The National Corridors Initiative Logo

Jan 9, 2017
Vol. 17 No. 1

Copyright © 2017
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Founded 1989
Our 17th 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.
Managing Editor / Webmaster
Dennis Kirkpatrick
Foreign Editor
David Beale
Contributing Editor
Molly N. McKay
 
 

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

  Guest Opinion…
Why Does The US Lag So Far Behind In
   High-Speed Rail?
Trains: Beyond Stations
  Amtrak Lines…
Moorman Takes The Throttle, Sets Out To
   Reorganize Amtrak
  Business Lines…
MBTA Will Not Renew Keolis Contract, Officials Say
  Funding Lines…
Sound Transit Board Approves 2017 Budget With
   Focus On Rail System Expansions
U.S. DOT Commits $1.5b To L.A. Metro
   Purple Line Extension
  Political Lines…
Republicans Embrace Amtrak’s Gulf Coast Rebirth
  Selected Rail Stocks…
 
  Safety Lines…
Rail Disagreement Could Affect North Station
   MBTA Commuter Rail Service
All Aboard The Ski Train.
FRA Calls For Mandatory Sleep Apnea Screening
   For Train Engineers
  Across The Pond…
Stuttgart 21 Underground Central Station Project
   Even Higher Costs And Longer Construction Time
Iran’s Longest Rail Bridge Nears Completion
Peaceful 2017 New Years Eve Celebrations In Cologne
France And Spain Take Full Control Of
   International Rail Link
  Special Managing Editor’s Note…
  Publication Notes …


GUEST OPINION... Guest Opinion...  

Why Does The US Lag So Far Behind
In High-Speed Rail?

China And Others Are Charging Ahead With High-Speed Rail.
But Political Will Is Not The Only Reason The US
Doesn’t Have A Comparable Investment

By Paul Mutter
Geektime.Com

China has announced a new high-speed rail investment plan, intending to link 80% of its major cities over the next five years at a cost of $503 billion. Private investment will be permitted, and is expected to benefit one of the country’s major passenger carriers, Guangshen Railway, which serves tens of millions of commuters in southern China and has been growing alongside the country’s rapid urbanization.

The government will also focus on bringing passenger and freight service to under-served western cities, despite the expected losses these operations will run at for the near future. Although China has about half the total trackage of the United States and car ownership is increasing dramatically, government officials there continue to bet heavily that more and more people will still want to travel by rail. High-speed rail trackage there accounts for 60% of the world total, according to CNBC.

This demand, and especially the investment level, stands in sharp contrast to the US. high-speed rail is underdeveloped in the US, limited to isolated hubs throughout the country and restricted to much slower speeds than European and Asian trains. Only California is seriously investing in the technology. Currently, it is trying to secure $64 billion to finance a San Francisco-Los Angeles bullet train, and this project is still years from completion even though it would link two major cities along an already well-traveled corridor. Another proposed line to Nevada by a private-public consortium was cancelled this year.

Elsewhere, progress is much more limited, or not moving ahead at all as states reject projects due to high costs. Why then, is high-speed rail for passenger service so unpopular in the US? Lack of investment is the simplest answer, but it doesn’t capture the full picture.

Passenger Service As A Public, Not Private, Service

We have to first look at the history of passenger rail in the US to answer that question.

In the year leading up to WWII, US passenger rail service was operating at a loss. Most lines were owned and operated by private corporations, not public entities. Their main business was freight, as that’s where the money was. Though they hadn’t always been revenue-losing propositions, passenger services were by then being run mainly to meet requirements set by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

After WWII, highways made intercity travel easier, and were subsidized in order to effect such movement, which proved a boon for trucks and buses, not to mention cars. The railroads were locked into an economic and regulatory system set up in a previous century, unable to compete with each other, or other intermodal shipping options, very well.

So freight was less profitable and running passenger services became even more cost ineffective. There was little incentive to modernize passenger equipment or expand routes in these conditions. Super high-speeds were in any event unnecessary for moving goods. (Even today, the average rail freight speed is just 50 mph, and this is not unique to the US, either.)

Passenger equipment was increasingly cobbled together from multiple rail assets, taken from companies going bankrupt. Infrastructure was often of prewar vintage. Train stations standing where they were built a century or so before either had to relocate to less convenient locations to make way for new development, or stick with it in downtowns that were emptying out of people.

In contrast to this, more people are moving to Chinese cities, so it makes sense for them to build up intercity services as that’s where the riders are. Only in some US jurisdictions is it feasible for freight carriers to still involve themselves in passenger rail as such, like BNSF and the Union Pacific still do. If more Americans returned to cities, it would make sense for other carriers to do so as well, something high-speed rail enthusiasts are counting on.

Commuters could and did vote with their feet in response to this situation, and put those feet to the pedal. Still, commuting by rail was in demand enough that these lines didn’t vanish entirely, and to save them, the federal government had to intervene with the formation of Conrail, and later, letting the states create their own passenger rail services under their respective transportation departments.

Freight And Bullet Trains Don’t Mix

Most American railways were successful in shedding their money-losing passenger routes between the late 1960s and early 1980s. As this took place, entities like New Jersey Transit emerged. Someone had to do it, but few private companies would take on the losses, legal burdens, and repair the backlogs this entailed unless it was already in a heavily trafficked, well-developed metropolitan area.

Rail freight remains a viable business in the US thanks to changes made in the 1980s, with the remaining lines carrying more volume now then they have in years past.

The fact that rail is still more energy efficient than road transportation or flight helps, as have technological improvements that allow freight trains to run for longer and carry heavier loads with less fear of human and mechanical error. But this success is why surviving carriers don’t exactly welcome high-speed rail. Upgrading existing infrastructure would mean they’d be competing for space and time with passenger trains once more. Having lobbied long and hard to shift that burden elsewhere, they don’t want to share their tracks.

Also, the fact that the industry consists of multiple profit-driven competitors with a large degree of autonomy means the upgrades needed here are a matter of contention and uneven rollout. Given these costs, freight trains will likely still be using human operators and obeying lower speed limits as trucks go fully autonomous. Even the commuter railways owned by state governments in the US have been slow to implement basic safety measures mandated by federal law, measures now commonplace in Europe, China, and Japan.

Unlike China, there is no rail consortium under centralized control that can be made to implement system-wide upgrades all at once, nor is there a private company with the will and lobbying heft that can do so anymore. Passenger services are mostly in the hands of public corporations run by the individual states and Amtrak at the national level.

