The National Corridors Initiative Logo

Sept 12, 2016
Vol. 16 No. 36

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...

  Guest Opinion …
Amtrak Is A Great Investment
  Guest Commentary…
APTA: Public Transit Helps Reduce Traffic Deaths
  Transit Lines…
Streetcars Are Running In Cincinnati For The
   First Time In 65 Years
Sound Transit Completes Tunneling For Northgate
   Light Rail Extension
New MTA Subway Cars To Arrive For Testing,
   Will Replace Oldest Fleet
  Commuter Lines…
Amtrak To Continue Saturday Late Night Trains
   From Milwaukee To Chicago
Rebuilt Metra Locomotive Returns To Chicago
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Planning Lines…
Ann Arbor, Michigan City Officials Divided Over
   Four New Possible Amtrak Locations
  Funding Lines…
Volusia County, Florida Seeks Guarantee Of
   DeLand SunRail Funding
  Legal Lines…
Former MA Gov. Dukakis Terms Amtrak’s
   Threats To The MBTA ‘Ridiculous’
  Business Lines…
Keolis Names New GM In Massachusetts
RUN to Lafayette, Indiana!
   (RUN Annual Conference)
  Publication Notes …

GUEST OPINION... Guest Opinion...  

Amtrak Is A Great Investment

By Outgoing Amtrak President & CEO, Joe Boardman

In response to an editorial at found at:

I am writing to respond to your recent editorial on Amtrak, which suggests private carriers should operate the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak exists because the private sector walked away from intercity passenger rail service, which couldn’t compete with modes that benefited from Federal investment.  This is not unusual; no passenger system in the world operates without public support.  But the federal government spent $65 billion to bail out the Highway Trust Fund since 2008, more than it has spent on Amtrak in the last 45 years.  Aviation receives tens of billions of dollars in federal, state and local investment annually, as well as spending on the TSA and FAA (which employs five out of every six people in the US DOT).  It’s hard to imagine anyone entering such a market without government support.  In Britain, government spending escalated dramatically after privatization; today, annual fiscal support to the rail system is, almost twice what it was under nationalization.

Ironically, we are having this discussion because of Amtrak’s success.  Amtrak’s fiscal house is in order, and the upgraded Acela service will generate sufficient revenues to repay a $2.4 billion investment loan –  a down payment of the future of a region where our service supports $50 million in annual productivity.  That’s a great investment, the product of a lot of hard work by Amtrak’s people.

Originally appearing at:

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GUEST COMMENTARY... Guest Commentary...  

APTA: Public Transit Helps
Reduce Traffic Deaths

From Progressive Railroading

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has released a new study that shows commuters can reduce their chances of being in an accident by 90 percent if they use public transit instead of cars.

The study also found that transit-oriented communities are five times safer than automobile-centric communities due to a lower traffic casualty rate,  APTA officials said in a media conference call.

The study’s results indicate that communities with public transit options can cut their crash risk in half even for people who don’t use public transit. The study was prepared for APTA by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

APTA officials were joined by National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chair Bella Dinh-Zarr and the American Public Health Association’s Associate Executive Director Susan Polan for a media call yesterday to discuss the studies' results. The speakers noted that the number of U.S. auto-crash fatalities rose 7.2 percent to 35,092 in 2015, the largest increase since 1966.

“It is time we employ public transit as a traffic safety tool because it can dramatically reduce the crash risk for individuals as well as a community,” said APTA Acting Chief Executive Officer and President Richard White. “While no mode of travel is risk free, the safety of public transit is striking when observing the number of fatalities that are a result of auto crashes.”

Auto deaths and injury rates tend to decline in communities when public transit ridership increases, according to the study.

And while there are many reasons for the increase in the auto-crash fatality rate, one is due to distracted driving. Public transit can serve as an option for people who want to multitask while commuting to their destinations, said NTSB’s Dinh-Zarr.

“We face the greatest annual increase in highway deaths in 50 years and public transportation is a tool to help keep high risk groups out of the driver’s seat,” she said, adding that public transit and ride-sharing also should be used to separate alcohol consumption and driving.

APTA officials also made a pitch for more government help in maintaining transit systems’ state of good repair.

