The National Corridors Initiative Logo

Oct 10, 2016
Vol. 16 No. 41

Copyright © 2016
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 16th Newsletter Year

 Destination:Freedom 

A Weekly North American Transportation Update For Transportation
Advocates, Professionals, Journalists, And Elected Or Appointed Officials,
At All Levels Of Government.

Publisher
James P. RePass, Sr.
Editor
Molly N. McKay
Foreign Editor
David Beale
Contributing Editor
David Peter Alan
Managing Editor / Webmaster
Dennis Kirkpatrick
 
 

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IN THIS EDITION…   In This Edition…

  News Items…
Hurricane Matthew Shutters Rail Service
  Guest Commentary…
Preventing, Not Chasing, The Ambulance
  Expansion Lines…
Amtrak Hiawatha Project Environmental Assessment
   To Be Released
MBTA Begins Green Line Extension Contractor Search
  Commuter Lines…
SEPTA Regional Rail Returns To Schedule After
   3 Months
LIRR, Metro-North Riders Can Now Use Apple Pay
   And Mastercard’s Masterpass Service To Buy Tickets
  Transit Lines…
New Jersey Transit Operated For A Week
   Without Hoboken, And It Was Rough On Riders
Second Avenue Subway Opening: MTA On The
   Clock With Hurdles Ahead
  Selected Rail Stocks…
 
  Funding Lines…
South Shore Line Expansion To Chicago Moves
   On To Project Development Phase
CTA Red Line Extension Moves Forward
New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund
   Receives Reauthorization
  Safety Lines…
NTSB Issues Event Recorder Data From NJT
   Hoboken Commuter Rail Accident
  Across The Pond…
France Orders 15 High-Speed Trains To Save Train
   Production Factory
  To The North…
All Aboard St. Marys Releases Its First “Top 10 List
   Of VIA Rail Nose-Stretchers”
E&N Rail Line Group Isn’t Trusted, CEO is
   ‘Lightning Rod’: Consultant
  We Get Letters…
  Publication Notes …


NEWS ITEMS… News Items…  

Hurricane Matthew Shutters Rail Service

By DF Staff

As this week’s Destination: Freedom newsletter went into its final stages for publication, Hurricane Matthew was just arriving at the South Carolina coast.

Rail service throughout the southeastern USA has been either cancelled, annulled, or postponed until the storm passes and inspections can be performed.  Substantial flooding is expected and it will be no easy task to get the trains running again.  The closure of such a wide swath of the southeast will of course have a residual impact on connecting trains nationwide.

Destination: Freedom Travel Advisory

Needless to say, check your rail carrier – national or local – to determine if your train is running to your destination, if alternate service is being provided, or if you can get there at all.


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GUEST COMMENTARY Guest Commentary…  

Preventing, Not Chasing, The Ambulance

By David Schanoes
Railway Age

The Sept. 29th NJ Transit accident in Hoboken will, of course, trigger another round of the now-usual “how could its,” “should nevers,” “told yous,” “failure to properly regulates,” “lack of trusts,” “insufficient crew members,” “inadequate trainings” “cost/benefits,” from the usual parties, most of whom are motivated by the best of intentions, which just happen to coincide with some strictly personal agendas, or strictly organizational agendas, or election needs, and . . .

Believe me, I get the shivering willies just thinking that somebody might ever, ever however, include me in such a group.

I’m a consultant now. When I was a high-ranking operating officer, I did what I did out of a sense of obligation, regardless of how much I was being paid. I was a professional, so I did what I did out of professional responsibility and I expected to be paid for the proper discharge of the responsibility. Money was secondary, and basically, irrelevant to the discharge of the responsibility.

Now I’m a consultant, and my responsibility, separate and apart from the times I am paid as a consultant, is zero, nothing, nada, zilch o-zero, big nothing. It’s “Barkeep, another round please. And could you switch the TV to something other than that interview with those senators, governors, appointees with or without vests telling us shoulda, coulda, woulda?”

If only it were like that. I’d like to tell everyone just how simple it would be to prevent another incident like that in Hoboken or any other terminal. But I kind of don’t want to do it for free, you know what I mean? Believe me, saying that makes me gag myself, know what I mean? I know if anyone ever said that to me when I was an operating officer, I would have said, “Thank you, and please get the &%$#! off the property.”

“Easy” is a relative term; easy to prevent the repeat if only the already existing and proper train control apparatus is engaged and functioning; easy if the task is to prevent a train overrunning the end of track, the bumping block, climbing up on the platform and chasing people down a concourse.

Would PTC have prevented this accident? Yes and no. In theory, yes. In reality, no. Why? Because FRA, in its wisdom, allows railroads to apply for a Main Line Track Exclusion Addendum (MTEA). Meaning? Meaning that in its PTC Implementation Plan (PTCIP), a railroad can designate a passenger terminal exception from PTC requirements for trackage used exclusively as yard or terminal tracks by or in support of regularly scheduled intercity or commuter passenger service where the application for the MTEA relief:

NJT received approval for its PTCIP. The PTCIP included the application of the MTEA for Hoboken Terminal.

Let me take a run at what happened. First, I believe that the speed of the train did not exceed 20 mph, despite what witnesses say. I base that on the distance the train traveled from the bumping block to the apparent point of rest, and the apparent lack of structural damage to the leading end of the control car. Twenty mph is about 29 feet per second, and I estimate that the train traveled about 80-100 feet beyond the proper stopping point, and presuming hitting the bumping block initiated an emergency application of the brakes, with an emergency brake deceleration rate of around 5 feet/sec/sec. You get the picture.

Why 20 mph, when according to an older NJT timetable, the maximum authorized speed is not to exceed 10 mph on train shed tracks 1-17? Because the automatic over-speed brake application on these cars, when operating on a “restricted” cab, is set at about 19 mph, as that is the numerical maximum for restricted speed operation on the Northeast Corridor.

Cab signals? Cut-in and operative. Speed control? Cut in and operative. Unless this apparatus had failed and the train was operating as a failed train, in which case, according to the older NJT timetable the conductor (the crew person in charge of the train, but not responsible for the operation of the locomotive) should have taken a position on the leading end of the movement, alongside the engineer.

The engineer? Don’t know. Ill, momentarily (or longer) disabled, impaired, asleep, distracted, distracted by the radio, distracted by a cell phone? Don’t know.