So, interest in the service falls to those public entities, or the rare private company that thinks it can turn a profit on US commuter rail.

Future Investments Can’t Be Counted On

Real high-speed rail wouldn’t have to trouble the freight carriers if it were built on separate lines built for speed. Their dislike of passenger service is not what is holding back investment in these new tracks. Instead, intercity rail in the US has generally been a matter of triage since the 1960s due to a lack of government funding. (Obviously, not a problem for other OECD nations where subsidies are high.) Amtrak’s Acela, the fastest intercity train in the US, can go up to 150 mph for a small stretch of track. The actual limit is closer to 135 mph, and the average speed is 80 mph. This is entirely due to the antiquated state of the tracks and power lines the Acela trains must operate on.

Elsewhere, the distances involved and lack of modern infrastructure are even more pronounced. Taking Amtrak from New York City to Chicago, for example, breaks down to the following options on a randomly selected February weekday:

When we look at shorter intercity hauls, though, Amtrak does better price-wise against some of the regular airlines. But there are also fewer trains running per day: In the NYC-Chicago case, it’s just four, compared to at least twice as many flights on Delta, though only a single Greyhound bus departing.

Since the “new” commuter rail lines in the US set up after the 1970s rarely operate outside of state lines, this has left Amtrak to take over what long distance routes remained. And it has had to do so with a lot less money toward infrastructure that cannot support newer and faster trains due to its age. Highways have required big direct public subsidies to maintain themselves, too. And when indirect costs are counted, the figures are more evenly balanced between road and rail.

But, the former are more convenient and easier to justify spending on since they simply go to more places.

At least in the Northeast, where Amtrak uses the same right of way its predecessors did in the nineteenth century to link Washington, D.C. with Boston via NYC, prices and travel time are not much worse than planes. As CNN notes, congestion on the roads is so bad along this route now that Amtrak has been doing a brisk business, even beating out air travel, because after going through a similar period of deferred maintenance as the railways have, the interstate highway system is in terrible condition.

For Acela to be as fast as an actual bullet train and exceed 200 mph on average, though, The New York Times said in 2014 it would take $150 billion and 26 years to make that happen. And Acela is only run in the Northeast: $150 billion doesn’t cover where else Amtrak operates.

Moreover, there is little point in pushing new lines and more trains when access to NYC from points east and south is constrained by a lack of tunnels and bridges leading there. Proposals for more infrastructure have been rejected on cost grounds for years.

In fact, the infrastructure is so old it can barely handle existing demand, which of course is its own problem in the event one of the aging Hudson River tunnels becomes unusable. In order for decades-long transformation to take place, the billions left to spend in the Obama Administration’s high-speed rail fund by next year will have to continue emphasizing repairs and strengthening what does exist, so that the real rebuilding, and all-new projects, can come later.

Looking at the past eight years, and the next four, though, that next round of infrastructure spending probably isn’t going to appear.

This piece was printed at:
http://www.geektime.com/2016/12/30/why-does-the-us-lag-so-far-behind-in-high-speed-rail/


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Trains: Beyond Stations

By Michael J. Billoni
Buffalo Rising On-Line

Mayor Byron Brown has called for a public hearing on Jan. 19 to discuss a location in Buffalo for a new $25 million train terminal.

Pat Whalen, a visionary who worked in logistics for UPS and helped to create the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, is now the Executive Director of the Niagara Global Tourism Institute in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

One of Whalen’s charges is to fill more hotel rooms in the winter when occupancy falls from sellouts to 30 percent full. Thus, he has created a unique “Stay Another Night” promotion where guests would spend the second day visiting cultural locations in Buffalo, ice skating at our three locations,  or visiting the restaurants.  He would also like to tie in the new Niagara Falls train terminal.  Pat makes the statements below because he has travelled from NF to Exchange St. station and back many times over the past 18 months and he has found delays from Buffalo to NF that have been over 4 hours long.  No wonder so few people use this mode of transportation.

I would also venture to say that most, if not all of the members of the committee that will select between Canalside, Exchange St., Larkinville and the Central Terminal have not been a passenger on the Amtrak from Niagara Falls to Buffalo and then back to the Falls.  Pat knows what he speaks about here.  Hopefully his common sense logic will be heard.

I came out publicly in a Buffalo News Another Voice column to place the new terminal at the Central Terminal.  I still stand by that decision because I believe that the area needs to be redeveloped like every other section of the city so we truly can become One Buffalo.  However, when I speak at the public hearing I am changing my position to state that the top of the committee’s list should include the infrastructure of the tracks to improve the on-time performance of the trains; and much needed promotional dollars to promote train travel to the various tourist locations in the state, especially Canalside and the entire renovated waterfront of a New Buffalo, and the final stop on the New York State line, Niagara Falls, Ont.

I will also state there needs to be a stop at Canalside and I will endorse fixing the current Exchange St. station and cleaning up its exterior.  I also endorse moving the Depew station to the Central Terminal.  There also needs to be work on the routes to Cleveland and Chicago and from there to here.  I will also suggest creating a Transportation Hub at the Central Terminal by moving the Trailways and Greyhound bus terminal there along with the NFTA headquarters and bus terminal.  One of the keys to making Central Terminal work is for the State to pass ridesharing such as UBER.  It can all work but it will require tremendous coordination between the CSX train and  Amtrak officials, NFTA, state and local officials and many stakeholders.

Train travel could be big again In New York State and could be a great catalyst for tourism, especially when the Go Train in Ontario extends to Niagara Falls, Ont. where guests can board the Amtrak to Buffalo.

I encourage you to follow Whalen’s suggestion and send your views to BuffaloRail@City-Buffalo.com or visit the city’s website and click the Buffalo Rail site and register to speak on the 19th.   You can also check out Whalen’s blog (lead image).

So here is my request:

By way of an update, I visited the new $43 million Niagara Falls train station this morning as the train from Toronto rolled in.   Six people were there waiting to catch the train as it headed to Buffalo and on to NYC.  Six.  It is important to note that, unlike Buffalo stations, the Niagara Falls train station also serves as an entry into the USA for rail passengers.

As such, it was important to replace the old station, as this station also houses Customs and Border Protection.  So it was great to see the passengers from Toronto clearing customs in a wonderful new facility this morning.  The old station just wasn’t functional for the purposes of customs clearance and it certainly was not welcoming to people entering the USA.