“As this APTA report highlights, infrastructure investments that make public transportation more reliable and accessible have significant safety benefits across the multimodal transportation network,” said Jeffrey Knueppel, general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

The study can be found at:

From an article at:

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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

Streetcars Are Running In Cincinnati
For The First Time In 65 Years

By David Peter Alan

After years of intense political wrangling, intensified by funding difficulties, streetcars are again running in Cincinnati, for the first time since 1951.  As we reported last week, city and transit officials, as well as local advocates and other Cincinnatians, were eagerly waiting for their chance to ride.  That opportunity came last Friday.

The new line is owned by the City of Cincinnati, managed by the Southwestern Ohio Transit Authority (SORTA, known locally as “Metro”) and operated by Transdev.  In a press release issued Friday, Brandy L. Jones, Metro’s External Affairs Manager said: “Sixty-five years after the final run of the original streetcars in the Queen City, the new system is once again providing Cincinnatians with a new and exciting way to travel throughout the urban core.”  The new line connects the Central Business District of Downtown Cincinnati with Over-the-Rhine, a historic neighborhood where 150-year-old structures co-exist with buildings in the TOD (Transit-Oriented Development) style, and a diverse crowd of Cincinnatians has moved in, as they anticipated the new streetcar service.

The grand opening celebration began with a ceremonial ride for officials on Friday and continued through the week-end, with free rides on the streetcar and special promotions by some businesses along the route.  Jones also said that the celebration “highlights how the streetcar is connecting the many businesses, arts organizations and neighborhoods along Cincinnati’s riverfront and Downtown areas.”

WLWT reporter John London commented: “It has been quite a ride to get to this point.”  He referred to the political wrangling that had placed the project in jeopardy for the past several years.  Mayor John Cranley, who had strongly opposed the streetcar project, took the first ceremonial ride with former Mayors Mark Mallory and Roxanne Qualls, both of whom had supported the project.  Cranley was ready to ride, however.  In remarks at City Hall, he said: “ Obviously, I didn’t support the project, but it’s here and the taxpayers have a lot of money into it, so we want to see it succeed.  And so, I’m going to ride it.  My wife’s going to be there.  We’re going to ride it together and we’re going to encourage others to ride it.”

Whether or not Cranley is ready to support an expansion of the line remains to be seen.  Advocates are pushing for the line to be extended uptown to Clifton, home of the University of Cincinnati.  Paul Grether, Director of Rail Service for Metro, hopes service will be extended there, someday.  In the meantime, he is working on maximizing ridership.

John Deatrick, Project Executive for the City of Cincinnati, rode on Friday, too. “It went really well.” he told this writer, and added that “a lot of people felt ‘fired up’ getting on the streetcar.” Deatrick also said that he felt “a deep personal satisfaction” when he rode in regular service for the first time.


Image:  Cincinnati Bell Connector Transit

The public gathers to take their first rides on the new streetcar

If the crowds who showed up for opening day are any indication, ridership will be strong.  Derek Bauman, local coordinator for All Aboard Ohio, the Buckeye State’s statewide rail advocacy organization, was not always sure that he would get to ride a streetcar in his home city and neighborhood.  “It is remarkable that the project has survived” he said, adding that it seemed to have nine lives.  Still, three mayors and other transit officials took the first official ride together on Friday, and many Cincinnatians who were not as well-known followed.

Bauman had previously expressed concern that his city’s streetcar lacked the sort of corporate backing that the streetcar project in Detroit has.  Since then, Cincinnati Bell gave the project $3.4 million.  That move may bring more corporate support.  The streetcar is officially known as the Cincinnati Bell Connector now.  

There was no charge to ride the streetcar last week-end, but fares are now in effect.  The fare is $1.00 for a two-hour ticket and $2.00 for a day pass.  There is also some fare integration with Metro buses.  It remains to be seen how many of the first-day riders will ride again when they will be required to pay a fare.  Still, from the tenacity of the people who fought to make sure Friday’s opening happened at all, it appears that the new line will be popular.

Rider advocates always celebrate new starts for rail transit lines, but the difficult path to Cincinnati’s first streetcar service in 65 years made some of those celebrations more joyous than usual.  Jeffrey B. Marinoff, a streetcar advocate in Atlantic City, New Jersey may have expressed the thoughts of many streetcar advocates.  In a blog post entitled “Add Cincinnati to the many cities where street cars return from the ashes,” he wrote: “After 65 years, electric traction has returned to the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Just one more place where it was foolish to get rid of it in the first place.  Ah, sweet vindication!!  Nice to have lived long enough to witness the return.  Remember, I was ridiculed years ago when I protested abandonments of electric transit systems in city after city.  Now I get the last laugh and it’s sweet.  Soon we will see electric street cars running again in places like St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, etc.”