Seat belts? Useless. 1) Commuter railroads do not guarantee a seat to every or any passenger on a train. 2) The train was approaching its final stop. People were up, out of their seats, to be first out the door, off the train and on their way 3) Repeat. We do not guarantee a seat to every or any passenger.

Solutions? Call me. Or not. I’m already making myself sick to my stomach. So once I get enough of the “told yous” and “how could its” and “heads must rolls” from the usual group of no-nothings and proud-of-its, I’ll tell you. For free. Some things are more important than money, once your kids have completed college, your grandchildren are well cared for, your medical care is covered, and you still have something left in your IRA.

Found at:
http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/blogs/david-schanoes/preventing-not-chasing-the-ambulance.html


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EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...  

Amtrak Hiawatha Project Environmental
Assessment To Be Released

By Alexandra Kukulka
Pioneer Press And Chicago Tribune

An environmental assessment will be released this week on the possible impact of adding three more round trips on the Amtrak Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago, which stops in downtown Glenview, said Scott Speegle, passenger rail marketing manager for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The environmental assessment was completed by the Illinois and Wisconsin departments of transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration, and will be made public on Thursday, Speegle said. The assessment looks at 12 smaller construction projects that are part of the expansion plan, he said.

“As part of that environmental study, they are looking at different alternatives for track improvements, upgrades and different things that could be done to improve the service,” said Speegle, who declined to talk about the specific findings of the assessment.

In January 2015, Amtrak brought a proposal to village officials to increase Hiawatha line service from seven to 10 round trips because ridership on the line has increased, Deputy Village Manager Donald Owen said, adding that “standing room only conditions exist on some peak time trains.”
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Since then, some village officials and residents have expressed concerns with a part of the proposal that includes building a two-mile freight train holding track, which would decongest the railroads by allowing freight trains to stop, for either an hour or a couple of hours, to let passenger trains pass, Owen said.

The proposed holding track would be added on the west side of the existing two Metra rail lines, starting in Glenview near West Lake Avenue, and then head northeast over Shermer and Willow roads to the shopping area on Patriot Boulevard, Owen said. It would then bend to the northwest next to the Metra tracks through Northbrook, stopping near Techny Road, he said.

The village is concerned about the holding yard because it would be built near the area where a freight train derailed on the bridge above Shermer Road in July 2012, killing a Glenview couple, Owen said. It took two years to rebuild the bridge, he said.

“Our big problem is (the holding track) is sitting in an area that has already had massive, negative impacts from rail because of the derailment problem we had,” Owen said. “It’s going to put this third track where trains are parked, and so if you look at your businesses and residential (areas), they are right next to it. There’s quality of life issues.”

Owen said he hopes officials will consider other areas to place the holding track to negate the village’s pollution, noise and derailment concerns.

Gary Dubofsky lives in The Willows subdivision, and there are two freight train tracks about 50 feet from the property line behind his home, he said. The proposed holding track would be built next to the tracks closer toward his property, which is his main concern with the project, Dubofsky said.

Dubofsky started an online petition against the project that was signed by 410 people, according to the petition. He said the trains pass throughout the day and are loud, pollute the air and shake the house.

But the trains are a greater problem when they stop on the tracks because they get louder when they idle and start back up, Dubofsky said – something that would be a constant problem with the holding track.

“To have a train literally parked and idling in your backyard with no rhyme or reason as to when it is going to occur, and how long it is going to be sitting there, is far different than a train just zipping through your backyard,” he said.

Vicki Palmer lives across the street from Dubofsky, and said she has lived in her home for 20 years and only recently have the trains become a problem. Because the freight trains stack compartments on top of each other, she said, the trains are heavier, which shakes her home and causes damage.

Palmer said that adding a holding track will only increase the pollution, noise and damage, and she believes Amtrak officials aren’t thinking of the impact it will have on residents.

“I feel like they are railroading us into having this,” she said.

IDOT’s Speegle said that no aspect of the project is final yet, and the Federal Railroad Administration will approve it based on the environmental assessment, which will take into consideration the opinions and concerns of local officials and residents.

Glenview residents can attend a Nov. 2 meeting at Park Center, 2400 Chestnut Avenue, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to discuss the environmental assessment.

Found at:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/glenview/news/ct-gla-amtrak-freight-line-expansion-tl-1006-20161003-story.html


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MBTA Begins Green Line Extension
Contractor Search

By Kevin Smith
International Railway Journal

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is inviting expressions of interest for design and build services for the proposed 7.6km (4.7 mi) Green Line extension project from Cambridge to Somerville and Medford.

The project includes the design and construction of two branches of the existing Green Line: a main line branch which will operate within the existing MBTA Lowell Line’s right-of-way, running south of the relocated Lechmere Station in Cambridge to Medford; and a 1.4km branch line operating in the existing MBTA Fitchburg Line right-of-way to Union Square in Somerville. Seven new stations will be constructed as part of the project, including Lechmere, as well as associated electrical and signaling systems, and a new rolling stock depot.

MBTA intends to enter into a design-build contract with the best-value design-build entity that will be identified through a two-phase selection process, which includes a request for qualifications and a subsequent request for proposals.

Work will include design and construction of stations, bridges, retaining walls, a community path, a vehicle maintenance facility, tracks, signaling, power and other rail facilities. The project will also include testing and commissioning.

The contract is worth approximately $US 1bn, with the complete project estimated at $US 2.4bn, with funding coming from local, state and federal funds. The Federal Transit Administration pledged $US 996m through its New Start Engineering Program for the project in December 2014.

MBTA began work on the extension’s right-of-way in March 2013, marking the first major expansion of its light rail system after years of numerous false starts and political indecision.

MBTA will host a pre-procurement forum for the project on November 16 at the Park Plaza hotel in Boston.

Found at:
http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/north-america/mbta-begins-green-line-extension-contractor-search.html

[ Editor Note:  The extension of the MBTA Green Line started quite a number of years ago but was wrought with one problem after another which delayed its beginning.  The most-recent major hurdle was a review of the methodology used to create contracts for the work which were found to be open-ended, which could have led to cost over-runs.  As part of a new financial oversight board’s process at the T, the project was halted, all contracts thrown out, and the formal design plans scaled back to meet funding constraints.  With this new proposal cycle, the process to restart the Green Line expansion will begin once again.]