But six people waiting to board is an indication of the low interest in train travel in this part of the world.  Why don’t more people take the train here?  Because the trains don’t run on time!  Why don’t the trains run on time?  Because of congestion on the tracks.  Why is there congestion on the tracks?  Because freight trains and passengers train share the tracks and for many miles there is just a single track.  So trains have to wait for each other.

Spending tens of millions of dollars on train stations makes no sense to me unless we can get the trains to run on time.

In my opinion, there are important ramifications for all of Upstate NY (including the new Niagara Falls station which will remain an underutilized $43 million asset) if the issue of on-time performance is not addressed.

Found at:
https://www.buffalorising.com/2016/12/trains-beyond-stations/


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AMTRAK LINES... Amtrak Lines...  

Moorman Takes The Throttle,
Sets Out To Reorganize Amtrak

From An Amtrak Employee Memorandum

Special Employee Advisory From Wick Moorman;
Organization Update


With a new year ahead of us, I want to share some initial thoughts with you about the future of our company and the actions we are taking to improve our organization.

As I’ve been learning about the company in my first three months on the job, I’ve come to see that there is a lot that is working well at Amtrak, starting with the quality of our people. I’ve also gained a deeper appreciation of the importance of our services to customers across the country. Americans want and need a strong national passenger rail service, and the hard work that all of you have put in during the past decade to modernize and improve our service, including our record performance last year, has translated into broad public support for Amtrak and our mission.

Looking ahead to 2017, it is vital for us to capitalize on this success. We have a terrific opportunity to build an even more efficient and effective company that can facilitate, organize and operate best-in-class passenger rail services throughout the United States. To do so, we need to be structured properly, and having reviewed our organization and evaluated our future needs with our Board, I believe this is the time to streamline and improve our reporting structure.

Therefore, we are pleased today to introduce a new organizational structure for Amtrak that will enable us to create greater product and customer focus, along with strengthening accountability and decision-making throughout our company. This new structure aligns with our focus to improve the way we do business, modernize and enhance the customer experience, and invest in our future. While changes to an organization are never a “silver bullet,” the right structure is a necessary first step to driving the five key objectives that we believe are critical to our long-term success:

To support our pursuit of these objectives, we are making the following changes:

Senior Executives:

We are consolidating the senior team into six direct reports to the CEO, effective immediately. This change will streamline decision-making, increase alignment between departments, and establish clear areas of accountability.

These six groups and their respective Executive Vice Presidents are:

Operations:

The Operations group will be reorganized to strengthen our focus on safety, service delivery, productivity and capital project execution. The product development, planning, and contract management functions of the current Business Lines, certain customer service functions and some onboard service personnel for certain products will be transferred to the new Business Development and Product Support and Management organizations within the Marketing and Sales group. Train operations will be managed regionally through Vice Presidents of Operations and supported by Safety, Compliance and Training; Mechanical; Engineering; Network Support; Amtrak Police; and Corporate Security organizations. Additionally, certain planning and station and facility functions will be transferred to the new Planning, Technology and Public Affairs group.

All departments and functions currently within Operations will continue to report to Scot Naparstek, COO, until February 1, 2017. At that time, the following new and existing departments and functions will report directly to Scot and all previous organizations will be merged within this structure or transferred to other groups:

Further details regarding changes within the Operations organization will be announced later this month.

Marketing and Business Development:

The newly formed Marketing and Business Development group will be expanded from the current Marketing and Sales department to create greater focus on the development and management of our key products and streamlined to align this work with Amtrak’s broader marketing and branding efforts. The product development, planning, and contract management functions of the current Business Lines and customer service functions within Operations, together with certain staff from the Government Affairs and Infrastructure and Investment Development groups, will be transferred to new Business Development and Product Support and Management organizations within this group.

All departments and functions currently within the Marketing and Sales organization will continue to report to Jason Molfetas until February 1, 2017. At that time, the following new and existing departments and functions will report directly to Jason and all previous organizations will be merged within this structure:

In addition, a newly formed group for Commuter and Ancillary Services Business Development has been created, and will be led by Paul Vilter, Assistant Vice President. Paul will report to Mark Murphy.

Further details regarding changes within the Marketing and Business Development organization will be announced later this month.

Finance:

The Finance department will continue to report to Jerry Sokol, CFO, with further organizational changes to come within the department over the coming months. Procurement will now report to DJ Stadtler, CAO, effective immediately.

Law:

All departments and functions currently reporting to the Law Department will continue to report to Eldie Acheson, GC.

Administration:

As the new Chief Administration Officer, DJ Stadtler will be responsible for a newly-named Human Resources department. The new HR department will be developed from the current Human Capital organization and led by Byl Herrmann, Vice President, effective immediately. Byl will assume this role from Barry Melnkovic, who is retiring from the company. I want to thank Barry for his years of service and dedication to Amtrak.

Joining Human Resources in Administration will be Labor Relations, led by Charlie Woodcock, Vice President; Procurement, led by Bud Reynolds, Assistant Vice President; and the Enterprise Project Management Office (ePMO), led by Sarina Arcari, Assistant Vice President, effective immediately.

Further details regarding changes within the Administration organization will be announced later this month.

Planning, Technology and Public Affairs:

The new Planning, Technology and Public Affairs group will bring together the network and corporate planning, infrastructure access, government affairs and corporate communications and strategy groups. It will also include fleet planning, real estate, and various station and facility management, maintenance and development functions to better coordinate the long-term development of the company’s key assets and services. In addition, IT will be integrated into this group, as it is an essential function for our current operations across the country, as well as a driver of our future success.

All departments and functions currently reporting to Stephen Gardner will continue to do so, with IT now reporting to Stephen as well, effective immediately.

On February 1, 2017, Stephen’s new organization will include the following:

Further details regarding changes within the Planning, Technology and Public Affairs organization will be announced later this month.

Additionally, as part of these changes, we will simplify our titling for senior officials by adopting a three-level titling structure of Executive Vice President, Vice President and Assistant Vice President to apply to all such positions.

I understand that many of you will have questions about these changes. We will follow this announcement up with more information as it becomes available, and I’d ask for your patience, continued focus – especially on safety – and dedication to our mission as we work through this transition.

On behalf of our entire leadership team, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done so far to make Amtrak successful. You are an important part of our continued success and I’m excited for the journey ahead of us, starting with the launch of this new organization.