Cincinnati has joined Kansas City, Seattle and other cities which again have a streetcar line, after many years without one.  More cities will be added to this list in the near future.  The issue that Cincinnati and its residents will face is whether the new streetcar line will become an isolated novelty, or whether it will be that start of a streetcar network that will eventually not only reach to Clifton, but to many other places in the City of Cincinnati and its metropolitan area.

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Sound Transit Completes Tunneling For
Northgate Light Rail Extension

More Work To Go, Service Not Set To Begin Until 2021

By Daniel Demay

Contractors for Sound Transit have completed the last tunnel segment for the Northgate light rail extension, set to open in 2021.

Work began on the 4.3-mile extension in 2014, with two tunnel-boring machines removing more than 500,000 cubic yards of material in the process, according to a news release from Sound Transit.

At a cost of $1.9 billion, the Northgate Link will extend light rail service to a station next to the Northgate Mall, with seven-minute rides to Husky Stadium, 14-minute rides to downtown and 47-minute rides to Sea-Tac Airport.

Last Thursday’s milestone completes the last of six segments that were bored by JCM Northlink LLC, a joint venture of Jay Dee Contractors, Frank Coluccio Construction Company and Michels Corporation.

The contractor will continue working on cross-through segments for emergency evacuation and other purposes, while construction of the Northgate station is set to begin this fall.

Sound Transit announced earlier this month that its new Angle Lake station, one stop south of SeaTac, will open Sept. 24.

Also this fall, voters will have their chance to decide whether to approve or reject the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 proposal that would add 62 additional miles of light rail, as well as more rapid transit buses, heavy rail and more.

Sound Transit has said the ST3 package will cost the average resident about $169 more in annual taxes -- about double what residents are already paying for the Sound Transit 2 package.

If approved, the ST3 package would add a property tax of $25 per $100,000 of assessed value, as well as a half-percent increase in sales tax and a hike to the car-cab tax. Despite the transit organization’s average estimate, the actual percentage residents would pay will vary widely based on home values, shopping habits, etc.

For the full story and a video of the tunnel boring machine breaking through visit:

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New MTA Subway Cars To Arrive For Testing,
Will Replace Oldest Fleet

By Vincent Barone
AMNew York

New subway cars that are poised to replace the oldest in the MTA’s fleet will begin arriving in New York City this week for testing, AMNew York has learned.

Manufacturers Bombardier will deliver five of its fleet of 300 new cars, known as the model R179, to the MTA’s 207th Street rail yard in Manhattan starting Tuesday night, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz confirmed.

One train car will arrive over each of the next five nights via flatbed truck from Bombardier’s factory in Plattsburgh, New York. Next month, another batch of five cars is scheduled to make the 300-mile journey for delivery.

The train cars will eventually serve on the J, Z, A, C and M lines, replacing MTA’s ancient R32 subway cars that first entered service in 1964.


Photo:  MTA

A new R179 subway car is prepared for delivery at manufacturer Bombardier’s Plattsburgh, New York, factory. The new trains will begin arriving at a Manhattan MTA rail yard for testing this week. A total of 300 will eventually replace the MTA’s oldest cars on the A, C, J, Z and M lines.

From that 52-year-old fleet, 222 of 600 cars are still in service, now primarily assigned to the C, J and Z trains.

Those remaining cars will be replaced along with 50 R42 cars, which are the second-oldest in the MTA’s fleet.

But don’t expect these new trains any time soon. The MTA has said that it would like the new fleet ready ahead of the 2019 L train shutdown in order to add trains and boost service at nearby lines. And there’s not a clear timeline for retirement of the old cars.

Testing is the first step in getting the R179s rail ready. That will begin this month, as soon as the agency receives its first five-car set.

“We need to make sure everything works in our unique subway environment and make sure the cars meet all our specifications,” Ortiz said.

The new cars were ordered in 2012 at a cost of $735 million, taken from the MTA’s last five-year capital plan from 2010-2014. They were originally set to serve the riding public in 2017 and 2018, but delays in delivery from Bombardier pushed that date back and inflated the original $600 million price tag.