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

SEPTA Regional Rail Returns
To Schedule After 3 Months

From ABC News Channel 6 (6abc.com)

The Philadelphia area’s main transit agency restarted a normal schedule on its commuter rail lines last Monday, three months after a third of its rail cars were sidelined due to suspension system defects.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has said more than 50 of the 120 cars sent to the repair shop will be available this week.

The schedule change means about 200 more trips per day across its 13 Regional Rail lines compared with what riders were seeing during the reduced schedule, said SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch.

SEPTA officials will continue to evaluate rush hour service.

“Riders may still see some crowding due to some trains being short a car or two, but it will definitely be an improvement over before and some issues will smooth out even this week,” Busch said.

SEPTA had to repair its entire Silverliner V fleet due to cracks found in beams that distribute the weight of vehicles to their axles. The transit agency and the trains’ manufacturer, South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem, have attributed the flaws to a combination of design and manufacturing missteps.

SEPTA receives about two newly repaired cars each day, but they are not immediately returned to service. Even so, the transit agency expects the full Silverliner V fleet to be running by mid-November, Busch said.

For the full story see:
http://6abc.com/news/normal-service-returns-to-septa-regional-rail-lines/1536885/


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LIRR, Metro-North Riders Can Now Use
Apple Pay And Mastercard’s Masterpass Service
To Buy Tickets

By Dan Rivoli
New York Daily News

The MTA is upgrading its ticket-buying app for commuter rail lines to process mobile payment services.

Passengers on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North can now use Apple Pay and MasterCard’s Masterpass service, Gov. Cuomo announced Tuesday.

“By adding the use of cutting-edge technology like Apple Pay and Masterpass, we are not only making mass transit easier to use, but are also improving the overall experience of riders,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Image

Photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Gov. Cuomo (r.), joined by MTA Chairman Tom Pendergast (l.), telling LIRR and Metro-North commuters they can now use Apple Pay and Masterpass services with the new eTix app upgrade.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s eTix app, which launched June 30 on two branches on the commuter rails, lets riders pay their fare on the phone, instead of waiting at vending machines.

The eTix app now covers every branch of LIRR and Metro-North.

MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said the addition of Apple Pay and Masterpass would help get commuter rail riders to download the eTix app.

The agency is in the process of overhauling the way people pay for rides. On the subway, the MetroCard is headed toward retirement in 2022, with the MTA looking at contactless ways to pay, such as smart phones and cards.

From an item at:
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/lirr-metro-north-riders-pay-tickets-etix-app-article-1.2817815


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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

New Jersey Transit Operated For A Week Without Hoboken,
And It Was Rough On Riders

By David Peter Alan

Last week, the historic Hoboken Terminal stood like an ominous dark ghost, hosting no trains but lost of construction equipment.  On Thursday, September 29th, a train entered the terminal area at an excessive rate of speed, slammed into the bumper block at the end of the track and caused the roof over part of the train shed to collapse.  One person was killed and 108 were injured.

New Jersey Transit (NJT) owns the terminal, built by the Lackawanna Railroad and opened for service in 1907.  Today, it is the secondary destination for NJT trains; the ones that do not go to Penn Station in New York City.  That includes the Main-Bergen, Port Jervis and Pascack Valley Lines, which were historically operated by the Erie Railroad.  It also includes a few trains on the North Jersey Coast Line and a significant minority of the trains on the Morris & Essex (M&E), Montclair-Boonton and Gladstone Lines.  Those are the lines of Lackawanna Railroad heritage, for which the terminal was originally built.

On Friday, September 30th, the other transit services around Hoboken Terminal came back to life: ferries to lower Manhattan, buses operating from lanes adjacent to the terminal, NJT’s Hudson-Bergen light rail line and Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) trains to Manhattan and Jersey City.  There were no NJT trains, and the terminal was still off-limits to the riding public.  There was activity there, however, as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted its investigation of the accident and the wreckage of the portion of the roof that collapsed was removed.

Riders did not fare well last week, and their difficulties varied with the line they used.  Through it all, there was always some form of transit to and from Hoboken, but the trip was often difficult.  Beginning the day after the accident, NJT ran shuttle buses over the New Jersey Turnpike to Liberty State Park Station in Jersey City.  There, riders caught the light rail to Hoboken.  That day this writer took the trip.  It took 72 minutes from Secaucus to Hoboken, including a 17-minute wait for the bus at Secaucus (see last week’s edition of D:F).  The trip takes ten minutes when trains are running into Hoboken.  

Riders who go to Hoboken fared the worst, whether Hoboken is their final destination, or whether they connect with other transit there.  Customers bound for New York’s Penn Station had a difficult time, as well.  Riders on the historic Erie lines, as well as riders on the M&E and other historic Lackawanna lines, faced severe inconvenience, which differed from line to line.

With Hoboken Terminal out of service, NJT turned trains on the Main-Bergen, Port Jervis and Pascack Valley Lines at Secaucus, where customers could connect with trains to and from Penn Station.  This required an eastward move to Hoboken Yard or a point close to it.  Trains ran on a curtailed schedule.  Instead of the weekday schedules, trains ran on week-end schedules, without the additional service that runs during peak-commuting hours.  Trains on the “main line” to Suffern, New York ran essentially hourly, which Bergen County and Pascack Valley Line trains ran essentially every two hours.  Riders going to stations beyond Suffern to Port Jervis did slightly better.  The week-end schedule on that line includes service spread throughout the day, and there were two peak-hour trains added to the schedule.  

Commuters and other riders complained about the loss of the level of service that they normally enjoyed on weekdays.  One regular rider, a lawyer who lives on the Pascack Valley Line in Hackensack and normally rides to Hoboken and changes to a PATH train to get to her office in Manhattan, told this writer that she could not stand the alternate service, and that she would take a bus to the Port Authority Bus Terminal until normal service is restored.  As things turned out, she would not have long to wait.

Riders the M&E, Gladstone and Montclair-Boonton Lines suffered, too.  The amount of service they lost depended on which line they used.  On those lines, some trains run to and from Penn Station, while others run to and from Hoboken.  In essence, NJT eliminated every Hoboken train from the schedule and ran only the trains that go to and from New York.  The New York schedule for the Montclair-Boonton Line was left essentially intact as far west as Montclair State Station, where the electrification ends.  There are trains west of Montclair State during peak-commuting hours only, and that service was reduced.  Trains ran as shuttles, instead of running through to Hoboken, and all riders changed trains at Montclair State.  The inbound schedule in the morning was essentially intact, while the outbound schedule in the afternoon and evening was reduced substantially.  The last departure from Penn Station with a connection beyond Montclair State left at 9:32; an hour earlier than the regular schedule provides, and three hours earlier than the last departure from Hoboken until it was eliminated last year.