Sincerely,

Wick Moorman
President and CEO

[ Editor Note:  As has become somewhat a custom, new management at the top of Amtrak is precipitating changes in the management team throughout the system.  Certainly each head of the system wants their own people in place based on their vision and comfort level, and whom they deem to be best suited for the position.  That said, the number of changes at Amtrak in just the last 5 years makes it difficult for any team to come together to bring about change - whatever that may be.  Hopefully this will be the last set of changes for a while, but with new national leadership entering the mix in Washington DC, we have to wonder just how long this management structure will be in place. – DMK  Mg Ed. ]


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BUSINESS LINES... Business Lines...  

MBTA Will Not Renew Keolis Contract,
Officials Say

By Andy Metzger, State House News Service
Via Boston Business Journal

While it’s unclear who will be in charge of state transportation policy in six years, [Governor] Baker administration officials said Thursday their plan would be to allow the Massachusetts bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) contract with Keolis Commuter Services to expire once the eight-year contract term ends in June 2022.

Officials said they would hope to go back out to bid for a vendor to carry millions of passengers per year over nearly 400 route miles.

“Our intention would be to begin a re-procurement process so that it could be completed and a transition — if one were going to even take place — would happen at the end of the current eight-year contract,” Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told the [ State House ] News Service on Thursday.

Pollack estimated the new procurement process would take two years and the consideration of how to proceed with the procurement would begin in 2019.

Signed in the final year of the [Deval] Patrick administration, the $2.69 billion eight-year Keolis contract includes two two-year options to extend.

Commuter rail service was a surprise addition to Gov. Charlie Baker’s early term agenda, when record-breaking snow severely hampered rail service in 2015. Baker has not announced his plans but the governor’s office is on the ballot in 2018.

The contract extensions came up during an oversight hearing Thursday conducted by the Transportation Committee, whose House chairman, Mattapoisett Democrat Rep. William Straus, wrote to Pollack in October to suggest the current contract structure was to blame for service problems.

“More than two years have passed since Keolis assumed operations, and their delivery of services, even apart from the 2015 winter issues, has raised a number of management concerns which I believe are derived from the nature of the contract itself,” Straus wrote in an October 2016 letter.

In November, Pollack responded that MBTA officials share many of Straus’s concerns and the “MBTA does not intend for its current commuter rail contract to extend beyond its remaining term, whether the next contract is with Keolis or a different provider; the T is committed to initiating a new procurement on a timeline that ensures that a new contract will be in place no later than the end of the current contract period,” according to a letter obtained by the [State House] News Service.

Straus favors a “much longer” contract term, and shifting responsibility for purchasing equipment onto the vendor.

“The question of rolling stock ownership is one that I think is quite interesting. As you know the MBTA owns all the rolling stock. We procure it; Keolis maintains it,” Acting MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve told the Transportation Committee on Thursday.

Straus called the current arrangement a “halfway relationship and to me an unusual one.”

Keolis Commuter Services General Manager David Scorey told Straus he does not think the current contract hampers Keolis’s performance, and then said there is “nothing that I would say needs to fundamentally change right now.”

In response to a request for comment on the passivity of the contract not being extended, Keolis deferred questions regarding the contract to the MBTA.

The train fleet the MBTA supplied Keolis - which has 129,000 weekday boardings, according to a 2016 presentation - includes 240 locomotives and coaches that are at or beyond their 25-year service life.

In July, the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board agreed to an additional $66 million in payments over the remaining six years of the contract in exchange for Keolis keeping 90 locomotives in working order along with other maintenance requirements.

Scorey said Keolis now has 87 active locomotives and plans to reach 90 soon.

While acknowledging performance last year had been “well below par” and “below what’s acceptable,” Scorey told the committee improvements have been made more recently. Scorey said there are more locomotives and coaches in service than in many years prior, more conductors and engineers than ever before and more heavy snow equipment than ever before.

“We’re paying Keolis to increase the number of available locomotives. We’re shooting for 90. They’re up to I think he said 87, so that was part of the additional payments,” Pollack told the [State House] News Service. She said the T is also paying Keolis to maintain more coaches, and Keolis fines are financing an assistant conductor program that adds to the number of personnel.

Responding to a question about potential commuter rail fleet upgrades by the committee’s co-chairman, Lynn Sen. Tom McGee, Pollack said the T has not yet developed a new comprehensive fleet plan, and in general the control board has “made it clear to staff that they don’t want to make investments until they understand what in fact the long term plan is by fleet.”

“I’ve had a chance to be in other countries and commuter rail is not like commuter rail here, where it’s like the 1930s where you walk up the stairs to get into the train,” McGee said, asking about the potential of swapping out the current diesel fleet for electric trains.

After the hearing, Straus told the [State House] News Service he hopes a re-procurement will address what he sees as fundamental flaws in the state’s manner of contracting commuter rail.

“They have to maintain and operate vehicles they don’t own,” Straus said. He said, “This contract has a set period, and a new contract hopefully under different terms will be out there, and obviously from the Commonwealth’s standpoint we want as many interested parties as possible to take an interest in running our train system.”

Found at:
http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2017/01/05/mbta-will-not-renew-keolis-contract-officials-say.html


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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

Sound Transit Board Approves 2017 Budget
With Focus On Rail System Expansions

From The Mercer Island Reporter

The Sound Transit Board on Dec. 15 approved a $1.6 billion 2017 budget that provides $1.2 billion in light rail and other system expansions, including work to begin implementing the additional projects that regional voters approved on Nov. 8.

“In 2017 Sound Transit will make significant progress toward delivering infrastructure expansions that will boost our region’s economy while giving commuters a reliable and desirable alternative to the worsening congestion on our roadways,” said Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Peter Rogoff in a press release. “Work is already underway on some of the new projects that voters approved just last month.”

The 2017 budget emphasizes intensified construction work toward the 2023 opening of the East Link light rail project, including the scheduled January start of mining a short tunnel through downtown Bellevue.

Following the 2016 completion of Northgate Link tunnel mining, station construction will get underway in 2017 as progress continues toward the scheduled 2021 opening. Work on light rail designs will continue as Sound Transit works toward the 2023 opening of light rail to Lynnwood and 2024 openings to Federal Way and downtown Redmond.