Nicknamed “brightliners” for their stainless steel exterior, the R32 was the first full fleet of corrosion-resistant cars to take to the MTA’s rails. Once distinguished by their ribbed bodies, they’re now also known for their unrivaled rattle, among other trademark maladies.

“To the beleaguered riders on the C and J lines, these cars can’t come soon enough,” said MTA board member Andrew Albert. “[The R32s] have very jerky starts, stuck door panels and A/Cs that don’t work. Generally, they really, really outlived their useful life.”

Maintenance on the new cars is anticipated to be much cheaper. The remaining R32s and R42 are the worst-performing in the MTA’s rolling stock. The R32s break down an average of every 33,996 miles—compared to contemporary train cars, which at best travel an average of 436,023 miles without failing, according to the most recent MTA data.

“Instead of throwing good money after bad we really need to get on with giving riders new state-of-the-art trains,” Albert said.

Found at:

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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

Amtrak To Continue Saturday Late Night Trains
From Milwaukee To Chicago

By Christie Green

Amtrak Hiawatha Service passengers can continue to make evening plans on Saturday nights because late night trips between Chicago and Milwaukee will continue.

The attached schedule shows Train 343, departing from Chicago at 11:10 p.m., and Train 344, departing from Milwaukee at 10:40 p.m.

Until further notice, these Saturday evening trains replace Trains 329 and 330, which continue to operate on weekdays.

Amtrak has arranged for a Thruway Bus Service at 6 a.m. between Milwaukee and Chicago to replace Train 330 on Saturdays.

The Saturday late evening trains have shown higher ridership during a trial period than the early morning trains they replaced.

Amtrak Hiawatha Service trains, running between Milwaukee and Chicago, are jointly sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Transportation. About 800,000 passengers rode last year, with intermediate stops at Glenview, Ill., and at Sturtevant and Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport in Wisconsin, one of the top six Amtrak routes nationally.

Since ticket windows are closed in the late evening, advance e-ticket purchases through, the Amtrak Mobile App, or at station Quik-Trak kiosks (except Glenview) are encouraged, but passengers can be ticketed on board without penalty. For more information, see the attached schedule or visit

From an item at:

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Rebuilt Metra Locomotive Returns To Chicago

From Railway Gazette

Chicago commuter operator Metra announced on September 7 that the first of 41 locomotives being rebuilt by Progress Rail Services has returned to service. Following testing, Metra plans to assign the loco to its routes operated under contract by Union Pacific.

Metra awarded Progress Rail a $91m contract in 2015 to rebuild 41 EMD F40PH-2 and F40PHM-2 locomotives dating from 1989-92 to ‘like new’ condition. The work being done at Progress Rail’s plant in Patterson, Georgia, is expected to extend the locos’ service life by 10 to 13 years.

Now designated F40PH-3, the rebuilt locos include a new high-voltage cabinet with a microprocessor control system, remanufactured engines upgraded to EPA Tier 0+ emissions standards, rebuilt traction motors, new and reconditioned accessories, rebuilt bogies with new wheels and Positive Train Control equipment. Body corrosion is being repaired and a new livery applied.


Photo:  Metra via Railway Gazette

The first rebuilt F40 locomotive

“Our customers deserve a reliable fleet and this program, which restores locomotives to nearly-new condition, is an essential part of our agency’s modernization plan,” said Metra Executive Director & CEO Don Orseno.

As part of a program to refurbish or replace nearly all rolling stock operating on its non-electrified lines, Metra expects to have renovated 12 locomotives by the end of this year, some in-house and some externally. Around 70 coaches will have been refurbished in-house.

Design work is due to begin later this year for a $20m expansion of Metra’s main rolling stock refurbishment facility at 49th Street, which was built in 1947. Construction is expected to begin in late 2017. The remodeling will enable Metra to increase its throughput cars by 33%.

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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PLANNING LINES... Planning Lines...  

Ann Arbor, Michigan City Officials Divided
Over Four New Possible Amtrak Locations

By Sophie Sherry
Michigan Daily

The Federal Rail Administration and a local city government are moving forward with plans to build Amtrak stations at four potential sites in Ann Arbor, each with varying support from City Council members.

The next step in the planning process is completing an environmental assessment report within the next two months, according to Eli Cooper, transportation program manager for Ann Arbor.