Without Hoboken service, riders on the Morris & Essex Line had their service essentially cut in half.  At peak-commuting hours, this led to severe overcrowding, because the New York trains had to absorb the riders who normally used the Hoboken trains.  Most trains made additional local stops, which also meant more riders and a slower schedule.  Late-evening service was also curtailed, since the last inbound train of the evening went to Hoboken.

Riders on the Gladstone Branch fared far worse.  The two commuter-oriented round trips to Penn Station still ran.  Without Hoboken, all other Gladstone trains ran as shuttles west of Summit, but on the same schedule as the “normal” through-running operation to and from Hoboken.  Some trans made good connections at Summit, especially during peak-commuting times.  Others had lengthened connection times; mostly 13 to 19 minutes.  A few required a thirty-minute wait in Summit, and trains running outside peak-commuting hours fared even worse.  Mid-day inbound trains required a 55-minute wait (trains to Penn Station ran every 60 minutes, so the schedule was timed so all riders would miss the connection) and outbound trains required waiting times of 47 to 50 minutes.  Some evening trains suffered the same fate.  The last outbound train left Penn Station at 11:56; the same time as on the normal schedule.  Inbound riders during the evening experienced a much-earlier curfew.  The last inbound train with a connection to New York left Gladstone at 9:16, instead of the customary 11:50.  The last two Gladstone trains ran as far as Summit, but they had no connection going further east, because they and the last inbound train from Dover normally run to Hoboken.

To make matters worse, NJT did not give riders up-to-date information during the Hoboken outage.  John Bobsin, former Vice-Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition and a regular rider on the Gladstone Branch, called the situation “information chaos” and complained that it was difficult for riders to find out when their train would run.  NJT’s web site, http://www.njtransit.com, ran a “Critical Service Advisory” that contained a message that the “trip-planner” function was not working properly with respect to Hoboken trains, but did not display that warning prominently or disable that portion of the trip-planning function.  So riders who used the site to plan a trip were given itineraries which included trains that did not run.  In other cases, the site recommended itineraries that included weekday schedules, even though the lines at issue were running week-end schedules instead.  The same was true of the NJT “next departure” phone system and mobile app.  So customers received misleading and false information when they checked with NJT information systems about available departures.  As late as last Friday, the NJT web site gave misleading information.  It announced that shuttle trains between Summit and Gladstone, and west of Montclair State to Dover and beyond, were running every two hours.  Neither was true.  Gladstone shuttles ran hourly, often with an extra 50 to 55 minutes of travel time, and trains west of Montclair State ran during peak-commuting hours only.  The “DepartureVision” indicator board at Broad Street Station in Newark also indicated Hoboken trains, as scheduled for normal operation.  Advocates complained, and the system was turned off on Wednesday.  

In the meantime, the accident investigation continued.  The NTSB recovered the “black box” event recorder from the lead car (a cab car running in push-pull operation) on Tuesday.  On Thursday, it was reported that the even recorder’s data showed that the train was traveling at eight miles-per-hour (13 km/h) while entering terminal track, but had later accelerated to 21 mph (33 km/h) before the engineer threw the train into emergency at the last second to stop it.  The speed limit was ten mph (16kmh).  The train was removed from the terminal on Thursday.

As the week went on, it appeared that efforts to restore Hoboken service were progressing.  Demolition crews worked on removing the wreckage of the portion of the roof that collapsed.  It appeared that the historic Hoboken Terminal building remained intact.  As far as riders and their advocates were concerned, the sooner Hoboken trains come back, the better.  On Thursday, NJT did not return our call inquiring about when Hoboken service might be restored.

Then, suddenly, things began to change for the better.  NJT promulgated a new rule that requires the conductor on every train entering Hoboken Terminal or the Atlantic City station (also a stub-end terminal) to be present in the cab as the train enters the station on terminal tracks.  If the engineer should become incapacitated while operating near the end of the line, the conductor could help stop the train safely.  Metro-North follows this practice when bringing trains into Grand Central Terminal on the East Side of Manhattan.  The “effective date” of the NJT bulletin was posted as last Saturday, October 8th, so it appeared possible that Hoboken services could return soon.

Then the good news came on Friday afternoon, when NJT released word that Hoboken service would resume on Monday.  NJT did not plan to operate the entire weekday schedule from Hoboken, but a preliminary review of the new schedules indicated that most regularly-scheduled weekday trains would operate.  Main-Bergen, Port Jervis and Pascack Valley trains would go to Hoboken again.  So would Gladstone Branch trains, which would no longer miss connections at Summit with Penn Station trains.  That required a waiting time of 50 to 55 minutes.  Most of the Morris & Essex Line trains to and from Hoboken would run again, so riders would no longer need to crowd onto a vastly-reduced number of trains.  There would also be no more need for the shuttle buses that required so much time to get to or from Hoboken.  NJT was not back to 100% of the weekday schedule; the North Jersey Coast Line trains are not running to Hoboken yet, nor is the 11:30 pm train from Dover to Hoboken, the train that the Lackawanna Coalition had fought so hard to have restored to the schedule.  Still, most of the weekday service is far better than half of it or the week-end schedule.

The previously-mentioned attorney had her worst trip last Friday evening.  She had planned to take the bus, but buses were delayed because of an accident on the highway.  So she went to Penn Station to take a train to Secaucus, to connect with a Pascack Valley Line train.  Her train broke down in the Hudson River tunnel, and eventually it was brought back to Penn Station.  Then came the residual delays from that incident.  She could have avoided that difficulty if the Hoboken trains were running. Because they were not, she went back to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and took a bus. She finally got home shortly after 10:30.

Each of the difficulties would have been bad enough by itself, but they were compounded by the lack of Hoboken service.  NJT and its riders endured an extremely difficult week.  The only bright spot was that the outage lasted only seven weekdays.  It could have been longer, so it could have been worse.


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Second Avenue Subway Opening:
MTA On The Clock With Hurdles Ahead

By Vincent Barone
AM New York

Ninety-seven years down, three months to go.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in New York City  is sticking to its Dec. 31 launch date for Second Avenue subway service on the Upper East Side, despite looming construction delays.