Project funding in the 2017 budget includes initial steps on Sound Transit 3 projects that voters approved on Nov. 8. Work continuing in early 2017 will include development of a Program Implementation Plan spanning both projects approved in 2008 and 2016, which will include a master program schedule and refinements of internal processes as the agency works to expand its capacity to complete a 116-mile light rail system.

In the spring, the Sound Transit Board will review this plan and consider amendments to the 2017 budget for additional project work for the year.

With Sound Transit ridership now exceeding 150,000 each weekday, the budget also invests $396 million in transit operations. In September 2017 Sound Transit will begin operating two new round trips on the Sounder south line, providing expanded options and capacity for commuters to travel during rush hours.

Image

Image:  Sound Transit

Sound Transit Link Light Rail

Specific highlights for 2017 include:

Link Light Rail

Sounder Commuter Rail

Bus And Other Investments

A copy of the approved 2017 budget will be available at:   http://www.soundtransit.org/

From a story at:
http://www.mi-reporter.com/news/sound-transit-board-approves-2017-budget-with-focus-on-rail-system-expansions/


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U.S. DOT Commits $1.5b To L.A. Metro
Purple Line Extension

From Metro Magazine On-Line

A federal grant and loan totaling nearly $1.5 billion to help build the second phase of the Metro Purple Line Extension to downtown Beverly Hills and Century City in California was announced on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

Metro received a construction grant agreement for $1.187 billion through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grant program and a $307-million loan through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIFIA program to total $1.494 billion. The project will also receive $169 million in federal funding through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program.

The TIFIA loan program is administered by the Build America Bureau (Bureau), which was launched by Secretary Foxx earlier this year as a “one-stop shop” to help streamline credit and grant opportunities for communities as they work to fund infrastructure improvements. The Bureau also provides technical assistance and encourages innovative approaches to project planning, financing, delivery, and monitoring.

Coupled with Metro’s $747 million local match made possible by 2008’s Measure R sales tax, $2.4 billion is now secured to continue construction of one of L.A. County’s most critically needed public transit projects — a subway primarily under Wilshire Boulevard that will finally connect downtown Los Angeles and Westwood with service en route to the Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, and Century City.

Metro is now in the process of selecting a contractor to build the subway extension’s second section. The agency plans to recommend a contractor to the Metro Board later this month.

Metro is already building the first section of subway between the current subway terminus at Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/La Cienega with three new stations. The second section will add another 2.6 miles to the project and build two new stations at Wilshire/Rodeo in downtown Beverly Hills and Century City.

Pre-construction activities for the second section are already underway. Major construction is planned to begin in 2018. Completion of the second subway section is anticipated no later than 2026 per the FTA Full Funding Grant Agreement and Metro is aiming to possibly finish the project at an earlier date. A third and final section will extend the subway to the Westwood/VA Hospital. Construction on this last section is planned to begin as early as 2019.

“Angelenos and people across L.A. County have shown their commitment to creating a better-connected transportation system — and this investment echoes that commitment to giving people faster, more convenient connections to their jobs, to healthy recreation and fun attractions, and to the people they love,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We are moving quickly to create the world-class transit system our people deserve, and these federal funds for the Purple Line extension will accelerate progress along the region’s busiest transit corridor.”

Construction of the Purple Line Extension Section 2 will support over 20,500 jobs in Southern California during its construction, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

The Purple Line Extension to the Westwood/VA Hospital station will garner about 49,300 daily weekday boardings at the seven new stations. There will be about 78,000 new daily trips on the full Metro Rail System as a result of opening this line.

A total of $3.1 billion in federal New Starts funding has now been secured for recent high priority Metro transportation projects.

From an item at:
http://www.metro-magazine.com/rail/news/719414/u-s-dot-commits-1-5b-to-l-a-metro-purple-line-extension


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

Republicans Embrace Amtrak’s
Gulf Coast Rebirth

Even Red-State Republicans Are Cheering Amtrak’s Efforts To Restart
The Gulf Coast Passenger Train Line Hurricane Katrina Wiped Out.

By Lauren Gardner
Politico

A decade after Hurricane Katrina wiped out a long stretch of Amtrak’s transcontinental passenger route in the Deep South, the railroad is plotting to bring it back. And it’s attracted a seemingly unlikely group of cheerleaders: red-state Republicans.

For Amtrak, extending the City of New Orleans line from Louisiana to Orlando, Fla., is a chance to demonstrate that its traditionally money-losing long-distance routes deserve Congress’ investment. It could also mark a shift in some Republicans’ attitudes toward Amtrak, after decades of GOP leaders in Washington trying to slash the passenger rail’s funding and force it to dump unprofitable routes.

Now local and state Republican leaders along the Gulf Coast are promoting a revived Amtrak route as a tool for commerce and jobs. That argument mirrors the pro-transportation message of President-elect Donald Trump, who is proposing a nationwide $1 trillion infrastructure upgrade that he says would make the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and railroads “second to none.”

Could a new era of an Amtrak-friendly GOP be at hand?

“I think we can make Amtrak work,” said Republican Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. “We can make it more friendly to the taxpayer, and more efficient, but I think we need Amtrak, and I’ll just say it.”

For Republicans like Wicker, restoring Amtrak’s lost Gulf Coast route would not just recreate a transportation link but would benefit local economies by making it easier for tourists and business travelers to move through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Others argue that the people most likely to move to the region in the next 30 years — retiring baby boomers and tech-savvy millennials — are becoming less reliant on cars and trucks, making it essential for rail to fill the gap.

For the full story see:
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/amtrak-gulf-coast-republicans-katrina-233080


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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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SAFETY LINES... Safety Lines...  

Rail Disagreement Could Affect North Station
MBTA Commuter Rail Service

PanAm And MBTA In Dispute Over PTC Implementation

By Nicole Dungca
Boston Globe Staff

Pan Am Railways and Pan Am Southern, the freight railroad companies that own tracks the MBTA also uses for its Fitchburg commuter rail line, say a dispute over anti-collision technology could stop service on the line in 2019 if no resolution is reached.

In a Dec. 20 letter to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, David Fink, president of Pan Am Railways, accused it of attempting to violate a 2014 agreement that says the MBTA would extend service on the Fitchburg Line to Wachusett and install anti-collision technology, called “positive train control,” on 92 Pan Am locomotives, along with other conditions.

Image

Photo By: Pi.1415926535 via Wikimedia Common

First revenue train at Wachusett Station in September 2016.  The station track and platform are on a rise above the grade of the through-tracks which are adjacent to the line.