Cooper said the city has sub-contracted environmental specialists and engineers at the technology firm AECOM to gather environmental data, and he expects a draft of the assessment to be underway in October.

Two of the four possible station designs are both at the location of the current Amtrak station on Depot Street. One of the design options is for an elevated station. The other is for a ground level station north of the tracks.

The third possible station design, also located on Depot Street, would replace the Gandy Dancer restaurant, repurposing the building as a train station for the first time in decades. The Gandy Dancer was the location of the original station, before the restaurant existed. The fourth potential location for the new station is the city-owned surface parking lot in Fuller Park.

Council-members Sabra Briere (DWard 1) and Jack Eaton (DWard 4) have both expressed opposition to building the new station in Fuller Park because it’s technically park land, despite hosting a parking lot for the University of Michigan Health Systems.

Eaton said he’d like to see the Gandy Dancer repurposed as a station due to the building’s beauty.

“The Gandy Dancer is a much nicer building and it would great if we could use that, I just don’t know what the likelihood of that is,” Eaton said.

While many people believe Amtrak is used as a commuter train for University employees, it’s used mostly by travelers, Briere said. Thus, the Fuller location, though close to the University hospital, may not be useful for those who use Amtrak the most.

“Looking at U of M’s employee base where their zip codes are they are not concentrated in the east and they are not concentrated in Jackson, to the west,” Briere said. “So, the likelihood that this will meet commuter needs may not be as high as some anticipate.”

A community organization, Protect A2 Parks, has also mobilized against the Fuller location, asking citizens to contact their local council member urging them to push an Amtrak station there.

“If park land is used for transportation purposes, the decision makers must demonstrate that there is no ‘prudent or feasible alternative location,’ “ the website reads. “We believe that the Depot Street location is both prudent and feasible, and that its use will provide the best benefit to the community.”

Councilmember Zachary Ackerman (DWard 3) said he believes that the Federal Rail Association will recommend the station which is the best option for the community and commuters and did not express a preference.

Cooper and Ackerman also both said they believe the most important thing is that the project continues progressing.

“This is a time of a lot of momentum for a possible commuter rail to Detroit but also investments from Amtrak in the next 15 years for high-speed rails from Detroit to Chicago, with Ann Arbor being a critical stop along the way.” Ackerman said. “We are already the busiest Amtrak station in the state and I think we need to be a leader as we move forward.”

From an item at:

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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

Volusia County, Florida Seeks Guarantee
Of DeLand SunRail Funding

By Dustin Wyatt
News Journal On-Line

When Volusia County Council members green lit the SunRail commuter train in 2007, they did so with the understanding that by now it would run to DeLand.

It was in the contract, after all, along with a promise that federal funding would help pay for it.

Nine years later, the county hasn’t seen a dime of federal funding for its portion of Phase 2, and County Manager Jim Dinneen is concerned time is running short. By 2021, the Florida Department of Transportation is severing its ties with the SunRail, leaving it in the hands of its Central Florida partners, including Volusia, whether it’s finished or not.

“We cannot sit back and wait on an empty promise,” Dinneen told the council at its meeting Thursday in DeLand. “We have to recognize reality.”

The council continues to be committed to paying its fair share, but members are frustrated that the federal and state government have not come forward with their share of funding as promised. The council approved that a letter be sent to the state’s transportation secretary asking for assurance that the funding is still happening.

“We have an obligation to taxpayers in the county. It’s not fair to be promised funding and not get it,” said Councilman Fred Lowry, whose district includes DeBary.

“A deal is a deal,” said County Chair Jason Davis.

City and business leaders were more optimistic about DeLand getting a station following a meeting with SunRail Executive Director Nicola Liquori. While the meeting was closed to the public, DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar said the conversation was positive.

“We basically had three purposes: to get acquainted, to emphasize that SunRail is important to the DeLand community, and the last thing was to let her know that we were here to help,” he said. “She indicated that she was committed to working to find funding for the DeLand station.”

However, Apgar said Liquori did not specify when that funding could be expected. The DOT wasn’t clear on that either in a statement provided to the News-Journal.

“To date, the department has not been able to secure a commitment by the federal government to provide its 50 percent share of the expected costs for implementing the portion of Phase II that would be located in Volusia County,” DOT spokesperson Steve Olson said in an email. “However, the department remains committed to Phase II and has set aside its 25 percent share of funding in the 5-year work program.”

