of the communities they serve. It’s working in the U.S. and it’s high time our elected officials examined this approach for application here.”

As part of its heightened advocacy campaign, All Aboard St. Marys has adopted a bold logo designed by recent Fanshawe College graduate Christopher Ryan. The group’s website is also being thoroughly overhauled and hard-hitting reports and brochures will be issued to match its increased activities.

“The time for sunny words and long-range studies is over,” says West. “Southwestern Ontarians and rail passengers nationwide want change – now. We’ll be asking elected officials of all political stripes just why we aren’t getting those overdue rail improvements when the rest of the world – including our U.S. neighbors – are charging boldly ahead of us in running modern passenger trains that demonstrate daily their massive economic, social and environmental benefits. That question is especially pertinent when the federal and provincial governments are now portraying themselves as climate change warriors.”

As part of its re-launch, and with the full support and encouragement of St. Marys Town Council, All Aboard St. Marys Day is scheduled for Friday, September 16. A schedule of day-long events will be issued shortly. The public, the media and politicians are cordially invited to attend and hear the views of the residents, business people and local representatives of St. Marys on the future of our passenger trains.

For more information, please contact:
Chris West
Save VIA (All Aboard St Marys)
Box 1197 449 Queen St. W
St. Marys, ON N4X 1B7
Tel: 519 284 3310 :Fax: 519 284 3160
Sans frais/toll free 1-866-8632 ext 238

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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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