All Aboard The Ski Train.

By DF Staff

The MBTA extension to Wachusett Station has also seen the re-introduction of a ski train service that will connect winter recreationalists to the Wachusett Mountain Ski Resort.  The resort is about a 15 minute ride via a shuttle bus being provided by the resort to connect its customers with the train.  The Ski Train departs in the early morning from Boston’s North Station and makes all local stops along the way.  The shuttle connects with a return train at dinnertime.

The MBTA ski train is also being equipped with a modified coach car that will be used by ski recreationalists to board and store their skis and other equipment during the ride.   The service with the dedicated coach is expected to operate through mid-March weather permitting.  

The resort has a schedule published at its web site at:  http://www.wachusett.com/Default.aspx?tabid=66

Rudy Husband, a Pan Am spokesman, said the company learned a few months ago that the MBTA might not honor the deal, even though it had already begun running additional trains to Wachusett, the last stop in Fitchburg.

“Earlier this year, they extended the service to Wachusett, and that was allowed to happen based on the assumption that the 2014 agreement was going to be honored,” he said.

Spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the MBTA does not believe the dispute will threaten Fitchburg Line service. In an e-mail, he wrote that the MBTA “looks forward to continuing its constructive dialogue with Pan Am and Norfolk Southern toward resolving this matter.”

Keolis, the company that operates the commuter rail system for the MBTA, declined to comment.

In a November letter, John Englander, general counsel for the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, took issue with several of PanAm’s claims, including the validity of the 2014 agreement. The MBTA’s extending of service to Wachusett does not necessarily mean it has to abide by that agreement, he said.

In Fink’s December letter, he asked the MBTA to engage in “good faith discussions” with Pan Am. If a resolution isn’t reached in the next 30 days, the companies could seek arbitration or go to court, Fink said.

The Fitchburg Line, which runs through Waltham and Concord, was extended to Wachusett in November even as Keolis struggled to provide enough coaches for all its trains.

The extension uses about 5 miles of Pan Am track.

The dispute follows a similar clash between the MBTA and Amtrak.

In August, Amtrak threatened to eliminate rail service from Boston to New York and Washington, D.C., over a legal dispute with the MBTA, which sued Amtrak after it requested $30 million for track maintenance.

Both sides have since said in court filings that they are close to a settlement.

In the Pan Am disagreement, the MBTA is accused of violating an existing deal, which stems in part from a 2008 law that mandated railroads have “positive train control” installed on their passenger trains by 2018, a three-year extension from the law’s initial deadline.

Under that law, the MBTA must install anti-collision technology on commuter rail tracks by 2019, Husband said. If it doesn’t, it may no longer be able to use PanAm’s tracks legally, he said.

“We want to make sure rail operations — both passenger and freight — are as safe as possible and in compliance with federal law,” Husband said.

Found at:
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/12/21/pan-railways-warns-dispute-with-mbta-could-derail-fitchburg-line-service/poq2KgRTysRNL7JEtrzi7H/story.html

[ Editor Note:  PanAm also operates other trackage extending northerly from Boston’s North Station to other communities.  How this dispute may impact those lines travelled by the MBTA commuter rail is yet to be determined. ]


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FRA Calls For Mandatory Sleep Apnea Screening
For Train Engineers

By DF Staff

In a recent announcement, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is calling for all passenger train engineers in the United States to be screened for sleep apnea. The agency also said that train engineers who have severe sleep apnea should not be allowed to operate those trains until they have received treatment for the condition.

The safety advisory alert comes as a response to the September 29th crash when a federal agencies targeted sleep apnea after a deadly train crash.

One woman was killed in that  train crash, and at least 100 more victims were injured. The engineer operating the train was later found to be suffering from sleep apnea.

The agency also is urging railroads to install inward-facing cameras in train cabs and take steps to ensure engineers abide by speed limits.

Obstructive Speep Apnea (OSA), sometimes referred to Pickwickian Syndrome (after the Charles Dickens book character), is a condition where a person's sleep cycle breathing is interrupted, often caused by soft tissues at the back of the throat, and characterized by loud snoring and gasping for air during sleep.  This results in a reduction of oxygen to the body causing a lack of energy restoration that sleep provides.  This can then cause unexpected and uncontrollable urges to sleep during waking periods as the body seeks to compensate for the lack of proper sleep and rest.  Often a person afficted with OSA is unaware and may feel rested after sleep, at least initially, but fall victim of the body's natural need to rest and restore itself.

A story from Progressive Railroading stated railroad crew fatigue continues to be a concern of the FRA, particularly for crew members with sleep disorders who operate passenger trains, according to the safety advisory the FRA published last in the Federal Register.

“Undiagnosed or inadequately treated moderate to severe OSA can cause unintended sleep episodes and resulting deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, and memory, thus reducing the capacity to safely respond to hazards when performing safety sensitive duties,” FRA stated in the advisory. “Thus, OSA is a critical safety issue that can affect operations in all modes of travel in the transportation industry.”

Initially, in March of 2016, the FRA published a notice of proposed rulemaking requesting data and information concerning the prevalence of moderate-to-severe OSA.

The advisory also outlined the FRA's concerns regarding accident investigations involving trains that lack inward- and outward-facing recording devices in locomotives.


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

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

Stuttgart 21 Underground Central Train Station Project –
Even Higher Costs And Longer Construction Time

The Real Main Train Station Will Not Be Ready Before 2023 Or 2024.
But Don’t Despair, You Can Visit It Now In Virtual Reality.

Via Deutsche Press Agentur (DPA)

Stuttgart’s breathtaking new underground train station is (of course) massively over budget and years behind schedule. However Dutsche Bahn (German Railways) is now offering a virtual tour of the new station as if it were finished, perhaps as a way to quell to a small degree the massive taxpayer and passenger disappointment that the mega-project in the heart of downtown Stuttgart (and several related new access tunnels and other new infrastructure in the greater Stuttgart region) is now running nearly four years behind original schedule and almost four times over budget.  

Image

Image: S21 Erleben Bahn Project Stuttgart - Ulm

Off to the Star Trek Holideck – computer created virtual reality image of the main track level of the new S21 central train station under construction in Stuttgart.  Not seen here in the existing double track and double platform S-Bahn commuter train stop, which is another level below this part of the station, with the tracks running approximately east-west, The new tracks and platforms in the new station run more or less north-south and will be used by Intercity Express trains (ICE), Intercity trains (IC and EC) and various regional express trains.