The fact a timeline hasn’t been set leaves the county in the dark — especially since funding has already been provided for a southern extension into Osceola County, the other half of Phase 2.

“It’s like everyone else has already had dinner and dessert and we are still waiting for the appetizer,” Dinneen said.

SunRail’s cars began moving across Central Florida in May of 2014, giving commuters another way to travel between DeBary and Orlando. The operating costs are now paid for by the Department of Transportation, but that will change by 2021. Then it will be left in the hands of its five partners: the city of Orlando and Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties.

The 12-mile extension from DeBary to the Amtrak station just west of DeLand would cost an estimated $70 million, with half expected to be covered by federal funding.

Councilman Pat Patterson, who serves on the SunRail governing board, said that the agency has been mum about the train’s northern extension in recent months.

Even when SunRail appointed a new executive director in June, the announcement mentioned the SunRail’s completion in the south and a study to explore an expansion east of Orlando, but there was no mention of DeLand. Two attempts by Volusia to secure federal funding through grants for its extension derailed, and Patterson said the county never got a clear explanation as to why.

During Thursday’s council meeting, Patterson questioned why SunRail’s leader was meeting with DeLand, which “has no skin in the game,” and why the meeting was closed to the public at a time when so many of the county’s questions have gone unanswered. He also said that Liquori was invited to attend the council meeting and pointed out her absence.

Olson, with the DOT, said a meeting will be scheduled between Patterson and Liquori in the near future.

Found at:

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LEGALLINES... Legal Lines...  

Former MA Gov. Dukakis Terms Amtrak’s
Threats To The MBTA ‘Ridiculous’

By Tori Bedford

In an interview with Boston Public Radio last Tuesday, Former Governor Michael Dukakis commented on the latest development of what appears to be an ongoing battle between every facet of the Massachusetts public transportation system.

In the latest saga, Amtrak is threatening to cut rail service in Massachusetts, due to a legal dispute with the MBTA. This would disrupt service along the Northeast Corridor, a risky move that local leaders, including Dukakis, just don’t believe is possible. “It’s not going to happen,” he said. “We’ve got a difference of opinion on who is supposed to pay for what. Obviously reasonable people are going to work this out. This is ridiculous.”

Amtrak’s threat was filed in court this week, in response to an ongoing lawsuit brought by the MBTA in January. After Amtrak requested $30 million for track maintenance, the MBTA sued, claiming an agreement had been violated. Amtrak responded with a claim that the MBTA owes money for maintenance— in addition to a base amount of at least $175,106 the company claimed the T owes Amtrak.

ImageFile Photo:  D. Kirkpatrick, NCI

Former MA Governor and presidential candidate Michael Dukakis
as seen at the Rail Users Network Conference in late April 2016,
Boston, MA. 

The MBTA’s latest legal entanglements have emerged as transportation officials continue negotiations; a vote of approval on a scaled-down Green Line Extension, the contentious South Station Expansion Project, and Dukakis’ beloved North-South Rail Link.

In a previous interview with Boston Public Radio in May, Dukakis attributed Governor Charlie Baker’s hesitancy regarding the Link to “lousy advice from Mass DOT.”

“They don’t understand the project, they never have, they’ve never been sympathetic to it under [former Governor] Deval Patrick as well as Charlie Baker, and it’s time that [Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation] Stephanie [Pollack] and the people down there take a good hard look at this and understand that this is the alternative.”

In June, The State House News Service reported that Dukakis met with Pollack, and Baker’s administration plans to go ahead with the study. Dukakis told BPR he’s already getting impatient. “I’m happy that the Governor and the Secretary have now agreed to proceed and complete the detailed study, but it’s already lagging,” he said. “It has been weeks since that announcement was made, and in the meantime, as I think I said in a previous program, connecting North and South station is all about the core system. This is not some exotic experiment, I mean we’re talking about finally linking what are two separate commuter rail systems that are costing us millions, and significantly relieving pressure on the transit system, which now is burdened by all these folks that have to get off at North and South station, and then get on the T to get where they’re going. There’s nothing far-out about this thing, and as you know, the administration keeps talking about expanding South Station and spending $1.5 billion for seven new tracks, which is really nuts, in my opinion.”