Facing lingering work involving elevator installation and fire alarm testing, experts say construction will have to move at a break-neck pace to bring a stretch of subway to Second Avenue before the year ends.

“We’re still confident that we’re on track for a Dec. 31 launch and we’ll be keeping the pressure up to do so,” said MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast at last week’s board meeting.

First proposed in 1919 by consulting engineer Daniel Turner of the Public Service Commission as part of a major subway expansion, the MTA hopes the line will provide service to growing East Side communities and offer much-needed relief to the crammed Lexington Avenue 4, 5 and 6 lines — the busiest in the United States.

Carrying about 1.3 million riders daily, the Lexington Avenue line itself is busier than the entire subway systems of Chicago, San Francisco and Boston.

The MTA is racing to meet its ribbon-cutting for the first segment of the Second Avenue subway, a $4.5 billion project that will bring three new stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th streets as well as an expanded 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue station.

On Sept. 15, contractors powered the third rail — a major milestone — but key hurdles mean a Dec. 31 opening could come down to the wire.

For starters, the MTA must more than double its rate of testing station equipment like fire alarms, communications and elevators, warned Ken Haggas, the authority’s independent engineer, last week.

The MTA’s test program is currently completing about eight to 10 equipment tests per week. But there were 300 tests remaining with 12 weeks to go before the line is supposed to open.

“This is our number one concern,” Haggas said in his report to the MTA board. “We find that the MTA is not meeting the completion rate required to finish the testing of all key systems needed” to open the line in December.

Haggas said the MTA needs to increase from about 10 tests to 25 tests per week to meet the December launch. Prendergast stressed the importance of not rushing the tests, but remained undeterred about postponing the opening.

“We don’t want to rush through those tests,” Prendergast said. “Those are critical, important tests that need to be done and we’re not going to adhere to a schedule and short-circuit those tests.”

Each new station is at various stages of near-completion, but the 72nd Street station has remained the biggest thorn in the MTA’s side. Construction crews still need to install two elevators at the station’s entrances. Prendergast said the MTA hasn’t discussed opening the line and skipping the 72nd Street station if it remains incomplete by the end of the year.

“There’s a lot of things you could technically do,” he said, acknowledging that the MTA skipped stops on its stations near the Chelsea explosion last month. “That gives you an indication that in certain circumstances you can operate the system and bypass stations. Whether or not we do that with Second Avenue, that has not even been discussed yet.”

For the rest of this story see:
http://www.amny.com/transit/second-avenue-subway-opening-mta-on-the-clock-with-hurdles-ahead-1.12397948


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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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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

South Shore Line Expansion To Chicago
Moves On To Project Development Phase

From Rail, Track, And Structures

U.S. Congressman Pete Visclosky announced this week that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has given the West Lake Corridor (WLC) extension of the South Shore Line (SSL) expansion the green light to move into the project development phase.

“I am excited to learn that the FTA has recognized the value of the South Shore expansion through this designation. It is another successful step forward to not just expand South Shore service, but to build a regional economy that provides innumerable benefits for current Northwest Indiana residents and future generations,” Congressman Visclosky said.

The SSL link connects Northwest Indiana to Chicago and Cook County, Illinois. The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) suggests that the WLC project would be a southern branch extension of the SSL to serve growing areas in Lake County, Indiana. NICTD says the project is meant to expand the system’s service coverage, improve accessibility for passengers and stimulate Lake County’s economy.

Congressman Visclosky added that he has “ no doubt” that the project’s success is resultant of the resilient efforts of the NICTD and the RDA, as well as the state of Indiana and its contributing communities.

“Their collective support has generated this outstanding forward momentum. I will continue to work very hard to support the efforts to have commuter trains running on the new expanded track as soon as possible,” Congressman Visclosky said.

Michael Noland, President of NICTD, said, “This is great news. We have been working closely with the congressman’s office, the FTA and communities that would be served by the West Lake Corridor and look forward to advancing the project through the environmental and preliminary engineering process. Improving access to jobs by making commuter rail service faster and more convenient will lay the groundwork for new private development throughout the region.”

Bill Hanna, president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (NIRDA), said, “This is a key step toward completion of the West Lake expansion of the South Shore line. We are now closer than ever before to the largest commuter rail investment in Indiana history—an investment that will create thousands of jobs in Northwest Indiana and provide world-class access to Chicago, the ninth-largest economy on the planet.

Hanna added that members of the NIRDA are grateful for Congressman Visclosky’s support, as well as that of the state of Indiana and the NICTD, and he looks forward to continuing to collaborate through the completion of the new line.

The project aims to:

Additional information regarding the FTA grant process can be found at:   https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grant-programs/capital-investments/about-program

Additional info on the rail extension project including proposed routes with maps can be found at:   http://www.nictdwestlake.com/

From an item appearing at:
http://www.rtands.com/index.php/passenger/commuter-regional/south-shore-line-expansion-moves-on-to-project-development-phase.html


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Also In Chicago

CTA Red Line Extension Moves Forward

From Railway Age

The Chicago Transit Authority announced on Sept. 29 a series of upcoming events that will advance the Red Line Extension Project, a plan to extend Red Line rail service to 130th Street from 95th Street including building four new rail stations that will provide rail access to the Far South Side.

The Red Line Extension Project is a key part of CTA’s “Red Ahead” investment in its busiest rail line. Other projects improving the Red Line on the South Side include the $425 million reconstruction of the Red Line South in 2013 and the ongoing $280 million construction of a new 95th Street Terminal, which will be completed in 2018. CTA says the project is expected to create 29,000 new direct, indirect and induced jobs.

“We are pleased to make progress on this transformational Red Line project, which will expand transit for the Far South Side and create faster access to jobs, education and opportunity,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “As we move forward in the comprehensive federally required planning process for this project, we continue to make significant investment in the South Side that include the new 95th Terminal, improved Red and Green Line service and expanded bus service on multiple routes to better serve our customers.”

The CTA two years ago narrowed the potential Red Line Extension Project alternatives to one “preferred alternative” with two possible options – one east and one west of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on the South Side -- and announced $5 million of funding to continue planning work for the project.