When the Stuttgart 21 (S21) rail project was announced back in 1995, the state of Baden-Württemberg reckoned that costs wouldn’t rise above € 2.5 billion. When actual heavy construction began in early 2011, the price tag was approaching € 5 billion.  By the most recent official estimates, costs could increase to € 10 billion (US$ 11 billion).

Included in the project are plans to modernize or build new rail lines to Stuttgart Airport and a new 300km/h high speed rail line to the nearby city of Ulm.  The new station will also become a link in one of the longest high-speed lines in Europe. The 1500 km (930 mile) long railway will link Paris, Strasbourg, Stuttgart, Ulm, Augsburg, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest.  Several segments of the high speed rail version of the old Paris – Budapest “Orient Express” route are already completed and in operation including Paris – Strasbourg, Augsburg – Munich, and Salzburg – Vienna.

The opening date has been pushed back to 2021, but even that is not considered very likely. A report by consultancy firm KPMG published in 2016 said a 2023 opening was more realistic.  If this sounds familiar to the people of Berlin, who are still waiting on their new airport since it completely missed a planned 2011 opening date and is now not planned to open before 2018, at least Stuttgarters can now pretend their train station is open.

Thanks to a virtual tour on offer on the project’s official website, locals and rail enthusiasts can explore the futuristic building and its surroundings as it will look when it finally opens.  When it is ultimately finished though, the station should be a sight to behold, even if a very controversial one.  The 17 tracks in the southern city’s old station are to be replaced by eight underground tracks (with four island platforms) covered by a circus tent-style roof.  On the virtual tour, one can get a sense for how the finished building will look from the inside and outside via 20 different 360 degree viewpoints.  From sparkling clean platforms, you can look up to the draped ceiling, or take the escalators into the historical old station.

Click here to open up the website with the virtual tour of the S21 rail project – please note language / text is only in German:  http://vr.s21erleben.de/  The website recommends that for best results desktop and laptop computer users should use the Google Chrome ™ web browser.  Smart phone users are advised to the YouTube ™ App (latest version) available for iPhone or Android smart phone operating systems.  With Android phones place the YouTube ™ App in Cardboard mode.  

The project, though, has been heavily criticized as it involved the destruction of part of the original building.  Built between 1914 and 1928 on designs by architects Friedrich Eugen Scholer and Paul Bonatz, it was one of Germany’s first modernist structures.  Protests against the project reached a peak in 2010 when roughly 30,000 people demonstrated in front of the building site against its rising costs and environmental impact.


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Iran’s Longest Rail Bridge Nears Completion

Via Iranian Financial Tribune Newspaper

The construction of Iran’s biggest rail bridge will be completed in a about 2 – 3 weeks, the Iranian deputy minister of roads and urban development announced.  Mr. Kheirollah Khademi added that the project has been designed and implemented by domestic engineers and will be completed by January 19, ILNA reported.

Image

Photo: Iranian Financial Tribune

New rail line nearing completion in old Persia. With international trade sanctions against Iran mostly lifted, logistics industry observers expect transportation of materials and finished goods across Iran to increase dramatically.  Note that this bridge and tunnel is built to accommodate two tracks, but for the time being only one track will be installed until demand increases.

The 1.43-km bridge will connect the river banks of Sefidroud in the city of Manjil, northern Gilan Province in Iran. It is part of the under-construction Qazvin-Rasht railroad, which is reportedly in its final stages.  “Rail tracks for 86 kilometers of the line have been laid and the remaining 60 km are ready for track-laying,” said Khademi, who is also the CEO of Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructure Company, affiliated to the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.

From Rasht, the railroad will be connected to the port city of Astara, further stretching across the border to Azerbaijan.  These projects are the missing links in the International North – South Transport Corridor, which aims to connect Northern Europe to Central and Southeast Asia via the railroads of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia.

The INSTC will connect Iran with Russia’s Baltic ports and give Russia rail connectivity to both the Persian Gulf and the Indian rail network.  This means that goods could be carried from Mumbai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and further to Baku. They could then pass across the Russian border into Astrakhan before proceeding to Moscow and St. Petersburg, then onward into Europe.  The INSTC will have two gauge breaks near Iran’s external boarders:  from standard gauge (1435 mm in Iran) to 1520 mm “Russian” gauge in Azerbaijan, and to the even wider Indian Subcontinent broad gauge which is prevalent in Pakistan and India.

The corridor would substantially cut the travel time for everything from Asian consumer goods to Central Eurasia’s natural resources to advanced European exports.  When completed, the INSTC is expected to increase the 600,000 tons of commodities currently traded between Iran and Azerbaijan to 5 million tons per year, dramatically increasing bilateral trade from the current $500 million per year.  

There are now multiple “Silk Road” rail projects, such as this one, in operation, under construction or in planning across Central Asia, South Asia and in Russia and several former USSR republics.  The cause or driver of this trend is to speed up shipping times dramatically between Europe and Asia compared to ocean going container ships.  Russia and China are event considering possibly building a high speed passenger train line between Moscow and Beijing.  Travel time for passengers on this proposed high speed rail line are estimated to be at least several days and nights one-way.  


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Update


Peaceful 2017 New Years Eve Celebrations
In Cologne

Relatively calm condition prevailed at a large public New Years Eve celebration on the plaza between the Cologne cathedral (Kölner Dom), the Rhine River Bridge and the city’s large central rail station, unlike the NYE event one year ago in Cologne (and in other German cities), where hundreds of immigrants (both refugees and some with residence status) predominately from the Middle East and North Africa went around the plaza and train station robbing some people and sexually assaulting a large number of female NYE party goers (http://nationalcorridors.org/df4/df01112016.shtml#New).  The events and crimes at last year’s NYE celebrations lead to a massive scandal across Germany and indeed internationally, especially when it became evident that senior political officials, perhaps as high as in the German Chancellor’s office ordered a news black-out and “no comment” on the news from the NYE events in Cologne and other cities in Germany, especially the aspect that recent refugees and other immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa were the vast majority of the perpetrators.