Dukakis recently returned from a trip to Greece, where he held meetings with political leadership at the Delphi Economic Forum. According to Dukakis, despite the recent debilitating economic crisis, Massachusetts has something to learn when it comes to transportation. “Despite its economic troubles, the condition of those Greek highways we traveled on is a heck of a lot better than the condition of highways in Massachusetts,” he said. “There are no unpainted bridges and rusting stuff, I don’t know if you guys have headed up 128 lately, but it’s just embarrassing. Those highways were in mint condition, and the Athens metro, which is the relatively new public transportation system in Athens— I don’t have to tell you, it puts the T to shame.”

An audio version of this news item is available at:

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BUSINESS LINES... Business Lines...  

Keolis Names New GM In Massachusetts

Original By Nicole Dungca
Boston Globe

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA)  commuter rail operator, Keolis, has named David Scorey, a former railroad executive from the United Kingdom, as its new general manager, according to Keolis officials.

Scorey was hired by Keolis North America as a vice president earlier this year after serving as managing director of Southern Railway, a company that at least one media report has called “Britain’s worst railway service.” As recently as January, a member of Parliament had asked if the government could withdraw its contract from Southern Railway, according to the BBC.

Amid the criticism of the company’s lackluster performance, Scorey, who started as a chief mechanical officer for Southern Railway in 2004, left for Keolis’s North American arm. While at Keolis, he began working on various projects for its Boston service, including a plan to install fare gates at South Station, North Station, and the Back Bay stop.

Leslie Aun, a Keolis spokeswoman, praised Scorey. He excelled during a difficult time for Southern Railways, when a major railroad renovation project by the government partially shut down one of the service’s main stations, which had a “devastating impact on Southern’s on-time performance” and was out of his control, she said.

“Against this extremely challenging backdrop, David consistently delivered strong results in safety, on-time performance, and customer satisfaction during his tenure, earning him respect of his colleagues, employees, peers, as well as government leaders,” she wrote in a statement.

Brian Shortsleeve, acting general manager of the T, also lauded Scorey, saying in a statement that he brings a “strong background in mechanics and a deep knowledge of rail systems to the table.”

Scorey replaces Gerald Francis. Francis will become president of the local operation and vice president of passenger rail service at its larger corporate office.

Aun said the change has long been in the works, as Francis prepared to take on a bigger role at the North American arm of Keolis, the private sector transit group that is subsidized by the French national railroad. The operating contract with the MBTA is also Keolis’s largest and most important contract in North America.

Francis replaced Thomas Mulligan in February 2015, after the commuter rail was incapacitated by record-breaking snowstorms. MBTA officials at the time criticized Mulligan for lack of leadership, and the commuter rail took longer to recover than all the other T services.

While Keolis has improved its on-time rates from its dreadful performance in 2015, the company has been losing millions of dollars each year for its parent company. Recently, the T announced a series of changes to its deal with Keolis that would give the money-losing company at least $66 million more over six years to add more trains and take better care of its equipment.

Scorey will oversee the agency as it continues to pursue plans that could place more fare gates at its stations to improve fare collection, and enters negotiations with its unions, whose contracts expired this summer.

From an item at:

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Events... Events...  

RUN to Lafayette, Indiana!

The Annual Meeting of the Rail Users’ Network (RUN) will take place at the Lafayette, Indiana train station on Saturday, October 8th.

The main attraction of the day will be a Rail Summit about the Hoosier State train, presented in cooperation with the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance (IPRA).

Here is an opportunity to learn about the most unusual train in the Amtrak system, with its unique appearance, level of service and governance structure. Ed Ellis, head of Iowa Pacific Holdings (IPH), which provides equipment and on-board services for the train, will be on hand to tell us more about this one-of-a-kind train and his future plans for it. The mayors of Lafayette and other towns, who advocated for keeping the Hoosier State on the rails, will recount their experiences. Representatives from Amtrak, IPRA and RUN will present their views, as well.

So RUN to Lafayette, Indiana to learn more about an interesting and comfortable train, and about the advocacy effort by elected officials and rider advocates that kept it going.

From the East, you can take Amtrak’s Cardinal on Friday, October 7th and return from Lafayette on Saturday evening, after the event.

To learn more, please check the RUN web site,, or contact RUN Chair Richard Rudolph. His phone number is (207) 776-4961 and his e-mail is

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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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