From an item at:
http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/passenger/rapid-transit/chicagos-red-line-extension-project-to-130th-street-moves-forward.html


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New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund
Receives Reauthorization

By Mischa Wanek-Libman
Rail, Track, And Structures

New Jersey officials announced an agreement on Sept. 30, reauthorizing the state’s Transportation Trust Fund at $2 billion a year for the next eight years.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that this is the longest and largest reauthorization of the Transportation Trust Fund in its history and that when combined with federal government funds, more than $32 billion will be invested in infrastructure improvements and modernizations in the state during the next eight years.

In order to pay for the reauthorization, the gas tax will increase $.23. The state has not seen a rise in the gas tax since 1988, but to soften the increase on citizens, Gov. Christie said the agreement also incorporates a series of tax breaks, such as a sales tax reduction and a phased-out elimination of the estate tax.

“Months ago, I said I was willing to increase the gas tax if it represented tax fairness and I’ve kept my word on that. While I have not authorized any other tax increase during my time as Governor, I’m authorizing this one because the importance of the Transportation Trust Fund, the tax fairness that we’ve accomplished together and the compromise that we’ve reached and because we need to responsibly finance this type of activity,” said Gov. Christie.

While the legislation reauthorizing the Transportation Trust Fund does not directly address marking the funds for New Jersey Transit’s North Branch Corridor extension, state Representative and Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly Vincent Prieto, sent out a tweet saying it would.

Assembly Speaker Prieto tweeted: #NJTTF plan includes funding for @NJTRANSIT_HBLR expansion into Bergen County -- will have tremendous economic impact on area

NorthJersey.com reports that Gov. Christie, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney have an informal agreement that the Transportation Trust Fund will finance the North Branch Corridor, which would restore rail passenger service on the Northern Branch Corridor between North Bergen and Englewood.

From an item at:
http://www.rtands.com/index.php/track-maintenance/off-track-maintenance/new-jersey-transportation-trust-fund-receives-reauthorization.html


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SAFETY LINES... Safety Lines...  

NTSB Issues Event Recorder Data From
NJT Hoboken Commuter Rail Accident

From A Press Release By
The National Transportation Safety Board Office of Public Affairs

Hoboken Commuter Train Event, Video Recorders Provide
Investigators With Usable Data On 10/6/2016

The National Transportation Safety Board released this past Thursday details downloaded from the event data and forward-facing video recorders on a NJ Transit commuter train involved in the Sept. 29, 2016, accident at the Hoboken Terminal, Hoboken, New Jersey.

The following information, gathered from both recorders, is preliminary and subject to change as data is validated.

Information from the forward-facing video and event data recorders was successfully recovered Thursday at the NTSB’s recorder laboratory here. Both recorders appear to have been working as designed, and captured the engineer’s entire trip that morning, including the accident sequence. The forward-facing, color video from the cab car of train 1614 is of good quality and includes audio from an exterior microphone. Information obtained from the recorders includes:

The investigation remains in the fact-gathering phase, which could take a year or more.

Contact:
NTSB Media Relations
490 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594
Christopher O’Neil
(202) 314-6133
christopher.oneil@ntsb.gov

To view the original release visit:
http://www.ntsb.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/pr20161006.aspx


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

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

France Orders 15 High-Speed Trains To
Save Train Production Factory

Is Alstom’s Belfort Train Manufacturing Plant And Birthplace
Of The TGV Nearing The End?

Via AFP And Lok Report

The French government has confirmed that it will order 15 high-speed TGV trains in a bid to prevent the historic Alstom train-building plant in Belfort, France from closing.  The announcement was made by France’s secretary of state for industry Christophe Sirugue on a visit to the Alstom factory in Belfort in eastern France.  Normally the state-owned rail operator SNCF would be in charge of ordering new trains but given the plight of the Belfort factory and the small matter of a looming presidential election in France, the French government has chosen to act on its own.

As well as the 15 TGV train sets that will serve on  intercity lines between Bordeaux and Marseille and between Montpellier and Perpignan (on the French – Spanish border near the Mediterranean Sea), the factory will also build six train sets, that had already been previously planned, which will run between Paris and Turin as well as Milan. Italy.

Image

NCI File photo by David Beale

Continental Clipper – Alstom’s TGV high-speed train family in operation with France’s SNCF rail company has managed to cover perhaps the largest amount of real estate in Europe of any high-speed train family, ranging from London UK (using TGV derived Eurostar train sets) to Spain, northern Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Holland (via TGV based train sets in operation with SNCF partner Thalys).   Here TGV Duplex train-set number 4713, operating as SNCF train TGV 9576 from Munich to Paris Est, makes a scheduled stop in Ulm, Germany early in the morning of 22nd August 2016.

These routes are not yet high-speed LGV (Ligne grande vitesse) rail lines suitable for 300 km/h TGV trains, but the government envisages them being upgraded in the future.  Perpignan, France is essentially the end station of the Spanish AVE high-speed rail lines running from Madrid and Barcelona towards southwestern France.  Thus SNCF could theoretically deploy some of the new trains on future services into northeastern and central Spain with few or no technical issues.  But the immediate plan is to deploy the new trains on “classic” rail lines in central and southern France, thereby displacing a number of existing locomotive hauled intercity trains operating in that part of France, albeit at the same 140 to 200 km/h speeds as today with the conventional locomotive hauled rolling stock.  

The bill for the government is believed to be worth some € 500 million.  As part of the agreement Alstom will invest € 40 million (US $45 million) in the plant.  In another move by the French government the Belfort factory will also be given the job of building electric urban transit buses in a partnership with car giant Peugeot. And the site will also become the main center for train maintenance.  The state rail operator SNCF has also ordered 20 Alstom diesel locomotives for track maintenance trains.  

The  French government was forced to act to save the factory after Alstom, which is 20-percent owned by the state, and announced last month it would halt production at the factory in eastern France by 2018.  The government swung into action, promising that the factory would be saved, only forAlstom to reply that it would be “impossible” to continue operations at the site.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the plan to close a plant where Alstom built its first steam train in 1880 was “out of the question”.  Valls said the government was determined to keep the plant open and was working to generate new orders for a site where 400 people are employed.  President Francois Hollande added a pledge that the government would “do all it can to ensure that the Belfort site can keep going for many years.”

But that was not enough for Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge, who insisted that the firm had “maintained production at Belfort as long as we could”.  A lack of orders “now makes a long-term future for activities of the Belfort site impossible,” Poupart-Lafarge said in a message to employees.