This year police in Cologne with assistance from other nearby police departments and national law enforcement agencies increased by 10 times the police presence in the area in order to intercept and interrupt acts of violence immediately.  Another factor for the heavy police presence was the December 2016 terror attack on a Christmas market in Berlin carried out by a refugee from Tunisia via Italy, who hijacked a large truck and drove it into the Christmas market, thus killing 12 people including the truck driver and injuring approximately 20 bystanders.  The Tunisian terrorist claimed to acting on behalf of ISIS.  He was shot and killed four days later in a suburb of Milan, Italy by local Italian police, when he engaged the police in a gun fight near a suburban train station, after they asked him to provide identification.

Law enforcement observers, many German politicians and the general public heavily criticized law enforcement and anti-terror intelligence services in Germany for completely botching the investigation of the terrorist both before and after his Christmas market attack in Berlin.  With the massive criminal incidents of the last NYE party in Cologne a year ago, and the truck terror attack in Berlin a few weeks ago, local police in Cologne were prepared and on high alert for signs of trouble.  And the police discovered signs of pending trouble this year – hundreds of young men of Middle Eastern and North African background were communicating by various social media platforms on the internet to converge by trains on Cologne’s central train station and the plaza in front of the cathedral.  Police, however, preempted the mobs of men as they came off of various trains and other public transit.  Dozens were arrested by police, many others were ordered to vacate the area.  A potential disaster on this year’s NYE was avoided.

The actions of the police and other law enforcement agencies were widely praised in the news media, by private citizens and many politicians and several political parties.  The glaring exception was the leader of the far-left Green Party in Germany, who accused police without any proof or evidence that police simply targeted any young men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern or North African origin at the NYE event in Cologne, in other words racial profiling.  Backlash against her statements from the public and many police, family members of police and numerous political leader was swift and severe.  One day later she walked back her accusations.  


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France And Spain Take Full Control
Of International Rail Link

By Ferran Torga
International Railway Journal

France and Spain took control of the international high-speed rail link between both countries on December 21 after the contract with concessionaire TP Ferro was terminated following the company’s liquidation in September.

TP Ferro, which is owned by construction firms ACS and Eiffage, entered into receivership in late 2015 after declaring a total debt of Euro 560m with creditors, including several distressed securities funds, and after registering less than a third of the traffic projections calculated by the company in 2003, when the 50-year concession was awarded.

A Girona court decided in September 2016 to liquidate TP Ferro, and in order to avoid a final failure of the undertaking and the interruption of cross-border traffic, both countries have now stepped in to continue daily operations on the corridor. The build-operate concessionaire was also denied any compensation by both governments.

According to a new convention signed by governments in Paris and Madrid, the mixed traffic, high-speed line is now operated by Linea Figueras Perpignan, an SNCF Network-Adif joint venture formed last October under Spanish law. The company is based at the Spanish infrastructure manager’s headquarters and is headed by Mr. Miguel Miaja Fol, Adif’s current general financial and corporate director.

The new company is responsible for all operation and maintenance activities previously carried out by TP Ferro and has absorbed the concessionaire’s staff of nearly 90 people. As a result of this, high-speed and freight operations on the line were largely unaffected during the Christmas period.

Mr. Alain Vidalies, France’s transport secretary, says the concessionaire was repeatedly reminded that it was responsible for all risks relating to the project which were transferred to it by the concession contract, according to the French and Spanish law.

“It was up to the shareholders and creditors of TP Ferro to reach a restructuring agreement to allow the concessionaire to continue its activity,” Vidalies says.

The new contract will have an initial duration of four years and French and Spanish governments have allocated a total of  Euro 11.7m for the joint company, of which  Euro 1.7m will cover the transfer of operations, while the company will receive a maximum  Euro 2.5m annual appropriation.

The 44.3km Figueres - Perpignan line is the only standard gauge link between France and Spain and was opened in December 2010 for cross-border rail freight traffic. Barcelona - Paris and Madrid - Marseille high-speed passenger services began in early 2013.

The failed concessionaire is now expected to press ahead with efforts to secure compensation from France and Spain before an international arbitration court claiming that both government’s failed to construct the “necessary infrastructure to effectively develop a high-speed rail network connecting France and Spain.”

From an item found at:
http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/financial/france-and-spain-take-full-control-of-international-rail-link.html" TARGET="BLANK"


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SPECIAL NOTE... Special Managing Editor’s Note...  

As published in our last edition in December 2016, contributing editor David Peter Alan has stepped aside with plans to work on advocacy needs  local to him, and specific other national advocacy projects.  We shall miss his detailed contributions and hope that he may be able to return in the future.

That said, this has left a gap in our team that we need to fill.

We are interested in hearing from writer-advocates who may be interested in submitting original materials and synopsis reports on rail and transit in their areas.  Maybe you are an active member of a rail advocacy group and write for a local newsletter, or you have access to local rail and transit news and want to share that with others?  We know there are talented people out there who may be interested.

Destination: Freedom (DF) is an all-volunteer effort and remains apolitical given the non-profit status of the parent organization.  Our revolves around rail, transit, TOD, and intermodalism, and we welcome news, comparisons, commentary, and ideas.

Much is happening these days with respect to rail and public transit as a whole, and many regions are expanding or restoring these options in areas such as the Pacific Northwest, California, Texas, New Orleans, Greater Chicago, the Mid-Atlantic states, and New England.  Those are but a few.  The word “renaissance” comes to mind.

If you have been a regular reader we believe you have a grasp of our focus.  We distribute to, and are read by advocates, the public, rail employees, government at various levels, the press, and by railroads and rail manufacturers.

DF is now entering its 17th year of digital publication and maybe, just maybe, you may be a part of that.  If interested please contact us at:   webmaster@nationalcorridors.org


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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2017 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. (NCI) as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI and Destination: Freedom (DF) are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Logo courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI & DF remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

Web page links as reproduced in our articles are active at the time we go to press. Occasionally, news and information outlets may opt to archive these articles and notices under alternative web addresses after initial publication. NCI has no control over the policies of other web sites and regrets any inconvenience experienced when clicking off our web site.

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the editor at editor@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

Photo submissions are welcome. DF is always interested in images that demonstrate the positive aspects of rail, transit, intermodalism, transportation-oriented development, and current newsworthy events associated with our mission. Please contact the webmaster in advance of sending large images so we can recommend attachment by e-mail or grant direct file transfer protocol (FTP) access depending on size. Descriptive text which includes location and something about the content of the image is required. We will credit the photographer and offer a return link to your web site or e-mail address.

Destination Freedom is partially funded by the Surdna Foundation, and other contributors.

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