With a presidential election looming next year, the tug-of-war over the Alstom factory will bring back painful memories for Hollande.  In his 2012 election campaign, Hollande promised he would keep open an ArcelorMittal steel plant in the eastern town of Florange.  When it closed in 2013 despite his efforts, the sacked workers accused the government of betraying them.

The Belfort factory has a similar resonance for an entire region – the town’s slogan is: “Alstom is Belfort, Belfort is Alstom.”  Not only was the company’s first steam train built there, it also produced the first of the TGV high-speed trains in 1978, riding a wave of nationalpride at a project that was the envy of the rest of Europe.  To this day, every TGV power car is assembled at Belfort.


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TO THE NORTH... To The North...  

All Aboard St. Marys Releases Its First
“Top 10 List Of VIA Rail Nose-Stretchers”

Press Release From
All Aboard St. Marys

Due to the increasing volume of overblown and undelivered promises from VIA Rail Canada, the All Aboard St. Marys citizens’ committee is now keeping a running tally of the publicly-owned corporation’s dream schemes, missteps and excuses.

“There are so many of these Pinocchio tales that it’s becoming difficult to keep track of them,” says Greg Gormick, campaign coordinator for All Aboard St. Marys and a 30-year veteran of Canada’s railway industry, including stints with VIA, CN and CP.  “What is truly amazing is the willingness of so many politicians, business leaders and citizens to drink VIA’s Kool-Aid without asking any questions about its true content.

“In truth, our intercity passenger service is rapidly deteriorating through mismanagement, underfunding and neglect.  VIA is being allowed to taunt Canadians with claims and promises that its Conservative-appointed board and senior management team have yet to deliver.  We can only hope that holding VIA to account will alert the Trudeau government to the fact that our national passenger railway is out of control and headed for serious trouble.”

Here then is All Aboard St. Marys’ first Top 10 List of VIA Rail Nose-Stretchers; others will follow.

#10:  VIA had a record-breaking summer in 2016.

VIA has obviously lost its institutional memory.  Prior to the Draconian cuts made by the Mulroney government in January 1990, VIA was carrying about 8 million passengers annually – twice as many as today.  How could VIA have a record-breaking summer in 2016 when its ridership is half of what it was every year from the late 1970s through to the end of 1989?

#9:  VIA will greatly expand its service throughout Southwestern Ontario.

A:  That’s what VIA’s CEO promised at public events in Stratford and Sarnia in June 2015.  Now, VIA admits it didn’t clear its plan with the owners of the tracks:  CN, GO Transit and the Goderich-Exeter Railway.  It’s not our fault, VIA says.  But you would think VIA might have at least discussed this plan with the track owners before unfurling it with great fanfare and falsely building up the public’s expectations.  Not to worry, says VIA.  It’s still working on this plan and hopes to launch some new services “during Canada’s Sesquicentennial Year.”

#8:  VIA will add several shuttle trains from London to Windsor and Sarnia using self-propelled rail diesel cars (RDCs) and make London a hub for all the new services.

The 60-year-old RDCs aren’t up to the job, as testing earlier this year proved.  While nothing further has been said about a multi-train London hub, VIA is spending $2.55 million to upgrade the London station’s washrooms, HVAC systems, signage and roof.

#7:  To become permanent, any new trains in Southwestern Ontario must each carry a minimum of 120 passengers every day.

This is not a target based on marketing or costing studies.  At the premature Stratford service improvement announcement in 2015, VIA’s CEO said it wasn’t a scientific figure, just one that he came up with off the top of his head.

#6:  VIA wants to increase service to the Niagara Region.

That’s what VIA said when municipal politicians in St. Catharines, Grimsby and Pelham voted to ask for an expansion of the inadequate service they’ve endured since the Harper government cut VIA’s funding in 2012.  But at the 2016 annual public meeting, the corporation admitted, “VIA Rail currently has no plans to reinstate the daily Niagara train.”

#5:  VIA will launch new Campbellton-Moncton and Moncton-Halifax trains in September 2016.

Reminding VIA of its failure to deliver these new trains provokes yet another of its “the-dog-ate-my-homework” excuses.   Once again, CN is said to be holding this up, even though the federal and provincial governments gave the freight railway $35.2 million in 2014 to retain and fix the deteriorating track on the Campbellton-Moncton line.  No revised launch date has been set.

#4:  VIA can operate a commuter service in Halifax.

VIA’s mandate is running intercity passenger trains, not commuter trains.  In making its unsolicited offer to the Halifax Regional Municipality, VIA failed to note that it doesn’t have equipment suited for this service, it has no agreement to run such a service over the CN-owned line and it has no maintenance facilities, having closed and sold its Halifax Maintenance Centre more than a decade ago.

#3:  VIA wants to re-route the Toronto-Vancouver Canadian between Sudbury and Winnipeg to restore service to Thunder Bay.

On several occasions since 2014, VIA’s CEO and public affairs staff have spun this yarn to politicians and the press, raising the hopes of citizens on the scenic CP route along Lake Superior’s North Shore.  But at its 2016 annual public meeting, VIA admitted, “We are not considering a return to Thunder Bay at this time.”

#2:  VIA can’t compel CN to operate our trains on time or force them to allow more passenger trains on their tracks.

Yes, VIA can – but it won’t.  Under Section 152.1 of the Canada Transportation Act, VIA has the right to request that the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) step in to resolve any and all disputes with the freight railways.  The corporation has, in fact, requested CTA dispute resolution in situations involving CP, the Hudson Bay Railway and the Goderich-Exeter Railway.  In all three cases, the CTA ruled in VIA’s favor.

When asked why it has failed to call for CTA action to compel CN to adequately deliver the service for which it pays top dollar, VIA’s CEO told Trains magazine columnist Bob Johnston, “You can’t manage business relationships through court orders – they should be based on mutual respect, confidence and a true desire to be helpful.”

One result of that “helpful” approach is that VIA’s on-time performance has nose-dived from 84% in 2011 to 71% in 2015.

#1:  VIA is an arm’s-length Crown corporation that makes its own decisions.

A:  No, VIA is tightly controlled by federal politicians and bureaucrats through the funding it receives.  It is the government, not VIA, that sets and approves the railway’s budget, which determines how much service it can or can’t provide, and which capital projects it undertakes.

Make no mistake about it:  VIA takes its marching orders from Ottawa.  Canada’s traditionally anti-rail civil service and a lack of interest by successive governments largely explain why VIA operates the most inadequate rail passenger service in the industrialized world.

For more information, please contact:

Chris West
All Aboard St. Marys
chriswest@kwic.com
http://www.allaboardstmarys.ca
Tel: 519 284 3310
Fax: 519 284 3160
Toll Free: 1-866-862-5632, Ext. 238


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E&N Rail Line Group Isn’t Trusted,
CEO is ‘Lightning Rod’: Consultant

By Bill Cleverley
Times Colonist News
With Files From Katie Derosa

The Island Corridor Foundation’s credibility is suffering from a lack of transparency and it should do more business in public if it hopes to regain the trust of its members and the public, says a consultant’s analysis.

Much of the distrust of the foundation, which owns the E&N Rail Line corridor, stems from CEO Graham Bruce, who is “a lightning rod” for discontent among some municipal politicians, says the report, prepared for the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities by aKd Resource Consulting principal Kelly Daniels.

The foundation’s prime mission has been to restore passenger rail service on the E&N line, which runs between Victoria and Courtenay. Passenger service was halted in March 2011 because of safety concerns arising from inadequate track upkeep.

“Whether it is his salary, the perceived lack of performance in achieving a train service on Vancouver Island, the fact he was found to have been in violation of the federal lobbying code of conduct, or the perception of his controlling and non-transparent approach to management, in their minds, he is a major source of the discontent and loss of credibility with the ICF,” the report says.

Bruce did not return calls for comment.

In preparing his report, Daniels, former chief executive of the Capital Regional District, interviewed more than 40 people — representatives from the five regional districts that are members of the ICF, the province and the ICF itself.

Daniels said “a significant majority” of regional district directors expressed disillusionment with Bruce and his management style, believing he over-promised and under-delivered.

“Early poor communication and unfulfilled promises have resulted in a significant loss of trust and confidence in the CEO that also reflects badly on the ICF board. The damage to their reputation will be a significant hurdle to overcome in their efforts to gain back political support at the local level,” the report says.

Daniels notes that in the spring, the ICF board extended Bruce’s contract for two years, and says recent efforts to improve communication “have been positive and should continue.”

Judith Sayers, ICF board co-chairwoman, said the board remains confident in Bruce’s abilities and what he’s accomplished to date. She disputes that there is a lack of transparency, saying ICF officials meet regularly with regional directors.

At annual general meetings, comprehensive reports are provided by the co-chairs, solicitors, auditors and the CEO, she said.

Sayers said there’s some unfairness in pointing the criticism solely at Bruce. “Graham [Bruce] acts on the direction of the board of directors and he has done that admirably,” she said.

While some of negative perceptions may be grounded in reality, Daniels’ report says, there have been “some significant gains in the development of the corridor” — something that is more complicated than many realize.

“To appreciate this fully one has to understand the complexities of dealing with at least eight federal and provincial regulatory bodies, a private rail operator, disaffected rail companies who don’t want to discuss rail on Vancouver Island anymore, two senior levels of government and many local and First Nation governments. There are also, we understand, approximately 1,000 agreements that exist to keep the line active as well as ongoing corridor land use requests, and issues with adjacent landowners,” the report says.

The report makes recommendations, including:

Sayers said the ICF will respond to the recommendations during a meeting with Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities today. Langford has forwarded a resolution to the association, calling for a new governance model for the ICF “that better represents the interests of local taxpayers living along the rail corridor.”

Langford council has endorsed all of Daniels’ recommendations and passed a resolution encouraging other municipalities and regional districts to do the same.

Langford Mayor Stew Young has been a vocal critic of the ICF’s lack of progress in securing passenger rail and of the fees it charges for road improvements near the rail corridor.

Young said “it’s time to kill the ICF” as it is structured.

“They’re just not forthcoming with all their stuff. It’s time to kill it. Get rid of this non-profit. I don’t see it working ever because when you’re a nonprofit, you don’t have to give out financial stuff,” Young said. “It hasn’t worked for five years and they’ve pissed away millions of dollars with no train running.”

Sayers said the ICF has invited Young to meet with the board three times to address his concerns. “He remains a critic without coming to talk to us directly.”

From an item at:
http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/e-n-rail-line-group-isn-t-trusted-ceo-is-lightning-rod-consultant-1.2359323


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WE GET LETTERS... We Get Letters...  

In response to this latest train wreck, I placed this commentary in The Washington Post of 29 September 2016, “Safety tool Congress asked for 8 years ago might have prevented Hoboken train wreck, officials say.”

Actually, the reason for insufficient funding for PTC is the direct linkage to a failed federal policy causing the recent passenger train wrecks. Long before Solyndra, the federal government picked winners and losers in one industry between the competitive modes of transportation. After the 1956 mid-air collision over the Grand Canyon, Congress immediately publicly funded the construction and maintenance of the FAA’s Air Traffic Control System. After the 1960 mid-air collision over New York City, Congress directed additional funding for the air safety system, all to the benefit of the privately-owned airlines.

After the 2008 Chatsworth, CA commuter/freight head-on wreck killing 24 people, Congress mandated the nascent Positive Train Control System for all rail lines. Unlike what accrued to the airlines, this was an unfunded mandate by Congress; requiring the privately-owned railroads (and tax-supported Amtrak and commuter lines) to re-direct their own capital investment programs to build, and then, maintain, PTC.

As federal policy continues to support dedicated trust funds for air and highway; as well as wasting another $350 Million per annum for the Essential Air Service program, re-building our railway infrastructure to accommodate PTC is only partially covered with FRA/DOT grants. Ironically, to even receive these crumbs, a 20% local participation is required. That’s another 20% foisted on our railways that federal policy did not require of the airlines.

Competitive truck and bus firms do not pay anywhere near actual user fees for construction and maintenance of our highway system. Although Congress embraces monopolies in our drug and sugar industries, the lobbyists have convinced this same Congress not to toll the interstates and increase gas taxes. Given these realities of the feds creating an un-level playing field between competitors in transport, only the public interest is sacrificed.

M.E. Singer
Rail Provocateur
4250 N. Marine Drive
Unit 1731
Chicago, IL  60613
312-656-0779
singer.mark.e@gmail.com

[ Ed Note:  The writer refers of course to the recent accident where a New Jersey Transit commuter rail train went out of control and jumped the bumper at the Hoboken, NJ station, and continued onto the platform, killing one and injuring over 100 people. ]


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PUBLICATION NOTES…  Publication Notes…

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